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Coujnterfeit Okapis, Part Deux

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by KHarper, Jun 10, 2019.

  1. KHarper


    Jan 4, 2019
    I am bringing up the subject of an old thread (https://www.bladeforums.com/threads/fake-okapi-knives.1562929/) again because it was over a year old and I'm not sure what the rules about necro threads are. Better safe than sorry.
    Anyway, I just got myself a new Okapi Big Sable and a Genet. The Genet was a replacement for one that I bought from Baryonyx recently (his last Okapi in stock, apparently), and lost a few weeks later. I bought myself the two new ones from ebay, from two random sellers, just because. There are a few features of interest: the Genet is exactly like the first one I bought, except that it is marked "Carbon Steel" instead of "Made In South Africa". That made me a little worried at first, but they both came in identical cardboard "Okapi Carbon Steel" boxes as seen in the previous thread (although for all I know those are something that sellers get independently for re-selling Okapis, and it may be no indicator at all). The Sable is marked "Made In South Africa". Perhaps they come in both styles at various times.
    But what was most curious is that when I came to reprofile the blades, the Sable is made of steel that seems noticeably softer than the Genet. It just melts off under a diamond sharpener. Does it seem strange that they'd use two different types of steel for two different models? Maybe the Sable is meant for a different kind of end-user, or they are compensating for the greater cost of the larger blade and handle by using cheaper steel? I made me a little worried that it was a knock-off. From what I read on the last thread, it APPEARS to be all legit; it has the newer type "Okapi" lettering, and it certainly doesn't have the dual-sided bevel and angled edges of the counterfeit shown on the last thread. Just seemed strange to me.
    BTW someone mentioned that their Okapis came with loose blades in the old thread; my first one was fine, but the two I just got were both quite loose. I found that this is easily fixed by putting one end of the rivet on an anvil or stone and tapping the other end with a small hammer with light force. The rivet heads are soft enough they flattened right down and tightened the blade up nicely. Nice and snug now (obviously, be gentle and proceed with care or you'll end up with it so tight you can't open it easily).
    And while I'm at it, the Genet, at least, appears to have a design flaw. It looks like the edge of the blade rests on the rivet holding the back spring when it is closed (it shows inside the bade channel). If you let it snap closed, it will dent the blade. I cut a short piece of rubber band and stuck it down inside over the metal rivet, which makes nice soft bed for the edge to lie on. I did the same for the Sable, because the edge rests on the wood, even if it doesn't seem to actually touch the metal rivet on that knife.
    And if anyone cares, in my opinion, the Genet is a much more useful size and shape for a knife than the "classic" Sable. The Sable looks cool, but as a practical EDC knife the Genet is smaller, more efficient and has a more useful blade shape, in general. And that's not even counting the harder steel, if that is actually the way they are made from the factory. Haven't tried any others yet (I'd like one of those sheepsfoot ones next), but of the two I'd choose the Genet, if I meant to EDC it (not to say that there's anything WRONG with an EDC Big Sable, just not the better of the two, IMHO)
    Henry Beige likes this.
  2. Henry Beige

    Henry Beige Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 1, 2015
    By all means try the Biltong. The size and sheepsfoot blade make it my favorite Okapi. I carry it daily and keep a spare on hand.

    I like the feel of the Genet, kind of a folding paring knife. It is just the right size for carry. I don’t carry it much because Opinel 6. The Big Sable makes a fine gift knife, but the size keeps me from wanting one of my own.

    My Genet and my ratchet both have wobbly blades. The Biltongs do not.
  3. Rich S

    Rich S

    Sep 23, 2005
    I recently got a Genet from a trustworthy dealer. It is possibly the worse knife I seen in my 67 years of collecting, customizing, repairing and making knives. Only one side is beveled, the other side is flat (no grind) leaving it blunt with about 2mm of totally dull edge full length of the blade (I've seen better butter knife edges) also no point whatsoever, it is a good flat head screwdriver (about 3-4mm wide). Not worth the time to return it. Also, the front several mm of the blade slams into the wood - the kick is totally non-functional. The chrome is peeling off the back spring. Can't imagine any company producing such garbage. It now lays in the basement in my junk box. I'll stick with Opinels.
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2019
  4. brownshoe

    brownshoe I support this site with my MIND

    Sep 6, 2002
    I agree with Rich S. Every Okapi I've ever seen was not worth buying. They each had different problems. I would not be surprised if their heat treat was less than optimal and varied from knife to knife. I totally believe you can get a good one, but that doesn't mean you can't get a bad one next time. When a knife comes as far as South Africa and costs less than $10, it's not suprising if it has "issues."
  5. Henry Beige

    Henry Beige Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 1, 2015
    You guys must be getting some of those fake Okapis we have been reading about. ;-{>

    Seriously, though, if you want to up your chances of getting a good Okapi, buy it from Baryonyx.*
    Benjamin looks at his knives, and holds back those he deems unworthy of sale to the public. I have no idea how many knives that is, but Okapi quality control has always varied between hit-or-miss and nonexistent.

    For a couple of bucks, he will put a decent edge on as well, something that can otherwise be a chore.

    The asymmetrica grind you observed is not a bug, it’s a feature. They are all like that.

    If that doesn’t do it for you, it may simply be that you are not Okapi material. They are not for everyone.

    *If he even has any. Someone pointed out that he is all out of Okapis.
  6. KHarper


    Jan 4, 2019
    For a knife that retails for about $2 in Africa, I think they are just fine. They are built to be poor-man's knives, and they work just fine for that. They are sold with a dull edge because they expect the owner to know how to put an edge on themselves, like a machete. I would rather have an Okapi than some gas station "tactical" folder with cheap stainless steel and a wobbly screw-pivot blade.
    Your Okapi is very dull, because they are sold like that. They expect the buyer to be able to put an edge on their own knife, with a brick if need be. What do you want for $2? They only cost $10 in the US because they are collector's items here.
    I may have the wrong idea of what the "bevel" of a knife is, but yes, the blade is only angled on one side. That is the way it is designed and does not impact the functionality of the knife at all. The actual sharpened edge (what I had always called the "bevel") has two sides, like any other knife. The bevel is very dull and quite oblique from the factory, but a hour or so with a coarse whetstone will put a thinner angle and a perfecty usable edge on it. The absolutely blunt tip (rounded in one dimension, squared in the other, full blade width) sharpens down with little effort to a nice round, sturdy cutting tip, much like a douk-douk. For many purposes I prefer this to a very delicate, sharp-pointed tip (such as the Opinel, for example, the tip of one of of which I bent/snapped off by dropping it the other day, which isn't a problem with an Okapi).
    You seem to think that generations of Africans and others have been stupid enough to pay money for a totally worthless knife...snd have been duped since 1902. They are no such thing. They know how to make a knife out of a piece of scrap steel, they are also able to put an edge onto an Okapi. Even I, amateur though I am had no trouble making a useful knife out of mine.
    That said, by all means carry your Opinel. Strictly speaking, the Opinel is a better knife. That doesn't make the Okapis worthless. I probably won't make mine into an EDC, but I wouldn't feel poorly-used if that's all I had available.
    There seems to be a theme here: the same kind of people who are interested in Opinels are the same ones curious enough to buy an Okapi. Must be something in the "historically significant everyman's-knife" category that attracts certain people.
    As for the wobbly blades, like I said, that can be fixed with a small hammer and a solid surface. A few gentle raps and the rivet head will tighten right up beautifully. I suppose that's all along with expecting the owner to know how to put an edge on the blade.

    I believe I bought the last one he had in stock. I only bought the Genet because it was the only one that would "add" to my cart, which I took to mean that he was all out of the other models. When I tried to buy a new Genet to replace the one I lost, it wouldn't show up in the cart either, so I assume I got the very last one (or close to it).
    He doesn't offer edge sharpening on the Okapis, at least not on the Genet. Perhaps because it's a more serious job than just touching up the blade on most knives. He'd have to charge as much as the knife cost again just to make it worth his while to put an edge on an Okapi, even with power equipment. Usually he offers to "finish" the blade on a knife (some of which probably need it more than others). but in this case he'd need to pretty much put an edge on it. It's not quite a totally blunt, unsharpened edge, but it's not much better. Although the Big Sable was sharper than the Genet. Probably depends on which worker was on duty when that knife came though.
    Sidehill Gouger likes this.
  7. Henry Beige

    Henry Beige Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 1, 2015
    Although I saw he was all out of Okapis after I read your post, I didn’t note the absence of “special treatment”. My Genet and a couple of Biltongs have Baryonyx edges. I wonder if he plans to continue to carry them, or if their absence is just part of the normal ebb and flow of commerce.
  8. Sidehill Gouger

    Sidehill Gouger

    Dec 29, 2007
  9. brownshoe

    brownshoe I support this site with my MIND

    Sep 6, 2002
    What you say is true, Okapi leaves 1/2 the knife making to the user. Not for me. The Douk Douk is my choice, single-bevel too, well worth the extra money and doesn't come loose or get that way with use.

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