Friday, September 1, 2017

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Ben's Knife Shop
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Fenguang Feng
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Sunday, August 20, 2017

How to spot a fake Zero Tolerance ZT0350 knife?

Saw this question on one of the forums and decided to post an answer on the blog as well.

Fake ZT0350s have appeared on the Chinese platforms a couple of months ago and sold for about ~$20.

They come in 3 handle color options - Black, Orange and Jade (the natural color of G10).
The finish on the blade and the pocket clip is blackwash (or acid stonewash, where the blade is first darkened by acid and later stonewashed).
The measurements are quite similar to the genuine knife:
Overall length - 7 3/4" or 19.9 cm.
Blade length - 3.25" or 8.25 mm.
But the weight is different - 6.5 oz vs 6.2 oz on the original, that is probably because the liners aren't skeletonized in any way.
The main difference is in the pivot mechanism.
Genuine Zero Tolerance 0350 has a Speedsafe assisted opening mechanism and runs on washers.
The fake on the other hand has steel bearings in the pivot and isn't assisted in any way.
The back of the pivot has a hexagon shape (also prevents it from free spinning), while on the fake it's round.
Another huge tell is the blade stopping method - on the genuine knife the blade is being stopped by the thumb studs hitting the l
iners, while the fake has an internal stop pin.
The markings on the fake are made in white and serial number on the one I have is 7049 (will probably be the same on all of the knives).
The marking on the clip is painted on the fake as opposed to engraved on the genuine.

So, while it could be a bit different to tell the fake from a picture - if you get the knife in hand it will be much much easier to do.
Pic of the fake one (more pics in the listing):

fake zero tolerance, fake zt0350, zt0350 clone

Video of the fake here:

Fake ZT0350 is sold here: Fake ZT0350

Genuine Zero Tolerance 0350 here: Genuine ZT0350
Or here: 
Genuine ZT0350

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Ganzo G8012 Fixed Blade Survival Knife Review!

So I got this one as well a few weeks ago and feel that I can now make a review on it (after testing it out).

First impressions:
The knife came in 2.5 weeks directly from China (got it from GearBest).
It arrived in a pretty simple Ganzo branded cardboard box.
The G8012 was pretty sharp out of the box (shaved hair) and had no quality issues.

The tests:
Out of the box it cut paper with no drag and shaved arm hair.
Sits tight in the sheath - no rattle at all and couldn't be shaken out (unless using extreme and improbable force), even without the Velcro strap. With that strap it is impossible.
The cord cutter (which is often confused for a seat belt cutter) works well and allows to cut cord one-handed and without taking the knife out of the sheath.
The included ferro rod gives out good sparks and I reckon will be enough to make a fire in the outdoors.
The knife itself chops and carves wood pretty well, the tip is strong enough to take abuse and passes the tip test with flying colors.
The only thing I didn't test was the very coarse diamond sharpener on the back of the sheath cause there was no need to and I didn't want to use it on a knife that is still sharp.

ganzo knives, ganzo g8012, survival knives, ganzo survival

The Good:
- The execution. The knife is genuinely well made. The handle and the sheath are rubberized (for your pleasure) and the fit is excellent. No rattle or unnecessary movement from any part.

- The ergos. The knife fills the hand great and is very comfortable and pleasant to hold and use.
- The attention to details. Starting from the uncoated area on the top of the blade to use the ferro rod, to the checkering on the back of the "stryker" at the tang, no corner cutting on this one.
- Although the blade shape could remind some of Moletta designs - the overall design is original and couldn't be called a direct clone of any other knife (if you do know of a knife that is 100% similar to this one - please write in the comments).
- The steel performed well and stayed reasonably sharp after the tests.

The Great:
- The added features. With this knife you get a cord cutter, a ferro rod, a striker/hammer and even a coarse sharpener built in, so it could cover most of your survival needs. Great features for the price.
- This knife really gives you enough confidence to actually use and to rely on it for camping, hiking and even survival situations. My experience tells me it won't fall apart or fail during those.
- The price. The fact that you get a knife with original design, this well made and has all those features for this amount of money is not less than amazing.

The Neutral:
- The knife isn't full tang. Could be disassembled and cleaned on the inside using a torx on the striker. 
View picture below.

ganzo knives, ganzo g8012, survival knives, ganzo survival

With that, it holds very well and they did apply a white thread locker on the screw to prevent unwanted opening. Like I already mentioned - no corner cutting on this one.

The Bad:
- The GITD inserts serve no real purpose as they aren't very bright and don't accumulate light well. Could easily lived without those.
- The sheath is much longer than the knife itself cause they used separate blades for the cord cutter and put an extra mounting opening at the end of it.

- The Velcro strap does make the knife impossible to shake out, but feels too thin and flimsy (not the best stitching job either). I would really prefer it to be thicker and to have an extra button. Luckily it could be modded and could be folded back (the knife will probably stay in the sheath even without using it). 

The Ugly:
- Can't really find anything ugly about this knife, especially for the price.

- The quality + fit, finish + added features (cord cutter, ferro rod, striker/hammer and a coarse sharpener) + the ergos + the fact it has original design + the performance + the confidence to use (built well and smart) + the attention to details + the price - the drawbacks make this one of the best budget survival style knives on the market as of today IMO.
It pleasantly surprised me and I am very glad I got it.

Check out the knife here: Ganzo G8012 Fixed Blade Survival Knife

Competitive options:
Mora Bushcraft Black

Gerber LMF II

ganzo knives, ganzo g8012, survival knives, ganzo survival

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Fura Small Ti Flipper Cleaver Knife Review!

So I have got this knife as well and would like to share my thoughts about it.
Shipment took a bit more than 2 weeks from China.

First impressions:
The knife came in a tin presentation box, good safe packaging.
Issues out of the box:

- It was a bit gritty and dry, so didn't flip well. One drop of lube on the detent ball and a bit of WD40 in the bearings sorted out this problem.
- The pivot screw was sharp. Few strokes on the #600 grit diamond stone helped make it pleasant to touch and even better looking IMO.
Other than that it came sharp and no additional issues.

fura knife, ti flipper, cleaver knife, ti cleaver, small cleaver

- The looks. There is something so cool about small ti flipping cleavers, the frag pattern, bronzed standoffs, embossed cone pivot and the blue anodizing add to the unique design and appearance.

- The action. After the lubing and breaking in it became super smooth (runs on bearings) and flies out (but the detent is still strong).
- The deployment options. Could be open by a flipper, flicked out on the thumb studs with a thumb, opened smoothly with the cutout and even flicked out with the middle finger.

- The ergos - surprisingly good (with a lanyard). Gimping is excellent.
- Small size, slim profile and is pretty light.
- Price. If this was made by any brand - it would cost 5x times at least.

- Comes without a pocket clip.
- No steel insert on the frame. There is a bit of a lock-rock sometimes when not holding the knife in hand (like on the older Striders), but the lock holds well and won't fold.

Summary - overall it is a very cool small novelty flipping cleaver, that will fill that void in your collection and your heart. It is a people friendly knife (my spouse thought it was very cute) and a great conversation starter. 

I'm very glad I got this one.

I bought the knife here: Small Ti Cleaver
Could also be found (cheaper) on GearBest here: Fura Small Cleaver

Competitive options:
Kershaw 5360 Ember

CRKT Carter Jettison

Monday, August 7, 2017

New CH Knives on AliExpress: The CH3505 and the CH3005 Rhino!

So, 2 new CH Knives designs have hit the market and it is time to tell you about those:

CH Knives CH3505:
New titanium flipper with finger guards.

Overall length: 203mm
Blade length: 88 mm
Handle length: 115mm
Blade thickness: 3.2mm
Blade width: 21 mm
Net weight: 96g

Features single row ceramic bearings, embossed pivot and comes in 3 handle variations.
Nice to see CH are again making knives is S35VN, this time a full flat ground stonewashed drop-point blade.

Check it out here: CH Knives CH3505
The overall concept reminded me of this knife: Hinderer Maximus

CH Knives 3005 Rhino:
Newest model from CH, and their take on a sub 3" stout flipper.

Total length: 15.5 cm
Closed length: 9 cm
Blade length: 6.5CM
Blade thickness: 3mm
Weight: 82g
This one has a CF scale + ti frame handle (also 3 color options), pocket clip in the shape of a rhino leg and a stonewashed blade made from AUS8 steel.

Check it out here: 
CH Knives CH3005
Competitive option: Spyderco Dice

Thursday, August 3, 2017

HX OUTDOORS D-153 Bastard Halibut: If Strider made a UK legal slipjoint knife!

So I got this knife as well and would like to share my review of it.
It shares a lot of features with the now discontinued CRKT Jorneyer knife (designed by Liong Mah), but couldn't be called a clone IMO because of the many differences from that model - blade shape and grind, handle materials and shape (G10, added millings) and the added crusher in the end of the handle.

First impressions:
The knife came in a beautiful HX Outdoors branded cardboard presentation box.
It arrived shaving sharp, no issues with centering or bladeplay out of the box, and no fit&finish problems out of the box either.

The concept:
The knife essentially functions as a slipjoint - there are 2 liner bars with a detent ball on each side and those create the 2-step fixture of the blade (half-stop and the fully open position).
In addition to that the knife includes a torx key, which is hidden in the back of the knife, which allows to adjust all of the screws, but also could be put through the specifically drilled holes in the blade and handles and by this provide additional security as a 100% fail proof lock with the assumption that the key stays in place - similar concept is used in the Extrema Ratio RAO knife.
In order to keep the key in place while stored at the back of the handle and in the locked position, HX Outdoors added magnets, and it actually works really well (I haven't succeeded to shake the key off in both positions).


- The design. The knife is designed really well and smart, especially the overall looks, the shape of the blade, the ergos that will fit most hands and the added features, the unique and functional locking system.
Great job from HX Outdoors.
- The attention to details. The comfortable deep carry pocket clip. The added pommel at the end of the handle that can be used as a glass breaker/scull crusher. The choil that allows the to grab the knife comfortably and securely. Great gimping.
All of those are great features that add to the overall concept. 

- The materials and the structure - blackwashed D2 blade (and I do believe it is real D2), thick G10 scales with nested steel liners - amazing features for the price.
- The overall concept - there aren't lots of slipjoints out there that have that tactical appeal.
This one is definitely one that gives you that feel.
- The price.


- Pretty slim tip with a hollow grind - for this kind of knife I would expect a beefier tip.

- Pretty short cutting edge (because of the choil) - 2.5".
- If you put the key in the designated slot in order to lock the knife - it is really hard to get it out without extra tools (usually a push of a pen tip or even a toothpick from the other side helps).
My solution to that was to put the key on the other side if I needed to close the knife right after use (works like a charm).

This knife really rocks my boat. From one side it looks and feels tactical, from the other it is a slipjoint and will be legal to carry in places and countries that prohibit carrying locking blades (if you don't bring that key along). It has great materials and quality, much higher than it's price might suggest. Truly makes you think this would be a knife Mick Strider would make if he made slipjoints.

Check out the knife here: HX OUTDOORS D-153 Bastard Halibut

Competitive options:
CRKT Jorneyer
Boker Plus Slack Slip Joint

Monday, July 31, 2017

Benchmade Griptilian 553 Tanto Review + Ganzo Comparison!

I got this Griptilian a few weeks ago and am finally ready to do a review on it.
The reason I took my time before making this review is because I wanted to get the chance to use this knife and to compare it to the Ganzo Knives competitive options.
I'll skip the First Impressions (got the knife used, but not abused).
It came to me pretty sharp, but definitely not razor sharp (didn't shave hair from my arm).
There are plenty great reviews of this knife, so I would like to focus on my personal impressions and experience with it.

benchmade 553 griptilian, benchmade vs ganzo

The way I see the knife:
From one side:
The Benchmade Griptilian is a great knife. As of now (after discontinuing the HK branded knives) the most budget offering that features the McHenry Williams designed Axis lock.
It is also really well designed and executed. It has no blade play, the Axis lock is really soft and easy to press with only one finger from either side. The ergonomics are awesome and I think the knife will fit most hand sizes. I also really like the gimping on the blade and the "gimping" on the back of the plastic scales, allowing it to be pulled easily from the pocket.
Another thing I like about the design is the fact that the tip of the blade is located on the same line as the pivot screw, making it great for controlled cuts. One surprising thing I loved is the sound it makes when opened and closed (the hollow plastic scales are acting like an acoustic guitar's sound box and amplifies the produced sound).
The Griptilian is also a truly ambidextrous knife, allowing exactly the same experience for right and left handed users.
And finally the action is smooth, especially after I cleaned it, polished the thick bronze washers (took a very nice polish) and tweaked the action.

From the other side:
The 553 Griptilian is seriously overpriced (sells for ~$100 MAP - minimum advertised price, so a new knife couldn't be sold for less), especially if you count the materials (plastic scales and 154CM steel).
I mean those are OK, but the Spyderco Manix has G10 scales, S30V blade, also made in the US and is sold for roughly the same price.
I heard people say that it's because of the quality and the warranty, but lately they had issues with both (even their lifetime sharpening program takes more than a month in the best case), so it is hard to see what you pay your money for.
The fit is also a bit lacking - couldn't get that blade to center perfectly without compromising the smooth action. 
Because of the thick handle it is also substantial in the pocket and take lots of pocket real estate.
Finally, the pocket clip is good, but there is something that is hard for me to understand. Benchmade makes great deep carry pocket clips and will gladly send those if you ask kindly. Why don't they include on of those with every Griptilian knife?  That could be so much cooler than to ask and wait for the clips after the purchase. I think $100 price tag could cover the cost and save them the shipping costs.

So as it could be easily seen that this knife has 2 sides to it. A bit of Knife Philosophy could explain this issue. The knife world is divided by 2: the Users and the Collectors (that rarely understand/agree with each other). The Users could own several knives and the Collectors could use their knives and the difference between them is in the question: Why do they buy their knives?
Users buy their knives because they NEED them, Collectors buy theirs because they WANT them.
Users usually buy a knife, carry and use it everyday until they brake/lose it and then they'll buy another knife.
Collectors buy several knives and do a rotation between those based on their schedule.
Users care most about the blade steel and the ergos, Collectors also care about things like blade centering, smooth action and handle materials.
Users tend to abuse their knives, Collectors usually don't.
So the thing is - this knife is intended for the Users and not the Collectors. The first will appreciate it's working qualities, the Collectors will probably like the G10 version more (or the 940 for that matter, that has better materials).
That's my opinion about it and I ask you to share yours in the comments.

How does the Benchmade 553 compare to the average Ganzo?
The better qualities are - the superior steel (154CM vs Ganzo's 440C), the Axis lock vs the G-lock function (is softer), the washers are bigger and take a polish better, the pocket clip and arguably the design and the ergos (depends on the Ganzo model, the hand size and the preferences).
The lesser qualities (especially in comparison to the newer Ganzo models): the handle material (I like Ganzo G10 more than the plastic scales on the Grip), the fit (blade centering) and of course the price.
Is it a better knife (overall)? Probably. Does it hold better value (price-wise)? Probably not.

Check out the 553 Griptilian here: Benchmade 553 Griptilian
Newer G10 version here: Benchmade 551-1 Griptilian
The Ganzo G745 that I compared it to: Ganzo Knives G745
Benchmade vs Ganzo

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Xinzuo Budget Layered 440C Chef Kitchen Knife Set Review!

I have received this kitchen knife set a while ago and would like to share my experiences with it.

Why did I order it?
Some time after I got into the knife hobby and started paying more attention to knives in general I noticed that I wasn't satisfied with the knives I used the most - meaning my kitchen knives.
So I've ordered a budget ceramic knife set (which I have till today and use those every day), but with time I wanted to get a real chef knife set to stay sharp and ready for those special cooking activity.

I have monitored the options for some time but didn't find something that was fit by specs and price, until I noticed this set of 3 knives (Chef, Santoku and a pairing knife), with the following specs:

1. Description: 5 inch utility knife .
Parameters : length: 235mm, blade length: 125mm, blade thickness: 1.8 mm, blade width: 22 mm, net weight: 82.6 g.
2. Description: 7 inch santoku knife .
Parameters : length: 306mm, blade length: 178mm, blade thickness: 2.0 mm, blade width: 44.5 mm, net weight: 185 g.
3. Description: 8 inch chef knife .
Parameters : length: 330mm, blade length: 202mm, blade thickness: 2.0 mm, blade width: 46 mm, net weight: 190.5 g.
Material : High quality three layers clad steel (440C core and 410 steel).
Handle: exquisite Micarta handle, optical lens processing. Use for a long time not to distort, not faded, not shrinking, tasteless environmental protection .
Hardness : 58±2 HRC (core).
Characteristics : sharp and durable; Super anti rust; Light energy.
Surface Craft : forging and wire drawing (satin finish).
Sharpness level : the level of cutting force: 6.0-8.0 N international standards.

I was impressed as I heard of Xinzuo before as a budget Chinese kitchen knife brand with decent quality, fit and finish, but never saw this kind of value from them (usually sell for a higher price).
Anyway, the set seemed to fit my needs and I decided to jump the boat.

chef knife, kitchen knives, santoku, xinzuo kitchen,

First impressions:
The knives arrived pretty fast (less than 3 weeks) and were carefully packed in a black cardboard box (each knife separated by a bubble wrap, nylon and paper sleeve with plastic protector for the tip.
No issues out of the box, no fit and finish or quality problems.

- The functionality: this is exactly the set I needed - 2 large blades (one Chef, one Santoku) and a smaller and thinner pairing knife, because those are the knives me and my girl usually use while cooking those special romantic meals, The knives perform as expected and are so much fun to cook with!
- The quality: no issues at all out of the box and since. The micarta handles (although still not sure it is really micarta or polished G10, doesn't really matter) are fitted very well without any gaps, the grind is very thin and the satin finish is flawless and looks great. Overall really impressed.
- The sharpness: the knives are very sharp out of the box and pass the "tomato test" with flying colors.They also keep the edge for a really long time (haven't sharpened them yet.
- The ergos: the handles are comfortable (although will fit even better for larger sized hands) and pretty grippy, especially when wet, so they probably won't slip out of the hands while cooking.
- The looks: the knives are genuinely impressive and look professional (much better than the pseudo damascus versions).
- The price and the bang for the buck.

- Lack of storage option: would love it if this set also included some sort of cool storage option, because to store them in a box those came in isn't the most comfortable way.
- Asymmetric sharpness: if you inspect the knives closely, you might see some slight imperfections in the bevel (especially near the tip).

- Overall I am very pleased with this set, as it is exactly what I wished for.
Must say that I'm not a professional cook (and definitely not a chef), so I've used the knives about 9 times till now and recommend those especially for a home (non-professional) use, although I believe those will perform excellent even in the hands of a skilled cook, who will use those every day, all day.
So if you look for a budget kitchen knife set - this set might fit your needs perfectly.

Check out the kitchen knife set here: Xinzuo Budget Kitchen Knife Set

Competitive options:

Victorinox Forschner Forged Professional 3-piece Knife Set

KAI Luna 3-Piece Essential Kitchen Knife Set 

sharp knife

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Tonife Squirell: Great Small Full Tang EDC Fixed Blade Neck Knife!

This is a cool little fixed blade I received a few weeks ago and would like to tell you my thoughts and impressions of it.

I've been looking at this model for some time now, but just recently pulled the trigger on it.
My main concern was about the practicality of such a small fixed blade (this is a dedicated neck knife and I don't wear those) over a folding knife and the pretty short blade it has (a bit less than 2 inches).

First impressions:

The knife arrived in a Tonife branded box with a black neck chain and some paperwork in English and Chinese. It was sharp (not hair splitting, but sharp), no fit and finish issues, sat great in the sheath (almost no rattle and actually got even better with time).

What did I like about it:

- The design. Especially the part about this being an original design from a Chinese knife company, that is smart, appealing and that I really liked. I even like the name they gave it (fits it very well).
- The execution. It is made really well, from the 3D milled G10 scales, the tan real kydex sheath, the metal tubes and the fact that those all are fitted great around the full tang blade.
- The looks and the concept. I like that the Chinese have noticed the love neck/small knives in general get in recent time and made one that can compete with budget offerings from other knife companies. 
I also like that the design is very people friendly and not intimidating at all (sort of like Spyderco knives - it raises smiles more than fear).
- The ergos. Those are surprisingly good, especially if you attach a snake knot lanyard to it.

What I loved about it:

- I loved that as it turns out this could comfortably be carried in the small pocket of my jeans and because the sheath is slim but wide - it gets stuck in the pocket, so the blade deploys easily and quickly. That increases the knife's overall functionality for me (as I don't wear neck knives).
Tried it as a neck knife - works great as well.
- The price - although it is made well and has original design - the price is still dirt cheap.

What I liked less about it:

- The steel. It's 440A (7Cr17MoV), nothing really special about it. It does take an edge well and could be easily restored if gets dull.
- The blade length could be a bit longer IMO (would also increase the practicality).

- As you might have noticed - I really like this knife!
It is so fun to carry and it could be practical as an urban primary/backup people friendly blade for those light EDC tasks - opening packages and envelopes, cutting paper, ropes, ducktape, zip-ties and even light prying tasks. Also could be a funny and original small gift for even a non-knife person.

Knife could be found here: Tonife Squirell EDC Neck Knife

Competitive options:
CRKT Folts Minimalist
Boker Magnum Lil Friend

tonife squirell, neck knife, edc fixed blade, tonife knife

Monday, July 24, 2017

New Original Design Knives on AliExpress and DHGate (Different price ranges) - Updating post!

Ok, so I have decided to create a post where I will write about new knives that appear on AliExpress and DHGate and update this post as new knives pop up (follow me on Facebook/Google+ to receive updates).

I will also post some pictures and give a few words of information if this will be needed (like info on the logos and locks that might be photoshopped in the pictures), real blade steel, some interesting facts about the knife or the original model, etc. You are also more than invited to give your opinion and ask questions in the comment section.

Please notice that some of the locks in the seller's pictures might be edited out to comply with AliExpress knife selling rules, but most of the knives in the lots have fully functioning locks (I will state otherwise).

Also Check out great deals on knives on Gearbest: Knife Deals on GB

Budget original designs (under $90):

Bear Claw Parrot - New slipjoint on bearings, the design and the concept remind of the Lansky World Legal knife, but couldn't be called a clone IMO.
Check out World Legal Knife here: Lansky World Legal Knife

Bear Claw Parrot Knife

Turen Knives on Ali - Relatively new versatile maker with lots of different products.

Bear Claw ST004 Flipper - Stainless Steel handled flipper on bearings.

Enlan Knives on Ali - Most of the models are now available on AliExpress as well.
enlan knives on AliExpress

Premium original designs ($90+):

Andy A06 Horizon - Semi-Integral knif
e with a hidden pivot from a great maker.

Bear Claw P60 ti handle s35vn blade

Bear Claw P60 - Very high quality flipper knife with Ti handle and S35VN blade.