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Small Sebenza 21 vs Small Inkosi, compare and contrast

Discussion in 'Chris Reeve Knives' started by Amoo, Feb 25, 2017.

  1. Amoo

    Amoo Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 8, 2017
    Small Seb 21 vs Small Inkosi

    I know I see this question come up quite a bit so I figured I'd throw my hat in the ring with my opinions on both.

    To preface this, I am not the first owner of either knife. I'm the second owner of the small Inkosi and probably the third of the Small 21 Old Glory. The Small 21 is from 2012 and the Small Inkosi is from 2015 and has the ceramic ball groove.

    The first thing I will address is the size of the two. If you are already feeling the 21 may be too small for you, I wouldn't recommend an Inkosi. There is only a small difference, but I would say it is a noticeable enough difference. Both the handle itself as well as the blade are both a few MM smaller on the Inkosi. Now part of that length is made up for in width. The Inkosi has both a wider blade as well as a wider handle. Again the difference is very minor, but when sitting next to each other it is noticeable. In regards to the grooves on the Inkosi, then only advice I can give you is you're just going to have to put one in your hand and see if you get hot spots. I've read of people with medium gloved hands like myself both love and hate it and people with XL hands both love it and hate it.

    The meat and potatoes of this though is I want to get into the differences between the two for those considering both but unsure.

    Lanyard - I mentioned above that the 21 has a slightly longer handle. This is obviously because it has a longer blade, but I feel this was done to accommodate the lanyard pin the 21 has that the Inkosi does not. If the handle on the 21 was the same size as the Inkosi and the blade the same length I don't think it would hurt or help the 21 one way or the other.

    Pocket Clip - I find it very interesting that CRK went from the clip on the lock bar on the 21 to the clip off of the lock bar on the Inkosi to back to it on the lockbar on the U-Zann. I feel the clip placement of these two knives, while a very simple thing really sets them apart. Having owned the Inkosi first I notice I tend to lightly graze the tips of my fingers when closing my 21 from time to time and it is something I have to be very aware of. Essentially when I close both knives my fingers have a habit of resting themselves on the blade side of the pocket clip. I can both see why they moved the clip, but am very confused why they went back to the only placement on the U-zaan. I haven't held an U-zaan yet though, but I personally consider the clip placement on the Inkosi as an advantage.

    Maintenance - This one is pretty cut and dry. While the Inkosi may need more wrenches to take apart it is by far the easier knife to maintenance. Neither is particularly difficult, but the 21 is definitely the more complex of the two with significantly more pieces.

    Thumb studs - The 21 has one on the opening side while the Inkosi has a dual thumb stud. My only question here is why? As a righty, it's almost impossible to try to open either knife left handed. Even using the two handed opening method, you can't really grab the non-lockbar side thumb stud on the Inkosi, so I'm simply baffled as to why it is here. I may even look into removing the left side thumb stid in the future, but I need to do some research to see if the blade itself is even threaded. I can only assume it was cheaper to use two lugs then it was to thread the blade if it isn't threaded, because I honestly can't see justification as to why the second stud is here (Speculation don't kill me here). Points to the 21.

    Action - This is what in my opinion makes these two completely different knives. Maybe somebody with more then 1 of each of these in their hand can comment here, but after fully cleaning and re-greasing both knives, the Inkosi is just smoother, both opening and closing. Is it the larger pivot, the larger washers, less lockbar pressure, the wider base for the lockbar? I don't know if it is any one or all of these things combined, but with these two knives it is a very noticeable difference.

    Final Thoughts

    At first glace these two knives are very similar; however, side-by-side in your hand they are very different and honestly the similarity begins and ends with the brand on the knife and everything that means. I think both knives are absolutely fantastic and while I'm knocking one or the other for various things, please keep in mind this is when directly comparing the two knives I have in my hands. The 21 does not have bad action or bad clip placement...etc. In comparison to the Inkosi though, my preferences definitely lie with the Inkosi.

    For potential buys of either I would say this. If you have a 21 and are considering an Inkosi, the handle grooves are basically going to make or break the knife for you. IF and it's a big IF, the grooves in the handle do not bother your hand, I personally feel you will love the Inkosi over the 21. If you have an Inkosi and some of the things I mentioned as benefits of the Inkosi for me bother you, the 21 is definitely a good alternative.

    Now if you want an oversized pivot and oversized washers, but don't like the grooves on the handle of the Inkosi, maybe CRK will fill that market as well and make a Small Umnumzaan some day. Short of the clip placement on the U-zann, and the obvious difference in blade shape and lockup a small U-zann would probably be the best compromise of both knives. Obviously I'm speaking of a unicorn which doesn't exist yet, but we can always hope right?

    (Going to cross-post this on the CRK facebook group, so apologies if you see it twice.)
    Cory Hess likes this.
  2. Whinmeister

    Whinmeister Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 16, 2017
    Very informative write-up. I was u decided on which model to get until I stumbled in 2 good deals for the 21 that I may not even want to try an Inkosi. Perhaps I'll sell one of the two for an Inkosi.
  3. craniotes

    craniotes Gold Member Gold Member

    Oct 29, 2013
    I've gotta say I appreciate the Inkosi's dual thumb stud; honestly, I don't have any trouble using it left-handed (like it on my Classic, too). Sure, it's easier to open the knife right-handed, as intended, but I find it nice to have the option to deploy the blade with either hand in a pinch.

    Otherwise, I pretty much agree with everything you said, in particular regarding the smoothness of the Inkosi. I mean, we all know how smooth a Sebbie is, but this is next level.


  4. Officer's Match

    Officer's Match Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 23, 2013
    Appreciate the review.

    Not meaning to be critical, but the Umnumzaan has been around several years before the Inkosi, so as far as clip placement, the Inkosi is the latest design configuration.

    I believe the angled orientation was an attempt to prevent the hotspot where the tip of the pocketclip was adjacent to where the fingergrooves forced your finger to be. While it works great on the (small) Inkosi, I still believe a 1/4" shorter clip would be a better design for the Large Inkosi, which also features the angled off-the-lockbar orientation of the pocketclip. The end of the clip is still at odds with the fingergrooves on the Large Inkosi, but by being farther away from the bottom edge, it is less noticeable than on the 25.
    JB in SC likes this.
  5. Gizler00

    Gizler00 Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 19, 2006
    I love the inkosi line. It is my favorite lineup so far from crk. Now we just need an inkosi with an insingo blade!!
  6. blanco112

    blanco112 Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 1, 2016
    I agree with OP in that for whatever reason I can't manage to just left hand open using only that stud, but if I do a sort of "mnandi pinch" and use my thumb and middle finger I can get it going and finish with the thumb. That said I agree that it's a nice option to have for those that don't struggle to open and it's more aesthetically pleasing to have both studs. I definitely can't call having the extra stud a negative.
  7. JB in SC

    JB in SC Gold Member Gold Member

    May 19, 2001
    I prefer the small Inkosi over a 21. I don't have a big problem opening the knife with the opposite thumb lug; plus the thumb lugs are flush with the handle slab so they don't catch on anything when removing the knife from the pocket.
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2017
  8. sph801


    Jul 8, 2016
    Small Inkosi is definitely my new favorite. Size is perfect for EDC. I like the double thumb studs looks well balanced. After reading this thread I had to try to open it with my left hand. I could do it but it wasn't super easy.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Space Foo likes this.
  9. bhyde

    bhyde UNNECESSARY EVIL Staff Member Super Mod Moderator Platinum Member

    Mar 19, 2002
    Great job on the review!
  10. alarmguy21


    Dec 6, 2010
    Enjoyed the review. I have both knives and love each one. The Inkosi is my favorite of the two.
  11. newknife1


    Jan 29, 2017
    Really appreciate this post. If I may ask, can you elaborate a bit more on the maintenance for each? Is the sebenza more difficult simply because it has more pieces? (How many more?) also, iirc the inkosi needs lock tight, whereas the sebenza doesn't.
  12. Amoo

    Amoo Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 8, 2017
    The 21 does indeed have more pieces. For clarity, when I maintenance a knife, I take everything apart, dishsoap both handles, clean all lugs/screw/standoffs, polish the washers, regrease then reassemble.

    With the Inkosi, the standoffs themselves are threaded and fit into the holes where the screws go. For the 21, every single screw has a grommet which goes over it which acts as a standoff, this includes the pivot itself. The 21 also has a small and medium sized washer, so you do need to pay a little bit of attention what order you put them back on in. With the Inklosi, you remove 3 screws pop the top off and you're pretty much done.

    Neither is hard to maintain and if your debating not getting a 21 because you are concerned about the maintenance I wouldn't let that stop you. It really is a great knife and there are probably a million youtube video on how to clean on. The 21 is possibly a little easier to pinch a washer, where I see it as almost impossible with an inkosi, but outside of that 1 thing, it really is not terribly difficult. If you can change the batters on your remote you can maintenance an Inkosi. If you can find, get to and change the batteries in a kids toy, you can maintenance a 21.

    Also fwiw, I don't run the loctitie on my Inkosi.
  13. Amoo

    Amoo Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 8, 2017
    Yeah, this is why you shouldn't try to write a review while flipping your sleep schedule. I actually read through CRK's history on their website last week and learned the U-Zann came first, even though I previously thought otherwise. When I wrote the review I flat out brain farted on that whole part. You are 100% correct and I am bad :p

    So since I never had any interest in a large Inkosi I never actually looked closely at the clip until you mentioned it. Essentially on the Small, it is clearly evident that the highest point on the end of the clip is placed so that it fits perfectly in between the grooves for your pointer and middle finger. I always just assumed the large simple had a bigger clip. When I looked at a picture and saw the placement of the clip I was like WTF. I'm only guessing CRK uses the same clip on all of their knives minus the U and Mnandi, but considering the specific detail put into the hand grooves on the Inkosi, I honestly am shocked and disappointed the clip on the large Inkosi is not specifically designed for it. That clip placement is right in a finger groove, like I'm in shock over here looking at it.
  14. Officer's Match

    Officer's Match Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 23, 2013
    You are correct, the Sebenza's (large, small and 25), the Inkosi's ("small" and large) as well as the Umnumzaan, all use the same pocketclip.
  15. blanco112

    blanco112 Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 1, 2016
    In my opinion, neither knife is more difficult than the other. They are just different. While the sebenza has more parts, it also usually only requires the removal of the pivot so you can just slide the blade, bushing and two washers out. If you like breaking the entire knife down each time you clean it, then the inkosi has the advantage there, but if we are talking about cleaning the pivot and re-lubing, I actually prefer the sebenza.
  16. Lapedog


    Dec 7, 2016
    To the OP, what do you mean that they changed the clip for the Inkosi and went back to th clip on the lockbar for the Umnumzaan? Didn't the Inkosi come after the Umnumzaan? So to say that they changed the clip for the inkosi then changed it back for the Zaan doens't make sense to me because the Zaan came before the Inkosi. Thus the order would be Sebenza: Clip on Lockbar, Umnumzaan: Clip on Lockbar, Inkosi: Angled Clip off Lockbar.

    Now I have never owned a Zaan so did they originally have the clip off the lockbar on the Zaan and then switch it back to be on the lockbar. I know they have an older model Zaan with a different pivot than the new model.

    None of this is really important, I am just confused.

    Bottom line I gotta get a friggin' Zaan.
  17. aengina


    Jul 25, 2010
    Zaan clip has always been positioned on the lock bar. And it came out years before the Inkosi.

    Sent from my HTC6525LVW using Tapatalk
  18. Amoo

    Amoo Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 8, 2017
    Thanks for reading through all the comments before posting guys!!!
  19. Cory Hess

    Cory Hess Gold Member Gold Member

    Jul 1, 2014
    Great review. I just went through this problem a couple weeks ago. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to handle both knives side by side before having to make my decision. I ended up going with the Inkosi, but it was a close call and I'm not sure that I wouldn't be just as happy with a 21. Either would have ended up being my favorite knife. The major deciding factor for me was the ceramic ball. For me, the 21's positives are the pivot and the lack of finger grooves. The Inkosi's positives are the ceramic ball, lack of hole through the scale, and integrated lanyard pin so that there's no empty hole after the lanyard is removed. You combine the 21's pivot with the ceramic ball from the Inkosi and you'd have an unstoppable force.
    JB in SC likes this.
  20. JB in SC

    JB in SC Gold Member Gold Member

    May 19, 2001
    After six months of carrying only the small Inkosi, it's still my preferred carry. I never really bonded with the Sebenza (owned several, both small and large).
    Cory, the ceramic ball is a major improvement in my opinion. There's zero lock stick, my knife locks up solid. The Inkosi is quite a bit easier for me to open with either hand. Either due to geometry or moving the clip off the lock bar....or both. I wouldn't expect folks with large hands to like the small Inkosi, it feels a lot smaller in hand than a small Sebenza.
    Cory Hess likes this.

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