Knife Tests By The Experts?????????

Big Tex

Dec 6, 1999
I am relatively new to the Forum, but I have noticed that alot of folks like to do reviews of knives. For the most part, the results are good, but now and then you have someone that finds fault with a specific knife. My question is "how do I know that this person knows "Jack" about knives to start with" and is qualified to do a test/review.? Do I have a valid question here or not? Personally, I have a problem with an unqualified person running down someone's product especially if it's their source of income. I feel better now. If they know so much about knives, why don't they make them?

For every hour spent fishing, God grants another day of life.
I don't see a problem with people who may not be that knowledgeable about knives doing tests as long as they explain what they did and why. I can then decide myself if the product was tested correctly or not.

I don't see a problem with knifemakers testing blades, but now you get into conflict of interest, which is not good. People can say that the particular maker was kinder to his own product than to his competitors product. This won't work.

I think most people doing tests are knife enthusiasts and that pretty much makes them a professional in a sense since there aren't to many knife enthusiasts in this world. But you have to decide for yourself if something was done right or not.

Besides this isn't rocket science, this stuff is very simple and you only need common sense. Maybe you read a review about a knife you like that didn't portray the knife well. Well the truth hurts sometimes, GEEWIZ.
Tex I have wondered the same things myself.The conclusion I came to is:at least on the forums you aren't paying for the review like you do when you buy a magazine.
I personally haven't read a knife review that I thought wasn't incredibly flawed.I disagree with the notion that reviewing knives is simple.My main complaint in knife reviews is a lack of consistent test media for chopping and edgeholding tests.Reviewers here and in the magazines should try harder to be more consistent so that simple baseline comparisons can be formed from test results.Just my thoughts.
Ben, I agree 100% with the importance you place on the fact that our forum testers aren't paid to conduct their trials. Long ago I cancelled all my subscriptions to Guns & Ammo, Shooting Times, Handgunner, et al, and traded them all in for one subscription to Gun Tests magazine for the very reason you describe. I just couldn't stand receiving one more issue with a juicy cover story like, "We compare a dozen 9mm semi-autos. Read Joe Schmuckatelli's article and see which one is best!!!". Without fail these articles would always end up exactly the same way. "All the guns are great, and it's up to the individual to decide which he likes best". Thanks alot guys. God forbid we offend one of our sponsors (or even potential sponsors) by making an objective assessment of their product's level of fit and finish, etc. Gun Tests, on the other hand, accepts no advertising dollars or factory freebies, and like our dedicated testers, calls 'em like they see 'em.

Sure, it's still our responsibility to evaluate the testing criteria to determine how well it duplicates our intended uses of a particular knife, but I think we should all be thankful that we have free access to this wonderful resource. Gun Tests, by the way, ain't even close to free.

Semper Fi

[This message has been edited by Bronco (edited 03-17-2000).]

I think someone missed my point. No one has trashed any of the knives I have or like.
Tex, I didn't miss your point, I just think it's pretty funny. You obviously missed mine since you only repeated on line.

What do you consider the requirements for a professional knife tester? I think you need to setsome parameters of what you consider important in a knife tester. Oh, and were do your opinions of what a good knife review is? Are you a professional tester to be able to judge?

Some questions to think about.

I enjoy reading the reviews posted here and find them entertaining and useful. Even if the reviewer does not know anything about knives they can find real faults. It does not take an expert realize a handle design hurts the hand.

It is best to compare a number of reviewers comments to see what is consistent. There will be variations since everyone has different knife expectations. However, if 5 out of 7 reviews found a certain knife's lock failed I would be very most likely not buy that knife.

Using the above logic, I look forward to reading more reviews (expert or not).

Actually, I consider buying more knives based on what I read here than I do from magazine reviews. The actual people here who buy and use knives do not owe anything to advertisers. A good portion of the magazine writers are far from experts, and many of there reviews are not real world useage.


I'll admit to being much less informed than many here. And I'm not about to destroy one of my babies to see how much they can take. But I can tell you how well it is assembled, how smoothly it operates, how even the bevels are, blade design and thickness, how sharp, etc. I can check the lock assembly function and comment on the quality of materials and finish. I can give my ideas for improvements, and tell of any problems. No way can I tell you the Rockwell Hardness, or tensile strength, or corrosion resistance. I can give you my general impression of the blade's edge holding, but the knife that you get may be harder or softer, and your use will be different than mine. But For a lot of people, this is enough to get an idea of the quality/price ratio. Would a full review by a seasoned expert be more in depth and carry more weight than mine? Absolutely. And it should. But until that can occur, there is at least some information available for those interested. And it is an honest and impartial attempt (and it is free).

I agree that we need industry standard testing procedures and materials. As for what those should be, well... that's another reason that we need the experts.

If a tree falls in the forest, and there is nobody there to hear it, why worry about it?
Requrements for a professional knife tester.Hmm lets see.I have a couple of suggestions for accurate and informative knife testing.
1.If a knife is bent in a vice to see how far it will bend and still return to true use a protractor to measure the flex.I rarely read a review where the number is concrete it is usually just a guesstimate.Protractors are cheap use them!
A tester should be able to write that he/she "measured the angle at x degrees and the knife returned to true."
2.If you must take a knife to destruction to find out its limits why not make a jig that will allow you to take a ft/lb torque measurement.This would be a nice number to have for evaluation purposes.This was touched on recently in a thread about destructive testing and there were responses stating that auto makers destroy cars why shouldn't knife testers destroy knives to test them.The thing is when car makers do it the setup is wired and videoed and a lot of hard data is gained.How about a ft/lb number okay?
3.Make the test consistent if it is a comparison.The example that comes to mind is a little comparison Cliff did awhile back.I'm not sure if he was testing sheaths or handles,but the test involved throwing the sheathed knives up in the air and letting them fall on a driveway or sidewalk.
An object that is thrown will not fall exactly the same way and the forces will not be consistent therefore the test becomes nothing more than futile knife abuse.
4.Try to get as many copies of a blade to test as you can get your hands on.A test of a single blade is just that.More test samples=more accurate review.
5.Try to incorporate the knifes intended design into the review if possible.I cant tell you how many times I have seen reviews in tactical knives magazine where some serious fighting bowie ends up being used to cut some paper and help prepare some some finger sandwiches in Steven Dick's kitchen.Man ,why do I keep buying that rag?

Thats all I have for now.Feel free to add to my list.
If you read that test report again you might notice Cliff threw each knife many times and took care to see they didn't always land in the same orientation. Because ... um ... sure would be useful to know that sheath that just broke on you wouldn't have broken if it had landed in the only orientation that had been tested, wouldn't it?

Reading one post might not give you enough information to decide whether the author knows what he's talking about or not, but you don't have to wait for more information; you can search out all the other reviews he's posted.

-Cougar :{)
Cougar I usually try to read all of Cliffs reviews.I usually find them wildly entertaining.


Maybe the knife throwing test wasn't a good example.I read it a couple of times and the test wasn't originally designed to be a head to head comparison,but rather a test of Kydex and how it performs in cold weather.I still think it could have been more scientific.Anyway,my apologies Cliff I don't mean to knock your methods.I just used it as an example.

[This message has been edited by Ben E Hana (edited 03-17-2000).]

[This message has been edited by Ben E Hana (edited 03-17-2000).]

[This message has been edited by Ben E Hana (edited 03-17-2000).]
Cobalt :

as long as they explain what they did and why. I can then decide myself if the product was tested correctly or not.

Yes, that is pretty much the main point. The reviewer, for the most part on the forums, is doing the evalution for themselves. You must make the decision about its application to your blades.

Ben :

my apologies Cliff

There is no need to apologize for stating your opinion on the validity on a review someone does, including mine, that is a large part of what this forum is for.


[This message has been edited by Cliff Stamp (edited 03-17-2000).]
If they know so much about knives, why don't they make them?

If the guys who QA the software know so much, why don't they work in the kernel lab? Well, because designing software, and knowing how to test to hit all corner cases and end-user mistakes, are different skills. I do want the guy who tests the knife to know something about knives -- but I certainly don't demand that he have the kind of artistic talent and ability to do fine work that knifemakers have. On the other hand, I do want the tester to have a good idea of how the knife is used in the real world, to test the various hard-use corner cases, and have testing that's at least a bit scientific.

One advantage to reviews here on the forums is that you can often read other writings by the reviewer, and decide for yourself whether he knows what he's talking about. If Joe Talmadge writes a review and you want to double-check that he knows anything about knives, you can do a search for his old postings, and decide for yourself.

The other nice advantage to reviews here is that you can interact with the reviewer himself. If you're dissatisfied with the thoroughness of a particular review, you can ask the author to do another test. If you can't figure out what he's trying to say, you can ask. If he blatantly skipped over an obvious weakness in the design, you can call him on it.

I have my own favorite kinds of reviews, and least favorite. Without getting into that here, there's a review style that I often see even here on the forums, and though I read that style I look at it as entertainment purposes only. There are other styles that I read more to learn about the knives being tested and about how to be a good reviewer.

Don't confuse please knife reviews with laboratory testing. Knife laboratory testing usually checks does this particular knife matches industry standards and safety requirements. This is the job for knife manufacturer because they are responsible for products they are making. Some manufacturers are publishing test results on advertising level only, for ex. "our lock is the world strongest" - do you have resentment to them?
Other manufacturers are publishing much more reliable info, for ex. "our lock held 200 pounds of negative load without unlocking or damage" - you can believe them or not, it's your right. You can check their test results if you wish.
Completely another thing is knife reviewing. Here reviewer describes his subjective opinion only, it can be completely different from another reviewers opinion. Different persons have different requirements for their knife, different liking, different hand size at least. What is good for one can be bad for another. But if reviewer is justifying his opinion it can help another forum members to have some impressions before they will buy this knife. I think it's very valuable feature of reviews and this entire forum. If you are not agreeing with reviewer you always can discuss with him and defend your opinion - this is another nice future of this forum.
And tell me please, in which matter I have to be an expert to describe how comfortable (or not) knife handle fits my hand? Or how I like (or not) knife visual appearance?
Some words about skills, making and use is not the same. I can draw my concealed handgun and hit twice A4 format paper sheet at 3 meters within 1,2 - 1,5 second (depending on mood) - does it means I must make a good handguns?
On the other hand, Glock pistols are very good and very popular among handgunners - does it means Gaston Glock must be the best pistoliero in the world?
Tes, I would even read one of you reviews, even though you may not know thing one about knives, and have only been in the forum for 3 months, simply because there is no set scientific way to test knives. Stick a knife in a vice and bend it, that's fine if you like it because I'll read it. Who cares if in real life you'll never have to put the knife in a vice.

I remember being at load tests of certain new fighter aircraft nose cones(M.E. by trade and degree). We had a 6 axis hydraulic press that would simulate different compressive loads on the nose cone(radar housing) of a certain fighter jet. We then had strain gages all over the damm place on that cone to measure the deflection compression and any possible shear in the material. The equipment in that building was over a $15 million dollars. Do you feel we need to do this for knives? Is it that scientific.? Most materials have already been tested for tensile, shear and compressive qualities, so you can go get a book and get those results. However, on hand testing will tell you how the design works. It is almost impossible and cost ineffective to perform scientific load tests in a lab situation on low production or low value equipment such as knives.

The opinion of a little peon with a big mouth(me).
I enjoy reading what other people post here as knife reviews and tests. It helps me decide what knife to buy as well. End of story.
Completely another thing is knife reviewing. Here reviewer describes his subjective opinion only


I am going to disagree with you on that. This review/lab-test dichotomy is a false one, I think. While there are reviews that tend to stick mostly with the subjective (for example, magazine-style reviews), reviews can -- and in my opinion should -- also include some testing. A review which is only subjective is a for-your-entertainment-only kind of review, fun to read but that's it. A review that contains real data is a review that can actually teach me something.

My advice is not to be fooled by the reviews you see in the magazines, do not be afraid include performance tests and other objective data in your reviews. In fact, probably what disappoints me the most is when I read a review here, and I see the author is emulating the style and content of magazine-type reviews.

That, of course, is merely MY personal opinion on what reviews should be like. I don't claim that the reviews I like are better or worse than the ones I don't like, and I'd rather see magazine-type reviews than no reviews at all! Nor do I consider myself arbitrator of good reviews, or anything like that. Just thought I'd give my view on what makes a review interesting, and bending over backwards not to insult or discourage anyone who does any other type of review.

I'm respecting your opinion very much but I'll defend mine. I agree, it would be nice to create some standard test procedures to obtain objective data on each knife. We can try to do it for ex. here, on BladeForums. Let us try to do it!
But even in this case the obtained data will be not fully objective. For example:
  • Edge retention test on cardboard - we can decide to cut X-wide, Y-long straps from Z-thick cardboard sheet but your cardboard can be more (or less) coarse than mine.
  • Knife penetration test on the old phonebooks - your hand can be stronger (or weaker) than mine, your phonebooks can be made from another kind of paper. Even paper humidity can influence penetration depth very much.
In both mentioned cases we would obtain incomparable results which could disorientate our readers. The result comparability is the main goal of objective tests obtaining digital data - how much, how long, how strong etc.

What disappoints me in the magazine type reviews? Reviewers describe their opinions without any justification and as result each knife becomes "an excellent choice", "great knife", "very appealing knife" etc., etc. It's no info for the reader and probable buyer in this kind of reviews excepting manufacturers data about blade material, length, knife weight etc.
This is the reason why I stopped to buy "Guns & Ammo" and "Handguns" five or so years ago, for the same reason I do not buy blade magazines. It's a huge lot of advertising and practically no (or very few) valuable info! And it costs almost $5 in America, here, in Poland almost $7,5 - I'm simply regretting to waste my hard earned money.
In my honest opinion BladeForums is much better
although not cheaper for me

OK, let I do some practical proposal: let's try to discuss and work out some points of objective knife testing. Of course as objective as it's possible at all.