Friday, November 20, 2015

Lionsteel TRE G10 Review

Dan Policastro is a wise man.  When talking about Lionsteel on one of the podcasts he referenced their poor performance on the secondary market as an indication of their popularity (or lack thereof). It was an astute observation that seemed to mismatch was normally happens in the knife world.  A company puts out a Gee Whiz amazing product and folks gobble it up.  But time and again with Lionsteel stuff, they released something amazing and it sold okay, but then died on the BST market.

I thought about Dan's comment a lot as I tested and carried the Lionsteel TRE G10.  On the podcast I told him I thought Lionsteel's poor performance was due to the gimmicky nature of their knives.  The SR-1 and SR-2 were integrals when no one else was or could do integrals, but they had a weird, almost comical blade sale.  The TiSpine was also an integral but it was probably too much of an art knife to be a rousing success in the modern knife market.  The flagship TRE model, the one that won Blade Show, is similarly gimmicky.  Unless you live in a place with very restrictive knife laws or you do lots of traveling (and like to pack small fiddly accessories), the "innovation" of the TRE's swappable deployment methods is probably much closer to gimmick than feature.  It is a shame too, because the underlying lines of the TRE and its materials (mmmm..M390....) are awesome.  Imagine my surprise when, just after Blade Show, I saw the TRE G10, shorn of the bullshit, on Lionsteel's website.  Now this is a Lionsteel I could really like.

Here is the product page. The Lionsteel TRE G10 costs $199.95.  There are three G10 colors--black, green, and orange.  In addition there are the full Three Rapid Exchange models, that allow for a flipper, a thumb disk, neither or both.  They are available in carbon fiber and titanium for a significant premium.  This knife won Knife of the Year at the 2015 Blade Show, not the one I am reviewing here.  Impossible as it may seem, there are no written reviews. Here is an excellent video review by Auston (Epic Snuggle Bunny). Here is a link to Blade HQ, where you can find the Lionsteel TRE G10, and all proceeds benefit the site when you purchase things through this link:

Blade HQ

Here is my review sample:

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Twitter Review Summary: An instant classic.
 
Design: 2

There is very little here that is anything other than refined.  From the blade shape to the flipper tab to the landing area for the flipper--every single aspect of this knife has been studiously and attentively examined and polished.  The entire thing is the epitome of design refinement.

Normally I would complain about the overly boxy, oddly angular handle, but the reality is it looks more squared off than it is in hand.  There is a bit of confinement to the indexing notch, as it also serves as a cutaway to allow access to the lockbar, but beyond that, I found the TRE G10 very comfortable, despite its boxy blueprint.  

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The performance ratios are very good, something that you'd expect from such a careful laid out blade.  The blade:weight is 1.32.  The blade:handle is .73.  Both are quite good though neither are record holders.  It is important to note that part of the extreme weight savings in the design comes from the milling done on the inside portion of the titanium handle scale.  It is also noteworthy that this is the lightest of all of the TREs.  The carbon fiber handle offers no weight savings at all.

Fit and Finish: 2

Other than the error made on the first batch of HESTs made for DPx, Lionsteel has put out nothing that is less than stellar.  This isn't a huge surprise given just how advanced their machining capabilities are, but its worth noting.  

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Its hard to compare this knife to something like a Canal Street Cutlery or an Al Mar, where the sumptuous quality comes from real hand finishing.  This knife is certainly the equal of a high end ZT and runs quite well with a knife from Chris Reeve.      

Grip: 2

Its hard to not have a a good grip on the TRE, what with all of the machining going on here.  The cutterhead paths have been left pronounced and not only provide an aesthetic highlight they also help with grip.  Overall, very little to complain about here. 

Carry: 2

For a medium sized knife the TRE G10 certainly plays very well with others.  Here it is with my favorite paired flashlight, the super great S1 Baton:

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I never felt like I was on the verge of being depants and I never felt like the goddam knife clogged up my pockets.  It was simply a nice, rounded presence--there when I needed it, and gone if I didn't think about it.  This is one instance in which the sculpted pocket clip was nice--there was no rough edges or pokey points.  

Steel: 2

I could write a poem about how good M390 is, as it is one of my very favorite, if not my outright favorite steel on the market today.  In fact here is just such a poem

M390 is a truly great steel,
Sharpens nicely despite being hard,
Resists corrosion, that's its deal,
Still quite pricey on the charge card.

Okay, poetry is not my thing, but M390 certainly is and after 270 some reviews its hard to find new ways to describe how awesome this steel is.  Its corrosion resistance gives it a slight edge over ZDP-189 in an EDC knife. 

Blade Shape: 2

This is where I think the TRE G10 really shines compared to some of Lionsteels other offerings.  There is no bulbous belly or crazy tall blade--just a drop point.  But what a drop point blade it is.  Its perfectly done here--there is a true ricasso for easy sharpening, the spine is rounded over, and the blade is stonewashed.  These three features are all my first choice and are surprisingly hard to find in a single knife.  In many ways the TRE is the flipping Sebenza--its basic but perfect blade is very similar to the Sebenza's and that, as always, is a high complement.  

Grind: 2

Like with everything Lionsteel, the grind is meticulous.  There is never a question about their fit and finish, only some of their design choices.  And a good grind is very closely related to good fit and finish.  Even, clean, and a good flat grind.  

Deployment Method: 2

Ah...the flipper.  First let me say that I like it a lot.  I want to get that out of the way because what I am about to write sounds like a negative.  This is not the snappiest flipper in the world.  This is not a flipper that functions solely by overcoming the detent.  You do need to use some force.  In large part this because the TRE platform was designed to accommodate non-flipper opening methods and a strong detent would ruin those other ways of opening the knife.  The G10 model as a stronger detent than the other TRE, but it is still not as crisp as a say a Kizer flipper or a ZT flipper.  The long and the short of it is that the flipper is still very fast and rarely if ever misfires.  Its just not a "pop and go" type opener.  I think this is more of a matter of taste than function, as the knife opens quite well, but some may disagree.

I also have to mention the "landing strip" on the back of the knife.  I love it, but I imagine some folks might complain that it is too sharp or pokey.  Like the "flavor" of the flipping action I mention this to put you on notice, not to complain--hence the 2.  

Retention Method: 1

Sculpted pocket clips might be nice to look at and all the rage, but they just don't have the springiness or tension I want.  Here I was worried that thicker fabric would bend it all out of sorts and so I was careful when I clipped the TRE to my pocket.  The clip worked, but requiring that sort of forethought is annoying.  I can't wait until this trend is over. 

Lock: 2

There is simply nothing to complain about here.  The lock is solid, easy to engage and disengage and displays no blade play or lock stick.  Like grind I think lock up is a corrollary of good fit and finish.  As such, it is, as expected, top shelf:

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Overall Score: 19 out of 20

This is easily one of the best knives I have reviewed this year.  It is, in many ways, a flipping Sebenza--simple blade shape with excellent execution.  I would always opt for the cheaper option here, as the other TRE offers nothing I care about.  The titanium or carbon fiber handles are pure ornamentation and something I don't need.  As an EDC the TRE is hard to beat.  If you are interested in a Lionsteel knife, but haven't taken the plunge this is the one to get.

Competition

Yikes!  Even this knife, at a 19/20 is facing stiff competition.  Many Kizer knives are very competitive, as are the new S35VN ZTs (though the ZT0450's lockbar problem makes it a clear loser by comparison).  The just released Spyderco Positron is also a strong competitor, albeit with inferior steel.  I am not sure who would win this one.  Why don't we just settle this with a 2015 Flipper Shoot Out--the Kizer Gemini v. the Lionsteel TRE G10 v. the Spyderco Positron?  Its in the works.  

9 comments:

  1. My only issue is it is not ground thin enough. Over 20 degree bevel and this thing does not slice as well as I expected. Oh and also the clip. Otherwise, I can't beat it for the 170 I paid at lamnia.com, back when the price was about 215 everywhere else. Can't wait till the Kizer Gemini gets back in stock.

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  2. I am considering this one. I may have to wait for the shootout though to make a final decision.

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  3. Great idea for a shootout. I live the Gemini and the Positron has been on my BladeHQ wish list for a long time.

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  4. I just got this knife in the mail and I gotta say... I don't get the flipping. I either cannot deploy it or I use so much that the G10 scale cutout really tears into my index finger. Any tips?

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    1. I totally agree... which is why I was looking for other reviews. On the knife I received, the flipper misfires so often it is a HUGE disappointment for a $200 knife. And with the sharp corner on that part of the G10, it is a double whammy.

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  5. The spyderco positron has its own flaws with a almost impossible to liner lock and chubby handles. It flips only via light switch method, push button does not work. It is very light tho. Kizer Gemini has the right stuff but there is a known pivot problem causing many users with a $170 paper weight as kizer has no US service center. Customer service is very slow and parts take about 1 month to receive if you are able to disassemble the flawed knife. I will try the Lionsteel TRE and see if the claims about a sub par flipper are true.

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  6. The spyderco positron has its own flaws with a almost impossible to liner lock and chubby handles. It flips only via light switch method, push button does not work. It is very light tho. Kizer Gemini has the right stuff but there is a known pivot problem causing many users with a $170 paper weight as kizer has no US service center. Customer service is very slow and parts take about 1 month to receive if you are able to disassemble the flawed knife. I will try the Lionsteel TRE and see if the claims about a sub par flipper are true.

    ReplyDelete
  7. The spyderco positron has its own flaws with a almost impossible to liner lock and chubby handles. It flips only via light switch method, push button does not work. It is very light tho. Kizer Gemini has the right stuff but there is a known pivot problem causing many users with a $170 paper weight as kizer has no US service center. Customer service is very slow and parts take about 1 month to receive if you are able to disassemble the flawed knife. I will try the Lionsteel TRE and see if the claims about a sub par flipper are true.

    ReplyDelete