So, what's up with the Al Mar SERE 2020?

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by SALTY, Sep 9, 2020.

  1. SALTY

    SALTY Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 19, 2000
    I get that the company has been acquired and that the knives are manufactured in China; I get that.
    I also realize that Al Mar was a champion of what is the tactical folder.
    I get that Gary Fadden had AMK for a period.
    Business models and dealings aside, Al Mar knew his sh*t and his knives were/are The Sh*t!

    So, in light of the and business wheelings and dealings, and what not - what's up with the knives?

    I happen to think that they are very cool designs offered with very respectable execution and QC.

    In fact, I've bought a few at what I perceive to be very attractive pricing and wonder what the brain trust here at BF thinks ... hence this thread.

    I look forward to options, feelings, sentiments, etc.
  2. Stelth


    Jul 15, 2007
    I like the real Al Mars. I don't consider the knives you're talking about to be legitimate nor desirable.
    Quiet, jeepin and Razor like this.
  3. Hackenslash

    Hackenslash Don't feed the Trolls Platinum Member

    Jul 25, 2014
    I bought a classic jigged Falcon from the new line of Chinese knives and I was impressed with it. It’s not quite what a Seki Falcon would be but darn decent for the price.
    I consider it a decent representation of the “Al Mar Falcon” experience.

    Otherwise, the Sere 2020 catch flak because they’re assisted open flippers which is very far from an Al Mar experience.

    Some folks just hate them all due to point of origin.
    jfk1110 and colin.p like this.
  4. AntDog

    AntDog Gold Member Gold Member Basic Member

    Apr 3, 2001
    It’s kinda like going on a Ferrari forum and asking why they don’t like the new Hyundais with Fauxrrari body kits.

    The old, real deal Al Mar knives were leaps and bounds away in quality. If you’ve owned any you know why people would think what they do about an assisted opening made in China Sere with a flipper. :rolleyes:
    jbmonkey, JBC6650, Stelth and 5 others like this.
  5. bouddha0357


    Jan 23, 2013
    I think that there are three elements to that question:

    The first one is functionality:

    - Does the current, made in China, classic line replicate the functionality of the Seki made Eagle/Falcon/Hawk?

    Yes as the functionality goal, when designed in 1979, was to have a long blade in a sturdy yet thin package (specifically in the case of the Eagle) in a folding knife with a locking blade.
    They have even improved it, as the Seki made Al Mar Eagle with Honey Jigged Bone handles is noticeably thicker than its Micarta and Cocobolo brethren. The Chinese made versions replicates the thickness of the of the Micarta/Cocobolo Eagles whilst being made with Honey Jigged Bone.

    In other words, we have the same function and it prints less when carried in the pocket with the leather sheath

    The second one is Fit and Finish:

    - Does the current, made in China, classic line replicate the F&F of the Seki made Eagle/Falcon/Hawk?

    I bought one of the first Eagle that was made in China and have been using it for 7 months. The F&F wasn't there as the brass liners were of different thickness, you could feel the transition between line and bolster and the bevels on the bolsters were not the same.
    The backspring was ridiculously tight and the opening felt gritty at the pivot.
    Usage made it more pleasurable as it smoothed out and the backspring and opening issue are problems of the past.
    The Falcon pictured above looks noticeably better in terms of F&F so they are making progress and at current discounted price are very much worth it in my mind.

    The third one is business strategy and continuity:

    - How do you insufflate new life in the Al Mar line?

    Clearly, ETE went in two directions.
    On the one hand, we all saw the success of the Kershaw/Al Mar line in 2017! It sold like hotcakes as it made the Al Mar functionality accessible to every wallet with the caveat that it was made in China with 8Cr13MoV steel. No one cried back then about the assisted opening back, the steel, the pillar construction or the Made in China.
    ETE has replicated that in the cheaper Al Mar Ultralight line, changing the G10 with FRN and removing the AO but keeping the flipper. In other words the same knife as the Kershaw AM-4 but with a longer blade (4" vs 3.5") that actually matches the Eagle's blade length!

    On the other hand, if you go onto Al Mar Knives Instagram account, the very first picture posted was of a SERE 2000 with titanium scales, another direction that the company was taking at the time. Unfortunately, this remained a prototype only.
    They did keep the idea of the titanium scales and applied it to the more expensive Ultralight line and switched to D2 steel. I don't mind D2 steel as it is an excellent steel. Yes we have created better steel since the 90's (when D2 was considered top of the range) and a lot of progress has been made.
    But you still find D2 steel attached to expensive knives.
    Some of them from Benchmade at around $300 or from Brous Blades and so forth. The would set you back that much money because they are made in the USA.

    Schrade offers a balisong at $90 with a D2 blade and its made in the US. I have never owned it so I don't know if its quality. Boker Plus has a range of knives that are made in China with D2 steel and they are priced around the same as the Al Mars.

    So we can see that the initial choices made by ETE for the relaunch of Al Mar knives were actually pragmatic choices based on business continuity with what was done by Al Mar Knives in 2017.

    In conclusion, We steel have the functionality offered by the original Eagle/Falcon/Hawk design. The F&F is 90% there and we have a new line with good materials all for a vastly reduced cost on the Seki made knives. These comments apply to the SERE 2020.

    In my dreams, I wish that Al Mar was still made in Japan with the whole line made in laminated ZDP-189 but it is not the case.

    Now what we can hope is for the current line to be profitable enough that it would generate the impetus for another line of knives that follows the original design mandate of Al Mar Knives:

    - Functionality
    - Elegance
    - Resilience
    - Top of the line materials and production techniques
    - Advanced designs
    Mikel_24, colin.p and SALTY like this.
  6. AntDog

    AntDog Gold Member Gold Member Basic Member

    Apr 3, 2001
    I beg to differ...

    Anyway, I don’t see the Sere 2020 going anywhere as it is. If they changed the brand name it might work. If they upped the F&F and materials it might work. The compromise doesn’t. The way it stands, they’re simply cheapos shaped like Al Mar designs.
    jbmonkey, vjb.knife, Stelth and 5 others like this.
  7. bouddha0357


    Jan 23, 2013
    What difference did you see between the SERE 2000 and the SERE 2020 in terms of Fit and Finish

    Would you be so kind as to give us more details?
  8. JJ_Colt45

    JJ_Colt45 Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 11, 2014
    I do not own any of the "new" Al Mar knives but I can state they in NO WAY compare to older Al Mar other than looks ... and don't look to close or you'll see the differences there too.

    The new knives may be worth exactly what you pay for them but I can't believe anyone who has owned or handled the originals would compare anything of the two.
    Lee D, Quiet and AntDog like this.
  9. bouddha0357


    Jan 23, 2013
    I own all three of the new Eagle line and I own 2 of the old Eagles (Honey Jigged Bone and Cocobolo), the third one in Micarta is on the way. I have an Eagle HD in VG10 (my favorite knife).

    The only knives that can be compared like for like are the Eagles in Honey Jigged Bone with Talon blade. I have expressed in my previous post my view on its fit and finish and it is the only difference.
    In terms of functionally it is the same knife.

    The Eagle UL with FRN handle is meant to match the older 1005UBK in terms of affordability. in my mind it is a big disappointment. There is far too much flex in the handle due to the flow through construction and the lack of backspacer, also the liner lock is uncomfortable to use.

    The Eagle UL with Titanium handle would be more closely related to the Ultralight HD but they would be hard to compare in terms of Fit and Finish as one is a lockback and you can see how the G10 scales are superbly lined up with the backspace and how the spine and the lock look like they are made of a single piece when the knife is open with no apparent transition.

    The other is a frame lock. None of the F&F checkpoints that applies to the Eagle 5HDBT apply. What I can say is that I found no flaws on the titanium scale or the blade centering. My only complain is that if I remove the pocket clip there is no insert I can screw to fill the hole left in the scale. It is a very good knife that has the exact same functionality as the Eagle HD and the two cannot be compared in F&F as it would be like comparing apples and oranges...
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2020
    colin.p likes this.
  10. SALTY

    SALTY Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 19, 2000
    I kind of felt like it was going on a knife forum and asking about a new, budget iteration of a classic. I did own a SERE 2000 and foolishly sold it. I have a passion for the heritage of Al Mar and his style of knives. I ordered two SERE 202os and while one was truly spot on, the other had a handle slab too proud on the liner for my tastes, despite the price point. I sent it back and was sent a replacement. The replacement has very good F&F ... for it's price point I would go so far as to say excellent. As a user/beater I am happy with it although I know it's made in China, has a flipper tab and is not (exactly) the knife that Al Mar designed and sold.

    As indicated above, I did own a SERE 2000 (which I do regret selling) but respectfully disagree that the SERE 2000 and 2020 cannot be compared. To be clear, the 2000 was, of course, better, nicer and more true to the originals; but at less than half the price, the SERE 2020 is arguably not less than half the knife. As a user/beater it provides very good functional value, is comfortable in the form of my old 2000 and does resemble, though perhaps not exactly replicate, the design of Al Mar.

    I didn't start this thread to defend the current course of AMK but more to come clean about my happiness with a <$50 comfortable, nicely designed D2 folder that resembles a knife I once owned and liked - originally designed by someone I respect. Put differently, for a <$50 D2 folder would this knife suffer disdain if it were labeled differently, named differently or, worse yet, an unattributed clone of the SERE 2000? Perhaps the bar was set so high my Al Mar and his production SERE folders that anything, even if it were close, would pale by comparison.

    Hopefully these are not seriously viewed as a knife equivalent of a Folex watch or Fauxrari exotic car but rather a pretty darned functional <$50 D2 folder of a noteworthy style.
    colin.p and bouddha0357 like this.
  11. Hackenslash

    Hackenslash Don't feed the Trolls Platinum Member

    Jul 25, 2014
    I was impressed with this Chinese jigged Falcon for F/F. It’s better than the price point and holds its own with the Japanese Falcon and Sere that I own given the disparity of price.
    E8D54552-14A5-4AAF-B8CD-55EC4D34830D.jpeg FCB87BF0-BAA1-4FF4-A14D-DFC9D99CE19B.jpeg DC34725B-E53D-4409-A57D-0087A0C1D382.jpeg 3D5080F7-C6E4-4803-A512-815B940EC05F.jpeg
    colin.p and bouddha0357 like this.
  12. Quiet

    Quiet "That guy" Platinum Member

    Oct 11, 2013
    What's up with Al Mar is that he passed away, some drama happened with his wife, and old business partner, and then some Chinese company bought the name in order to sell new cheaply made knives to people that are looking for a bit of nostalgia.

    So, essentially the same thing that's happened plenty of times with other old brands.

    I own multiple original Al Mar knives, I wouldn't waste a single dollar of my money on these new copies. I'm starting to see these on discount everywhere, but I'm sure that's just a coincidence and not because they aren't selling. :)

    Oh, and an assist-open SERE? Al Mar is probably rolling in his grave.
    jbmonkey, vjb.knife and jfk1110 like this.
  13. colin.p


    Feb 4, 2017
    Thanks. I've had that knife in my "cart" for awhile and then removed it a couple weeks ago. Now I'll have to add it again as your pictures were the tipping point.
  14. JJ_Colt45

    JJ_Colt45 Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 11, 2014
    The issue I have is the drastic change and labeling it the same. As I said you may get a decent knife for what you pay in the case of the newer knives. But owning some original Al Mars and having handled the newer I cannot compare them.

    The F&F is not comparable in my eyes and the materials and feel of function is day and night between the older knives I own and the newer.

    I know they bought the rights to it but to me it lures people who don't know the difference may think they are getting a knife that they are truly not. Even if someone is satisfied with the price they pay for what they get today ... what the get IMO is not a true Al Mar knife.

    I'm glad you found a knife that you like and it was of value to you. I don't feel the same ... it is a very poor substitute when held next to the original Al Mar 2000 ... maybe they should have marketed it with a new name instead of playing on the true knive's success and didn't mislead so many who have bought one thinking of the quality the 2000s were and got this knife.
    jfk1110 and Quiet like this.
  15. SALTY

    SALTY Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 19, 2000
    I can see how a cheap(er) Chinese attempted iteration of a classic, by a man (Al Mar) who is truly due respect, can be frowned upon.

    OTOH, it can also be seen that a really great design (in D2) although perhaps not perfectly executed as compared to the original, can be carried, used and abused at the sub-$50 price point while providing some semblance of, or connection to, the original. Put differently, I'm happy with what I got for my money and will use and abuse it with aplomb while appreciating the late, great Al Mar's design philosophy albeit at a budget level. Think about the user/beater choices <$50 and this knife ain't so bad.

    Your point however is well taken that some may think they're getting something that they are not.

    I bought in with eyes wide open and am satisfied, but your point is nonetheless a valid one.
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2020
    JJ_Colt45 likes this.
  16. JBC6650

    JBC6650 Basic Member Basic Member

    Jul 19, 2008
    I'm starting to wonder if bouddha0357 is an illegitimate love child of Al Mar.

    These aren't Al Mar knives they are just knife like objects shaped like Al Mar knives. Same thing with Cammilus and Schrade/Old timer.
    This would all be different if Nemesis knives got control of the brand but they didn't, its over move on. It won't be the same.
    No matter how much you want it, it ain't real. Just a sad shadow of a once cool brand, who's day has come and gone. Let it go, Its dead Jim.
    Stelth likes this.
  17. jbmonkey

    jbmonkey Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Jun 9, 2011
    I dig the al mar sere fixed and folder designs. even with the ugly mess of the partner and wife deal i was able to still like them. the pricing i always struggled with though.

    these flipper versions in Chinese thanks.
    Stelth likes this.

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