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Review of the Full-Size Steelcraft Todd Begg Bodega

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I’ve been fortunate enough to sample some of the best examples of mid-tech/semi-custom knives which the knife industry has to offer.  Reeve.  Hinderer.  Strider.  Curtiss – just to name a few.  But one name whose products I’ve yet to experience is Todd Begg.  Begg Knives has the distinction of producing what are considered the most expensive semi-custom knives in the world.  The Begg Bodega is their most popular and well-known model and can be ordered via the Begg Knives website from about $1200.00 to $2500.00 (and up) depending on the options selected.   Now, I like nice things and certainly don’t mind paying extra to get quality.  But that price range is simply more than I’m willing to spend on a knife.  So I’ve admired the Bodega from afar, but never seriously considered buying one.  But recently I learned about the Steelcraft series of knives from Begg Knives.  Essentially, Begg is outsourcing “production” versions of various Begg knife models to Reate Knives.  Up until recently, the Mini-Bodega was the only Bodega model available from the Steelcraft series (released in 2016).  But last month the full-size Bodega was added to the Begg Steelcraft lineup.  The price?  $460.00.  As much as my appetite for custom/semi-custom knives has waned in recent years,   the opportunity to acquire the Bodega at more reasonable price point was just too difficult to pass up.  So I ordered a full-size Steelcraft Bodega – blue with a satin finished blade:

I was actually prepared to not like the knife before I received it.  Why?  Well, it comes down to the fact that this isn’t an easy knife to photograph.  The only “good” photographs of the knife I’ve seen come from D. Weikum, which is who Begg appears to use for their stock photography.  Other photos I’ve seen make the blade look washed out, and the handle scales look light in color.  But when the knife arrived, I was quite pleasantly surprised at how attractive the knife really is – hopefully my photos do the knife justice.

PACKAGING

With the vast majority of my knife purchases, the packaging has pretty much been an afterthought.  My Begg Steelcraft Bodega came in a nice black box with a magnetically sealed lid, a certificate of ownership/authenticity, a sticker, and a piece of paper with a QR reader code to aid in registration of the knife on the Begg Knives website – a nice package.  I will however add that after I created my user account on the Begg Knives website I could find no actual option for registering my knife.

The packaging was certainly a step up from most of the knives I’ve purchased in the past, though at this price point I’d love to see a zipper pouch or at least a cleaning cloth.

IMPRESSIONS

Upon first inspection, I was pretty blown away by this knife.  The level of attention to detail is absolutely incredible, and a step (or two) above anything I’ve purchased before.  With most knives I’ve purchased in the past, there’s something I really like about the knife and something that I would change or is less to my liking.  Maybe I really like the handle scales, but the blade finish wouldn’t be my first choice.  Or I really like the blade shape, but don’t like pocket clip.  With the Steelcraft Bodega, there really isn’t anything I’d change.  Everything about the knife is like it was designed for me.  It’s an absolute stunner aesthetically to my eye – your mileage may vary.

The knife has titanium (6Al4V) scales on both sides which, as you might imagine, makes it a bit on the heavy side with a total weight of 6.3oz.  The example I chose has the blue colored handle scales, which I assume is anodized.  I diamond pattern has been machined into both the presentation and backside of the handlescales and has an attractive iridescent quality to the finish – nice “bling.” The entire knife has a very dressy, almost ornamental feel.  Again the attention to detail cannot be understated here – clearly a considerable amount of machine time (and subsequently expense) has been put into the execution of this knife.  Moreso than other knives I’ve owned at a similar price point.

Blade length on the full-size Steelcraft Bodega comes in at 3.875″, with an overall length of 9″.  The weight and dimensions of the knife place it right on the edge of being too large and heavy to carry at the office.  It doesn’t work well for me in the pocket of dress pants, but stiffer Docker style pants weren’t a problem.  I imagine this will be more of a weekend carry knife for me as a result.

The blade is made from S35VN steel – one of my top 5 favorite blade steel types and a great choice for the Steelcraft Bodega.  The harpoon-shaped blade features the Begg signature fuller with holes drilled (which is also featured on the lock bar for some interesting visual continuity).  A gorgeous satin finish has been applied to the blade.  I’m an absolute sucker for a satin finish on a blade.  A small maker’s mark appears in the lower corner of the presentation side of the blade, with no text or markings on the opposite side.  Nicely done – there’s nothing here that detracts from the visual delight of the satin finish on the blade.  When closed, the blade is perfectly centered between the handle scales.

The Bodega features flipper blade deployment and employs IKBS ceramic bearings in the pivot for smooth, consistent flipping action regardless if a “light switch” or “push button” technique is used.  When ordering a semi-custom Bodega from Begg Knives, the inclusion of ceramic bearings in the pivot is an added extra, so I’m pleasantly surprised to see it as a standard feature on the Steelcraft line.  The IKBS bearings are not captured so some extra care will need to be taken during disassembly for routine maintenance – those little ball bearings are tiny and easily lost.

Turning to the backside of the Steelcraft Bodega, we find just as much detail and visual delight as we do on the presentation side which is quite unique to Begg Knives.  In my experience, most knife manufacturers put their efforts into the presentation side, then “skimp” on the backside of their knives.  Begg’s over the top approach to knife making is a breath of fresh air:

As previously mentioned, the lock bar has the same fuller design as the blade, but it also features a steel lock bar insert, for steel-on-steel engagement with the lock bar on the blade.  A steel lock bar insert isn’t new or revolutionary – several high-end manufacturers of titanium frame lock knives feature a similar approach to combat “lock stick” associated with titanium frame lock knives.  What is unique is the fact that Begg Knives has designed their lock bar insert on the inside of the lock bar, which is far preferable aesthetically.

The design and execution of the pocket clip on the Steelcraft Bodega is also deserving of accolades – it’s the nicest I’ve seen on a knife, both aesthetically and functionally.  Looking at how the clip connects to the handle scale, there’s a pleasing difference in the design that I’m not sure if Begg Knives or Reate Knives deserves credit.  On Begg semi-custom Bodegas, the pocket clip forms a 90-degree angle where it meets the handle scale, but on this Steelcraft version of the Bodega, the clip more smoothly integrates with the handle scale in a more natural curvature.  It features another signature Begg design component –  a ceramic ball in the tip of the clip.  The ceramic ball functions to add some additional retention of the knife in the pocket, but also serves to reduce the wear and tear on your pocket when pulling the knife out and putting it back – brilliant.

PRODUCTION OR “MID-TECH?”

At the $460.00 price point, the Steelcraft Bodega competes with supposedly “mid-tech” or “semi-custom” knives from top knife makers.  Mid-tech/semi-custom are knife industry jargon terms used to differentiate knives which fall somewhere between a standard production knife (think Spyderco, Benchmade, and Kershaw) on one end of the scale, and full-custom knives on the other.  Begg calls the Steelcraft Bodega a “production” knife, but I think it really blurs the lines between production and mid-tech.  Instead of arguing for classification or the other, I’ll say this:  The Steelcraft Bodega is nicer than any mid-tech I’ve owned.  Yes, it’s manufactured in China, but there’s simply no arguing the quality execution of the Begg Bodega design in this knife – I’ve not seen better fit and finish in the knife industry.  Incidentally, this knife has certainly opened up my eyes to the what Reate Knives can produce – I’m thoroughly impressed.

In addition to this written photo review, I’ve recorded a supplemental video review on the ThruMyLens YouTube channel to provide some video footage of this exceptional knife:

Whether you’re like myself and have been unwilling to pay the price of admission of one of Begg Knives semi-custom Bodegas, or perhaps you own one (or more) and would like a less expensive one for a “user” the Steelcraft line offers a compelling value proposition.  I’m perhaps most impressed by the fact that Begg Knives offers up the Steelcraft Bodega without compromise as compared to the semi-custom version.  This isn’t a “downgraded” Bodega…it’s simply not a customized version directly manufactured by Begg Knives.  Clearly the Begg Steelcraft line of knives is worthy of further investigation, as is Reate Knives.

About John B. Holbrook, II

John B. Holbrook, II is a freelance writer, photographer, and author of ThruMyLens.org, as well as LuxuryTyme.com and TheSeamasterReferencePage.com.

*All text and images contained in this web site are the original work of the author, John B. Holbrook, II and are copyright protected. Use of any of the information or images without the permission of the author is prohibited.

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