The Cutting Edge

The official blog of Knife Depot

Why You Should Never Buy Knockoff or Counterfeit Knives

“I’ll never be able to afford a Sebenza.”

“I want to try out a SOG Tomcat before a get a real one.”

“I wasn’t going to buy a real one anyway — might as well get a fake.”

“It’s not hurting anyone.”

These are common arguments from people trying to justify buying knockoff and counterfeit knives.

To those people, all I say is NO. Counterfeit knives are not only harmful to the designers and makers but can also be harmful to you.

If you’re not dissuaded from buying clones or knockoffs, this post will hopefully open your eyes to the dangers and pitfalls of buying fakes. Here’s why you should only buy a real and legitimate knife.

A Note on Terminology

Clones, knockoffs, counterfeits, homages. What’s the difference? All of these terms are typically used to mean one of two things.

A knife passed off as the real thing.

A counterfeit knife is one that looks exactly like the real thing — with branding, all the design elements, and even packaging information — but is not from the actual company.

A knife that steals designs from another model.

If it looks like a Spyderco, functions like a Spyderco, but is called an Arachnidco, it’s a stolen design. It may not have the branding of the original but it may be a heavily borrowed design. This is not necessarily a counterfeit knife, but the effects are the same.

1) Counterfeit knives cause loss in sales.

This one is the most obvious reason not to buy a counterfeit knife: you’re taking away money from those who made the original. Multinational brands typically lose around 10 percent of their annual revenue to counterfeiters, according to the Secretary General of the International Chamber of Commerce.

The American Knife & Tool Institute has some knife stats for you.

“Based on the latest ‘AKTI State of the Sporting Knife and Tool Industry Report,’ we conservatively estimate that the annual financial impact on the sporting knife and tool industry is around $80 million,” said AKTI Executive Director Jan Billeb back in 2013.

Imagine spending all this time, money, and resources on making the best product possible only to have everyone copy the product and sell it as their own. Not only does all your hard work go unpaid but it has to feel just awful and could possibly discourage people from making new things.

Millions of dollars each year are going away from those who deserve it to criminals trying to make a buck off of others.

2) Knife companies incur unforeseen costs.

Aside from the loss of revenue from sales, counterfeiting puts a big financial burden on knife companies you may not have considered.

First, there’s the customer service aspect. You get a lot of people going to warranty departments of major brands to get their knockoffs fixed.

Here’s what Benchmade’s Les De Asis said about that to AKTI:

“We’ve experienced counterfeits bearing our trade name and trademarks coming into our warranty department. Some were attempts to copy our products. Others bore no resemblance to our genuine products but had our brand name stenciled on them. Bottom line – buyer beware! You deserve to get what you pay for. We pride ourselves in our ability to innovate, satisfy, and take care of our customers’ needs. We share the consumer’s pain when we tell them it’s not a genuine Benchmade.”

Companies have to spend more resources trying to figure out warranties and fakes in their customer service department.

Second, there are tons of legal fees. Companies like Spyderco have been aggressively litigious against counterfeiters when they can, but lawsuits don’t come cheap. I bet Spyderco spends millions a year in legal fees taking on counterfeiters. Just this year alone, Spyderco has sued Kittery Trading Post (twice) for selling counterfeits and eBay for not stopping people from selling fakes (that case was recently settled).

Finally, there’s the monitoring of counterfeiters. To really stay ahead of the game, you have to put in measures and safeguards to ensure you’re always a step ahead of the fraudsters.

3) Your money is used to fund crime.

If you look up reasons why you shouldn’t buy knockoff Gucci bags or counterfeit CDs, you’ll often see people link counterfeit products with organized crime. While it is true that counterfeit goods have funded drug cartels, terrorists, and gangs, there is no clear evidence between counterfeit knives and organized crime.

I’m trying not to be an alarmist and link the two, but either way, you’re funding a criminal operation when you buy a counterfeit knife. Stealing intellectual property is a crime, so what counterfeiters are doing is illegal.

In fact, Chris Reeve believes Chinese counterfeiting operations may even be supported by the Chinese government.

“I believe, although I have no evidence, there is assistance given by the Chinese government to these endeavors, whether it is active and financial or simply turning a blind eye.”

I know it can be expensive for some people, but buying fakes just encourages more illegal activity and worse.

4) It harms the reputation of the company.

Aside from simply causing the obvious financial loss to the knife company, counterfeit knives can also harm the overall reputation of the company.

While many people who buy fake knives do so knowingly, some do not. These people get poorly made knives with all the branding and understanding that it’s from the original company only to see it has major issues.

These people aren’t aware it’s a fake and assume the brand on the knife just makes awful knives.

Here’s an excellent video (well worth a complete watch) the late Marshall Hoots of Going Gear did with Spyderco’s Sal and Eric Glesser about fakes and more.

This is just an excerpt of the conversation about reputation:

There are companies that develop a good reputation and a good name. Then there are companies that usually come out of China that will make a counterfeit and they’re getting better… It hurts our reputation when somebody buys one and they don’t get the performance or longevity that they expect, but it’s a bigger problem than most people are aware of.

5) Fakes can be dangerous to you.

Whether you have a very cheap knockoff of a SOG or a well-done fake of a Sebenza, you can be in danger of severe injury when using a counterfeit knife.

Why? Well, the knife is almost always going to be far worse and less reliable than the original. Here’s what CRKT has to say about that:

First, the consumer takes the risk of serious product defects, and the possibility of product failure and/or injury. The knockoff pirate company is not to be found to make good on the failure, or even to be pursued for damage claims.

Second, the inferior quality of knockoffs usually results in poor performance, reduced edge-holding ability and short product life. These are not the real CRKT® knives and tools that users tell us they cherish for years and years.

Things like a poor lockup, loose pivot, and brittle steel can result in a catastrophic failure of your knife. And, if you’re using it with any force, it could be the end of your fingers (or worse).

6) You don’t know what you’re getting.

Similar to the reason above (but less compelling), you don’t know what you’re actually getting. A counterfeiter may say the blade steel is S30V, but it could be 5Cr13 stainless steel. The same goes the locking mechanism. It may look like an AXIS lock but function completely differently (and therefore less effectively).

There are no standards for counterfeiters and while some can be very well-made, it’s just too risky.

7) They don’t promote actual sales.

There’s a specious argument out there that clones can help promote sales of the original company. This is patently false.

Counterfeiters explicitly say the knives are clones or homages so you can try them out. Instead of shelling out the $400 for your Sebenza, you can try out a clone. The truth is that people aren’t rushing to buy the real thing after — either because they may just be OK with the clone or because the clone is inferior and they don’t want to pay the $400 (even though the actual is significantly better).

Again, even if you are buying a knife to try it out, it still supports the overall counterfeiting effort affecting nearly every aspect of the fake knife trade.

8) There are so many other options.

So maybe you can’t afford a Sebenza or a Microtech, but why, why why do you need to buy a fake? There are thousands of other legitimate knives from legitimate companies at affordable prices. Even Spyderco makes cheaper versions of some of their popular knives. In fact, they have a whole line called Byrd knives that are essentially Chinese knockoffs.

#murderweaponmonday #spiderco #sebenzafake #framelockporvida

A post shared by jay? s (@johnny__balls) on

Can’t afford a Spyderco Endura? Get a Byrd Cara Cara 2. Can’t afford a Chris Reeve Mnandi? Get a Benchmade Megumi. Can’t afford a Victorinox SwissChamp? Get a Victorinox Cadet. Sure, these are all different knives with different personalities, but you have options.

Companies like Gerber, CRKT, Buck, Case, SOG, Kershaw, and more have quality knives at reasonable prices. There’s simply no need to buy a fake these days.

And if you really must have that robust and awesome SOG Fatcat, start saving instead of giving money to counterfeiters.

9) You’re supporting scammers.

This goes back to the second point, but there’s something disgusting and immoral about supporting people who are scamming others for a living. These people do some really questionable stuff. They may write fake reviews, fail to give refunds, scam unsuspecting customers, and worse.

There’s nothing I hate doing more than supporting a scam artist and a thief.

Scammers are spread across the world. Although we know China is a big culprit , people sell fakes here in the United Staes as well. This is a worldwide problem that you should not support in any way.

While you’re free to do what you want with your money, I urge you to avoid buying fakes at all costs.

12 Comments

  1. Nice try, but everyone knows this is all pure BS. I have a TON of knock-off knives. Nearly all of them are very well made and perform extremely well for the price. As for as Im concerned, only a complete idiot would spend 10-50 times the price when there are so many good knockoffs with several reputable reviews to back them. Stop wasting your money on grossly overpriced originals and buy knockoffs! Your wallet will thank your collection grows.

    • I’m with you brother.

    • Yes totally! I have recently purchased 5 Spyderco knock off knifes. Quality is the same, they are so cheaply priced and I just love them to death. I have some real Spyderco in the same model to compare to the counterfeits and can’t tell the difference whatsoever. They are not gonna fall apart on me or something tradgic like this article says. I could care less if the price hurts the company! Maybe they should lower their prices! Steel is really not all that expensive! A billot of S30V that could make 5 folding knives is like $90.00 how can companies justify charging us $500 or more for this steel? It’s jusr wrong. Counterfeit all the way baby!

  2. Collection? Of counterfeit products? What’s the point? I can see you buying one to carry/use (at risk of failure and injury), but collect I just don’t get. I don’t believe in spending money on counterfeits (but if I got them for free maybe), but if you’re willing to live with inferior quality, perhaps sharpening far more often due to much lower quality steel, that’s your choice. I think that the lifetime of knockoffs vs authentics comes out to about the same in the long run, considering lifespan, only with a lot less hassles along the way. Just my opinion. I’ve experienced knockoffs of other products, and personally, especially as you get older, you really want less hassles in life.

  3. Seriously, you take the position of supporting fakes and counterfeiting. I cannot imagine a worse position to take and your justification for doing so is abhorrent.

    A collection of Fakes – that’s mind boggling.

    I have seen a number of people show up in hunting camps with these types of products and I have seen a number of “accidents” caused by inferior products and most of the time they are knock offs. These accidents are not just limited to knives but mechanical tools, devices etc. You get what you pay for injuries and all.

    Most importantly you undermine and undercut people and businesses that have taken the risk to design, develop and produce a great product.

    You support the counterfeiters who are in it for a quick buck at the expense of everyone else. I am not one to pass judgement, I do however stand up for morals, ethics and integrity.

    Happy not to know you.

  4. While in the majority of cases there are significant quality deficiencies in knockoffs… I think it is being disingenuous to say that people should never buy them…
    The basic reality is some people are limited financially and knockoffs while lower quality carry two benefits…
    They typically have a much stronger design than extremely basic/cheap knives since they are based on expensive designed knives… So they look better and have better features
    They typically have better quality than standard knives… This is because in trying to “be” a knockoff.. They have slightly better quality in order to be able to try and pass as an original… So while they will never have the full quality.. They are a very viable and sometimes better option for someone on a limited budget

    Everyone is free to make their own choices… I hate when articles like this try to tell people what to do…
    How you will change people’s habits/choices is to inform and educate them… Not “tell” them to do something…
    A person armed with all information available will typically make a better choice… But at the end of the day the best choice for an individual should always be THEIR choice…
    I have a mix of knockoffs and real brand knives… And i would make the same decisions again… Infact some of my knockoffs have turned out to have longer life/better quality than some of (different knives granted) real ones.

    In summary:
    Each to their own I say, we shouldn’t dictate, we should educate!

  5. What about Cold Steel’s Canadian Belt Knife? It’s a knockoff on the Grohman original. Or the R. Murphy Skinning Knife, which is as well.

  6. What about the Colt M1911, which has been cloned countless times over the years. Or the AR15, AK47, or Shelby Cobras (and even Mustangs)? All of these have been cloned with resounding success, yet there is still a market for the originals.

    I totally and wholeheartedly agree about trademark infringement and counterfeits being a serious issue, but I don’t see anything wrong with sterile homages sporting different features. Not to mention, there are some very impressive overseas makers that offer more/better features than the original maker, at a better price point. For example, I have a DSK Tactical Diamondback flipper, sporting 6mm CTS-XHP blade stock, tritium tubes in the tab, a skullcrusher backspacer, and a ball bearing pocket clip. The original has no flipper, utilizes lesser and thinner steel, and bears none of the other features mentioned (nor are they offered by the maker.) There are no markings to lead anyone to believe it’s made by DSK Tactical… because it was never made to be passed off as an original, it was made to outdo the original.

    Colt still has an active following that buy their 1911s and AR15s, because they do retain their value as “originals,” but there are plenty of others makers that do it better, cheaper, and with more options. Just like Colt had to, knife makers will have to keep up with innovation and market trends to stay competitive. Every good idea brings about imitation and innovation, that’s just the way the world works. If more makers would offer licenses or import these clones to produce a value line (like Spyderco/Byrd,) they would make far more money, AND ensure their licensed products are made to their standards and specs. I know that if I ever wanted a Spyderco on a budget, I’d buy a Byrd before I’d buy a counterfeit, and most knife nuts have the same attitude.

    On a parting note… there are two kinds of knife nuts: collectors and users. There will always be a market for customs, midtechs, and one off pieces, though most who spend that kind of money on a knife do so as an investment. Other folks intend to carry and use their knives, and as much as they like a design, can’t justify the cost when they’re only going to use it and destroy it’s value. For them, a sterile homage (clone), or better yet a value model, simply makes more sense.

  7. Well… I agree about automatics with button or OTF fakes beeing really dangerous. While locked, theres some mechanism that stops blade from piercing your leg. So its wise to not rely on cheap fake in this case.

    But lets talk about particular case – you are willing to own specific rather expensive knife but you are too conscious to waste half of your payment on it. You either give up on this or buy well made chinese copy. No, not all chinese knives are crap. Well known knife companies still outsources some models to facilities in China.

    Blade steel? Most likely 8cr13mov, 440c or D2. All these are decent and meet needs of average user. There are reviews on yt, comparing quality of both copy and original to let you see what you are buying.

  8. Ok seriously! This article is talking about knife companies that are losing money to chinese clones!? So these companies intrusted their designs to one of the best known countries for stealing designs and making clones to rip consumers off of more money and they are wining! Ok so you buy a spyderco made in China and pay a high price for it in the U.S. and that’s ok. But buy a chinese clone for a fraction of the price and that’s BAD! THEY are probably the same company that made the Spyderco with the same materials! You “anti clones” are hypocrites!! If the U.S. company didnt send their designs to make it cheaper just so they could make more money then I see your point. Are knife companies losing money? Yes! But let’s look at this. Chinese clone $15, U.S. knife $50-$100. The only money being lost is the mark up! If the chinese can sell and ship for under $20 who is being scammed!! You hypocrites are! Make it here in the U.S. and leave it here, stop sending business overseas then gripe about it. By the way, dont think the Chinese clone company isnt making money at their low cost they are showing the sheeple what the truth is. Think about that the next time you buy your name brand knige stamped CHINA!

  9. Robert Deskins

    March 9, 2019 at 10:23 pm

    The TRUTH of what the author really means is he doesn’t want to deal with completion from China cause he works for an online knife retailing store.

    This company doesn’t make knives, they sell other people’s knives at a mark up and the many very good Chinese knockoffs are threat to this companies bottom line.
    I find this article to be entirely self-serving and, disingenuous not only in the way it attempts to disparage the Chinese clones but also in the way it tries to hide the continued justification of the pricing of name brand knives behind their concern for knife makers because the Chinese have proven with their many quality knockoffs that these knives that are sold from $300 to $1200+ can actually be made with quality materials & machining capabilities and sold for $100 or less.

    The folks who are doing real innovation & development and the true by hand custom makers are not being impacted by these knockoffs.
    I will say the Chinese companies should NOT use the company logos but when the product is a factory produced knife made to templates it shouldn’t cost more than a decent firearm or a current gen flagship Samsung or Apple smartphone as with these products the former requires a significant amount more technical skills to design and is a better weapon and, the latter is some of technically demanding highly sophisticated technology developed in history!

  10. It’s all too easy for guys who can afford those expensive ass knives to criticize the guys who can’t but want a little taste of that fine quality for themselves. I myself have bought one single clone in my life and it was of the Spyderco Civilian knife. When I laid eyes on that amazingly wicked design I knew I had to own one. But despite my best efforts I could never get together the $200 some odd dollars together to drop on anything but bills. So I did some exploring on the Internet and lo and behind I found a Civilian for a ridiculously low price. I couldn’t believe the price difference between the Spyderco site and this one I was looking at. This is before I had ever heard of a clone or a knock off. So I said screw it and I took a shot. Got the knife soon afterwards and it’s a pretty damn good knife and has remained so until this very day. Found out on down the road from a friend of mine that mine was a knock off and that’s why I had gotten it so cheap. I’m sure the original is better and made of more quality materials and whatnot but the store they’re sold from might as well be located on the bottom of the ocean for all the good it does me. So do I feel guilty about buying the knife that I could afford and deriving great pleasure from having it for years and years? Not even a little bit. Someday if I can ever get the money together I’ll probably buy myself an actual original Civilian but I’m not gonna throw away my faithful knock off either. Judging people for buying them is fucking idiocy. Maybe instead of getting all ramped up at a poorer man for buying what he can afford, get mad at a company who’s price point is so high that they damn near create an elitist sub culture of snobby Spyder-Snooters judging all those poor peasants for their pathetic Kershaws and Bucks. I mean it’s something to consider anyway.

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