Over the past few years, I have said a few things about Mantis Knives, but I have never actually fooled around with or owned one of their products. Well, this past weekend, an opportunity presented itself to put the rubber to the road – Jared West, the president of that particular company, was offering his MT-1 Silver for all of $20 (half price), and he would throw in a B-3 Necessikey and shipping for free. Half price and free? Well, hell, that has “me” written all over it.
Before we continue, I will point out that I have reviewed a few knives before, and I will go ahead and follow roughly the same pattern again (all measurements are mine, and some differ from those quoted on the Mantis webpages).
– MT-1 Sliver: $40
– B-3 Necessikey: $16
– MT-1 Sliver: 4.5″
– B-3 Necessikey: 1.5″
– MT-1 Sliver: 7.125″
– B-3 Necessikey: 4.125″
– MT-1 Sliver: 2.625″
– B-3 Necessikey: 1.25″
– MT-1 Sliver: 2.75 ounces
– B-3 Necessikey: 1.125 ounces
– MT-1 Sliver: 420HC coated with something black.
– B-3 Necessikey: 420HC
– MT-1 Sliver: “The Dash” (effectively a recurve drop-point).
– B-3 Necessikey: Spear point.
– MT-1 Sliver: 6061 Aluminum with clearcoat.
– B-3 Necessikey: Polymer
– MT-1 Sliver: No.
– B-3 Necessikey: No.
– MT-1 Sliver: Ambidexterous thumb studs.
– B-3 Necessikey: Thumbnail notch.
– MT-1 Sliver: Liner lock.
– B-3 Necessikey: Slip joint.
– MT-1 Sliver: None.
– B-3 Necessikey: Keychain ring.
– MT-1 Sliver: None.
– B-3 Necessikey: LED flashlight, bottle opener.
– MT-1 Sliver: Unconditional lifetime warranty, no limit on owners.
– B-3 Necessikey: Unconditional lifetime warranty, no limit on owners.
– MT-1 Sliver: None.
– B-3 Necessikey: None.
The Good: To the MT-1’s credit, it should fill the purpose I purchased it for quite nicely – a disposeable, 3″-or-less bladed knife that I can take overseas with me and not be terribly heartbroken over if I lose it. The knife laws in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland basically amount to “do not”, so it will be riding around in my luggage our entire time there, but while we are in Slovenia, I will, of course, be carrying it, given that country cares significantly less about law-abiding citizens carrying ancient tools. It is definitely a light knife, and while the handle is markedly longer than it needs to be (enough that even Better Half commented on it), that means its somewhat slim frame reaches all the way across my palm, ensuring that even my slightly oversize mitts can get a good grip on it – slipping while holding a knife is typically a bad thing. The silver of the aluminum is about as uniform and even as you can get it, the bead-blasted-emulating texture keeps the shine from being blinding, and the subdued red ring around the hinge bolt adds a nice accent to the overall piece. As usual, all of the nuts are Torx-based, and while I would very much prefer if knife companies were to get away from that stupid-assed screw design, it is, at least, the industry standard, meaning I already have the right tools. Finally, when open, the spine of the knife and its handle describe a continuous, smooth curve, which does make the engineer in me smile a little.
The B-3’s flashlight is definitely bright enough to help you find your car’s keyhole in the middle of the night, and being able to replace the battery for that light (rather than the entire unit) is definitely a benefit. The knife blade seems a bit too short for anything other than package opening and such, but the bottle opener would be a hit for the right kind of people, I guess.
The Bad: Speaking of slipping, while that aluminum on the MT-1 is rather attractive, and the clearcoat should keep it preserved for a while, it is also slick as snot, and rather difficult to hold onto even with dry hands. Likewise, without a pocket clip, this knife will just be riding around loose in those pockets, with naught but gravity holding it in place – with no rubber or other grippy material, there is scant little stopping it from popping out at an inopportune time. The black material on the blade seems to be nothing more than paint, with all of the durability thereof (in fact, the folded paper I was cutting was able to put a substantial scratch in it), and the black paint on the inside frame and liner lock of the knife is already starting to fade/chip (three days after I received it, mind you). And speaking of the liner lock… if they had made the jimping on it any smaller, it would be completely unuseable. Last but not least, the choil intended to make accessing the thumbstud easier is not terribly well lined up with the protrusion in question, leaving one to catch the thumbstud on an edge… an edge that, if my thumb is any indication, actually has an edge – the inside of my thumb where it caught the stud looks like it was used as a scratching post by a somewhat rabid gerbil.
Last but not least, the stamping process for the knife is horribly deficient – rather than radiusing the first of the double bevels, such that the edge maintains a constant thickness from point to the belly, that grind was simply cut straight down from the spine of the knife, all the way from stem to stern. This is kind of hard to explain in text, but the end result is an absurdly thick, and borderline blunt, tip, as pictured. This probably means the tip is stronger than most others, but it also means that, with the from-the-factory edge on it, it was unable to effectively punch through the B-3’s clamshell packaging in a controlled manner. That seems bad.
As for the B-3 itself, it seems like an overdone advertising tool than anything else, what with its unnecessarily large size, the massive logo printed on its back, and the somewhat diminutive tools contained in it. The one thing their webpage conveniently leaves out is the thickness of this keyfob, which measures in, near as I can tell without calipers, at somewhere around 0.438″, which makes this thing larger in every dimension than even my car clicker. Throw in the fact that the replaceable battery cover looks and feels like it would fall off it you looked at it funny (which is bad for something that is supposed to ride around in a pocket with keys), and you start to wonder if this was some leftover trade show hand-out.
Also, of interesting note regarding both of them, their packaging/presentation was rather shoddy. The MT-1 had no box, bag, or anything (it came wrapped in that plastic foam fabric I photographed it on), and while the B-3 did have a plastic clamshell, neither had any documentation, warranty paperwork, or much of anything. Likewise, I am fairly, if not entirely, certain that Mantis products are produced overseas, even though the company itself is housed here in the States. My understanding of America’s country of origin laws is that any products produced overseas have to be marked as “Made in [insertcountrynamehere]” and I wonder why this was not the case for either of these knives.
The Ugly: The MT-1 and B-3 are worth about exactly what I paid for them – I figure around $15 for the former, and $5 for the latter, indicating that their “list” prices are inflated, in my opinion, by between 100% and 300%. In comparison to the MT-1’s $40 pricetag, you can procure a Kershaw R.A.M. (my current EDC knife) for all of $53, and I can guarantee you it is at least 30% better than the Mantis knife – its blade is properly formed, its materials are demonstrably better, it has a grip like a mechanical gecko, its locking system, while strange, is easily deployed, and its flipper beats the MT-1s studs all to hell.
As for the B-3… really, it is probably worth less. Your money would be infinitely better spent on a Swiss Tech Transformer, which lacks a knife, but can therefore be gotten on planes easier, and packs a hell of a lot more tools into a package just barely larger; any of Tool Logic‘s numerous (and significantly smaller) tool kits; or even a CRKT Cicada, which costs just barely more, but at least has a solid company behind it… and scissors.
The elemental truth is that making attractive (for certain definitions of the word “attractive” – some of those Mantis knives are… well…) blades, and talking up a storm about them, is simply insufficient to make up for Mantis knives being scant more than overpriced, underquality, Taiwan-stamped toys. Harsh? Yeah, a little. But, honestly, I am very disappointed – for a company that makes a big deal about “breaking the mold”, “leading the charge”, and all the rest of that gos-se, and produces a product I might have been genuinely interested in, this was a hell of a let-down. Anyone have any good leads on any other relatively affordable karambits?
Are these decent products? Sure – at the price I paid for them, not at the price Mantis is asking for them. Are they the products that the forced, overhyped craze about them, and their “list” prices, would lead you to believe. Not so much. Would I recommend these knives to my readers? So long as you understand what you are purchasing, I can give them a qualified ‘maybe’, but I genuinely think your money would be better spent elsewhere.