Cheap knives are a bad idea.

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by Chapp, Apr 20, 2019.

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  1. Chapp


    Mar 28, 2018
    Cheap knives are a bad idea.

    It's true that not everyone can buy a Paramilitary 2 or an Esee knife. Even fewer people are willing to put half a grand on a Sebenza. Some have families, some have low-income, some don't like to spend much on things and I'm not here to judge. Still, from my personal experience and after a lot of thought and testing, I strongly think cheap knives are a bad idea.
    What do I call a cheap knife ? A low-price knife, basically. Everything sub-90$ is a cheap knife for me.

    Sure, Esee knives are expensive, especially for 1095. But what you get is a solid knife, with great design and a close-to-perfect heat treatment. It's a knife you can actually rely on. A good heat treatment is a key when it comes to prevent the blade to snape on your eyes or fingers for exemple. Heat treatment is often overlooked by cheap knives companies.

    A knife isn't a typical tool, like a prybar or a pair of sunglasses. It's an insanely sharp object that you must trust. It's like a gun. You can cheap out on everything, but playing it cheap on knives or gun isn't something I'll recommend.

    It might be controversial, but I'd rather have no knife than a cheap knife. No-knife can't hurt me, having no blade means it won't slap on me, having no lock means it won't fail at the worst moment... Sure, those cheaper knives are fun. It's always fun to think something that cheap can actually be a decent knife to play around. That doesn't mean they're good tools at all.

    Disclosure : not all expensive knives are great.
  2. Bigfattyt

    Bigfattyt Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 23, 2007
    I've EDC'd and used $1000+ dollar knives.

    One off's by very sought after makers. Hell, I've castrated bulls using a one of a kind knife, not another like it in the world, and likely won't be another identical custom....

    Cow stepped on it, and it was covered in blood and dirt and mud for days.........

    I still have, and enjoy Opinel knives... paid $6 each for them..... super knives....

    I'll still carry inexpensive knives too. But a lot of "garbage" knives can cost more, and be less well designed.

    Now, I agree, I won't carry poor designs, but I will carry inexpensive designs that work well.
  3. specgrade

    specgrade Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 21, 2009
    Cheap knives get kids and adults interested in our hobby. The disease takes over from there, lol.
  4. SVTFreak

    SVTFreak Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 8, 2011
    Cheap does not mean junk. Cheap knives are not a problem. Junk knives made of substandard materials are.
  5. dirc


    Jan 31, 2018
    cheap knives with quality are possible and likely the gateway drug to this hobby:

    exhibit a: mora companion, for about $20 you get an amazing quality all-purpose useful fixed blade
    exhibit b: buck spitfire or 112 slim select, for about $25 you can have a bos heat treated 420hc blade with either aluminum or plastic handle
    exhibit c: ontario rat 2, for $28 you can get the aus8 blade and for about $10 more, the d2 blade for great edge retention

    this list can go on, (especially if I used your sub-$90 criteria) but the essential point is this: cheap high-quality knives are the basis for beginning the hobby, and make perfect gifts to boot. I submit they are an essential foundational element, providing the baseline by which all the hundred+ dollar knives are ultimately judged

    disclaimer: some cheap knives are in fact a bad idea - the lineup of 3cr13 blades is long and should be avoided, as well as anything you find in gas stations. These wretched things give a bad name to all the good quality cheap blades : )
  6. Dean51


    Aug 30, 2014
    There's a difference between a cheep knife and an inexpensive knife.
    You don't have to spend $90 to get a good knife, there are some very good sub $90 dollar knives on the market.

    The reason I avoid ESEE is the heat treat is to soft at 55-57 HRC. For me that makes it a cheep knife. There's no reason they couldn't take it to 57-59 or 60 HRC. ESEE warranty: if you break it, we will repair or replace it.
    If some amateur pry's and breaks it, to bad-so sad, learn your lesson and buy another.
    I have pry tools I don't need a cheep soft but tough prybar knife.

    We have a different opinion of what makes a knife cheep.
    The_Iron_Joe, willc, b00n and 2 others like this.
  7. K.O.D.

    K.O.D. The Voice of Reason. Platinum Member

    Aug 21, 2013
    Wow. This is just all sorts of wrong.

    My modern folders all have a retail cost over $90, true.

    But, my $35 Vic super tinker (I actually paid $15) is indispensable. Inexpensive and we'll made. I actually have a second one, though it's MIA.

    It's much more sheeple friendly, and I keep it in a small bag with my diabetes supplies. I rarely use the blades though.

    Though I lost it, my ZDP-189 Spyderco Dragonfly 2 was a phenomenal knife. I believe I paid $65 for it back in 2013.

    I gave my dad a Lion Steel Opera which he adores, and uses often.

    Cheap is very subjective. Price does not dictate quality. Benchmade comes to mind, as do some others.

    Just like country of origin does not equate to quality. I have two Taichung Spydies and three Chinese knives, a Kizer, a WE, and a Massdrop Ferrum Forge Gent select. All have fit and finish equal to my American blades.
  8. KVT


    Feb 17, 2019
    Disagree OP. Silly thread IMO.
    I’ve got knives that range all across the board, quality and price.
    Some of my most used / EDCd knives are my sub-$90 knives.
    Don’t buy and use piece of crap knives, should’ve been a better thread title.
    There’s definitely quality to be had under $90.

    Totally depends on the task at hand. If I’m doing something that I know is going to chip or permanently trash the blade of any steel used, I’m not going to do that to a $700 Hinderer. I’m going to do that with a more “throw away and replace” $50 knife. The $700 Hinderer would’ve gotten irreparably ruined just the same.
    I’d much rather be out $50 than $700.

    How much do you actually use your knives on a daily basis?
    What types of tasks are you doing with them?
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2019
  9. rogatsby


    Jun 19, 2018
    I disagree. Yes, sometimes you get what you pay for, but as others have said, there are many top notch, quality inexpensive knives under $90. By the OP's simple blanket criteria, the Spyderco Delica 4 is a piece of junk. And I think most people would disagree with that, as I and many people think the Delica 4 is one of the best overall EDC knives of all time.
  10. bikerector

    bikerector KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Nov 16, 2016
    Victorinox. Morakniv.

    For some US made: Buck, Kershaw, Ontario, Kabar (most Beckers), Case, GEC (really, much of the traditional folders would be excluded).

    I win

    Craziest statement I've seen on a knife forum, especially knowing $90 is your limit, "...I'd rather have no knife than a cheap knife."
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2019
  11. Kreyzhorse


    Jan 15, 2013
    Its a tool... no one needs a $90 knife to open mail or packing tape. In fact there are many who would say no one needs a $90 or more knife at all.

    Personally, I am partial to Spyderco, CRK and Hinderers but to each his own. A friend of mine recently bought a $40 and its a grail to him.

    Buck, Kershaw, Case.... the list goes on, but they are all well made tools that serve people very well.
  12. Psy223


    Dec 17, 2018
    I believe I could buy a sub $90 knife every week, for the rest of my life, and not run out of quality, safe, functional, attractive, interesting and just pain old cool knives I wanted to buy.
  13. KVT


    Feb 17, 2019
    There’s uses where a knife is going to get dropped from 5ft or higher onto a concrete floor on a semi-guaranteed routine basis, probably breaking off the tip or who knows what else. There’s uses that involve guaranteed routine blade-on-metal and blade-on-stone contact.
    There’s a difference between more precision hard-use that could warrant a high end hard-use knife with high-end steel and just plain expendable-tool type use.
    Use the right tool for the job.
  14. sharp_edge

    sharp_edge Gold Member Gold Member

    Jul 30, 2015
    $90 seems to be an arbitary line. $78 Delica 4 is a very good knife. Most SAKs are cheaper than $90 and they all are great IMO.
    eon blue apocalypse likes this.
  15. 416isToronto

    416isToronto Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 4, 2013
    Such generalized statements are difficult to apply across the board...too many exceptions. To start with, the time proven classics, like the Opinels, SAKs & Mora, but many many more...Entry level Spydercos, Kershaws, and my current favourite really cheap knife that gets all the dirty sticky jobs, small Kabar Dozier folder.
    Depending on the user, an infinite variety of usage possibilities.

    I certainly agree with “not all expensive knives are great” and similarly, i would say not all sub-$90 knives are cheap or bad.
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2019
    Night Rider likes this.
  16. not2sharp

    not2sharp Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 29, 1999
    I would just observe that "cheap knives" do the vast majority of work on this planet, while those pricy folders tend to sit in collector boxes. Cheap is not junk, while junk at any price is still junk. I don't see how setting an arbitrary price point is useful.

  17. Odds


    Feb 16, 2008
    I agree there’s a difference between cheap and inexpensive. I also agree that it depends on the task at hand. Paper, cardboard and plastic are probably the most common materials many people use their knives on and for these materials sub $90 is more than adequate. My $20 Swiss Army knife I bought when I was 17 (1987) is still going strong today. I haven’t used it as much in the last ten years because of my modern folders but it would still serve me well today if all my knives were suddenly taken away.
  18. sharp_edge

    sharp_edge Gold Member Gold Member

    Jul 30, 2015
    And peeling apples. I have not found a modern folder that works better on that task than SAK.
  19. knivesonly


    Feb 20, 2017
    As has already been mentioned theres a difference between cheap junk and a quality inexpensive knife. I have been collecting knives for the last 17 years when my dad gave me a SAK at age 5. I may not have the collection of some on here but I own plus or minus a few around 60 knives. 3 of those cost more than a hundred bucks. Sure there’s maybe 10 that were cheaper china knives. However I edc a couple of fantastic sub $50 knives. Currently have a Rat 1 I paid $24 at walmart last summer. I’ve put that through many field excercises and a deployment and it’s still going strong. Same with the Buck Sentry I got for $25 at the exchange.As already mentioned the Delica 4 is fantastic, then you get into some other great American made knives like KA-BAR and Buck that cost under $90. I use and abuse knives for a lot of tasks and for the most part I don’t think paying over 100 bucks is worth it unless you’re buy an OTF or switchblade. To each his own
    KHarper and 416isToronto like this.
  20. 4124445tggw


    Sep 11, 2018
    Many rational and fair responses here. I'm going to give my perspective from the polar opposite end.
    $90 knives are a premium, you get better steel and great designs. The fact is though from a practical perspective which seems to be the position you're trying to take there isn't really one for a blade over $60 or so for 98% of usage. A rat 2 in d2 for $40 can do almost everything you can ask out of a folder. Not saying $90+ knives aren't good but I don't see many contractors relying on benchmades for their work when they're the people who would use their knife enough for quality to make a significant difference.
    I've never seen reliability be an issue out of most decent quality blades from reputable manufacturers, even in knives less than $10 in some cases.
    Pteronarcyd, Bigbobg and Eli Chaps like this.
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