Chinese knife manufacturing is split in four tiers (yeah, I know, I know…) the bottom one is the cheap and nasty knife you can get for 10 bucks or less. Then comes the 20 to 40 bucks market, usually clones, generally great value, using very often steel frames. Then you have the 50 to 120 dollars market, mostly clones again, but of usually very high quality. Steels are generally D2 or 9Cr18MoV, frames are in Titanium, you often have multi-row ball bearing pivots and plenty of niceties but still clones and having sometimes quality issues. Then you have the top layer (tier?) where you still find some clones but mostly originals, prices from 110 to… high dollar, with brands trying to establish themselves, and the materials become usually very fine, with s35vn steel blades, if not m390, nice anodisation on titanium scales, and a level of finish and refinement that usually is significantly higher than on the knives from the third tier…
Among the main actors of that segment you find some brands treading the limit between top level clones and originals, like Samier and Kevin John (seems to want to move upmarket and mostly originals) and then the quality guys, who very often started or also thrive in the production of semi-custom (also called mid-tech) versions of custom knives for the top guys in the West. These are your District 9, Kizer, Reate, Stedemon, Maxace, LW knives, WE knives, and Rike knife… plus possibly others I don’t think of right now.
These brands are often present in the 200 dollars and upward price range, but also try to cover the lower end of the high end spectrum with products that are using lesser steels, liner lock and so while keeping their original designs and are in the 60 to 120 dollars. Rike now proposes a knife that is possibly another way of going down while staying up: they use top level materials but not as cutting edge as their usual stuff, and re-use one of their designs in a simplified construction to celebrate their 2nd anniversary.
Here comes the RK1508-2. The original one was an integral framelock flipper. This one keeps the shape but includes a backspacer with lanyard hole in between two frames of titanium, thus keeping price a bit lower. The m390 Bohler steel is replaced with CPM s35vn, again still top quality and level, but a tad cheaper. The result is a 135 dollar exceptional piece of knife art!
All the complex surfaces and textures on the handle are retained. The general fit and finish is really great. The anodisation job (on mine which is one of the three possible colours, blue/purple, grey and “blackwashed” -which is also applied on the blade) is really superb and the colours are amazing, the oils of your hands change them but they retain a general look that’s fantastic, a bit like the patina on bronze…
The matted finish on the blade give a very nice general look, both refined and rugged, industrial and artistic… But it makes for increased friction on the detent ball and while detent is perfect, flipping authoritative and general action fluid, that introduces a sort of very light grittiness when closing the blade. Which therefore doesn’t fall back in place under its own weight. The only negative I’ve found, and a very very minor one, I must say, which might disappear over time, too.
All in all, I rank it one of my best knives along the Kevin John Venom II and to me its worth every cent I payed for it, and much more.