Arrived for testing: Milwaukee Fastback Camo Folder

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Milwaukee Tools sent me a Fastback for testing

Many of you have been asking us to review some lower-priced import knives. High-end productions and customs are wonderful, but not everyone has either the budget or desire to drop more than $100 on a knife, and depending on the circumstances, more than $25-$50.

We have discussed Moras and Opinels extensively, and I am not alone in my belief that they represent the best value for the money in the fixed and folder categories respectively. However, “knife-enthusiasts” are a small sliver of the overall knife market. Many more people buy their knives from hardware and box stores without much prior research.

There are a lot of junk knives in the sub-$50 category, but there are some decent values out there as well. Over the coming months we will review several.

Out of the blue, a representative of Milwaukee Tool Company sent me an email. They would like to expand their outreach into areas that their current marketing is not reaching both for their current offerings and for tools that they might have coming down the pike.

I own two Milwaukee power tools, both of which have served me well over their 10 years of service. I have a jigsaw for detail work and a Sawzall for rougher tasks. It was an absolute workhorse when I built my Jeep, and continues to be for myriad tasks around my workshop and home. There is a reason that this tool has reached the sort of legendary status where the name “Sawzall” is used to refer to reciprocating saws in general, regardless of brand.

Milwaukee’s current knife offerings are at first glance your typical big-box fair. Chinese imports whose manufacturing pedigree is questionable, but carrying branding from a well known company. There are many examples of this from most major tool companies.

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The Fastback has surprisingly good ergonomics for a $25 import

Milwaukee sent me a Fastback Spring-Assisted Camo knife for testing. I am about done with my review of the Gerber Propel, I just finished the CRKT Hootenanny, and am ready to begin testing a few new folders.

Obviously, I am going to need to evaluate the fastback for what it is. I understand that I am not reviewing a $120 Benchmade, it is a $25 import folder. But my initial impression is that this might be a little of a diamond in the rough. It has a reasonably solid feel to it, especially when compared to a $20 Guardian D1 that I picked up on a whim at Smoky Mountain Knife Works for the purpose of destructive testing.

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The Guardian D1 seems like a complete piece of crap

In all ways, the Fastback seems superior to the Guardian. It is heavier, the spring seems much stronger, and just doesn’t feel like a garbage knife. The ergonomics are surprisingly good, the handle swell fits my hand nicely. I haven’t been able to find out the steel that it is made from from online sources, so I have sent a follow up email to the Milwaukee rep who contacted me. I will update when I hear back.

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The Fastback’s liner lock is less robust than the framelock of the CRKT Hootenanny

Right now I have 3 Chinese import folders to test, the Fastback, the Guardian, and a Byrd Meadowlark – Spyderco’s label for their inexpensive Chinese blades. We plan on picking up a few more, are there any that you all would like to see us add to our sub-$50 import folder shootout? Please let me know in the comments.

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3 Chinese imports set for testing (top to bottom): Byrd Meadowlark, Milwaukee Fastback, and Guardian D-1

comments

  1. Schrade seems to have some decent imported folders… While I’m not a big fan of them since they sold to China, there are a ton of good reports about them.

    As well, Lanksy makes some really interesting designed knives in the $15-$25 range that might have promise.

    1. I am shocked! Shocked that someone who runs a blog called RuggedAmericanGear.com would not be a fan of import knives. 🙂

  2. Got to stay consistent my friend! Although I have come around on Mora’s…they aren’t made in Asia, and for the money there is just no reason not to own 3 or 4 of them for fun!

  3. stuartb says:

    Any Kershaw flipper in the $20 – $30 range

    1. My brother picked up a Strobe for >$30, and the flipping action is pretty dang sweet! Better than the $65 CRKT GSD I am currently testing.

      1. I am playing with the Milwaukee now and have been thinking “I have seen plenty of worse knives in the 25-50 range. It deploys with authority.

        1. Luke says:

          I currently own the Milwaukee knife being tested and I use it everyday at work. I’m a pipe fitter so the knife has been used to cut through sheetrock, plywood, and several other tasks that normally would kill or destroy most cheaper knifes. I am more then satisfied in the knife, however I haven’t seen the other knifes so I can’t give a opinion on them but over all I would give the knife a 4 out of 5 rating

  4. Andrew Kling says:

    milwaukee list on their website that the blades are made from d2 steel.

    1. I will have to look into that but when I talked to the representative of Milwaukee he would not say what it was specifically but that it was in the 3Cr family

  5. Luke says:

    I also just picked up a cheap fair knife made by elk ridge and seem pretty impressed with it so far

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Arrived for testing: Milwaukee Fastback Camo Folder

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