What's a 'quality' knife these days, and are cheap 'gas station' knives starting to 'catch up'?

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Bob Denman

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My Missus picked me up a $5 dollar cheapie at the RV Dealership. It's actually a razor-sharp cutting little fool; that is holding it's edge...
I'm glad that it's in my arsenal of sharp stuff...
 
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That's fine, but perchance someone can explain exactly why it's 'cheap chinese crap'... and why we should happily pay several times more for what's increasingly the same materials, same designs, and often even the same vendors? Does anyone have a clear and serious answer, or do we just wanna stick with '$nob appeal'?
It’s cheap Chinese crap because gas station knives are made of whatever pot metal junk they have laying around for handle material and smelted down Toyota fenders for blade steel. Simple enough to understand?

If you buy $50 worth of knife at a gas station, compare that to a $50 Civivi, CJRB, etc. You will see that they are obviously not the same. They may have been made in the same country, but that’s where the similarities end.
 
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That's fine, but perchance someone can explain exactly why it's 'cheap chinese crap'... and why we should happily pay several times more for what's increasingly the same materials, same designs, and often even the same vendors? Does anyone have a clear and serious answer, or do we just wanna stick with '$nob appeal'?
Some have already touched on this but for consolidation sense:

1. The materials are suspect. Half the time the blades are marked as "stainless steel" but there are even versions out there that will be branded as D2 but will show virtually none of the associated characteristics of D2 such as being semi stainless, edge performance, and toughness in everyday cutting tasks.

2. Because of the cost cutting measures, many do not have secure or safe lockups. Lock rock, blade play, screws stripping or failing are all common occurrences on cheap gas station knives. This can lead to injury at worse or having a broken tool when you need it.

3. You dont have to pay anymore than you want to for a folding knife that is the beauty of the market. Spend nothing, spend a little, spend a lot. At the same time you have to recognize that like many other markets there is a reason that some products within the same space cost more and that is not always just brand awareness.
 

unwisefool

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The worst knife I have ever handled was a made in the USA NRA Buck knife. The standoffs were crooked, the whole knife was misaligned and the lock didn't actually work. Does that mean all USA knives are bad? No. It just means crap can be made anywhere.
 

Lesknife

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The worst knife I have ever handled was a made in the USA NRA Buck knife. The standoffs were crooked, the whole knife was misaligned and the lock didn't actually work. Does that mean all USA knives are bad? No. It just means crap can be made anywhere.
But you can’t send them all back like you can with Bucks forever warranty. Why didn’t you ? They would have fixed it and sent you a prepaid mailer to get it there.
 

Lesknife

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That's fine, but perchance someone can explain exactly why it's 'cheap chinese crap'... and why we should happily pay several times more for what's increasingly the same materials, same designs, and often even the same vendors? Does anyone have a clear and serious answer, or do we just wanna stick with '$nob appeal'?
Evidently you’ve never been in a serious situation when a cheap knife has failed you and left you stranded in a bad place to be. Just wait, it will happen if you get out of the house . I don’t buy chi knives, I buy American made from reputable companies. If I have to pay a bit more to know what materials I’m getting in a quality made knife it worth it. They have saved me a lot of heartache and long walks and more.
 

sabre cat

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That's fine, but perchance someone can explain exactly why it's 'cheap chinese crap'... and why we should happily pay several times more for what's increasingly the same materials, same designs, and often even the same vendors? Does anyone have a clear and serious answer, or do we just wanna stick with '$nob appeal'?
It’s “cheap chinese crap” because that is what China exported for years and the world bought it. We are still buying it and will continue to do so.

Why? Because of the mindset of your average consumer. He/she makes purchases based upon price, first and foremost.

It hasn’t always been “cheap Chinese 💩 “ though. A few decades back it was “Junk from Japan”. Japan now has their act together pretty well. Given time China will also.

It is only a matter of time until we are complaining about inferior goods from South Africa or India.

Or, how about US dreck?
 

John Phillips

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My brother goes through 4-5 cheap gerbers every year and I beg him to just spend $120 on something that will last, hold an edge, not break, and has a lifetime warranty. He won’t and never will, he’s too cheap. It drives me crazy when I hand him a ZT, Benchmade, or Spyderco and he shrugs his shoulders and hands them back unimpressed because he has no idea what the difference is. He also will not ever consider owning a knife that does have partially serrated blade. I finally figured out why, his cheap steel doesn’t hold an edge and he cuts through everything with the serrations, until they dull, roll or break off. Funny though, my 940-1 is partially serrated and I love it. 🤣🤣🤣
 

kobold

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Life is too short for crappy knives or paying attention how they trend, but to answer the question: just how I prefer free range to CAFO products, the same goes to a product made by a dictatorship and a product made by a relatively free, less captive nation.
 

Ajack60

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Before I joined BF, I didn’t know any better. Now I’m educated and know better to entertain the thought of buying a cheap knife regardless of where it’s made. I choose to save a little more and buy a quality knife.
I’d rather buy a knife from a reputable dealer and maker to give me piece of mind if there’s ever an issue. Before I joined BF, I did have a gas station knife fail on me, that taught me to look at name brands. There’s so many good budget knives being offered now, that you’d be silly to buy a knife without a way to resolve an issue.
 

MolokaiRider

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I have a few cheapo folders that qualify as "gas station knives".

They are poorly built using poor quality fasteners that strip. One actually fell apart in my hands when playing with it.

The edge rolls indicating soft steel.

The liner lock will move all the way over to the opposite liner when applying pressure on the blade.

One model had paint on the liner lock face as well, so as the paint wore off it introduced up and down play.

There is no warranty.

Many of these types of knives are notorious for cloning. This devalues and hurts legitimate knife makers and companies.

There is a possibility that some are made by people who suffer very poor working conditions.
 

sabre cat

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I would say you really do get what you pay for in knives and eyewear.

The funny thing is that most people want to go as cheaply as they possibly can on both.
 

sabre cat

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My brother goes through 4-5 cheap gerbers every year and I beg him to just spend $120 on something that will last, hold an edge, not break, and has a lifetime warranty. He won’t and never will, he’s too cheap. It drives me crazy when I hand him a ZT, Benchmade, or Spyderco and he shrugs his shoulders and hands them back unimpressed because he has no idea what the difference is. He also will not ever consider owning a knife that does have partially serrated blade. I finally figured out why, his cheap steel doesn’t hold an edge and he cuts through everything with the serrations, until they dull, roll or break off. Funny though, my 940-1 is partially serrated and I love it. 🤣🤣🤣
Do you think he would take care of a better quality knife?
 
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mtech and their ilk.... not only are the designs horrible & mall-ninja styled... (so right there, the handling and usability just stinks)

add to that junk steel, most likely 2cr13 or 3cr13... soft even if it is heat treated...
add to that that they often don't even bother to do heat treatment...
add to that other unknown 'shortcuts' in materials - g10 etc, without actual epoxy, or worse yet, toxic/dangerous filler materials...

and the overall equation adds up to only 1 reasonable answer: NO

if you want a cheap knife, there are quality options, -> opinel, mora, mkm, bucks import line, etc etc etc (read the forums here; )


anyone with a little common sense should see this ... & yet, I fully expect mtech to continue to be a viable company, sadly
 
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I wouldn't waste my money on subpar knives. I have before and I don't regret buying legitimate knives.

Yes there is a difference in lockup, deployment and of course use.

I use/beat on all my knives, even more abuse if I like them alot.
 

knarfeng

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what does 'cheap chinese crap' even mean anymore, and kinda begs the question... what's the 'difference' nowadays, if any (besides the price)?
That's fine, but perchance someone can explain exactly why it's 'cheap chinese crap'... and why we should happily pay several times more for what's increasingly the same materials, same designs, and often even the same vendors? Does anyone have a clear and serious answer, or do we just wanna stick with '$nob appeal'?

There are "cheap Chinese crap knives" that have poor heat treat, blades with suspect alloys, unreliable locks, and marginal fit and finish. Some of them are blatant copies of knives made elsewhere. None of these properties are desirable to the people who hang out on a knife forum.

There are also knives made in China which have none of these issues. They are typically not cheap, but are less expensive than if the same knife were made in the US. That's just the economics of the world these days.

Choosing a knife based on country of origin is not being a snob. It's called "Freedom of Choice" to spend your money as it makes sense to you do do.

And you want to be very careful about the use of derogatory terms on this forum. It is not well received.
 
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