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Sebenza 21 vs Sebenza 31 Knife Comparison


Since 2008, the Chris Reeve Sebenza 21 has been the flagship knife of Chris Reeve Knives. The word "Sebenza" is a Zulu word, meaning "work." If there was ever a knife more deserving of the name, it has to be the Sebenza 21. That is, until now.

On June 7th, 2019, the Chris Reeve Sebenza 31 will be available, marking the 31st year since the original Sebenza was created. Those lucky enough to be at the BLADE Show in Atlanta, GA will be among the first to see this masterpiece rolled out for the first time. The workhorse of Chris Reeve Knives, the Sebenza 21, will be discontinued.

So what is the difference between the Sebenza 21 and the new Sebenza 31? The real question for some would be how (or why) do you improve on perfection?

What do the Sebenza 31 improvements mean to you?

The Sebenza 31 comes in both Large and Small varieties, however, at time of this publication, only the drop point blade style is available. Tanto and Inkosi styles will be forthcoming very soon (look for them early 2020). Though the blade design, general knife shape and fittings are relatively the same, you will notice some significant improvements which are a result of improvements on machining methods, improvements to the ceramic lock interface, and a "wider single piece inlay design on inlay editions" according to Larry Connelley.

A significant difference is seen in the use of Chad Nichols damascus steel. Chad Nichols has been manufacturing damascus steel in the USA for years. Chris Reeve Knives are happy to collaborate with such a master in metallurgy, renowned for the strength, quality, and reliability of his product.

Also missing from the Sebenza 31 will be the fixturing hole in the titanium handle, which is due to improvements in the milling process. This difference is similar to the Sebenza 25. However, the Sebenza 31 will not feature choils or finger grooves like other varieties of Sebenza. Due to overwhelming response from loyal users, the simpler design of the 21 stays relatively intact in the Sebenza 31. According to Chris Reeve, the Sebenza 31 is "an update to an already time-tested and proven design."

Here is the run-down:

Full specs

Sebenza 21 Large (Small)

  • Blade length: 3.625" (2.94")
  • Overall length: 8.335" (6.875")
  • Weight: 4.7oz (3.0 oz)
  • Blade material: CPM-S35VN stainless, stonewash finish
  • Rockwell hardness: 59-60 HRC
  • Blade style: Drop point, Inkosi, Tanto
  • Blade Grind: Hollow
  • Handle: 6AI4V milled titanium
  • Locking device: Frame lock
  • Configuration: Right or Left handed

Sebenza 31 Large (Small)

  • Blade length: 3.625" (2.94")
  • Overall length: 8.335" (6.875")
  • Weight: 4.7oz (3.0 oz)
  • Blade material: CPM-SVN35
  • Rockwell hardness: 59-60 HRC
  • Blade style: Drop point only (for now as of June 2019)
  • Blade Grind: Hollow
  • Handle: 6AI4V milled titanium
  • Locking device: Frame lock
  • Configuration: Right or Left handed

Other new features include

  • A ceramic ball interface which improves the functionality of the already impressive patented frame-lock design.
  • The off-set clip design provides for improved ergonomics, allowing the handle to rest more comfortably in the hand during use.
  • Improved machining processes mean tolerances are now even tighter in the Sebenza 31.
  • With wider, re-designed inlays, even a simple utilitarian knife design gets to be expressive in the tastes and individuality of its owner.

Available inlays include:

  • Plain
  • Bog oak
  • Box elder burl
  • Macassar Ebony
  • Black micarta
  • Natural micarta

Computer Generated Graphics are also available!

  • Chainmail
  • Rhino
  • Lunar landing

Damascus Options from Chad Nichols

  • Raindrop
  • Ladder
  • Boomerang

The Bottom Line

Chris Reeves Knives Sebenza 21 has not only been the flagship of a legendary knife company, but the Sebenza 31 is an improvement on a work of art. Perfect as an everyday carry knife, for hunting, outdoors recreation, tactical, or even first responder use, the Sebenza 31 has some big shoes to fill. As an update to an already timeless design, with improvements designed to carry the Sebenza well into the 21st Century, the Sebenza 31 is an apex EDC knife that you'll fall in love with the moment you pick it up.

As an authorized dealer of Chris Reeve Knives, offers fast, free shipping in the USA. We are so sure that you will love your Sebenza 31, that we provide a 100% customer satisfaction guarantee on Chris Reeve Knives. If for whatever reason, you don't like your purchase, simply return it and you will not be charged a restocking fee.

Chris Reeve Knives offer a lifetime warranty, which even includes disassembly of your knife. Even if you can't get your knife put back together after taking it apart (which isn't very likely, but things happen) you can send it to Chris Reeve Knives and they will do it for you, free of charge. Proudly made in Idaho, USA, you would have to try hard to find a knife that even compares to the quality of the Sebenza 31.

Order your Chris Reeve Sebenza 31 today. And if you have already ordered a soon to be discontinued Sebenza 21 there are other options available to you as well. Contact us with any questions, or refer to the FAQ below for more details!

FAQs (from Chris Reeve Knives):

Can I change my existing Sebenza 21 Orders over to the Sebenza 31 model and keep my place in the queue?

Any existing orders for Sebenza 21s in a drop point configuration can be changed over to their equivalent in a Sebenza 31. We'll be reaching out to you soon with your Sebenza 21 backlog to review and make changes. We'll be filling any changeover orders parallel to dealer pre-orders and will prioritize these over orders taken at Blade Show. We'd recommend keeping your Insingo and Tanto Sebenza 21 orders open as there's not a direct replacement available for those blade profiles at the moment.

When will the Insingo and Tanto blade profiles be available for order?

This will depend on how many orders are received for the Drop Point variations. We may introduce blade varieties as soon as this year, but it will likely be 2020 based on our current production needs.

Are CAD Customs or exclusives available for order?

Not yet. We're going to have a lot of production offerings to work through first, but will open up customized options of the Sebenza 31 early in 2020.

Is the hardware different?

There have been changes to the blades and handles, but all hardware is shared between the Sebenza 21 and the Sebenza 31.

Are the prices the same?

Yep! Pricing is outlined in the documents below but is the same as the Sebenza 21 offerings at this point in time.

Will MAP on the Sebenza 21 change?

No. There is no change from currently published prices.

What will be available at Blade Show?

We've done a run of 31 Large and 31 Small Sebenza 31s that will be numbered to sell at Blade Show this year.