The Horizon D is the fourth Horizon model to be offered from the relatively new and increasingly popular Reate knife company. Designed, engineered and produced in China (we will talk more on that later); Reate has gained recognition as a brand to keep a serious eye on. With its multi-row ball bearing system, 3-D machined titanium and carbon fiber handle and striking M390 blade, the Horizon D CF packs a serious punch.
In only a few years, Reate knives have garnered acclaim for producing very high quality smooth flippers, with near perfect pivots and execution. In fact, every model they have produced has been a flipper, relying on caged bearing pivots (in many cases the multi-row variety) and the Horizon D models are no exception to this formula. The “D” designation follows a very similar handle profile seen from Horizon A, B, and C models previously produced by the Reate brand.
Key Specs: Reate Horizon-D
The Reate Horizon D CF has a machined high quality milled and contoured Carbon Fiber scale on the show side, and 6AL4V Titanium on the back scale, with an anodized titanium backspacer to complete the construction.
All Horizon versions have 3.75 inch blades, 6AL4V titanium scales, but each with a unique design approach that makes them distinctly different, if not completely unique. Horizon D has been positioned as the flagship version of this model line, and offers an aforementioned 3.75” M390 blade, and a framelock, also known as a RIL (Reeve Integral Lock). Patterned anodized accents (that look a bit like Timascus) are provided on the 3D sculpted titanium pocket-clip and pivot screw. Style adornments continue with blue anodized screw hardware and a matching blue anodized backspacer. For the uninitiated, all Horizon models include steel lock-bar inserts (which are cleverly hidden) that also act as the over-travel stop.
The Horizon D is available in either all titanium (referred to as the Horizon D Ti), or titanium and Carbon Fiber on the presentation side (referred to as Horizon D CF). Our model in review is the latter.
Background and Assumptions
“Wait! A 3.75” M390 blade, milled titanium and carbon fiber contoured handles, multi-row caged bearings, and a 3D sculpted pocket clip? Surely this Reate Horizon D CF can’t really be a uniquely designed, premium knife, right… It came from China?” This is the statement that most have uttered until they feel one in-hand for the first time. Even before you get your grubby hands on one, we can tell you that Reate is not like any other maker we have seen in the past from China, or anywhere else for that matter.
You’ve heard our views on Kizer, another impressive Chinese outfit but Reate is simply on a different level. Reate is so different in fact, that American knife makers (and others) have been calling on David Deng, the owner of Reate knives to assist with mid-tech and production knives on their behalf. Yes folks, it’s true! Industry big-wigs like Todd Begg, Faisal Yamin, and Liong Mah are entrusting David Deng to produce top notch mid-techs, and high end production offerings that carry these custom knife makers names.
The rumor is that David of Reate Knives has even more designers and custom makers knocking on his door. This of course is in addition to his line of Reate branded knives. This guy David Deng, and his Reate Knife Company are the real deal. He is a premiere knife maker, designer and machinist that just so happens to live in China. So, yes indeed these knives are made in China, but we urge you to avoid dismissing them on that basis alone. If you only want to buy American made products, good on you – that’s your prerogative, and hopefully you are happy with that decision. We will suggest some American made alternatives later is this review.
Look and Finish
Okay enough of the made in China drama for now. Let’s get to the knife itself, and see whether it stands on its own merits. From the moment we got this out of the box, which included a black case with red stitching, and extra hardware screws, we fell in love with the design aesthetic. This is a looker of a knife. We even caught ourselves doing a double take of the anodized patterned accents because they looked so darn cool. No other knife brand we are aware of at this time has employed such an alluring anodizing technique. The finish is almost flawless, allowing the mill lines of the titanium and Carbon Fiber to accent the design, along with provide traction on the handles. Everything feels rounded on the knife, even in areas that supply some traction.
The blade has a lightly tumbled stonewash full flat grind that comes to a drop point. Centering was spot on, dare I say ‘collectors center’ right out of box. The blade was sharp too. It was extremely sharp to the point of hair popping. A fuller groove spans a large portion of the blade, and provides a visual artistry that blends in seamlessly with the handle when in the open position.
In terms of steel, the Reate opted for M390, a high end steel from European Bohler that competes admirably with its VIP friends such as Elmax, ZDP-190 and CPM-S90V. Bohler’s use of third generation powder metal technology results in an alloy with extreme hardness , edge retention and corrosion resistance. As with most all of today’s super steels you can expect to spend a little longer than usual on the sharpening stone but M390 is without doubt nearing the pinnacle of blade steel performance.
The back of the knife handle offers an ample opening hole for a lanyard. All-in-all, our Horizon D CF could have functioned as the eye-candy for a master-class on how to detail and finish a premium production knife. Visually, this sets a new bar for production knives in its price range.
Feel and Hands-on
Looks are one thing, but knives are tools when we boil things down. Who cares how it looks when you need to use it for real work, right? The Horizon D did not disappoint. In fact, its function as a flipper during deployment is astonishingly good. In hand, the ergonomics of the knife are just as great. The design contours the entire hand, and does so with a solid feel that can almost not even be described. Access to the frame lock was comfortable and easy to disengage for quick closing of the blade. The hidden lock-bar insert functioned extremely well, and we encountered zero lock stick on our Horizon D CF.
We decided to conduct several tests with this knife, both in the real world, and purely for performance and durability sake. First, we carried this knife for several days, using it for whatever daily tasks required it. Then we performed cutting tests consisting of twine rope cuts, box cutting, food prep, and somewhat gratuitous plastic water bottle cutting.
Let’s discuss our everyday carry of the knife. First, we can say that the pocket clip is rather good, but may bother those who prefer deep carry pocket clips. It slides in to the pocket relatively easily and holds the knife in place well. Pulling the knife out of the pocket is very comfortable since the rear of the knife is available to grab onto.
In what seems to have become Reate’s trademark, deploying the knife is about as effortless as breathing. Initial comfort in-hand is incredibly high. It’s easy to manage and relatively comfortable to use as an EDC, though on the larger side of the spectrum for sure. With that said some may not want to carry the Reate Horizin D CF everyday if smaller and lighter carry options are your preference.
For others who like an even heavier EDC option, the Horizon D Ti clad with full titanium handles may be up your alley. Our version with the show side made of milled contoured Carbon Fiber is really a nice weight saver, and a reasonable compromise when factoring in the blade size you get with this knife. But if heavier is your preference, the all titanium Reate Horizon D Ti would certainly fit the bill.
Other comments worth mentioning about the Horizon D Ti are that lefties are out of luck, and that hard users might find the lack of substantial jimping enough cause to look elsewhere. This knife is setup for right side, tip-up carry only. Also, the jimping of the knife is rather weak – it is virtually useless, and may diminish the effectiveness of this knife in hard use situations.
Next, let’s move to the cutting test details and results. But before we do, let’s discuss some overall impressions about the knife from a performance perspective. The full flat grind drop point blade is a nice cutting shape. However, the fuller groove causes snags when longer cutting strokes are performed (such as when cutting through cardboard). Also, the stock of the blade is fairly thick, so we did not expect the Horizon D CF to be an amazing slicer, even with a full flat grind. We were right. It is an admirable performing blade for certain (as we will detail in a moment), but can’t compete with thinner stock knives that don’t have fuller grooves. Next up is a breakdown of our testing:
Gratuitous Testing and Results
Twine rope cuts – We took 4 feet of rope and started cutting about 1 inch between each cut, until nothing was left. The result was very good. The knife showed no significant sign of cutting performance loss from beginning to end, and ate through the rope with relative ease. Perhaps this had to do with the M390 steel that is used for the blade steel. The size and weight of the knife helped as we used pushdown cuts, and found the knife very comfortable in hand. No perceivable hot spots could be detected. The Horizon D passed this cut test with flying colors. We would however like to see improvements in the jimping, but our grip position did not seem to slip in spite of that deficiency.
Box cutting – The next performance usage test brought us to the mess of boxes that had been collecting dust in the garage. We cut up boxes for several minutes until we tired. It is worth mentioning that we tired well before the knife did. The knife cut just okay through the cardboard, with slight drag due to the thickness of the blade shape, and the continued catching of the cardboard on the fuller groove. As we neared the end, we felt that a thinner blade may have made us less tired, and the fuller groove really just exacerbated the issue of getting clean long cuts. This would not be our first choice in box cutting blade options, but it did the job.
Food prep – After quick cleaning, sharpening, and stropping, we gave some kitchen time to the Reate. Every knife has its trade-offs, and sadly this one has its trade-offs in the kitchen. Use as a utility style knife in the kitchen seemed a bit beyond the scope of this Reate’s job description. We squished tomatoes instead of cutting them, we fumbled with garlic, and we found removing the peel of an apple a harder chore compared to a classic kitchen style pairing, or even SAK knife. The Horizon D CF proved to fair better on proteins such as steak, where less precise blunt cuts are more tolerated. So we would not suggest this type of usage unless in a pinch.
Plastic water bottle cutting – We felt a bit bad that we took the Horizon D CF out of its element while in the culinary world for perhaps too long. We cleaned it up again, and made effort to cut plastic using empty and partially empty water bottles (the kind that comes from Maine). The Reate Horizon D CF felt back at home, and cut like the wind. The blade shape seemed to be a natural cutter for this type of thin plastic. Because the size of the blade was large, but not too large, we had solid control and feel of the cuts. The Reate certainly redeemed itself quite well during this test.
If you are itching to find the perfect high end production knife, and are willing to spend some serious scratch, we would also suggest considering one of the following as a potential alternative to the Horizon D CF.
- Chris Reeve Knives Sebenza 25 CF (KnifeArt exclusive) – Retail: $485
- TAD Dauntless MK4 CF – Retail: $395
- Zero Tolerance 0562 – Retail: $250
- Zero Tolerance 0560CBCF (discontinued)
- Shirogorov Hati with Milled CF handle – Retail: $975
Let’s compare these knives to the Horizon D CF. All of the above are good contenders, and are fine knives in their own right. But how do they actually stack up to the Reate Horizon D CF?
If you are looking for an American made, tried and tested gold standard knife, you need not search further than the Chris Reeve Sebenza (large). The Sebenza 25 clad in Carbon Fiber is a solid competitor to the Horizon D. If you are old school, and/or would prefer a thumb studded option, the CRK Sebenza 25 CF KnifeArt exclusive (carbon fiber version) might just be your next purchase… but only if you are willing to shell out an additional 85 bucks to grab one.
Another competitor is the popular and often hard to get TAD Dauntless MK4 CF in Carbon Fiber, produced by Triple Aught Design. Often referred to as the de-facto standard in high end performance EDC, this production knife offers thumb-stud alternatives to a flipper, runs on bearings, and has an overall smaller package and blade length when compared to the Horizon D CF. If you like slightly smaller blades, you might want to check this out. Price is about the same as the Horizon D CF.
Let’s move on to Zero Tolerance. This Made in the USA brand has a reputation for redefining production quality standards, and the Zero Tolerance 0562 helps continue that reputation. ZT 0562 has similar dimensions to the Horizon D CF, sports carbon fiber scales on the show side, and comes with good blade steel (either M390, Elmax or CPM-204P – depending on the model run). Looks are always in the eye of the beholder, but the ZT was never really intended to be a beauty of a knife. Then again, if you are looking for pure utility, the 0562 with slicer grind style blade shape is certainly the best value of the bunch as an EDC user knife. The 0562 can generally be found online and in retail stores for about 220 dollars.
Another model from Zero Tolerance, the 0560CBCF is really the most well matched competitor in all departments. The issue with it relates to the ‘discontinued’ status that it has, as it is no longer in production. When it was available, price retailed for about 400 dollars. Now however, the aftermarket pricing seems to go for closer to 600 smackers. Retail price, size, and finish all compare well to the Horizon D. If you can find a good deal on one, we would recommend grabbing it.
Lastly, the most interesting and perhaps truly on par comparison is the Shirogorov Hati with CF milled scales. This knife is generally over twice the price of the Reate Horizon D CF. So why would we even consider this competition? Well, in some ways it is not… but it should be! In all areas except price, the Horizon D and the Shiro Hati with CF share very similar attributes.
The Hati has a 3.875” blade compared to the Horizons 3.75”. Both have milled sculpted handles, CF on the display side, and Ti on the other. Both have wonderful flipping action, fantastic details and finishing. Do you see where we are going here – Is the Horizon D CF really a competitor to the Shiro Hati? No, probably not yet. But without question it is a great value alternative, if not outright level competitor to this Russian alternative.
Let’s all be realistic. The Horizon D CF costs about 400 dollars. Those who purchase this knife will likely use it for small tasks, if at all. It is a wonderful looking collector piece that actually has the ability to perform well when put to the task. The CF version makes for a relatively comfortable EDC. Even at the 400 dollar price range (or higher), very few other production or even mid-tech offerings can provide such a competitive value.
The Reate Horizon D CF sets a benchmark for production knife excellence that we have previously only witnessed with Chris Reeve Knives, and a scant few ZT models near this price range. Reate and the Horizon D are the real deal, and whether they are made in China, America, Russia, or Zimbabwe will not change that fact. Should you buy it? If you have 400 dollars to spend, and appreciate the lifetime of joy and unrivaled performance that a high-end production knife offers, we say yes!
- Superb fit and finish, M390 is the business, feels like a custom knife
- Right handed only