Well, it came. I was away on business, so it had to sit for a few days before I could get it from the post office, but everything worked out well. To recap, here are the specifications I gave to the Custom Knives rep:
2. False edge sharpened to the same degree as the main cutting edge.
3. Balance point of the knife 1 inch in front of the hilt.
4. D2 steel for the blade. Same or 440C for the hilt.
5. Grip to be micarta; finger grooves.
6. Full tang construction
7. Well built leather sheath with sharpening stone & pouch. 8. Blade thickness 3/16 inches thick finished (after final polish).
- Packing:A+!: Outstanding. Plastic bags around oiled blade; blade in sheath; sheath and knife bubble wrapped with several layers.
- Certificate of Authenticity:A -: Nice touch. As it’s folded, it’s not frameable for those who might want to do so. Send it rolled so people who want to can put it in their memento files.
- Sheath: Not Graded, as I’d already planned before ordering to go with a Savage Custom Sheath.
- Blade Finish:A++! – Extremely Outstanding! Superb grind and edge finish; false edge double ground for shaving sharpness. Allows a ‘back cut’ technique to be employed very effectively.
- Tang: A: Presumption of compliance with specifications, as it’s not visible through the grip, but the brass pin indicates a full tang.
- Blade Thickness: A: Exactly 3/16ths finished.\
- Blade Length: B -: Specs called for 11.5 inch overall/10.5 inch primary edge. As received, length 11, cutting edge 10. Still acceptable, but not to specs as agreed upon. After training with it for an hour or so, the 11 inch overall length works out fine, so the only concern is meeting customer specifications.
- False Edge Sharpness: B+: Not quite as sharp as the primary blade (it doesn’t shave). The back cut needs to be as potentially destructive as a primary cut. Only other fault: Slightly upswept tip, rather than the straight line ‘attack’ edge as in the Randall 12-9 and Wall 18. This can easily be corrected in initial or final grind.
- Balance:A -: The balance point is about 1.5 – 1.75 inches in front of the hilt. Not too far off, but still, for delivery, it should be where it was specified and agreed.
- Grip:A -: Asked for and received lanyard sleeve in the grip. The finger grooves are too aggressive for a fighter/survival combination, and need to be more subtle. A Nice touch is the brass pin through the grip and tang to ensure anchoring with aging of the walnut. Specified Micarta, but was informed during production that available micarta was sub-standard. Still, a nicely done walnut grip.
- Hilt: C -: Brass is fine; the hilt is an average provision and style from most knife makers; original special request was for stainless or D2; did not happen.
- Sharpening Stone: F: Not provided except as an option at an additional price after contractual agreement. Should be included OR have an option to have another size pouch placed on the sheath for larger stones or multi-tools.
As for the points I wasn’t happy about, the knife maker’s agent was extremely customer service oriented and very communicative, which adds a boost to my confidence. I admire people who stand behind their product and want to ensure complete customer satisfaction. He’s sending a sharpening stone because he accepted the original specs, and will ensure I get the features I want on the replacement knife he’s having built to my specs. Basically, he wants everyone to understand Andre Ronald’s commitment to quality and service, which is laudable in this day and age and brings with it customer loyalty.
So, another review will be forthcoming once the additional knife arrives, and then, based on what we see, we’ll get a final “delivery grade” for this knife maker. So far, delivery time is much less than other makers, including Randall Made Knives and Wall. Mine took a bit longer than the 4 to 6 weeks (8 until I got to the post office, but it was there in 7), but not a big deal, really. Cost? About 65 to 70% less than Randall and about $100 less than Wall.
We’re exploring options on various blade lengths with this model, along with a grip option. Time will tell on feasibility and availability.