This past July, I came across an unfamiliar brand when browsing BladeHQ, one of my favorite knife retailers. Stedemon. The knife in question was the Deep Sea Monster, which retailed for $279 (according to my Amazon wishlist). It’s now $189.
The Bastion, shown above, is one of their newer designs, and offers more premium features. It has a $336 price tag.
Surely, at such prices, these knives are made in the USA, or maybe Japan, right? Wrong!
I couldn’t dig up a lot of information, but it seems that Stedemon is a relatively new company that designs and manufactures high quality knives in China.
Stedemon does not seem to be very popular or well-known, at least not yet. I could only find a few reviews of Stedemon knives, but they seem to be quite positive.
I more recently learned about Reate, another Chinese brand, by knifemaker David Deng. Reate knives are too large for my preferences, but they have a new smaller blade model coming out soon – the Wave – that I will be paying close attention to.
The Reate District 9 Plus knife, shown above, retails for $269.
There are a LOT of opinions about Reate knives out there, with many of them being extremely positive. If you look at enthusiast forums and other sites, Reate knives seem to be widely acclaimed, despite being a relatively new brand in a very competitive market.
I have seen some very high quality knives come out of Taiwan, such as my Spyderco Techno, Spyderco Southard, and Spyderco Domino knives that I reviewed here. And I have seen some nice knives come out of China.
I bought a small and relatively inexpensive designed-in-China fixed blade knife a few years ago, and aside from a defect in the first knife’s sheath, it was spectacularly made.
But it was somewhat of a surprise for me to discover $200+ knives coming from Chinese brands and designers, and even more surprising to see knife enthusiasts widely welcoming these brands, looking past COO.
Even if you’re not in the market for a high-end knife, this shift in enthusiast mentalities might open the doors for other designers to emerge.
I do consider where products are made, but I don’t value COO higher than quality, features, or function. If I’m looking to buy a new knife, and a Chinese brand has a superior offering at competitive pricing, I’ll consider it.
We’re perhaps at a turning point here. Something similar has happened in the LED flashlight market, with brands such as Fenix offering very high quality products. There are a couple of USA-based brands, such as FourSevens and Zebralight, that also produce very high quality flashlights in China.
Have you tried either of these 2 brands yet, or know of any others that are making waves (no pun intended)?