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Price, Product & Performance

I just got an E-Mail ad for a small 2.75" blade), skeletonized, all steel (440C) knife. The price was $145.95. Now the piece seems well made and comes from a reputable maker. However, at this price there are just too many excellent (better) alternatives.

The question I have is what price is right - from a consumer's standpoint? Before I get blasted I think it is legitimate to ask such a question. There are so many choices and so much good product that we as consumers can get lost in the hype and lose track of good quality for a fair price. So are those $350+ tactical folders or fixed blades so much better than their lower priced competitors that we just have to have them (and then never use them because thsy cost so much)? After the $250 mark how much steak are we buying vs. sizzle?


Oct 3, 1998
I think its a perfectly legitimate question. However you are asking a few questions that have to be clarified: intrinsic and extrinsic values.

Your first...the small skeletonized blade and its materials. I think $145 is way too much and I wouldn't buy it esp. 440C. If for example, something like Talonite turns out to be the wonder metal then I might consider such a knife at that price. I'm responding from a useage/utility basis. Now, if you are a collector of such knives and you have the funds, then a knife from a particular maker has an additional extrinsic value to your collection.

For the folders and FB's that have added materials:
Why do you want the blade? Strictly useage? Aesthetics? Both? Investment value? The artistic talent of the maker? Only useage and investment value are tangible qualities that can be addressed objectively. The other qualities are subjective.

You seem to be looking at the price determinant from a purely useage aspect, which is cool but is also irrelevent to the perceived value. Received prices are subject to supply and demand.

Tough questions, and only the person with the money can decide....but it is fun to think about. For example, I have a one of a kind custom piece that is made of high end materials, is high quality from a useage aspect and was quite spendy (on my finances) but I derive an immense amount of pleasure from looking, fondling, ocassionally using it and just having it.

Afterthought: As my finances improve, I intend to buy more knives and even swords...and what the hell do I need a sword for?

[This message has been edited by DC (edited 11-02-98).]

You're right about the "value" question. I don't judge a knife soley on utility and a knife is worth what the market will bear. I do enjoy fine workmanship and the intangible quality of how a fine knife feels in the hand. I've spent way too much according to my wife on those "knives you are never going to use." I will vote with my dollars and buy for the value I perceive.
Hi Ken and DC!

I know exactly what you're talking about, since I too got that specific email and asked myself the same question. The price IS pretty steep, no doubt about. It seems you are paying a premium for the first production run. Unfortunately this is not indicated on the knife, so it won't gain any collector value.

There are surely many alternatives for one piece blades in that price range out there. Just now I'm in the process of buying a CPM440V tanto point onepiece from Kevin Wilkins for around 100.- It's truly hand made and Kevin even made me a steel clip on the Kydex sheath for my running shorts without additional charge!

For ca. 140.- I got my Stellite Kit Carson 3 1/2" onepiece (used but excellent).

So in total I decided that it's just too much for a production knife in 440C, I'll wait for the titanium version.

Ken; I hate to break this to you, but after 30 years of reading Consumer Reports, I can assure you that there is NO correlation between price and quality in common consumer goods, including guns and knives.

That is one of the purposes of forums such as this one: to separate the hype from the real goods.

DC's points about intrinsic and extrinsic values are well taken. My Sebenzas don't cut appreciably better than my other, more inexpensive folders, but there is an artistic value which I appreciate whenever I touch a Sebenza. Such things are very subjective, however, so why not try out as many knives as you can, hold them and work the action. Go with what YOU prefer. Walt
Your question really made me think quite a bit. I own a few knives that are considered "High End" but in DC's words I do enjoy the benefits of owning them. Much of the enjoyment is derived from the relationships that came about with the makers.

Up until a few years ago, the knives I used and carried were usually much cheaper (SAK, Buck, Puma lockbacks, Case folders). The ones I abused were cheaper that the above. You know the ones with brand names that you will not see next year imported from (name your favorite cheap labor country).

A few years ago, I picked up a custom camp knife with intentions of using it. No factory knife that I had owned to that point could compare to the performance of that knife. The knife has a slight end of blade heavy balance with a flat grind 9 1/2" D2 blade and is used for chopping smaller pieces of firewood, food prep and camp chores at home it resides in the kitchen. I purchased the knife because of the way it felt when I picked it up.

Now, we have many fine production knives using more state of the art production methods (MT and BM as examples) that enable them to use steels in their blades that were prohibitive in the past. We also have small production shops (CR and MD for examples) that are using steels and achieving tolerances that are most often found on custom knives. The bottom line is that there are a lot of great choices out there. Some of the older factories (Kershaw, Cammilus, and Buck as examples) have thrown their hats into the ring. We now have Custom, Semi-Custom, and Specialiazied Factory knives hovering within the 100 – 400 dollar range.

For a user, try to handle every thing you can; buy the best that you can prudently purchase paying attention to the blade material, how it was heat-treated, how the knife feels and how much you like it. The heck with anyone else's opinion on what you should have gotten. If you like the knife, and it is of good quality you will enjoy using and owning it years after the price is forgotten.

[This message has been edited by Gus Kalanzis (edited 11-02-98).]
My main interest is in fighters. If a piece is slightly, barely better at keeping my large pale hide in one piece, what's that worth? If the way a fighter just "feels" in the hand ends up giving me that slight edge in confidence that might be *visible* to a pack of goblins who then choose retreat, did I get my money's worth?

I think so. To date, the knife that's given me more of those "feelings" than any other I've ever held in the under-$500 price range is my Mad Dog. I hope to get the same from my own design done up by Harald Moeller, grip designed for my hand and style. I get adequate "feel" from a Cold Steel Vaquero Grande folder and 5.5" AlMar folder - but it could be better.

This stuff is the ultimate in intangibles, but if you need it, you NEED it.


Jim March

I got the same e-mail, I think? and I am going to wait for the titanium version. The shape has some pizazz, but not enough, especially when you look at how inexpensively you can buy knives of similar material and construction to you specifications....