How important is a name? Perhaps if we were to receive an RJ Martin custom knife we would like it solely because it has his name stamped on the tin. Perhaps if we received a knife that displayed no name or label we would dismiss it entirely. Is a knife simply better if it comes from a recognizable or established company or brand such as Zero Tolerance, Spyderco or Benchmade?
Get the Rike 1507s at BladeHQ
We certainly caution purchasing products that have not been established in a marketplace, but at the same time embrace the idea of new and unestablished companies with great products creeping out of the woodwork and finding proper homes. Enter Rike Knife stage left. The name alone gives is pause and concern. An improperly syntactical name representative of an entire company and product line such as Rike Knife may indeed seem off-putting.
It was with this healthy dose of skepticism that we purchased a Rike Knife 1507s, a product created by a very new (to those outside of Asia) company located in China. To say we were not expecting much would be an understatement. Sometimes, as in this case it feels good to be flat out wrong.
Rike Knife is indeed based out of China, and is unbashful about that fact. In this ever increasing wave of high end production Chinese knives to hit US shores, several manufactures have been attempting to out-position each other as the preeminent company to trust and purchase from out of the Asian Pacific region. We have seen such brands as Kizer and Reate Knives among others, who have found mainstream appeal with predominately favorable customer opinions and success. Rike knife makes no qualms about wanting to be part of that success story in a big way.
Rike Knife has been putting out high end production knives in the United States for about a year now (and that timeline might even be generous). In that time they have brought forth several different models, and variants of those models. Rike has made limited run models (like our 1507s), and standard production models, sheepsfoot blade models, integral models, and a host of others in a very short time span.
The one thing that can be said for all of them is that the materials used, and the quality of production is as high as any other top tier manufacturer in the world. Dare I say perhaps even slightly better… hmm, we shall see? Innovative design and extremely high levels of quality control make this an extremely legitimate and worthwhile brand to consider within the premium production folding knife arena.
Our Rike Knife 1507s kwaiken folding flipper was one of several color variants available and featured an anodized ‘blue/greenish/gold’ color scheme and included CPM-S35VN blade steel. The 1507s was also done in glorious M390 blade steel but only for 1000 limited production units. Key specifications of our model as listed from a reputable online Rike Knife reseller include the following:
- Blade length: 3.8″
- Overall length: 8.6″
- Closed length: 4.8″
- Weight: 4.1 oz
- Blade material: CPM-S35VN
- Handle material: Titanium
- Locking mechanism: Frame Lock
- Country of origin: China
- Price range: About $300
The drop-point style CPM-S35VN blade of about 3.75” usable length has a sleek long look with a bead-blast finish. For such a modern take on this knife, the blade itself is rather traditional to a standard Kwaiken with its long and narrow blade profile. For the unaware, the term Kwaiken literally means “chest knife” or “bosom knife” – historically carried by wives of the samurai.
We especially liked the edge that was put on the knife from the factory. Our 1507s was about as sharp as you would want any knife to be out-of-box.
Feel in Hand
The joys of a Kwaiken style knife is often the feel of the knife in the closed position, and not so much so when it is fully open. Benefits of a Kwaiken type knife are all about the thin nature of the design and the ability for the blade to sit in the handle virtually flush such that it can’t be seen. This customarily allows for easier concealment of the often larger size blade as compared to similar sized blades of its overall size on other styles knives.
The 1507s is a modern take on a very classic Japanese style design indeed. This Rike knife has an almost futuristic design approach to the lines with very strong angular visual and tactile queues that may make it seem more at home as a prop in iRobot as opposed to the lands of Japan a century ago… But we certainly like it regardless. Perhaps we like it too much. The style is just striking to gaze at, and with our “blue-ish” anodized version which in truth resembles colors more similar to that of green and bronze with blue accents, is still just visually stunning even with these pastel type overtones to the coloration.
As for overall feel in hand, it is slick. Though it has ridges and groves and even some strangely usable potted mark jimping, the knife is not one that commands confidence or comfort in-hand. However, because of its relatively long and thin handle, it is very easy to grab and hold sturdy (though this is not the type of hand position one might normally use while performing an actual cutting task – this design is meant for stabbing motions).
As for the flipper deployment action, oh brother YES!! Are you kidding me? As if some sort of strange magic is at hand, this knife opens and closes like butter. The Rike 1507s is a knife fondler and fidgeters dream. Smooth and fluid action is on par with the best production knives we have seen to date. It is not so much that the knife is ergonomic as much as it just mechanically works the way it should in hand that makes it all the more comfortable and satisfying to hold.
The lock stops on the knife are both aesthetically pleasing in the open position as they follow the lines of the knife, as well as perform without fail. No blade play in any direction we might add. And shall we also mention that the blade was perfectly center, as if this knife was fine-tuned and adjusted by a master during final assembly for perfect detent, centering, and action.
The pocket clip is an amalgam of a 3D sculpted and bent titanium spring design. Not only is the look attractive and matching of the style of the knife, but the functionality is impressive. Ease in and out of pocket usage is almost effortless (in a good way) especially since this is a deep carry clip. This is one of the very favorite pocket clips we have ever used on any folding pocket knife. Sadly, this model only comes as a tip-up right side carry only, so you lefties may feel a bit left in the lurch.
We could not wait to test this knife as an everyday EDC.
Usage and Testing
It can be said that a tool that has gone un-used ceases to be a tool at all. Well, assuming we all agree that a folding knife is a kind of tool, it would be a shame if someone received such a knife and did not see fit to use it as it was intended to be used. Well, at least for us, we can’t resist EDCing cool and different knives such as this.
We carried the Rike Knife 1507s for about 2 weeks as our primary EDC faithfully positioned in our right front pant pocket. Little effort was made to seek out hard user type cutting tasks as this knife is not a hard user, at least not on the surface anyway. We were unwilling to push the envelope with the 1507s, it seems a bit too modern for a rugged do anything knife. However, in the event of a defensive attack, one could make the argument that this may perform well when compared to other pocket folding knives based on the blade size and shape. Again, the history of this style knife was that of a concealable stabbing implement as a kwaikens primary task. With that said we should caution that folding knives are really not the way to go for true defensive carry options, especially ones that have questionable grip, no finger guard, and slightly sub 4” blade reach.
Throughout our time with the Rike 1507s we managed to use it for standard chores around the house and town primarily. All tasks were met with favorable reply by the Rike 1507s as it was capable to be considered an all-around pocket knife user. We had some fun with this knife in the Kitchen, and it performs reasonably well as a paring style knife. Cutting into fruits, cheeses and breads seemed comfortable and composed. Small use in the vegetable garden fared well too, and the shape works nicely in that setting.
Harder tasks such as cardboard cutting did not result in a positive experience on our right hand. We are not talking about opening parcels of boxes, that is just great with the 1507s with that almost daggers point on this drop-point style blade. We are referring to harder tasks. Serious hot spots throughout the knife on the handle made cutting up cardboard and boxes extremely painful. Still, the edge and geometry of the blade shape actually appeared to match very well against cardboard; it was the holding of the handle that caused issue. Even with gloves the knife just did not want to cooperate in our hand, and we ultimately gave up on our efforts to safely process the cardboard and boxes with the Rike. The work did get completed when we moved to a small fixed blade that handled the job with extreme ease.
Ultimately though, the Rike 1507s was a favorable knife to carry, and attracted interest from spectators who could not seem to help but look at it and ask questions – Amazingly, and unlike most of our past experience, attention gained by the 1507s was not that of concern or fear of a knife being displayed in open public, but rather curiosity and excitement. So this knife for whatever reason appears to be partially society and wife approved, and that is a nice plus for a usable EDC.
We have had a bunch of kwaiken style knives in and out of our hands over the past couple of years. The style appeals to us from both a design and usability perspective.
The appeal of the Kwaiken has taken hold on a larger scale as well within the knife community, and the following folding kwaiken style knives make for good comparison shopping:
Todd Begg Steelcraft Series Kwaiken – The productionized offering from Todd Begg Knives in collaboration with Reate have manufactured a take on the custom Sun Tzu Kwaiken folder that Todd charges thousands of dollars for. This knife features a 4” S35VN stainless steel hollow grind blade with 3.75” usable upswept cutting edge. Impeccably finished, the Steelcraft series Kwaiken costs $445 smackers for those who want a taste of what Todd’s custom model looks and feels like. More expensive, and perhaps more known, this is a very competitive knife even north of 400 dollars. See it here.
Stedemon Knife Company SHY – The SHY from another upcoming Chinese brand Stedemon offers several kwaiken model variations to its line-up. Some contain aluminum handles; while others offer TC4 titanium handle scales. The one catch, they are all integral scales. This makes for a very intriguing example of not only a kwaiken design, but one that has managed to bring a one piece handle construction into the design fold of a productionized kwaiken knife. At about 240 dollars for the aluminum version and 440-480 for the titanium models (depending on finish and place of purchase), the SHY knife by Stedemon presents a unique alternative to other kwaiken style folding production knives available as of this writing. We are certainly interested.
Jake Hoback Kwaiback MK4 UHEP – It would not necessarily be a stretch to say that Jake Hoback of Hoback Custom Knives located in the United States put the Kwaiken back on the map in terms of popularity within the knife community. His interpretation of the Kwaiken which he humorously calls the Kwaiback represents a utilitarian and hard use approach to the design. The Kwaiback Mk4 UHEP with a tanto style tip is a mid-tech variant of his widely popular, and incredibly hard to get custom model version. At about 675 dollars to start, this customizable mid-tech represents the upper crust of “semi-custom” offerings, and provides a contrast in approach to the futuristically sculpted Rike Knife 1507s. If you have the resources, and demand the very best, the Kwaiback offers high use functionality and exclusivity that is practically unrivaled in the Kwaiken design class. So if you drink 30 plus year old scotch as a standard regularly, and drive a car that costs almost as much as someone else’s house, the choice may be simple. See it here.
The Rike 1507s is a knife fondler and fidgeters dream.
It can be hard to look past the fact that Rike Knife is a new player in a game that has been going on for quite a while now. It can be even harder to swallow the idea that you might want to put down 300 dollars just to try it out. However, if you consider the materials used, the design, and the execution of the 1507s, about 300 dollars is a bloody steal.
The Rike Knife 1507s is subjectively a victim of bad naming, and offers no brand appeal at this time beyond that of the actual offering provided by the purchase. But seriously, this is a really good knife at a really good price. We admit we were shocked and surprised to not only find the 1507s is a pretty good knife, but a really good knife. We have never claimed to always be right, and in this case we judged wrong (again). But that is in large part the reason why we try things out, and learn what truly works and what does not, regardless of name, popularity, or price.
If this knife was made in the USA, it would likely cost more. But put even that point aside. The real truth is that if the Rike 1507s had a name stamped on it from companies like Zero Tolerance or Spyderco it would sell in droves at a cost likely significantly higher. Even still, let’s put that point aside as well.
A good deal is a good deal – The Rike Knife 1507s is a really good deal, and a really good knife, with a really underwhelming name – but if they keep doing what they are doing, that is certainly going to change.
Pros: Impeccable production quality, first class deployment, beautiful aesthetics
Cons: Uncomfortable on the hands for harder use tasks, clip for tip up right side carry only
Bottom Line: Another outstanding mid-tech offering for those who don’t mind the Made in China sticker
Get the Rike 1507s at BladeHQ