When I published my Deka review, I mentioned at the end of that review rumors of a forthcoming version with Magnacut steel. This is my review for that version. It is most excellent, but has one glaring tradeoff you need to be aware of.
That said, those who want a knife and don’t want to think about which to get or spend a bunch of money — this is that knife. It’s great.
Materials & Steel
Right here is where the big changes are. Hogue takes there Deka platform and makes two big changes. The first is swapping the blade steel from 20cv, to CPM Magnacut. The second is swapping the scale material from G10 to Polymer.
Let’s start with the blade steel. Magnacut is an upgrade from 20cv in every way. It’s a more durable steel, easier to sharpen, and honestly I can’t see a downside when pitted only against 20cv. That’s certainly been proven out for me with this knife, I snagged one in both Clip Point and Wharnie to test. Both performed very well. The only steel I like better than Magnacut right now is CPM CruWear, but they are very close in use/practice so the preference is marginal at best.
So the steel change is a big deal, and a huge win.
The second change is the scales. Presumably to push the cost of the knife down, Hogue changed from G10 scales to Polymer. This is a net negative for the knife, but there is a slight positive to this. I know, I’ll explain.
The G10 scales had one flaw, and one downside. The flaw was that the grooves are rather sharp on the edges which meant that the scales were/are a little grippy to fabrics so pulling the knives smoothly out of a pocket or something can be less than smooth. The downside was that they are heavier in weight — some might call that upside, but I don’t see that being the case on this knife. The huge benefit of G10 is that it is robust and stout.
With the change over to Polymer for the scales they almost completely flipped this stuff around. The scale groves (while visually similar) are rather relaxed and thus somewhat smoother feeling, and certainly don’t grip fabric like the G10. The Polymer is also much lighter, make the knife feel more nimble. But the downside is that they are not as stout feeling, so now the handle has some flex to it with the Polymer — flex which did not exist with the G10 scales. This is why this change is a net negative — flex on the handle of a knife is not good, it’s not ideal, and you’d be hard press to find someone say they want a knife handle to flex. It’s not a ton, but it’s enough given how stout the G10 was/is.
So to summarize: blade steel good, new handles bad.
Cutting / Magnacut Performance
As I mentioned, I picked up both blade shapes this go around, and they are both excellent. The Wharniecliffe is better for slicing, and the Clip Point for almost everything else.
Anyways, how is Magnacut? The hype is huge around this steel, but it doesn’t completely translate to usage. This is absolutely a great steel, there’s no doubt about that. It sharpens easily, it holds a great edge, and it feels really durable. All of that is true. But it’s also true that all sharp knives feel sharp, and all modern super steels hold a mean edge. And also true that I am not going to test toughness outside of my normal use of a knife.
The only real thing to talk about is the edge retention as that is the most pertinent and easy to talk about. I sliced the ever loving shit out of a load of boxes with these knives — repeatedly. They felt sharp the entire time, they never seemed to be that dull. And a quick two-three passes on a ceramic loaded strop brought them back to hair splitting sharp. The only other steel I have seen perform better with this type of use is CruWear, but it requires a bit more work to sharpen back up when it does dull, but it didn’t even need a strop after a similar test. So when you are talking about edge retention and ease of sharpening, Magnacut is one of the best, if not the best steels out there.
For a pocket knife that you want to EDC? This is as perfect of a steel as you can ask for. I don’t think there’s a need to swap all out to Magnacut over your current, but I am fast losing interest in knives which don’t have Magnacut or CruWear as their steel choice. Both are supremely impressive steel and reduce the ownership maintenance significantly.
Carrying & Use
I still love this knife, so you can look at my other Deka review as well. The polymer scales actually carry pretty well, though I don’t love using the knife with these scales as much. I do have a slight preference for the Clip point variation of the blade, as it feels more well rounded and less aggressive to use. But it’s a mild preference at most.
I’ll note that the black coating on the blade essentially started to wear off after the first 6 boxes were broken down. The coating is really for aesthetics, but be aware that the coating kind of sucks from a durability perspective.
In short: Clip Point is my new choice, no coating.
Ok, but I had four Dekas at once, so I took the blade out of my original 20cv Deka, and stuck the Magnacut Clip Point blade in the G10 handles. It worked perfectly. That’s my new Frankenstein Deka, and it’s perfection.
You get the stout handles of the G10, with the much better blade steel. So if you are feeling really stupid, this is for sure the best avenue forward. And yes, someone did buy the 20cv with Polymer handles model off me so it wasn’t the most expensive change ever.
This knife has an MSRP of $150, but the actual retail price comes in at $128 most places. That’s a bargain for this knife no matter how you slice it, then when you consider how good the steel and overall knife is — everyone probably needs one of these.
Highly recommended. Find at BladeHQ.