Reate knives
Iron Folder M390 Steel CF Inlays

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Reate knives Iron Folder M390 Steel CF Inlays

The other day I was just browsing the net, circa summer 2020. Pandemic, boredom, I figured I should get a new knife. That seems to be the right decision anytime of the year, but especially during pandemic, lockdowns, masks and all that. This specific search/research session landed me on 3 folders actually, the other two being Bester Eskra flipper, as of this time of writing this review(circa may 2021) in my right pocket, and a We Knife Company 910B 037 Flipper Knife. As you can see, all three share a few key characteristics, being high end, titanium framelocks, using Bohler-Uddeholm M390 stainless steel. The later is all the craze last couple years, even though Bohler-Uddeholm M390 steel has been around for a long time now, I'll talk about it in steel section later. What I am sortta baffled, and to some degree dismayed, is the framelock obsession, not mine BTW, knife makers. Axis lock is no longer a patent, there have been several variations of it already, there's also button lock and few others to choose from. I have no clue why framelocks are so prevalent in high end and all other end folders too. Anyway, it is a functional lock and I did like the knife, so I got Reate Iron too. Picked a model with thumbstuds, because I think it looked better on this particular design, which is also available in a flipper variant.

Reate knives Iron Folder M390 Steel CF Inlays


- As you've already summized, Reate Iron is a high end Titanium framelock folder. Short description aside from that would be: a medium folder with a relatively broad, drop point blade. However, that description doesn't really do justice to it. Very well made knife, looks and feels like a top notch gadget. Therefore, fidgeting factor is very high :) Fit and finish are top notch, everything is very precisely machined and put together with excellent precision. All surfaces are smooth, again excellent work on those as well. No gaps, nothing wobbles or rattles, action is butter smooth thanks to ceramic ball bearings and should stay that way for a long time. Opening is easy using a thumb or middle finger plus flick technique. Out of the box edge was approx 15° per side, and was decently sharp. Although, I always sharpen all of my knives myself, for several reasons, but main reason is that I can make them sharper ;)

Reate Iron comes in number of variations, and my personal choice was Carbon-Fiber(CF) inlays and green accents. Looks simply gorgeous. Even though I am not much for multicolored/rainbow palette knives, I do think colored accents, pivot screws, etc. can improve visuals on the knife, and yes I did pick up quite a few anodized screw sets on etsy. Anyway, back to Reate Iron. Even though it's a wide blade folder, still hardly noticeable in the pocket. Overall, the Iron is heavier than other Titanium framelocks with 3" blades, obviously due to its wide blade. Despite its wide blade folder and weight, still hardly noticeable in the pocket.


- Reate Iron features 98.40mm(3.87") long blade, that is 33mm wide at its widest. Blade geometry can be described as drop point, though it's more of a leaf shaped, so I guess it can be a spear point as well. Top part of the blade is flat, and the rest is hollow grind. One description would be 2/3rd hollow ground. The choil is also present, not too pronounced, but well defined enough to be useful. Iron has a fairly thick blade for a folder, 4mm spine if you want to be precise, however hollow grind tapers down to a thin, high performance edge. Iron is a high performance cutter in most cases, unless you are cutting something really thick and sticky, deeper than the hollow grind height on the blade, which isn't really that often, not in my use anyway, especially given the width of the blade.

The blade on Iron has nice satin finish, top flat section being noticeably more polished, getting closer to mirror polish, although it's not really mirror finish. I don't have any other folder in my fairly decent collection with this blade geometry though. Makes an interesting specimen. Spine thickness on Reate Iron is 4mm, which is quite a bit, especially for a folder. Still, thanks to hollow grind, I have on complaints neither about its cutting ability nor its usability as a small folding knife for typical daily/urban chores.

Bohler-Uddeholm M390 Steel

- As I mentioned at the beginning, these days (circa 2021) Bohler-Uddeholm M390 Steel is all the rage today, and apparently no high end folder can be produced without it or titanium handle with framelock on it. Not that it's a bad steel, to the contrary, it is a very good, highly stain resistant, 3rd gen PM steel. Relatively fine grained as well, given its highly alloyed composition, including 4% Vanadium, 1% Molybdenum and 20% Chromium. Still, for one I'd like to see variety and there are other steels that can work as well or better for specific applications or edge geometries, I certainly do not want to see one steel be all situation.

Another thing is, as it turns out, Bohler-Uddeholm M390 Steel isn't trivial to heat treat properly and not every manufacturer does it right, or shall we say optimally. Simply put, in many cases, you'd be better of with lower grade steel properly heat treated because that steel was easier to heat treat, vs, having more expensive, higher grade steel that needs complicated heat treatment protocol. What good is a premium steel if heat treatment is sub par. Anyway, that was a minor general rant :) In my Reate knives, Bohler-Uddeholm M390 Steel seems to be doing fine, and I do keep relatively thin edges on them, so I think I'd notice it something was wrong by now.


- Bohler-Uddeholm M390 Steel has considerable ab rasive wear resistance, after all it does have 4% Vanadium and properly heat treated it can reach 60-61 routinely. Although, I've heard reports of doing some HT magic to get it all the way up to 64HRC, but so far I was unable to get my hands on a blade like that. Still, with minimal experience and decent sharpening tools, it isn't all that problematic to sharpen. M390 Steel works better with a coarse edge, or in other words, there's not much sense sharpening it to 100K high polish edge, so 600-800 grit is all you need, making sharpening process a lot faster. Often I just use DMT Diafold Diamond sharpener, just go with the Red(600 grit) followed by light stropping on a plain leather, and the knife is good to go for a long while, with a very aggressive edge.


- Reate Iron handle is made out of 6Al4V titanium alloy. Popular handle material for quite a while. Surface is bead blasted, and as you can see on the linked images, it is very well done, even and smooth, no defects anywhere. Although, eventually scratches and dents will develop, I do carry it a lot, and often times in the pocket with my keychain and keys. Carbon Fiber inserts are very nice looking and give Iron very elegant look, at least in my opinion they do. Smooth finish is true for Carbon Fiber inlays as well. Green pivot and handle screws look very nice. I like the addition of small details in a different color, not to big to become distracting, but makes a difference in terms of visuals. There are at least three different handle variations from what I've seen, green and brown micarta in addition to CF.

Handle ergonomics are good, even though it's not a large folder, the grip is almost 4 fingers comfortably and you can also use the choil to choke down if you need that for more precise tasks. The pocket clip is also titanium, and aside from being functional, it's has nice visual design too. Interestingly, may be it's just me but the clip shape looks very similar to titanium insert shape on the opposite side of the handle. Nice detail, and kudos to the designer. Rounding up pocket clip description, it is a non reversible, tip up carry, right side clip, so lefties won't really be happy with that part.

And finally, few words about grip security and ergonomics. As I already mentioned few times, handle finish is very smooth, both Ti and CF sections, which obviously doesn't do much for grip security. However, the handle shape is natural, and the shape itself provides secure enough grip. For the knife of this size, Reate Iron less likely to be used for hard cutting and chopping, with wet grip. It's a small folder, for delicate and moderate difficulty cutting at most. Use it wisely and you'll be satisfied. I can tell you that much, been carrying it a lot.


- Typical urban dweller folder use for me. On regular rotation, albeit at ahigher frequency. since I like it a lot. Remember, I said fidget factor is very high :) So, most of the time I do use it to open miscellaneous packaging, tape cutting, plastic wraps, paper, fancy letter opener, although for the later it's really not a good choice, given its blade width. Too wide for a letter opener. Sometimes, when I am about to take the garbage out and I notice few boxes of cardboard in the garage, that also falls victim to Reate iron. I did use it for some food cutting on occasion, that is when I am out partying, but other than that, at home there's no need to use for food, having 40+ high quality kitchen knives at my disposal. As for the maintenance, so far it's been super easy, once in a while I just touch up on the 600 grit Red DMT Diafold Diamond sharpener and that's all it needs. Obviously, sooner or later I have to do more serious sharpening, but I don't expect that for at least a year based on my use, even though my demands for the sharpness of my knives are very high. Whenever that rebeveling happens, most likely I will keep 15° per side edge, lower than that isn't well suited for 60-61 HRC steel, at least outside of the kitchen, that is, in my opinion of course.


- Ran standard battery of tests for the folder/light use knives. Considering the relatively coarse edge, I was using slicing motion vs. push cutting. Started out with the cardboard test, went through about 200" of it, and stopped, since I had no more and didn't feel like messing with small pieces to cut them down into smaller ones. Edge held up very well, curved, hollow groud edge does do well, flat spine didn't produce any noticeable drag on cardboard. Handle ergonomics are good, and despite being on the smaller side, I didn't experience any hotspots on my palm, although I am not sure what'd happen if I had to cut cardboard for fwe hours in a row, I'd definitley reach for something like Phil Wilson CPM 10V Hunter Or Phil Wilson K294 Bow River. In short, you get the idea, Reate Iron can do well on cardboard, but for a lot of it, you better get better suited knife.

Post cardboard, as usual, the next step is miscellaneous items. The idea being to cut miscellaneous, not so edge friendly items around the garage, that I might have to cut at any day, related to what I am tinkering with, based on my current hobby project that same day. So, first came the PVC, ~3mm thick walls, ¼" inner diameter, that's the one I use for watrcooling my computers, so there's plenty of it in my garage at all times. Blade is wide enough to go through the tubing in one slice, without flat spine getting in a way. Made a dozen cuts, very satisfactory, pass. Slices on a 6mm rubber sheet, that went rather easy, the coarse edge ripped through the rubber like it wasn't even there, although ripped isn't exactly the correct term, cuts were very clean. Tested the edge at the end of this section, no noticeable edge degradation was observed. That was your standard hair shaving + free hanging paper tests, both of which passed easy.

And to conclude the test session, strength test, and no, I do not test folders Forged In Fire style :) Folders are meant to be efficient cutters, ok may be some are designed to be tanks, but still, those will never match fixed bladed in overall strength due to obvious design limitation - the thing has to fold in the middle... Anyway, strength test is much more of the edge strength test to see if the angle I have on the edge is strong enough to deal with my cutting requirements, and that's pretty much it. As usual, I start with wire cutting. Typically, I cut several different types of wire. The wire cutting is done with steady hand(as much as I can obviously), pushing down on the blade vertically, and wire is perpendicular to the edge. It's very easy to seriously damage the edge by exerting lateral loads on the edge, so be careful if you do it. I went through the same set I usually do: copper, aluminum, steel wires, plus RG6 coaxial cable. No edge damage, 15° per side edge is 30° total, and official target HRC 60-61HRC. THe result was in line wity my expectations, based on my observations of other similar blades, like Hinderer Design 0562 M390 CF Model ZT0562CF. No damage visible to a naked eye, examination with 20x magnifying glass didn't reveal any rolling or chipping either. All in all, solid performance by Reate Iron.


- Reate Iron is a very well made, high end knife, with a price to match. 325$ isn't neither a budget nor even mid range knife, I'd have ot be honest about that. What you are getting is quality, premium materials and a very nice design. I like playing with this knife, and it's a very solid performer for a folder of its size. Is it practical? Probably not, you can get similar performance, in Bohler-Uddeholm M390 steel. On the other hand, if you want performance and top notch quality and cool design, then it is practical I guess. it all depends on your budget I suppose and your taste to a considerable degree. I suspect you are not gonna fork out 325$ for a knife you don't like visually, and the performance and build quality alone won't overweight that factor. So, in the end, if you like it, go for it, the rest, performance, materials and build quality are very good.


  • Blade - 82.55mm(3.25")
  • Thickness - 4.00mm
  • Width - 33.00mm
  • OAL - 191.00mm(7.52")
  • Steel - Bohler-uddeholm M390 steel at 59-61HRC
  • Handle - Bead Blasted 6Al4V Titanium with Carbon Fiber Inlay
  • Weight - 135.40g(4.58oz)
  • Acquired - 08/2021 Price - 325.00$

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Last updated - 05/09/21