By Matt Hecker
The main theme of this review is value. Bad Blood Knives builds some sturdy tools that are relatively well-priced for what you get. Today’s knife industry includes some very high-end, expensive knives, and not everyone can afford them, nor does everyone buy into the pricing structure. Many people want to be able to possess a knife of reasonable quality and still not have to spend too much. In addition, some people subscribe to the theory that knives are tools instead of some sort of fancy jewelry. They want to use the tools and not worry about scratching, scraping, or just generally messing up their knives. These two models from Bad Blood Knives and Hallmark Cutlery will appeal to these types of people and many more.
What You See
For this review, I tested both knives at the same time. Bad Blood Knives are produced by Hallmark Cutlery, and they include designs by Sean Kendrick and David Mosier. Both of the models reviewed here are designed by David Mosier. The Urban Mistress is a folding knife with a stainless steel pocket clip. The Decepter is a fixed blade knife that comes with a black fiber enforced, fitted nylon sheath that can be worn on a belt via a J-clip. It looks and feels very similar to Kydex. You can also remove the clip and attach the sheath to a pack with paracord or any other thin rope or string.
The first thing I noticed with both of these knives is the black and grey G10 scales. Both models have the same vertically striped pattern. This unique pattern is accomplished by layering the black and gray G10 multiple times. With so many companies using the standard black scales for the majority of their models, the black and gray colors are refreshing to see. The grey is on the brighter side, looking more like an off white color. The scales are also scalloped from top to bottom in a V-shaped pattern.
The next attribute that stands out is the sturdiness of both models. These knives are thick, tough, and built to withstand hard use. Both models have thick blades and thick G10 scales. The liners on the folding Urban Mistress are also thick, and create a strong liner lock.
On the folding Urban Mistress, I really liked the finger cutout and the rest of the handle. The knife fits very comfortably in my hand. The blade shape is a drop point design with a hollow grind. On the top of the blade, where it meets the handle when open, there is some simple jimping. I’m a big fan of jimping, regardless of what that says about me. There are no thumbstuds for opening the blade. Instead, the knife is opened via a flipper that is at the base of the lower side of the blade. I measured this folder, and it is just over 9.25 inches long, with a blade that is just a little more than 4 inches and a handle at 5.25 inches. The measurements on their website say the overall length is 10 inches, but I found the above measurements on my sample. While the knife is very sturdy, the exchange for this toughness is weight. This folder weighs 8.4 ounces, and it does feel quite heavy. I have found that every person is different when it comes to carrying a heavy or light knife. It comes down to personal preference. Also, the blade is made of 8cr14mov stainless steel. Overall, this folder is big, heavy, and tough.
On the fixed blade Decepter, I found similar attributes. The thick, 8cr14mov steel blade is a spear point shape however, but the thickness and the G10 scales are similar to the folder. This fixed blade is a full tang construction, one of my personal requirements for a fixed blade. The full length steel provides great strength and adds some heft to the handle. Due to the nature of a fixed blade, the overall thickness of the handle is less than the folder, but the Decepter’s handle is very comfortable and ergonomic. There is a little bit of jimping on this knife as well, and it is in the right location for my thumb in a regular grip. Bad Blood also chose to include a lanyard hole at the end of the handle. The overall measured length for this fixed blade is 9.25, with the blade coming in at just under 4.5 inches long, and the handle is 4.75 inches long. Again, the measurements on the website are a little bit different. This knife too is a bit heavy, weighing in at 6 ounces, and when sheathed, the combination weighs 8.3 ounces.
There is one thing that I think is important to note. Both knives came with excellent fit and finish. The grinds on both blades are even and the edges were quite sharp. The blade on the Urban Mistress is perfectly centered, the scales line up very well with the steel liners, the pocket clip sits nicely on the scale, the torx screws are drilled through the G10 and into the liners, and there is no side-to-side or vertical blade play. There’s even a black G10 spacer. I have many, many knives from other well-known companies that are four times the price of the Urban Mistress, and they very frequently have issues with centering and blade play. And these other companies brag about their high tolerances, but they frequently do not deliver. I’ll admit that I am a bit obsessive compulsive when it comes to fit and finish. I have gotten to the point where I won’t even buy a knife over the Internet because so many models have uncentered blades and an unacceptable amount of blade play. These two examples from Bad Blood knives demonstrate that you can get affordable, quality blades. Kudos to the manufacturer!
How They Work
I ran a number of simple tests on each model. The main things I look for are: handle comfort, cutting capabilities, and durability. I try to determine if there are any issues that manifest while opening the knife, cutting various objects, and then closing the knife. I don’t do torture tests because all knives have a breaking point (especially folders), and each type of knife has inherent strengths and weaknesses. For these two knives, I performed tests that included cutting 550 paracord, whittling a hard wood block, stabbing the wood block repeatedly, and cutting cardboard. The cutting tests are designed to see how comfortable the handle is after some use and how long the blade holds a usable edge. The stabbing tests are designed to see if the tip can hold up to the force of stabbing directly into hard wood without bending or breaking.
First up was the Urban Mistress folder. This model is opened via a flipper instead of thumbstuds or an opening hole. Due to a light detent, I needed to add a little bit of wrist action to get the blade to fully open, but it wasn’t a big deal. Once opened, the knife was very comfortable in the hand. I had no issues cutting the three different mediums I chose. Cutting the paracord worked fine, and I had no issue with the whittling or cardboard. I used an old pizza box, and I cut it up so it would fit in the garbage can easily. I also had no issues with the stabbing tests, using both a regular grip and a reverse grip. The tip survived intact. The jimping was helpful because it is perfectly located. After many cuts and stabs, I didn’t feel any hot spots on the handles. The edge was no longer shaving sharp, but it was still usable. 8cr14 does not have the same qualities as most super steels, but it does just fine as is. It is also traditionally easy to sharpen. Unlocking the liner lock was easy with one hand or two. One thing I did notice was that the edges of the blade and liners are cut a bit sharply. More expensive knives are finished a little bit more, but for these knives, it was not a big deal.
Next was the Decepter fixed blade. With the strategically located jimping and finger cutout, I had no issue drawing the blade out of the sheath. Once out of the sheath, the knife fit very well in my hand. The finger cutout for the forefinger is comfortable, and it acts as a nice guard by preventing your hand from sliding forward onto the blade. The Decepter also has a small palm-swell that is very nice. I performed the same tests as I did with the folder. I cut paracord, whittled wood, stabbed wood, and cut the cardboard pizza box. There were no issues with any of the cutting tests, and the spear point blade performed well when puncturing the cardboard and slicing downward. The handle was very comfortable with no hotspots or hand irritation in both the regular and reverse grips. After the tests, the steel was the same as the other tested knife. It was still usable, but not shaving sharp. I think it performed well. The Decepter slid back into its sheath with the same ease it came out.
What I Think
With the extreme sturdiness of both of these knives and the reasonable price, I think these knives are a great value. Aside from the overbuilt qualities, the handle comfort and the excellent fit and finish pleased me the most. The Urban Mistress can be found on the Internet in the $43 range, and the Decepter can be found in the $60 range. If you want a reasonably priced workhorse of a knife, try out these models from Bad Blood Knives.