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China has come a long way in knife production (Enlan EL-01)

Discussion in 'Non-Firearm Weapons' started by Snowdog, Oct 22, 2013.

  1. Snowdog

    Snowdog Well-Known Member

    I'm not a collector of knives, though I do have a few.
    I typically believe the knife you carry should be the best quality you can afford. So, I carry a Benchmade Strker 910 (D2 steel, G10 scales liner lock) and have for the past 10 years.

    I've largely ignored knives made in China as some years ago they were garbage, IMO.

    Recently, I decided to make a few "go bags" for family members who've expressed interest in the idea that include both a fixed bladed knife and a folder.
    A coworker suggested I look into Enlan knives made in China if I wanted a decent quality folder on the cheap.

    I went on Ebay and purchased an Enlan EL-10 with Khaki G10 scales and 8Cr5MoV Chinese steel blade from a vendor from who ships from China, $15 including shipping.

    I have to say that once I did receive it (a lengthy 3 weeks ship time), I was pleasantly surprised. The knife is tight and looks to be tough enough for camp work. The fit seems good, though there was a spot on the blade (false edge) that exhibited some machine marks. For $15, I'm impressed.

    I went ahead and purchased 7 more for the go-bags (black handles rather than khaki this time). The remainder had little if any machining marks and were just as tight and solid.

    For the money, these seems to be a decent knife for a tool or tackle box. The only downside I can think of is the weight as they have some heft.

    Here are a couple images of 2 of the EL-01 knives with my EDC 910.


  2. Sam Cade

    Sam Cade Member

    I'll have an EL-01A tomorrow for preliminary T&E.

    Some of the Vendors on Amazon occasionally have Enlan, Sanrenmu and Ganzo knives in stock and free 2-day shipping.
  3. ugaarguy

    ugaarguy Moderator Staff Member

    Snowdog, China is like any other industrialized country. They can make knives as good as anyone in the world. Quality is affected by what the designer specifies, and is willing to pay for production. Even Spyderco and Benchmade have some of their knives made in China now. And you're right - It really is amazing how much quality you can get for the dollar on knives made there. The Boker Plus Subcom Titan is a great example of what the Chinese can do when the designer bumps the street price up to the mid $30 range, and specs a titanium frame lock with a 440C blade.
  4. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

    Years ago at the Blade Show I was with a group consisting of senior employees from Camillus and they commented about the rising quality of knives out of China. One comment mades was, "The Germans taught them to heat treat and now we've taught them quality control.".

    As said, the factories in China can produce any quality level desired and we're seeing that in the U.S. marketplace.
  5. 19-3Ben

    19-3Ben Well-Known Member

    Agreed with the above. I had first heard about rising quality of Chinese knives right here in NFW about a year and a half ago
    I went on FleaBay and bought two Boker Plus pocket knifes for about $10 or so for each.
    I've had them and used them since. They've exceeded expectation. They are not and will never rival the equivalent models from Case, but they definitely waaaay outperform the price tag and the usual products from China.
  6. Sam Cade

    Sam Cade Member

    How so?

    Case Tru-Sharp is just 420HC AFAIK so the better Chinese knives are using superior cutlery steels already.
  7. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member


    I don't know that I'd call the Chinese steels in use "superior" to 420HC, just more modern (whenever they use recognized steels). When Camillus was still in business I knew they and Case were very happy with it when properly heat treated. The performance for Case and Camillus and Buck was good also due to the heat treat and their geometries. It takes a keen edge and is easy to sharpen without having to use anything other than simple stones or ceramics. Coupled with the lower expense from a raw material and production standpoint there's a lot of good to be said for 420HC (just the HC version, that is).

    It isn't as wear resistant as 154CM and S30V, but it is a lot cheaper and easier to sharpen and we know what it is as opposed to having to become familiar with XCrYMoZV steels.
  8. JohnKSa

    JohnKSa Well-Known Member

    And by how closely the production output is monitored. I spoke with one small business owner who was having some products manufactured in China and he indicated that he had to carefully test the products from each new batch to insure that they weren't cutting corners. He had found problems on several occasions and had to send a couple of entire batches back to the factory.

    Chinese manufacturers have the capability to do anything they want. AND, they are used to getting away with anything they want. A company can get good products manufactured in China as long as they put in the time to make sure that what they're getting is what they specified.
  9. JERRY

    JERRY Well-Known Member

    there are a lot of Chinese made "infidels" out there, if you don't know the real thing from experience its easy to be duped, they are that close.
  10. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

    I personally know knife manufacturers who made a point of making almost monthly trips to their manufacturing "partners" in China to ensure they got the product they were contracting for. Those monthly trips became quarterly and then 2x a year as they established the level of trust in those factory owners and their operations staff.

    With the introduction of ISO compliance at particular factories in China the need for visits to put eyes on the actual manufacture of an order has fallen off. What that means in China is that the factory will produce the actual quality of product specified consistently, not that they'll produce every price point product to the same high quality. The Chinese understand that if the customer wants them to produce the lowest price point possible they will adjust the quality accordingly and consistently deliver it just as they will for the customer that wants the highest quality possible and is willing to pay for it.
  11. Sam Cade

    Sam Cade Member

    The Enlan is 8Cr13Mov so within a gnats hair of AUS-8.

    Its going to be HT dependent of course, but I'd rather have have the tougher steel in a working knife.

    We will beat on it tomorrow and see how it does. :cool:
  12. Yo Mama

    Yo Mama Well-Known Member

    Enlan, and many other Chineese companies have stolen patents including designs and locks. Their version of the Axis lock is a prime example. I can't bring myself to look at them. I work hard for what little money I have, I won't support counterfeiting.

    I know they may have improved manufacturing, but I'm not going to carry a blade made in China.
  13. j1

    j1 Well-Known Member

    China now makes quite a lot of good knives. I know as I have bought quite a few.
  14. Sam Cade

    Sam Cade Member

  15. Snowdog

    Snowdog Well-Known Member

    Sam Cade, do you plan on posting your impression of the EL-01A here on THR? I'm interested to see what others think of this inexpensive knife.
  16. Sam Cade

    Sam Cade Member

    Yup. That is the plan.
  17. Yo Mama

    Yo Mama Well-Known Member

    Benchmade has exclusive license and use of the McHenry/Williams Axis Lock. It will expire in 2015. I'm not expert in patent law, and I know that BM used the same factories that many Chinese companies also used, but BM never made an Axis lock model in China.

    Paired with "borrowing" designs by many China made blades including Enlan, I'm just turned off by them. I know they may be getting better at making them, but that's not necessarily a good thing. I want them to be behind in US offerings. There is a sense of pride that's worth a bit more money.

    I hope your testing goes well Sam, as always I'm still interested in you torturing steel!
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2013
  18. Double_J

    Double_J Well-Known Member

    I have had a bunch of Chinese knives over the years. Some were cheap flea market throw away knives that I used for yard work/bait knives and others were very good quality. My daily carry right now and for the past 7 years is a kershaw vapor that was made in china. It held up to a lot of abuse when I was doing industrial maintenance. I was able to keep it sharp with nothing more than a few passes on a stone every day.
  19. Sam Cade

    Sam Cade Member

    See, therein lies the rub. An "exclusive" license doesn't necessarily mean "only one who can use the patent". BM might have an exclusive license on the McHenry/Williams lock for North America and Europe but not Asia.


    OTOH the Chinese could just be unscrupulous pirates.

    It's a shame Benchmade doesn't let me look at their internal documentation. ;)

  20. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

    I do.

    According the Les DeAsis of Benchmade they are exclusive world wide on it.

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