LOVE sebenzas. Hesitant about 25/Inkosi

Discussion in 'Chris Reeve Knives' started by bvo85, May 25, 2017.

  1. bvo85


    Apr 27, 2017
    I've LOVED sebenzas since I got my first one almost 20 years ago. I took a while off following the knife market and only came back recently and dug into the 25 and Inkosi line up. At first glance, I adored the look!

    The curves of the handle and stoutness of the blade is very appealing to my sensibilities. I watched several review videos online and learned that the 25 and Inkosi model lack a pivot bushing and thus the consequence is if you overtighten the pivot, then the knife gets harder to open, like basically every other knife on the market except a sebenza.

    To quote ApostleP YouTube reviewer, "a pivot bushing is what makes a sebenza a sebenza."

    I find Mr Reeve to be a brilliant knifemaker, so I rather than dismiss these two knife lineups, I'd like to explore the benefits of the changes made from the 21 to the 25 and inkosi line up.

    Ignoring the handle and blade shape differences, because those are visually obvious, I'd like to know the rationale for removing the pivot bushing and going to only one handle screw instead of two. From my position of ignorance, the 25 and Inkosi lineup would be different enough from the 21 by handle and blade shape alone, and the pivot bushing and number of handle screws could remain the same and people would still buy the 25/Inkosi based on aesthetics or how it fits their hand. Heck, I'd probably have bought one. Or more!

    But given the elimination of the pivot bushing, it seems like a totally different knife in its internals, at least from my position of ignorance, which is why I'm starting this thread. On the surface it seems like a step backwards and possible a budget knife that might be cheaper to produce since there's likely fewer steps in manufacturing and less tolerances to worry about. But the Inkosi is slightly more expensive than the 21 and I'm sure there's more to it than that and I'm merely ignorant of the intention behind this change.

    I'm sure these discussions happened when the 25 was first released and I missed it since I was away from the knife world during that time. I'd go back and search archives, but then I'd lose the last few years of real world experience people have gained from these models.
  2. kidcongo


    Jan 12, 2013
    CRK has recognized that the Sebenza 25 was a different offering than the Sebenza 21, with a different design criteria, as opposed to "improvements". It was not generally thought of as an improved Sebenza, so has been given its own name "Inkosi". All CRK share many design features, so they are all worthy or comparison to each other, but the Inkosi is a very different knife than a Sebenza is a few important ways, so comparing the two is not necessarily going to show one to be superior to the other. I'm looking forward to the Inkosi Insingo, but doubt it will permanently kick a 21 out of my pocket. A new version of the Sebenza might, however.
  3. Ajack60

    Ajack60 Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Apr 21, 2013
    The Umnumzaan came out in 2008. It was the first CRK that didn't have the bushing system. Evidently, it won the favor of CRK enthusiast's that were looking for something different in a CRK. So, it's not like the adjustable pivot is something new. Then in 2012, the Sebenza 25 was born. IMO, the 25 is a cross between a 21 and Umnumzaan. The 25 was retired after 4 years and the large Inkosi replaced the 25. The small Inkosi came out a year prior to the large and once again CRK proved, they do listen to what people want. Folks were talking about a small 25 every since it came out. There has been discussion that the 25 should not have been in the same class as the Senenza 21. I'd be inclined to agree since it was discontinued and the Inkosi replaced it.
    I just think the Umnumzaan,25, and Inkosi are different line ups that folks wanted and so far they seem to be well liked by everyone, even the hard core 21 owners.
    James Longstreet and bvo85 like this.
  4. bvo85


    Apr 27, 2017
    Ajack: Awesome information! Thank you!

    I lack an understanding about adjustable pivot knives. My layperson understanding is that CRK is one of the only, if not the only, knife company to use pivot bushings. The pivot bushing in the 21 is what makes the knife so smooth and able to take apart and put back together infinitely and get the same outcome each time without having to resort to sticking folded folded paper and adjusting different handle screws in a different order to get the knife centered correctly. And then having to adjust and readjust tension in the pivot over time.

    My layperson understanding is that the reason CRK is the only (or one of the only) companies to use this system is because the tolerances have to be down to the 10,000ths of an inch on the bushing, knife blade, and pivot and only CRK has the manufacturing expertise, highly trained personnel, and industry experience to produce knives with this system.

    If those two things are true, it seems like a step backwards to go to an adjustable pivot, unless there's a benefit to an adjustable pivot, over a pivot bushing, that I am ignorant of. Is there a reason the umnumzaan couldn't have a pivot bushing designed into the knife? Does the adjustable pivot allow for something in the design that otherwise wouldn't be possible with a pivot bushing?

    I get that adjustable pivot is different than pivot bushing, and people like diversity in their collection, but generally that's only if the different feature/design is better in some capacity. And I lack the understanding of what an adjustable pivot does better than a pivot bushing.
    davz45 likes this.
  5. makak


    Sep 15, 2015
    I'm with you there but there is no reason to overthink it, it's certainly easier to manufacture, some people like it because you can adjust the pivot to your preference, you won't pinch a washer when you put it back together improperly and locktited screw won't come loose, I've never had a sebenza screw loosened up but some folks had. And it looks like the knives without the bushing sell great so there's no problem and people like you and me can still get a sebenza.
  6. CRK isn't the only company, Rockstead and Shirogorov use them and Spyderco uses a quasi bushing system on a lot of their knives. The pivot bushing just allows you to take apart the knife and put it back together to factory adjustment every time so you don't need to adjust it yourself and then loctite it. It's convenient, but not necessary. Flatness, lockbar tension, ceramic detent, and the hand-fit phosphor-bronze washers are all bigger contributors to smoothness than the pivot. As far as sticking folded paper in a knife and fiddling with screws to get stuff centered, this really isn't a huge issue these days. The knives from the high end production companies have gotten really good in the past 10 years or so, most high end production knives will go back together just fine without much headache, at least that's been my experience.

    The reason why most companies don't bother with a bushing pivot system is because it's a lot of work to get right for not a lot of reward. A big disadvantage of the bushing pivot is that it's not adjustable, what happens when you get your knife and you don't like how stiff the action is (which is very common with CRK)? With a bushing pivot you have to let it break in and hope that the action gets to the point you want it at in a reasonable amount of time, a lot of knives don't get to that point, which is why you hear about people polishing washers and bending the lockbars on their 21s to get the desired action. With a regular pivot all you have to do it loosen it. My large Inkosi had a pretty stiff action out of the box, no biggie, loosened the pivot a tad and it was where I wanted it. I will say though, when you do get a 21 to the spot you want it at, it's very nice.
    Last edited: May 26, 2017
  7. Signalprick

    Signalprick Jason Ritchie Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Apr 3, 2009
    The tolerances are so tight on my small inkosi when I "snap" the scale back on after disassembly it's basically a formality to put the pivot screw back in. I screw it in until it just makes contact and usually I'm done. Even though there is adjustment the fact that CRK manufacturers to such tight tolerances it's nothing like other brands where centering and pivot adjustment can be a pita. The simplicity of the Inkosi is what finally brought me around to CRK. Imo it's the easiest knife I have ever disassembled and then reassembled......and OMG smooth! ;)
    T.K.C. likes this.
  8. blanco112

    blanco112 Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 1, 2016
    The advantage of the adjustable pivot is that it's adjustable. As stated above, with a 21 you have to break it in, which can take many cycles. Also keep in mind that even with CRKs tight tolerances, the pivot bushing system is not always perfect on each knife. Sometimes the washers are a bit wider than they should be (or the bushing smaller than it should be) so that if you do tighten all the way, the action is very tight. And sometimes they might break in more than you want. Not a problem on an inkosi/25. The larger pivot leads to a more pleasant action for me as well. I love the 25s/inkosis.

    I own more 21s for a variety of reasons and am not arguing that one is better than the other, but Chris carries a small inkosi and Tim primarily carries a large inkosi. CRK feel that the inkosi lineup takes into account 30 years of folding knife manufacturing lessons. So they don't feel it's a step back and likely even feel it's a step forward.
  9. bvo85


    Apr 27, 2017
    Thanks for the replies so far! Now I'm questioning whether I want to change my 21 into an Inkosi! Because maybe the adjustable pivot is better than the bushing system!!
  10. blanco112

    blanco112 Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 1, 2016
    It's definitely a see for yourself sort of thing. I wouldn't sell the 21 before trying the inkosi.

    Also, not mentioned in your OP, there is the difference of the ceramic ball detent/lockup, which also likely has a lot to do with the difference in the action between the two knives.
  11. They both have positives and negatives, you have to weigh those against what you're looking for in a knife and then go from there.

    There are also some other considerations to be made, the Inkosi has the ceramic lock interface while the 21 does not, the ceramic ball interface prevents things like lock stick, and should have more longevity over large time spans (decaades). The Inkosi has thicker blade stock (3.5MM on the Inkosi vs 3MM on the 21) and a shallower hollow grind, so in theory, the 21 should cut slightly better than the Inkosi, in practice, however, I doubt you'd notice a huge difference (if someone with experience with both knives could chime in that would be awesome). On the flip side with the Inkosi's thicker blade stock, it is more suited to hard use tasks, so if you're someone that is harder on your blades than most, then that might be a positive.
    Last edited: May 26, 2017
    blanco112 likes this.
  12. jfowler1


    Apr 18, 2017
    I currently own a small and large 21, and have twice owned a Small Inkosi. For me, the design changes (pivot, screw construction, and size) on the Inkosi were a miss, and I will not be revisiting it for a third time.

    The thing about CRK that appeals to me is the commitment to precision manufacturing. Just my feeling, but the main reason the Inkosi did not connect with me is because precision manufacturing and an adjustable pivot did not jive. I just thought it lost that little something that separated the Sebenza from its competition in the $300-$400 price range.
  13. kniferbro

    kniferbro Basic Member Basic Member

    Jan 22, 2011
    Interestingly, the stop pin on my 25 basically acts like a pivot bushing as it spaces the slabs apart in the same manner (I'm guessing because of CRK's super tight tolerances). I tighten the stop pin all the way down first, then all I have to do is snug the pivot, not crank it down like a 21 and its action is perfect. Now since you can't crank the pivot down, you may need to use a little loctite.
  14. JB in SC

    JB in SC

    May 19, 2001
    The Inksoi is the easiest frame lock knife I've owned to disassemble, clean, and reassemble. As far as adjustable pivots, it's by far the easiest to adjust, mine hasn't needed adjustment. The ceramic ball lock up is a huge upgrade.
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2017
  15. bvo85


    Apr 27, 2017
    I'm not familiar with the ceramic ball upgrade in the inkosi. Is there any reason it couldn't be added to the 21 if CRK chose to do so? Does the pivot bushing design of the 21 preclude the ability to use a ceramic ball?
    Last edited: May 26, 2017
  16. blanco112

    blanco112 Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 1, 2016
    Not sure, but people would lose their minds if the 21 got a ceramic lockup so don't expect it. It does use a ceramic ball for the detent, just a tiny one in comparison.
  17. kidcongo


    Jan 12, 2013
    I don't believe it has been implemented on the thinner blade stock of the 21. With the way the ceramic lock-up moves around with hand pressure, it needs a little more real-estate on the tang, I am guessing. The short-lived Inkosi "ball groove" may have been an attempt to see if the ball could be held in one place for a future "21 style" knife in the thinner stock?
  18. Cory Hess

    Cory Hess

    Jul 1, 2014
    I had a 21, sold it and bought an Inkosi. I don't regret it a bit. I liked the bushing pivot, but I like every other change that was made in the Inkosi. If they put a bushing pivot in an Inkosi in the future, that'd be the ultimate. It's not really that big of a deal, though. When you reassemble the knife it takes a couple of seconds to adjust the pivot. I don't disassemble enough for this to be a major factor for me.
    JB in SC and T.K.C. like this.
  19. Ajack60

    Ajack60 Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Apr 21, 2013
    If they added a ceramic ball to the 21, it wouldn't be a Sebenza anymore.
  20. hhmoore

    hhmoore Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 7, 2014
    I'm considering selling my large 21 (micarta insingo) and replacing it with a large Inkosi (micarta insingo) when they are readily available. Probably the KSF red linen version.

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