Not many of the Chinese quality knives have an original design. Even those which are not direct clones of this or that model are very often “inspired by X and Y”. Kevin John, the brand under which some of the best quality Chinese clones have been produced has gone into launching original designs a few years ago. First there’s been a “venom” that was OK-ish but neither super sexy nor having really interesting features. Then came the Venom II which was also released as the “Daboia” under the CKF brand, in a limited series. It featured nice and distinctive features, ranging from a Carbon Fiber scale on the presentation side that was “scalopped” to make a sort of snake skin pattern to the inclusion of two tritium inserts glowing in the dark, with a high quality s35vn steel blade. Then came the “Venom II attacker” which despite its more aggressive name is a bit more refined, with smooth CF even used as an insert in the blade. Finally a Venom New Concept was released including more advanced and refined features (lock-locker…) and full anodised titanium handle with very refined machining, still in s35vn.
But the flavour of the day, when it comes to blade steels for high level folding knives is the Böhler M390 micro clean. It is a powder metallurgically produced corrosion resistant martensitic stainless steel, with excellent abrasive wear resistance while maintaining good corrosion resistance. The MICROCLEAN technology creates an extremely clean steel with high toughness and polishability. And lo and behold, Kevin John has started using it, by releasing a newer version/batch of the Venom II. Not cheap by any measure these are very sexy knives, which the 11.11 sales allowed me to buy at a “almost moderate price” (read just a bit south of $200). So here it is in all its glory…
The first distinguishing feature is the carved carbon fibre scale that comes on top of the titanium scale presentation side, and hides the pivot. It does not fully cover the titanium but creates a very grippy yet elegant and comfortable pattern.
The modified spanto meet drop point, with plenty of nice details blade compliments the handle very well. It features “apparent stop bits” (not used to stop the blade for real) with the one on the presentation side containing a tritium glowing vial.
Indeed, the real ‘stop pin’ is attached to the blade and runs hidden on his tract at the front of the handle… This shot also allows one to see all the great fit (carbon/titanium matching perfectly, bevels almost everywhere, ultra tight tolerances).
As expected on such a piece, the lock face is reinforced by hardened steel insert, which also serves as overextension preventer.
The flipper tab also gets its special attention, with a beveled hole in it. Again the attention to detail is quite visible!
The general quality is really up with the very best “mid techs” and could well be compared to full blown custom knives without having to blush.
Blade centring is obviously perfect, the floating backspacer includes/works as a lanyard hole. The pocket clip is 3 sculpted, like the rest of the lock side, and includes its own tritium insert.
Overall it’s clearly one of the most expansive knives you can get from China with normal prices largely north of 200 dollars, but it’s worth every single cent and then some. Very premium materials assembled to perfection in a nice and original design, smooth to the point of danger (blade falls back under its own weight without even “shaking it”, once past detent), this is a superlative tactical flipper, regardless of price or origin, and its specific place in the history of Chinese knive making clearly makes it a piece every discerning collector should own!