Of the several hundred knives I currently have (and have had in the past), I can count the number of “made in China” knives I’ve owned on one hand. I never buy cheap knives. But this $3 knife from Walmart looked nice so I bought one. After admiring it for a while, I purchased a second one to run through a torture test of cutting, stabbing, beating, batoning, burying in salty mud, placing in a vice and bending, and intentional destruction.
Amazingly, it held up. Razor sharp from the package and tight in construction, I wreaked havoc on this thing but still managed to restore it to usefulness when I was done (and I currently use it as a bench knife in my garage). It held an edge, did not break or crack, did not corrode, and although the blade loosened, it still locked open. All I had to do was tighten the hinge screw to restore tightness.
For a cheap, “disposable” knife, it cannot be beat. Well, it can be beat, but it will hold up. A nice feature that sometimes goes unnoticed but is greatly appreciated, especially on a cheap folder, is that the blade slightly “springs” into a closed position thanks to a small ball and detent configuration on the tang. It even worked after the torture test.
- Replaceable (maybe)
- Available everywhere at your local Walmart (this year)
- Models change often and it’s likely that the quality of fit and steel will change, too
- Made in China
- Textured, scalloped, but smoothly polished grips have a little slip.
Next, I cut 50+ slivers off the same rope using a sawing and/or rocking motion so I could affect the entire length of the blade. After the swiping and sawing tests, the blade edge showed no signs of damage and shaved my arm hair effortlessly.
After the rope tests, I found an old steel pizza pan, laid it on the ground, and stabbed it 50 times all the way through into the dirt. There was no noticeable damage to the blade but the edge lost its sharpness. A few licks on a ceramic sharpener brought it back to some level of usefulness as it could slice cardboard without ripping it. (By the way, I do not like ceramic for sharpening – it was just part of the test.)
Next, I stabbed it into a piece of pine 2×4 and popped it sideways 25 times. It finally began to show bending in the tip (blade design was tanto shaped).
I then used it to baton the edge into concrete plugs until I broke the concrete into many pieces. The edge clearly looked dinged up but the blade’s spine was undamaged.
I then clamped the knife in a vice about half way up the blade and with a fair amount of effort, bent it about 25 degrees. The joint loosened but it did not break nor did the blade show a bend. I next clamped about 1/2″ of the tip and bent it. It stayed in the bent position (I was able to later re-bend it straight when I “restored” the knife).
I then placed it on a board and whacked the handles five times each side with a hammer. No noticeable damage was evident. The blade, now loosened, was still deployable and lockable, if not somewhat useful.
I buried the knife for one week in mud that was mixed with salt. It rained everyday that week and by the time I retrieved the knife, it was totally encased in mud. I hosed it off and found absolutely no signs of corrosion on any of the knife’s components. I cleaned it up the best I could and discovered that by simply tightening the hinge screw, the blade returned back to a nice, tight setting that locked into place with ease.
After all of this, I reshaped the blade on a grinder and sharpened it. I had to remove the serrations as they were totally ruined chopping into concrete. While not as good as new, it is very serviceable. The edge sharpened easily with no edge “rollover” like that which occurs on cheaper types of stainless. While I can’t say for sure what kind of steel it is, it’s clearly durable in all material aspects. It’s certainly not in the class of AUS series stainless (AUS8A is one of my favorites and I know how it performs). The Ozark Trail knife is probably 420J2 stainless.*
Although I have better knives (most very high quality, American made, as well as from other countries), there’s not many I would want to subject to even a tenth of what I put this knife through, though they would likely hold up just as well. I’ve bought a few more for family, friends, and bartering.