Remember the CH3504 that impressed so much for its quality and price, for a great s35vn blade at under $100? Well, the company has done it again. Another original design, with great quality, titanium flipper obviously, this time at a bit more (still less than $125) but they’ve upped the ante by replacing the s35vn (already a great steel) by the current “top steel” or at least one of the contenders for the “king of knife steels” throne, the mighty Böhler-Uddeholm M390 microclean. Lets have a look at that “very high end folder at a medium price point” !
The scales have also been updated. No more skull (it was great but not everyone’s cup of tea) but a very complex 3D geometry of multiple surfaces with three different surface textures. Two variants of the “micro stripes” with different angles applied on the flat surfaces on the sides of the handles, one “satin flat” finish applied to the edges and the backspacer and a “orange peel” texture (which I had not seen until this day on anything but custom pieces. Maybe on some very high-level midtechs?).
The pivot is a custom affair, clean but good looking with a touch of deep blue. The rest of the hardware is limited in quantity but reeks of quality! Adjustments are great, too. No play, no gaps, no nothing.
The blade follows the same pattern. It’s a simple general shape, American tanto-ish, but with a little twist here and there. A tad of drop-point here, a swedge at the top, a bit more belly than usual to the forward edge, all that.
The finish is very fine bead blasting, I’d reckon. Matte and again clean and simple. The markings are limited to the company new logo (I’m not the biggest fan, but there’s more personality than in the old one) on one side with the model name, and the steel name on the other side. All of these being rather unobtrusive.
As the pictures reveal, the thing is a titanium frame lock flipper with a steel insert in the frame lock that doubles as an overextension preventer (something of a standard these days). Lock up is firm and there is no blade play, lock-rock, lock stickiness or anything one could complain about. The lock is early but not too much (I’d say 30%).
The action is very smooth. Very, very smooth. It is said that there are “ceramic ball bearings”… well, I’m not sure what they’re made of, but they sure work, and better than in many high level knives too. It’s one of those where, passed the detent ball, the blade falls back in place under its own weight, without you having to shake the knife to make it happen. It flips open in an authoritative way, too.
Obviously the blade centring is very good (the picture gives a false idea that the blade slightly favours the clip side, but that’s just an optical illusion, I guess caused by the light source position), the gaps around it when closed are minimal, the whole thing could make a Chris Reeve Sebenza look almost like a “sloppily put together simplistic low level knife”. Speaking of clips, this is a sculpted, 3D contoured master piece of a pocket clip. And one that works very well, goes on most pockets easily and holds on very well. A big win!
If there’s anything I was not immediately in love with in this piece, it’s the back spacer. I love them large, long and bold, running almost all the way to the pivot. However, I must admit that the small ones, like here, make for an easier cleaning and that the knife being so tight, the chances of random stuff in your pocket coming in and messing with the sharpness of the blade are quite limited. And being M390, it’s also quite unlikely that we carry anything that will be hard enough to dent the edge or something. Still, I wouldn’t have been against 2 or 3 cm more of backspacer protection…