Am I “Ready to Make It?” It’s an almost quintessentially American question, plastered across the side of a Chinese knife box. Inside is the RUIKE P801, a $30 flipper framelock running on (gasp!) ball bearings and featuring steel that’s more AUSpicious and 8Credible than many other knives MoVing in the same arena. Have I found the new king of budget blades? Read on to 440-see. (Ha! Steel puns.)
While deflation may be a bad thing in the realm of global economics, it’s certainly welcome in the knife world. Just look at this thing. Could you have found a budget knife this good ten, even five years ago? I doubt it. Here’s what your $30 gets you: 3.39-inches (114mm) of stonewashed, flat ground blade, sporting a plain edge wrought in 14C28N steel. Its drop point tip traces back to a spine that’s just 0.12-inches (3.1mm) thick, with an overall length of 7.87-inches (200mm). The P801 tips the scales at 4.23-ounces (120g) and maintains a thin profile in the pocket. It’s an eminently pocketable design, even taking the weight of its 3Cr14N handle into the equation.
I’m not normally a fan of steel-slab handles. They’re usually a bit cold and hard to grip, leaving me with a vaguely clammy feeling. The P801 somehow manages to avoid this gripe, perhaps because of its excellent overall ergonomics. From the blade jimping to its trigger-like lockbar cutout, the knife feels like it was made for my hand. (Which are medium-to-large, by the by.) Even the untextured flipper tab slips nicely into place, serving as a welcome finger guard.
I don’t know who RUIKE has been talking to, but they seem to have discovered one of my irrational weaknesses – I adore blue accents. So between its pocket clip, thumb studs, and pivot rings, the P801 scores a lot of style points. Anodization aside, this is one of my favorite clips. It provides plenty of ramp while still affording a deep ride and avoiding hotspotting in the hand.
There are other positives, too. The sharpening choil is nice, as is the execution of the plunge grind beneath the thumb studs. Once stowed, the blade maintains enough distance between the cutting edge and the liners to avoid nipping at your fingers. Disassembly was also a breeze though (Spoilers!) doing so voids RUIKE’s otherwise okay warranty.
Overall, I find this to be an aesthetically excellent knife. I’m not necessarily a fan of the matching finish on the blade and handle, but the accents and relatively tasteful lettering help offset this styling cue.
4.5 stars out of 5
First, the good. Other than the Steel Will Cutjack, this is the best sub-$50 flipper I’ve tested. With a light switch-style deployment, the blade flies reliably toward its 60-percent lockup. There’s also a satisfying SNIKT when the framelock snaps into place. Blade-play is minimal to non-existent, and you can get the knife to fall shut with a little wrist encouragement.
Can it cut? Oh, yes. The flat grind makes short work of onions, cardboard, and other fibrous materials. It’s also quite comfy in the hand, devoid of any major hotspots. If you’re an easy-use, office environment kind of knife user, you can probably stop reading here. Just assume I gave it a perfect score, and you won’t be disappointed. For the rest of you, well, it’s story time.
On Labor Day weekend, I decided to take a solo camping trip in Colorado’s San Juan National Forest. I chose to take the RUIKE P801 along for the ride, pairing it with my new Gerber StrongArm. Other than whipping it out for the occasional photo op, I don’t think I used the pocket knife for a single cutting task (the StrongArm is amazing). And yet, when I came home, the action was noticeably harsh. I took it apart, and this is what I found:
That’s right. Between carrying armloads of firewood and trekking through the forest, a whole lot of gunk made its way into the bearing race. It was a pretty disheartening find, given its easy trip. And I’m certain that this was acquired in the outdoors, because I’d cleaned and oiled the knife just a few days before taking it out. It’s worth noting that RUIKE did reach out to me when I posted the above photo on Instagram. Unfortunately, I suspect this is more of a general design flaw than a problem with this particular knife.
There are a couple other nitpicks, too. The thumb studs are a little difficult to use, and blade centering takes a while to dial in. But overall, the P801’s tendency to foul its action is really what hurts it the most. Heartbreaking.
2.5 stars out of 5
Unlike many budget-minded knife companies, RUIKE offers a decent warranty on their products. Per the booklet included in the box, buyers are protected from manufacturing defects with a 15-day replacement option, after which RUIKE offers five years’ worth of repair service. The company will continue to service the knife beyond this point, though you’ll be charged for parts and other costs.
But as hinted at above, any modification or disassembly nullifies your coverage. And with the amount of crud this thing accumulates, it’ll be a difficult temptation to avoid. This adds up to a sort of wishy-washy feeling in my gut. I want to keep this knife forever. It’s beautiful, and it only cost me $30. But I can’t trust it for even the most basic medium-duty use, unless I feel like cleaning it out every couple weeks.
2 stars out of 5
For all its budgetary acclaim, I don’t think the RUIKE P801 is a particularly great value. “What?” you might say. “It’s a slick-flipping $30 knife!” I know, I know. Let me state my case.
First, I can’t deny the value the P801 brings to the table – Good steel, great action, and surprisingly solid construction. But it’s the limitations of the knife that keep me from giving a wholesale endorsement. I can’t carry it on the jobsite. Nor can I take it camping or hiking, and I’m wary of using it for home improvement tasks. So where does the RUIKE fit in? It’s fine around town and the office, and its slicey blade serves it well during food prep. But, again, kitchen duty can cause the action to gum up.
Still, the value here can’t be denied. It’s gorgeously accented, great in the hand, and wonderful in the pocket. While it may favor form over function, it still beats the pants off of most $30 knives on the market.
3 stars out of 5
Look – As a value or tech demo, the RUIKE P801 is a really cool piece. I’d recommend it to anyone seeking a light-duty, attractive folder for formal occasions. Its slim profile and sharp styling will make it acceptable in spots where other modern, over-built folders simply wouldn’t fit. But as an EDC knife, I just can’t see it.
Still, I’d like to check out more blades from the folks at RUIKE. They’re so close to greatness on this one, and I’d encourage you to give them a look.
Where to Buy
Amazon (Rated 4.7 out of 5 stars over 13 customer reviews)