Mamerto Adan is an engineer by profession, but a writer by night. He loves toys and knives, and has a martial arts background.
It was different a couple of years ago. With not enough cash to buy myself a decent folder, what I got in my pocket is simply a counterfeit clone; now you might noticed that to avoid racism, I omitted the word “Chinese” and simply used the term counterfeit. Nevertheless all fake folders came somewhere from China. And the reason why most novice knife collectors are drawn to it is simply because of the prize. A nice folder coming from a refuted company cost more than ten times than a flea market clone. And we got to admit that we sometimes got second thoughts torturing a pricey pocket knife. I mean when it comes to cheap clone, we don’t mind if it broke, stolen or lost.
Yet sometimes I thought it was never worth it.
I once owned three cheapo clones I got from a local shop. I love their feel, their handle sculpts and one even got knuckles for a handle. Not one of them survives today, but at least I still have what remains of the blade. You will know the fate of these cheap folders later on as I learned the hard way why a cheap folder is sometimes not worth the buy (Just to be fair though I did find some use to those pieces of scraps, but that’s another article).
The Clones I Owned
Unfortunately I never got any pictures of the clones I got. Back then I have no interest doing EDC pictures though I did found some related images somewhere. Again all of these knives are folder, and frankly they look more exotic than the genuine knives I owned today.
The first one is an interesting knife. This is basically a folding trench knife with knuckles for handle. When I EDC this big hulking metal, it bulges in my pocket and made my pants sag. To be short it is a fake Cold Steel folder (7CR17Mov) sold as tactical and hunting blade, and by the looks of it, a deadly weapon.
Then I acquired the fake Smith and Wesson Extreme Ops folder later that year. Initially I was impressed by the size of the blade and the rubber inlaid handle. It never got knuckles, but the tanto blade looks awesome (it is more than 3 inches long).
Lastly just before I got my first branded folder, I managed to acquire a small Strider clone. With only a 2.5 inches blade, it is my smallest knife I got and it stayed in my pocket for only six months.
They Tend to look Overly Aggressive
Before we dive into the questionable functionality and quality of fake folders, let’s first consider the most obvious problem here. Counterfeit knives tend to clone recognizable knife aesthetics, like Syderco and Coldsteel. If not they tend to make the knives as aggressive looking as possible. It’s all about putting a fierce face to convince the buyers that pocket knife clones are worth the prize. To be short, counterfeit clones look as “tacticool” as possible, its biggest selling point.
Legit companies like Cold Steel ans Smith and Wesson are also known to release intimidating folders, but clones tend to make theirs’ more exotic. The clone knives I owned could find their places in a Zombie apocalypse, and this could be problematic. Intimidating folders tend to attract attention, not a good idea if you live in a particularly knife restrictive country. Even the smaller clone Strider I have was labelled deadly by my peers simply because it looks imposing.
The Blade is Not as Sharp
This is the very reason why pocket knives are pricey. Good steel don’t come cheap. The process of research, development, and construction of durable blades will cost a knife developer fortune. And if that’s the case why should I sell my knife in ridiculously low price?
Expensive knives have good steel. Counterfeit clones don’t. Who knows what sort of metal they are made from and expect to get what you pay for. The three knives I owned never retained their sharpness for too long. After being subjected to light office works and field jobs, they need sharpening right away.
And some of these blades are not even sharp to begin with.
Remember the overly imposing fake Coldsteel knuckle duster knife. It came out of the box with only minimal sharpness. It is still sharp, but not the hair shaving sharpness we get from legit folders. In fact I could grab the blade without even getting cut.
The Paint Peels Even with Minimal Use
I got the fake Smith and Wesson after the fake Cold Steel broke (we will get to that later on). Fearing another catastrophic failure, I never subjected this knife to any rigorous use. It stayed in my pocket most of the time. It was basically a “pocket queen”, and when I checked the knife after three months, the paint is beginning to peel.
I don’t remember torturing this knife in any ways. I did use it to cut fruits and paper, and that’s it. But the wear on its paint finish reminds me of a war ravaged tank. It seems that mere pocket lint is enough to ruin the knife finish, or maybe the method of cleaning was the culprit. Nowadays I owned some legit knives, and it will only lose their coating if it was tortured in the outdoors.
The Joint Failure
Exactly, what pocket knife owners fear. Whether you are using a legit brand or not, we know that a folding knife is only as strong as its weakest joint. Companies spend fortunes to strengthen the overall structures of their products, resulting in pricier knives. In the case of my cheap clone knife, you probably knew what happened next.
All thanks to a catfish and my knife imploded.
The imposing Cold Steel clone met its end after we tried to steak a catfish for a barbecue. We never batoned the thing as a tap is enough to sever the spine. Back in my house I opened the thing for a clean-up, and the joints finally gave in. Turns out the screws used for the joints are tiny, resulting in a weaker structure.
The Screws Kept Getting Loose
In the case of my counterfeit Strider, the mere opening, closing and cleaning seems to dislodge the screws. It had better joints than the clone Cold Steel though but I always found myself constantly tightening the screws every other day. Turns out that the screws are too short and the sudden vibration of a snapping blade is enough to loosen them. And yes I never run my knife on running water when I clean them. I observed how mere water pressure loosened the overly short screws. Gluing those annoying screws crossed my mind, but I got a Leatherman that Christmas and I gave it away.