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Is Master Cutlery REALLY so bad? Low Budget Knives

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by Kuszotke, Oct 13, 2016.

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  1. Ilovetoolsteel


    Jul 28, 2003
    There is video on youtube of a guy abusing the hell out of an MTech copy of CS trailmaster bowie. In the end he shoots it with a handgun. It was still useable
  2. EveeEv

    EveeEv Banned BANNED

    Aug 13, 2016
    What country do you live in?
  3. DShiflet


    Jan 25, 2013
    I won't use MTech folders cause they are bad. But I've used some of their fixed blades without issue at all...you can find a lot of positive reviews of them online too(and NOT at vendor sites). Cliff Stamp himself gave a positive review of one of their fixed blades and I'm pretty sure he wasn't trying to sell anyone a supply of MTechs. Sure, the steel isn't gonna be a high end steel, no argument. But they can take a surprising amount of outright abuse.

    That said, these days you can get some remarkably good fixed blades at low not all that much more than the MTechs, so there's really no reason to go for one unless you are just on a super tight budget. I know Ontario has some of their SP line you can get for around $30, Schrade has recently put out some fixed blades in 1095 in the $35-40 range...but if your limit is $15-20 and you want something a bit bigger than a Mora, Mtech has some fixed blades I can honestly say I have NO complaints about. Had nothing but bad experience with their folders, but fixed blades, I have a few and no issues with any of them.

    Only Master Cutlery I tried was a folder, and it was terrible.
  4. inkynate


    Sep 4, 2010
    I was ordering some stuff off Amazon a few weeks ago and the MTech 20-65 popped up on sale for ~$15. Bit on one and ordered to have something to mess with. I later found out that these are "inspired by" the ZT 0777 / Microtech Matrix, but didn't know that when I bought it.

    Not a whole lot of work. Raised/flattened the primary grind and thinned to ~.01" behind the edge. Haven't reprofiled the edge bevel yet. Sanded all the transition bevels on the handles and around the holes. Jumped from 80 to 320 grit and called it good. The holes look kind of silly, but not as silly as when they had orange paracord woven through them lol. On the plus side, they do lighten the tang somewhat.

    Also used a dremel to mellow out the hump at the finger groove transition. Unfortunately messed up the tip and rounded it a little. Got too close and knocked it off while I was using the extra coarse 36 grit belt :D


    Feels pretty good in hand and slices cardboard really well now, but I haven't done anything else with it yet.
  5. inkynate


    Sep 4, 2010
    Also, to clarify some confusion I saw in the thread, Master Cutlery is the parent company/wholesaler.

    They are the umbrella company over something like 24 brands and 4-5,000 knives. M-Tech, Master USA, Elk Ridge, Tac Force, Z-Hunter, etc... are all Mastery Cutlery brands.

    Who's buying all this stuff? Lol :confused:
  6. Hickory n steel

    Hickory n steel Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 11, 2016
    Me 😁 ( I collect a lot of their crappy folders just for looks )
    I actually like elk ridge as the fit and finish is usually pretty good, the leather sheaths are decent, and they usually look classy and are almost like the rough rider of traditional fixed blades ( almost )
  7. inkynate


    Sep 4, 2010
    Lol, me too apparently. Here are a couple more of mine (old pic):


    The Elk Ridge was pretty nice and the handles are excellent after I did the hand sanding, but I rippled the primary grind after some abusive chopping. Still being used by my brother. He wanted it, told him to be careful :p

    I still have the Combat Bowie, but have not replaced the scales yet (came loose new).
  8. killgar


    Sep 24, 2002
    Yep, there are big differences between "cheap" folders and "cheap" fixed-blades.

    With a folder you've got moving parts, a lock (on locking folders), and a variety of small parts in general that all need to work together properly to produce a safe and usable knife. There isn't a lot of room for error in folding knives.

    But what is a fixed-blade? It's basically a sharpened, hardened piece of steel with a handle attached. It's a lot easier to produce a safe, properly functioning fixed-blade than a folder. About all that could really go wrong in the production of a fixed-blade that would make it unsafe or useless would be a bad heat treat- either to hard (brittle blade) or too soft (won't hold an edge). It's not all that difficult to make a knife that fits in between those two somewhere.

    Of course some fixed-blade designs are kind of out there, as in Klingon or Mall-Ninja-Commando-Operator, and some of those designs might not exactly be practical for camping or a construction site, but to each their own.

    Several times over the years on this forum I have seen people post stories of "cheap" fixed-blades that go like this- "I had this really cheap fixed-blade, so just for fun I thought I'd take it out and abuse it until it breaks. I beat the hell out of it, threw it at trees, hammered on it, tried my best to break it, but the thing just wouldn't break. So it occurred to me "Heck, this is a pretty tough knife, I should keep it and start using it". I always enjoy those stories.

    After a day of carrying my Master knife around yesterday, I was holding it in my hand, enjoying the way the handle felt, and the weight and balance, admiring the design, and I realized that it is in fact my favorite fixed-blade. As much as I like the Wilson, and as good as it has served me, if I could go back in time and had the option of choosing the Master instead of the Wilson, I would definitely make that choice (and I would have saved myself $291.50). But the reality is, I was a bit of a knife-snob back then, and I doubt I would have ever considered buying a fixed-blade that cost $8.50. I'm sure glad my knife-snob days are over. :)
  9. Gaston444


    Oct 1, 2014
    You keep hearing this all the time, and this is so obviously false it takes almost too long to outline all the numerous reasons why...

    Big fixed blades require shock resistance, which requires a temper. Many Chinese made blades are well known to hold an edge surprisingly well, better than some super steel customs in fact, but have no real temper, which allows them to shatter at the slightest shock or drop in temperature...

    A lack of temper has really little or no effect on a folder below 4". And, since liner locks have become ubiquitous, the requirements of machining precision have gone way down due to the inherent simplicity of liner locks... That is why you can find $25 liner lock folders that are either indistinguishable in performance from high end folders, or actually out-perform them in edge-holding...

    Just because an item has more parts doesn't mean it costs more...

    On a fixed blade, not only do you have to deal with a dangerous shortcut that is completely invisible, a lack of proper temper, so a very tempting shortcut to make, but the complexity of a fixed blade is way greater when you factor in the quality of the sheath and how that sheath inter-acts with the knife: A fixed blade is actually two items...

    Not only that, but a "thinnish" blade folder can still perform well, whereas a good large fixed blade must be at least 5-6 mm thick to not vibrate the hand to hell when chopping (even the Bk-9 fails on that respect), unless the handle is well insulated, so then you still have a blade that is too light to perform well chopping...

    The MT-151 is probably the closest to what the OP is looking for, but is still maybe potentially dangerous owing temper issues. As for the hollow handle knife he suggests, it is unfortunately 3.5 mm thick, but still reasonably blade-heavy owing to the low sabre grind: It is still too thin stock in my opinion, but the handle certainly looks to be well-insulated, so who knows?

    My minimal choice is over 2-4 times the OP's budget, but it would be my choice of minimum budget performance: It actually out-performs all other knives of a similar size in chopping ability, including anything from Busse that is not longer or heavier: Weight is very reasonable at 22 ounces for the 6 mm stock:

    Ontario SP-53:


  10. Hickory n steel

    Hickory n steel Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 11, 2016
    For the most part these cheap fixed blades use 440a or 440b which ove never had one that was too hard, they all just held an edge that was decent for what they were and costed.
    There are no moving parts so they are definitely easier to make ( I'm talking about a typical belt knife not heavy chopper )
  11. killgar


    Sep 24, 2002
    Although I may disagree with you on some things, I respect your opinion and your right to express it. :)

    In particular, I don't agree that a sheath is part of the knife and that a fixed-blade is two separate items. I very rarely use the sheath that came with a fixed-blade, I usually make my own based on my specific needs and preferences, and I often throw the factory sheath in the trash (like I did with my Master knife). And there are a lot of people who make/produce/sell custom and aftermarket sheaths for knives. I don't believe that a sheath has any bearing on how a knife performs as a knife, but it does have a lot to do with how a knife is carried, and how accessible the knife is when it is carried. But many people put fixed-blades in their vehicles or tool boxes and never wear them, for them the sheath is nothing more than a storage container for the knife.

    It's not at all unusual for a good fixed-blade to come with a bad/cheap sheath. Just one example- my Entrek is a GREAT knife, but it came with a sub-par sheath. But that doesn't change the fact that it's a GREAT knife.

    But like I said, I respect your opinion.:)
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2016
  12. inkynate


    Sep 4, 2010
    I don't know anything about Master Cutlery's tempering on their fixed blades, but I sure hope they do! :eek: I haven't any catastrophic failures yet...

    Not sure how I could have missed the SP-53 until now. That thing does look pretty awesome for the price.
  13. DShiflet


    Jan 25, 2013
    The SP-53 is an awesome knife, no denying it, and I would feel totally safe using that knife for literally anything you might reasonably expect to use a knife for. For that matter, the same applies to pretty much all of Ontario's SP line, they're great knives.

    Of course, even the cheapest SP knife is like $30, whereas you can get a legitimately decent MTech fixed blade for like $10, and I can say from actual experience that it can get my knife tasks done just fine. Won't hold an edge as long as the Ontarios, but there's certainly nothing wrong with the temper, either.
  14. hexenjager

    hexenjager Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 24, 2016
    Claiming that a knife will out chop all knives in it's size range is a pretty bold claim. I doubt that there are many people who have extensively tested all Busse's in that size range and I'd be willing to bet a lot of money that NOBODY has extensively tested every knife made in that size range. Even if someone had the money to do it, you'd never have enough time to actually use them all. Add to that the fact that ergonomics are a huge factor and that, all of us being individuals, what works very well for one person may not work worth a darn for another.

    A knife doesn't have to be expensive in order to work well. This is absolutely true. Claiming certain knowledge of a particular blade's absolute, universal supremacy is, with all due respect, misinformation and bs that only makes things more confusing for people just getting into the hobby who are looking for real information.
  15. singularity35


    Mar 1, 2010
    WTH does out chop even mean?
  16. palonej

    palonej Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Aug 5, 2015
    How true!!
  17. WilliamCody


    Aug 30, 2016

    I own a few Mtechs, as you know, sometimes you need a knife and you only have 20 bucks!

    I had zero expectations for these things, one just like the one you mentioned in the OP, and one 8" full tang fixed blade. First off, I was surprised by fit and finish. Even grinds, thick gauge steel, and a hard coating that seemed like it would stick. Once I used them the differences started to show themselves. Please note all of my experience with durability is from chopping, sawing, or batoning, specifically white and black walnut on my property.

    The "hollow handle" knife like you suggested is HEAVY. And I mean front heavy, and this coming from a guy that regularly uses an Ontario SP10. This is okay for choppers sometimes though, so I write that one off. This thing is not very ergonomic, overly bulky imo, and o h tend to slide in my hand while chopping. But that didn't really matter as shortly after taking it out, the blade snapped right off the handle. Catastrophic failure.

    Full tang fixed blade is much smaller. I hated the handles on this one (too slim for me, funny since the other was too large for me), so I took them off and did a paracord wrap on the partially skeletonized handle. It is a combo edge/partially serrated. I started off putting this thing through the wringer, after snapping the first one just waiting for failure (chopping, sawing branches, rope cutting, cardboard, prying, etc). Crazy thing is, it never did. The edge is surprisingly resilient and still takes a decent edge. Black coating won't fool anyone that it's new, but minor scratches only. Honestly I still use this thing time to time when I need to do something "questionable" with a knife.

    What I got from this is the following: It's the roll of the dice. There is no such thing as quality control and some of this is junk and some of it isn't. But if you do decide to buy one, use your head and pick something that has a higher probability of being quality. Probably best not to get the "overly tac", fancy, highly decorated, ones. Stick to full tangs or reasonably sized folders. Also check out the master cutlery site, they have lists of what steels each brands of theirs uses. Lots of 440 (just says 440 so probably a or b), some of their "premium" lines use 440c, but look out, some use 3cr13, and stuff of the like.
  18. Paul_Atreides

    Paul_Atreides Banned BANNED

    Sep 13, 2016
    I can sympathize w/ your desire to not spend a lot of money on a good looking, full-size, tactical, fixed-blade knife. I used to think it was ridiculous that knives marketed as tactical and / or survival knives were so easily broken under what I would consider light to moderate hard use. It's pretty much always been my position that in a contest between steel and wood (even cheap steel)...steel SHOULD win.

    And after watching and reading reviews like you have, I know it's hard to believe that these cheap, foreign knives could fail so easily for some people. But, what you need to keep in mind is that ANYONE can write a review. Just because someone wrote a stellar review, doesn't make it true. As for motivations to write a false review, the reasons are basically only limited by your imagination but generally, it's almost ALWAYS about the money.

    And as far as video reviews showing the knife being subjected to hard use field testing w/ no failures are concerned, something you also need to consider is that MANY budget, high-volume manufacturers will often SPECIFICALLY make 2 grades of the same knife in several models. One being a small number of knives in several models given some extra-special attention to forging, grinding and heat-treatment as the manufacturer know these knives will be used for performance reviews of the product. And the other grade being the general mass-produced product that are generally pumped out as fast and as cheaply as possible just to make the profit margin.

    I know when you see the pictures of these el-cheapo, ultra-cool looking, full-size fixed-blade knives it can be hard to resist saving the cash and just buying one of these cheaper knives. (especially if that money is burning a hole in your pocket) ;)

    Having said that, believe me it's WELL WORTH just holding out a little longer and saving a little more money for a blade of exponentially better quality.

    I feel like kind of a broken record here as I have recommended this knife brand several times now, but for just slightly more money than your current budget allows for (say, 10-15 bucks more) at just about any online discount factory-authorized dealer Ontario Knife Company has some terrific offerings. (2 of which would be their SP-2 USAF Survival knife...and their model 499 USAF Survival Pilot) Both of these knives are made from superior quality 1095 high-carbon steel (at least when compared to virtually any offerings by United Cutlery)...and can almost certainly be had for under 40 dollars US depending on where you shop (not including S&H).

    Ontario SP-2 USAF Survival... [video]https://youtu.be/RIMBpCs3A28[/video]

    Ontario Model 499 USAF Survival Pilot...[video]https://youtu.be/7_zvOYU_OiQ[/video]

    And as several of the previous posters have already mentioned, Condor & Mora brand knives are worth a look. For their price, they are imo some of the best quality knives on the market.

    Trust me, just wait a little longer and save slightly more money. IMO you'll be glad you did :)
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2016
  19. GatorFlash1

    GatorFlash1 Gold Member Gold Member

    May 28, 2012
    I'm amazed that so many BF members chose to respond to this question. It doesn't deserve the attention. If anyone wants to spend twenty some bucks for a knife go for it. If it works for your purpose, great! If not, you learned the rule that you usually get what you pay for.

    Why waste all your time on this?

    Here is a post that makes sense to me.

  20. Mormegil Turambar

    Mormegil Turambar

    Sep 17, 2018
    Honestly I cant speak to the quality of the hollow handle knife, but I did recently buy a Survivor brand blade from Master Cutlery and it has served me well so far. Its a short sword, I believe the correct name for this blade type is Ninjatō. Its made of stainless steal, but other than that its a great purchase. I sharpened it myself with a whetstone. I paid 12 bucks for mine, which is about 10.27 euros.[​IMG]

    Last edited: Sep 17, 2018
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