Today we’re fortunate to get our hands on something special from Reate knives, in the Reate K-1 flipper. A famous quote by George Steinbrenner that comes to mind when we think about David Deng of Reate goes something like this: “Winning is the most important thing in my life, after breathing. Breathing first, winning next.” Perhaps David is born to produce precision products executed extremely well off a production line. He is winning the battle of “who makes the best production knives” in our opinion. The K-1, another winning knife in a slew of knives produced by Reate is another example of this greatness.
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It is hard to express in words the consistent amazement we have every time we get a new Reate knife and find that each one is just a bit better compared to the last. Warning, this review of the Reate K-1 folder is a one-sided love fest for the K-1 Solo Jack design style knife. Perhaps you have already figured that out? If you care to read about all the amazing elements of this knife, stay with us. If you would rather just bail out now knowing that the Reate K-1 is all that and a bag of chips, be our guest… Just know either way, if you read this entire review you may feel compelled to buy a Reate K-1 immediately – So, reader beware.
- Blade Length: 3.87″
- Overall Length: 8.75″
- Closed Length: 4.87″
- Weight: 4.9 oz
- Blade Material: M390
- Handle Material: 6Al4V Titanium with Carbon Fiber Inlays
- Locking Mechanism: Frame Lock
- Deployment Mechanism: Flipper
- Country of Origin: China
- Price Range: About $400
This knife goes way beyond the specifications written on a piece of paper. Note that Damasteel RWL-34 is available on the blade for some model variants of the K-1.
We received the Reate K-1 with the general expectation that the titanium and carbon fiber clad medium to large flipper would be a good knife. What we were not expecting was that the level of execution would be as high as it was. This is a very attractive knife. It is not ostentatious, nor is it overtly styled in any way worth mentioning. It is however extremely attractive with perfect fittings of parts, and an overall design that just works. The subtle details of this knife allow you to really enjoy all the elements that needed to come together to make it attractive.
Partial satin polished lines of the dark stonewashed titanium handle provide piping effect that almost looks like it is another piece of metal fit into the titanium as an inlay. This type of touch is exactly what differentiates Reate from so many other production knife companies today.
The same sort of thing goes for the pocket clip that is also mostly satin polished, and looks amazing on this knife. The carbon fiber inlays are of very high quality and showed no voids or divots at all. And the solid back spacer is rounded and just ever so slightly raised up above the handle of the knife to notice its presence, but not be uncomfortable. As we held the knife for the first time we also felt that the clip was positioned in just the correct spot as to not bother or disturb most grip positions. The knifes ergonomics felt completely dialed in.
Other details that add a touch of special flare include the rounded spine of the blade, and the contoured edges around most of the handle. As for the action, we will save that for the “Feel in Hand” section, but rest assured, the 3.85 inch M390 modified drop point blade is able to make a quick appearance whenever it wants to.
Feel in Hand
The feel of the Reate K-1 is smooth for the most part, and everything is rounded off with no hard edges or corners anywhere to be found. This allows the Reate K-1 to be very comfortable in the hand, as well as in the pocket. At 4.93 ounces, the K-1 is not a particularly heavy knife considering the size of the 3.85-inch blade. The low weight can be directly attributed to the milling out of the interior titanium from the frame, along with the additional elements removed from the frame where the carbon fiber has been placed.
The Reate K-1 felt extremely well balanced, and we maintained a comfortable grip throughout our time with the knife. We spend about one week with the knife before we decided to start writing this review. During that time, we flipped the K-1 more times than we could likely count. It flips like a dream. It maintains a classic Reate flip opening action, with the detent dialed in just right. This knife, like many others from Reate ride on ceramic bearings, however the K-1 seemed slightly smoother than our previous experiences.
The Reate K-1 was also fast. It deploys very quickly, and the pocket clip is well done as well. This also aids in being able to quickly get the knife in hand from the pocket position so the blade can be flipped open. The flipping action of this knife is indeed rather addictive. The larger size blade allows the knife to close extremely smoothly as well – just be careful to pay attention or you might just cut your finger off as the blade can easily guillotine it.
The lock of this frame-lock design is also very well executed and comfortable. Like many other Reate examples, the lock contains a steel lock-bar insert that also works as an over-travel stop. It is very effective, and rather well placed such that it is not easy to spot.
Two pieces of minor criticism we can throw at the knife design relate specifically to usability. This large folder is somewhat hard use in overall design, but does not contain usable jimping. The spine of the blade offers a few extremely shallow lines that seem more useful as finger guide marks to determine where your fingers are located, and less like a usable part of the knife to help gain positive traction while cutting. Less subtle jimping would have been our preference.
The other item that is worth mentioning as a negative relates to the flipper tab in the closed position. As we discuss in more depth below, cutting is a joy with the K-1, but hard-use cutting with gloves can be slightly problematic because the blade flipper tang is a little short for a hard use tool. For flipping open, the tab is just fine, but in the open position, the finger tab acts as a partial finger guard. As such we would prefer a slightly longer tab to accommodate for functionality as a finger guard. With gloves on and strong forward cuts, the longer the guard the better. On the flip side, a longer flipper tab may cause the tab to stick out more on the closed position, and be less comfortable in the pocket. These are the trade-offs a designer likely makes consciously and by no means a significant flaw.
Real World testing
The K-1 appears to be a semi-hard use folder, capable of taking a beating. It also seems like it could be used for self-defense if needed. Though the lack of jimping would turn us off from the latter. During our week of testing this knife we wanted to take the approach that the K-1 was more than just a pretty face. At about 400 dollars, it is not a cheap knife by most people’s definition. As such, we doubt many people buying this knife will tend to hard-use it. But our testing was ripe for K-1 assault. We needed to see what it could handle.
We started with a standard rope test. Our rope of choice is twine. It is easy to get, and it can come in big spoils, plus we tend to use it often around the house. We cut about 12 feet of twine on a BOOS cutting board surface. At the start of our test, the knife was very sharp, but with some visible micro-serrations that may either help or hurt with this type of test. The blade was dead center in the middle of the handle, and lock-up was rock solid. We wore standard workman style gloves, and began to cut.
The first 2 feet were like cutting through soft butter. The next few feet were almost as easy. But at about 5 or 6 feet of cutting the rope with one inch between each cut we started to get a bit tired. The knife was just a bit less toothy and that made us work a bit more. It was at about this point where auto-pilot sets in, and the mind starts to wander. Well at about 9 feet we performed a forward motion cut like we had probably 500 times before that one, except this time our finger slipped past the finger guard and right near the blade by the ricasso area.
I should mention that the ricasso, if any at all is extremely small, and still sharp. Thankfully, I was not cut since the gloves took the brunt of it. I also stopped before I could put all my weight down on it. It is certainly a case where this was more user-error and not really tool error at all. Needless to say, the next 3 feet or so of rope were more precise, and less haphazard. Regardless of all the drama, the knife was a cutting champ, and was still sharp enough to cut paper, and a tomato at the end of the test.
With the ‘you idiot’ moment firmly behind us, we continued to other testing. This time, the test would be less repetitive, and more deliberate. By that we are referring to culinary kitchen duties. First up, Melon.
Melon cutting is not for the faint of heart we might add. It takes a certain skill, and sometimes does not require the sharpest of knives. We decided not to sharpen our Reate K-1 after the rope test just to see how it would handle in a slightly less sharp state. The K-1 made small work of the Melon. We continued as we were preparing for a small BBQ party. Cutting of breads, vegetables such as cucumbers, carrots, and celery all seemed pretty good. Though this knife is by no means a culinary designed tool, it proves that a well-executed product can serve in multiple ways. The hollow ground blade is good for some things in the kitchen, and not for others. We can certainly say that the Reate K-1 would suffice if needed for use as a camping tool, or culinary utility knife if needed. Just keep in mind that the handle can get a bit slick when wet.
Lastly, we performed our all to familiar box cutting test. It really is amazing the number of boxes one can accumulate after shopping several different days on Amazon. We had some boxes to break down, so we lightly sharpened the Reate K-1, and gave it a very quick strop. We once again used gloves for our testing. 8 boxes were needed to be cut down for recycling, none all too large though. The Reate performed well, cutting with a good bite on the blade as it slid through the cardboard. It seemed a bit above average, and the hollow edge performed well for this test. The edge also held up very nicely. Not the absolute best carboard cutter in the world, but pretty good to say the least.
This is the part of the review where I make effort to provide some comparisons with other knives that can be cross-shopped with the Reate K-1. Here I’ve also shared some lower cost alternatives.
Rike Thor 2 (BladeHQ) – The second in the Thor series from Rike is arguably the closest compare with the K-1, though it’s hard to come by these days just like many of Rike’s popular offerings. The Thor 2 is similar in dimensions but weighs noticeable more at 6.1 oz (perhaps it’s major drawback) and sports a modified tanto blade. Still, it’s a very attractive piece and executed extremely well by Rike who is well known for their attention to detail. Check out my full review here to learn more. Runs about 400 bucks retail.
Zero Tolerance 0055 (Amazon) – The American made ZT 0055 is based on a design from Gustavo Cecchini’s Airborne model that costs at least two thousand dollars generally. This all titanium flipper provides 3.75-inch CPM-S35VN steel that is stonewashed, and 3D machined 6AL4V titanium handles like the Reate K-1. But the ZT 0055 offers a unique twist to the flipper craze, implementing a partially hidden spring loaded flipper tab rather than a standard flipper tab seen on just about every other knife. This SLT system allows the flipping action to feel alive and new, while still technically being a manual flipper folder. At about 220 dollars street price, this is something of a unique option to have something a bit different without spending thousands of dollars on the custom from Gus.
Maxace Balance 2017 (BladeHQ) – Another knife we reviewed recently was so well received, and offered such a good value proposition we felt it made for a good value option when cross shopping a medium to large size folder. The Maxace balance 2017 was the black horse of folding flipper knives that did everything well, sports a 3.7 inch M390 blade steel, and a contoured titanium handle. At a street price of around 250 bucks, this is a knife that is worth thinking about.
WE Knife Co. 707B (BladeHQ) – The WE Knife Ntida flipper features a stonewashed 3.54 inch S35VN two-tone blade, dark stonewash titanium handles with carbon fiber inlay. With a street price of about 250 bucks, this knife is a very good mid-size contender with high level finish fighting above its weight class. For those looking to spend a bit less, and want a slightly smaller knife, along with slightly lighter weight at 4.23 oz. the WE Knife 707B could be a winner.
Truth be told we can’t get enough of Reate Knives. We already have a bunch and still yearn for more. As good as each model is, Reate knives finds a way to make each new model that little bit better. Design, production, and collaboration points all seem to never miss. David Deng appears to be making the right choices day in and day out.
As for the Reate K-1, it’s simply a wonderful production folding pocket knife. If you are a fan of amazing things, large folding knives, and demand the best of the best, the slightly sub 400 dollar Reate should be on your buy it now list.
David Deng is obviously on the winning side of production knife making. The K-1 is yet another example of this in epic physical form. The Reate K-1 is now one of our top 5 production knives ever. We can’t wait to get our hands on the Reate K-2 and K-3 models… We bet most of you can’t wait either.
The Good: Immaculate fit and finish, superb balance, first class action, stunning
The Bad: Lacks usable jimping
Bottom Line: Another beautiful flipper from Reate setting the bar on production folders
Get it at BladeHQ