If you Google “China knife,” you’re going to see a lot of junk. You’re probably also going to read a lot of people’s opinions about the quality of knives made in China. Many are probably going on and on about how China-made knives are pure junk, but is that true? Maybe, but I have to tell you that if all I had to judge China knives on were the Kizer Aileon and Calagine Tanto sitting on my desk right now, I’d think China knives were among the best-made and highest quality knives in the world. Surprising, right? Not really.
In the last decade, China has proven that it can produce high quality products. That iPhone or iPad you’re swiping through this very article on? Yep. It was made in China by Chinese manufacturers in Chinese factories – and here’s the thing. You didn’t question the build quality, the materials or anything about it. You just picked it up and used it, because it had the trusted Apple logo on it. You knew that Apple demanded quality parts and materials. You knew that Apple demanded quality standards of production and craftsmanship, and you knew that Apple demanded a quality assurance and testing program that ensures that their partners in China produce a high quality product.
Here’s a secret. Apple isn’t the only company demanding those things. Many of your knife brands are doing the exact same thing.
The Rough Rider brand has been manufactured almost exclusively in China for over a decade. In my opinion, they make some of the highest quality, best looking everyday carry pocketknives on the market. If I close my eyes and hold a Case trapper in one hand and Rough Rider trapper in the other, for the life of me I can’t feel the difference in them at all. They weigh the same. They have the same craftsmanship. When I test them head to head, they both look great and cut great, and they both have a crisp walk and talk. I can tell virtually no difference between them, except in price. The China-made Rough Rider generally costs close to four times less than the Case.
Like Apple, Rough Rider demands quality in materials and craftsmanship, and the fact of the matter is that – when brands demand it – China makes an incredible product, but as I sit here right now, staring at these two Kizer knives, I can tell you that China is truly upping their game to the next level.
The Kizer Aileon is a one-handed opener with a Stonewashed CPM-S35VN stainless steel clip point blade that is 1/8th of an inch thick. The handles are made of titanium and everything on this knife is adjustable, from the pocket clip and thumb stud placement to the movement of the main blade. This knife is pretty close to perfect. The Kizer Caligine Tanto is an all-black knife with sculpted titanium handles and a black coated CPM-S35VN stainless steel blade. Like the Aileon, everything is adjustable and it’s darn near perfect.
So, is China catching up? The answer is yes and no. There will always be cheap junk on the market, but China is making amazing products – if you look for them and if brands demand them.
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