Ever wish that certain knives were offered from less expensive steel?

Discussion in 'Non-Firearm Weapons' started by Solomonson, Feb 6, 2021.

  1. Solomonson

    Solomonson Member

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    Do you ever wish that certain knives were also offered in a less expensive (but still high quality) steel? A knife largely for admiring and fondling? I'm not talking about EDCs, work knives, those you'll depend on in the outback or investment-grade knives. (I already own plenty of those.)

    I sure do now and then. Something like the CS Warcraft comes to mind. Made from coated CPM 3-V steel. MSRP is $329.99, Street is about $169.99 for the 7 1/2" bladed model. (Yes, already a heck of a discount.)

    $169.99 isn't going to break the bank -- even for a fondling knife. Yet I still hesitate spending that for a mass-market fondling knife, for qualities (expensive high quality steels and coatings) that I'll never really benefit from. If it was also offered in something like uncoated1075 HCS for say $69.99 discounted, I'd already own one. As a "fondler", I would also appreciate that it needed to be inspected and wiped-down now and then.

    Anyone else ever feel this way about "fondlers"?

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    Last edited: Feb 6, 2021
  2. jmr40

    jmr40 Member

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    There are Chinese made knock-off of a lot of popular knives. I know that Kershaw offers 3 levels of quality with knives that are functionally very similar. Their Zero Tolerance knife might be $200+, but a very similar USA made Kershaw branded knife might be closer to $100. And yet another almost identical Kershaw branded knife made in China will sell for around $30.

    Spyderco does the same. They have USA made knives at the higher end, Japanese knives in the middle and a similar version made in China.
     
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  3. rust collector
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    rust collector Contributing Member

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    The folks to whom these are marketed are commonly not price-sensitive. It is more important to them to have unique design and high spec materials than to have a lower price. If there were lower priced alternatives, the knife would be less desirable to the core collectors.
     
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  4. JohnKSa

    JohnKSa Moderator Staff Member

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    Interesting question and one that I had never asked myself. Now having thought about it I realize that I've never wished that. I have, on a number of occasions wished that a knife offered in a "budget" steel was offered in a better material.
     
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  5. SharpDog

    SharpDog Member

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    I'm pretty much the opposite, I like cheap beaters and expensive pieces in the collection, especially those that take low maintenance ... knives or guns. A good example of this is in knives I often get micarta or G-10 scales with expensive exotic scales in the collector knives. I would hate to break a piece of ivory batoning wood for the fire.
     
  6. DDDWho

    DDDWho Member

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    The Kershaw 1776 is offered in various steels. This is the least of those, 420HC. IIRC I paid about $36 for it at Amazon. It has assisted opening but the liner lock I’m not big on. It’s fairly tuff to sharpen but holds a decent edge. The more I carry it the better I like it. CCFBD1-AB-64-A9-459-F-BC38-03-F3-F3577104.jpg Just checked on Amazon. I paid $31 and change in 2017, the price now is $56. Good lord what is going on with inflation.
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2021
  7. Solomonson

    Solomonson Member

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    I suspect a great many actually are, even if $$$ really isn't an issue for them. If the knife is a fondler (versus an EDC/work/investment), many still want value in the qualities they will experience (e.g. fit/finish, grip material, overall knife geometry) and not with whiz-bang steel whose advantages they'll never really experience.
     
  8. Solomonson

    Solomonson Member

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    Spyderco has been particularly creative in this area. Their Byrd brand is a great example. While the place of manufacture and the materials certainly differ, I suspect the design tolerances are identical to their Spyderco labeled knives.
     
  9. ugaarguy

    ugaarguy Moderator Staff Member

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    I wish they were. I've not been impressed with the Byrds, and Sal (Glesser) has admitted that they've really had to work with their Chinese makers to get the quality where they want it for even a $30 knife. In contrast, he's said "The Golden lock-back really can't be made anywhere else. Very tight tolerances (3-10 thousanths - .0003)." The fit and finish, and the precision of the Native 5 is really an engineering and manufacturing feat. I've actually had a polite exchange with Sal over the Spyderco forum about how the Cold Steel Tuff Lite is a better made knife than the plastic handle Byrds at the same price point :D. If you like back locks, you should check out a Native. If you like frame locks, you should check out one that Spyderco has had made for them in Taichung, Taiwan. If you haven't already done so, of course.
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2021
  10. bikerdoc

    bikerdoc Moderator Staff Member

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    I dont belong in this discussion cause I have no desire to own fondlers, and consider 440c or equivalent my lowest acceptable steel
     
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  11. Boattale

    Boattale Member

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    I've yet to wish for a lower quality product. Even for something just to have.
     
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  12. Solomonson

    Solomonson Member

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    So why did you post in that case?
     
  13. Solomonson

    Solomonson Member

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    Careful.

    I said nothing about a "lower quality product." I asked "Ever wish that certain knives were offered from less expensive steel?"

    I asked about a less expensive material. Not a lower quality product.

    Venerable companies like say Loveless Knives and Randall Made Knives don't offer the latest and greatest whiz-bang steels to my knowledge. Yet I don't know of anyone that would suggest either company produces "lower quality product" compared to what say Cold Steel might offer on their upper end.

    In other words a Randall knife made out of fancy-pants CPM 3-V steel wouldn't be of higher product quality than their current production which is made out of 01 HS Tool Steel.
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2021
  14. Solomonson

    Solomonson Member

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    I'd bet the design tolerances for similar designs are identical. While the materials do indeed differ -- and I do concede their are minor differences in the processing costs of different materials, it's not as if Spyderco is hand-lapping knives in Colorado.

    There has to be some salesmanship someplace. Something to tell the customer in addition to "the one that costs 6X as much as the other is made from more expensive materials and it's made in the US (or Japan or Taiwan) rather than China."
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2021
  15. herrwalther

    herrwalther Member

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    Can't say I have. But there have been plenty of knives that I have wished had better steel.
     
  16. ugaarguy

    ugaarguy Moderator Staff Member

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    You really don't have a clue what you're talking about. Sal Glesser is one of the most honest people in the knife industry. He and his son Eric run Spyderco with a strong company ethos. Sal is also incredibly open and transparent both in person and online (Blade Forums and Spyderco Forum) about how he and Eric run Spyderco. Further, considering your very recent history of personal attacks by accusing other members of members of envy and or ignorance every time they criticized Lynn Thompson or Cold Steel, your comment is completely out of line. I don't know if you're envious of The Glesser family's success, but in this case you're certainly ignorant of their integrity and business ethics.
     
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  17. JohnKSa

    JohnKSa Moderator Staff Member

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    These are two separate concepts.

    If there are two knives that differ only in that one has a less expensive blade steel, I think it's likely that people will, and reasonable to, assess that the cheaper one is lower quality than the other. There could be exceptions, say one has a premium stainless steel for those who really want corrosion resistance, while the other has a (less expensive) but tougher high-carbon non-stainless steel for those who need the ultimate in hard use. Then it's trickier--because it's less about price point and more about performance.

    But if the comparison is, for example, between a premium stainless (latest and greatest whiz-bang steel, if you prefer) vs. a run-of-the-mill stainless, most folks are going to see that as a difference in quality--and rightly so. Typical definitions for 'quality' suggest that it is the measure of excellence of one item compared to another similar item. It's sort of a wide-open concept but most would assess that the better steel in the one knife would make it higher quality than the other.

    On the other hand, comparing a high-end production knife with a premium steel blade to a handmade knife with a blade made with less exotic/expensive steel isn't nearly as straightforward. On one you're expecting an experienced craftsman to have given careful attention to every detail of the process. The production knife could easily be made from more expensive raw materials and still be much lower quality.
     
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  18. milemaker13

    milemaker13 Member

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    No. Also dont care for 2wd SUVs and such. Part, probably most, of what makes things desirable to us are what you can't see off hand.
     
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  19. Solomonson

    Solomonson Member

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    It's not reasonable in the least, but people do it all the time.

    Take the firearms industry for instance. If it ever actually became highly competitive (as it once was) through greatly reduced regulations, thus attracting more manufactures (particularly off-shore manufacturers) to the production of firearms, and Glock and company had to reduce prices (paid for by decreased overhead from the reduction in regulations, and a reduction in their profit margins) to maintain market share, you can bet there would be legions of people claiming that Glock's quality was slipping, even if they were producing the same exact products at the exact same quality levels. Undeserved criticism would be even harsher towards imports from companies new to the industry, no matter how good their product might be.

    The product quality of the CS Warcraft example selling for $169.99 (or less) is identical to that of the same product being sold (hopefully) at the full MSRP of $329.99 by another retailer. Yet some still pay the full MSRP when better deals exist because they simply don't know or because the retailer is providing additional utility to them through other means.

    Equating product quality to sales price (or utilities) just doesn't work.
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2021
  20. Boattale

    Boattale Member

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    It appears I'm not alone in my thinking.
     
  21. JohnKSa

    JohnKSa Moderator Staff Member

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    I'm not sure what comparing two identical knives priced differently has to do with comparing two different knives. Yes, of course, two identical knives are--identical--and therefore of identical quality.
    Again, you're trying to mix two different concepts.

    If the only difference is price, then, of course, that doesn't affect quality because there's no difference in the degree of excellence between the two items. On the other hand, if two items have a different utility value, then they almost certainly differ in quality. The ability to be used in a manner that the user desires, and the degree to which that ability exists certainly has a bearing on the degree of excellence. It's interesting to note that two people who want different things from an item could rate the quality differently.

    Someone, for example, who needs a knife to stand up to very hard use might rate the quality of a knife with a relatively inexpensive high-carbon steel blade that is tempered on the soft side very highly, while someone who wants a knife that is more maintenance free might feel that it is lower quality because it doesn't hold an edge as long and because it corrodes easily.

    I think one thing to keep in mind is that 'quality' has an established definition, it's not being defined (nor will it be redefined) by the discussion in this thread.
     
  22. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

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    I certainly understand "gee I want that XYZ, but don't want to pay that price".

    Custom makers have done this. The whole "mid tech" movement was intended to take advantage of manufacturing to offer knives with only a couple of hand made steps at a lower price than the fully hand made. Mid techs then lead to mass manufactured knives where the craftsman may only sharpen, if that, the knives before inspection and approval. The intent isn't to produce knives that won't be used, but generally the opposite.

    Some manufacturers have offered versions of their products with different materials and price points. FRN for Micarta after Micarta was used in place of C-fiber or natural materials for handles. Guards replaced with guardless versions. Exotic steels replaced by more easily cut and ground steels that require simpler heat treat. Again, the intent is to produce a user at a lower price point.

    I suppose if you're going to produce something just to be "fondled" instead of used a company could follow the logical route to making blades out of un heat treated 420J and carbon fiber laminate over a base material, but companies with a reputation for performance would want to protect their reputation and avoid having all the social media accusations from people expecting 100% equal performance out of the two price points.
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2021
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  23. NuShootr

    NuShootr member

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    I'm new to knife making, but everything I read and watch about it seems to say that it's not really about the steel per se. New knife makers use 1080/1084 steel and it's very rugged. If heat treated properly and finished well, it's performs incredibly well. All the YouTubers I watch say that's it much more about the heat treatment and fit and finish, then it is about the steel itself to a degree. As long as you get the steel from a reputable source. I'm making my first knife now, and the piece of 1084 steel I got was $5. The caveat to this is damascus steel. And it's more about the process and time involved than it is about the actually steel used. Unless it's fake.
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2021
  24. JohnKSa

    JohnKSa Moderator Staff Member

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    1084 is often used by knifemakers because it forges and grinds easily, provides good performance and is easy to heat treat, not because it's near the top of the list in terms of final performance.
    It's not JUST about the steel, but the material is certainly an important part. Heat treat is another very important part as is blade design, etc.
     
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  25. NuShootr

    NuShootr member

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    What kind of final performance are you looking for? If the blade doesn't break or bend under regular stress and holds it's edge very well, I would say you have a workable knife. What are people doing with their knives? Yes, I realize many hunt with knives on them to field dress and even crack bones. Other than that, what are you looking for the knives you buy to do for you? I used to do guided canoe trips in LaVerendrye Park in Quebec, years ago. I was out for 5 days at a time with no other work utensils but a knife and a machete. I did this every summer for several years. I used many, many knives back then, and many of them were junk despite their price. And despite what steel the manufacturer said the knife was made of.

    Nowhere did I mention that 1084 was "near the top of the list of final performance". I made a point to say it was rugged and performs incredibly well. Which it does, if crafted properly. Even the different CPM steel grades have different qualities based on the alloy content. I mean if people want to be picky about that, price shouldn't really matter. Spyderco, which people seem to love, sometimes uses an adequate Chinese steel. Not terribly expensive, but the steel is meh.

    Btw, enough CPM steel to make the knife in the first post can be had for about $15 - $30. The rest is all craftsmanship.
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2021
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