Most knife owners appreciate the peace of mind that comes from an overbuilt tool. Sure, you can cut things with a $0.99 boxcutter, but what if your life depended on it? Wouldn’t you rather have something you know will work time and time again? Grayman is clearly one of the makers who is in touch with this concept. Well known for his robust fixed blades which are built to withstand the rigors of the most unrelentingly harsh environments, it’s no surprise that his entrance into the folder market was equally as tough.
The folder really looks the part. There is no mirror finish, exotic handle material, or gimmicks. Still, it commands your attention. Kind of like a race car stripped of all creature comforts, fancy paint, or Mercedes sexiness but still draws us in with it’s purpose built, no nonsense, trophy winning prowess.
The Satu folder comes in several different variations of titanium, carbon fiber, G10 and colored finishes. They all share the CPM S30V steel blade. This particular model is the Ti-Ti version with all titanium handles and belt clip. The finish is aluminum oxide bead blasted.
I have seen dozens of SATU pictures on the net, but I wasn’t quite ready for just how massive this thing is. At the same time, it is still very manageable, even as an EDC knife. The common sense utility of a knife clip needs no explanation, it readily clamps to your pocket, Molle Gear, drop leg platforms etc etc… The clip itself is titanium and is mounted with stainless hardware(Phillips I might add). Being right handed the clip suits me well and places the handle in my palm at arms reach.
If being carried in a front pants pocket, the knife appears completely unassuming. The only thing showing is the clip. Little does anyone know you have a folding machete in your pocket. It would be a nice touch to see holes drilled and tapped on the opposite side to better accommodate our south pawed SATU owners. You can also ditch the clip and carry in a sheath or kydex rig
The knife employs a frame lock system. The blade swings out smooth as butter and locks into place without a hint of wobble whatsoever. All of this done without having to oil the pivot bushing due to the self lubricating properties of the phosphor bronze shims. The frame lock design is a no brainer for this knife. Once the blade is locked out, the frame lock will become even more bulletproof as you grip the handle. I want to also mention how the knife sounds as you swing out the blade. Smooth as butter the frame lock does it’s job and settles into place with a satisfying “klick klack.” I did find myself wishing the opening lug was a few millimeters down from the fulcrum to give bit more leverage for the initial pop. This became less of a problem once the hinge broke in a bit. Once the blade is popped out slightly, the rest can be done with a variety of inertia openings.
I have heard a few unsubstantiated complaints about the 3/8 in pivot pin not being robust enough for the job. This is simply not true. The pivot pin is more than adequate especially considering the pin doesn’t really handle the load input from the blade once the liner lock falls into place it becomes one of three contact points. Case in point, I own a Case pocketknife I’ve carried since I was 12 that hinges on a 1/8 in pin, and is still going strong. I think the Satu will be just fine.
The blade is hefty and up to the task. The CPM S30V steel holds and edge well with a good heat treat, but it is also praised for it’s ability to be ground and sharpened with ease. The angle of the cutting edge is easy to find when you go to resharpen the blade. Grayman recommends a rough grit Arkansas stone to maintain a certain level of “toothiness” along the edge. A field expedient stone of a rough texture should be easy to source in a pinch, adding to the field survivability of the knife.
At first I was a bit concerned about the lack of texture on the handle. It turns out the Ergos of the knife don’t require it. The upper back edge of the handle and spine of the blade are notched. The frame lock cut out is also notched. The hold is completely solid in both forward and reverse grip. If texture is a concern, some skateboard tape could help in that department. Personally I am satisfied with the grip and my jeans will thank me for it.
Defense? Not sure if this was even a design intention but let’s face it, a steak knife from Denny’s can be used for defense if it came down to it. I would much rather have the Grayman. In fact it is kind of like the Self defense knife for people who don’t possess any knife fighting skills. The blade design lends itself to basic slashing techniques. The contour of the blade would resist getting hung up on a bone or tendon like a wharncliff or Spyderco “Civilian” blade might. There is a false edge extending down about two inches from the tip to give the blade some stabbing utility. If all you could manage was to get it out unopened, you can still use it to enhance hammer fist strikes. The intimidation factor of the thing could potentially deactivate a situation as soon as the blade is presented.
I carried the Blade everyday for about a week now. I usually carry a Delica or my Yojimbo II. After using the Satu for a week, I feel so inadequate clipping the Delica in my pocket. Seems like a toy when compared to the Satu. It is hard to have the confidence I had in it before. I went from thinking the Satu was an impossible EDC option, to not being able to leave home without it. I guess it is true that “It’s better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.
The Grayman Satu Ti-Ti sells for $390 on the Grayman website. The model a textured G10 on one side costs slightly less at $375.
A Note From The Editor: I own a Grayman Satu Ti-Ti and I absolutely agree with everything Mike wrote in this review. It is an incredible knife. It takes the best features of a folder and combines them with the best features of a fixed blade. I can easily see this replacing the need for a large fixed blade knife when camping or hunting.