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.
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.
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.
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.