I’m a big fan of folding pocket knives. I don’t know how I could get through the day without one in my pocket to clean fingernails, open packages, dig mud out of my shoe cleats, sharpen pencils, scrape off labels and a myriad of other tasks. Plus, in an emergency, they provide a reasonably competent means of performing survival tasks.
I insist on being able to open and close my pocket knife with one hand. Either hand. Because of this, to my mind, the Benchmade Griptilian with its Axis lock is one of the better everyday carry (EDC) pocket knives with survival potential. Not perfect, of course, and one problem is the price. It is not unthinkable for a one time purchase, but since I excel at losing stuff, I am uncomfortable lugging around a $100 or more knife every day.
A Chinese company, Guanzhu Hardware or “Ganzo” makes a line of knives with the Axis lock or an equivalent, and their prices are a quarter of Benchmade prices and less. Are they as good? On an absolute scale, not really, but they do give you a significantly bigger bang for each buck than does Benchmade. And they can be lost, worn or gummed up without causing as much depression.
For my in depth review of a couple of Ganzo models, see here: http://survivallife.com/2015/12/07/ganzo-g720-and-g717-folding-knives/
Being much impressed with these two models, I searched my Ganzo supplier, GearBest.com for other Ganzo models of interest. Why do I get my Ganzo products from them? The product line is not generally available in the U.S., although you can usually get most of them from eBay or Amazon. GearBest is significantly cheaper, seems to have most of the top end line (G7xx), and offers free shipping. Plus they were very helpful to me in my Ganzo investigations.
I went through all 27 models they offer at this time. There are four “switchblade” models which I ignored, since they are illegal to carry some places I go, but more importantly, I can open a “regular” knife just as quickly and easily, with more safety and reliability. Also ignored were six models made with steel other than 440C or which do not specify what the steel is. They might be fine, but I know how good 440C can be, so why risk anything less? There is one model I crossed off because it seems like the liners extend past the grip; it looks just too weird, with potential of being uncomfortable or at enhanced risk of damage. Of the remaining models, four have liner locks. Now, the liner lock is a very good, very strong lock, and usually easy to close one handed with the right hand, but is a bit harder to close one handed with the left hand. I wouldn’t refuse to consider a liner lock, but I prefer the Axis lock. Four other models appear to have a significant “false edge”, which in my opinion weakens the tip too much for reliable survival use, and I’m always aware that “everyday” can become “survival” without warning.
I have the G717 and G720 and know all about them from doing the article linked to above. Of the remaining models, the G710 looked like it might be “better” for every day carry although the blade shape is less ideal for some survival tasks, and the G724M seemed to be a smaller/lighter version of the G720, potentially a substitute for when wearing lightweight/dress clothing. After receiving these two models, I found that both had the same quality of construction, steel and sharpness as the G717 and G720 reviewed. In my opinion, the G724M is a great choice for EDC, with all the good points of the G720, while being smaller and lighter, and with a slightly better blade shape. The G710 is nice too, but the non-standard blade shape (sort of an enhanced spey blade), while quite useful for most EDC tasks, is not optimal for some survival tasks. Plus, it has the stud right next to the grip, like the G717, so it takes a bit more precision to open. Fortunately, the lock studs on both these models extend slightly above the grips, so closing them are as easy as closing the G720.
G735 (stock photos)
One model I missed my first time through is the G735. Again, a blade shape better for EDC than for survival, but it also boasts a “hook” blade (seat belt/cord cutter) and a “bottle opener” which looks more like it is a can opener. The G729 and G7291 are similar to a Spyderco model I like almost as well as the Benchmade Griptilian; the main difference between these two models seems to be that the G7291 has a slightly longer, slightly narrower blade. And finally there is the G716 model which looks nice, but is borderline because the grip panels seem to be as aggressively grooved as those on the G717 (or even more so), and that model was hard enough to clip onto and draw from the pocket. Note that the G716 is the only high-end Ganzo model which offers a partially serrated blade option. Serrations have some utility in an every day carry knife, but I’m not a fan of them for a (primary) survival knife.
G7291 (stock photo)
I could probably manage to do without a G7291 and a G716, but since I “must” have a G735, looks like another order is needed. Hopefully the big GearBest holiday sales are still on…
G716 (stock photos)