There are a lot of great knives on the market. Zero Tolerance, Benchmade, Spyderco, the list goes on and on (and I am not even going to try and list the amazing custom knife makers out there.) I began collecting knives as a way to explore the wide variety of products on offer. I always have a folding knife with me when I am at the range, in the backcountry, working around the house or, if permitted, on my person at work. So why aren’t there dozens of knife reviews here on the website?
The answer to this question lies in practicality. I am happy to review a product that is delivering exceptional performance at an appropriate price, utilizes advanced technology or some other unique feature. All of that said if you know knives (or even if you don’t) it’s all too easy to hop online and order “the last knife you will ever own” (if you aren’t a knife fan that is.)
While browsing around for my next purchase to feed my knife habit, I came across a few Ruike knives on Amazon. For those of you who don’t know, Ruike is the knife division of Fenix Flashlights (makers of probably my all-time favorite duty and EDC light the TK16.) However, I’ve never thought of ordering a Ruike as I am a self-professed snob and, like so many knife aficionados, I tend to stay away from mass-produced blades from China. In fact, it has only been since we launched Gunslinger Research that Chinese mass produced blades have made their way into my knife rolls.
To this end before we go any further, yes, I am reviewing a blade that is mass produced in China, and regardless of my professed snobbery when it comes to knives, I have said many times that where a product is made is not nearly as important as the quality control exerted by the manufacturer (when material quality is considered.) So, I grabbed a fork, choked down my humble pie and ordered myself a Ruike P121.
The first thing you notice upon removing the Ruike 121 form the excellent packaging is the fit and finish of the knife itself. The blade has no play between the blade and handles whether deployed or folded. The G10 scales are perfectly finished and flush with the steel liner. The blade’s grind and decorative spine bevels are on par with far more expensive blades.
Out of the box, Ruike’s factory edge is impressive, not razor-edged but acceptable for immediate use. To this end, if the Ruike had come razor-edged from the factory I would have been shocked (the process is costly,) and with its sub $50 CAD price point it does not seem feasible.
The Ruike P121 utilizes Sandvik’s 14C28N knife steel. Which according to Sandvik provides superior edge retention, hardness, and increased corrosion resistance over other blade steels. In the practical experience, I find that 14C28N provides edge retention slightly below or equal to that of VG-10 (commonly available in Spyderco Knives of a similar price point.) The benefit of 14C28N is that it was designed for knives. This gives it overall good edge retention, but more importantly, it can be razor sharpened even by a novice relatively easily. For the average EDC user, 14C28N provides an excellent balance of price and edge retention. Other manufacturers such as Kershaw make a wide variety of knives using this steel in similar price points, and by way of contrast, many of these knives are common EDC staples. The bottom line is that the 14C28N used in the P121 is a benefit and not a detriment providing a durable and sharp blade at an affordable price.
The first thing you will notice upon handling the P121 is how well the knife deploys. The action is very similar to knives that are far more expensive. The P121 has a unique blade shape, the point is somewhere between a clip point and a drop point, and the blade itself is fairly narrow (giving the blade its internet name “the pocket katana.”) I was a little skeptical of the blade shape and how it would perform as generally speaking odd blade shapes do not perform well in the everyday tasks we tend to use our knives for.
I carried the Ruike P121 both at work and as an EDC for a 4 week period. In that time the blade was used for everything from opening packages to cutting nylon webbing. The edge retention was exactly what I expected for this steel under these conditions and a few moments was all it took to bring the edge to a level of sharpness above that of the factory edge. The P121 is a bit larger than what I generally prefer in an EDC (4.5 inches folded), however, the pocket clip is excellent. The knife rides deep in the pocket, tip up. However, the pocket clip is not reversible for those who prefer a different configuration, and there is also no lanyard hole.
Like the TK16 the value for money that you get from a Ruike P121 is excellent. The knife deploys and performs well and is comfortable and effective in all EDC tasks. If you only have 50 dollars to spend on your next knife the Ruike P121 Hussar is an excellent choice. Even if you have more to spend the P121 is an excellent choice. You may get a better steel at higher prices, but most users will not notice the variance in performance in their daily life. Take care of the blade: sharpen, check for corrosion etc and the P121 will take great care of you.
Categories: Reviews & Releases