tisdag 28 november 2017

Knife Review Raging Jap RJ5

-  Japanese pocketable elegance


How many knife brands out of Japan are you familiar with? Problably not that many and the ones known to the western markets seems to be scattered along the "folding knife spectrum". At one end you find the simplest versions of Higo No Kamis and in the other one of the most exclusive production brand there is - Rockstead. In between there ain't too many and I myself can just recollect a few such as MCusta, Seki Cut and Moki without "Googlecheating". 

It is therefore especially satisfactory to present a rather new brand from the land of the rising sun!


Raging Jap RJ5


The brand is called "Raging Jap" and this particular model is their latest release and are named or rather designated "RJ5". It more than implies how many models the company produced thus far. But I must admit I struggle to find number three in that classification. Besides a couple of Neck-knives and two folders you can find a series of competent looking kitchen knives in their catalogue.

It's an interesting knife that we are going to attend today. Constructionwise it doesn't deviant from the current norm very much. However, the design offers a few areas that gives the knife a bit of personality of its own.

The materials choosen are otherwise rather typical for what I earlier encountered in Japanese folders and there is for exeample some similarities with MCusta in that regard.


A rather small knife aiming straight at the "EDC-segment"


The model is directly developed as an EDC-blade and I'm going to try to answer how well it fulfills that role. Is RJ5 a good pocketknife and is it for you?

Twitterversion: New EDC-candidate from the land of the rising sun


Blade


The Japanese always take their blades seriously and it's clearly conveyed here. To begin with it's an aesthetically appealing blade. The shape is a distinct clippoint which gives the impression of a "mini Bowie". The looks is accentuated by a proper swedge that stretches almost the entire top of the blade and a "two-tone lacquer". The effect comes from a semi polished satin on the grinds and a stonewashed surface on the flats. The result is an attractive blade all in all.


A piece of well shaped and equally well sharpened VG10


The steel is popular and one of the most commonly found in Japanese knives. It is of course VG10 I'm talking about. Sometimes a bit overlooked since it isn't the "latest" or most advanced steel on the market with todays standards. It should be mentioned though that it is a good steel given it's properly heat treated. Here like on my better kitchen knives with the same steel the hardness is relatively high and on RJ5 it is stated to 59-61 HRC. VG10 can be summarized as being a quite stainless steel that can take a very keen edge that doesn't last forever.

In this case VG10 might not be that obvious of a choice after all since these knives are actually made in Taiwan and not in Japan. So either the steel or the readymade blade is exported to Taichung where they later are assembled.

The blade is hollow ground to about half the height of the blade and thus it's a saber grind. The grind is by the way one of the similarities they share with MCusta-knives. That, the choice of steel and the fact that they got extraordinarely good factory edges even if they are made in different countries. Like them RJ5 also have a very pointy tip wich i something I highly appreciate for a wide range of precise tasks. 


The "other side", the one with the elephant


But then we have to speak about the elephant or rather small elephant herd in the room. A mother with calf it seems. The elephant is of course the short story written on the blade. There is nothing wrong with being proud of materials used, place of origin, heritage and who designed the knife etcetera. But ALL that information doesn't have to be explicitly shown on the blade in my view. Some details can be left to the product sheet too. But this knife is far from the worst sinners in this regard which probably is Extrema Ratio.

On the presentationside you can find the companys logotype wich consists of the name "Raging Jap" plus a stylized portal, a torii. In addition you can read steeltype on the ricasso. Nothing out of the ordinary so far except that the font size should be reduced. It is too big in relation to the small blade.

If we take a look on the other side of the blade we'll find the designation in even larger size than the already pretty generous logo. This ricasso offers further reading since both country and town of origin are found here. On top of that logo number two or three depending on how you see it is added in shape of a classic samurai mask. That picture is found fare out on the blade and is very blatant. And well, the short story continues on the clip.

The elephant calf is the placement of the thumbstuds. They are situated quite a bit away from the handle. Unnecessary far out on the blade in my opinion even if the reason isn't that hard to find since it related to opening speed, it makes them more effective in that regard. But the drawback is as obvious - they tend to get in the way while using the knife! They shortens the part of the blade that can be used for deeper cuts. They also is a nuisance when you later have to maintain your edge.

My general suggestion on the topic is to move them as close to the handle as possible without them hitting the built in fingerguard of the handle during opening. It looks better but foremost it increases edge length which is especially important on small folders.


For being a hollow-grind the RJ5 handles this task with ease


RJ5 came with a more than decent edge from the factory. It had a good bite to it and the grind was even and symmetrical. The only objection I have is towards the base where the person who grind this knife hesitated ever so slightly and we got a small "heel".

During the test period I have focused on what this knife primarily aimes for and that is EDC-use. It is obviously not a large campingknife for splitting logs. Instead I have during the test time cut a great deal of cardboard, opened boxes and cut tape. And of course cut a lot of fabric of various kind. The ones who know me also knows why - since I'm a avid Moutainbiker and a bike commuter this household requires a lot of cloths for bike cleaning. On top of that I also cut plastics, rope of different kinds and wood - both dried and fresh. Well, as fresh as it gets during winter here on the north hemisphere.

As long as you stick to thinner paperboard and cardboard this knife works more than fine. The restrained thickness of the blade combined with a sharp edge takes care of business. Aiding is also the rounded transitions between grind and the flat parts of the blade which otherwise can be a problematic area with some hollow grinds. But when you approach thicker or double cardboard you run into some trouble. These heavier cuts are easier to perform closer to the handle and then the thumbstuds get in the way. That is not optimal in  my book. 

When it comes to fabric sharpening notches and fingerchoils are a much bigger issue for me. They are not present here at all and therefore this knife is the nemesis for textiles. 

Strangely enough this knife also can double as a peeling knife in the kitchen. It's normally not an area where hollow grinds shine the most. The same characteristics which makes the RJ5 slide through cardboard also helps here. You can cut and slice an apple or carrots, something you can't take for granted even if a knife is ever so sharp. If you don't believe me try any "bushcraft"-knife or other scandigrind blade like a Mora and try to force it to cut fruit or root vegetables and you will see what I mean.

With it's Bowielike appearance this knife offers a really potent tip that can be used without risk of braking. I have done lighter prying in wood without any problems. I emphasis "lighter" since I never try to break knives. I just test them for durability within their inteded areas of use. So no, my knives are never ever used as makeshift ladders.

Once again it can be noted that VG10 is not king of the hill in the edgeholding department. You have to sharpen and maintain your edge regularly. That becomes extra palpable when cutting more abbrasive materials such as thick cardboard and hemp rope. But that is to be expected regarding what the steel once was developed for, gardening equipment and kitchen knives. But as such it is easy to restore the edge to it's sharper self. No big efforts are required. I primarely use a home made strop and sharpening rods. 


Handle


RJ5s handle is unusually common. That is, neither the material nor the construction is something out of the ordinary. It's a classic framelock build. It can basically be done two ways. Either you make a full metal knife or like in this case go for a presentationside with a scale which gives more traction and bigger possibilities to alternate color and looks. This version is in green G10 with a couple of machined grooves as decorative element and the lockside is stonewashed steel. The option is gray G10. 

The scale hides a drilled out liner to make it lighter. The knife is an open back construction with three backspacers in addition to the pivot. Combined with the strong materials this makes for a very sturdy little knife. The spacers are held in place by T6-headed screws inserted from both sides of the handle. 


A small but well shaped handle that fits the hand


The handle is distinguished by being well thought out and executed. There are some details that makes it very ergonomic despite being both small and slim. One is the decision to stop at one proper fingerchoil and don't add further fingergrooves. On the other hand the grip has a integrated fingerguard and a "beak" at the back that prevent the hand from sliding. It halso has a good ramp for the thumb on the back and well rounded stern castle that fits nicely inside a palm.

All corners and ridges have been properly chamfered and rounded. That goes for the "jimpings" found on the back of the blade and handle as well. They are functional without being to aggressive.

One of the first impressions you get when holding the knife is that it's very slim. To increase the volume and make it fuller the back "arches" a bit. The designer of this knife has also made a clever thing and that is using the clip to increase the width of the handle. It's more of an integrated part of the handle than a stand alone if you see what I mean. And that is a good idea since the pocket clip is rather big in relation to the rest of the knife. It does feel a bit in use but isn't too bad.

A thin handle with some well placed texturing for increased grip


Part of why this works is due to where the clip is situated. It has been placed relatively low on the handle which makes it hide better inside your hand when holding the knife.

I like this handle quite a bit even though it is on the verge of being too small for me. The ones with bigger hands should look elsewhere and the handle would probably fit users with smaller hands better still. The actual measurements isn't the biggest limiting factor in this case but the fact that the handle is rather shaped. Straighter handles can trick you a bit regarding size and therefore accomodate larger hands.


Everything has a back side and that is especially true for framelocks


The size or rather lack thereof is most noticeable in certain grips such as reversed draw cut and a proper hammer grip. It then becomes obvious that this is a small knife but for me it works satisfactory despite that. The favoured hold is either a saber grip with the thumb securly put in the for the purpose intended groove or with an indexfinger on the back of the blade. In these two positions this is not only a good handle but a really good one.

Besides the shape of the handle the structure of the G10 and the jimpings on the back of the handle and blade contributes to a good grip. It's a medium to light textured G10. This knife doesn't hold any wild plans of going anywhere soon without you wanting to. 


Opening and Lock


That RJ5 is opened via thumbstuds is quite obvious. They are very accessible and together with the rather strong detent it makes for a knife that is quite flickable. The blade tends to fly out as soon as it starts to move. As a matter of fact is almost hard to slow roll the knife.

The barrelshaped thumbstuds are easy to access and very effective


The shape of the studs is the comfortable but a bit anonymous barrelshape. They work just fine but is maybe not the most exciting visually. I already mentioned the placement and I note that opening is premiered over use of the blade in that regard. The functional thumbstuds together with a well placed groove in the handle makes for an intuitive opening.

A properly executed framelock provides security


Security is provided by a solid framelock in steel. This version works exactly the way it is supposed to. The function is without remark and any bladeplay shines with its absence. But that is something I almost take for granted in a knife in this price category.

Worth mentioning is how easy it is to access the lockbar and release the lock. Some soft ridges provides extra grip for your thumb while doing so. Here you can also find examples of how well made this knife really is. Both the in- and outside of the lockbar is chamfered and rounded off and they have put in the extra effort to put the lockbar cutout on the inside. That in turn makes the knife easier to handle when going in and out of pockets which brings us to the next point.


To Carry


RJ5 is a pocketknife in the true sence of the word. It simply shines in this area. It is thin almost anorectic, it weighs under four ounces and there are no flippers or other protruding parts.

The knife is equipped with a pretty rare clip as far as materials go. It's made out of titanium. The other way around is more common, that is a titaniumframelock with a steel clip.


A really nice clip that shows a tad bit too much knife for my taste



It is a rather thin clip that reminds me of some Spyderco versions in shape. It has a bit more space underneath than most. Because of that and a generous lip it easily slides over even thicker fabrics. In relation to the rest of the knife it is quite large so you can't deny it's there and you do feel it in hand when using the knife.

The looks is otherwise a sober titanium gray. But unfortenately the story from the blade continue here with both branding, torii and material used written on it. The good thing is that the text is subtle in color.

The clips works just excellent with good tension and proper grip. A smooth steel surface beneath the clip and no lockbar cutout makes for even better function.

The only thing I'm not that keen on is how much knife is sticking out of pocket. 


To Conclude


Raging Jap is a really interesting brand and I for one is looking forward to follow their future development. RJ5 is the first model I've come into contact with. The outcome of the meeting is a very positive one and I really like this knife but the relation isn't totally uncomplicated.

One thing that springs to mind is that it can seem to be a bit on the expensive side given the materials used. They are indeed well chosen for the intended use but not with prestige in sight if I put it that way.

Unfortenately components and materials used are often a more valued sales pitch than function today. That's the reason the market is overflowed by many bad "TFFs - Titanium Framelock Flippers". The technical specification looks cool on paper but there the positive more often than not ends.

In the case with Raging Japs RJ5 it's the other way round. This knife should be experienced since it feels better in hand than the specification implies. The MSRP is US$129 according to their home page by the way. 


 RJ5,  a good companion on excursions in the early winter


The question is what you get in return for your invested monetary means? You know the materials by knov: a sturdy but drilled steelframe, very sharp VG10, a little bit of well shaped G10 and an even smaller bit of flexing titanium.

What you can't see and what I highly appreciate is the work behind the scenes that manifests itself in the design and how well put together this knife is. That is something that must be felt and that's where RJ5 speaks for it self. 


Raging Jap, something a bit more original to carry as EDC


RJ5 is a really likable little pocketknife that I appreciated already from the start. A knife with a look of its own and several features that makes it stand out in a sea of similar constructions. What you get is a very well built knife with a useful blade and for the size good ergonomics - Japanese finesse in EDC-format. But maybe you can catch a small glimpse of culture shock which can be seen in the brand name and the amount of text on the blade. If it had been a Swedish brand my guess is that the word "raging" wouldn't be part of the name for instance. 

But despite that I consider this to be a gem amongst small EDC-blades. But sure, It could be even better without a grinning Samurai on the blade. 




The productpage for this knife can be found here!


Specification:

Length Overall: 182 mm
Length Folded: 101 mm
Weight: 110 g
Blade Length: 80 mm
Blade Thickness: 3 mm
Blade steel: VG10, HRC 59-61
Handle: G10 over steel frame
Lock: Framelock, steel

Produced by: Raging Jap, made inTaichung, Taiwan



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