Blade material is to knives what horsepower is to cars. Sure, there are other things that matter, but nothing turns the head of knife knuts more than some exotic steel. And what’s more exotic than steel, you ask? Meet dendritic cobalt.
Terrain 365, a new(ish) brand launched a few years ago by custom maker Michael Vagnino and Patrick Ma, uses a proprietary form of dendritic cobalt called “Terravantium.” And beyond just a cool name, this unique blade material provides unprecedented cutting performance.
Dendritic cobalt is not a new blade material, but it is not one that has been widely available. Dave Boye’s classic marine knives have used dendritic cobalt, and Stellite has been used in custom knives before.
But, the Terrain 365 knives are the first blades that offer the blade material on a wide variety of knives that are readily available. Here’s what you need to know about this high-end blade material and the brand’s standout knife: the Otter.
Dendritic Cobalt Blades
Dendritic cobalt is a nonferrous (non-ironed-based) blade material. Because it lacks iron, it is both rustproof and nonmagnetic. It also forms a very toothy edge that cuts for significantly longer than steel, slicing through material well after it “feels” dull.
As a trade-off, cobalt tends to be more susceptible to impact damage. Because there is no data sheet, I am not sure if Terravantium is a chemical alteration of traditional cobalt blade material, a processing alteration, or just branding. Whatever it is, Terravantium cuts well and cuts forever.
Terrain 365 Otter Folding Knife Review
My favorite of the Terrain 365 knives is the ultraminimalist Otter.
Terrain 365 Otter: Specs
- Steel: Terravantium (proprietary dendritic cobalt)
- Grind: Hollow grind
- Lock: None, slipjoint
- Blade Length: Inches
- Handle Length: 3.94 in.
- OAL: 6.94 in.
- Weight: 2.7 oz.
- Price: $267
- Country of Origin: USA
The Otter is based on one of my favorite patterns, a slipjoint barlow. This kind of knife is comparatively people-friendly, easy to carry, and very capable. When you add a thin, rustproof, long-lasting blade material, the barlow pattern reaches its zenith of performance.
With gently sculpted G10 handles and a straightforward blade shape, the Otter can go from cutting wet rope to processing cardboard to food prep with ease. If you don’t pry with it (and you should never pry with a folder), the Otter will do everything you ask of it with simple aplomb.
The thin grind is especially nice here, placing the Otter’s slicing ability front and center. The knife is also very nicely finished, which it should be, given the price.
I also like the bail, which brings to mind old-timey mariners’ knives. The walk and talk (how crisply the slipjoint mechanism both allows the knife to open and how it snaps into place) are excellent, and the pull is strong, but not nail-busting. This is a delightful knife to own, carry, and use.
There is no lock, but I don’t think of that as a drawback, although some might. Simplicity has value to me.
The first real issue is that you have to get used to a bail. This one is not free-swinging, so it is unlikely to accidentally block the knife from closing (thus damaging the edge), but you still need to be aware of where it is.
Then there’s the cost. This is a finely made piece of cutlery with an exotic and hard-to-process blade material. And its price reflects that.
As a steel junkie, the price is worth it to me, but this level of rustproofing is probably something that most people don’t need. So, paying more for it makes less sense for most people.
Terrain 365 Otter: Conclusion
If you have the funds, the need, or addiction to cutting performance, this is a great knife. Highly recommended.