Ramon Chaves makes some truly bad ass knives. His custom line, the 228 series, is big, bold and tough. Another fixed blade knife maker turned folding knife maker, Ramon takes the success of the custom 228 series to a production level, however, required the assistance of another knife making company- Reate Knives. It used to be that having a Chinese made knife was a laughable offense to knife folk, but things have changed in the last few years. Reate, being that Chinese production company, has been making an incredible amount of knives for quite some time now, for many different designers. And I have to admit, I’m impressed.
Key Specs: Chaves Ultramar Redencion
Making use of today’s standard for high quality knife steel composition, Bohler M390 steel is being utilized on all of the Chaves 229 line of knives. The blade of any knife should be it’s featured attribute, and I’d venture to say that Ramon agrees. This is arguable one of the best looking blades on a folder available today. Our model is the tanto variant, with a hollow ground belly, a flat ground tip, and a perfectly ground swedge at the top. He has decided to leave the grind lines on the blade, with a different direction being used for each grind. This leaves the blade with alternating, sharply directional angles in grind lines, perfectly terminating into the next. Again, bold and beautiful.
But, it’s not all about the looks. This knife is ground extremely thin behind the edge on the belly with it’s hollow grind, but ground slightly thicker behind the edge at the tanto tip, for a little more durability. A distinctly deliberate choice on the grind thickness is such a joy to a knife fanatic like myself. The point at which the primary edge and secondary edge meet, is much closer to the base of the blade than on almost any other tanto bladed folder I’ve had the pleasure of using.
This does two things: firstly, gives the blade a look that is unique, and almost looks more like a traditional drop point, since the tip is so much longer than a standard tanto blade. Secondly, it allows for the blade to have it’s first of two tips much closer to the user’s hand, for opening packages without over penetrating, and a longer tip for hard cutting against flat surfaces. More on this later in the field test, but in summation, the blade shape is utterly useable and graceful, while looking sinister. And the long tanto tip is also not completely flat, allowing some sliding cuts to be made without only using one of the available blade tips.
And to completely switch up the praising of the blade, the jimping is insanely sharp, deep, uncomfortable, and overly aggressive. You might retort to this statement with, “Well, shouldn’t it be, on a knife that looks like this”? And to that, I’d have to agree, within reason. Can’t something look tough, aggressive, and strong, without feeling as such in the hand? If the edges were just chamfered a little more, or maybe even just filed off a hair at the factory, the overly intrusive sharpness to the user’s thumb may have been spared. It’s little details like this that need to be addressed in a $350 folding knife, in my opinion.
Deployment / Lockup
Oh, what a joy. I don’t know how else to summarize deploying the Redencion. I’m one of the most picky knife users in terms of detent, and this knife is absolutely perfect. The tension kept on the blade to keep it closed is just enough that the blade can’t be shaken out intentionally, or unintentionally. Which is quite a serious attribute with a 3.63” blade with 0.16” thickness. That specification of blade is almost always victim to a weak detent allowing the blade to come out prematurely. But not with this knife. No, not at all. And, to make things even better, the giant thumb studs are finished with the utmost detail, and are extremely comfortable, even to hands absent of calluses. Of course, many new Chaves users have a bit of a hard time with the detent being too “stiff”, when in actuality, they’re creating extra tension with an index finger inadvertently pushing on the lock bar. Once that user error is overcome, almost every user of this knife enjoys it’s tight detent.
Once the knife is sent flying away from it’s locked position, it comes to a hasty halt at the open position. If you’ve ever had the chance to handle an automatic Microtech Socom Elite, you’ll know what I’m talking about. This translates loosely to, “you better have a damn good hold on that handle or the blade is going to take the knife from your hand”. But, then again, with a knife using a skull clip that’s 2/3 the size of the knife overall, you’ll probably be intimidated enough to hold it like you’re shaking hands with Andre the Giant, anyway.
Granted you’ve made it far enough to buy this chunky, mean knife, and you’ve deployed it with great joy and jaw dropping awe, you’ll find that the lockup is unconditionally solid. Whether slow rolling the blade open (which is possible, despite the strong detent), or flicking the blade open with combative authority, the lock position goes to the same spot, every time. It’s action, detent, and lockup are worthy of the knife’s look, and do not disappoint for this price point.
Features, Fit and Finish
To highlight the features on the Chaves Ultramar Redencion 229 tanto bead blasted Ti Belt Satin knife (yes, that’s the full name), we have the following: titanium, bead blasted handle scales, belt satin blade finish, compound ground tanto blade, internal stop pin, massive skull pocket clip with internal concealed screws, ceramic bearing pivot, steel lock bar insert, and 6.5 ounces of hell-bound, bad ass looks. So, how does it all come together?
Very, very well. The fit and finish of this knife is impeccable. The handle scale chamfering is subtle and smooth, and all edges (except for the forgotten jimping) follow the same theme. Even the enormous, gargantuan pocket clip is smooth on it’s edges. One aspect of machining that seems to get very little attention is a tight gap in the lock bar cutout. On knives like Chris Reeve Knives, you’ll see a very large gap between the handle scale and the integral lock bar. On Reate’s variant of the 229, you’ll notice just a hairline cutout. That kind of machining takes precision, dedication, and tight tolerances. It’s not necessary, but it isn’t without function, either.
With a lock bar that has nowhere to move with the blade locked open, the lock bar cannot move front to back. At first thought, that sounds like a detail that doesn’t deserve recognition. But, look over at the infamous, evergreen Sebenza, and the new variant (the 31), has significant blade movement in the lock bar flex with the blade deployed. I still hold to my guns that the Sebenza does not have a problem, and will not unintentionally unlock on a user’s hand unless significant, deliberate force is executed, but it’s something to compare this knife to. If you’re going to “update” a 31 year old knife design, why not add some bullet proof tolerance machining like Reate is doing? It’s just one of many points to highlight how well made the Redencion is. All parts of the knife seem to fit the same as the precision found in the lock bar cutout, and have no wavering points of tolerance or quality.
But, I’d have liked to see a bigger stop pin. That is one heavy blade to be flying open at the speed of light, and slamming into a small stop pin. The stop pin is also not screwed in at any point, and is only sitting in a recess in each handle scale for it’s positioning. The construction of the backspacer is the same, and seems to make much more sense in a part of the knife that sees no moving parts. Having a stop pin that’s fairly small in diameter, and is not secured by anything other than the compression of the installed scales seems lackluster. Internal stop pins are usually integral to a liner, or scale, or some other part of the knife, not just free floating. But hey, who am I to judge? It seems to hold up well with my use, and nothing in the lockup changed after disassembling and reassembling this knife.
So let’s get out and use this thing! What a cool knife. I really didn’t know what to expect after taking it out of the box. My first instinct was to deploy it, note it’s amazing, free falling action, and put it on the table for later, leaving no threat to my daily carry large Inkosi. But I walked by it a few minutes later, scoffing at the pocket clip, but somehow still wanting to check it out. Flicking it open, letting it drop shut, repeating over and over… it started to click with me. Was I channeling my inner youth, finally admitting I still like stuff with skulls on it at nearly 40 years old? Was it the pump action shotgun sound of the blade locking open? Was it the sinister tanto blade looking back at me, begging to be enamored and used? Well, simply, yes. To all these things. It’s just a cool knife, and turned out to be a great user.
A pocket clip with as much presence as this had better do a good job of keeping such a heavy knife in place in the pocket. And it does. It’s very tight, so if you’re one to be bothered with using a little muscle to get your knife out of your pocket, expect to be disappointed with the 229. The clip has just as much tension as it does intimidation. But to complicate things a little, the lock bar relief cutout is on the exterior of the scales, allowing instances of the knife snagging a little on it’s way out of the pocket. Not a huge deal, but a deal nonetheless (to quote Mr. Nick Shabazz).
Once you’ve decided to make an enemy out of that cardboard box sitting in the garage, the 229 will aid in the decimation of it’s existence with great joy. I felt the knife smile along with me when slicing down long cuts of the enemy’s extremities; this thing can cut! I’ve used so many knives, when I handle one with great cutting geometry, it really shows. Mr. Chaves has designed a blade that is really a jack of all trades.
Something else I’ve found myself testing knives on is 3/8” twisted sisal rope. It’s nasty stuff. It doesn’t like to cut easily, and takes the apex down in sharpness quickly. This knife scoffed at the rope’s attempt to combat the steel’s apex. The thin grind on the hollow section as well as the edge on the tanto tip’s flat grind both chewed through the rope with acoustic glory. There’s something tantalizing about the sound of that kind of rope being sliced in one fell swoop. I made a bunch of cuts of the sisal rope, cut down some boxes, and checked the edge. Knowing M390’s capability, I knew it wouldn’t be very challenged by these materials. But, I’ll usually find some glinting or snagging on a test of newspaper. But alas, I did not. This steel sure feels like it’s heat treated very well. With an edge this acute with such a thin grind, I expected slightly lower performance of the Redencion’s edge. I was proven wrong in the testing.
I’ll admit, the tanto blade shape isn’t for everyone, and this knife’s blade isn’t designed with food prep in mind. But I tried it anyway. Depending on the medium, of course, the Redencion may or may not be conducive to cutting the given material. Apples, for example, split readily upon cutting, rather than slicing neatly. Small potatoes (or large for that matter) aren’t something I’d suggest tackling with the Ultramar series. Cutting up a cooked steak, or slicing some celery should be good to go, but I think we all know that a knife more synonymous to leather biker vests and fixed blade knives with knuckle dusters isn’t meant to be a lunch room companion at the office. But if tough EDC is in your repertoire, you’ll likely be happy with this mean little folder. It’s surprisingly comfortable in the hand, too. The clip looks as if it would take away any chance of comfort that could have been found in a tight grip, but looks can be deceiving.
All these knives available at BladeHQ.Chaves Knives makes quite a few offerings in their lineup. One closely related brother to the Redencion, while still utilizing almost all the same build materials and styling. The Liberation is the same price, at $350, uses the same M390 steel, and has nearly the same finish on the handle scales. It’s blade length is a touch shorter at 3.4” vs the Redencion’s 3.6”, and is 5.9 ounces vs the Redencion’s 6.5 ounces. Closely related, these knives could be a choice of the viewer’s aesthetic preference, with either being the right choice in almost any case. The handle thickness is slightly less on the Liberation, at .52” opposed to the .55” found on the Redencion, but at that close a measurement, it’s really a wash.
And, if the Chaves Custom 228 isn’t available (which it usually isn’t), and you don’t want an even heavier, bigger knife that the 229, the Reate New Torrent is another viable option. Coming in at the exact same price tag, this is one of Reate’s in house designed knives. 3.6” of RWL-34 steel is used for the blade’s clip point style composition, and a multi-row bearing system is used for the pivot system. This one gains a point in ambidextrous ability, what with it being a flipper knife for deployment, but retains the dual thumb studs found on the Chaves knives. At about 6.1 ounces, this shimmering beauty is comparable in most ways to the Redencion, save for it’s graceful looks when compared to the 229’s evil styling.
As the saying goes, don’t judge a book by it’s cover. And as far as the Redencion is concerned, don’t judge a knife by it’s clip. A lot of people do, and I must admit, I understand it. The clip is a huge factor in this particular knife (as it is in all of Chaves knives), but if you can allow it to grow on you, or maybe you really like it at first glance, it becomes a part of the knife that is engrained in it’s identity.
As Ramon says, it’s ok to not like this knife because of the clip. But it’s not going to change, and there will not be an alternative to it. Moving past that one aspect of the knife, you can see and feel the quality before you. It’s bold, sleek, tough, and likes to be used. It’s pocket jewelry to some degree, but to a much higher degree, a knife that justifies it’s price, and shows a maker’s skill and love for the hobby in a way that isn’t seen often these days.
- Extremely good action, great blade for use and looks, solid as can be, good value for the price.
- Arguably tough to stomach pocket clip, on the heavy side for EDC use, conspicuous in all possible ways.