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Mnandis Through the Years - A History in Pics

Discussion in 'Chris Reeve Knives' started by Lone_Wolfe, Jan 22, 2017.

  1. Lone_Wolfe

    Lone_Wolfe Dazed and Confused Platinum Member

    May 3, 2011
    The CRK Mnandi has been in production for just over 16 years now. In that time, there's been just a few revisions that all came within a year of each other. The one thing that has varied greatly over the years has been the inlays available. Everything from the whitest Mammoth Ivory to the blackest African Blackwood. The yellowest Box Elder to the reddest Bloodwood. The cold grey of Giraffe Bone to the warm brown of Cocobolo. Even a few blues and greens in some of the most sought after Mammoth Barks around.

    I gathered, and for a short time, maintained a collection of at least one Mnandi from each year of production. Here is a walk through 16 years of Mnandi production, with a look at how the design has evolved in that time.

    First a look at the prototypes. Theses aren't mine, I found the pics in a search online. I believe the one pictured first belongs to our own Lisantica.

    First run prototype, you see the maker's mark on the blade instead of the pivot, and the inlay seems a bit thicker and rounded at the edges.

    1stRun-4.jpg 1stRun-2.jpg 1stRun-3.jpg

    The second run prototype looks very much like the production runs that began only weeks later.

    2ndRun.jpg 2ndRun-2.jpg 2ndRun-3.jpg
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2017
  2. Lone_Wolfe

    Lone_Wolfe Dazed and Confused Platinum Member

    May 3, 2011
    First a look at the backs, with tags indicating the year of manufacture...








    Last edited: Feb 18, 2018
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  3. Lone_Wolfe

    Lone_Wolfe Dazed and Confused Platinum Member

    May 3, 2011
    Now let's turn them over and take a look...








    Last edited: Feb 18, 2018
  4. Lone_Wolfe

    Lone_Wolfe Dazed and Confused Platinum Member

    May 3, 2011
    And now we're going to go into more detail...

    In July of 2001, CRK began production on the anxiously awaited new gentleman's folder in their line-up, the Mnandi. It was released with some fanfare, and a bunch of eager collectors. It didn't disappoint, it's been a reliable seller ever since. This first one was born in July, and was the 14th production Mnandi ever made. The inlay is Ziricote, the steel is BG-42.


    This one was born September 5th, 2001 The final days of a world about to change forever... Once again Ziricote inlays and BG-42 steel.


    The one I consider the cornerstone of my collection, one of 25 numbered Redwood Burl inlays made exclusively for Knifeart at the same time as the initial Ziricote run. Once again, BG-42 steel. This one is #2, #1 was never released for sale, making this one the first that saw the light of day.


    CRK was already using some really unusual and beautiful damascus on their Sebenzas, they didn't waste any time jumping in with damascus Mnandis. This one is from early 2002, has Bocote inlays and Gary House blue/maroon Zebra damascus. Very beautiful.


    By early 2002, CRK had switched from BG-42 blade steel to SV30. This would be their primary steel for the next decade. They were also doing dealer exclusives prolifically. This one was an exclusive for the now-defunct Chesapeake Knife and Tool, and was born in mid 2002. This was a limited edition of 25 pieces, and the inlays are Black Ash Burl.


    CRK has always taken care of their southpaw customers, and those southpaws were clamoring from day one, wanting lefty Mnandis. It took a year, but CRK didn't disappoint. The even held back the last 10 numbers from the initial run of 200 Ziricote's, and even held back some BG-42 steel so the lefties would really be part of the initial run. This one, #195, was born in July of 2002, a full year after the righties began production.


    The Redwood Burl, the lefty and both righty Ziricotes together.

    Last edited: Jul 18, 2018
  5. Lone_Wolfe

    Lone_Wolfe Dazed and Confused Platinum Member

    May 3, 2011
    The Chesapeake Knife and Tool exclusive didn't sell well at first, in spite of how beautiful the Black Ash Burl is. People were balking at the $475 price tag, a hefty premium over a normal Mnandi. This one was born 5 months after the other I've already pictured. If one of these were listed today at that price, there'd be bloodshed fighting over it.


    This one, from 2003, was a standard wood offering for years. It's an American wood, Black Walnut. This particular one has some nice curl to the grain, you'll see a rather plain one when I get to 2008.


    From 2004 we have jigged Madagascar Rosewood. These are the only intentionally textured wood I've ever seen on a CRK.


    From 2005 we have a Mesquite Burl, this wood grows in the southwestern US. The desert trees stay small, the wood is very hard. This example has straight cross-grain, I'll be showing a very different example later.


    Occasionally CRK has done things like engraving and even anodizing the pivot and screws, and anodizing the clip. This Mammoth Bark from 2005 has the clip screw and the back of the pivot engraved, and gold anodizing in the inset part of the clip.

    Last edited: Jul 18, 2018
  6. Lone_Wolfe

    Lone_Wolfe Dazed and Confused Platinum Member

    May 3, 2011
    Onto 2006, we have 2 with woods both grown in Africa. The first is Camel Thorne, a now protected status tree. It's distinctly red, and the grain is beautiful and unique.


    This one is African Blackwood, and it's every bit as dark as the name implies. It's also very hard, rating near the top of the Janka scale, making it an excellent choice for a knife that's going to get use.


    For 2007 we have a pair of Cocobolos. This inlay remained a staple at CRK for years, and with it's natural water resistance. Another excellent choice to get put to work. The color of Cocobolo varies from straight to curly, to almost black.

    Also for 2007 we have Desert Ironwood, my first of 2. Another small, scrappy tree grown in the Arizona desert, with hard wood that varies wildly in grain. This one has straight grain with an almost iridescent look to it.


    2008 gives us 2 again, the first is my second Mesquite Burl. This one is very different, with very curly grain and somewhat darker, redder color.


    This is my second Black Walnut, this one a lefty a rather plain grain by Walnut standards.

    Last edited: Jul 18, 2018
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  7. Lone_Wolfe

    Lone_Wolfe Dazed and Confused Platinum Member

    May 3, 2011
    My first of 2 from 2009, and also the hardest wood that CRK has used. Lignum Vitae is among the hardest woods ever discovered, and has an unusual greenish tone and feathery grain. This one also made me rethink my once-negative opinion of ladder damascus on a Mnandi.


    CRK has since discontinued using Mammoth Bark and Ivory, due to ever tightening restrictions on importing. It was very popular for years, and some really stunning Mnandis are out there with bark inlays. There are some with blues, reds, greens, striations, etc. This one is a caramel colored one from 2009 that has some green. As is so common with Mnandis, I find the back prettier than the front.


    For 2010, a Gabon Ebony with Raindrop Damascus. This one has the older pattern of Devin Thomas' Raindrop, the pattern has changed drastically in recent years.

    Last edited: Jul 18, 2018
  8. Lone_Wolfe

    Lone_Wolfe Dazed and Confused Platinum Member

    May 3, 2011
    2011 is going to bring some design changes to the Mnandi, the first in a decade. Early in the year they look like they have in the past, but the first change, a smaller pivot appears on this Desert Ironwood. Unlike the previous I posted, this one has very curly grain. More on the new pivot shortly.


    A rather special one here, this one's claim to fame isn't the inlays, in spite of how unique they are. Chris Reeve had gotten some River of Fire Damascus made by a fellow Idahoan, Bill Burke. He decided to do an Idaho collaboration with the ROF damascus and wood from the Idaho state flower, commonly known as Lilac. The correct name is Syringa, that's what shows on the birthcard. A very unusual looking and beautiful wood IMO. There were 17 Mnandis made in this configuration.


    We already know you folks aren't going to let me off without opening this one, so.....


    And here's the blade together with the Raindrop blade from 2010

    Last edited: Jul 3, 2017
  9. Lone_Wolfe

    Lone_Wolfe Dazed and Confused Platinum Member

    May 3, 2011
    The first change in design was the pivot, it was redesigned to be smaller and to no longer stick up over the inlays. The reviews were mixed, as some people liked the older and many liked the newer. I prefer the newer, as they take up less real estate on the front, leaving more room for the inlays. Here's a close-up of the old and the new, with the old on the left, new on the right.


    Here are 2 of these transitional Mnandis, the first is a Mammoth Bark with some of the most striking bark I've ever seen. The veins are deep enough to easily put a fingernail in. This is from late 2011.


    The next change, in early 2012, was a change in the clip. In this pic, the new is on top and old is on the bottom. The CR logo was moved up to where it would now show in the Mnandi was riding in your shirt pocket, and was now screwed on from the front of the knife. This meant the solid head front screw was now gone, replaced with an allen screw. The other thing this change meant was that if you wanted to remove the clip, you had to get a replacement body screw from CRK. This was easy to do, but the new clips have people who like them, as I do, and people who prefer the old.


    And this is a Box Elder from 2012, the same knife as in this pic just above. Box Elder Burl has been a CRK staple for many years, with drastic variance in the grain and color at times. While it's often a pale yellowish color, it's sometimes darker, and even very red. This one is darker than the norm, and has a nice look to it. This is also my last one with the older nail nick.


    The next and last change is actually 2 changes at once. CRK changed the design of the nail nick, and at the same time changed from SV30 steel to one that Chris had a hand in creating, S35VN. The redesigned nail nick is the least popular of the design changes, and has caused collectors to seek the older design. It's also the only update that I like less than the original design. In this pic you can see the old style on the top, new on the bottom.


    CRK rang in the newly designed Mnandi in style, including another dealer exclusive. This time it was BladeHQ with the now-endangered Honduran Rosewood. This wood has some of the most variable grain on any wood used by CRK, very curly and burly in most cases. I do have one that's much straighter than the others, so you can see how different it can be. These were all made in 2012, and are entirely the newly designed components.



    For 2013 we have another Box Elder Burl, this one in the most often found creamy yellowish color.

    Last edited: Jul 4, 2017
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  10. Lone_Wolfe

    Lone_Wolfe Dazed and Confused Platinum Member

    May 3, 2011
    For 2014, there are 2. The first is a nice Mammoth Bark, with a nice combination of bark and ivory. The one kicked the beautiful Bocote shown below out of my collection.


    And this is the Bocote, a nice one with very distinct grain, even forming an 'eye' on the back.


    For 2015, another pair. The top one has the orangest Mammoth inlays I've ever seen. Similar color to a pumpkin. The one below it has unusual looking Snakewood inlays. That one didn't stay long, for some reason I tire of Snakewood quickly once I get one.


    With the orange Mammoth being ladder damsacus, here's pics of it opened.



    Every few years CRK changes out the woods they use for inlays. As they retire some of our favorites, they bring in new to capture our fancy. One of the new ones for 2016 is Spalted Beech, an interesting wood who's varying colors are caused by invading fungi cultures. This is another inlay who's look can be all over the place, I wasn't sure if I was going to like it. Then I saw this one listed at a California dealer, and it had to come to Momma.


    In order to stabilize spaulting or burl, especially on a soft wood like Beech or Box Elder, you have to use a lot of resin. If you ever look at one of these and get the impression you're looking into the inlay, it's because you are.


    For 2017, CRK did a little something different, a NON-dealer exclusive. These were sold at BLADE show, and the ones left were sold direct on their website. The very beautiful Pale Moon Ebony. Also known as Black & White Ebony, but Pale Moon is a much nicer sounding name, and this wood is worth of s really nice name.


    And just because, a Box Elder (!!!) of unknown, but recent birthdate. As some have noticed, I have the pivot flipped around to the back side. I also flipped the clip when I put it back on after these pics, effectively making it a lefty. Of course the framelock still releases on the same side as always, but that's still just as easy to use.


    Last edited: Jul 20, 2017
  11. Lone_Wolfe

    Lone_Wolfe Dazed and Confused Platinum Member

    May 3, 2011
    So here you have it, the result of over 20 hours work. I hope you enjoy the history and the pics.

    The End


    There is a post on page 2 going into more detail about transitional Mnandis.
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2017
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  12. Jhileman79

    Jhileman79 Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 12, 2014
    Very nice! Amazing collection.... but you posted in the wrong forum. They are supposed to be in Knife Exchange[emoji2]
    Lone_Wolfe likes this.
  13. kidcongo


    Jan 12, 2013
    Thank you so much for putting this together! Truly a master work of research (and knife collecting).
    Lone_Wolfe likes this.
  14. --SG--

    --SG-- Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 7, 2016
    Bravo, LW! What a great series of posts! A tremendous addition to the board. This thread should be stuck to the top.
    Lone_Wolfe likes this.
  15. bhyde

    bhyde UNNECESSARY EVIL Staff Member Super Mod Moderator Platinum Member

    Mar 19, 2002
    And so it shall be..Due to the application of content through the years, History seems appropriate.

    Thank you for all of your hard work Lone_Wolfe!
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  16. Wavicle

    Wavicle Gold Member Gold Member

    Jul 22, 2014
    Excellent work- thanks so much for putting this together!
    Lone_Wolfe likes this.
  17. untytled

    untytled Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 21, 2014
    Great read. Thanks for taking the time to put this together.
    Lone_Wolfe likes this.
  18. lemmuhj

    lemmuhj Gold Member Gold Member

    May 2, 2010
    OMG! Amazed at the depth of info and pics Wolfe!
    Lone_Wolfe likes this.
  19. billypilgrim


    Nov 9, 2011
    Love all the pictures!
    Lone_Wolfe likes this.
  20. einsteinjon

    einsteinjon Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 22, 2008
    Thanks LW! Very awesome of you to do this.
    Lone_Wolfe likes this.

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