Thursday, November 13, 2014

Kizer Ki3404-3 Review

The Tim Britton Controversy

I considered not saying anything at all, but we as a group of consumers are pretty smart and want to know where our money is going.  If you do even a tiny bit of research on this knife you are going to run into this issue, and in an effort to do my due diligence and bring you the best information possible, I did a lot of research on this issue and I have decided to publish a brief summary here. 

Tim Britton claims that the Kizer knives, this one and the larger model that looks the same, are rip offs of his knife the Tango.  I do not believe this to be the case.  Here is a VERY brief summary of why:

I had planned on addressing the Tim Britton v. Kizer controversy more directly, but the deeper I got the crazier things became.  After doing all of that research, weeks, literally weeks, I am convinced that there is nothing to the claim that this is a rip off.  Not a single shred of evidence.  I emailed with Mr. Britton extensively and gave him an opportunity to make a statement but he has chosen not to do so and he also also would not agree to let me publish his emails (I gave him the opportunity to control exactly what was said, even final edit, so that he could not claim I cherry picked his words, but he turned me down).  Most, if not all of the evidence I have that leads me to believe there is nothing to Mr. Britton's claim, ironically, came from emails provided to me by Mr. Britton himself.

Then there is this absolutely damning and indisputable fact--Mr. Britton has a history of ripping off other people's designs and this behavior got him banned from the USN.  In that particular instance he ripped off a really great design from Shane Sibert.  Mr. Britton even claimed to me, during our long email correspondence, that his copy of the Shane Sibert design was an authorized one.  I contacted Mr. Sibert to confirm this (as any responsible person would, right?) here is what Mr. Sibert said:

Hello Anthony,

No, that is a blatant copy/stolen design of mine and he got banned from the USN for it. He continues to sell it claiming it is custom and charges custom prices when it appears to be made in china and he scribes his name on the blade...Fortunately, I have been able to stop dealers from selling it and the knife community has been very aggressive in response to this flaccid plagiarism.



From the USN post a few months ago:

    A few months ago a situation arose that was dealt with professionally and promptly by our stellar, concerned administrators. At the time I was told by the individual in question only 2 were made, I naively thought that that was the end of that and shrugged it off and went back to the grinder.

    I’m a bit crestfallen as drama is not something I generally subscribed to, and avoid if it can be resolved in a civil matter. But recently it has been brought to my attention that this prickly rash continues to fester. Unfortunately, I now need to necessitate a more forthright public action to raise awareness of this concern as this annoying dilemma may also encompass not only myself but other makers as well.

    Now I understand the conundrum of either unintentional or coincidental resemblances in which I generally have no qualms with as it is part of the business; but when it is an almost crude duplicate, not just similar mind you…. but an explicit and malformed facsimile of the original knife which are being produced in quantity without permission and behaving indifferently and shamelessly for gain…. Now my hackles get raised. These appear to be foreign in origin while the perpetrator is claiming them as a custom.

Here is a link to a BladeForums thread where you can see both the Sibert original and the Britton copy.

The bottom line is this--Mr. Britton did not provide me, or anyone I can find on the internet, with evidence that Kizer stole his design and he has a history, a documented history, of stealing designs from others while claiming he was authorized to make such copies.  There is tons of information on this in my possession, but it is not worth getting into more than this--the Kizer Ki3404-3 is not a counterfeit of Mr. Britton's Tango (an unauthorized copy purporting to be the original) and there is no evidence to support Mr. Britton's claim that the Ki3404-3 is a rip off of his design (an unauthorized copy not purporting to be the original).  I have literally tons of stuff on this, but it becomes so convoluted that it is both unimportant and not worth the effort.  If you disagree, feel free to comment below.  Again, the standing invitation to Mr. Britton remains open.  He can write whatever he wants on the subject and I will publish it UNALTERED.  I will then, in a separate post, provide information and context to those claims, but if he wants to, he can have his say complete and without editing.  Until that happens, I am going to consider this issue closed. 

On to the review.


This is part of a new wave of knives coming out of China that aren't just nice, they are truly superior tools.  The designs, the fit and finish, and the materials are all a massive step up from previous Chinese made blades.  After years of making inexpensive knives (some of which are good, see the San Ren Mu 605) and working as OEMs for other companies, we now have Chinese knives that compete with the best from anywhere in the world.

The Ki3404-3 is the most straightforward, most refined, and least ostentatious of the Kizer line.  Think of it as a Ti Cryo with better blade steel, or a Hinderer-ized flipping Sebenza.  This is a very interesting design on paper, but whether it lives up to its look and materials in use is another question.  Let's see how it performs.   

Here is the product page. The Kizer Ki 3404-3 costs $129.  I can't find a written review. Here is a video review. Here is a link to Blade HQ, where you can find the Ki 3404-3, and all proceeds benefit the site when you purchase things through this link:

Blade HQ

Here is my review sample (purchased with my own money from Blade HQ):


Twitter Review Summary:  The benchmark in value for Ti Framelock Flippers

Design: 2

The Ki3404 is chocked full of brilliant little touches, as if Kizer has been lurking in the forums and collecting pros and cons of various designs.  But they don't just get the little stuff right--the big stuff is there too.  The flipper's shape works.  The blade shape is simple and excellent.  The handle shape is nice and the scales are even contoured.  All of the big stuff is just damn good.  Then there are the small details--a Hinderer lock stop, the stonewashing on the blade, and the handle cutout for lock disengagement--all are superb.  Overall, there is very little I could ask for in a Ti Framelock Flipper that the Ki3404 doesn't provide and it provides all of those features in a cohesive, aesthetically pleasing knife.


The performance ratios are decent.  The blade:handle is .75. The blade:weight is .97.  Neither are the best ever, but both are above average.  A three inch blade in a 3.10 ounce body will always be good.

Fit and Finish: 2

Compared to other $130 blades the fit and finish here is insane. Compared to $300 blades the fit and finish is still bove par.  I am just stunned at what Kizer was able to do here.   The handle is blemish free.  The stonewashing is perfectly even.  The edge came hairshaving sharp.  The pivot has not loosened (that happened on all three of the following knives: my Sebenza, my PT, and my Hinderer).  The only slight ding I could levee against the knife is that the blade is moderately off centered, something like 55% to one side. It is so slight that it is impossible to photograph. That's it.

Look how clean cut and even the lock bar side is (and now nice the domed screws look):


Grip: 2

The Ki3404 has three things that give it a superior grip--a slight curve to the handle, excellent contoured Ti handles, and a good spot for your index finger created by the hook of the flipper and cut into the scale.  In hand, it just locks into place:


If you need jimping, its there and its good, but given everything else, its really just icing on top.  There is a drawback that impacts grip, but I have decided to count it in a different category, see retention method below.

Carry: 2

This is a 2 with a cavaet, for more on that, see below. But in terms of pocket companion, you'd be hard pressed to find better.  The gentle curve of the smooth matte handles lets the knife slide in and out of your pocket easily.  Its also a very thin knife and that helps too. Plus it weighs in around 3 ounces (3.10 ounces to be precise, I measured it on my own scales).  The overall packages is a great carry knife.

Steel: 2 

In over a month of use and carry I have no reason to believe that this is not S35VN despite what was alleged on the forums about this knife.  It has held its edge well and has stropped just like my Karroll SES, a knife made in S35VN from a custom maker I know personally and really trust. S35VN is really a very good steel, with an elegant balance of corrosion resistance, hardness, and toughness, while being less chippy and easier to sharpen than S30V.  Its not the best in the world at any one thing, but it is probably one of the best all around steels.  Here it works well.

Blade Shape: 2

Look at that:

This is an elegant, simple drop point.  It doesn't have a recurve, a compound grind, nor does it dead end into a finger choil.  This is a simple and simply great blade shape. 

Grind: 2

This is a very good grind. The cutting bevel is wide enough to register on a strop or stones and the thin hollow grind of the main bevel does a good job thinning out the S35VN down to an accute edge.  The grind lines are pleasing to the eye with nice curves and they are quite crisp.  I can't find a single fault with the grind on the Ki3404.

Deployment Method: 2

Best production flipper?  Maybe.  Its at least as good as the KVT-based flippers.  I also like as much as Spyderco's bearing pivot flippers.  CRKT's flippers are really good, but I am not sure I could tell the difference between this knife and a good IKBS flipper in a blind "flip" test.  


Frankly, the Ki3404 flips as well as a number of higher end knives.  The detent is incredibly stiff, so stiff that using the thumb studs is difficult.  But once the blade is pushed beyond the detent it fires like a rocket.  The flipper is a little pointy, but nothing bad at all.  You will develop a callus, but that has more to do with the addictive nature of the flipper than its pointiness. 

Retention Method: 1

It would be remarkable if this knife got a perfect score, especially given its relatively new maker.  And here is the place where the Ki3404 misses the boat.  The  clip holds the knife in the pocket fine, but the  up turn at the end of the clip itself is a real paint scraper.  Worse than that though is the fact that it is almost an instant hotspot. You can learn to hold the knife to avoid it, but the first and most natural position isn't great.

Lock: 2

Don't give the framelock a second thought.  None of the problems that are common to the form exist here.  There is no lock rock, no sticky disengagement.  Everything just works.  The disengagement point is also excellent.  

Overall Score: 19 out of 20

Don't worry about the "couterfiet" baloney.  There doesn't seem to be much to it.  Also, don't worry about the country of origin--this is lightyears better than the Bee, Elan, and San Ren Mu knives of the past. The Ki3404 gets virtually everything right and for a price that is stunning.  There is nothing close inthe Ti Framelock Flipper market.  

This knife from Kizer along with blades like the District 9 from Reate indicate that Chinese knives are about to make a turn from being budget junk to being top shelf production knives.  I am not sure if the price of the Ki3404 is way to get Kizer's foot in the door, but if it is, its a brilliant idea.  

I am pleasantly surprised how great this knife really is.  Other versions of this knife are bit garish with splash anodizing and Anso-style grooves, but this version is probably my favorite production Ti Framelock Flipper available, regardless of price. The fact that it is among the cheapest just seals the deal.

The Competition

This is better than the Mini Aegis.  It is a different class of product even if the scores are pretty close.  The insane thing is that the value proposition, even when you consider how much cheaper the Mini Aegis is, isn't that far off.  This is that good of a buy.  


  1. I'm glad I'm not the only person who's peeved by the clip. It's not a hotspot in my hand, in fact it falls nicely between where two of my fingers rest, but it's exactly where my middle finger wants to press down on whenever I close it.

    As a related noted, I've noticed something in reviews that I've seen - the complaint of it being tip-down only, and by the pictures, yours is too. I got mine shortly after seeing a picture of yours in your instagram, and mine came with a slot machined out for both tip-up and tip-down.

  2. That's a handsome knife.

    The discussion of the clip really sounds like a 0/2. I'd dock a $130 knife a point just for being nonpositionable tip down only, so + scrapes paint + messes with the grip would be a goose egg.

    The screws look really nice, that's good news. One of the things holding back some of the Chinese efforts at higher-end knives has been crappy hardware. AG Russell is clearly trying to break into this category with entries like the Skorpion, K12, and Gentleman's Framelock. (You dinged the Skorpion for lousy hardware.)

    1. BTW if AG's K12 or Gent's Framelock ever strike your fancy, those would be fascinating to see reviewed. Ditto his longstanding K93 Featherlite knife. Don't own any of these. I wonder what the one-hand "front lock" mechanism is like in regular use.

    2. Newer versions of the 3404 (or mine, at least) have been updated to be reversible clips, if that's important to you.

  3. I agree with everything you've mentioned. In fact, I was so impressed with this knife that I subsequently purchased the 401b, after researching the whole Britton BS myself and coming to the same conclusion as you. Here's what I can say. The 401 takes the quality to a whole 'nother level. I understand why Timmy, or anyone else for that matter, would want to claim this as their own. It's by far better than anything I own under $500. No joke. Its insane. Flips like a ZT801. Built like a Sebenza. The finish is immaculate. Already I've seen dealers begin to raise their prices. I expect this trend to continue. My advice to anyone considering a Kizer is to buy now before they go up...

  4. Excellent review. Very thorough. Another relatively unknown knife you bring to our attention. Thanks.

  5. Nice review. its still $130. My Enlan EL01 cost $14 and the SRM 605 cost $5. They may not be as nice but are better value for the money.

    1. Its never fair to compare a $5 knife to a $120 when looking at value. Compare the $120 knife to other similarly priced knives, then compare the $5 knife to other similarly priced knives, finally compare the differences in value between the two. That way you take out price. Comparing apples to oranges never works, but comparing apples to apples, oranges to oranges, and then THAT difference will work.

      Using that analysis I think the Ki 3404 is at least close.

  6. I am going today to look at the only one available at my retailer that has been put away for me. I haven`t purchased a custom anything in a long time. For the price this will come as close as I can get to getting a custom Ti framelock quality for a non-custom price. It sounds like for the price it can`t be beat for quality. Great review.

    1. Picked it up today. Amazing knife! Unbeatable value! Review was everything it said it was. I noticed the centering issue, also, on mine but I think it may be a quirk for this particular model from the manufacturer. It does not seem to affect deployment at all. For the price the pocket clip is a non-issue for me. I actually like it from an aesthetic point of view. It reminds me of how Marlowe does his pcoket clips. Having extra places to move the clip would have detracted from the clean design. It's true there will be very few customs, let alone production knives, that would exceed the tolerances on this knife. I have some customs and would rank this one amongst them. I am so happy I got this instead of a Zero Tolerance I was considering. Cheers.

  7. Looks like a great knife. A little out of my price range, but you never know... The lack of left hand carry is a negative for me, but if the clip is a hotspot in the right hand then maybe it'd be an advantage?

  8. Based on this review I ordered one through Amazon. Overall it's awesome at the price point. I was a bit disappointed to find a mild recurve on the blade, though. As Elliott Chin has mentioned, the new ones are milled for tip up and down carry; in fact the (vicious) clip on mine was installed for tip up.

    1. I went back and took another look at Tony's review. He states clearly that there is no recurve; Tony doesn't screw up that kind of observation. Sure enough per his pictures, the one he got has no recurve. Apparently when they added the tip up carry on mine, they screwed the grind. Now I gotta grind that recurve off myself. Bah!

  9. On paper it looks good, titanium handle, blade steel and low price. so i ordered it. Fit and finish is outstanding, but however i handle it, it is not comfortable at all ! I will probably dremel out the flipper. Good execution, but poor ergonomics. This is no Sebenza!

  10. Are there any other clips available for this knife? It would be nice to get a clip that is more ergonomic and comfortable.