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Groundbreaking Blade: Bestech Tonic Review

Bestech Tonic Review(Photo/Anthony Sculimbrene)
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Minor updates become major wins in this team-up effort from Bestech and CM Knife Designs. Meet the Tonic!

From a design perspective, the lock back has a lot of pluses: easy to make, ambidextrous, and intuitive to use. But today’s modern knife users really place a heavy emphasis on fluid deployment.

On that account, the lock back fails. Enter CM Knife Designs, a knife designer with a few self-published blades under his belt.

In a collaboration with Bestech, CM Knife Designs reinvented the lock back, making it a lock modern users can like. But the Tonic knife is more than a one-trick pony, it is an earthquake (Bes-tech-tonic) of knifey goodness.

Bestech Tonic Review

Tonic: Specs

  • Steel: M390
  • Grind: Partial flat grind
  • Lock: Modified lock back
  • Blade length: 2.89 in.
  • Handle length: 4 in.
  • OAL: 6.89 in.
  • Weight: 2.91 oz.
  • Price: Starting at $306
  • Country of origin: China

Design & Features

Bestech Tonic Knife - Design
(Photo/Anthony Sculimbrene)

The Tonic is a medium-sized pocket knife with a reverse tanto blade and a modest belly. It has a bolster, a sculpted clip, and handle materials of shred carbon fiber or two colors of micarta. The frame, bolster, and clip are titanium. You can get a coated or uncoated version of the blade.

The knife deploys simple terraced thumb studs. The clip has a good bit of spring tension and a ramp at the rear to minimize hotspots. There is a half-and-half finger choil. The selling point there is a ball bearing mounted in the end of the lock back arm.

Bestech Tonic Knife - Blade
(Photo/Anthony Sculimbrene)

By using this ultrahard ball, Bestech greatly reduces the surface area of contact between the lockbar and the rear tang of the blade. With less friction, the blade travels the blade path with ease, making for a truly flickable and fidget-friendly lock back design.

Bestech has been quietly leapfrogging other companies for the past couple of years or so, improving its design chops and fit and finish. It has worked as OEM for some very expensive brands, all the while still making its own line of value folders.

The Tonic, at $300, is not a value folder, but, given the significant improvements, this price is warranted. This is an exceptionally finely finished knife.

Bestech Tonic Knife
(Photo/Anthony Sculimbrene)

More remarkable, it is a lock back with zero blade play, a bug endemic to the design. The grinds here are also worth mentioning — they are crisp, clean, and multifaceted. And the cutting bevel is also very nice, with a wave-free grind and razor-sharp edge.

Overall, the design, like most lock backs, is thin in the hand and in the pocket. Copious roundovers on the edges of the handle and a good silhouette make for an excellent knife in hand.

Plus, the studs are beefy, hard to miss, and effective. As for the blade, the M390 is a great all-around steel, and I have had no issues with it during the 2 weeks of testing.

A Few Things to Have in Mind

Because of how the design works, there is a bit of a hitch in deployment, like a detent on a liner or frame lock. But once you get the feel of the hitch, you can pop the knife open with ease and no wrist assist.

One weird thing about the Tonic — it is very loud when being deployed. Unless you roll it open carefully, this thing will attract a lot of attention.


CM Knife Designs and Bestech deserve a lot of credit — instead of relying on one feature to justify the knife, they wrapped innovation in design quality and superior fit and finish. Special note for lefties — you are fully welcome in the Bestech Tonic clubhouse.

Highly recommended.

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