Few knives enjoy the reputation of the legendary Chris Reeve Knives Sebenza. The flagship version of the knife, the Sebenza 21, made the top 10 on our list of 25 Pocket Knives that are Indispensable. In the nine years since its release this knife has come in many variations, and the latest is the new KnifeArt.com exclusive Tanto Sebenza 21 with Carbon Fiber front scale. This is a never-before-seen configuration of the 21, and the rarely-seen tanto blade shape and featherweight carbon fiber scale make it one of the very best.
The Tanto Blade
The tanto’s origins trace back to Japan’s Heian period (794 – 1185 AD), where it came about as a short fighting blade that could be more easily concealed than a full length weapon. And to this day, only registered swordsmiths are permitted to produce tantos in Japan. In the West, a variant called the American tanto came to prominence in the 80s and 90s. Distinguished by its two primary edge bevels, the American tanto has been a staple of the tactical knife scene ever since.
CRK’s tanto blade shape is in the American style, but it has been tweaked in surprising ways to offer superior cutting performance. The implementation of a convex bevel grind at the tip lets it move through material with even more finesse than a normal tanto. Most tanto blades have a straight main cutting edge, but on the CF Tanto 21 the main edge has a slight curve to it. Aided by a deep hollow grind that is very thin behind the edge, our review sample performed just as well as ‘slicier’ blade shapes. Tantos are generally viewed as self-defense oriented blades, but the CRK version is well-equipped for general EDC tasks too.
The Carbon Fiber Handle
The Large 21 is an attractive knife even in barebones titanium, but the carbon fiber front scale brings the looks to another level. Despite its size and blade shape, our review sample feels civilized and elegant. Dressiness doesn’t come at the cost of durability, either: often used in luxury cars and in the aerospace industry, carbon fiber is resistant to the dings and scrapes of daily carry. We wouldn’t suggest letting your CF Tanto 21 bounce around with your keys, but it will exhibit less wear over time than the snail trail-prone titanium of a standard model.
The Large CF Tanto 21 weighs a full ounce less than a vanilla 21, tipping the scales at 3.7 oz. – just .7 oz. heavier than a regular Small Sebenza 21. Standard 21s are marginally butt heavy, but the CF Tanto 21, stripped of an ounce of weight, is perfectly balanced at the finger choil, making for a 3.625” blade that users have complete control over.
Fit and Finish
At Blade Show 2016, CRK took home its 14th show award for Manufacturing Quality. That award-winning machining is on full display with the CF Tanto 21. Every facet of the knife shows CRK’s attention to detail; there are no sharp corners, burrs, or blemishes. Carbon fiber is a challenge to work with but CRK makes it look easy, with perfect chamfering and a flawless, void-free surface. Mechanically, the CF Tanto 21’s lockup is perfect, with no blade play in any direction. With its proven lock geometry, lockbar tension, and carburized lock face, the mechanism is also ready to stand up to the test of time.
Making the Sebenza Feel New Again
A criticism that is often leveled at CRK is that they don’t release a lot of new products. And while the KnifeArt.com CF Tanto 21 iterates on a proven platform, the change in handle material and the exotic tanto configuration make it feel like a brand new knife.
Lighter, and with a rarely-seen, very effective blade shape, it’s is an exclusive that brings something different to the table. It should be equally appealing to CRK aficionados looking to complete their collection, as well as customers looking for a truly excellent – and truly beautiful – tool to put in their pocket.
Knife featured in image: KnifeArt.com Exclusive Chris Reeve Large Sebenza 21 Carbon Fiber – Tanto Blade