Gentleman’s Perfection: Chris Reeve Mnandi

You can get the Chris Reeve Mnandi knife with a Damascus steel blade and handles made of mammoth ivory. This top-shelf ‘gentleman’s knife’ model costs up to $800, or about $375 for the base model, but all are functional, refined works of art for your pocket.

Chris Reeve Mnandi

Unless you are a certified knife “knut,” you probably haven’t heard the phrase “gentleman’s knife.” It is one of many crazy justifications that we knife junkies use to purchase yet another sharpened piece of steel.

The phrase usually references smaller, more elegant blades designed for less hard use tasks. They’re something a man of refinement, whatever that phrase means, would carry when wearing a suit.

It’s all a bit ridiculous, but the knives that fit this categorization aren’t. There are a lot of polished gems that fall into this group that make excellent, higher-end everyday carry knives. And, guess what? You don’t need to wear a suit to carry them.

Chris Reeve Mnandi case

Chris Reeve Mnandi Review

Among the finest knives available, regardless of classification, is the Chris Reeve Mnandi.

It is a sublime, artful, refined tool — the next evolutionary step beyond the more famous Chris Reeve knife, the Sebenza. The Mnandi, even in its most basic iteration, is a stunning piece of cutlery, something well at home next to a Mont Blanc fountain pen or a Rolex watch.

Thanks to the clean lines and large inlays, the Mnandi really does feel special. But it’s not just eye candy. Like all Chris Reeve blades, the Mnandi can work.

Weighing less than two ounces, the titanium framelock Mnandi is a performer — it carries the well-rounded S35VN steel, a steel that is, itself, an evolution over S30V steel, a material Chris Reeve helped Crucible Industries create.

Chris Reeve Mnandi knife

The pocket clip is milled titanium, something that has become all the rage in the custom knife world. There are two versions of the Mnandi — ones with the old “crisp” thumb cut and others with a more rounded thumb cut.

The originals make one-handed deployment easy, while the newer models pose a bit more of a challenge. Having handled both, I strongly prefer the original thumb cut, but they are out of production.

If you are looking for a Mnandi, the old style might be worth tracking down.

Once deployed, the Mnandi has a wonderfully ground, slim stock of steel making it an insanely proficient slicer. Despite its small size, the Mnandi is a hardy blade — the frame lock is sturdy and long wearing. The inlays, which come in a wide variety of woods, are beautiful and they add to the hand-filling feeling of the blade. Finally, the run of subtle but useful jimping is quite well done.

Overall, the Mnandi is a great little knife, whether you are a gentleman or not. It is a blade that works in a variety of roles and looks great no matter what. It is expensive, but you pay for quality.

Entry-level Mnandis come in just under $400 while high-end versions with Damascus steel and mammoth ivory cost twice that. What you get for your money is something of lasting performance and quality, just what you would expect for the premium price.

Chris Reeve Mnandi Specs

  • Price: Base model: $375; premium models up to $800
  • Steel: S35Vn (current gen; last gen S30V)
  • Blade Length: 2.75 inches
  • Overall Length: 6.375 inches
  • Weight: 1.5 ounces
  • Made in: the USA

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