A new Chinese-American manufacturer introduces itself to the readers of all4shooters.com with a medium-sized EDC folding knife featuring everything you want nowadays, starting with the opening mechanism with – or it would be better to say, without – front flipper. But let's proceed in order. A while ago I was contacted by this Chinese company that wanted to introduce me to some of their knives, and after a series of vicissitudes I finally managed to receive from faraway China a sample marked Artisan Cutlery. Founded in the U.S. in 2018, this company relies for production on factories in Yangjiang, a city with a population of more than two million located in Guangdong province, in southern China. From the start, the founders' goal was to distinguish themselves from other Eastern knife manufacturers by relying on innovation and collaboration with young designers. The company has even developed a proprietary type of steel, called AR-RPM9, but we will talk about that next time. Now let's return to the protagonist of this article, whose blade is made of CPMS35VN, which by the way is a third-generation powder martensitic stainless steel endowed with remarkable mechanical strength and easy resharpening characteristics.
Artisan Cutlery Centauri, a rugged frame lock
The Artisan Cutlery Centauri comes with a particularly sophisticated packaging, even by the high standards Chinese manufacturers are making us accustomed to (or spoiled). In fact, the knife comes in a glossy black cardboard box, inside which we find a tin box embellished with the embossed manufacturer's logo and brand. Inside the box, the knife is in turn contained in a padded Nylon case with an inside pocket that holds a microfiber cleaning cloth. AC's logo is embroidered in yellow on the case flap. There's no denying that, Artisan Cutlery has caught our attention with this move, but now let's focus on the knife.
The basic design is available in different variants involving the blade material (stainless or damascus steel) and the handle scales material, ranging from Micarta to fat carbon. The variant we present here has a carbon fiber upper scale and the code number ATZ-1839G. As said in the opening, this is a frame lock type folder and this implies that the lower part of the handle, made of titanium, acts at the same time as a structural component and a blade lock.
The Centauri presents itself as a sturdy medium-sized folder, with a rather wide silhouette and no protrusions, except for the large clip, which is also made of titanium. The carbon-fiber scale features a long central groove, a detail common to all versions. On the back we find the designer's and the manufacturer's name engraved in unobtrusive lettering, and this is just one of the small details that make this folder an interesting piece. The lower section of the handle is a single piece of titanium. The handle surface is nicely machined, with a discreet knurling that makes for a firm grip and pleases the eye, and contrasts nicely with the clip, which instead has a satin finish. The locking frame is cut out with extreme precision and in the point of contact with the blade heel features a steel insert fixed with a Torx screw.
The blade of the Centauri is made of S35VN steel hardened to 60-61 HRC and has a modified sheepsfoot profile (although on the manufacturer's website it is referred to as a drop point) with a three-quarter straight edge that rises slightly toward the tip, with the latter lying well below the centerline. The back has a nice curve, emphasized by the neatly made false edge and culminating in the knurled section providing a grip to open the blade. Blade length is 3.46’’/88 mm, with a thickness of 0.13”/3.2 mm. The level of workmanship on the blade is excellent, as is the opening smoothness, with the blade pivoting on ceramic ball bearings.
Contrary to current trends, the Centauri has a fixed type clip, which allows "tip up" carry but can't be relocated. We asked designer Ray Laconico the reason for this style choice, and his answer was, "Mostly aesthetics. The clip on the Centauri is curved and cannot be put on the reverse side. We also didn't want to put holes on the presentation scale. It just isn't meant to be ambidextrous.”
In fact, looking at the Centauri, you can notice that the big absentees actually are scale holes and millings that on the more flexible folders allow the clip to be swapped. Not everyone likes a knife whose scales or frame are dotted with holes, so Ray Laconico's design indeed makes sense. Left-handers and lovers of moveable clips will be able to find other models on the market that are better suited to their needs. Also to avoid holes, the lanyard attachment is a spacer roll, placed at the handle's rear end.
Artisan Cutlery Centauri: our conclusion
Generally speaking, the Centauri has an excellent level of workmanship and is assembled with quality materials. Unlike the Chinese-made knives we have dealt with recently, it is not a cheap knife: in the version presented here it costs $199.99, certainly justified by the product's features and the care taken in its packaging. The Centauri can be purchased directly through the artisancutlery.net website, which also offers all the other variants. Very soon we will have the opportunity to talk again about Ray Laconico and his projects.
Artisan Cutlery Centauri specs and price
|Manufacturer:||Artisan Cutlery |
stainless steel |
Length: ||3.46’’/88 mm|
Thickness: ||0.13’’/3.2 mm|
Length: ||8.15’’/207 mm|
fiber and titanium|