When I first saw the Civivi Elementum online, I dismissed it as being too small. I liked the shape of the blade. Hell! I really liked the overall shape of the knife. But at the time, my only points of reference were YouTube video reviews or pictures that offered little in the way of scale.
Then one day I happened to go to my favorite cutlery shop, Perfect Edge Cutlery in San Mateo, CA, to see what they had in stock. I’m a regular customer of theirs, but for chef knives as opposed to EDCs. I did purchase my very first Kershaw from them, but I never really paid attention to their EDC collection much.
But that fateful day, I was there specifically to see what they had. As expected, they had the obligatory Benchmade, Spyderco, and Zero Tolerance collections. But then I asked the shop owner if she carried any Civivis because I love We/Civivi designs. She pointed down and it turns out that she had several in the case; one of which was the Civivi Elementum Button Lock in dark green micarta.
I asked to see it, then remarked, “Based on what I’ve seen online, I thought this knife was A LOT smaller! Turns out, the reviewers’ hands are bigger than mine!” We both had a nice chuckle.
To be honest, I intellectually knew that the blade was 3.5″ long. But it still was hard to picture the knife in my hand without actually holding it in real life. But once I picked it up, the first thing that came to my mind was: Damn! This feels GREAT! It’s perfect.
The handle was the perfect size for my hand; not too thin, but not at all bulky. I could get a full four-finger grip. No hot spots at all as the clip pretty much goes into the crease between my palm and fingers when I hold the knife.
When I deployed the knife (which admittedly took me a couple of times to get down), I immediately noticed how balanced it was. The balance point was just behind the swivel, making the knife extremely nimble while holding it.
And even though, I’m not a steel snob, I was actually excited that the button lock version came in Sandvik 14C28N. I had heard great things about this steel and how easy it is to sharpen yet it has great edge retention, so that was a huge plus in my book. I have a few knives in D2, and I love those knives. And while D2 has great edge-retention properties, it’s kind of a bitch to sharpen, especially if the heat treat brings up the hardness.
All those things combined, I knew I was going to take it home with me.
But I didn’t get to use it right away, which was okay because it gave me time to put it on my stones. While it came out of the box pretty sharp and slicey, I was curious about what I had heard of the 14C28N’s sharpen ability. Long story short, dayam! I couldn’t believe how quick I was able to get a burr! At first, it was a little concerning because usually, that’s a sign of really soft steel. But there was something different about the feel of the blade as I slid it across my stones. It felt amazing! Compared to sharpening my D2 blades, sharpening the Elementum was A LOT easier. In any case, I quickly got it sharpened to a razor’s edge.
Then this past weekend, I had several boxes I had to cut up. I normally do that with my CRKT Mah Hawk. I love that knife for that purpose. But having just gotten the Elementum, I had to try it out. With the edge I put on the blade, it was like cutting through paper! And even after a few big boxes, I couldn’t believe how sharp the blade still was! As expected, it did lose just a little of its bite, but I’d say it was still sharper than the factory edge at that point! Like I said, dayam!
And while I was cutting up the boxes, I kept on thinking about just how comfortable – and stable – the knife felt in my hand. I never once felt it would slip or I’d lose control of it. It really felt – perfect.
Addressing Some Concerns I’ve Heard
Like a lot of things, a pocket knife is an intensely personal thing. What one person might find to be a valuable or useful feature another person might find completely useless. And the Elementum is not without its detractors or negative feedback.
The first negative thing I heard was that there’s only one way to deploy the knife and that is by the button lock. People have said they would’ve liked it to have a flipper tab. For me, there are two points I’d like to bring up. First, while a flipper tab might be useful, you still have to press the button lock to deploy the knife. That’s because once the knife is tucked away, it’s completely locked in place. I’ve got a few flippers, both assisted and unassisted, and they all have a detent that doesn’t require any unlocking. The Elementum works differently in that it’s a blade lock both deployed and stowed. So at least for me, a flipper tab doesn’t make any sense.
The other rebuttal I’d have to a flipper tab is that I think it would take away from the knife’s look. What really drew me to the knife was its sleek, clean design. A flipper tab would add an unnecessary bump in an otherwise clean profile.
Another negative I’ve heard about the knife is the smoothness of the micarta. I have to admit that it is a little smooth, and I’m no expert on micarta, but in the actual use of the knife, I didn’t think the smoothness of the micarta played a factor at all. I was able to easily grip the knife and not once felt as if it would slip out of my hand.
There are some out there that don’t like the knife because it’s unexciting. But to me, that’s its strength. I love minimalistic design and the Elementum is a testament to minimalism. Its very unexciting-ness is what makes it exciting to me.