Excuse the length of my post but I felt the need to address everyone's questions and criticism and hopefully alleviate any others.
My name is Nathan Creech and I am the owner and knifemaker at Kestrel Knives. I have been using and making Titanium knives for a little over 4 years now. I understand the skepticism as most people are not familiar with the knives or the process and thought behind it. Many are only familiar with Ti dive knives that aren't coated with tungsten carbide.
Although Titanium may be "in vogue" I can assure you that these knives are far from a gimmick. Anyone that knows me, knows that I would not risk my reputation and livelihood on a deceitful product. I myself am a gear nut and knife aficionado. Those that are members of Bladeforums may know me as "norcalblacktail" on there. I have modified and sharpened hundreds of high end knives for collectors and users alike and am someone that people entrust to take their $1000 knife and put it to a grinder.
Being a backcountry hunter and ultralight backpacker, I am always looking to reduce the weight of my pack. In terms of ultra-light cutlery, I knew there weren’t many options, aside from the Havalon style of knife. Havalon knives work great, but I am not fond of constantly having to replace disposables. After discovering Ti knives, I figured, heck, why not give it a try at half the weight of traditional steel knives. Fast forward 4 years to now and I have sold hundreds of titanium knives all over the world and have not received one complaint or return. Not one. The only emails I receive are ones with glowing reviews and awesome pictures of happy customers using their knives. My knives are now carried, used and relied on by hundreds of hunting guides, backcountry hunters, ultralight backpackers and outdoorsman worldwide.
The process of applying tungsten carbide onto something to increase wear resistance is actually something that has been around for a very long time in the industrial manufacturing industry. They commonly coat tooling with it to extend the life of the cutting edge many times over. In the knife world, there are quite a few well known makers that use the same process on knives. Those include, Warren Thomas, Mike Snody, George Lambert, Ban Tang and Daniel Fairly to name a few. All of whom are well respected and trusted within the knife community.
Master Bladesmith Ed Fowler had this to say about coating knives with tungsten carbide:
“Any knife steel can be impregnated with carbides and will be exceptional when it comes to edge holding. Naturally, the toughness and strength of the original blade will not be influenced, but high-endurance cutting performance is now potentially available to any manufacturer or knife maker. In my opinion, this is the most significant advance in the art and science of cut that I have seen in over 55 years in the knife community
"The Titanium carbide addition to one side of the edge of a titanium knife is probably the most exciting event I have witnessed for some time. The coating is only on one side, to sharpen all you do is take a couple of strokes on the non coated side. The Blades we have tested so far demonstrate fantastic cutting abilities. Chris Amos just brought one to Willow Bow where we are conducting a seminar for the high endurance performance blade. We tested his blade and it cut longer than we could. Do they chip? maybe but it would take pretty strong magnification to see them. The carbides actually provide a micro serrated edge, the coating is impregnated into the blade, not on top so it will not chip off"
That quote pretty much speaks for itself.
I designed these knives to fit the needs of a particular group of people that are concerned with weight and maintenance. The knives are as light as possible while still offering a full grip. No they are not as comfortable as a fully handled knife, but in order to reduce weight we gave up handles. And in reality, since we only use a knife in the field for maybe an hour or two at most, I am willing to bet that most would willingly sacrifice some comfort for weight saving. The handles are easily wrapped with paracord though if one wants more comfort. Although they were designed with a certain use in mind that does not mean that they are restricted to just that. In fact they make the perfect neck or pocket knife. They are so light you do not know they are there.
The tungsten carbide will not wear off when batoning. Batoning small pieces of wood is not an issue as titanium is extremely tough. I have done it many times without issue. Although you are restricted in size of the wood because of the blade length. The tungsten carbide is literally welded to the blade. I apply the tungsten carbide with a industrial Rocklinizer Carbidizer. It is a $3k machine that deposits much deeper that the hobby models of carbidizers.
The tungsten carbide edge is something you will need to get used to. It is different from a steel edge in the way it cuts and acts. The Tungsten carbide edge excels in draw and saw cutting motions, in contrast to push cutting. So while the edge turns meat into butter with a draw cut, it would not make the best bushcraft blade. At times the carbide edge may not even seem sharp at all, until you put it to work and find it still cuts just fine with the right motion. It excels in cutting soft mediums such as meat, veggies, fish and cardboard. On those mediums you will rarely need to sharpen it. In fact some people have reported the knife to be self sharpening on cardboard. Sharpening is very easy once you learn how. The only materials needed are some wet/dry sandpaper and a block of wood with mouse pad or leather backing adhered. To begin, if the edge is really dull, steel it to eliminate any rolls or dings. You only need to steel and sharpen the uncoated side of the blade. After this, take your wood block with some mouse pad or leather-backed 400-600 grit sandpaper (the softer backing allows the sandpaper to form or conform to the convex edge). Put the blade on the sandpaper and lift the spine so only the edge is touching the sandpaper. With a smooth motion, draw the knife over the sandpaper. Excessive pressure is counterproductive, so go light. Furthermore, you only need to sharpen the uncoated side of the blade. You are essentially uncovering carbide at the edge. Work your way up in grit to about 1500-2000. After that, employing the same motion on a leather strop loaded with some black or green compound will work to finish it up. If you don't have the time or materials I have found that 600 grit is sufficient enough to sharpen the knife to a usable edge.
I am here to answer any questions so feel free to ask away.