Review of the Chris Reeve Umnumzaan
In the high-end knife world, no name carries greater recognition and respect than Chris Reeve. Reeve practically invented the “custom quality” production segment or “semi custom” knife with the Sebenza in 1987.
As much as I like and respect the Sebenza, it’s a knife that seems to work better for me in pictures than actually owning one. I tried one of the “unique graphic” Small Sebenza Stars & Stripes – neat knife, just not a keeper for me. Still, I kept my eye on Chris Reeve knives, and recently happened upon a fabulous deal on a like new, recent production Chris Reeve Umnumzaan – complete with the box and all the accessories (like the famous CRK micro fiber cloth) :
The Umnumzaan made its Debuted in 2008 (winning the 2008 Blade Show “Overall Knife of the Year” award) and like the Sebenza before it, employs a titanium frame lock design. It also incorporates a version of the Chris Reeve Integral Lock – perhaps Reeve’s greatest and most well known innovation in the knife industry. But the Umnumzaan isn’t simply a dressed up variation on the Sebenza – from the oversized pivot to the milled titanium scales, it’s a very different knife than the Sebenza. Here’s a link to the Chris Reeve product description page for the full specs on the Umnumzaan.
Upon receiving the knife, my initial impressions were quite favorable. Visually speaking, the Umnumzaan is a very attractive knife. Let’s face it – the Sebenza can get a little boring. The fresh looking Umnumzaan has some visually exciting features by comparison – the cross hatch pattern on the titanium scales, the aggressive shape of the drop point blade (constructed from S35VN steel), and the oversized pivot really add to the aesthetic appeal of the Umnumzaan. Attractive to is the size of the Umnumzaan. The blade length is about 3.6″ in length – normally I can’t carry knives with a blade much larger than about 3.5″ during the work week. However, I comfortably carry a Hinderer XM-18 3.5″ knife during the work week and the Umnumzaan is both more slender and lighter in my pocket at just 5 oz. in total weight. Here’s a comparison photo:
On the backside of the knife we find the same sort of scale matching pocket clip found on the Sebenza as well as the addition of a lockbar stabilizer (which prevents hyper extension of the lock bar). Initially I thought the disc on the Umnumzaan was essentially the same as Hinderer’s lock bar stabilizer – in fact it is not. The Hinderer lockbar stabilizer works on two planes thanks to its bolt attachment which prevents the lockbar from flexing upward toward the spine as well as outward when releasing the blade. The Reeve lockbar stabilizer disc is affixed to the scale and only prevents lockbar over extension.
One thing that Chris Reeve has always promoted to his customers is that they should feel welcome and encouraged to disassemble their knives for maintenance purposes – such actions do not adversely impact the manufacturers warranty. In keeping with this philosophy, most Chris Reeve knives are have an extremely simple design – even a photo journalist/blogger like myself can do it. The Umnumzaan is perhaps a bit more complicated in this regard in that dis-assembly requires a specialized tool kit (which Chris Reeve sells from his website for the nominal cost of $12.00). I was a bit hesitant to get an Umnumzaan because it did sound more complicated than other knives I own to maintain – the pivot has Loc-Tite…special tools required…sounded like a hassle. But I decided to give it a whirl - I purchased my knife with the tool kit, and decided to clean and re-grease the knife shortly after I received it. The process was only slightly more time consuming than most other knives I’ve dis-assembled…if I can do it, anyone can:
In terms of pivot lubrication, Chris Reeve recommends his own specially formulated flourinated grease, which like the Umnumzaan tool kit is available from his website – a very small tube is $11.50 plus shipping. However, DuPont makes a product called Finish Line Extreme Fluoro which is just $10.55 for a 20g container from Amazon.com. The two products are extremely similar (both being flourinated grease) and the DuPont made Extreme Fluoro has become quite popular in the knife enthusiast community. I was quite pleased with how smooth my Umnumzaan was after applying fresh grease. After adjusting the pivot to my liking, I didn’t use any of the Loc-Tite supplied with the Umnumzaan tool kit – I thought I’d wait to see how it worked without it.
I’ve now had the Umnumzaan for a couple of weeks and have carried it several times and I like it a great deal. Again, comparing it to the Sebenza, it has a bit more of a tactical/defensive look and feel, which I like. And the legendary Chris Reeve quality is present in every component – the fit and finish is superb on my example of the Umnumzaan. The Umnumzaan can be ordered from the Chris Reeve website, or from any Chris Reeve authorized dealer for $425.00.