Prepping

Cheap vs. Expensive Knives – Does It Matter?

I have a question for you, dear readers, does it matter what you spend on a knife? Do you prefer cheap ones or expensive ones? I’m sure we’ve all been there; you see knife that you like but the price point makes your poor wallet cry.

Likewise, we’ve all seen cheap knives that look like they’ll fall apart quickly last for years on end. Ultimately, I suppose the answer will vary for everyone according to personal preferences, financial situation and so on but let’s take a look and see if we can answer this question, shall we?

From left to right: Higonokami, Browning, and Mastiff knives

Does it matter if your knife is cheap or expensive? Yes and no, expensive knives are typically made of high-quality materials meant to take a beating. If you need something that will go through hell and high water (like a survival knife), then you want the best quality available which may cost more than a few gold pieces. However, if all you need is a serviceable blade that can get the job done and is easy to maintain, a cheaper knife will do fine.

Cheap Knives

Browning and Mastiff knives
Caption: Browning was $9.00, and the Mastiff was $12.00

Cheap knives are found at every flea market, Chinese shopping center, and, in some cases, every butcher. What are the pros and cons of a cheap knife?

Pros:

  • ✅ It’s cheap, obviously. A low price point makes cheaper knives easier to purchase.
  • ✅ If it breaks, you can replace it without giving your wallet a heart attack.
  • ✅ Blades are often of serviceable steels – not some super steel that never dies – but something usable and easy to sharpen.
  • ✅ Aesthetics. This is subjective, I know, but it seems to me that a lot of the cheaper knives put a lot of work into their appearance.

Cons:

  • ❌ Sometimes built with lower quality materials and lower quality blades.
  • ❌ Blades can be damaged more easily on cheaper knives.
  • ❌ Construction is usually durable but there’s never a guarantee that the knife won’t come apart on you.
  • ❌ Some of them can be awkward and unwieldy to carry.
  • ❌ Little, if any brand recognition (in some cases).

Expensive Knives

Higonokami knife
Caption: My Higonokami knife. Prices on these start at $47.00.

When it comes to higher-priced knives, you can get them pretty much anywhere. Appearance-wise, they come in a range from Plain Jane just get the job done to Fancy Fred off to an office party.

Pros:

  • ✅ Aesthetically pleasing conversation-starters.
  • ✅ Built with premium materials for durability and edge retention.
  • ✅ Not usually easily broken/damaged.
  • ✅ Brand recognition.

Cons:

  • ❌ Less easily purchased due to the higher price point.
  • ❌ Less easily replaced if lost/stolen/broken.

Brand Name vs. No Name Knives: Use vs. Abuse

Most, if not all my knives are ‘no name’ knives – meaning they’re branded but the brand is difficult or impossible to find outside of certain shopping centers.

They don’t have the kind of recognition that Gerber, Cold Steel, or CRKT enjoy and don’t really have warranties on them – if they break, I have to buy new knives. With that said, I don’t really go for brands; I go for what I like.

Brand names like Gerber and Cold Steel have good reputations and their knives are generally well-made – they also have warranties on their knives. They are also expensive here in SA which is why I typically trawl flea markets for knives and see if I can find a recognizable brand.

I’m also not torturing my knives, they do only what they are built for and when they’re not in use they’re either in my knife box or, if I’m carrying them, in my pocket.

I’m not snapping blades left and right trying to pry open a jar of mayonnaise (seriously, who does that?) or trying to chop through a railroad log (looking at you Jay Nielson).

With that in mind, I don’t necessarily need a fancy, expensive knife with titanium and Damascus steel with a myriad of colors on the handle and clip.

The Final Answer is…

So, the final answer is yes, but it’s also no… sheesh, I sound like Mel Brooks, don’t I? It depends, expensive knives are typically made of high-quality materials meant to take a beating.

If you need something that will go through hell and high water and keep coming back for more (like a survival knife) then you want the best quality available which may cost more than a few gold pieces.

On the other hand, if all you need is a serviceable blade that can get the job done and is easy to maintain, a cheap knife will do fine.

In Closing

This is one of those topics: “Is X better than Y?” that I love to look at because the varied number of responses allows for some great talking points. Obviously, my own experience with knives and knife has somewhat shaped my response but I’m curious about your preferences.

Do you prefer cheaper knives or pricier ones? Are you a ‘right knife for the job’ person who isn’t really bothered about the price? Let me know all that good stuff; I look forward to reading those responses.

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