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Knife Review: Chris Reeve CGG “Cape Buffalo” Small Sebenza 21 Folding Knife

Knife Review: Chris Reeve CGG “Cape Buffalo” Small Sebenza 21 Folding Knife

Posted by SD on Feb 26th 2020

Cape BuffaloThe Chris Reeve CGG “Cape Buffalo” Small Sebenza 21 Folding Knife

Chris Reeve Knives is a production knife manufacturer. As a production company, they design and produce their own knives, as opposed to a custom knife maker who will work with a client to design or bring his or her knife idea to life. All of their knives are produced in a combination of hand and machine work out of their shop in Boise, Idaho.

They say, “Chris has always ‘pushed the envelope’. Whether on a motorcycle or behind a belt grinder, he dreamed of being a world champion. He did not win a motorcycle world championship but in many respects, the standing of CRK today represents one. His induction into the Cutlery Hall of Fame in June 2015 could be considered his championship trophy. The single thought in Chris' mind has always been to design every model with deliberation, taking into account how the knife works, its intended purpose and the most appropriate materials. On this foundation, CRK is a vibrant business, has a great staff of well-trained employees, and remains a company with a worldwide reputation for raising the standards bar – ‘pushing the envelope’ - for the industry.”

Today we are going to look at one of his Small Sebenza 21’s, this time, the version with the CGG “Cape Buffalo” handle that is currently available at BladeOps.

The Blade:

The blade on this Small Sebenza 21 is made out of CPM S35VN stainless steel. This steel is a unique one. It started out when Crucible Industries made CPM S30V steel. This steel quickly became a fan favorite. One of its claims to fame was that it had nearly the perfect balance between hardness, toughness, and edge retention. Up until this point, that was a tricky balance to achieve. This is because edge-retention needs high levels of hardness. But the harder the steel is, the less tough it is going to be. And, the tougher the steel, the softer it is going to be. Crucible nailed the balance and people loved it. Plus, CPM S30V steel had incredibly high levels of corrosion resistance. All in all, this was a pretty low maintenance steel. Except, it proved pretty complicated to sharpen. This was a hard steel with a thicker grain structure and it was a pain to sharpen. No beginner sharpener could manage it. Crucible was not satisfied.

Enter Chris Reeve. He partnered with Crucible Industries to perfect this already high-end steel. The two biggest changes were that they decided to add in small amounts of niobium, which is where the N in the name comes from. The two parties also decided to start with a much finer grain structure. Both of these changes made the steel a lot easier to work with, ensuring that it won’t be a pain to sharpen. The new steel, CPM S35VN, kept all of the original qualities including the great balance and the high levels of corrosion resistance. Really, with this steel, you cannot go wrong.

Chris Reeve S21 Cape Buffalo

The blade has been given a stonewash finished. This finish is becoming more and more common, rivaling even the satin finish. In all actuality, the two finishes are pretty similar, with the stonewash being a little bit more rugged due to the texture in it.

This finish is created when the manufacturer tumbles the steel with small ceramic pebbles. This roughs up the surface of the steel, adding in texture. The manufacturer then smooths the steel, and finally polishes the steel. This keeps the rugged appearance, which is why the blade can so easily hide scratches and smudges that occur over time. Glares and reflections are also reduced.

The blade has been carved into a drop point blade shape which is the most common blade shape that you are going to come across in today’s cutlery industry. This is for a few reasons including that it is versatile and tough. The blade has a spine that slowly and shallowly curves from the handle to the tip of the knife. This slight curve does create a lowered point, which is one of the first meaningful characteristics on the blade shape. The lowered point is going to allow you to have more control when you are using this knife. You will be able to perform fine detail work with this knife because of the lowered point.

The other big feature of the tip is that it is a very broad tip. This broadness is where you get the high strength that you have come to expect from this blade shape. The strength of this blade shape is nearly unmatched, and you won’t have to worry about taking on tougher tasks, because this blade is not going to break easily. The broad tip is even enhanced by the high-end steel that the Sebenza 21 sports.

The last reason that the drop point blade is loved by many is that it has a very large belly that allows you to easily slice through almost anything. The steel can also get to a razor-sharp edge, which will enhance the belly perfectly. The drop point style blade really only has one major disadvantage: the broad tip. This is funny, because the broad tip gives the knife so much strength, but it actually also takes away some of your piercing capabilities.

The Handle:

The handle on this knife is made out of 6AI4V Titanium. Titanium is known as being very similar to aluminum, except that between the two it is the superior metal. Titanium is a lightweight metal alloy, just like aluminum. Titanium is the heavier between the two metals, but with the extra weight, you get incredible strength. Although it is considered to be the heavier of the two metals, Titanium is not hard—it is definitely still a lightweight metal that will keep the overall weight of the knife down. However, because it is stronger, it is harder to machine, which also means that it is going to be more expensive to machine. Out of all the metals, this titanium is going to give you some of the best rust resistance.

Titanium differs from aluminum because it actually has a warm feel to it instead of having high conductive properties. This isn’t going to make that big of a difference if you are using this knife in a warm environment. However, if you plan on using this knife in cooler environments, this is a big advantage.

The handle has been completed with a special Computer-Generated Graphic which is achieved with CAD/CAM software and then transferred to a CNC machine for milling. The image on this handle is called “Cape Buffalo.” This buffalo image is placed staring about halfway down the handle, with more of its weight toward the butt of the handle.

The Pocket Clip:

The pocket clip is made out of titanium and is statically designed for tip up carry only on the traditional side of the handle. Titanium does have a little bit more spring in it, which means that it will be able to securely attach to your pocket without wearing out over time. The titanium clip is going to be a little bit sturdier than your typical clip, ensuring that your knife stays more safely in your pocket over the knife’s lifetime.

This is a statically designed pocket clip, so it will not make the Small Sebenza ambidextrous friendly.

The bulk of the hardware on this knife is silver, matching the handle well.

The Mechanism:

This is a manual knife that has been equipped with a thumb stud as well as an Integral Lock frame lock design that was built to handle a lifetime of use and abuse.

Because this is a manual knife, it is going to be legal in more states and cities than an automatic knife. However, you do still need to know your local knife laws before purchasing this knife and especially before carrying the knife. While the manual knife is going to be legal in more areas, it is also not going to be as smooth or as quick to bring into play.

The thumb stud is a very common opening mechanism, especially for manual folding knives. It is a small stud that sits near where the blade begins and the handle ends. This stud allows you to push against it with your thumb, which is going to swing your knife open before locking it into place. There are some obvious advantages to a knife having a thumb stud. The first is that it is super easy to get the hang of as well as being easy to use. Also, the thumb stud allows you to open the knife with only one hand, which is ideal for complicated tasks that require two hands or your full attention. There are a couple disadvantages. The first is that some people don’t like how the stud extends off the blade, because they feel like it gets in the way when they are trying to use the knife. The second is that the thumb stud does put your fingers in the path of the blade when you are opening it. There have been many cases of people accidentally cutting themselves when they were opening a knife with a thumb stud. It shouldn’t be a huge problem, just be careful as you first get the hang of this knife.

The Integral Frame Lock was first used on one of the earliest Sebenza’s, clear back in 1990. To this day, both the Integral Frame Lock and the Sebenza’s are still being used and made, which shows how great of a knife this is.

The lock itself is similar to a liner lock, but it is known for being a little bit stronger. The lock is actually made out of the entire handle, instead of a different piece of metal. When the blade is opened, the lock bar holds the blade open by pushing against the rear of the blade tang.

The Specs:

The blade on this folding knife measures in at 2.94 inches long with handle that measures in at 3.935 inches long. This creates an overall length of 6.875 inches long when the blade has been deployed. When it comes to a folding knife, this is on the smaller side of the spectrum, but the materials that have been sued on this knife are so high quality that you won’t need to worry about whether or not this knife can hold its own. It just can. You will be able to rely on this knife completely.

This version of the Chris Reeve Sebenza weighs in at 3 ounces. This is a great weight for an EDC. It is not so heavy that it is going to be a hassle to have with you, but it will still be able to support you when you need it most. This knife was proudly made in the United States of America.


The Chris Reeve Sebenza has become synonymous world-wide with quality, rock solid performance and a "bank vault" feel. First developed in 1987, the Sebenza has gone through only some minor changes over the years and in 2008, the Sebenza 21 was released to celebrate 21 years of this flagship model. This model features an Integral Lock® frame lock design that was built to handle a lifetime of use and abuse and each premium stainless-steel blade is deployed with the single thumb lug. The special CGG (Computer Generated Graphic) "Cape Buffalo" graphic is achieved with CAD/CAM software and then transferred to a CNC machine for milling. This smaller model boasts titanium handle scales, a drop point style blade in a tumbled stonewash finish and the titanium pocket clip is statically designed for tip up carry only on the traditional side of the handle.

This Chris Reeve Sebenza is currently in stock at BladeOps. However, this one has been a hit and the quantities are going quickly. If you are hoping to secure one for yourself, click here to order yours today.