Well this is going to be the first part of an ongoing series discussing cheap, yet surprisingly good quality knives coming out of China. I was recently turned onto some inexpensive brands of Chinese pocket knives through the forums. The brands that were mentioned are Enlan, which also makes the brand Bee, and a company called Sanrenmu, who apparently make knives for some of the larger American knife companies, such as Spyderco, Buck and Gerber. Other companies mentioned are Navy and Ganzo.
Well curiosity got the better of me and the price point was right($9-18), so I found a bunch of them on a Chinese website called Exduct.com. I ordered a mix of Sanrenmu, Enlan, Ganzo and Navy knives and the wait was on. After waiting about two weeks the first one arrived at my door. It was a Sanrenmu GB8-707, which apparently is exactly the same as the CRKT Drifter. It cost about $9 shipped, which is incredible as the CRKT branded one is about double the price. Apparently the Drifter and the 707 are made in the same factory, so you are in fact getting the same knife. Well I was extremely happy with quality of this knife, as it had all the features I was looking for in a quality folder, such as G10 scales, decent blade steel(8Cr13Mov), torx screw construction, open pillar design, lanyard hole, and dual thumbstuds. The only downside is that the pocket clip can't be repositioned. Some other notable features and observations are that it has phosphor bronze bushings on both sides, which is nice to see on a budget folder. Quite often lower end folders use nylon or teflon washers, which generally don't allow for as smooth of an action as phosphor bronze ones do. Blade centering was excellent, and there was no blade play up or down or side to side. The G10 is nice but doesn't really give much traction. It's very similar to the G10 on the Spyderco Tenacious(I believe made in the same factory) that many are familiar with. There is also a small amount of jimping that gives a little extra traction for those cutting tasks. All in all a very nice EDC blade for very little money.
The next blade I received was the Sanrenmu 710, which is the one I'd heard the most about. People tend to refer to it as the "poor man's small Sebenza". After looking at pictures of the real Chris Reeve's small Sebenza I could see a resemblance in the general shape, but that's as far as I'd go. I guess it gives one a general feel for how a real one would feel, as they both use a framelock design. I'm quite sure the real Sebenza is much better quality and has a smoother action. This knife is a nice piece of work on it's own, as it appears to be well made and operates smoothly. The blade is constructed from 8Cr13Mov steel, which is comparable to the Japanese AUS-8 steel. It's a little soft and has okay rust resistance, but this just means it's easier to sharpen and you just need to keep the blade wiped down after use. The knife feels a very solid, although it is a little small for my taste. It measures 6.5 inches in total length and the blade measures 2.75 inches. It could be considered as a gentlemen's folder and would be suitable for carry in a pair of slacks. It is a very handsome knife as it has a stainless steel handle with some texturing on one side. This doesn't really add much to the grippyness of it, but it just looks nice. There is a bit of jimping on the top of the blade which does give the thumb a bit more purchase when cutting. Weight wise it is a little on the heavy side for a knife of this size. It weighs 4.05 ounces compared to the 3.35 ounces of the 707, which is roughly the same size as the 710.
Coming up in future entries I'll have reviews/impressions of the Sanrenmu GB-763, Enlan EL-01, Enlan EL-04MCT, Enlan EL-03C, Enlan EL-02B, Ganzo G704, Ganzo G710, and Navy K502. Come join the Facebook group to talk about and share pictures and experiences with these awesome blades. https://www.facebook.com/groups/315321268575141/