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Why I Love My CRK Umnumzaan: An In-depth Review w/ Pictures!

Discussion in 'Chris Reeve Knives' started by NickZac, Jul 12, 2009.

  1. NickZac

    NickZac

    904
    Mar 26, 2006
    Why I Love My CRK Umnumzaan: An In-depth Review w/ Pictures!


    Introduction
    As knife enthusiasts and collectors, occasionally that knife comes along which gives you a chill down your spine and makes you grin as you pick the knife up and open it up because you know that this knife was made just for you. For me, this is the case with the Umnumzaan. The Umnumzaan, by Chris Reeve Knives, is their newest folding knife capable of handling tasks that were once restricted to fixed blade knives. I like the Sebenza but there were always some things which I wanted to see in a Reeve that the Sebenza simply did not offer. The Umnumzaan corrects almost all of the areas I wanted to see in the future Sebenza and because of this, I like the Umnumzaan a lot and it makes me happy. Before going into the full review, its worth mentioning that there are different rears and different saddles and every rear has a preference. If not, there wouldn’t be so many different styles, designs, and animations as seen in the knife world today. You may not like the Umnumzaan as much as I do but I would recommend that you go and play with one in person as it is one of the few knives that make a big impact and presence on the entire industry and it may very well sneak itself into your pocket when you least expect it.

    Today I played with my second Umnumzaan. It has quickly become a carry favorite and it is designed to be used…heavily at that. I am going to review and post some pictures below to show you what I did today and how great this knife is for every day carry.




    Modeling Pictures
    Below are some pictures of my Umnumzaan, my Benchmade 941Ti Osborne, a Granny Smith Apple, a piece of Mopani Drift Wood and some bricks.

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  2. NickZac

    NickZac

    904
    Mar 26, 2006
    Basic Food Prep
    Chopping is fruit is something which this knife excels at. It loves fruit as do I. In this case, the apple was to be fed to some of the local rabbits that come up and eat out of my hand. Thanks to the Umnumzaan, they don’t even have to chew it!
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    Yard Work/In the Garden
    So now let’s do some outdoor work. The bushes and weeds were getting out of control and they needed someone to put them in their place. The Umnumzaan was the perfect candidate.
    [​IMG]

    Actually, I had a lot of weeding to do…
    [​IMG]



    Fire Components
    Beginning
    While I was outside, I decided that I might as well take a few more action pictures! Let’s cut some things up!!! If you got held up in the woods without a firestarter log or blow torch and it was negative 60 degrees with a tail wind, you would be well advised to build a fire. Well, in order to fire’er up, you need fuel. Since you probably don’t have a gas line, you need wood shavings and cardboard. The Umnumzaan sears through both live and dead wood and push cuts through cardboard with ease.
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  3. NickZac

    NickZac

    904
    Mar 26, 2006
    Half Way Their
    Once your fire starts up, you need small to medium branches. Well, it’s good to know that with the Umnumzaan, you can hack like a maniac without worrying about damaging the knife. This guy eats through smaller sticks and branches.
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    When working with dry dead wood which can be critical for getting the flame going, the Umnumzaan helps break it apart. Yes, I am prying it in this picture. I don’t recommend prying but the strength of the knife and blade has let me pry in a few different scenarios.
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    Complete
    Well at this point you need some big wood; some are better at this task than others. Unfortunately, I do not have the skill to both baton and shoot, so you can only see a few of the steps. The lock, blade and handle can hold up to having the absolute crap smacked out of it. The last time I tried this with another knife, I wound up being out $100 bucks…the softer CPM-S30V steel makes a different as at 58-59, it retains incredible impact resistance.
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    Don’t Try This at Home
    I also used it as a stake…I would not do this with a knife that you are not 100% secure with the lock.
    [​IMG]
     
  4. NickZac

    NickZac

    904
    Mar 26, 2006
    Light Metal Cutting
    Let’s say you need to make a tool out of a can or aluminum object. Or in the more likely scenario, let’s say you ran out of things to cut or you have Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder and decide to make a completely random contraption, the Umnumzaan delivers! I am a huge ginger ale fan and I drink at least 6 cans a day. Well other than recycling, what do I do with these cans?!?! Boredom trumps all and on a semi-random basis, I create contraptions from coke cans and plastic bottles daily. Here is a 30 second work of at. I’m sure you can use it for…er…virtually nothing. Anyways, your Umnumzaan will deliver. I’m not going to even try to stab a car hood or metal drum so don’t ask…if you can prove to me a real time threat from these evil items, I will consider manhandling them but otherwise, no.
    [​IMG]



    Digging
    Well, once you are ready to go home, you have to put your fire out. Remember, that only YOU can prevent forest fires and that the Umnumzaan can help! Even in rocky and incredibly dry ground, the Umnumzaan can be used as a digging tool and its blade does not get chipped up even when it makes contact with rocks.
    [​IMG]



    The Glass Breaker
    In the event you needed to break a window or anything else, the glass breaker works exceptionally well and no matter how hard you use it, it does not hurt the glass breaker or the knife. I was using this exceptionally hard against a sheet of steel. It grips amazingly well and in the event you needed to use it to break glass, I guarantee it will serve you well. The best thing of all is the glass breaker is low profile and unlike other knives, the Umnumzaan’s glass breaker does not scream ‘weapon’ nor is it sharp or does it interfere with pocket carry. With that said, it will also double as a medium range impact weapon in the event of a self defense situation.
    [​IMG]




    Easy Cleanup; No Maintenance
    Well at this point, your knife is dirty as can be and you are too! Once you return to civilization, it is time for you and the Umnumzaan to take a shower. The Umnumzaan is not picky on how it becomes clean. You can take it in the shower, plop it in the dishwasher, or throw it in the sink and give it a good cleaning. With the Sebenza, you would have to disassemble the blade to clean it because at this point, the smoothness of the knife would be gone and the opening would be gritty…not with the Umnumzaan. This is because of the Thrust Phosphor Bronze Washers, which have perforations in them. The perforations retain the fluorinated grease or a heavy grade grease similar to CRK recommendations. Once the knife has been cleaned and dried (even after being submerged and cleaned w/ degreasers), the remaining fluorinated grease inside the perforations in the washers soon work themselves under the washers and after moving the blade up and down a few times, the action becomes just as smooth as it was when you got the knife. By using this ingenious design, this makes the service interval on the Umnumzaan incredibly longer than the traditional flat washer design of the Sebenza and almost every folding knife uses. Because of this, at the end of even the dirtiest activities, you do NOT need to break the knife down. Upon getting the knife, I buried it in sand, opened and closed the blade and then dowsed it in rubbing alcohol. Even after this, the knife still had ample lubrication on it to continually operate with a smooth opening and closing. Overall, the new washer design has made this knife stand way above the others as a (virtually) maintenance free knife. For in field use (especially in dusty areas in Iraq and Afghanistan) where your knife gets dirty fast but there may not be much time to take it apart and clean it, the new washer system will leave you impressed.

    Below my Umnumzaan takes a bath and then gets a towel dry
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    Your Umnumzaan is absolutely pooped at this point. With that said, it is built to never show its exhaustion and even after heavy field use, the stonewashed tumble finish hides any scratches well as does the titanium handle. Give your Umnumzaan a break; hell, give it a smoke.
    [​IMG]





    Sharpness Test After Woodworking
    So back inside the house, I’ve used the Umnumzaan for virtually everything and it is not nearly as sharp as it was. With that said, it isn’t dull. The cut on the magazine is right after all of the above work and prior to touching the blade up. So the slightly softer S30V that Mr. Reeve uses is well, not all that soft after all. In fact, it shows excellent edge retention.
    [​IMG]



    CPM-S30V is a great steel! I’ve never understood why so many people dislike it. The S30V blades used by Chris Reeve have always impressed me. It can’t be that difficult to do a good heat treat as the S30V blades from Spyderco, Benchmade, Kershaw, Blade Tech, Microtech, Lone Wolf, and numerous others have also shown to have all around excellent properties. I’ve found S30V to have great (but definitely not the best) edge retention, great impact resistance and overall toughness, corrosion resistance that is far better than any other premium grade knife steel. Finally, it is an easy steel to sharpen, especially considering its hardness and corrosion resistance as other steels in its class are extremely difficult to sharpen. Reeves are a bit softer than most S30V knives and while the edge retention is slightly less, you can beat Reeve’s S30V even harder than most. Since you can use the large Sebenza and Umnumzaan as a fixed blades (ex for batoning), having high toughness is a major plus. Besides, it does not take long to sharpen S30V and is relatively easy. When looking at a folding knife to use heavily or for field usage, it seems to me that impact resistance/toughness is preferred as well as ease of sharpening as it can be difficult to sharpen super steels by free hand in the field.
     
  5. NickZac

    NickZac

    904
    Mar 26, 2006
    Edge Touch-Up
    After all of the work above, the Umnumzaan was by no means dull, but not nearly as sharp as the factory edge. Before making dinner, I decided to touch up the edge. I’m by no means an expert sharpener nor do I have any fancy equipment. I touched up the edge with both the brown (medium) and the white (fine) edge. It took about 30 seconds to turn the edge into a razor sharp blade which is just as sharp, if not sharper, than the factory edge.
    [​IMG]

    I admit I went shaving and removed about half the hair on my body
    [​IMG]





    Considering the Umnumzaan as a Tool for Effective Self Defense
    The Umnumzaan has many qualities which make is a great knife for self defense. The Reeve Integral Lock is one of the strongest locks on the market and virtually impossible to disengage. In a defensive situation, you may place pressure on the spine of the blade and a poor lock could close on your fingers. The titanium handle is surprisingly grippy due to checker patterned grips on both sides of the handle. The top has jimping which allows great blade control and the bottom of the handle has a finger guard on it so in the event of forward thrust stabbing, the chance of you losing control and your fingers getting cut on your own blade is decreased. The blade has a deep hollow grind making it a mean slicer and the top false grind helps the piercing power of the Umnumzaan. The tip is a thicker tip for strength but due to the false grind, it will penetrate relatively easily. The top also allows for a defensive move called the ‘back cut’ which is an especially debilitating move. The S30V blade carries great toughness and will not break or chip in the situation of hitting a metal object such as a large belt buckle. Due to a small but effective glass breaker, you can also use the Umnumzaan as a medium range impact weapon; that glass breaker coming down on skull will definitely make an assailant think twice. Finally, the Umnumzaan is easier to deploy than a Sebenza thanks to larger thumb studs and is very, very quiet on the opening thanks to polyurethane brushings that stop the blade when being flicked open.
     
  6. NickZac

    NickZac

    904
    Mar 26, 2006
    Conclusion
    Ultimately, the Chris Reeve Umnumzaan has become my favorite knife because of its versatility and tremendous quality of the build. It is a great knife for both utility and self defense. It is sterile looking, yet it has a styling that you cant help but like. The handle is simple but grips as good as any other knife on the market. The blade is attractive with a hint of Bowie and Skinner designs combined with a deep hollow grind and the top swedge false grind. This is arguably the lowest maintenance folding knife on the market. The titanium handles are simple and the grip does not clog up. The inner part of the handle is completely open which makes cleaning the inside of the handle a snap. The blade keeps an edge long, will rust only under the continually harshest conditions. It can be used for utility or self defense and will bring the user joy. The internal washers used on the Umnumzaan allows the pivot to remained lubricated continually, even when exposed to the worst elements including sand and caustic chemicals. Although it is a $400 knife, this knife is designed to be used and used hard at that. It is not a safe queen and will serve you best in your pocket. This Umnumzaan is as good, if not better, than the nicest folding knives in existence, production or custom. Below are a few additional pictures I’ve taken.



    Parting Pictures
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    Last edited: Jul 12, 2009
  7. NickZac

    NickZac

    904
    Mar 26, 2006
    All I can say is go handle this knife and see if you like it…I sure do!!! Hooray Umnumzaan!!!
    [​IMG]


    The album with all of the pictures from this review can be found at:
    http://s250.photobucket.com/albums/gg278/ZNickey/Chris Reeve Umnumzaan/


















    Lets Keep this Thread Flowing...

    FOLLOW UP; August 3rd, 2009

    Well, today was my birthday and I couldn’t help but think “what could be better than writing a follow-up to this review?”. If anything, I have grossly understated the capability of the Umnumzaan. The knife has, is and will continue to perform spectacularly. Edge retention on this blade is fantastic, largely due to edge geometry as it seems this knife holds an edge longer than other S30V blades which have a higher Rockwell Hardness Number. If you use this knife to saw through thick cardboard, you will find there is little resistance and the hollow grind goes through it like a hot knife through butter. The knife has been able to tackle every task it has ever been presented without breaking a sweat. The Umnumzaan has the ability to tackle tasks that were once reserved for fixed blade knives only and doing these tasks with a folder was cutleryicular suicide. Overall, this knife is still the most badass folder on the block and whether you want a knife that can tackle the heaviest utility work out their or if they want a folder which works well for personal protection, the Umnumzaan delivers. Hooray Umnumzaan!!! There are a few things I wanted to address as I have seen them come up in question a few times and I want to take a moment to clarify.


    The Rubber Rings on a $400 Knife?!?! Huh?!

    The first thing I wanted to add to is regarding the ‘rubber’ or ‘plastic’ rings on the knife. These rings are not made of cheap rubber or plastic. In fact, they are made from a material which is one of the strongest on earth; polyurethane. Polyurethane is used in motor mounts on race cars when traditional mounts are torn from high amounts of torque. Many people have expressed skepticism in this for a $400 knife which I understand, but it is important to remember that despite looking like the washers will tear, they are made of one of the most durable shock absorbing materials known to man. Also, keep in mind that:
    1) the correct functioning of the Umnumzaan is NOT dependent on these washers. It will still lock open safely with no blade play even if both washers are removed
    2) the washers MUST be a softer material because they are absorbing the shock of the blade when being flicked open. If it was not a material that absorbed shock, there would be no reason to use the Hawk Shock Absorber. Of all shock absorbent material which could be used in this application, polyurethane is by far the most durable.
    3) the washers can be replaced

    In an earlier post, I discussed the polyurethane washers:
    “I understand the initial skepticism. I first thought they were a cheap washer or plastic insert. Upon digging deeper, I found out that the materials these washers are made of is Polyurethane...it is the same material used in motor mount inserts on cars which launch from a dig (from not to moving such as drag racing) when traditional motor mounts tear on a regular basis. My buddy and I were running motor mount inserts made of a variety of materials and we would tear them on a rather regular basis. After going to these mysterious rubber (Polyurethane) inserts, we practically never tore them at all. Polyurethane offers both durability and flexibility which few metals are capable of matching as they are either not durable enough or not flexible enough. Polyurethane is an exceptionally strong material and I do not foresee you being able to tear it. I've batoned wood in which the sharper wooden edges make friction contact with the Polyurethane washer and I have also used it while cutting other metals and sharper edges did not harm it at all either. Mr. Reeve would not use it on his flagship folder if it was anything other than practically indestructible. If it did not have the durability capable of matching the rest of the knife (which has a thicker handle and blade than the large Sebenza and has a much beefier pivot design and refined lock), then it would not have been used on the Umnumzaan. I would definitely not let it prevent you from getting one as I think this is the best folding knife ever made in both design and implementation.”

    A final thing about the Hawk Shock Absorbing System is that by having the polyurethane create pressure between the base of the blade and the titanium handle, you now have insulation from shock which is not used on many knives. I have read this is a huge advantage for a folder you may hack with as it reduces vibrations that could break the blade off at the base.




    The Speed of the Umnumzaan

    Some people have said that the Umnumzaan is a slow knife. Like any manual folder, the speed of opening the blade is dependent upon the user. I can open this knife faster than any automatic or assisted knife on the market. Due to the redesigned lanyard system, I can also physically reach into my pocket, pull out, and obtain a good grip on the Boss MUCH faster than other pocket knives. Overall from when you would scream GO! And you reach, grab, remove and open; the Umnumzaan is as fast as any folder, manual, auto, bali, or assisted. Like all knives, you can increase your speed of drawing and deploying by practicing. The bottom line is there are no limitations on the speed of this knife. For me, this is actually my fastest folder as it fits my hand better and the larger thumb studs and lanyard give me a better jump.




    Sebenza or Umnumzaan: Which Knife is Better?

    The term better is subjective. There is no better and there is no worse, only preferences. With that said, tough and durable are not subjective. The Umnumzaan is a stronger and tougher folder than the Sebenza. This is because:
    1) The blade thickness of the Umnumzaan (.14 inches) is greater than the Sebenza (.125 inches for Large and Small). For a folding knife, a .14 inch thick blade is a very, very large thick of steel.
    2) The handle thickness of the Umnumzaan (.15 inches) is greater than the Sebenza (.125 Inches)
    3) The lock is a second generation Reeve Integral Lock and uses a larger pivot
    4) The Umnumzaan uses the Hawk Shock Absorbing System, allowing it to be opened harder and used harder with a lesser risk of damage (I am NOT implying you can abuse your knife and be alright however as ALL knives are limited by the laws of physics and common sense)

    Now, the above does NOT make the Umnumzaan better. The Umnumzaan is:
    1) Heavier than both Sebenzas
    2) Not customizable
    3) Has a lock which is more difficult to disengage than the Sebenza 21
    4) Available in double thumb lug only which for some people is an unnecessary war on their pants




    Varying Hardness of Earlier versus Current Umnumzaan

    You will notice if you look at birthday cards for the Umnumzaans that earlier ones had a S30V blade hardened to 55-57 and the most recent ones are hardened from 58-59. I am assuming this was just CRK testing the blades to see which ones they like to use most.

    With that said…supposedly, Chris Reeve made some of the Umnumzaans in CPM-S35VN which is also hardened to 55-57 so the earlier Umnumzaans reportedly in S30V may be in S35VN. There are two known Umnumzaans with a ‘Mystery Steel’ being used on them and they are the ONLY two Umnumzaans with computer generated graphics and sell for around $2,000 USD each.



    The Specs of the Chris Reeve Folders Side by Side

    Sometimes it is best to be able to see the numerical specs on paper so here is a comparison so you can decide which size and style knife is right for you
    Umnumzaan
    Overall Length: 8.45 inches (214.63mm)
    Blade Length: 3.675 inches (93.35mm)
    Blade Material: CPM-S30V hardened to 55-57 OR 58-59 RC
    Blade Thickness: .140 inches (3.56mm)
    Blade Shape: Unique Hollow Ground, Modified Clip Point w/ top swedge grind and top recurve
    Handle Length: 4.77 inches (121.16mm)
    Handle Material: 6AI4V Titanium
    Handle Thickness: .150 inches (3.81mm)
    Handle Grip: Checkering on the titanium on each side
    Weight: 5oz (141.75 grams)
    Opening: Double Lug Thumb Stud only
    Fittings: 303 Stainless Steel
    Carry Options: Titanium Pocket Clip, Calfskin Pouch
    Available Models: Right Hand, Left Hand, Right Hand Tanto Model from True North Knives only
    Customizable: No; 25 prototypes in existence however which differ slightly from the production model, 2 customized ones in existance

    Large Sebenza 21
    Overall Length: 8.335 inches (212mm)
    Blade Length: 3.625 inches (92mm)
    Blade Material: CPM-S30V hardened to 58-59 RC
    Blade Thickness: .125 inches (3.175mm)
    Blade Shape: Hollow Ground, Modified Clip Point
    Handle Length: 4.71 inches (119.634mm)
    Handle Material: 6AI4V Titanium
    Handle Thickness: .125 inches (3.175mm)
    Handle Grip: Smooth Titanium, Textured Titanium, Wood Inlay or Micarta
    Weight: 4.7oz (133 grams)
    Opening: Single or Double Lug Thumb Studs
    Fittings: 303 Stainless Steel
    Carry Options: Titanium Pocket Clip, Calfskin Pouch, Leather Sheath, Numerous Aftermarket Sheaths
    Available Models: Right Hand, Left Hand, Limited Tanto Model
    Customizable: Yes; Wood Inlays, Micarta Inlays, Custom Graphics, Unique Graphics, Computer Generated Graphics, Graphics all done by anodizing the Titanium, Damascus blades

    Small Sebenza 21
    Overall Length: 6.875 inches (175mm)
    Blade Length: 2.94 inches (75mm)
    Blade Material: CPM-S30V hardened to 58-59 RC
    Blade Thickness: .125 inches (3.175mm)
    Blade Shape: Hollow Ground, Modified Clip Point
    Handle Length: 3.935 inches (99.949mm)
    Handle Material: 6AI4V Titanium
    Handle Thickness: .125 inches (3.175mm)
    Handle Grip: Smooth Titanium, Textured Titanium, Wood Inlay or Micarta
    Weight: 3oz (85 grams)
    Opening: Single or Double Lug Thumb Studs
    Fittings: 303 Stainless Steel
    Carry Options: Titanium Pocket Clip, Calfskin Pouch, Leather Sheath, Numerous Aftermarket Sheaths
    Available Models: Right Hand, Left Hand, Limited Tanto Model
    Customizable: Yes; Wood Inlays, Micarta Inlays, Custom Graphics, Unique Graphics, Computer Generated Graphics, Graphics all done by anodizing the Titanium, Damascus blades


    Mnandi
    Overall Length: 6.375 inches (161mm)
    Blade Length: 2.75 inches (69.5mm)
    Blade Material: CPM-S30V hardened to 58-59 RC
    Blade Thickness: .090 inches (2.3mm)
    Blade Shape: Hollow Ground, Modified Clip Point, polished
    Handle Length: 3.625 inches (92.075mm)
    Handle Material: 6AI4V Titanium
    Handle Thickness: .125 inches (3.175mm)
    Handle Grip: Wood Inlay
    Weight: 3oz (85 grams)
    Opening: Single or Double Lug Thumb Studs
    Fittings: 303 Stainless Steel
    Carry Options: Titanium Pocket Clip, Calfskin Pouch, Leather Sheath, Numerous Aftermarket Sheaths
    Available Models: Right Hand
    Customizable: Yes; Wood Inlays, Bone Inlays, Gold, Titanium, Damascus Blades




    Now save your money so you can get one too!!!!!



    EDIT: DECEMBER 2009 FOLLOW UP PICTURES (The Umnumzaan pictured is the exact knife used in the testing and the knife that I carry on me every day, day in, day out, virtually 24 hours a day)
    [​IMG]

    Below the Umnumzaan is a Small Classic Micarta Sebenza for size comparison
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    Last edited: Dec 18, 2009
  8. THE PUNISHER

    THE PUNISHER

    Nov 24, 2008
    good review,gonna get a umnun...........
     
  9. TrickyVic

    TrickyVic

    478
    Nov 22, 2007
    Very nice review. I'm glad to see a good knife put to use. You did push me a inch closer to getting one, but still not completely sold. Maybe I'll make a call to my local CRK dealer and handle one.
     
  10. recoil

    recoil

    Jul 27, 2000
    Excellent review Nick!
    Lot's of nice pics too.


    My advice to you is to bring some cash. If you handle one you are going to buy one. ;)

    dave
     
  11. tiburon

    tiburon Gold Member Gold Member

    Aug 4, 2003
    Thanks for taking the time to put the review and photos together-you did a great job! :)
     
  12. RM579

    RM579

    146
    Jun 2, 2008
    Thanks for the review. The ONLY thing from keeping me from getting an Umnum is because of wondering when it'll come out in CPM S35vn. Maybe I shouldn't bother waiting.
     
  13. coolhand68

    coolhand68 Gold Member Gold Member

    465
    Mar 12, 2006
    Great review, thanks for sharing.
     
  14. Kootaga13

    Kootaga13 Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 23, 2005
    NOW... you can put her back in the safe!
     
  15. C Ben Susrool

    C Ben Susrool Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Hoo Rah
     
  16. Thalestin

    Thalestin

    Jul 20, 2006
    good review, it is great to see you really use the knife. The only hting I disagree on is your cleaning. Grease gets run dwn with water even if it is waterproof. I would not put any folder in a dishwasher--it is never a good idea. I think the washers are a move in the right direction but cleaning and lubing will still need to be done
     
  17. Bucky

    Bucky

    509
    Jun 10, 2000
    Great review. Larger folders are really too big for me and consequently I don't have a single one, but I have always considered getting the Umnum just because of how great it looks. Posts like this make me want to give it a shot.
     
  18. giant1

    giant1

    May 9, 2007
    Great review, thanks for putting it together.

    I have not handled one as yet, my concern is with the rubber orings. A hard use knife that has orings which can be easily damaged and have no real long term life just does not sit well with me.
     
  19. Fooj

    Fooj

    Apr 6, 2004
    The o-rings provide a benefit; however, correct and robust operation of the Umnumzaan does not depend on those them.
     
  20. marthinus

    marthinus

    Dec 10, 2006
    Thank you for the great review. It is great to see a knife get used so well!
     

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