Thursday, July 24, 2014

Nilete Quiete Review

In the gear world, innovation is king.  And if innovation is king, the Nilte Quiete is downright regal.  This is a pocket knife completely rethought from the ground up.  Every single feature, every design choice is carefully and meticulously considered.  The end result is a knife that is without peer.  It is completely and utterly unique.  This is minimalism scrubbed to is purest essence.  The Quiete is a glorious blade, but it is a knife so shorn of adornments and features we are used to, it might be too much for some folks.  Those that can see the beauty are handsomely rewarded.

In the Al Mar Hawk review I compared that knife to a Ladderback chair--light and solid with all of the parts working together to improve the whole.  If that Hawk is a Ladderback chair, this is the cantilever chair, a form so pared down that it is almost completely different from its predecessor.  There is no question this knife is innovative and beautiful, but the real question is whether or not it is a good EDC knife.  I think it is, and hopefully I can defend that position in this review.  

Here is the product page. The Nilete Quiete costs around $300 plus international ship (as there are no US distributors, you can find them at Lamnia FI here). The knife is designed by Massimo Fantoni.  Here is a written review. Here is THE video review.  Here is the review sample (sent to me by Nilete):


Twitter Review Summary: Like nothing else in the world.

Design: 2

The Quiete has more in common with sculpture than it does the horde of G10 handled tactical knives being sold today.  Every screw and line has been carefully considered and the end result is a superb tool, both in the hand and to the eye.  The Quiete makes a statement every time you pull it out of your pocket and instead of offending people or scaring them off, they just might come over and ask you about the knife.  The funny thing is when you tell them it is Italian made they give you a look that says: "I knew it."  For all of the precision the Swiss bring to the table and all of the bombast that American designs are known for, no one makes a knife look as sexy as the Italians and the Quiete is one of their best examples (NOTE: By way of disclosure, I am biased as I am Italian).


The knife's ratios are very good.  The basic specs are good and I am going to give them here because the product page has them in metric.  The knife weighs 2.14 ounces and has a blade length of 2 7/8 inches.  The closed length is exactly 4 inches.  This results in a blade:handle of .72.  The blade:weight is 1.37.  This puts the Quiete into the second tier of performance ratios, right there with the SOG Mini Aegis, but just short of the Al Mar Hawk and the Kershaw Chill.  The difference is largely found in the very wide and perfectly flat ground blade.   

Fit and Finish: 2

The fit and finish here is marvelous, better than that found on the "Big Three" (CRK, Strider, and Hinderer) and equal to that found on Taichung Taiwan Spydercos and Al Mar Knives.  In short, the Quiete is as fine a built knife as you can buy without spending four figures on a custom.  The interesting thing here is that unlike many knives where the fit and finish is so high to appeal to finnicky knife knuts, the fit and finish here is necessary to fully exploit the materials and the design.  Anything less than perfect and the knife might not work.  You'll see why as we go on in this review. 


Note the bright stonewash finish the beautifully rounded handle scales (they aren't just chamfered, they are rounded on both sides for an excellent in-hand feel).  

Grip: 2

Simply put, the grip on the Quiete will surprise you.  With all of the curves around the edges and the fantastic choil (Spyderco take note--THIS is how you do a choil), the Quiete is really, really good in the hand.


It doesn't hurt one bit that the knife is incredibly light and perfectly balanced.  Given the knife's size, something equivalent to a Mini Grip, the amount of control you have is really amazing.  This is also another exhibit in the argument against jimping.  The gentle rolling humps on the spine of the blade are definitely NOT jimping, but the knife's shape is just right, making them or even real jimping entirely unnecessary.  The gentle bumps do look very nice though.

Carry: 2

The size, the rounded edges, and the incredible weight make this knife a perfect pocket companion.  You could carry it every day of your life, in slacks, in jeans, in shorts, and it would be virtually invisible.  Despite is nearly 3 inch blade, the knife can hide in your jeans coin pocket (depending on the brand).

Steel: 2

14C28N is an American exclusive to Kershaw, made for them by Sandvik.  Here is the data sheet.  Its a steel I really like, capable of holding an edge well, not chipping, and being very corrosion resistant.  It is significantly less expensive than other new steels, in part because it was designed to be inexpensive, but on a dollar for dollar basis, there is no steel I have used that is a better performer.  Sure, M390, M4, Super Blue, and ZDP-189 are better, but they are also much more expensive.  The trick is that this is a stainless steel hardened by both carbon AND nitrogen (usually steels are hardened by one or othe other, with nitrogen being used in steels that are in tools used around water).  
Because of its high hardeness, around 60 HRc, the 14C28N can take a very thin grind and the Quiete has that grind.  The end result is a slicer that works very, very well.  I have used the knife for food prep (cutting up grapes and fruit for my son's lunch) and never had a problem. This is a great all around steel.

Blade Shape: 2

The blade shape, like the rest of the knife is not like anything else.  It is part sheepsfoot, part wharncliffe with a bit of a belly.  Its like the Benchmade 555hg and the Cold Steel Mini Tuff Lite had a baby.  


Weird as it is, it works very, very well.  I had no problems whatsoever with the knife in any task.  In slicing and chopping food it was great.  In package opening and box deconstruction it was fine.  In thread cutting and very light precise work, it was excellent.  There was really nothing this little blade did poorly.  Well, okay one thing--it doesn't stab all that well.  But it stabs more than the enough for an EDC knife.  

Grind: 2

Oh my, what a grind.  SOG is generally the company I think of when I think of impeccable production knife grinds.  But this grind, this super keen full flat grind is, perhaps, a step above even that.  It is really a marvel.  


The blade is quite tall and all that height is truly leveraged well, bringing the actual cutting bevel to an impossibly thin edge.  I wouldn't chop with the Quiete to vigorously, but this is a kitchen knife level slicer.  

Deployment Method: 0

I know, I know--there is really no deployment method that would work with the Quiete.  Anything would screw up the aesthetics.  But as much as looks matter, and you're lying if you say that don't at all...after all few people carry plain old box cutters, I just couldn't get over nothing.  I'd even take a nail knick.  Really anything at all.  As it is, you can get the knife out one handed, as the video review shows, but its not pretty and really even in a two handed grip, you are getting the blade all funky.  I love the look, but I'd kill for a thumb hole.  I know it would require a redesign of the handle, but all of this sculptural beauty sorta jibes with the Spyderco vibe.  If you are an aesthete then just ignore this score and consider the knife perfect.  But if you have even a passing notion of being a knife user your going to want something that isn't here.  

Retention Method: 2

I already laid out why I think certain knives, like the Fallkniven U2, don't need a clip.  Here the case is even stronger.  The Quiete's handle is quite comfortable and a clip would certainly ruin that.  Additionally, it would screw up the aesthetics and unlike the lack of a deployment method, you can carry a knife quite nicely without a clip, especially one of this size.  Finally, the lanyard hole is excellent, large enough to accept the included yellow paracord.  I am still not IN LOVE with laynards, but this is a darn good knife to lanyard up. 

Lock: 2

This is a lock back that has ZERO, absolutely ZERO blade play.  I was surprised given the miminalist construction and the thin G10, but this thing doesn't move a smidgeon.  I loved the feeling of rotating the knife into the locking position and hearing, feeling, and seeing the lock bar snap into place.  


The  innovative rendition of the lock back, using a single spring bar of 14C28N, gives the knife a look and feel like nothing else.  The Pure Lock Back, the name Massimo gives his design, is to traditional lock backs what frame locks are to liner locks--its just cool.  And here, it is in service to the sublime minimalist aesthetic--it makes the knife simpler, cleaner, and lighter.  Amazing job.

Overall Score: 18 out of 20

The Quiete is, quite simply, an experience.  Holding it, using it, and carrying it, are all sublime joys.  Opening it...not so much.  But with all of this innovation and flowing curvy beauty its hard to get worked up about the need to use two hands.  As a cutter the Quiete kills it.  As an EDC, its light weight and people friendly blade are great.  And you can be pretty certain you'll be the only one of your knife buddies carrying it.  There are less than 500, in all six variations, of the Quiete in the world.  And they are pretty awesome.  But the Quiete is not for everyone, just for those with good taste, which means you.  For those that like the Gerber may not work so well.   

The Competition

Being 100% serious, there is no competition for this knife.  It is so unlike anything else on the market that it just doesn't make sense to put it up against anything else.  


  1. This is the knife I would be buying if I had Sebenza-money to throw at a knife.

    That is a really well-done choil. I wish the Techno's choil was designed like that (I'm picking on that knife specifically because it's one of the few spydercos with a true choil and it makes me nervous to choke up on that particular knife).

  2. Nilte is misspelled a couple times in the title & review text.

    I'd guess the lack of opening mechanism is not an independent design choice, but a nod to repressive European knife carry laws. That seems to be part of what they mean by "Quiete."

    The graphic design on the product page is wonderful.

    1. Also, go 14C28N! I enjoy that steel a lot on US Kershaws, where it's like the +1 enchanted version of AUS-8. (That means you can hit a wight or wraith with your EDC knife...) Would love to try it at the higher hardness here.

      I respect Nilte for not feeling obligated to peg a "feature list" with a trendy megasteel here, instead using a cheaper steel that has very good qualities and fits the intended role well.