Custom knives are, as a rule, exceedingly expensive. Even dipping a toe into the custom world can set you back half a grand.
But the variety of knives and the creative, innovative designs are alluring even if you have only a passing interest in cutlery. Yet price is not the only barrier to entry. Many custom makers have so many orders that they aren’t taking new requests. The other option, the secondary market, can add 200% to the price tag.
Recently, another option arose, one between production knives and custom offerings. Coined “mid-tech” by Ken Onion, the idea was that a knifemaker would have a few parts batch-made and then make other parts himself.
Instead of spending hours surface grinding handle scales, and passing that cost on to the consumer, he would focus on the important parts of the knife — the grind and the lock interface.
The term “mid-tech” has come to mean a huge variety of things. Some mid-techs are basically production knives and others are very close to customs. Whatever the origin, one of the better mid-techs out there is the Jon Graham Stubby Razel, also known as the Graham Mid Tech (GMT) Stubby Razel.
The Razel design is a Graham original, a combination of a chisel and a razor (hence the portmanteau “razel,” pronounced RAY-zul). With multiple edges, the Razel gives you a whole new approach to cutting materials.
On the GMT Stubby Razel there is a long, straight edge and a shorter leading edge. They meet in a very acute point. You can slice, chop, scrap, and push cut materials, things that a normal knife can’t do.
Innovative Tail Clip
The GMT Stubby Razel also has a second Graham innovation, the tail clip. It is one of the best and most unique pocket clips on the market and it nestles onto the edge of a pocket, almost completely disappearing when clipped into place.
The GMT Stubby Razel has a benefit many custom knives don’t–its clean, minimal look avoids the gaudy excesses of the worst custom knives. There are no hideous mokuti adornments or massively overbuilt handles.
Instead you get an excellent titanium frame and a flipper that fires like a rocket, which is another hallmark of Graham’s knives.
It’s not readily available, but you can find them on the secondary market for relatively cheap, and Graham sells them on occasion, sometimes in large batches and other times in ones or twos on his Instagram feed.
CRKT makes a few production versions of Graham’s knives and a few folders, but they are no longer in production. Get one if you can.
Specs - Mid-Tech Razel
- Price: $350 direct from maker; $400+ on secondary market
- Steel: CPM154
- Weight: 3.0 ounces
- Blade Length: 2 1/8 inches
- Overall Length: 5 1/2 inches