Finding the right balance between a lightweight and a solidly built EDC can be surprisingly difficult. Even more hard to find is an affordable option once you actually think you have found a knife that meets those needs. For years, we have been in search of the so-called “perfect” EDC which by very nature is a silly pursuit. With all that said, we would like to introduce the knife we’ve been carry for over a week called the Maxace Balance 2017.
Get it at BladeHQ
Truth be told, we have not had all that much experience with the Maxace brand. We have seen a few models come and go but have never lusted over one of the Maxace models before. That has changed now that we had a chance to get up-close and personal with the Balance from Maxace.
- Blade Length: 3.62″
- Overall Length: 8.3″
- Closed Length: 4.75″
- Weight: 4.2 oz
- Blade Material: M390
- Handle Material: Carbon Fiber
- Locking Mechanism: Frame Lock
- Deployment Mechanism: Flipper
- Country of Origin: China
- Price Range: About $250
When we removed it from the light blue case we uncovered something that looked extremely good. We stared at the very well finished carbon fiber and all indications were that this Chinese produced knife was well designed. We turned the knife over to reveal a flame anodized titanium with matching 3d sculpted pocket clip. What a pleasant surprise that we felt the knife was very attractive. More importantly for a user’s EDC, the knife felt comfortable and very light for the size. We will get more into that shortly.
The Maxace Balance 2017 is a medium to medium-large sized flipper style frame lock flipper. At about 4.18 ounces, this knife feels big in hand, but it also feels light in the pocket which makes for a great EDC combination with limited compromises. As a flipper this knife had just the right ergonomics. Everything looked right. The flipper tab was well placed, located parallel to the monogrammed pivot. The 3.625 inch stonewashed Bohler M390 stonewashed drop point blade looked like it was ready to work. We were really excited to see how the Balance performed.
Feel in Hand
The best part about the Maxace balance is that it feels just right. It is akin to the Goldie Locks of knives. It seems to have a perfect size of 8.375 inches when opened. When closed, it is comfortable in pocket with the above average pocket clip that is well executed. The tip up carry clip is not a full deep carry, so if that is a requirement for you, this knife may not fit the bill. However, for us, we tend to like folders that are easy to get out of the pocket. And except for only a very few knives, deep carry clips do not allow that to happen all that easily.
Let’s talk how the knife feels when it is deployed. The one word that tends to come to mind is “smooth”. Everything is effortless, from the flipper deployment to the frame lock retraction of the blade. It all works very well, and was executed exactly as it should have been. Meaning that everything lined up just right. The blade was collectors center, the lock-up was at about 30 percent, and no blade play existed in any direction at all. The knife felt tight, and the knife felt assured.
The blade being a 3.625 inch M390 drop point configuration is not all that heavy. Additionally, the detent was dialed in very well, but was not all too strong. These things resulted in the blade opening extremely well, however not extremely fast. It felt casual and consistent, but not a blade deployment for those who are looking for the fastest of flippers, or for pure defensive carry options.
This knife was not over built. The blade stock, and the handles where of good width, but not overly thick. For people who want to have a very carry friendly EDC but still want a medium to large folder that can perform almost any normal job accomplished, this knife will be most appealing. It also looks nice, though not overt or polarizing in any way.
At first glance, the blade edge seemed fine, nothing to write home about, but also nothing in need of correction. Once we gently touched our thumb to the edge we felt the edge was well angled, and though likely machine finished, seemed to need absolutely no touching up before we started to test the knife.
Real World testing
Ah, yes! Test time. The brutality of unnecessarily compromising a knife purely for test purposes, and maybe a bit for the morbid enjoyment of knowing we could. We carried the Maxace Balance 2017 for about 8 days. In that time, we had several projects that needed to get done. What that meant for the Balance was that it was going to get some serious working out.
Over the course of our time with this Maxace, we had it taking care of cutting tasks for our outdoor deck cleanup, repair, and remodel. We also had it for our remodel of our laundry and mud rooms. It continued with us to gardening work, as well as to less intensive but an equally stressful child’s birthday party where we volunteered to assist in opening the boxes, and plastic cases entombing over-priced Chinese made toys. The point is, we used it for everything. It was completely up to the challenge too. It even cleaned up nice, and the blade barely looked as though we had cut with the thing.
We could not resist performing some rope cutting tests with this knife. Keep in mind, the knife is only a hair over 4 ounces, so it may not perform on paper as well as some blade heavy knives that simply fall onto rope. Anyway, we took about 8 feet of paracord and informally started at about 1 inch thick cuts at a time. We did not use any gloves and did not compare it to any other knife during the test. The Maxace Balance was a surprising performer. It was not the best cutting knife we have ever used. It was not the sharpest knife we have ever used, but it was certainly an easy and capable knife to use. It cut all 8 feet of rope and still could have likely cut more with relative ease.
Sure, the blade started to feel like the edge was beginning to lose a bit of sharpness after about 6 feet of rope having been cut. That however is rather standard, and quite normal. The M390 steel sharpened and stropped up quickly though, as it was not too worn, even after our test.
In the real world, this knife seems to perform well. Everything we use the Maxace Balance for it does well at. Just for additional fun, we had a couple of old garden hoses that needed to get thrown away. These were old, probably from the 90’s. We thought it might be fun to cut some of that stuff and see what happens. Again, we were not disappointed. The Maxace has a nice drop point shape that makes it easy to cut with for such tasks. Also, the handle seemed to work well for us with gloves on. That is always a plus for us. The Balance made several cuts straight through the first rubber garden hose. At first it just slid right through, completely severing the hose. But ever a number of cuts we started to use slight sawing action to get the knife to break clear of the hose. Though we doubt you will ever need to cut several times though a rubber hose, rest assured the Maxace Balance 2017 would be able to accomplish the task.
Though we did not try the Maxace is the Kitchen, we imagine that it might make for a reasonable camping knife that can hold its own if called to culinary duty. All in all, we were pleased with the performance and overall usefulness of the Balance.
Deciding between pocket knives these days have become rather difficult. So many good choices available these days makes for an almost confusing amount of options. That however is a good thing. Some of the stand outs that we feel are in the same shopping category as the readily accessible 250 dollar street price Maxace Balance include the following.
Zero Tolerance 0562CF – This ZT has been out for a couple of years now. With a carbon fiber scale on the show side, and titanium on the other, this knife is a popular choice for many EDC knife users as a primary carry option. It sports a 3.5 inch CPM-20CV (or in some cases CTS-204P) stainless steel which is comparable to the M390 on the Maxace Balance, but offers a heavier 5.45 ounces for those who like a more beefy knife. At about 240 dollars from reputable online resellers, the 0562CF is especially cool for lefties as the deep carry spring clip can be adjusted and moved to accommodate southpaws.
Kizer V3 – If you are looking for a real bargain of a knife that can compete in a similar league as the Maxace Balance, consider looking into the V3. It is not quite as refined, or as big as the Maxace, but what it lacks in size and finishing, it makes up for in price at only about 120 bucks these days. The Kizer is made in China and offers hollow ground drop point CPM-S35VN stainless steel which is some good usable stuff, and it has titanium handle scales on both sides. Did we mention that like the Balance, the V3 has flame (like) anodization’s on the titanium? It also had a large flipper tab that some may love, but others might hate. Commonly referred to as a having a light detent, this knife will appeal to the budget conscience with a less fussy personality as the knife totals about 5.57 ounces yet comes in smaller when compared to the Maxace balance 2017.
Spyderco Domino – For those seeking a smaller option it might be worth considering the Domino from Spyderco. At about 7.68 inches completely open, the 3.13 inch blade appears larger thanks to its wide drop point leaf aesthetic that sports a full flat grind. This knife can be deployed as a flipper as well as with the use of the excellent Spydie hole. As for looks, it too offers a handle material of carbon fiber (peel-ply) on the show side, and stonewashed titanium on the other. Like the Kizer, the Domino is lefty accommodating, and the standard spring clip can be moved from one side to the other. At around 200 dollars, this Taiwanese produced knife is a very popular EDC, but does not have the size or looks when compared to the Maxace in our opinion.
Without knowing much about the Maxace Balance 2017, we initially dismissed it as yet another flipper made in China. We will know from now on not to dismiss Maxace products again, especially the premium models they produce such as this one.
We will not say that the Maxace Balance 2017 was perfect in any one way or category. It is the opposite in some ways that makes it so compelling to us. The knife performed average to above average in everything we did, and in every single test we could perform. It did not excel at any particular area. Therefore, the knife was not an overt amazing anything. The Maxace balance 2017 It is like the saying goes, “jack of all trades, master of none”. This to us in the knife world is a wonderful thing. The knife proved to contain the most important element of any EDC, and that is consistency and ability to be good at everything – we really do mean everything.
We are not sure if the design of this knife was intended to be an all-around ‘jack of all trades” or if they just realized it after the fact, but the name Balance truly fits. The Maxace balance 2017 is a balance of many of the greatest traits found on some very expensive knives while still managing to be unique and very usable. We really enjoyed EDC’ing this knife. If you are in the market for a medium sized flipper folder, the Maxace Balance 2017 needs to be on your short list of options to consider.
Maxace, if you are reading this, keep pumping out knives like this one. Bravo!
The Good: Looks great, top materials, well-made, all round performer
The Bad: Flips somewhat slow
Bottom Line: Lacks the ‘wow’ factor but a solid all-round EDC performing well in every dept
Get it at BladeHQ