I never know quite how to feel about large knives. I like the way a big knife looks, and how they feel in hand. The idea of having a massive blade is alluring in a number of ways. But the reality, for me, is that I almost never need them. I don't often cut rope or hack my way through a collection of small branches. Generally I think they're not great EDC choices. They're cool, and fun, but not always practical. Which brings us to the Ganzo G720.
I bought this knife on exduct for $22.98, for the orange-handled version. It also comes in black and green, but the "look at me!" color seemed the most appropriate.
To get it out of the way now, this knife obviously, shamelessly borrows the majority of its design elements from high-end Lionsteel SR series knives, with some key exceptions. The G720's blade is 3.54" long and 4mm thick, so it's slightly smaller than the Lionsteel SR-1's (3.7" / 4.5mm) and appreciably larger than the SR-2's (3.07" / 4mm). The G720 is also bit of a porker at 205 grams - nearly half a pound - while even the heaviest version of the bigger SR-1 is a svelte 158 grams. This is down to the material choices. Being a sub-$30 knife, the G720 isn't going to be made of anything exotic. The Lionsteels can be had in either aluminum or titanium one-piece handles, where the Ganzo uses machined G10 scales atop steel liners. The SRs are both framelocks, but the G720 sports an axis lock. Lionsteel blades are Sleipner steel, but the Ganzo is slumming it with 440C. I'm sure there's other differences, but this covers all the major points.
Am I going to call this knife a copy of the Lionsteels? A fake? A counterfeit? Not really, because it isn't pretending to be a Lionsteel. It's not doing a super awesome job of trying to be something different and unique, but that's another matter. The G720 might look like a Lionsteel from across the room, but it doesn't compare in any of the ways that actually matter. I don't think this is going to be taking sales away from Lionsteel, but this knife will undoubtedly sell because of the way it looks. So while Ganzo isn't saying this knife is an SR-2 or is as good as an SR-2, they're not exactly not saying that, either. My official stance is that it's not very respectable to bogart someone's design IP, even if what you're making is a much cheaper version of the original. But this practice is hardly uncommon now.
In use, the G720 does everything you'd expect it to, and earns high marks from me for construction. The blade is perfectly centered. The G10 scales are very grippy thanks to the machining, and the hourglass shape makes for a comfortable hold. The scale texture, however, will destroy whatever you clip the knife to. It's a very aggressive pattern that isn't cloth friendly, so just know that pulling this out of your pocket 10 times a day is going to ruin your pants. Great finish overall, though. The pocket clip allows extremely deep carry and can be switched to either side of the knife, but it's tip-down only. There's also a glass breaker tip on the screw that holds the clip in place, should you need to smash a window at any time. There's a nice backspacer running the lower 2/3 of knife, and the liners themselves are unskeletonized, which does not help in the weight department. I am not sure how much weight you'd really save by drilling these liners out, as I think the blade makes up most of the knife's mass. It would have done some good, albeit at the expense of the MSRP.
I've seen a few other Ganzo knife reviews where people have been skeptical of the 440C claim - some saying it's really 9Cr18MoV or 8Cr13MoV. By now, 8Cr13MoV is a respectable and common steel put to use by many manufacturers, including Ganzo, so I kind of doubt that they'd be afraid to mention something like that. Regardless, the knife arrived extremely sharp, and the blade held up to several cardboard box breakdowns before needing a touch up, which wasn't difficult to do. So whatever steel this is, it's pretty forgiving and holds an edge about as well as 8Cr13, and is about what you'd expect on a knife costing this much.
The axis lock seems to be pretty stout, and I didn't feel any play in the blade when opened. There's a lot of resistance in the lock mechanism, and the blade is heavy, so this won't deploy with a simple flick. Maybe I hadn't broken it in enough to get that benefit, but I needed a little bit of wrist motion to really snap the knife open. But the pivot is very smooth out of the box. Like I said, the build quality is great.
So aside from the knife being a cheaper take on an existing high-end folder, it's still just way too bulky for me to want to carry around all day. I wouldn't want to bring this to the office when a SAK would do just fine. It's way more knife than I would need M-F, and even Sat-Sun, I think I could do just fine with something less robust.
Should you buy this knife:
That depends on a few things. If you need a thick, heavy folding knife, but don't don't have a lot to spend and don't care about the ethical issues regarding design theft, then I would say yes, this knife would probably do you well. Even if just for experimental purposes, as the cost is so small compared to what you're getting. But if you don't have a lot of uses for a burly, axe of a knife and have a personal objection to people using designs that don't belong to them, then you probably already know that nearly all of Ganzo's product line is not where you should be looking.
But ignorant of the philosophical issues, you get a lot for your money if the big boy folder is a format you require.
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