Question Of The Day: Can Chinese Knives Be Any Good?

 

Image: Chris DummKnife enthusiasts seem to have a strong preference for US-made knives over foreign models. This makes perfect sense when it comes to expensive custom-made knives and other pointy objets d’art, because there’s little pride of ownership in just another mass-produced sliver of steel from an automated factory in Guanzhou or Sendai . . .

I get that, and I completely agree. But I’m not sure it makes sense to obsess about the country of origin of utilitarian knives that live in the pocket of a hiking day-pack or the glove-box of a Jeep. If you’ve got a sharp and functional Chinese-made knife, would it cut even more cleanly if it were made in America or Germany instead?

I’ve got American-made knives, and I use Chinese, German, Swiss and Japanese knives as well. In my admittedly-not-vast experience, the ones to worry about are the ones that don’t say where they’re from. (Along with anything from Pakistan, which is often the same thing.)

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23 Responses to Question Of The Day: Can Chinese Knives Be Any Good?

  1. Dan says:

    I have several tacticool “bazo fine knife” blades which I carry for defense. It is no SOG or Benchmade but it looks scary enough to de-motivate an unruly person. Heck, they might even cut through skin if used properly. They’re also cheap enough (6-9 dollars) that I wouldn’t mind losing one or having it confiscated in a “weapon-free” zones.

    OTOH, they’re too flimsy for field work or camping use IMO. Not even the knock-off chinese KA-BAR I bought in Chinatown is up to the task. Better stick with good quality name-brand blades.

  2. Eh says:

    I have a Chinese made Kershaw that has lived in my pocket for over a year now. I’ve never sharpened it and, despite a lot of hard use, it’s still razor sharp. The fit and finish is not quite as good as some of my American made knives but for an all around EDC it’s excellent.

  3. jwm says:

    Quality is quality regardless of where it’s from. My beef is with American companies putting their names on chinese goods and selling them under their well established names. Like Buck. If I want a Buck knife, I want a Buck knife.

    If I compare an American made knife to a chinese made knife and still choose the chinese then that was my choice. I don’t like American brands going off shore and then still claiming to be American.

    • Chris Dumm says:

      I think you just nailed it, jwm.

      +1000, if I may?

    • utdmatt says:

      Yup, just inherited my grandpa’s old henry buck knife. Surprised when I found out the company closed and went Chinese. Definitely gonna hang on to it.

    • PubliusII says:

      Buck’s ads are clear enough about which knives are USA-made. I think you just have to look for those that are. And to that I’ll add that in my experience, Buck’s Chinese-made Canoe model (#389) is well-made, robust, and good-looking.

  4. Aharon says:

    A quality knife can come from many places. I think that many blade men prefer American made because it provides jobs to Americans and because they have (through the grape-vine) more awareness of an American company’s commitment to quality and what many be changing at the company vs. a Chinese made knife. Dedicated knife owners are concerned about a knife not failing them when out in the wilderness and in self-defense.

  5. Phydeaux says:

    Some of Spyderco’s best made knives come from Taiwan, and their Chinese knives are very decent at a great price.

    What I find intriguing are the Chinese knock offs of Chris Reeve, Hinderer, Striders and similar high end knives. They’re still not cheap – up to more than $100 – but a far cry from the stratospheric prices these maker’s knives garner.

    Would I rather have an actual Hinderer? Who wouldn’t? Can I justify spending the money on a Hinderer to my wife? Sadly, no. I don’t know if I could justify the money if I was going to use the knife for daily carry.

    These “high end” Chinese knock offs continue to hold an appeal to me, especially as “users”. Maybe someday I’ll pull the trigger and get one.

  6. Sam L. says:

    Wife gave me a Chinese knife a few years back. Brand(?) is “FIGHTER plus”. Don’t recall when I sharpened it, and I haven’t used it, but it slices paper quite well.

  7. ChuckN says:

    I disagree a little about the EDC vs a long term pack carry. I carry either
    an EDC and multitool or 2 EDCs. One is going to be of good quality the
    other is mediocre so I can toss if necessary. Whatever I choose
    to put in my personal pack or jeep survival bag is always top quality.
    If I need to use the packs, my life or someone else’s is in danger and I
    won’t trust anything but the best.

    As far as quality goes it’s a mixed bag. China not only makes various
    knives but the metal as well. Same with the handle materials. So it’s
    entirely possibly that a knife made in America can have the exact
    same flaws as a Chinese el cheapo. Of course it works in reverse too.
    A Chinese factory with good quality control can produce high grade
    stuff. You can always luck out too. I’ve got a cheap pawn shop junk
    bowie made in Pakistan. I use it for splitting kindling and chopping
    brush and it’s lasted 10+ years of utter torture.

    • 2hotel9 says:

      You hit it, stuff I use routinely gets beat and with the exception of my Buck 110 I carry cheaper EDCs. Break it, lose it, have to drop it in the dump box at courthouse security because I forgot to leave it in truck(which never happens with the Buck), I would rather be out $10-$20 than $60-$100. In my ruck, tacbag and both sets of LBE I have higher quality blades. And my KaBar lives on my pistol rig.

      As I said in another thread, its a global economy and nothing short of total collapse is going to change that. Caveat Emptor is not just something funny Bugs Bunny says.

  8. Nate says:

    There’s plenty of good knife manufacturers that have decent knives made in China. I don’t care where a knife is made, as long as there is good quality control

  9. Mindiman says:

    Knives are tools where quality/reliability is a must, with a little research we can narrow the trail and error stages,build a better America and buy American when possible and find which companies stand by thier product.

  10. Bill says:

    Avoid them like a plague. But then again, I never buy Chinese made goods if I can help it. And, there’s enough decent inexpensive knives out there NOT made in China, that enables me to avoid them.

  11. SubZ says:

    In general, I prefer American made. But, my current EDC is a chinese CRKT. Been very happy with it for the 16 months I’ve had it.

  12. janitor says:

    i go by steel type and quality of build…..but go american if possible. i def. cant justify paying 200+ on a “pocket knife” to the wife.

  13. Rich Keagy says:

    Sendai is in northern Japan.

  14. 2hotel9 says:

    At the end of the day there are quality blades from foreign sources and complete junk from foreign sources, and the exact same is true of American sources. Quality is a variable that each person has to determine for themselves, through research, from experience and word of mouth. And in the end it is all about choices and freedom of it.

  15. PubliusII says:

    While many view Chinese knives as cheaper (and inferior) versions of formerly American-made knives, I’m interested in Chinese knives that don’t copy American designs. In that light a company called SanRenMu does nice work at quite-reasonable prices. (Ebay is probably the best source to buy, but check out http://www.sanrenmu.com to see what they make.)

    SanRenMu caught some flack a couple years back on knife lists when they made a model (#710) that partly resembles the Chris Reeve Sebenza. But given the price differential — Reeve Sebenzas go for several hundred dollars each, while the SanRenMu 710 is less than $20 — I have a hard time getting worked up over this.

    The plain fact is that anyone buying a Sebenza is (1) spending serious money, and (2) not interested in anything less. Which is fair enough. Those who buy the SanRenMu 710 are (1) getting a good knife for the money, and (2) not detracting much if at all from Reeve’s sales. The two knives have entirely different customers.

    So if you keep an eye on quality and don’t expect more than they can provide, Chinese-made knives make interesting items to collect and carry.

  16. jwm says:

    Weren’t the Chinese getting flack over sending kids toys to the American market with contaminated metal in them a few years back? I don’t have the know how and the testing facilities to insure the chinese made knife isn’t leaching some sort of hazardous material onto me or my family.

  17. Rafael Patiño says:

    I am LATIN AMERICAN, but I appreciate VERY MUCH the american products quality against chinese; so, my defense gun (S&W), gun holster (Blade Tech), speed loaders (Safariland Comp 2), camping knife (Ka-Bar), belts (Daltech Force, Triple K and Boston Leather), are ALL American made. The only Chinese knife I have is my EDC Gerber FAST because the low price against a possibility of arbitrary police confiscation. God bless America.

    • 2hotel9 says:

      I feel you, bro. Problem is, you can find good quality from foreign manufacture, too. Comes to leather goods I love Mexican leather. Ammo? Hard to beat Sellier&Bellott. Corned Beef? Love me some Argentine corned beef. Damned right! Its a global economy, barring a massive economic collapse. It is incumbent on the consumer to judge the quality of what they buy regardless of its source of production.

      As for buy American, I do that by supporting local business and manufacture. Small business is the core of America’s economy, and that is what we should all be helping to build up.

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