Join Date: November 3, 1998
Location: Alamo, CA
Well, I have only been interested in knives for about 2 years; my interest in guns goes back to when I was 7 or 8 yo, and used to sneak out in the back yard and shoot my dad's .22LR, when no one but me was home. Only made one mistake, put the rifle back in the closet muzzle down. Live and learn (yes, I HAD been shown how to use it, and did handle it with respect, but I admit I shouldn't have done it). So, I think I can give you an objective report, being first and formost, an appreciator of firearms.
I own 3 Gold Cups; one was made in 1957, one in 1967 (which I bought new that year), and another made in 1972. There is a slight, but definite, decrease in quality between the first two, and a clear difference between the last two. However, they all shoot about the same.
There are some objective advantages to the high end knives being discussed. Advances in steel making technology allow incredibly high alloy steels to be made, some with over 2% carbon, and 14% Chromium. Thus, an incredibly high carbon (over 0.5% is considered 'high carbon,' previously about 1% was about as high as you could go), yet stainless steel is available.
These steels do cut better, last longer, and resist corrosion very well.
There are some new alloys, such as the Cobalt alloys, which are absolutely non corrosive, and will out wear tungsten carbide. Also, a certain major manufacturer is working on a Ti alloy which can be made quite hard.
You don't get anything free, however, the improved (Crucible Particle Metallurgy) steels run $30-$50/lb, the Cobalt alloys $150/lb, and the new Ti alloy, $500/lb !!!
But, the question is, are they worth it. From a strictly objective, does-it-cut-5-times-better-than-the-cheap-one, viewpoint. No, not really. Like my GC's they all cut about the same.
Few of us really use their gear hard enough to tell the difference between good, really good, and great. I have never noticed any difference in using my moderately priced knifes compared with the expensive ones.
What truly makes these very expensive knives worth every penny to me, and I own several, is the absolutely incredible craftsmanship, combined with the finest materials available.
It is a subjective value, but it is very real. There is a feel to a handcrafted knife which makes it closer to a work of art than a tool. Everything is fit extremely well, the blades open smooth as silk, and they lock shut like a bank vault.
Mad Dog's fixed blades, mentioned above, are a different breed. They are pure and simple working tools. The best in the world. Made from low alloy 01 steel, but the blades are ground by hand, not using CAD/CAM or jigs, just Prussian Blue. Entirely free hand. Kevin McClung (Mad Dog's real name) heat treats the steel himself, and then has the blades hard chromed (01 steel rusts easily).
On a recent combined Russian American expedition in the Arctic, things turned grim when the Russian military tents were torn to tatters, and the team had to dig snow caves. The only usable knife at the end of this near disaster was a Mad Dog ATAK. These knives ARE worth on a will-it-perform-better-than-anything-else basis.
So, are there 'magic' knives? There are for me; some of them have a peculiar alive feeling when I pick them up. You will have to decide for yourselves. I can tell you this, however, if you buy a high quality knife and are disappointed with it, you will have no problem reselling it. Walt