Sequels are seldom as good as the original. Now consider a 3rd version, and often we find that with each passing iteration things continue to breakdown incrementally. Well, we got our hands on the new Custom Knife Factory (CKF) DCPT-3, also known as the Decepticon 3, and damn! We have to talk!
Key Specs: CKF DCPT-3
We have reviewed a couple of other Custom Knife Factory knives in the past, and the reviews have been very positive concerning both the brand and the items we have received so far. This however is different. It would not be a stretch to say that the first CKF Decepticon was the knife that put Custom Knife Factory firmly on the radar, not to mention added a controversial element to their early line-up.
For those unaware, the original Decepticon (DCPT as it was named by model), was a heavy, complicated, and beefy titanium handle liner-lock style knife based off the custom Decepticon knife made by Alexey Konygin. In appearance, these knives were extremely unique with a futuristic look which was utterly compelling.
They were limited in production, and generally carried a price of about 1100 dollars (including shipping costs from Russia). Though it did not completely resemble the custom version, the style was very unique with titanium abound, that acted as thick scales, liners, and liner lock, along with a really nifty built in backspacer with lanyard hole cutout. This knife was unbashful in its thickness, heaviness and utterly unnecessary nature.
To our knowledge, the original CPM-S35VN clad 4.0” bladed 7.1 oz. Decepticon was, and still is, the most expensive true ‘production’ knife to date (this is not factoring in certain Gold-class Benchmades, which are often partly handmade, or collaborative with custom makers in some respects.) The price and the overall exclusivity of the original Decepticon made this knife very controversial to say the least.
Without getting into the debate as to whether this was a mid-tech or a production item, it is safe to say that the parts were machined in China – as are the current generation DCPT-3 model, along with basically all other parts from every other knife in the Custom Knife Factory line-up. Some say that Kevin John’s machining shop exclusively machines the parts, but that has never been officially confirmed.
Moving on, after about a year passed from the initial prototype release of the first generation DCPT, it was announced that another version of the Decepticon was going to be made – The Decepticon version 2. This model was a drastic departure from the original and seemingly made to address the criticisms concerning the original version.
Changes to the version 2 included a much lighter knife overall, along with a larger 4.375” blade to accompany the lighter weight of 5.98 oz. Additionally, a less complicated yet still consistently futuristic look remained with the titanium scales but somehow more approachable, more usable. Did I mention it was really big, and also much lighter?
Perhaps the best way to describe the differences between the first generation and second generation versions is that the first generation version was a really nice collectible knife, whereas the Decepticon 2 was a model versioned toward users with more practicality and usability, and most important – attainability.
Costs decreased and prices dropped by hundreds of dollars allowing many more enthusiasts an opportunity to get one. Now, the third generation Decepticon DCPT-3 is another take on the Decepticon that seems to strive toward a mid-tech type approach to the newer style custom versions that Alexey Konygin makes currently.
Admittedly, we were pretty lucky and truly excited to be among the first to get our hands on the new Decepticon (DCPT-3). However with that said, we were also quite skeptical about what the potential would be that the 3rd generation version might have anything to offer above or beyond the earlier models we have already seen.
Having heard about the Decepticon 3 several months back, we had hoped that the price would be lower than the DCPT-2. Happily, we were right, with it squarely priced in the low to mid-500 dollar range (535 bucks to be exact… which included shipping). The Decepticon 3 is effectively half the price of the original version model, and give or take about 200 dollars less than the gen 2 DCPT-2 model. Sweet!
Once we got our package out from the mail and opened the box, we were extremely happy to see that the price savings did not translate into a sub-par product. Quite the contrary, this knife seems to have the smoothest feel to the handle comparted to the other versions. It also has an exterior that sports 3 different finishes on the titanium scales. These scales are constructed of titanium plates that were finished with an acid stonewash, a standard stonewash, and some satin areas on the flats.
The DCPT-3 is effectively a thinner version of the original DCPT. These plates as I refer to them as act like the exterior skeleton scale, a center lock bar skeleton design, and a back spacer spine plate that includes the lanyard hole integrated within the design. They are all held together by the flat head customized pivot screw, and another identical looking screw toward the butt of the knife. Nothing too new when compared to the DCPT-2, just a slightly different take on the same concept with an altered execution we certainly can’t fault.
It does however seem to resemble the true custom version much more (the large custom version model). The blade, now with M390 steel instead of CPM-S35VN that was found in the other versions was perfectly stonewashed with polished flats making for a fantastic looking high flat grind on what can only be described as a modified sheeps-foot style design.
The number 11 was proudly etched on our peice to show that ours was the 11th knife in this presumably limited run. Like the DCPT-1 and 2, this is a large knife with a 4.06” blade and 4.92” handle. Weight though is a scant 5.19 oz. and considering the size of the knife we feel it is both rather light and that might just make it usable for an EDC for those daring enough who might like a really big knife style.
We also have the original Decepticon version, and we immediately pulled it out to compare the two side by side. Without question each one has its own personality, and style. Unlike most knives we own, the original DCPT-1 was never used, not at all. It was a collection purchase (for better or worse). Not exactly so with this DCPT-3 model – This version was bought for a purpose of light use and carry.
The looks are great on this knife. But even better, the appearance does not scream ‘collect me’. Rather, it looks like much more of a user and utilitarian knife that might actually be able to get used on a semi-regular basis as an EDC for those so inclined.
A rather big gripe people had with the original was that the thing felt like a brick. It was heavy, and had a bunch of angles that can dig into your hand just by holding it firmly. The pocket clip on the original DCPT was long, and extremely firm to the point of almost unusable. No issue for collectors, but big issues for those few who actually tried (or wanted to try) to use it as something other than eye candy. The DCPT-3 is another story altogether. This feels lighter (though actually slightly heavier compared to the DCPT-2), smoother but still secure with a heft that was manageable, and very ergonomic in hand though by the looks of it would not seem as such.
The scales have holes that make the knife appear to look skeleton-like in many areas, which also accommodate for lighter weight and positive weight distribution of the knife in the open position. The pocket clip, another common gripe on the original was extremely usable on this new version. The clip has a great partly 3D sculpted design and a low sweeping contour that allows the hand to grip at the knife without the clip pressing into your fingers. This is very similar to the custom version Decepticon, and a very welcomed ergonomic touch. Our version used the titanium clip that was acid stonewashed in appearance, whereas we have heard some versions offered a Timascus style (looking) option.
The action was really one of the best parts of the unboxing experience. We flipped the knife open, and like lightning the blade shot out with a thunderous thwack! The blade falls freely back down when closing the knife using the liner-lock mechanism that is quite easy and comfortable to engage.
As we compared the feel to the original, it was apparent that they were both on some really nice bearings, but they did not feel quite the same. Our original version DCPT has a harder detent compared to this new version. Though the DCPT-3 did not have a light detent, I actually think it was more dialed in, and better suited for the knife… but this is subjective and your mileage may vary.
Both feel great to flip and only those really adept at either would likely even be able to discuss a feel comparison in this regard. Truly amazing that a few years later and about 500 bucks less, the DCPT-3 feels like the better flipper in our hands.
Something we did not expect was the front flipper style tab that offers jimping to either act as traction for opening in the front flipper style, or when in the open position which provides a modicum of jimping that is scant seen anywhere else on this knife. Is this actually meant to serve as a front flipper in some respects, we are not sure… but with the right amount of force and some practice it is possible to open in that manner. We would say skip it though as the traditional flipper is a real winner. It is comfortable to flip as a traditional flipper without any need for alternative options in our opinion.
Real World Usage
We would love to tell you that we thumped on the knife and really put it through its paces during the two weeks we carried the knife. Truth is that is far from the truth. We really like this knife… as in a lot! We don’t want to see it get all muffed up by performing some crazy tests that would not reflect our standard use case scenarios. Therefore, we carried the DCPT-3 as a regular pocket knife without any additional drama. We used it for common tasks, had it clipped into our jeans and shorts pockets ready for use during that time.
How it turned out was also rather anti-dramatic. It performed as it should. It was not the easiest carry in the word for EDC, but also not the hardest. In the jeans pocket the clip holds well, and feels pretty good as it is much thinner when compared to the original that is a thick beast of a pocket knife. This was actually pretty pleasant. What was a bit annoying at times was that the lint in the jeans kept getting into the open holes found all over the skeleton style scales. We took the knife out of the pocket more to clean it and remove the lint than we did to actually use it for anything.
As for sharpness, YES! This is very sharp. Thumbs high for a job well done Custom Knife Factory on grinding a really nice edge with a pretty good geometry. Compared to the original DCPT which came (at least in our case) pretty dull with a somewhat un-even grind, this was a dramatic upgrade that was extremely welcome. Of course we cut with it, and we cut some rope, opened boxes, tape, and some packaging material. All performed very well.
If you want to consider this as an EDC, you can. Should you though, I think the argument can be made that it is closer to a general purpose large EDC. I guess that question needs to be answered by each individual owner. Will we use the DCPT-3 as an EDC? At this moment we would say most likely not. But we also have dozens of other more practical pocket knives to choose from. That said, we would certainly carry it on days we are wearing jeans and don’t expect to heavy use our blade. Can it take the abuse, probably, but we don’t really want to find out.
All these knives available at BladeHQ.Finding competitive offerings for such a unique and exclusive type knife is not an easy task. So we have tried our best to provide some that may almost qualify.
Custom Knife Factory DCPT-2 – Okay we know this is sort of a cop-out comparison. But it is a legitimate competitive offering all the same. Though the DCPT-2 is now considered discontinued as is the original DCPT, secondary market offerings, and customized DCPT-2 versions direct from CKF are still available. At about 700 dollars or sometimes much more on the secondary market, the DCPT-2 might appeal to those interested in an even lighter and larger knife. As for the customized versions, all basically above 1000 dollars to start are very cool ways to get custom versions of a production style knife. Keep in mind that the DCPT-3 may also begin to get customized offerings listed by CKF in the near future.
Chavez Redencion 228 – The Redencion folder is a mid-tech offering by custom knife maker Ramon Chavez. Though it looks nothing at all like the DCPT-3 in anyway whatsoever, the concept of the knife is similar. They are both effectively rather heavy and somewhat thick mid-tech knives based off of a custom knife design that carries essentially the same name as the mid-tech versions. They are both titanium handle scaled knives. And they are both polarizing in appearance as either a love it, or hate it look. Beyond that the similarities are pretty slim, but if a smaller 3.25 inch non-flipper thumb studded knife with bearings is your cup of tea, Chavez knives may be creating another batch of these or similar versions of models in the future. Otherwise, start looking for available stock on dealer web sites or on the secondary market. Expect to pay at least 500 dollars for the price of admission… probably more though.
Reate Future – Perhaps one of the only other truly production knives we can think of that may have a price tag ranging from about 500 dollars through about 800 dollars depending on the options is the Reate Future. Again, a very different knife that may indeed set the new bar for production knife capability with an integral frame, and either Damascus or Timascus inlays, this knife is a very unique EDC offering that elevates the game of machined production knives. In this regard, the DCPT-3 and the Reate Future have a commonality. We can’t comment yet on the Future as it is still not available for anything but potential pre-orders, but if what we read is correct, the base versions of the future might compete for the same knife enthusiasts’ dollars when selecting a new knife in the 500 dollar plus range. We would suggest giving the Future a look once it becomes available.
Custom Knife Factory has created an admirable 3rd effort to add to the Decepticon name. The DCPT-3 is definitely a well-made, and now a well-priced pocket knife that can actually be used for those daring enough to do so. At this quality level and at this price point the DCPT-3 should probably be referred to more as a mid-tech and not a true production knife. In almost all ways, this knife is the mid-tech of the custom version Decepticon… that is a really good thing. If you want to get a piece of the true Decepticon custom which is basically impossible to get, consider this. It is 85 percent the knife for about 25 percent of the price. That is a pretty darn good product to value ratio if you ask us.
The Custom Knife Factory Decepticon 3 is not a thousand dollar knife. It is not a supremely well-polished handmade work of art. However, somehow we can’t stop looking at its design. Both the titanium handle scale and the blade are mesmerizing. Add a fantastic action and some exclusivity to the model and brand and this knife is a definite buy for almost all collectors out there. As a user knife and EDC, the argument can be made, and it is much more compelling an argument now. Either way, this knife is wonderful and bucks the common trend that sequels tend to be worse. In fact, in this case we think the third time was the charm.
- Stunning unique looks, M390 steel, beautiful action
- Skeleton design collects lint in the pocket, awkward front flipper
CKF Decepticon 3
Quality/Performance - 83%
Value for Money - 77%
The DCPT-3 is a 'butter-smooth' mid-tech with a mesmerizing design like no other.