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Large vs. small Sebenza: Observations

Jun 23, 1999
I'm now the lucky and honored owner of 2 CRK Sebenzas, large and small. he first I've had for two or three years, the latter just arrived a week ago. Both are plain.

They are intended to be real working knives. The large has been heavily used. Its lost about a mm of its tip, and has been sharpened dozen's of times by hand and with various angle-handling systems. In my opinion, the
plain Sebenza, if not the most beautiful knife in its price range (not counting the aesthetics of its engineering), is most surely one of if not *the* strongest, and most elegant from the viewpoint of ngineering
simplicity coupled with the best in materials and engineering practices of today. I've met people who thought the Seb. is too highly
priced, but never one who didn't think it was a great knife!

That being said, the small is identical to the large. Yes, a genuine miniature, .84 the size of the large (L and H. I measured .81 for the width)! This doesn't sound like much of a reduction (roughly 16%), but objectively, it feels smaller than that. The weight ratio of the small to the large is only .57, a whopping 43% reduction. That probably goes a long way to explaining the subjective difference. Needless to say it is a strong and elegant (engineering again) knife. It is much better suited to carry when wearing lighter clothes, for example as might
be worn in office environments.

So is it worth $305 (retail). Ironically, even the price difference (the small is .88 of the large, 12% difference), is close enough to the L/H/W ratios above, especially when you consider that the amount of labor and energy (heat treatment for example) that goes into fabricating the small knife has to be about identical to that of a large! By this measure, the small is a very reasonable deal to be sure. Subjectively speaking, one might wonder. Is there any point to building
such a small knife this strong? Will its likely deployment ever take advantage of its strength? As light as it is, would not even lighter knives serve better in its expected (city clothes) deployment environment?

From this viewpoint, I think the large has to provide more bang for the buck! Never-the-less, now that I have it, I can say the following for the small...

1. It does make a better pairing knife (at least in my hand). It might be better for skinning very small game (like quail maybe) or caping a bird.

2. I'll carry it more than the large because I'm in city clothes more hours out of the day and days of the week now than I used to be...

3. "City people" are much less likely to react in their characteristic manner when you deploy it for utility purposes.

4. If I did ever get stranded in my city clothes, I'd sooner have this knife in my waistband than any of the other "city knives" I carry. A correlary to #4 is...

5. To (and in) the city, I will undoubtedly carry this knife much more than all of my other "city knives" combined.

If asked to recommend the small vs. the large, my opinion would hinge on the wearer's intended environment. If it is an environment in which a smaller (really medium sized with a blade of 2.75 inches) knife is more appropriate is going to be where you want to use it, then by all means, get the small. If not, if the environment is *any* other place,
get the large.
Matthew,I own,use and like sebenzas.I have 2 large,2 small,all plain and all left handed.I live in the country,well the wide open suburbs,work on the ocean and wear blue jeans everywhere.I have never owned a suit,tie or sports coat.I prefer the small for all the reasons You mentioned before You began numbering them plus a few more.It is large enough to cut 98%+ of all the things I cut with a knife I carry on my person,it is more comfortable for me to use and it is very much more comfortable for me to carry.All of this is just my preferences and I would highly recommend either knife.
Well stated, Matthew. I agree w/you and Mad Cow; I switched from large to small about 9 months ago and prefer the small. If I need something larger than 2.8" cutting edge, I'll carry a small fixed for increased strength and ergonomics.

I carry all three, but mostly the small.


RICK - Left Handers Unite
I think mad cow has a good point. When using the large I've reflected on the fact that 90% of what it does, maybe even 100% could be done just as well with the small, but that is because of the environment in which I typically use my carry folder. When I go into the woods and carry a seb as my primary knife, the large gives me a warmer and fuzzier feeling :)

Now what's this about 3 sizes? Is one of those a true custom? Going to the CRK site, I see quotes on only two sizes. What is going on with this? How long is the blade of the largest knife pictured above? I'm wondering if my "large" is really a medium?
Ah ha. I never realized the Umfaan was a baby Seb. Thanks for the clue! I just checked the Reeve site and found it.

Thanks for mentioning the smallest one in the picture is a Umfaan and the middle knife is the small Sebenza.

Sometimes I forget to mention that.

All three are called the Zulu Trio or Z3.

RICK - Left Handers Unite
I think that any Sebenza you get will be a great knife. They are, as Matthew stated very possibly the strongest knife out there. I do, howerver, prefer the smaller to the larger. I am in the market for one of them myself and when I feel the small one in my hand it just seems to fit. The extra inch on the large Sebenza makes it no more practical than the small. The small one is also better because, being a student, my cohorts dont mind a 2.8 inch blade nearly as much as a 4.
I've been paying attention to both of them lately. I've heard people complain that Sebs are not the most comfortable knives to hold for long periods. In my hand at least, this is one of the advantages of the large model in that it is much more comfortable to work with. About half the cutting chores I perform all through the week take a few seconds, while the other half tend to take many minutes. In general I find somewhat larger knives to be more comfortable for these longer running jobs. Of these, the Seb is not the most comfortable knife I own for my hand, but it does come in second, and that's pretty good.

As I've cut my way through the last week I did take note of the fact that the small could indeed handle every one of the chores I've called upon my knife to perform, long or short. But while the small knife is certainly less intimidating, and much much lighter, the large was definately more comfortable for long-running chores, at least for my hand.
Years ago I sold my large Sebenza. It was the old style and was a little rough on the hands. I replaced it with a 3/4 scale Terzuola ATCF which I carried for several years on active duty. About four years ago I got a small new style Sebbie. It has ridden in my pocket daily since. Two years ago I bought a Umfaan at the blade show for $200.00 (the knife gods were smiling on me that day). It is a great dress up knife and I carry it daily as a back up. Recently I had to use the Small Sebbie to split wood for kindling during an outing. It seemed to leave a little to be desired. You guessed it I just got a new large Sebbie. I love it. It is smooth as glass and the new styling make it a dream to hold. The toughest task now will be deciding which to carry. I own Terzuola, Crawford, and Emerson. I carry Reeve.

Hoah! (Its an Army thing!)
handle comfort is such a subjective thing I think it really has little meaning in any review other than as a purely personal notation. For what its worth, I have an average sized hand for my height (5'9") and weight. There are some knife handles that are clearly too big for my hands, but then there are others, described as being "for big hands" that feel great. There are also many that are too small of course. I would say that both of the Sebs fit my hand (both are newer style handles). I've not handled the Umfaan.

Well, happy new year everyone. Its nice to know others share my enjoyment of these particular knives.