Artisan Cutlery is a Chinese manufacturer that has recently entered the European market. A few months ago we told you about the interesting Centauri, a sturdy closer designed by American knifemaker Ray Laconico, and today we introduce a model that demonstrates how the company's stylistic pursuit is geared toward sturdiness.
We get back to an interesting folder offered by Artisan Cutlery and designed by Texas-based knifemaker Mike Snody. Entering the world of custom knives in 1998 after working as a technician in the oil industry, Mike began making Japanese-style fixed-blade knives, but as his style and experience evolved he soon turned to folders, with flattering results. Over the years he has designed knives for Benchmade, Spyderco, Ka-Bar, and H&K Knives. The Xcellerator model is Mike's first collaboration with Artisan Cutlery.
Xcellerator, heavy metal – but not too much...
It is a bit heavy indeed, despite the handle being made entirely of TC4 titanium, but on the other hand the Xcellerator is not small, with a CPM S90V steel blade 98 millimeters long and 3.7 mm thick for an overall length of 225 millimeters. There is a lot of material in this folder, and you can feel it; the impression you get when weighing it for the first time is not of heaviness, but of extreme strength and reliability.
The handle of the Xcellerator has simple and effective surface machining, with a perfectly executed surface checkering that provides excellent grip without going for 3D machining sophistication. The blade lock is machined directly from the frame material (it's a frame lock knife) with very precise machining. To prevent titanium erosion, a steel plate is screwed onto the part of the lock that contacts the blade heel and is interchangeable. The generous length of the handle (125 mm) and its not-too-pronounced curve allow even those with medium-to-large hands to comfortably grip the Xcellerator, even with a reverse grip. Following a trend that I personally appreciate, the clip, which allows the knife to be carried "tip up", is neither reversible nor repositionable and in practice can only be removed. This solution perhaps makes the knife somewhat less versatile in carrying, but avoids unsightly handles riddled with through holes. On the other hand, the Xcellerator is not an ambidextrous knife and makes no claim to be one: our left-handed fellows can count on a very large number of models that are friendlier to them. Returning to the details of the handle, we find the gold-colored washer surrounding the pivot pin on both sides of the knife very beautiful and elegant.
As for the opening system consisting in the old but always effective blade "thumbhole", we have nothing to say: it is a valid system and has now entered the DNA of all folding knife enthusiasts, so we promote it. Here, too, for those who like side or front flipper opening systems the same applies: they can find on the market (also in the Artisan Cutlery catalog) a model more suited to their tastes.
The blade of the Xcellerator is made of CPM S90V steel and measures 98 millimeters in length by a thickness of 3.7 millimeters. It should be noted that we are talking about the model with a titanium handle, which is the top of the range: the version with a micarta handle has the blade made of AR-RPM9, a steel made by powder technology, proprietary to the Chinese company.
The blade profile is dominated by the large oval thumbhole that assists the opening, which is counterbalanced by the false edge that makes the appearance of the tip very reassuring. Maybe it is the stonewashed finish, maybe it is the odd proportion between the parts, but the Xcellerator's blade looks longer than it actually is, and when the knife is open it creates a harmonious whole with the handle, but at the same time it is capable of conveying a feeling of great efficiency. If we really want to make a remark, right out of the package the opening of our Xcellerator test knife was a bit hard to open, but it was enough to slightly loosen the Torx screw on the pivot pin to appreciate the smoothness offered to the opening mechanism with ceramic ball bearings. In terms of workmanship standards, the blade and handle are impeccable, proving that when they want, Far Eastern companies to can churn out knives that are perfectly capable of holding their own against the more emblazoned competitors from Europe and the US.
As usual for many Chinese manufacturers, the knife's packaging is very rich: inside a cardboard box we find a tin case with the manufacturer's logo embossed on the lid. Inside the box is a nylon case with double inner compartment and a microfiber cleaning cloth.
Artisan Cutlery Xcellerator specs and price
Xcellerator (1860G-GY version)
EDC folding knife
CPM S90V steel
190 euros approx.
The Artisan Cutlery Xcellerator knife in the version with a titanium handle is on sale at a price of about 190 euros, certainly not very light for an entry level knife, but fully justified by the quality of materials and workmanship. Wanting to save quite a bit, the version with micarta handle costs more or less half as much... Certainly, the quality-price ratio is very advantageous.