Bearing Down: The RUIKE P801 Stumbles in the Field
Joshua Wussow 09.06.17
This past weekend, I decided to take a one-night camping trip to La Plata Canyon in Southern Colorado. With me for testing were several pieces of gear: the UltraTac K18 flashlight (H/T Tony Sculimbrene), the Gerber StrongArm fixed blade (H/T Cedric & Ada), and the RUIKE P801. Two of these pieces performed superbly out in the elements. The third was clearly, well, out of its element.
Specifically, I’m talking about the RUIKE P801. While I love the pocketability and snappy deployment of this budget blade ($30!), it really stumbled during its time in the wilderness. Despite being the trip’s least-used tool (Seriously, I don’t think I cut a single thing with it), it required the most maintenance after returning to the comforts of civilization. It all boils down to one thing – this is a knife that runs on bearings. That’s right. That same flippy action I adore turns out to be a major weakness up against the grit and grime of pitching camp.
Maybe we need a little context. A few days before hitting the hills, I spent a pleasant half hour disassembling, cleaning, and lubing the knife. It then rode out the vast majority of the trip clipped safely in my pocket, save for the occasional photo op. Easy duty, right? Yet, when I returned home and gave the flipper tab a press, the knife hissed at me as though I’d dragged it through the sand.
Turns out that this captive bearing system is simply unsuited for outdoor use. Between setting up camp, hauling armloads of firewood, and trekking through the woods, drag-inducing gunk managed to work its way into my pocket and, consequently, into the knife. Several prominent gear reviewers have pointed out that bearings are vulnerable to this sort of issue, but I’m shocked at just how much the P801 was affected.
Now, I realize it’s not fair to judge all ball-bearing knives based on one $30 flipper. But unless your knife is running a sealed system, I think this sort of thing could crop up more often than not. Here’s my takeaway, guys. If you’re headed for the hills, pick a pocket knife running on washers instead. Teflon, bronze, or whatever you’ve got. The flat, continuous nature of these blade bushings should provide far better protection against the outdoor nastiness we know and love.
If you’re interested in a full review of this knife, you can check out my thoughts here.