The Sanrenmu 7010 is a darn good knife at an impressive price. It comes straight out of a Chinese factory that is rumored to be making knives for other brands with the exact same materials for a much higher cost. In our time reviewing knives, the value of budget knives gets better and better and has done so at an impressive rate. To get you this quality at this price requires a global economy, intellectual property exchange, and distribution system that is debatable, at best. We aren't alone in noting what this knife says about modern consumer goods, but we also aren't alone in really digging its performance and value.
Sanrenmu 7010 Review
Cons: Less-than-ideal pocket clip orientation, sharp stowed edges wear clothing
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|Pros||Sharp looking and cutting, good materials, inexpensive||Great blade, classy wooden handle||Incredible blade quality, assisted open, perfect combination of compactness/functionality||Proven and well-respected blade, smooth, comfortable ergonomics||Immaculate materials, assisted opening, fully symmetrical performance|
|Cons||Less-than-ideal pocket clip orientation, sharp stowed edges wear clothing||Expensive, no assisted opening function||Pricey, blade lock mechanism not intuitive||Large, no assisted opening||Large in your pocket, expensive|
|Bottom Line||A budget knife with class-leading performance and downright impressive quality.||A solid little knife for all-around “every day carry”. With assisted opening, this model would be similar enough to our Editors' Choice to really complicate our assessment.||Immaculately constructed knife in a form-factor that is easy to carry and large enough for virtually every task.||Full-size, basic folding pocket knife with immaculate construction.||The full size version of our Editors' Choice is less portable with minimal but real gains in usability. If you know you need a full size pocket knife, the Barrage 580 is a great choice.|
|Rating Categories||Sanrenmu 7010||Benchmade 15031-2 North Fork||Benchmade Mini-Barrage 585||Benchmade Griptilian 551||Benchmade Barrage 580|
|Blade And Edge Integrity (30%)|
|Construction Quality (20%)|
|Other Features (10%)|
|Specs||Sanrenmu 7010||Benchmade 15031-2...||Benchmade...||Benchmade...||Benchmade Barrage...|
|Weight (ounces)||3.2 oz||3.2 oz||3.4 oz||3.9 oz||4.2 oz|
|Blade Style||Straight||Drop point, straight||Drop point, straight||Drop point, straight||Drop point, straight|
|Blade locks closed?||No||Yes||Yes||No||Yes|
|Opening Style||Ambidextrous Thumb stud||Ambidextrous thumb-stud||Assisted, ambidextrous thumb stud||Ambidextrous thumb stud||Assisted, ambidextrous thumb stud|
|Lock Mechanism||Frame lock||Proprietary (Axis)||Proprietary (Axis)||Proprietary (Axis)||Proprietary (Axis)|
|Carry Style, in addition to loose in pocket||Pocket Clip and lanyard hole||Pocket Clip||Pocket Clip and lanyard hole||Pocket Clip||Pocket Clip, lanyard hole|
|Blade Material||8CR13MoV stainless steel||CPM-S30V stainless steel||154CM Steel||154CM steel||154 CM stainless steel|
|Handle Material||Stainless Steel||Stabilized wood||Plastic||Plastic||Valox|
|Blade Length (inches)||2.7||2.9||2.9||3.5||3.8|
|Closed Length (inches)||3.7||3.9||4||4.6||4.8|
|Thickness (w/o pocket clip) (inches)||0.4||0.53||0.57||0.6||0.7|
|Other Features or Functions||None||None||None||None||None|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The 7010 from Sanrenmu (formerly available, exactly the same, as the Sanrenmu 710) is a budget knife with great performance attributes. For the quality, its price is phenomenal. How does Sanrenmu do this? It is rumored that Sanrenmu, a Chinese company, was originally an OEM factory, just making knives to other companies' specifications that were then sold under these other companies' brands. It isn't entirely clear which knives were or are made there, but we may have some elsewhere in our review. What is clear, though, is that Sanrenmu has taken, for better or for worse, what it learned in executing the designs of others and applied these lessons to their own branded knives. The 7010 is a great knife at an amazing price. They leverage their scale and exposure to a sort of "insider knowledge" to produce a knife that truly transcends its price. This was an easy Best Buy Award choice.
Blade and Edge Integrity
The Sanrenmu blade is made of 8CR13MoV steel. It is a Chinese replication of AUS-8 steel and delivers characteristics and performance that transcend its price point. We test a number of knives with this steel and have been steadily impressed with its performance for the price. We don't know how Sanrenmu heat treats the 7010, but it seems to be working. It was only at the very end of our first five weeks of our testing, living in the pocket of our frequent knife user and lead test editor, that this Best Buy winner needed a sharpening. Doing so was clean and simple. It helps that we identified the need to sharpen early. Sharpen early and regularly, and it is simple. Wait too long, and it becomes a much more onerous chore.
This Sanrenmu has a long and very shallow angle hollow grind. In cutting tomatoes and other soft things, this very narrow initial edge is very appreciated. The stiff and thicker spine of the blade backs it up in heavier tasks. The edge angle is also pretty shallow, making for great cutting feel and apparent edge "sharpness," but requiring more frequent sharpening. The blade geometry (deep hollow grind, with a very thin leading edge) feels familiar and not unlike our Editors' Choice selection.
What does it take to get the Best Buy Sanrenmu in hand and use? Once deployed, how does it perform the tasks you'll ask of it? We're largely pleased with the ergonomics of the 7010. Given the intended use and price point, we have nothing to complain about. In use, the handle is thick enough to respond to heavier pressure. A more rounded and bulkier profile is even better for heavy use, but it compromises portability. Deploying the blade is smooth, with just the slightest amount of important "stick" at the very beginning. Closing the blade requires disengaging the frame lock. Which, in turn, requires sticking your finger between the hinging blade and handle, at least momentarily. This stresses some out, but is inherent in liner and frame lock mechanisms.
The pocket clip is secure but gives it up when needed. The orientation of the pocket clip deserves mention. It is configured for only right hand, tip-down carry. If a manufacturer has to commit to one (and they don't. Many knives come with the option to move the pocket clip around. In some cases, allowing four different configurations) pocket clip orientation, this one is interesting. Right-hand access makes sense. About 75-90% of the world's population is right handed. While preference for tip-up or tip-down pocket knife carry isn't as well studied, our test team definitely prefers tip-up orientation. We wish that Sanrenmu, if they really had to commit to one configuration, had committed to right-hand tip-up carry. Otherwise, it works just fine.
You can carry the Sanrenmu loose in your pocket, clipped to said pocket, or on a lanyard of your creation. Disregarding the pocket clip, the knife is 0.4 inches thick. The whole package weighs 3.2 ounces (90g). For the size, this is pretty heavy. The stainless steel handle bumps the weight up over that of knives that have more expensive composite or titanium handles.
Most edges and faces of the Sanrenmu are beveled and smoothed. This saves wear and tear and snagging on your pants and purse pockets. The exception is the thumb studs. Both stick out past the handle and have machined "traction" rings with square edges. These protrusions, when carrying, can and do snag and accelerate wear to the fabric around it. It isn't the worst, but it isn't a non-issue.
First impressions usually tell more about the construction quality of a knife than you would believe. We like to hand a knife to someone that knows little to nothing about pocket knives. Their impressions are remarkably consistent with our deeper dive and our ongoing testing and use. The Sanrenmu holds up in both instances. While "feel" is subjective and memory is imperfect, we are reasonably confident that the main pivot has lost no tension or smoothness in our months of use. None of the mechanisms have developed any play.
Almost the whole knife is made of stainless steel. The bolts, handle "scales," pivot, and pocket clip are all matching steel. The blade looks slightly different because it is. In the pivot are two bushings. One is brass, and one is plastic, but both are very thin. The pocket clip has lost no spring tension.
There are no other features on the Sanrenmu beyond the blade and pocket clip.
There are few to no features on many of the knives we've tested. We have to note them and grant them their due credence, but we don't penalize knives that don't have extra tools or features. If anything, extra tools and features take away from other attributes. Most of our top-scoring knives have no additional features.
Some people spend more on a six-pack of beer than you will on this knife. The Chinese company leverages an economy of scale and the ready availability of good knife-making materials. Further, mass distribution channels keep costs down. You can get this thing delivered from Amazon, tomorrow. Crazy times. 100 years ago, you would have had to hire a trained craftsman for a few full days to replicate this. Now you can get one for the equivalent of one hour's high-end fast-food wages.
We dig the Sanrenmu's performance, quality, and cost. We are well aware, though, of what it says about international economic and intellectual property considerations.
— Jediah Porter