We’ve reviewed a fair amount of Kizer knives here at Knife Informer. They’ve made some really excellent products – like the Feist and the Guru – and they’ve also made some knives that I didn’t get along with, like the Theta.
Some background, though: this is the upgraded Prime variant of the original Begleiter folder which was part of Kizer’s Vanguard value line. The Begleiter (which is German for “companion”) was originally a G10-scaled stainless liner lock with a thumb stud; here it’s reimagined as a titanium handled framelock with a flipper. The original Begleiter was well-renowned for its quality and value for money and no-nonsense nature: around $60, slim and useful. The titanium version is much more ornate, and costs 2.5 times as much as the original. It uses nicer materials, but what benefits do they provide? Let’s dive in.
Key Specs: Kizer Begleiter
The Titanium Begleiter is now offered with two blade options: a drop point and a tanto, but at the time Kizer sent us this model for review the Tanto was the only option available. The blade measures 3.54” long, cut from 0.12” thick blade stock. It has an aggressive hollow grind that’s compound, with an arced transition from the primary bevel to the tanto’s bevel which is visually striking when the light hits it just right.
A deep fuller (groove) runs almost the length of the blade parallel to the spine, and this knife has an American style Tanto – with a pointed transition on the edge – which angles up to a very high, acute needle tip. One thing I’ve been critical of with past Kizers was factory sharpness – no complaints of that here, this knife came razor sharp on both edges out of the box – and it has clean, even edge grinds. It’s not a mirror polished edge like a Hogue, but few things are.
The edges of the spine are subtly rounded so they’re soft to the touch, and the knife has a small sharpening choil. Although the plunge grind intersects the edge behind where the sharpened portion terminates, Kizer has very carefully managed the edge geometry here to avoid any “beard.” The plunge grind itself is beautiful, a near-vertical line that runs parallel to the forward guard of the scale with a hollow radius grind transitioning into the primary bevel. Lots of machining work on this blade, and excellently done.
Blade steel is Crucible CPM S35VN, ubiquitous in the high end market for its balance of edge retention, corrosion resistance, hardness, and ease of machining compared to its predecessor S30V. It’s not exotic any more, but anyone complaining that their knife has CPM S35VN has surely lost the point of what knives are actually supposed to do. It holds an edge well, doesn’t chip easily, and can be sharpened with regular equipment – although the tanto blade certainly makes that more complicated.
Deployment & Lockup
Oh boy, Kizer knows how to make a flipper right, don’t they? That’s less remarkable these days when everyone makes a good flipper – hell, the Gerber Fastball I reviewed a few months ago was an exemplary flipper. But this one is still fantastic. The tab itself is very short, but well-shaped: a slight concave contact surface on the leading edge, a soft transition that doesn’t chew up your finger, and no sandpaper landing zone on the spine where your finger lands either.
Because of the narrow shape of the handle you have to exercise caution to not press into the lockbar with your middle finger, causing the knife to be difficult or impossible to open. Without this extra artificial detent pressure in the way, the Titanium Begleiter flips beautifully – the detent isn’t overly stiff, but the ball bearings are incredibly smooth. The blade will drop shut with just a slight tap of the wrist, a testament to the relatively light detent pressure and smooth pivot cartridges.
Lockup is perfect even after several months of daily use – the Ti Begleiter uses a stainless lockbar insert that’s held onto the titanium lockbar with two screws which serves as the interface between the hardened steel blade and the lock face – this is to prevent galling of the softer titanium surface when it contacts the blade. The lockbar insert also includes a hidden over-travel stop, to prevent you from pushing the lockbar past the open position and losing tension. The Ti Beglieter uses an internal stop pin that’s integral to the blade, which rides on two channels cut into the inner handles to locate the blade in the open and closed positions, so batoning is not recommended. Lockup is fairly early relative to the lock face, and no matter how hard you flip the knife no lock stick has been noted. There’s also no vertical or horizontal blade play whatsoever. The definition of a perfect framelock, which is getting rarer these days.
Features, Fit & Finish
The Titanium Begleiter is a gorgeous, well made knife from every angle, with a bevy of features that surprise and delight – which make it feel like it’s worth the lofty price tag.
First, the handles. These titanium handles are sculpted and contoured, subtly, but in a way that makes the handle feel very natural in the hand. There’s a gentle swell to the middle of the handles as well as intricate machining around the perimeter, a hollow gear-type pattern along the spine of the handle where the slab has been cut away in an artistic relief pattern. A pronounced scallop shaped thumb groove on the show side provides easy access to the lockbar release. The leading edge of the handle spine is cut away at a matching radius to the front of the flipper tab, providing a solid place for your forefinger when you open it. The lockbar relief pocket is external and has a decorative pyramid pattern on it for a little extra bling. For lanyard attachment Kizer stuck with an oval-shaped slot in the rear of the handles, between the two standoffs.
Construction is fairly basic – the knife is open backed and uses two hourglass-shaped standoffs to space the rear of the knife apart, with screws threading in from both sides. Disappointing is the lack of any way to key the pivot barrel to the frame – the Begleiter has Torx screws on both the male and female ends of the pivot and requires a third arm to disassemble the knife properly, a detail that’s not overlooked on some much cheaper folders these days. The blue anodized pivot collars are a nice touch, though. Disassembly reveals some aggressively skeletonized scales which help keep the weight of the knife down admirably (2.89 ounces is quite light for a framelock that measures 8.17” when open!), and a pair of steel washer inserts sit between the bearing cartridges and the inner handles to prevent the hardened bearings from tearing up the softer titanium scales.
The pocket clip is 3D machined titanium as well, configured only for right-hand tip up carry – sorry lefties, there’s not really a nice place to put it elsewhere – which is anchored by two screws, one of which is also the body screw that threads into the rearmost standoff. The contact portion has a curved leading edge which makes it easier to slide into a pocket, and the bridge is relatively thin so it has good flexibility and decent tension strength. I’m still not sold on the functionality of milled titanium clips, but this one works pretty well.
In terms of fit and finish, this knife is above reproach from me. The complex grind on the blade is perfectly symmetrical, and this one came very sharp from the factory. The satin finish blade and bead blasted handle are a nice visual contrast to one another, and evenly applied. Even the milling on the interior pockets is nice, without any burrs or rough edges.
My issues with the Ti Begleiter have nothing to do with build quality and everything to do with intended purpose. This knife has an absolutely gorgeous compound ground tanto blade; the tanto tip is approximately the same width as the entire handle of the knife. Doing any kind of detail work (like cutting a seal off a bottle of oil, or slicing through the bubble part of clamshell packaging) is basically impossible. The whole knife is positioned in a straight line from butt to tip, so it’s not even like the blade is positioned below the handle so it would make a good box cutter- holding it in that direction puts your wrist in an unnatural angle. Broad tanto tips go together with slim, svelte gentleman’s knives like this the same way peanut butter goes with tuna.
It’s exceptionally well made, and exceptionally annoying to try to cut things with in equal measure. Typically a tanto blade is intended to pierce thick objects – what sort of thick material are you going to pierce with this knife, with its slim handle profile, almost total lack of finger guard, and not-so-heavy-duty lock design? I’m not sure. I found myself carrying much cheaper, less fancy knives in lieu of the Begleiter when I knew I was going to have to actually cut stuff. I’ve never liked tanto blades on pocket knives because I go out of my way to not be in a situation where I need to stab through body armor. That’s not how I like to live my life. But a tanto blade makes a lot of sense on a Cold Steel Voyager; it doesn’t make any sense on this 2.9 ounce piece of titanium pocket jewelry.
How’s the rest of it? Well, it carries ok – thanks to the dimensions of the knife, not the pocket clip. The shape of the blade hides entirely in the handle when in the closed position, so not only is this knife light in the pocket but it’s also very thin. The clip is pretty but I’m still not at all sold on the functionality of milled titanium pocket clips – this is a good one, but it’s still worse than a good spring steel clip. The clip also has a tendency to “migrate” even with both screws tightened all the way down, as it lacks a pocket that locates the clip radially on the surface of handle scale. When it does, it normally drops down onto the outer face of the lock bar, which makes the knife sit funny in your pocket and also puts additional tension on the detent.
It’s not as bad as the constantly migrating wire clip on all my Spydercos (old man shakes fist at cloud) but at this price point it’s annoying. Also, I realize this is a knife that prioritizes aesthetics over function to a certain extent, but having a single-position pocket clip always seems like a waste of hardware to me considering 10% of the world is left-handed. Ergonomics on the Begleiter are comfortable but neutral – it only has one shallow finger groove, with no forward choils or thumb ramps or any jimping to be found anywhere. Despite the lack of tactical accoutrement, there’s plenty of traction in the handle thanks to the shape – the swell at the tail locates your pinky and the minor finger groove at the lockbar release holds your index finger.
Maintenance on the Begleiter is a mix – it’s a flow-through design so you can get away with just blowing it out with compressed air and dropping some oil in the pivot, but the non-keyed pivot makes disassembly irritating, and the compound ground tanto blade is complicated to sharpen – you won’t get a good result with a free hand sharpening setup unless you’re a real maestro. The body screws are torx T6 and I think could do with a little bit of heat treating – they feel very soft, and require careful application of torque to avoid stripping the heads out. The pivot screws are much more solid, thankfully. Caged bearings with stainless washers mean you don’t have a pile of tiny balls flying everyone on disassembly like IKBS knives.
All these knives available at BladeHQ.The titanium Begleiter retails for about $170 – and there is no shortage of titanium framelock flippers in this size and price range that compete it. In fact, many of them are made by Kizer, which is a brand that seems awash in SKUs and frequently cannibalizes its own sales. Or maybe it doesn’t, I’m not a business major. For my $170, if I wanted a titanium Kizer flipper, I’d skip the Tanto Begleiter and go straight to the Ray Laconico-designed Gemini. It’s the production version of Ray’s Jasmine custom, a knife that focuses more on minimalist design and usability than the ornate Begleiter. It features a full flat-ground stonewashed drop point in S35VN that measures 3.125” long, the same excellent ball bearing pivot, and smooth contoured titanium handles. It’s a good bit heavier than the Begleiter – 3.6 ounces – but still hardly enough to drag your pants down. It’s universally loved among knife nuts.
Zero Tolerance also makes a knife that competes directly with the Begleiter, the Dmitry Sinkevich-designed 0450. Falling on the smaller side of the ZT lineup, the 0450 has thin, pocketable handles and a 3.25” drop point blade that’s also made from CPM S35VN steel. It doesn’t have a sculpted titanium clip like the Begleiter, but it is ambidextrous – left or right hand tip up. It weighs the same (2.9 ounces) but is around 0.8” shorter overall. Like the Begleiter, it has a ball bearing pivot with caged bearings and a stainless lockbar interface. It’s a fantastic choice for everyday carry, even if it’s the high-end knife equivalent of vanilla ice cream.
WE Knife Co is another major player in the knife market today that also has an overwhelming number of products on the market right now. The Kitefin is a comparable offering, with full titanium handles and a 3.25” drop point in CPM S35VN, a bent deep carry pocket clip that’s ambidextrous tip-down, and a super-smooth ball bearing pivot for about $150.
If you’re looking for a tanto with a slim profile like the Begleiter, the Brad Zinker-designed Boker Urban Trapper 3.5 Tanto is worth looking at. It’s a good bit cheaper at ~$110 retail, but blade steel is VG-10 which doesn’t hold an edge nearly as well. It has a 3.5” tanto blade with a compound grind, a tumbled finish titanium handle with integral framelock, a unique deep carry pocket clip, and a slick ball bearing pivot. It’s extraordinarily light at only 1.78 oz., especially considering the 7.75” overall length.
If you don’t mind the brand’s questionable reputation or rolling the dice with quality and customer service, the Qtrmstr (Quartermaster) Mr. Roper “Eviction” tanto offers remarkable value for money at $120. It has full titanium handle with an integral framelock and a bolt-in stainless lock interface, ceramic ball bearings, a beefy (0.20” wide) CPM S35VN blade with a dramatic Americanized tanto blade, and a bent steel clip.
There are criticisms you can level at a lot of Kizer knives – but in the last few years, quality hasn’t been one of them. This is an exceptionally well made knife, catching the eye of anyone who looked at it. It’s got all the goodies – a splash of blue anodization, intricate machining work, contoured handles, a compound grind, that flashy 3D machined clip, the super smooth flipping action.
It’s extremely well made and if you like the looks, then grab one. It’s a tough sell for me because the blade profile makes no sense with the dimensions and intended purpose of the knife. A thin, ergonomic, lightweight EDC knife with a big chunky tanto blade is like putting a bolt-on grille guard on your Corvette. I’d definitely go for the drop-point option, which is priced the same and eliminates my biggest gripe with the Begleiter.
- Exceptionally well made, beautiful to hold and behold, superlative flipper, very light for the size, compact shape in pocket.
- A tanto blade has no place on a knife like this, it makes no sense. Non-keyed pivot barrel, migrating pocket clip, right hand tip-up carry only.