Chris Reeve’s Sebenza 31 is their newest iteration of a hugely popular series of very high-end and high-priced pocket knives.
Considered a “grail” knife for many enthusiasts, the Sebenza is often considered one of the best workhorse knives for the money, before one gets into even higher-priced custom knife territory.
I’ve been curious about the Sebenza 31 ever since it came out, wondering again if this new and high-priced knife delivers on its reputation.
These knives start at $375 for the small Sebenza 31, and $450 for the large. Shown above is one with a black micarta inlay. There are other inlays, including with exotic woods, and “unique computer graphics” models with machined and colored highlights that offer striking decorations.
The Sebenza 31 is a new model, with rolling releases taking place over the past few months.
It’s not an easy investment – at least in my opinion – even as an editorial review expense.
My focus on the next few months will be on more affordable EDC folding knife options, but it might be interesting to see what the newest Sebenza 31 offered in contrast and comparison to knives priced far lower.
But oh, the controversy!
There are several YouTube videos and a long thread at BladeForums, detailing a (new?) “rock lock” issue, where pressure placed on the open blade spine can cause movement of the locking system.
Someone asked Chris Reeve Knives about it, and was told that this is a feature and that it’s perfectly normal.
The community at large seems to find this incredulous, that “lock rock” couldn’t and/or shouldn’t be a “normal” feature or consequence of the different locking mechanism.
It seems that the issue or controversy, or both have led a number of would-be buyers to hold of their purchasing decisions, presumably temporarily until things play out. It’ll likely take a couple of months of enthusiasts comparing notes before that decision trend changes.
What’s interesting about this, is the relationship between Chris Reeve Knives, a small but big brand in the knife world, and users. After reading much of the thread and watching some videos, it seems to me that the direct observations are a part of users and would-be buyers’ frustrations, and the lack of communications makes everything worse.
From what I gather, as I haven’t followed Chris Reeve Knives news, the company founder stepped down and now his son is leading things, with some enthusiasts pointing the finger at him for this situation.
There are grumblings about how the company went from “aerospace tolerances” to “lock rock is a feature by design.”
Complicating things, users are experiencing slight differences, which could indicate they’re testing their new knives in different ways, or poor repeatability between copies.
Controversies seem to be periodic occurrences in enthusiast tool and gear industries, but this one is peculiar, as it’s centered around a brand that’s typically unequivocally loved by users.
I’ll make it a point to check back in a couple of months to see which direction this all heads into.
In the meantime, here are some reviews of USA-made knives, several of which you could buy for the price of a single “plain” Sebenza: