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The Commander is very well made and comes extremely sharp out of the box. Although it is a bulky knife, it is feels quite light. It is easy to forget that you are carrying it. The biggest drawback of the Commander is its sticky lock. If at all possible, buy a Commander from a store and avoid ordering. Every Commander I have seen has had a sticky lock but some are ridiculous. As for cutting, the knife is sharp but remember that it is chisel grind. Most people would find the grind on a Sebenza more versatile, also the Sebenza looks much more utilitarian. The Commander screams "tactical." Although the Commander is not that large compared to say the AFCK or Military, most people perceive the Commander as a huge knife. Still, the Commander opens as smoothly as a Sebenza in my opinion, even if it has a sticky lock. The "wave" is also incredibly fun once you get the hang of it.
I carry 2 Sebenzas. A large and small. I have trouble deciding which to use. I can't comment on the Commanders, but the Sebenza is the nicest user knife I have yet tested. This includes workmanship and materials. It can really drive you crazy. Because now you have to decide which decorated one you like the best. This may help in your decision... http://www.redcanyonknives.com Go to the Chris Reeve section.
You also need to look at the reasons you are going to be carrying these knives. The Commander is a great knife, but the chisel ground edge of the blade may not meet your cutting needs. The Sebenza would probably be better for all around use. The Commander is my choice because I also carry a SAK for small utility tasks when I need more detailed cutting. I do not car for hte Sebenzas handle much. I do like the Commanders handle it is very ergonomic and affords a very secure grip.
I am fired up to answer this one. I recently acquired a Sebenza and just two days ago I spent an hour fondling a Commander.
If I had the choice to buy one or the other I would buy the Sebenza, again.
But since I have a Sebenza, I am very seriously thinking of buying a Commander.
Let me break it out for you...
The Commander has good ergonomics, but the ergonomics are structured, so those ergo's may not suit you. It has a good guard.
The Sebenza has good ergonomics, but for the opposite reason, there are really no defined structures to deal with. Only potential issues are point just forward of lock on spring side, and spring making the handle narrower when open.
Commander = Quicker
Sebenza = Stronger
Commander, recurve is aggressive but harder to sharpen.
Sebenza, kinda plain jane, but very efective and centrist.
------------------ Marion David Poff aka Eye, one can msg me at firstname.lastname@example.org If I fail to check back with this thread and you want some info, email me.
I own a commander and I do not own a sebenza, I like my commander and long to own a sebenza. The lock is sticky but within a few days it works itself out. The blade is ground on on side but if your like me you can grind the other side and no one could ever tell that it didn't come that way. Also many people are having trouble with the screw that holds the blade tight or loose, however you like it, coming loose. I used lock tite and problem solved. These problems will hopefully be addressed by Emerson. If I had to do it again I would probably buy a sebenza. I never hear about any problems with these.
Commander's are *fast* and they lock up reallllly tight. I'd almost get one if it weren't for the chisel grind, and I'm not to sure about the recurve or the wave, which might open up the Commander when I take it out of my pocket, without me wanting it to.
Ah, the Sebenza, I want one, but don't have the green. They have strength in excess of Commanders, have as close to perfect, IMHO, fit and finish as can be acquired nowadays, and seem very easy to clean and dissasemble. The blade steel is also superior, BG-42.
Beyond that, I haven't ever heard anyone say anything bad about Chris and Anna Reeve's customer service, much less their QC!
My opinion is that they are designed for very different tasks. The Sebenza is designed to be a utility knife and from what I've read shines in that area. I would not want to use it for a defensive knife because the handle is not designed for that purpose.
The Commander is designed to be a defensive knife. The handle is very secure for strong thrusts and the G-10 is very slip resistant. The recurved blade is designed for effective slashing and not utility. The chisel grind is a pain for righties because it is on the wrong side. This doesn't matter for defensive use, but is can be a pain for utility.
So you may want to carry both and use them for their intended purposes. I follow that theory with my Crawford KFF and SwissTool. My KFF stays in my pocket reserved for the hopefully remote possibility of a defensive encounter. It stays razor sharp that way and doesn't draw the unwanted attention of co-workers.
My SwissTool is my utility blade. It comes out at work often to cut open boxes and for the myriad of tools. Because it is an SAK multi-tool people aren't threatened by it.
I own both, a decorated Fly Sebenza and just got the Commander two days ago. As far as quality, strength and material, the CR Sebenza far outpaces not only the Commander but every other production, semi-production, and is equal to or better than most handmades...it really has no equal. But as Axel has pointed out, they are mainly for two different purposes. For 99.99% of most everyone's reasons to carry a sharp instrument, the Sebenza's quality and utility far outdistance the rest. CR's customer service (Anne) is phenomenal. My Fly Sebenza is pricey to carry daily but I dearly love it as it reminds me of going fly fishing with my Grandfather. But if you need the fastest deploying sharp object for self defense, the Commander wins even over autos. It is super smooth and flicks very easy. Ergonomically the best feeling in the hand I have ever held. I like the chisel grind myself, it is super sharp. Phill Hartsfield is known for making the world's sharpest knives and he uses chisel grinds exclusively. I have seen his stuff in action and it is very impressive. Since I got my Commander 2 days ago, it has kicked my M2 AFCK right out of my pocket and into the drawer.
I haven't had a chance to handle a Commander, but I recently bought a large Sebenza and it's the finest utility folding knife I've ever seen. Open the knife is as sturdy as a fixed blade. The blade is sharp. Really sharp. Really, really sharp.
The Sebenza has something in common with Johm Brownings M1911: I can't find anything about it to improve upon.
The Sebenza is an excellent knife, and my preferred choice for everyday carry. In regards to your specific points in question;
Quality The fit is unsurpassed, as close as human tolerances will allow. Each blade is hand fitted to the handle slabs, with full contact between the lock bar and the blade tang, tight without sticking. The high hollow grind is a smooth, even wash across the blade, also done by hand. The surfaces, from the rounded spine of the blade to the smooth beveling around the edges of the handle scales, are practically flawless. The fine-grained stonewashed surface of the blade seals the steel and helps prevent marring and scratching.
Strength - The strength of the Sebenza is based in its simplicity. The integral lock is the most reliable and proven lock available today. No hidden parts, nothing to wear out and replace but the handle scale and blade itself, all the surfaces are exposed for easy inspection and cleaning. When you open the knife you know the lock has engaged, no doubts, no question. The solid drop point of the blade, with its full belly, solid spine and quickly widening point, is a strong, classic design, reflecting the history of man in its shape.
Materials Titanium and steel. The materials are an extension of the strength question when talking about the Sebenza. I wont get into a debate about the wide variety of blade materials available today, from traditional carbon and stainless steels to the cobalt compounds being used. More important is the treating and application of the materials in question. The blade of the Sebenza is solid, tough and most of all sharp and able to stay that way. It is because of the combination of steel, treatment, grind and attention put into every piece. This takes us right back to the first point: Quality.