Harnds Assassin, 14C28N/G-10, version 2 (with clip)
TL;DR inexpensive, good steel, impressive handfeel and flipping speed, light, well balanced work from one of Boker and CRKTs OEMs. Now with a pocket clip. If Drop can source them under $40 I think this knife would have a lot of fans here.
Longer version: I first learned of this brand a while ago, when I picked up one of their pocket knives -- the original Assassin. I loved it, thought it was an excellent value, but wouldn't pocket it because it didn't have a clip. I left a review on the place I bought it from, saying as much. to my surprise the owner reached out to me and said they'd chosen to leave off the clip because the designer thought the clip would clutter things up. Told me that they'd had a return on another kind of knife, which turned out to be the Talisman, and if I didn't mind he'd like to send it to me for free, see if I liked it better. I ended up not liking it better than the Assassin, but I still liked the second knife, and started adding Harnds to my collection.
Harnds is Hong Kong Chinese, and a lot of the material they source is Japanese - where many Chinese manufacturers might use domestically produced 8Cr13MoV steel, for example, Harnds is as likely to use Aichi AUS 8 -- nobody's super steel, but still a recognized step up from the 8Cr steels that are its knockoffs. But the thing that struck me more is that where a lot of Chinese knives have eye popping CNCed blades and handles and are catching the consumer's attention with a cool looking design, that the Harnds focus was surprisingly utilitarian -- on handfeel and balance. It's not necessarily easy to see, it's not sexy and salesy like laser cut doohickeys and whatnot, but it's professional. That's what I dug the most: they seemed like they were trying to sell more knives by making GOOD ones, and not just making ones people might pick out of a catalog. Having integrity. The lost art, know what I mean?
So, the Assassin. Probably so named for the longer, thin blade profile, although I dare say you wouldn't want to get gaffed by this thing. Actually decent in the all around in terms of daily use, though, the blade shape.
The blade flips sweetly for a long bladed knife.
The satin Sandvik has a nice, fine grain to it. It did not come honed, but it did come quite sharp:
This isn't a CNCed blade. It's a blank that someone ground in a knife shop, using large tools and their hands. Fairly well. "So what?" many people might say. "The CNC would probably be better and more precise!" And they're actually right, but miss the point -- when it comes to Chinese knives, some are made by people who know knives, and some are made by people pushing buttons on CNC machines. You'll see these knives that have fantastic work in the blade and handle, but the lock barely grabs the lock face and it's hard to flip the knife open and a lot of other stuff, because at the end of the day instead of a knife designer making a knife it's just a guy who knows how to run autoCAD software and knows what knives look like as a general rule. So one of the things you look for is whether a company also knows what they're doing, not just whether the knife looks cool. And these were made competently.
Take the lockup. You have tremendous contact, which usually means a strong lockbar spring, which usually means a lot of detent pressure which makes for a grating flip. But the Assassin flips effortlessly and locks up reliably, like this:
That's pretty damned good. Zero rock, zero blade play, no unfinished edges, hand finished, everything's professional. People who like a longer, thinner pocket knife are going to be really pleased at how this flips and fits the hand.
I'm kinda tickled that they added the clip to this knife. A lot of folks must have said the same thing, but still. Hell, that's a lot more than a lot of American companies do when people complain. I'm gonna have to email that dude and tell him it's right on target.
Hope he's still in one piece.