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Kabar needs to step up their quality

Discussion in 'KA-BAR Knives' started by Tachead7075, Apr 21, 2016.

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  1. Tachead7075


    Apr 7, 2016
    Is anyone else disappointed in Kabar's quality? I sure am. I really like a lot of their knives. I especially like their Becker designed offerings. But, their quality is really poor compared to a lot of other companies from my experience. I will admit, I am a tradesman and have some background in manufacturing so I may have higher standards or be more picky then some though. I have yet to receive a kabar without a flaw of some kind yet. I find their grinds to be particularly bad(primary and final sharpening). My latest disappointment was the BK21. The first one I received had a very uneven and poor final grind particularly at the tip. Some parts of the grind were double ground into a kind of stepped convex while others were fine. The angles varied wildly and the tip was ground way off center with about twice as high of a grind on one side then the other. So, I ordered a replacement. Luckily I waited to send the first back because the second was even worse. Its final grind was a bit better overall but, still uneven and had almost as bad of an off center tip. But, the worst part was the primary grind. At the part nearest the handle/scales, one side of the grind is ground around 3/16" higher then the other almost to the spine. This is right at the weakest point on the blade as well. These are not my only issues with Kabar blades either. I have had other knives with uneven grinds on the primary, swedges, exc. and I have never received one yet with a good even final grind/sharpening(please hire some new sharpeners Kabar or at least train them better and do better inspections of their work). I have also had issues with poorly designed sheaths that almost immediately start to dull the edge of the knife with use.

    Overall, I am just disappointed and wish they could improve because I like a lot of their designs, they have good customer service, make tough knives, and they are North American made(USA) which is awesome. I like the price points they hit and think they are a pretty good value overall but, I would gladly pay a little more for a bit better attention to detail and QC/QA. I hope they do improve going forward because I think this is one of the only things lacking with this company.
  2. Insipid Moniker

    Insipid Moniker Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 28, 2011
    That's definitely disappointing. I recently got a BK5 and it's pretty much perfect, good grinds, even edge and swedge grind, hair popping sharp out of the box, so you may just he having a streak of bad luck with them. If you're dissatisfied, I would definitely call and let them know. Sorry to hear about the bad experience.
  3. Liam Ryan

    Liam Ryan

    Sep 26, 2005
    I have to agree to some degree. The false edges on both my BK5 and large heavy bowie were just crap, especially on the bk5. Looked like a blind guy using his wrong hand ground it in. I considered it cosmetic and just lived with it, it also had a slight bend but I would rather just use the things than deal with shipping it and waiting.

    Also I remove any coating on every knife I get, and it's obvious ka bar coats blades for one main reason, it's easier to slap some paint on something to hide all the blemishes than actually finish a knife. I expect at least a bit more at that price point.
    Overall one of my favourite knife companies but far from perfect.
  4. KingMC

    KingMC The Pun-isher Platinum Member

    Jul 25, 2014
    I've yet to have a Ka-bar over $30 have manufacturing issues, and I've probably owned 30 of them by now. Every one of them has been made with the quality I expect from a massive production line.

    If you expect $200 F&F on a $60 blade, you're bound to be disappointed. If you compare Ka-Bar with Ontario, and Condor you'll notice a difference in F&F.

    Some people have bad luck, but a couple bad eggs does not a reputation tarnish.
  5. zzyzzogeton


    Feb 17, 2013
    The "less than mirror perfect finish under the paint" serves 2 purposes.

    1 - reduces the overall price - it takes X man-hours to get each blade to a satin / near mirror / mirror finish. Multiply X man-hours by Y # of blades, and you can see why eliminating that level of finish under a coating prevails. And why blades with a higher degree of finishing usually cost more.

    2 - the rougher blade finish allows for better "grab" by the coating on the blade. Any coating adheres better when applied to a rougher finish.

    I have stripped the coatings off many blades, both Kabar and non-Kabar. None of the blades I have stripped had a satin or mirror finish. Some were slightly more finished than others, but grind lines were visible on all of them. But since any blade I strip the coating from is destined to be a user, the blade finish doesn't really play a big part of how well I like the knife in question - how the knife does the job I use it for does.
  6. TBL


    Dec 26, 2013
    Ya win some ya lose some :( sorry to hear of your bad luck. I currently own 10 Ka Bars and all of them have come perfect.
  7. RevolverGuy


    Aug 19, 2015
    I've only owned three (last one was bought in 2012) of their straight edge military fixed blade knives and they were all well put together and very good quality with excellent factory edge.
  8. Swampdog

    Swampdog Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 14, 2007
    Over the years I have accumulated five Becker knives and another five Ka-Bar knives, I find all of them to be of excellent quality .... no complaints at all!
  9. Bladite

    Bladite ǝɹnsıǝן ɟo uɐɯǝןʇuǝb Moderator

    Feb 28, 2003
    funny, how people buy a $50-150 dollar knife, and they want $500 quality...

    but when they buy a $500 knife, are willing to accept minor flaws as "artisan quality" :D

    KaBar ships a serviceable edge on most of their working knifes. if you want more, reprofile and sharpen at your leisure.

    some of their knives (the higher dollar stuff in particular) come with exquisite edges. lovely.

    you get what you pay for.
  10. Tachead7075


    Apr 7, 2016
    The problem is some of the other comparably priced companies(even cheaper ones) often come with better factory edge and more even primary grinds.

    Hand made knives can never achieve the same perfection as ones built on machines. The funny thing is that the people running the machines still have to do a good job and make sure things are done right. This is where Kabar fails. There is no excuse for uneven primary grinds done on a machine other then carelessness imo.

    Again, other comparable companies seem to be able to put a nice even edge on. Maybe Kabar needs to hire more experienced grinders or ones that are more meticulous. Sure you can put a better edge on yourself but, you should not have to. I prefer to waste steel by beating on/using my knives, not by fixing a poor factory edge.

    I have seen pretty good factory edges on Kabars before I will admit that but, as you see in my OP my 2 BK21's both came with poorly ground edges and they are in the upper end of their price range. Another one of my Kabars came with a poor edge as well.

    I agree, you do get what you pay for but, I just dont think Kabar quite hits the mark here. They are still mid range knives and not exactly cheap. I dont think asking for even grinds and a good even factory edge is asking too much for the price. YMMV.
  11. Kels73

    Kels73 Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 20, 2012
    I'm sorry to here that you've had some concerns. Most of my Kabar knives have not had any issues. However, there was one time when I received a BK7 that had very uneven grinds. When I took a closer look, I noticed that the blade was warped, so I contacted Kabar and they told me to send them the knife. I did so, and two weeks later I received a brand new BK7.

    I'm happy with Kabar. The BK7 is a production knife that costs less than $100. There are bound to be a few that have issues. What matters to me is that they took such good care of their customer. And besides that, the warped blade probably would have worked just fine.
  12. Gaston444


    Oct 1, 2014
    The OP's post reminded just how much was wrong with my BK-9 before I chucked it: I remembered mostly the cooling curved blade, which is totally unforgivable, yet very common, as many have pointed this out on their BK-9s, some even starting threads about it, one showing pictures demonstrating it with a laser beam on a flat surface.

    But what I had forgotten, and was reminded by the OP, was that the entire edge was completely not centered to the spine...: It was all the way out to one side near the handle, which is a bit odd, as usually the edge wanders off-center towards the tip... Even without the curved blade, that would be a deal breaker for all eternity concerning this company...: Here, two of these deal breakers were combined in one blade...

    Those who strip them are getting into a world of hurt polishing the huge grind marks off...: I actually liked the stippled paint, even if it everything stuck to it: It seemed to make the paint tougher....

    It is obvious Becker's motto is, as long as it cuts... And to be fair, the edge geometry was passable, and the sheath very good. But the blade workmanship was truly "anything goes", and I have never even considered getting another Becker (except eyeing a way to get the BK-9 sheath alone), even if it was an honest performer, although the handle vibrations were very bad.

    If you thing that is unfair, I have owned a few of the even cheaper Ontario knives, and they were all straight with centered edges. Not as sharp I'll admit, and some look like they have worse sheaths (although what I saw was quite good), but I am sure in the lot some acceptable users are hiding... The big Kraton handles were a lot better vibration wise.

    There was nothing wrong with the function of the knife, but off-centered edges and cooling curved blades blades are way off below the bottom of the barrel: I have seen $8 gas station knives that were straight with centered edges...

  13. Noswad0208


    Sep 8, 2014
    You know KA-BARs are hand ground, yes?

    Did you ever give KA-BAR a chance to fix it? The post directly above yours is talking about the same problem you had and theirs was fixed.

    At this point I've seen a lot of your posts and all I've ever seen you do is crap on KA-BAR because you got ONE bad knife. Warped blades must not be as common as you say or else there would be far more complaints than there are (the amount of happy BK9 owners far outweighs the unhappy).

    And no, most people don't get into a "world of hurt" by stripping them, because most people don't actually mind a few grooves on a knife they bought to use.
  14. Tachead7075


    Apr 7, 2016
    No they are not. They are ground on machines. Only the final sharpening is done by hand.
  15. Bladite

    Bladite ǝɹnsıǝן ɟo uɐɯǝןʇuǝb Moderator

    Feb 28, 2003
    you should see the mirror polished Beckers :D doesn't take long to buff that stuff out. modding heaven. you rarely see that kind of passion with knives from Ontario or other companies.

    "It is obvious Becker's motto is, as long as it cuts..." - really? that's pretty ignorant of the OP. Ethan doesn't make these. he can't control QC. if you had a problem with the blade, you call KaBar to see if they will fix it, instead of chucking it.

    mmm, somewhere there is a free knife in a trash bin ;)

    it's good when we get real feedback about problems, but armchair trolls just make us laugh. no company is perfect, but pretty much you have to attest, that between Ethan being here personally, and KaBar backing up the warranty of the knives they make, you have a pretty solid deal.

    i've had Becker knives for nearly 30 years or so? Some made or fondled by Ethan himself, many made by the various companies he's associated with. Good stuff for the most part.

    just remember, if you don't try it, you won't know, and if you hate it, someone WILL buy it off you.

    so, ya know, get over it, get it fixed and get out there and chop stuff :D
  16. Bladite

    Bladite ǝɹnsıǝן ɟo uɐɯǝןʇuǝb Moderator

    Feb 28, 2003
    machine made, for the most part, some might even be sharpened on machines these days, and the rest are hand finished, by people who've been doing the job longer than many of you have been alive.

    generally as well, as delivered, iirc, the "final grit" is around 240 or so. if you're looking for mirror polished convexed edges, then you will be disappointed.
  17. Tachead7075


    Apr 7, 2016
    Yep, machine made mostly. That's what makes getting uneven primary grinds, swedges, exc. even more frustrating. It just shows general carelessness and a lack of the meticulous nature that a tradesman(operator) should have. It also shows that QC isn't very tight and/or the bar for defects is set quite low. The examples I have received and seen were not sharpened well so, they must have some rookies on the line now or the old timers you speak of have gotten Parkinsons or completely lost their desire to do a good job.

    The final grit doesn't bother me. Although around 400 would be nice.

    Sent from my SGH-I337M using Tapatalk
  18. Bladite

    Bladite ǝɹnsıǝן ɟo uɐɯǝןʇuǝb Moderator

    Feb 28, 2003
    a line was crossed. you clearly are trolling. we have rewards for that if you keep it up.

    this is closed.
  19. Esav Benyamin

    Esav Benyamin MidniteSuperMod

    Apr 6, 2000
    You may be overstating your case, pointing to working knives with working finishes.

    But you are out of line talking about the "rookies" or "Parkinsons". You don't know these people, or how much of their work is imperfect. Instead of griping in generalities, get with customer service and get a problem fixed.
  20. Bladite

    Bladite ǝɹnsıǝן ɟo uɐɯǝןʇuǝb Moderator

    Feb 28, 2003
    also, pictures. extensive pictures. you want to help get things fixed? that's a start.

    quite a few people complaining stop when asked for proof. go figure.

    QC issue? KaBar wants to know about it.
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