About a year ago I had presented you a Chinese version of the LionSteel TiSpine gentleman folder. Alas, this clone was lacking on one of the main selling points of its inspiration: the integral titanium body/handle was replaced by two sides and a back spacer. The Elmax blade was replaced by a D2 piece and the lock bar was very tightly cut (water jet?)
Well, time passes and Chinese knife makers venture more and more into higher end territories and as such are not so much constrained by technical limitations and price barriers are not so strict. As a result a number of integrals (first in aluminium, easier to machine, see the Anax or the Lochsa, then in titanium) were released. A new version of the TiSpine was among these, also including a Böhler M390 blade (the “high end steel” of the moment). Loving the design, a classy great looking gentleman folder but large enough in the hand an pocket (unlike the small Sebenza or other similar pieces).
It has all the features of the real LionSteel original, improved upon slightly as M390 is a slightly “better” steel than Elmax that the Italian original has for the blade steel. The lockbar is now more largely separated from the main body, as on the original.
The finish is almost perfect, one can only detect slight machining marks here and there and a not perfectly smooth radius on the “Titanium Spine” of the handle
As you see, it is almost invisible and only under certain angles does light reflection reveal the not perfectly even finish in the ridges of said spine…
Blade centring is rather good, but not 100% perfect. Now, that is something that an integral body is prone to generate as there are no way to “re-adjust” by moving a bit the scales relative to each other. However, the “un-centring” is very very small and one needs to look attentively to detect it.
Overall it is an expensive piece for a Chinese clone but when thinking of what the price of the original (already one of the cheapest Ti integral folders on the market) or of any integral folder in sculpted titanium made in any other place, well, it’s a bargain.
The smoothness is good (for a not-on-bearings knife) but you need two hands to open the knife easily. Which is not a problem in the case of a gentleman folder. The lock bar is not reinforced, again not a problem for this style of piece. The blade is superbly ground, with a very nice finish: satin on the grinds and stone-wash on the flats. The pocket clip is simple but effective and allows for a very unobtrusive deep carry. To me that is one of the very best small folder one can get nowadays in the industrial/mid tech market, irrespective of the price, and probably the cheapest titanium integral body frame-lock on the planet. What’s not to love?