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Katz Cheetah -- Large Sturdy Lockback


Feb 17, 1999
Naming a very hefty lockback a "Cheetah" is somewhat strange. When I think of a cheetah, I think of a member of the greater feline family that is known for being the fastest cat. Were I to name the knife in front of me for an animal it would be the mule. This ain't no gent's suit pocket knife, folks. It's the stoutest, beefiest, most robust lockback that I've yet seen. It's definitely Levi's and workboots, not Brooks Brothers and wingtips.

When I first got this Kraton handled beefy lockback I immediately thought of both a previous SOG Tomcat and the Al Mar Sere Attack that I never bought. But to give a better idea of this massive bolstered lockback I think it best to compare it directly to the Buck 110 that set the stage for this whole genre.

Both the Buck 110 and the Katz 900 series feature 3 3/4" blades. Both are double bolstered, belt carried lockbacks. The Katz 900 series are available in either clip or drop point formats. The one in this review is a drop point. From there is where the knives start to really differentiate themselves. The Katz Cheetah is somewhat like a much improved Buck 110 on steroids. For instance, the blade and lock rocker bar on the Katz are a whopping 3/16" thick, as compared to the more typical 1/8" thick stock of the Buck 110's, 560's, and most clones like Pumas, etc. Even the 5" bladed Cold Steel Extra Large Voyager, # 34XC has only a 0.138" blade stock as compared to the 0.160" blade stock of the much shorter bladed Cheetah.

Here are some more specs before we get into performance:

Katz Cheetah Drop Point: 3 3/4" drop point blade, 5 1/4" closed, 8 7/8" OAL, 1.480" (almost 1 1/2") wide closed, .80" thick at handle, knife wt. = 9.5oz, holster wt.=3.5 oz, total for knife and holster= whopping 13 oz.

Buck 110 clip point: 3 3/4" blade, 4 7/8" closed, 8 5/8" OAL, 1.280" wide closed, 0.675" thick at handle, knife wt= ~7oz, sheath is either 1 oz nylon or 2oz leather for a total of either 8 or 9oz.

While those numbers may seem rather dry, I can tell you that adding to the length, girth and heft of the Buck 110 the way that Katz has done guarantees a knife that simply dwarfs the esteemed 110. What potential carriers of the Katz Cheetah might notice most is the increase in weight. To compensate for the rather huge jump in weight, Katz supplies the Cheetah with a pancake style, canted 2 belt slot belt holster that really helps pull such a heavy folder in to the body. The belt holster is made like a pancake style handgun holster and the sensation of carrying the knife is very much like carrying a S&W Centennial in a similar pancake holster. Unfortunately, I don't think that the holster as shipped would be particularly useful to left handers, because of the built in cant. I don't know if a southpaw version is available.

The holster just barely accomodates my typical Arizona Tactical double ply nylon web belt at 1 3/4" and won't fit on anything wider or thicker. This is a shame since this knife fairly screams "duty knife" and would be right at home on web gear and Sam Browne belts. This would be remediable by the end user since there is ample room to widen the slots. Other than that I think this is perhaps one of the better factory leather belt sheathes that I've ever seen for a heavy duty folder. It's double ply thick black leather and is well stitched. Unlike most competing belt scabbards, this thing isn't going to come off your belt because some cheap pop rivet or inadequate stitched belt loop comes loose.

The blade steel on the Katz is claimed to be XT80. While I can't find any evidence of that designation on any bladesteel chart, one thing that a lot of folks are speculating is that Katz's XT80 is very similar to AUS8A and Katz's lower end XT70 is similar to AUS6A. At first I thought that might likely be the case, since Katz knives are made in Japan, and distributed out of Chandler, AZ.

_However_ after *preliminary* (non-conclusive) testing, I must report that performance of the Katz XT80 steel appears to be much more on par with sample knives of 440C. For instance, the Katz Cheetah _appears_ to exhibit edge retention cutting corrogated cardboard and nylon rope, of approximately double that of the Cold Steel Extra Large Voyager in AUS8A. As mentioned, testing at this point is totally in the beginning stages and results are not conclusive or reliable. (yet, more later)

Fit and finish on the Cheetah are every bit the equal of other knives in it's price range.
My only real asthetic gripe with this large work knife is that the cheap plastic ambidexterous thumb opening disk is cheap, plastic and held on by a cheap phillips screw that looks like it came out of a transistor radio production line. Other than that, this knife appears to be well put together for quite durable service.

One thing that I particularly like is that the double pinned rear stainless bolster is flat ended to make a pounding surface. Unlike the rounded Buck 110's and clones, and most especially unlike the sintered brass 110's, the rear bolster on the Katz looks like it could stand some pounding. I'd not want to frame a house with it, but it looks like a heck of a walnut and pecan crusher.
I used the butt of mine, today to set a couple fence staples and it's none the worse for wear.

Another thing that I really want to comment on is the lock geometry. Not only is this lock far stronger because of the thicker stock, but the lock engagement notch is MUCH longer than that of either the Buck 110 or the Cold Steel Extra Large Voyager. The lock notch on the Cheetah is 0.395" as compared to what appears to be about 0.15" on the Bucks and maybe 0.27" on the Cold Steel 34XC. (I hesitate on the numbers for the Buck and CS since the slots are too small for my dial calipers.) Still, even if those numbers are approximate, that's a LOT more lock tooth engaging a LOT more metal.

The other thing that's quite appealing about the large Katz is that the blade cams open very evenly for the whole of it's throw. Unlike Bucks that seem almost never to have the flat spots on the cam in the same place, the Katz is a very even, steady, smooth opener. It's no speed demon, and will never likely be accused of being a gravity or 'fling' knife, but rather just a smooth opening large work knife.

Despite it's screw on thumb opener, I doubt that this knife will ever be a serious defensive use consideration for most people. It's kinda slow to get out of the pancake sheath, and is heavy and slow in the hand. However, if one were to perfect deployment of the piece it's certainly stout enough and has enough mass to make an awesome folding weapon. The double 400 series stainless bolsters and the overall heft would make for one heck of a fist loader.

What I see more the role for this knife is that of heavy duty work horse folder. That's a role that I'm far more aquainted with. One thing that I found particularly useful is that unlike most folders the Katz Cheetah has enough mass to be used as a pretty decent chopper. Today I used mine to put points on some 1"x 2" garden stakes and was most pleased when I realized that I could chop the points on rather than simply whittle them.

One last comment is about price. The Katz Cheetah is available through various internet and mail order sources for approximately $80US. That's a fair price for this knife but not a great one. One does have to ask if it's really worth the equivalent of the cost of 2.5 Buck 110's and if carrying such a heavy folder is even practical. I found that after the first hour, I got used to the weight and was willing to make the tradeoff, but perhaps not everyone would be so inclined.

Overall, I'd give this knife 4 stars out of 5 in the large production belt carried folder category. I'll post more on it as I learn more, since this may be one that several folks here would be interested in checking out.


Well, I sure blew that one. The blade and rocker thickness on the Katz Cheetah are, in actuality, 4mm which is 5/32" not 6/32" (or 3/16). It was late, I was tired, my eyes aren't 20 anymore.... oh screw it, I just flat out got it wrong. Still, it's considerably stouter than the competition.

mps-- who vows to always at least strive for accuracy
Although I own no Katz knives, I am really interested in reading reviews of knives not often mentioned on these forums, such as Katz, SOG, Al Mar, etc. I liked the way you did a practical comparison of the Cheetah to the 110 and the XLVoyager, two more familiar knives. I personally prefer a lighter, slightly thinner knife, but, hey, I love reading these reviews!
Exactly what I was looking for in a folder. I have a Military on the way which should handle all the light cutting tasks and I was in the market for a heavier, stouter folder with a strong lock to be used for light chopping (mainly assisted), and of course light prying and digging.

MPS, do you think that prying light enough so as to not damage the blade would still be heavy enough to damage the lock and or induce blade play?

Cliff, a couple days ago I attempted to post a multi-hundred word response but I guess it's now officially a casualty of web demons or something. Maybe this one will go through.
I wouldn't really want to do a lot of digging or prying with any folder, but were I to do so, I'd hope to use the Cheetah. One thing that sets the Cheetah apart from the Buck 110 and clones is the amount of blade that extends into the handle to create the lock and rocker areas. On my Buckcote 110 there is approximately 20mm of 20mm wide 3mm thick blade tang left in the handle when open. Measuring the end of the rocker with the knife closed I get 15mm. So we're talking about less than a 3/4" stub of metal that is going to transfer any shock, vibrations or abuse to the handle. On the Katz Cheetah, the 4mm thick tang protrudes into the handle 27mm and is 27mm wide at the front and 15mm wide at the rear rocker area with the knife closed. There is simply a heck of a lot more metal left in the handle of the Katz and that's got to be stronger.

However, the bolsters on the Buck 110 extend a good way past the end of the tang, and that may contribute somewhat to strength. On the Katz Cheetah the bolsters extend for only the first 12mm, (less than halfway). The liners on both knives look to be about 2mm. (or about the thickness of a good kitchen knife
So that leaves us wondering to what extent the bolsters really ad to strength and help prevent worsening blade play.

BOTH knives exhibited some side to side blade wobble when locked open right out of the box. That's been true of every lockback that I've ever had. On better ones, like the Katz, it's minimal, but it is still there. On my 25 yr old Buck 110 the wobble has increased over the years, but we're still only talking about enough to insert a piece of stationary on either side.

The Cheetah is beefy enough that it should stand some light chopping and prying, but those have got to be a couple of the hardest things for any lockback to withstand. I don't know that I'd want to make a practice of it, but it's nice having a knife that could likely serve those roles if occasionally necessary.

One final note, with a week's worth of use, the Cheetah is now opening even smoother than before.

Well, Phooey! The Katz Cheetah saga continues, and despite early indications what I've so far seen of this bladesteel isn't flattering or pretty at all.

I've been wearing the Cheetah as my belt folder for a bit, and yesterday I happened to have it along coincidental to needing to trim back some vines from a fence we were painting. After cutting fewer than a dozen pencil-sized greenbriars and a couple of mere sassafrass plants the edge on the Katz Cheetah was totally gone. What irks me, is that I consider what I was doing to be very, very light usage. No chopping, no prying, just trying to clear some brush in the way of my paintbrush. The edge on the Cheetah is rolled, dinged and in need of repair before it will even cut a simple cardboard box.

So far, I'd rate Katz's XT80 almost exactly as I'd rate AUS8A in terms of a work knife. In other words, not very highly.

mps-- bummed
I appreciate your personal assessment. I was thinking of getting this knife. I'd be interested what you think after you re-sharpen it to see if it holds just as long.



I've been interesting Katz folders since I saw their pics in BLADE magazine several years ago. I like their traditional "calm & cool" appearance. But Katz is so enigmatic, that I did not manage to find any information about this product, and knives dealers know approximately nothing about it.
Yesterday I surfed through the Forum and found out your excellent "Cheetah" review and some more information about Katz (at "Red-headed step children Katz/Junglee" topic).
I'm the very folk who is interested in this subject and would like you to shear experience on Katz folders, Epecially (if you have any) on "Black Kat" and "Special Forces" folders.
Best regards,
MIKLE, I have both Black Kat lightweight folder (with 3" blade, XT 70 steel) and Special Forces (with 3 ¾" blade, XT 80 steel) and I'm very satisfied with their performance.
I tested edge retention on wave cardboard and noticed that XT 70 slightly outperforms AUS-8 and XT 80 slightly outperforms ATS-34.
Please see: http://www.bladeforums.com/ubb/Forum32/HTML/002587.html

MPS, did your Cheetah have factory sharpening or your custom one when you trimmed vines? All production knives, also Katz knives are power sharpened in the factory. It might cause slight steel dehardening directly in the edge's line. I observed that most of knives are holding the edge noticeable better after hand resharpening.
Might it be the reason of worse than expected edge retention on your Cheetah?

Sergiusz Mitin
Lodz, Poland
Thank you Sergiusz for exelent Katz knives review. You are keeping up my passion to them.
It is practically impossible to get Katz in Ukraine. Is it possible in Poland ?
No, we haven't Katz knives in our gun or knife stores in Poland. Please search recent issue of German Frankonia Jagd catalog, I don't remember what models are available from Frankonia but Special Forces certainly.
Or try to ask http://www.katz-knives.com for their nearest dealer.