Regular vs 21 Sebenza Review

Discussion in 'Chris Reeve Knives' started by bvo85, Nov 5, 2017.

  1. bvo85


    Apr 27, 2017
    My first Sebenza was a small regular back in the late 90s. Fast forward to this last year and I picked up my first Large 21, and also my first Large Regular. I've been fortunate enough to spend some time with each and here's my thoughts.

    Overall Looks. Visually, it's a tradeoff between the Regular and 21. I prefer the scalloping of the Regular to the smooth lines of the 21, but it's mainly aesthetic. While I imagine it's possible to feel the scalloping during extreme heavy repetitive use, I can't tell on casual use. If I was using the knife to cut for hours each day, I might feel a difference and perhaps the smoother 21 might be preferred. But with casual use, it's down to aesthetics and I prefer the Regular here.

    Blade steel. The regular is BG42 and my 21 is S30V. I don't believe the casual user will be able to tell the difference. If you're sharpening your knife weekly, then maybe the softer S30V or S35VN is easier to resharpen. To me, this is a wash for my purposes. The only issue for me is if I wind up breaking the Regular blade, I can't currently get a replacement, whereas 21s can have the blade replaced. CRK is working on Regular blade replacements in the future. Slight nod to the 21 for the ability to replace the blade, but it's so slight I call it a wash since I've never broken a knife blade in my life.

    Lock mechanism. Many people have a problem with BG42 regulars exhibiting lock stick. My current user has little to no lock stick. I'm not sure of the technical reason for the lock stick and how the 21 has reduced this phenomenon. For me it's a wash since they are the same in my models, but I understand many others do have lock stick so I give the slight nod to the 21.

    Fasteners. The Regulars and early 21s have single sided fasteners. The new 21s have two sided fasteners. This change was made because people were lock-titing their fasteners in place and had to be drilled out. However, most people, including myself, significantly prefer the old style single sided fasteners. Perhaps I'm doing it wrong, but the new fasteners are really difficult to use. With the single sided, I can use a hex key to undo one side, and then push through the hole with the hex key to pop out the other piece (flat side). With the two sided fasteners, the hex key just pushes through the second fastener's hex hole. And then I really have to finagle that second fastener out. I give the strong favor to the Regular here (assuming single sided fasteners).

    Washers. The Regulars have solid washers and new 21s have perforated washers. I've tried both, and the solid washers seem significantly better. Regular wins here.

    Handle Shape. The Regular has a convex handle on the backside whereas the 21 has a concave. I recall Photoman in one of his review views making comment that the 21 was a better fit for his hand. I'd leave this up to personal preference and personally, I can't feel a difference. It's a wash for me.

    Pocket Clip. The new style 21 pocket clip seems superior to the old style flat clip in terms of function, although the Regular clip is aesthetically more pleasing to me. Since we're talking users, I'd give the nod here to the 21, however the pocket clips are backwards compatible and easily available so while the nod goes to the 21, I call it a wash since for a few dollars you can change the clip on the regular.

    Blade shape. There's some minor differences between the two blades. The one that immediately stands out to me is that the grind of the bottom of the blade is deeper in the 21, such that it extends down under the handle scale. I am not sure functionally why this change was made and it looks a little nicer on the 21 but not much. I am ignorant of the overall changes to the blade but from my layman's opinion, it's a wash.

    Overall. I am somewhat disappointed with the 21. It's a fantastic knife and I love mine, but it seems like a step backwards from the Regular. I don't plan to get rid of my 21s, primarily because they are half the price of Regulars (on the secondary market), and if I break or lose one, it's less of a big deal. Also, while I do prefer the Regular on an overall net basis, it's only slight, maybe 10% better. So it's not that I hate the 21, just that I am disappointed that CRK seems to have moved backwards.

    Perhaps these changes were made as a cost savings measure in some cases. For example, the Regular has a tiny detail that around the entire back side of scale, there is 2 to 3 thin parallel lines milled for visual appeal. The 21 lacks this feature. It's purely aesthetic and most wouldn't notice it, but it seems like it adds extra machining costs to the piece, which is likely why it was removed.

    For anyone who doesn't own a regular, I highly suggest looking for one on the for sale forum. Consider an S30V model which are generally a bit lower cost than the BG42 models.
    Vaporstang and Peter Hartwig like this.
  2. Thin-Slice


    Jul 4, 2016
    Great read m8. I own both kinds and probably agree wiht most of it. I think part of the reason the regular has a bit of locky stick is that back then the process of carborization might not have been perfected as it is now. Additionaly, the 21 you are presscing th lockbar sideways as opposed to the regular being diagonal. Furthermore, even if the lockface treatment was/is the same the fact that the steel hardness can vary by 2-3 maybe add to the lockstick (?). Finally, if the lockface on the blade tang is not ground with a fine grit it can cause slight microscopic peaks & valleys which adds to the lockstick and might have been improved with todays finer grit grinding. All this is speculation on my part without any proof, just thinking out loud.

    EDIT: you can have lockstick even with steel on steel lock with same hardness. This is because of the peaks/valleys mentioned above. I have first hand experience with that one.
    bvo85 likes this.
  3. Nrthfce


    Sep 17, 2014
    Great detailed review and fun to read. Can’t say I agree on all points, but maybe I am just bias to regulars across the board!
    Awesome post
    bvo85 likes this.
  4. makak


    Sep 15, 2015
    Many good points here, I prefer the regular but I think functionally these are equally good knives so it's just a personal preference.

    As for the two sided fasteners, try to undo a screw a bit and then push it, the female part of the screw should come out on the other side. Aesthetically I like the old fasteners although in my opinion the new male screws fit the allen key much better.
  5. Peter Hartwig

    Peter Hartwig Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 29, 2008
    I love the CGG designs from the Regular period-they just appeal to me more then the newer designs. As for a user I tend to go with the Classic MM/21 blade shape. The best of both worlds was when we were given the choice between Classic MM and Regular, but I do understand that they have a limited amount of production capacity and with new designs coming out something had to give-but it was a great time in CRK history for Sebenza lovers.
  6. Birdhunter1220


    Aug 3, 2011
    Thanks for the great read! I have not had everyday experience with the 21 so hard for me to compare. I have always had regulars in my pocket. I like the looks better and like my knives old like me :). I do love the BG 42 but not sure I could tell the difference. I am waiting for the regular blade shape to come out in S35. I think I call CRK's to often about the blade as the last time they answered the phone "not yet Bill" (just kidding) but I do check in every couple of months. Thanks again for the review.
    Thin-Slice and Lone_Wolfe like this.
  7. bvo85


    Apr 27, 2017
    I called and asked them the same last month and I was wondering why they called me Bill! :p
    Birdhunter1220 likes this.
  8. Birdhunter1220


    Aug 3, 2011
    Good one.....keep calling :)
    bvo85 likes this.
  9. nick800

    nick800 Gold Member Gold Member

    Aug 11, 2016
    Should I chime in?
    Lapedog likes this.
  10. Josh K

    Josh K Pirate

    Sep 29, 2008
    Why not? :D
  11. blanco112

    blanco112 Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 1, 2016
    Regarding the ridges, I wonder if it's truly a cost savings. The 21 has so many different little detailed areas of extra milling and chamfer even when compared to the classic. Doesn't seem like they went simpler there.

    I had a regular once and the lockup was late with a sticky lock. The ergos were ok but not as good as the 21. I like the designs of the old CGGs and I think they look better. To me the biggest reason I would prefer a regular is the blade shape. I'm back and forth on the washers. I have preferred the action on older ones but the two I had were barely used and in hindsight the action was similar to an unbroken in 21. When I compared prices on regulars vs 21s I haven't been able to justify it though, unless it was something other than plain scales.
    untytled likes this.
  12. Thin-Slice


    Jul 4, 2016
    Now one thing that the regular had that I am drooling over would be the top swedge. Its just that little detail that pushes me to drool over.
  13. 353

    353 Basic Member Basic Member

    Feb 20, 2015
    Nice observations in OP.

    I don't have a regular so I really don't know how it feels in hand etc. But looking at pictures I must say the design of both the classics and the 21's looks a lot better. The scalloping doesn't do anything for me, if anything they destroy a classic clean design IMO.
  14. nick800

    nick800 Gold Member Gold Member

    Aug 11, 2016

  15. bhyde

    bhyde UNNECESSARY EVIL Staff Member Super Mod Moderator Platinum Member

    Mar 19, 2002
    Removing the detail around the outside of the regular isn't really a cost savings. It's an endmill that puts that on and it's an endmill that contours the scales. If it's a savings, it's so miniscule that it may as well stay.
    Of course, there are some things that are probably a cost savings..just not that detail.
    bvo85 likes this.
  16. bart1

    bart1 Gold Member Gold Member

    May 24, 2009
    I have extensively carried both, and want to love the Reg. more , but find the 21 every bit as user friendly. Damascus, Insingo, DP ... All of them are fantastic, and after a day or 2 feel completely natural.
  17. JohnM


    Oct 22, 2005
    Great review bvo85 -- thanks for taking the time.

    I have a plain Regular and a couple of Night Skies from years ago and have to admit that I prefer them to the Classic or 21. The latter is a great knife, no doubt, and maybe even a touch more comfortable than a Regular but there's something about the Regular that is special and I wish CRK still made them.
  18. bvo85


    Apr 27, 2017
  19. colubrid

    colubrid Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 26, 2005

    With the solid washers as well!

    Even if CRK charged a premium over the 21 (like $100) I would but the Regulars.
    416isToronto, rexromic and bvo85 like this.
  20. bvo85


    Apr 27, 2017
    I'd probably go $200 to $300 premium, if they did it right. That's the premium I'm paying for Regulars on the secondary market relative to the cost of 21s. I'm sure they'd probably Made-In-Idaho stamp it which would make it less appealing to me, but it is what it is. I wouldn't mind a "Classic" style engraving on that side, instead of Made-in-Idaho - to denote it as a the second run of Regulars. I wouldn't love it, but it would work for me. No Stamp > "Classic Style" Stamp > Idaho Stamp for my personal aesthetic desires.
    colubrid likes this.

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