Why Is The Sebenza 21 Better Than The 31?

Discussion in 'Chris Reeve Knives' started by Razor, Oct 2, 2020.

  1. bart1

    bart1 Gold Member Gold Member

    May 24, 2009
    I have been carrying a 31 for the past month, although I have many earlier models, P, Reg, Classic Um, 25 etc, etc. I have no complaints about my 31. I know there are some legitimate issues some people have had. My question is about timing. Every feature on the 31 Chris introduced to the line. Did he have ANY hand in the final approval of production of the 31? Did he hate it, love it or not care at all? Does anyone know?
    Jsega51 likes this.
  2. kidcongo


    Jan 12, 2013
    I’m pretty sure Chris only carries Cold Steel now. He’s become a spine-whacker in his retirement :D
  3. Jsega51

    Jsega51 Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 11, 2015
    I’ve seen it first hand, with a 21 that I own. Consensus is to send it back to be looked at. Did you do this with the 31 you’ve had problems with? Did they fix it?
  4. bart1

    bart1 Gold Member Gold Member

    May 24, 2009
    I'm sure he has converted them to "Autos" right???!!!
    kidcongo likes this.
  5. kidcongo


    Jan 12, 2013

    Cold Steel OTF Autos, in Elmax.
    bart1 likes this.
  6. jmclfrsh


    Dec 1, 2012
    I debated about getting a 31 after reading all the negative comments here until I saw one I just had to have, my first wood-inlay model with a somewhat unique pattern in the Macassar Ebony. I just had to have it.

    It arrived yesterday, and it seems like a very nice knife.

    After receiving my 31, I briefly pressed with my thumb down on the gimping to see if it felt rubbery or gave any. It did not.

    I’ve been using folders since 1975 and have never trusted them to not fold over onto my hand, since they are not a fixed blade. I slice things with them, and press down on the blade while cutting things, the way I felt they were designed.

    I must be more careful than most when using knives, but it has served me well all these years. I live on a farm and use knives several times a day for both easy stuff and hard stuff, and the only times I cut myself over the years were when I didn’t treat the knife in my hand with the respect it deserved.

    It’s like riding a motorcycle. When you start riding them like they cannot hurt you, that’s when you get really hurt. And at 60, I still do 100mph wheelies occasionally on my sportbikes while riding, but only in the right conditions. In the middle of nowhere, country roads, great visibility and open spaces on both sides where deer won’t run out of the woods and take me out while doing so.

    Ones where my chances of everything being just fine are present. If not, I’d never attempt something I deem too risky while riding one of my motorcycles. I have too many dead friends in my cell phone to this day that might have thought otherwise. But that was them, not me. I like staying the way I am.

    Ceramic ball or not, doing something risky with any folding knife and pressing too hard in the wrong direction can be a recipe for disaster. Just don’t be surprised when it happens, as your inside voice had to be telling you, “maybe I shouldn’t be doing this.”

    21,31...or 41.

    And grab a fixed blade when you need to enter fixed-blade knife-cutting territory. Seems simple, but the phrase “that’s the wrong tool for the job” is older than any of us on this forum.

    I carry a fixed blade on my belt and a folder in my pocket when out working for that reason. And I haven’t cut myself in years, even if I’ve had a few beers on the weekends, simply because whenever I have a knife in my hand, I could get hurt if I’m not careful.

    Chris Reeve is a fine person. And I’m sure Ann and Tim are, too. But they and Rick Hinderer also make fixed-blade knives for a reason. Because sometimes, only a fixed-blade knife will do well with the job at hand, but remember it still cuts both ways.

    Ceramic ball or steel-inserts do not matter. The direction you are sending your cutting forces certainly do, though. If you find yourself prying downward with a folder to cut something, expect it to fold shut and re-examine how to get that job done without cutting your own fingers off in the process.

    Maybe a cut-off wheel on an angle grinder is more suited, whatever it takes. And you get to use another cool tool.

    My Hinderer folders are certainly more robust than my Sebenzas are. But they are still folding knives. And folding knives can, well, “fold” on you. My $40 Cold Steel SRK out-trumps my $550 Sebenzas many times throughout the week. And I can beat the hell outta it if needed, something I’d never do with something costing 10 times as much.

    I’d like to hear exactly what was going on when these knives are failing on folks. I’m wondering if a little “wrong tool for the job” could be present. I might be wrong, but I’d like to hear some details if someone has the time.
  7. BD_01

    BD_01 Basic Member Basic Member

    Jun 9, 2016
    Finally a person with perspective!!!:D

  8. jmclfrsh


    Dec 1, 2012
    LOL yea that probably sounds crazy on it’s face but I used to race and did so many you just gotta not get out on a limb too far and you’ll be fine. I still wear full leathers, too. Back protector, the works. I still gotta be careful though, but it’s still fun to me and one day I won’t be able to do it anymore.

    Sorry for the book I wrote up there in that post; I was half asleep, and one would think I got paid by the word. My apology.

    And Epstein didn’t kill himself! :)
    Peakbagger46 and ruddyduck like this.
  9. sailfish

    sailfish Basic Member Basic Member

    Jan 1, 2019
    Inkosi guys, would you say the lock bar overlap on the clip is about the same amount as the 31?

  10. Silverstonev8

    Silverstonev8 Gold Member Gold Member

    Jul 12, 2018
    sailfish likes this.
  11. sailfish

    sailfish Basic Member Basic Member

    Jan 1, 2019
    I wonder how much, if any, small or large changes the amount.
  12. Kmikaz3

    Kmikaz3 Basic Member Basic Member

    Aug 28, 2019
    Something really interesting caught my eye! From @WValtakis vid!

  13. Sergeua


    May 1, 2016
    The 31 is beautiful
    But, the handle on the 21 is more ergonomic.
    You will say, "but Serge it's the same handle!".

    Nope... The handle on a 21 has a bit more belly on the bottom ( middle ) of the handle. It's very subtle, it protrudes slightly.
    Easier to see in this next picture. It's a minute detail that some don't pay attention to, but it's not there by accident and could be looked at as a missing feature on the 31.
    Also the jimping, on the one I checked in store, was more flat compared to my 21 which feels more crowned (rounder).

    This picture shows it well also
    Taken by @Aryan29

    Last edited: Nov 28, 2020
  14. kidcongo


    Jan 12, 2013
    You are correct that the 21 has that slight flat spot that interrupts the otherwise clean arc of the bottom of the handle. Truthfully, and knowing a little about the subject, I do not think this “feature”, however beneficial it might be, was ever intentional. It was likely a happy accident.

    I’ve always felt it was an artifact from some limitation in CRKs manufacturing technology at the time, which isn’t present anymore. It was possibly the best they could achieve in the early days of producing the 21 with the software or hardware they had in that era, and subsequently became part of the design until now (like the long obsolete need for the “locating hole”). Milling Titanium has a lot of challenges and pitfalls. Sometimes things we think are “design elements” are actually things that exist to allow a clean cut, allow use of a less expensive tool or process, or to hide limitations in the machinery or the software that runs it.

    I dunno. Just my guess. All speculation.
  15. Sergeua


    May 1, 2016
    They were able to make a collar around a stop pin, a nice swoop on top of the handle, make all the rest of the cutouts for your finger to unlock the blade, sculpt the front of the handle so it slides in your pocket, add a chamfer to all of it and I heard there was some kinda run with double chamfer ...
    They did this very consistently and deliberately with precision from knife to knife. Sorry that's a no to limitation like that.
    Sharp & Fiery likes this.
  16. kidcongo


    Jan 12, 2013
    Maybe I didn’t communicate my point well. What I meant was somehow that flat spot helped them achieve the rest of what you mentioned, like being a spot where the tool engages or leaves the material etc.

    I do quite a bit of work in machine and fabrication shops, though am not a machinist. Because I have an interest in these things I often ask about what they are doing with their CNCs etc. There is a lot that goes into cutting a part that often involves some compromise.

    Anyways.....if it is a design element it has always looked like balls to me, but that’s fine. 31 is definitely cleaner looking without it.
  17. Evany

    Evany Gold Member Gold Member

    May 7, 2007
    I've never handled a 31. Is there enough of a difference between the two handles that you can actually feel it? It seems pretty subtle to me.
  18. marthinus

    marthinus KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 10, 2006
    No noticeable difference for me.
    Alsharif, 6stringrazor and Evany like this.
  19. pbubsy

    pbubsy Gold Member Gold Member

    Aug 27, 2006
    Seems everyone thinks the departing models are always the best. I used to have two large regulars (I always have a backup for my main pieces of gear). A handful of years after they were discontinued and prices skyrocketed, I sold them. I eventually replaced them with 2 micarta inlay and one wood inlay large 21's for about the same as I sold them for. Maybe less. I'm pretty happy with what feels like an upgrade given the inlays. I like inlays much more than the plain jane grey blob. Spices up a vanilla looking knife and in the case of micarta, improves the function with a more secure grip. Call me crazy but I SLIGHTLY liked the handle on the regulars more while I much prefer the blade shape on the 21. That won the 21 for me. Heresy, I know. In my opinion, people always want what they can't have. I think the 21 will be the same eventually, though to a lesser extent than the regular since those were produced in much smaller numbers, I believe.

    Does anyone recall that people GREATLY preferred the classic over the regular when they were both in production? I recall the one local knife shop that carried CRK near me had the same couple regulars in stock for a long time, while the owner told me the classic models were the ones being moved. They were often sold out. His favorite knife was the Sebenza and he initially sold me on them. He had a bunch but also preferred the classic. Honestly, I can't tell a difference between the classic and the 21. Though I don't have them side by side. I'll have to look at my dad's knife, I bought him a classic some time ago.

    Regarding the ceramic ball, I had a 25 and a couple righty umnums pass through my hands. Used the 25 quite a bit and had no issues with it. I can't remember why I sold it. I can't remember the extent of my use of the umnums unfortunately. Too much whiskey under the bridge. I currently have a lefty umnum I'm carrying weak side while on duty. Haven't used it enough to comment on the lock. No issues with it yet though.

    I don't have a 31 and don't plan on getting one. I'm already pretty set... and then some, with what I've got. Maybe I'll be tempted toward another model to test out S45VN. To be honest, I've never been impressed with any steel outside of BG42 that CRK has used. Decent working steels, easy to maintain but nothing to write home about. Good enough kind of describes it for me. I actually liked the S30V over the current steel. No chipping issues for me and I felt like it cut more aggressively and held a better edge. Slightly. Not by leaps and bounds. For me, the beauty of CRK has always been in the simplicity of the designs and the near perfect execution. I mean, they look unexciting but I've had or DO have tons of other designs and none has the same level of "just right". The Sebenza in all forms works, works and works some more. They feel like an extension of the hand, they last, and in my opinion: have THE best pocket clip. The ergos, fit/finish, grind thickness and really the total package, are one of the best balances for a pocket knife out there. The only others that have really stood the test of time for me are the Hinderer XM18, Emerson CQC7 (because a tacticool tanto is mandatory) and the Spyderco Delica (imo, the greatest small blade ever made).

    Anyhow, I don't see the 31 as being an upgrade OR a downgrade. Just another step in the evolution of this knife. One that doesn't excite me or pull me away from what I've already got. Then again, CRK has never excited me. I've bought and sold many after getting bored. I've had at least one in my collection more often than not and keep coming back. While boring, they're done right in every sense. Most of the knives that excited me over the years proved to be short lived in my collection/use while the Sebenza has endured. I've wised up enough to ignore the urge to purge myself of CRK the next time I get completely bored with them.

    If you're listening CRK, I'd like a large regular with a 21 blade made of 3V or 20CV. That would be my perfect knife.
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2020
    Gilbert G, tomsch, Evany and 3 others like this.
  20. XL883N


    Apr 12, 2020
    I like them both equally but wood inlay 21s look a little classier.

    Very, very minor. I have both and the additional 31 index finger chamfering is noticeable.

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