LionSteel SR-1 Stainless Damascus Knife from Knifeart Review
As I begin my review of the LionSteel SR-1 Damascus folder, I am reminded that while any knife is better than no knife – especially when needed during the middle of a motorcycle tour – some knife owners don’t care a lick about what they carry.
But others do; some blades are so fine and of such quality, unique design and craftsmanship that they are often handled with reverence and awe. Such is the SR-1 for me. Contrarily, my pal Neil has a $11 DeWalt and he’s happy. Only you can decide what might be worthy of your money and interest.
LionSteel’s SR-1 knife in stainless Damascus raindrop pattern is simply a work of art that is amazing to behold. It’s a fine amalgamation of the knife maker’s art taken to a very high level by its Italian creators who machine the unique handle from a single block of titanium, lightly blasted it, then mated it with a 3.7-inch Chad Nichol’s American-made raindrop blade.
This knife received the Blade Show Best Imported Design Award in 2010, the year it was released, and has been a strong seller and popular in online forums with some people virtually drooling over this item. As a motorcycle rider I want to carry a strong, sharp blade, as an art lover I adore an artistic finish, as a motorhead I like titanium and ornate steel in most forms. Here, I get all my needs met in one knife.
Whether whittling a stick, hacking rope or cutting banana nut bread in Death Valley as I did last week, the SR-1 does the job well and is just stunning to look at. From a practical side, the balance of this 8.25-inch, 6.8 ounce, knife is perfect for me, the blade has an aggressive edge and the fluted-style handle feels just right. It may be too nice to use every day but that’s part of the mystique. Some might call this knife a tad too big for everyday carry but it fits perfectly in my back pocket or clipped to the arm adjuster strap of my ADV jacket.
Like the price, only you can decide whether this knife is the right size for your needs and whether or not it belongs in a display case or your pocket. I’m going to carry and use this knife and welcome whatever patina and marks proclaim that use.
I like the drop point shaped blade that is unusually broad at about 1.25 inches with a thickness around 3/16th inch and Rockwell hardness of 60-61 (claimed). This thick, wide and deep bellied shape makes for excellent outdoor and all-around use. It also contributes to the heft and this is great for a motorcyclist’s overall requirements. The stainless raindrop Damascus is beautifully done, well defined and polished. Personally, I can stare at the pattern for minutes on end tracing the layers whose pattern looks not terribly unlike the background in Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Sky.
Of more importance, to me, is form since function is assured. All angles and spaces on this knife are symmetrical and the blade is centered perfectly in the handle that undulates within my grip. And while the knife looks like it is heavier than it is, once I spent time with it in my hand, and was acclimated to its subtleties, I could then judge how light the handle actually was and that the point of balance was not too far back from the hinge.
After weeks in my hands I still can’t decide whether I like the handle or the blade more. Both are such attention-getters. LionSteel has CNC’d the solid block of titanium into graceful, subtle shapes. The interior and exterior are cleanly milled and there are no dithering marks anywhere. The curves that were carved are smooth and precise. The flutes on the handle are smoothly incorporated and the relief areas for the case lock are cut precisely. Fit and finish is perfect to the eye or fingers caressing the curves.
The knife incorporates a rotating safety lock, called a ROTOBLOCK, that locks the case liner lock in the open position and prevents over-flexing the liner lock when trying to close the blade. It works well but I am not sure I will ever need to engage it as the liner lock functions perfectly.
This liner lock is reinforced with a hardened stainless steel insert where it contacts the blade lock area and is replaceable if and when it wears out. The need for this insert is because titanium is softer than the blade steel and repetitive openings might wear it down. The pocket clip is reversible and is mounted to the back of the handle under one bolt. In this way the designer avoided having to drill holes in the handles. A spacer is included to fill the gap if you remove the reversible pocket clip.
The blade is extended by a thumb stud on each side. The hinge pivot rides on Teflon washers which accounts for its glass-smooth movement yet slightly stiff opening feel. Only the severest flicking of the wrist can aid in blade opening and I don’t view that negatively. Once open the blade locks with a precision feel.
Included is a carved wooden tray box, a wrench for the unique screws that control blade tension and pocket clip bolt. The MSRP is $485, and the Lionheart SR-1 is available exclusively from www.knifeart.com