Belt knives at bargain prices

Now and again I come across products that are so useful, and offer such good value for money, that I have to recommend them to my readers.  I don’t get paid or compensated for doing so – that would make it a commercial transaction, rather than a personal recommendation, and I don’t do that here.

Fixed-blade knives are usually stronger than folding blades, although that’s not always the case.  There are general-purpose blades, and more specialized ones such as skinning knives used by hunters, fishing filet and bait knives, and so on.  A good general-purpose field knife is a very, very useful tool.  We’ve spoken of Mora and Glock knives in that category in a previous post.  I continue to recommend them very highly;  others have come close to equaling them in terms of quality and value for money, but not beaten them (at least, not yet).  However, I’ve found two more that come close, and are (I think) worthy of attention.

A Ukrainian knife manufacturer, Grand Way, came to my attention when I read that it had copied the excellent Mora Outdoor 2000 knife, and was selling its version for about half the price of the original.  I normally expect such knock-offs to be of very inferior quality, but I was surprised to find that the Grand Way version was actually pretty well made.  It wasn’t as good as the Mora, but it wasn’t too far away, either.  That caused me to look at the rest of the Grand Way knife range, which is very extensive.  Their prices tend to be extremely reasonable compared to the “name brand” competition, and while their quality may not be as good as the latter, it’s generally quite acceptable, and certainly delivers value for money.

My eye was immediately caught by what appears, at first glance, to be a copy of the excellent Buck Knives 0103 Skinner fixed blade knife, which costs $60-$80 and looks like this:

In its “Hunting Fishing Knife Model 01085“, Grand Way appears to have copied the 0103’s blade size and geometry relatively closely.  It uses 420 steel, which is adequate for the task (Buck Knives uses 420HC, which is higher in carbon and therefore slightly harder than “straight” 420).  The Grand Way handle is, to my mind, more practical for field use than the Buck Knives offering, because it’s molded from soft rubber, offering a secure grip even if the hilt is wet with water, or blood, or what have you.  It also has a lanyard hole, which can be very useful for retention.  It looks like this:

Best of all, the Grand Way model is currently priced at just $12.99.  It may not offer the same quality, fit and finish as the Buck Knives 0103, but one can buy several of the former for the cost of one of the latter.  Effectively, it’s a knife that does a good job, without requiring an investment that will break your heart (or your wallet) if you lose or damage it.

If you want a similar knife that looks more spiffy, Grand Way offers its FB 251 hunting knife for an even lower price, just $11.90:

There’s also the Model 148109-1, which is a similar size, but in a drop point configuration, for $16.15:

All the Grand Way knives come with cordura/nylon sheaths, which look rather flimsy.  I wouldn’t trust them to stand up to extended wear.  However, at the price, one can’t really expect more.  It’s easy enough to make or buy better sheaths for them if needed.  As I said, I prefer the rubber grip of the Model 01085 to the better-looking wood grips of the other two knives, but that’s for reasons of practicality and comfort during extended use.  YMMV.

None of the Grand Way knives are of the same quality as Buck Knives’ products, but they come reasonably close, and they’re far, far cheaper.  Based on my limited experience (so far) with the Model 01085 and the Model 148109-1 (both of which I’ve bought with my own money – no sponsorship or compensation here), for those of us on tight budgets, they appear to offer real value and utility.

The other manufacturer that caught my eye was Tramontina, the well-known Brazilian manufacturer of all sorts of useful ironmongery.  I’ve used their full-size machetes from time to time, and like them.  I’ve previously expressed my fondness for Kershaw’s Camp Knife, which comes in 10″, 14″ and 18″ lengths.  I particularly like the short 10″ version, which is heavy enough to chop wood if necessary, and handy enough to do almost anything you need to do around camp.  I own multiple copies of it.

It’s not very expensive – $31.09, including free Prime shipping at Amazon.com – but that’s still a stretch for some people.  I was therefore interested to note that Tramontina makes a 12″ machete, including a nylon sheath, for just $14.93 (again including shipping).

It’s not as heavy or as well balanced as the Kershaw Camp Knife, but it’s perfectly serviceable;  and it’s less than half the price of the latter, which has to help those on a tight budget.  (If you want one without the sheath, it’s even cheaper, at just $10.64.)  I bought one to try out, and I’m quite happy with it.  I won’t give up my Camp Knives, you understand, but I’ll certainly give this my seal of approval as a low-cost alternative.  It’ll certainly be a better option for younger members of the family, who want to “help” the adults do things, but can’t be trusted to treat a more expensive tool with the care it deserves.  (Of course, they can cut each other and themselves just as easily with a cheaper tool as with an expensive one . . . so be careful!)

I hope these knives help some of you with your Christmas shopping.

Peter

(EDITED TO ADD:  I thought that Grand Way was a Chinese company, but a commenter informs me it’s Ukrainian.  After a bit of Internet searching, I confirmed that.  I’ve corrected the article accordingly.  Sorry for my mistake.)

6 comments

  1. Peter, that is some very dangerous advise. The Mora and like are a good value and a good entry level bushcraft knife. But they are far from a good general purpose knife. With the partial rat tang they are not strong enough for serious work and while the Scandi grind is good at woodworking it isn’t very good at other general purpose tasks like slicing, processing food, etc.

    Grand Way, are you sure they are Chinese? The Grand Way I am familiar with is a Ukraine low end knife manufacture operating out of Charkov in East Ukraine. At least I think it is still East Ukraine, it might be Russia now. Sure, you can buy several inexpensive knives, but you usually only carry one and if that fails…

    You can get something like a Schrade Extreme Survival for less than $50 and it is a much better knife in every way. That one is made in China. Something like the ESEE 4 might be twice that price, but made in the USA and really in another world altogether.

    Comparing the Kershaw camp knife to the Tramontina machete is just silly. Other than the size they have almost nothing in common.

  2. I have one of the 12″ Tramontinas myself. It excels in the role of car trunk toolkit knife, along with a Cold Steel Spetznaz shovel.

  3. @Barry Needham: My advice is based on years of bundu-bashing in Africa, about which I’ve written in the past:

    https://bayourenaissanceman.blogspot.com/2014/01/wilderness-survival-tools-price-versus.html

    The use of lower-cost, lower-quality knives is absolutely common over there, in conditions that are often rather tougher than routinely encountered in the USA. As I mentioned in that article, it baffled me (at first) to find Americans spending well into three figures to buy a tool that is bound to break and/or get lost at some point. The African habit was to have several cheaper ones on hand, so that they could be used, discarded (or lost), and replaced as needed.

    I absolutely agree that the knives I’ve mentioned are not equal in quality to the better US-made tools; but they offer significantly better value for money, IMHO. Those who can afford the best can buy it. The rest of us must buy what our budget allows.

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