I review a lot of high cost kit. I do not select products because they are high cost, I select products that work and endure. It just so happens that most products that work really well and cope with hard use tend to be at the higher end of the price bracket. Not always though.. Ganzo Knives offer some budget blades which might fit the bill..
Sometimes I come across products which cost very little but fulfil their roles well. Products which do not make the grade simply do not get a write up. I do not have a need to tear down products just because they didn’t suit me. I ordered a couple of budget folding knives from a company called Ganzo Knives in China. The original plan was to use the knives as rough treatment work tools. If they broke or got lost it was no big deal. What I ended up with was two knives that really impressed me, so much so that they get a full review..
Company and Background
Ganzo Knives are a Chinese company. In the past knife snobs would turn their noses up at Chinese products. Thankfully people have become a little more open minded. I try to judge a product by its quality and function rather than geographical location of manufacture. Ganzo say they have been making knives for 20yrs but have only recently expanded to selling in the U.S. and Europe. Some of the Ganzo designs look very similar to Benchmades. I do not own any Benchmade products so I cannot make a direct comparison. To be frank as a consumer I really don’t care about similarity.. I just care about quality and cost.
Many people have historically associated Chinese products with inferior quality. The quality issue has changed a great deal in the last 15yrs and manufacturing process and materials are very sophisticated. The costs of Chinese products tends to be comparitively low when compared with similar western made products. This is in part due to favourable currency exchange and also due to labour and manufacturing costs being lower. Ganzo Knives have a fairly extensive product collection of folding outdoor type knives and multi tools. I picked two which looked suitable for EDC (In countries allowing locking folders).
Not exactly the catchiest names in knife history I will grant you.. Ganzo have a pretty extensive catalogue so the sheer volume of models should be enough to keep most people happy. Many of the knives share similarities such as locking mechanism and type of blade steel but differ in size and shape. The majority of Ganzos folders employ an “Axis lock”. The Axis type lock is a Benchmade design. The sprung mechanism sits below the blades pivot and neatly snicks into a recess when the blade is fully opened. The blades lock solidly and can be released by pulling the locking bar back against spring tension via buttons on either side of the handle. I like the Axis lock very much as it allows a smooth, fast, one handed opening.
All of the Ganzo models use 440c blade steel which I talked about in depth in the recent Boker XS article. 440c is tricky to get right and I had my doubts that Ganzo Knives would be able to get it right at these pricepoints. They actually did a great job and clearly know their way around the heat treatment process.
Both models I chose feature a pocket clip which can be mounted for left or right side carry via 3 small allen headed screws. The clips differ a little in shape but both work very well and hold in place firmly when pocket carried. The clip holds the knife in tip up position which is preferential to me mainly because I am used to that style.
The two models other features differ so I will present them separately below.
The G704 model is available in a number of scale options. I went with camo which is denoted by the CA after the model number. I just thought the digital pattern looked pretty cool. The scales are a G10 material which Ganzo refer to as Textolite. It is light, has a good texture and thus far has been durable. The camo scales let a little light through which gives them an unusual and pleasing effect. The scales have a bevelled edge which contours well with the stainless steel liners. The knife weighs in at 4.9oz which is pretty good for a sturdy feeling 3.4″ blade.
The Axis lock buttons are bevelled and provide consistent firm spring tension. They are comfortable to use but definitely won’t action by accident. I have really given the knives some hard use and felt comfortable and secure when doing so.
The blade has a smooth grey coating which looks to be pretty rugged. I have picked up a few light scuffs but nothing of note. The 3.4″ cutting edge was incredibly sharp out of the box and blade was well centered between the liners. Bevelled thumb studs allow easy one handed opening which became smoother with use. As the blade opens there is a spring tension until the locking pin reaches a small detent. This prevents the blade falling open in your pocket. After you have passed this detent the blade slips quickly open and locks securely out. I would rank the one handed action up there with the CRKT Hammond Cruiser which many will know as a very fast long bladed locking folder.
The blade shape has some agressive looking geometry and is a little tanto-esque. I found it to be very useful for common EDC tasks such as box cutting, food prep, kindling prep and so on. The spine of the blade features a ramp with jimping for your thumb. Ganzo did really well here as jimping done wrong can end up being a thumb flayer rather than a comfortable resting place. Bare and gloved the ramp and jimping gave great traction and control.
I have only had to strop the blade to return sharpness and have had no issues with nicks or burrs at the cutting edge as is common with cheap blades.
The G738 above compared to the shorter but thicker G704
The G738 is also an axis locker. This one is in orange denoted by the -OR. It is available in other colours if orange isn’t tactical enough for you. I actually like the bright colour because it helps you spot the knife in low light or when dropped in vegetation. I am never going to be hiding in any shadows hoping my enemies can’t see me so the muted earthy colours offer me little benefit other than “looking cool”.
The G738 features textured G10 scales which are comfortable in the hand and a pocket clip which can be mounted either side. The clip had a different style but ultimately performed in the same manner holding the knife secure. Neither clip is deep carry so you will have an inch of knife handle poking out. Not an issue for me as covert carry is not an important factor.
The blade of the G738 is a little slimmer but longer at 3.5″. The drop point lines lean toward a more classic design which lends itself to food prep – an ideal light camp knife. This blade has been left uncoated which I prefer for food prepping and light duty tasks. There is no ramp or jimping on the spine this time but there is a jimped section of the liners and handles which provides a little added traction. The slightly thinner blade profile reduces overall weight to 4.7oz.
One handed operation is even slicker on this model probably due to the uncoated blade. The blade deploys easily with a push from the thumb and a flick of the wrist. It has been with me on a few treks and for EDC at work and has proved a solid performer. The 440c blade can be made sharp with a few strops or strokes across a whetstone. Sharpening can be difficult with some edges depending on geometry. The G738’s blade is easy to work with and makes an ideal choice for someone just learning how to sharpen steel. It won’t break the bank if you muck it up!
Price and Conclusion
Saving the best news for last.. If someone handed me these and asked me to value them it would be a lot more than their true cost.. The G738 and G704 come in at just under $25 each. For knives made to this level of quality that is an outstanding price point. These two will continue to serve as backup or rough duty. I do hard use a couple of high end blades but if I have to pry staples or cut wire in a hurry then it will be with something I can afford to replace..
Overall big thumbs up! Great job Ganzo..
Ganzo knives – www.ganzoknife.com