by Larry Connelley
When looking at the Large Sebenza 21 vs Sebenza 25 side-by-side, there are some subtle differences beyond appearance. Though both appear very similar in shape and size, the Sebenza 25 has some new features to improve the durability and utility of the knife. Here's a look at both models, piece by piece.
When it comes down to each sebenza folding knives' specs, they are both pretty similar: both blades are stonewashed and made with Crucible's American-made CPM S35VN Stainless Steel, heat treated to a Rockwell Hardness of RC 59-60. The S35VN was developed in consultation with Chris Reeve and provide the user with an outstanding balance of edge retention, toughness and corrosion resistance. The blade shape on both knives is a classic drop point shape, a great blade shape for a wide variety of tasks.
The handles are both made from blasted aerospace grade 6Al4V titanium alloy, measure .150 inches thick, and feature identical pocket clips for carry. The handles on the knife provide an even matte textured handle grip. The fittings for both models are made from 303 stainless steel. Overall, both knives measure 8.335 inches long, with each blade at 3.625 inches long. The Sebenza 25 does weigh a little bit heavier than the 21, at 5.2 ounces versus 4.7 ounces. This weight difference is due to the larger blade thickness of the 25.
Though made from the same materials, the Sebenza 25 however has new features that the large 21 doesn't have. The 'large hollow grind' of the 25 incorporates the strength of a flat grind's geometry with a hollow grind's slicing ability. Paired with the thickness of the blade at .140 inches, the 25 blade is heftier than the 21 blade. The large hollow grind is a useful mix of the flat grind and the hollow grind.
In addition, the Sebenza 25 has a one-eighth inch ceramic ball lockbar interface which improves the lock up of the blade when in lock position and improves the lock life, which in turn reduces the need for service over time. The pivot on the 25 features larger perforations in the bushings (washers) as well for better blade fluidity, reducing friction by reducing the blade/bushing surface area. The handle to the Sebenza 25 also features a second finger groove for improved purchase and grasp. This additional finger grove changes the aesthetics of the handle somewhat. The 25 has dual thumb lugs as a standard feature, making it easier to deploy ambidextrously with either hand.
As of this writing, the Sebenza 25 (base model) comes in at $445 and the Large Sebenza 21 (base model) comes in at $410. So the Sebenza 25 is more expensive than the 21. (prices can change with time).
I think the Sebenza 25 features that appeal to me most are the 'wide hollow grind' on the thicker blade stock and the ceramic ball lockbar insert. Many still prefer the sleek look of the handle on the Sebenza 21 and the price point is somewhat less. There is absolutely nothing 'bad' about a Large Sebenza 21, it is still incredibly popular and highly unlikely to be discontinued anytime soon. The Sebenza 21 has all of the features that make a great knife - nothing that the Sebenza 25 has is a deal breaker for the 21!
Overall, the Sebenza 25 as the 25th anniversary model for the Chris Reeve Sebenza line holds the traditional look and performance of the Sebenzas, while updating the large 21 with some incremental new knife technology pioneered by Chris Reeve .