One to Watch: Chris Reeve Inkosi
Tony Sculimbrene 06.02.15
Folders, thankfully, are getting smaller. Sure Cold Steel is still making folding knives that have 6 inch blades, but the trend is distinctive over the past two years. ZTs are getting smaller and Benchmades are staying right around 3 inches (plus the Valet was released and that is squarely in the smaller blade camp).
Some moan about it, but by and large smaller knives are better for use and carry. It’s been a veritable buffet of EDC blades with the ZT0900, the ZT0450, and a half dozen or so 3 inch Benchmades. Spyderco’s trend towards smaller knives started a decade ago has finally reached other companies as they all aim for the lucrative and expanding everyday carry market.
Chris Reeve already makes a few small knives. The Mnandi and the Small Sebenza are both eminently pocketable, but he saw the need or the market space (or both) for a smaller version of his Sebenza 25. And so he announced that he will be releasing the Inkosi. It’s a stout little blade, thicker than the 21, but only 2.75 inches of cutting edge. And many of the innovations of the 25 are carried over including the finger scallops and the ceramic lock interface. The other feature the so called Large Hollow Grind, which supposedly combines the benefits of a flat grind and a hollow grind, is also carried over to the Inkosi.
This will undoubtedly be a hit. Chris Reeve’s reputation is so outstanding that any new release is a sure thing, but whether it will be a flavor of the month or something with staying power is hard to know. The problem with making a slightly different version of a great knife is that it has to be better than the original to warrant consideration. In other words, even Chris Reeve has a problem making a Sebenza killer.
From my perspective, the long term success of the Inkosi depends on how the community receives a few things. First, is there really a need for this knife? Will it be a product that is continually sought out like the Sebenza?
Second, does this knife really fit in the Chris Reeve line up? Was there a need for a knife the size of the Mnandi with the stout build of the 25? I am not sure.
Personally, the lack of a pivot bushing is a problem for me. Why mess with that? The Sebenza 21 can be thoughtlessly adjusted and still work. Without the pivot bushing the Inkosi can’t do that. Additionally, I am not a fan of blades thicker than the 21, and this blade is not just thicker–it’s smaller. And with the loss of the great Reeve hollow grind, that thickness is going to be even more of an issue.
And then there is this–the Mnandi, which is basically the same size, is a damn fine knife and much more sophisticated at the same price (both the Inkosi and entry Mnandis are $375).
In the end I think I speak for the entirety of the knife community when I say I wish Reeve would just make a flipper, but the Inkosi is at least something different. I am sure it will make money, but I am not sure it will be made and on the market as new in 2020. And think about this, in order to match the Sebenza’s staying power, the Inkosi will have to be still in production in 2040.
Damn the Sebenza is just awesome.