When I first got the Kizlyar Supreme Prime some years ago, I did not expect I would be writing a review about it at all.
Not that the knife was bad, but I usually refrain from doing reviews on ‘just knifes’ – unless they are something special like the Spetsnaz Machete.
But as time passed, I began to realize that the Prime is actually somewhat special in its own way. Why?
Well, let’s get quickly into why I bought the knife (actually I bought a second one soon after) in the first place.
Kizlyar Supreme is a rather young company from Russia, that is not familiar to most people – let alone outside Russia. They were founded in 2009 in the Kizlyar (Кизляр) region, which is famous for its knife making. Quite similar to Solingen here in Germany.
Speaking of Solingen, a few knife designers from Solingen, but also from Japan and Australia worked to together with their Russian colleagues for two years straight on their initial product line. In 2011 their knifes were finally released.
They quickly became very popular among Russian military personal. That is also the reason, how I came across Kizlyar Supreme in the first place.
Around 2012 I noticed how suddenly Russian special forces in Ingushetia (Ингушетия) (which is right next to Dagestan (Дагестан), where Kizlyar Supreme is from) were carrying Kizlyar Supreme knifes almost exclusively.
I figured that they must have something going for them.
After some research at forum.guns.ru, I decided to get the Kizlyar Supreme Prime. It was said to be a very high quality ‘everyday knife’ , which I lacked back then.
Even the box that the knife came in has gimmicks like magnet locks, which is rather unusual for Russian products.
It also had another pleasant surprise: A lifetime warranty card for the original owner.
There are a couple of different coloration and styles available in theory, but more then often they are sold out immediately. I finally opted for the black Micarta variant with a blacked blade:
To get the specifications out of the way:
The total length is 205mm or 115mm when folded. The blade is 90mm long and has a maximum width of 2,75mm. The total weight is 140g.
The blade is made from 440C steel and has (I assume!) a black titanium coating.
The hardness supposedly is 60-62 HRC, but more about that later.
The grind is of a hollow type, which is what you would expect on such a knife.
As I said earlier, the handle is made from Micarta, which I like a lot as a material for knifes. It is super strong, light and looks great.
The knife uses a Liner-Lock system, as you can see on the photo above.
Overall the tolerances are very tight, which make for a really good look and feel. Nonetheless, the action is butter-smooth and can be actuated with very little effort.
The belt clip seems to be made from spring steel and is very firm. So I feel confident not to loose the knife on accident.
So about the steel… Among most people 440 steel has reputation as a rather poor or cheap steel. But let me explain you why that is not justified and 440C is actually my favorite steel for everyday knifes.
So where does the bad reputation come from? The main reason is that 440 steel is rather on the soft side and the 440A variant is often used on crappy knifes due to the low price.
Even so 440 is a stainless steel, which inevitably leads to a limited hardness. That is because to achieve a high rust resistance, the steel needs to contain at least 14% chromium, which unfortunately lowers the hardness.
Out of the 440 steels, 440C contains the the greatest amount of carbon (1,1% compared to 0,7% of 440A) making it one of the hardest, if not the hardest, stainless steels out there.
Still it is not realistic to hit 60-62 HRC with 440C, even with superb heat treatment. From my experience with the knife I would rate the hardness somewhere around 56-60 HRC.
So either the manufacture exaggerated the hardness, or simply mixed it up with their other knifes, which are made from D2 steel and therefore a bit harder.
So though this is a sacrifice one has to make, it is well worth. In my opinion a everyday knife needs to be stainless and therefore carefree. E.g. you can cut an apple and put the knife back in your pocket without worrying about it. With harder steels you really need to be careful no to expose the knife to acid/salty/… environments for too long.
Another point that should be mentioned in that context is the sharpness of the blade. In general 440C steel blades loose their edge retention a bit faster compared to harder steels. But at some point you will need to sharpen you knife anyhow, and this can be really difficult at 62 HRC or above. On the contrary its is really easy to get 440C razorsharp again in no time.
So why are most ‘tactical’ or military knife made from harder steel then? The limitations of 440C start to become apparent when it comes to cutting stuff harder then wood – like metal sheets and or such.
Since I do not intend to do such work with a small pocket knife like the Prime, I frankly do not care and do not think its much of importance.
To get back to the initial question. What makes the knife so special?
It is the quality you get for your money.
The Prime did cost me around 40€. Finding a knife at the price point with same quality as the Kizlyar Supreme Prime is almost impossible. No surprise it is so popular among Russian soldiers, since they also have to pay it themselves.
25.10.2015 – by netsplit for Gruppa L