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The ‘Toyota Camry of the Knife World’ Is an Awesome Value: CIVIVI Voltaic Review

CIVIVI’s Voltaic flipper may not be premium by industry standards, but I beg to differ.

CIVIVI Voltaic folding knife(Photo/Nick LeFort)
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For the past couple of years CIVIVI, and its sister company, WE Knife Co., have been consistent in releasing knife after knife that has its own particular appeal.

In the case of the CIVIVI Voltaic, it’s initially the form, an amalgamation of stainless steel and G10 with a profile that feels familiar and fancy. But when you get down to brass tacks and start using the knife, you quickly realize the Voltaic is not just another pretty face. No, not at all.

In fact, even with its narrow and compact profile, the Voltaic is a workhorse — and a multifaceted one at that.

That said, a coalition of purists out there refuse to give CIVIVI a chance. They’re hung up on the fact that CIVIVI knives generally cost under $100 and don’t possess any of the boutique steels that make a knife “premium.”

Such is the case with the Voltaic, which relies on Sandvik 14C28N steel for its 3.5-inch, bead-blasted, drop-point blade. As the first CIVIVI knife I’ve ever reviewed, I’m happy to let those folks know that they’re missing out.

In short: For a knife being sold under the banner of a value knife brand, the CIVIVI Voltaic gives off a real premium vibe — from a distance as well as up close and personal. Smooth action, clear attention to detail, and proven EDC chops make the Voltaic a winner at any price. But this is an outright steal at less than $100 shipped to your door.

CIVIVI Voltaic Folding Knife


  • OAL 8.01”
  • Blade length 3.48”
  • Blade steel Sandvik 14C28N
  • Blade shape Drop point
  • Grind Flat
  • Hardness 58-60 HRC
  • Lock type Frame
  • Carry Tip-up, right or left, deep carry
  • Weight 4 oz.


  • Smooth flipper action aided by ceramic ball bearings
  • The attention to detail is a welcome surprise
  • Less than $100


  • Knives like this start to make you question “premium” knife prices

CIVIVI Voltaic Review


With a thin, executive look and profile, this version of the Voltaic ($73.50) comprises stainless steel with black G10 inlays. Its Sandvik 14C28N drop-point steel blade offers both corrosion and abrasion resistance and is known for its heightened edge retention.

CIVIVI chose to bead blast it, and not only does it make the knife look even more opulent, but it’ll allow you to use it in more greasy and grimy environments without having to worry about the blade tarnishing or rusting.

The pivot assembly on the Voltaic includes a caged ceramic ball-bearing race, a performance-enhancing feature that used to be reserved for $250+ premium folding knives. Of late, however, this has become more common with brands like CIVIVI and WE Knife in the past couple of years.

The blade also has a fuller, which seems to be making a comeback. Fullers are indentations in the knife blade that allow the blade to be lighter in weight without compromising the strength of the steel.

CIVIVI Voltaic Knife
(Photo/Nick LeFort)

In the case of the Voltaic, its positioning aids the flipper action, along with the ball bearings, to make an incredibly smooth opening action.

I want to note that before the influx of S-steels, and steels like M390 and MagnaCut, Sandvik was held in high regard and still should be. It’s a Swedish high-carbon stainless steel that has always been used in entry-level knives, but it has earned its place in the echelon of respected steels because it’s arguably the most premium option you can find in this price range.

First Impressions

The first thing that struck me was the lock on the CIVIVI. The brand refers to it as a nested frame lock, which makes total sense since the G10 scales are an inlay and the stainless steel surrounding it is the frame.

But the execution presents a work of art. The way the lock mechanism lines up with the edge of the G10 requires exquisite attention to detail. Rarely will you find that among knives in this category.

Beyond that, the Voltaic is very sleek, making it easy to maneuver. But it’s not a small knife. At 8 inches, it’s a full-size folder that disappears in your back pocket, but swings open to reveal its worth.

Noticeably, the blade is wider than the handle. This gives the Voltaic a distinguished look, but not enough to interrupt the overall balance.

CIVIVI Voltaic Flipper Knife
(Photo/Nick LeFort)

Overall, this knife is very nice to look at. It might pair well with a three-piece suit, but it will hold its own just as well in a pair of Levi’s. If I had to describe it in two words I would call it rugged and refined.

Another bit of detail I enjoyed was the addition of a spacer near the pommel. This should satisfy the lanyard freaks like myself who need something dangling off the back of their EDCs. Little additions like these make the Voltaic a cut above the rest.

In the Field

The Voltaic proved to be a very well-rounded EDC knife. There’s nothing about it that screams, “let’s go on an adventure!”

Rather, it smartly declares, “let’s take a drive into the office.” But I think that’s the appeal here.

The Voltaic is good-looking and can take a beating and keep on flipping. And no, it’s not OD green. You will not see it flooding the Instagram pages of any hearty outdoor enthusiast.

Instead, it’s the knife you can throw in your back pocket and rely on. And it will demand very little maintenance along the way.

In the last couple of weeks, I did a little bit of everything with the Voltaic. Mostly, I wanted to see how well Sandvik 14C28N holds up, so I took it out to the workshop and sliced a bunch of cardboard and rope. I don’t do that with a lot of knives anymore unless I have some question about the steel, or — as in this case — I want to confirm my suspicions of quality.

The result? The Voltaic remains factory fresh and I can shave my arm or slice paper with it easily.

CIVIVI Voltaic fuller cutout
(Photo/Nick LeFort)

One place where this knife proved especially fun was out tackling a little spring yard cleaning. With it, I took out some rusty nails from the side of the shed, cut twine for twig bundles, and sliced up apples.

I am enthusiastically pro-Voltaic because it’s an unassuming blade for someone with my lifestyle. It feels familiar and, as I noted, could stay in my back pocket for years to come.

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I will not harp on all those who only swear by American-made knives but still complain about how expensive they are. But I will say that knives like the CIVIVI Voltaic are what those folks are really looking for: a reliable knife at the right price.

If my outlaw biker brother was still alive today, the Voltaic is the knife I would give him. I know he’d appreciate it, use it, and abuse it daily.

But the beauty of the Voltaic is that it will just as easily suit the Docker-wearing office worker. The Voltaic is a utilitarian knife that looks and feels like a premium blade. But it doesn’t fit into any category — created by fact or fiction — in the knife world.

Put it this way: People think of Mercedes-Benz as a status symbol. But a Toyota Camry is far more reliable, looks just as good, and will stay on the road decades longer. Think of the Voltaic as a Camry: It might not turn as many heads, but it’ll take you a lot further and serve you longer.

Don’t ignore the CIVIVI Voltaic because it’s made overseas and costs less than $100. Embrace it and celebrate the fact that you’ll only take it out of your pocket if you get bored with it, not because it fails you.

The CIVIVI Voltaic is currently available in three distinct versions, all of which offer stainless steel, a Sandvik 14C28N drop-point blade, and G10, Micarta, or Cuibourtia wood inlays.

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