Review Real Steel Harrier S class

Wave Man

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Real Steel Harrier S class CTS-204-p/Ti, Carbon Fiber flipper

I will preface this with the following, this is a hard review to write, I make no apologies about the fact I love Real Steel as a company and for the products they produce. I own many Real Steel knives and several of their premium line, the S class and I had very high expectations for this model in particular, as the company had said it was their celebration of their 5 year birthday and a collaboration with Carson Huang (the designer of the Megalodon, probably their most recognisable knife design). Plus it was the most expensive RSK I had bought., costing $100 more than any other model I had purchased. Anyway here it is,

What the company says
The Harrier another majestic bird of prey has to be considered RSK’s most unique knife to date, in celebration of RSK's 5th year birthday an collaboration with Carson Huang. This level of high quality structure and appearance are seldom seen in many knife classes. A specially designed extra ball has installed in the lock bar, which completely minimizes action friction. On top of this, the double bead structure allows the blade to be secured when closed without touching the blade when opening. To round up the feats of design construction the interior ball bearing system is completely sealed which avoids the gathering of dirt and sand through usage. RSK S-Series trademark S lock design on the exterior of the knife can also be seen in other S-Series knives; S571, Megalodon 2017. The Harrier designed by Carsten Huang also designed RSK’s other very successful knives Griffin, Exorcist,Cormorant and Megalodon. To top all of this class, the blade is fitted with CTS 240P steel with carbon fiber inserts painstakingly fitted to the TC4 handle.

The stats, Details
Lock frame-lock
Blade Steel CTS-204-p
Blade Length 90mm/3.54"
Open Knife Length 210mm/8.27"
Weight 135g/4.76 oz
Blade Thickness 4.0mm/0.16"

The Harrier comes packaged in the usual RSK's premium style, with a fitted box, the knife wrapped in a microfiber cleaning cloth, foam pad, a certificate of authenticity and warranty information. This is a numbered model, with mine being number 193. My certificate (from the factory) actually came wrongly numbered 204 (wrongly numbered and was the steel number?), I contacted my vender and he contacted Real Steel and long story short they posted me another correct certificate.


The Harrier is an semi-open frame design with a short backspacer and 5 pillar standoff. The presentation side is a ti panel with two inletted CF panels with this side with no internal milling. The knife features nice chamfering on all edges including the edges of the frame lock (a place many companies miss). The frame lock is very interesting with an interesting 'wavy' line, which is designed to prevent the frame lock from movement in the wrong direction. There is also a lock bar insert with integrated overtravel stop. The lock bar also features a departure from the norm milled cutout, this one runs along the lock rather than cross the lock.
The Harrier is built using several unusual features, including a sealed bearing pivot and double detent system. Real Steel is (IMHO) trying to showcase their sophisticated manufacturing techniques.
As mentioned the Harrier features a sealed bearing pivot, which is very different to the usual caged or free bearing pivots that are fitted to most flippers these days. This sealed bearing eliminates the issues of debris contamination that caged and free bearing are thought to suffer from.
Another feature the Harrier has is a double detent, said to make the action even smoother.
The pivot is proprietary, though the knife is supplied with the tool to adjust the pivot.

The knife came reasonably sharp from the factory, fit and finish is RSK usual standard, as in excellent, the blade is slightly off center and the lock engages at about the 40% engagement. The titanium pocket clip, which is emblazoned with the words Real Steel, is set up for right hand carry tip up, with no options to change. This knife isn't suitable for lefties. The pocket clip has great retention, though not deep carry, and goes into the pocket easily and deploys easily. The backspacer has a lanyard hole incorporated into it.

The drop point, saber grind blade is nicely stonewashed has a fuller ground into it, with overtravel pins mounted as well. There is jimping on the back of the blade as well a large sharpening choil also provided which clears the plunge grind and over-travel pins. The flipper tab has jimping. There is no blade play though there is a small amount of lock rock (see below)

The knife goes in and out of the pocket well, and it doesn't take all that much pocket real estate.

The flipping action is different, the double detent and sealed bearings makes for a unique action and the flipping action is smooth and the sound of the knife opening different to all other flippers I own.

I really wanted to love this knife, it had, on paper, everything I want or need in a flipper, smooth action, premium build and materials and coming from a company I love, but I have found some serious issues in the knife.
For starters the flipper tab is VERY smooth, and despite the jimping my finger often slips off the tab during deployment.
Secondly, as mentioned the blade is slightly off center, and the knife often loosened up with the knife developing blade play. I have eliminated this with some Loctite but there is still some lock rock. I feel when paying AUD$300 for a folder one should not have to Loctite a pivot.













proprietary pivot and tool


Conclusion This knife represents a step forward in innovation, the sealed bearing pivot is usually only available on custom knives and eliminates the one downfall of bearing pivots. Also the double detent system is very different and unique and makes the knife very smooth. If Real Steel irons out the kinks (fixes the smoothness problem with the flipper tab, corrects the centering, eliminate the lock rock and Loctite the pivot from factory) of this model then I would recommend it, but I can't as the knife stands.

rating system
1-5 star system 1 star poor/fail 2 star below average 3 star average 4 above average 5 star excellent
-Hands on/Ergos 3 starts
- Materials/Features 3 stars
- Build Quality/Fit and Finish 4 stars
- Value/Price point 4.5 stars
- Aesthetics 5 stars

Overall rating (average of all above) 3.9 stars

For full disclosure I would also add I have XXL hands, and that must play in to my review process, and the readers should keep that in mind when reading my reviews and recommendations.
Lastly I ONLY use folding knives for light cutting duties, so I will not do 'hard use' cutting tasks with any folder, that's what I have fixed blades for, so cutting tests consisted of cutting paper, cardboard, packaging, paracord, some food prep (again, not a task I use folders for for the most part) and other duties a stay-at-home-dad would use a cutting tool for around the house.
 
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Randall

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really, the standard of knives now is generally very good. We're being spoilt I think because of the US market - the whole of asia are after their dollars but they have to work and compete for them. Some cheaper knives are made so well that they are competing in quality of high end knives. Sometimes the only significant difference are the materials used. No excuse for the lack of loctite though.
 

Wave Man

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you are right mate we are spoiled for choice these days, isn't a wonderful time to live? I feel as though the standard has been raised now by the likes of WE and Reate and I must admit I have come to expect perfection from the knives I purchase. Though I will say I don't buy inexpensive knives any more and when paying hundreds of dollars per knife you should be able to expect quality every time.
 

Howling Dingo

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really, the standard of knives now is generally very good. We're being spoilt I think because of the US market - the whole of asia are after their dollars but they have to work and compete for them. Some cheaper knives are made so well that they are competing in quality of high end knives. Sometimes the only significant difference are the materials used. No excuse for the lack of loctite though.
Personally I would not buy a knife made in China if I could help it. I try and give the whole "made in China" thing a miss as much as I can. Few reasons for that like being the totalitarian government and there human rights record. But also there is a issue with manufacturing quality and copyright infringement.
 

Randall

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You're right re china. An even bigger issue for the rest of the world is their global push for colonisation which is and has been happening here in Australia too (even Tassie). And those investments are usually a closed loop with not many locals being involved - all profits go back to the home country just like the old days of colonialism. Thankfully though, many knife companies are in other Asian countries. The orange man is the only person trying to address copyright issues with China - they've been pinching bucketloads of technology from the US for decades now, esp in the IT and military areas.
 
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Wave Man

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Personally I would not buy a knife made in China if I could help it. I try and give the whole "made in China" thing a miss as much as I can. Few reasons for that like being the totalitarian government and there human rights record. But also there is a issue with manufacturing quality and copyright infringement.
I have to say I am the complete opposite, I prefer Chinese manufacturers for the most part. WE and Reate for starters, they both produce knives that are originally designed and are manufactured to a extremely high standard (easily as good as any in the business, I would put some of my Reate's and WE's up against any American made knives and be confident they would match or exceed) Gone are the days of Chinese manufacturer that is suspect for the most part (yes they still do the clone thing but it is easily avoided).
 

Thrud

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Thanks for another excellent review. I have a Real steel folder bushcraft and am very happy with it.
 

Wave Man

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Thanks for another excellent review. I have a Real steel folder bushcraft and am very happy with it.
not a problem mate, one point Real Steel really step up the quality (materials used mainly, the quality stays about the same between their 'normal' lines and the S class) when you step up into their S class and for the most part their S class represents brilliant value for money as they are quite often a lot cheaper to buy than their rival products (as an example the Megalodon's [Eclipse and Titan] were easily $100-$200 cheaper than any of their equivalent rivals).
 

Howling Dingo

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For the price tag of $300 I would send this knife back and get a refund or replacement. Three issues with this knife new just out the box....
Lack of Loctite pivot and blade out of alignment ,also bad design of the flip tag that make you misfire the knife.

For $300 on a folder you should not have any of this issues. Ok you could for forgive some (or all) of this on a $30 folder but not when the price tag is $300.
 
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Wave Man

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For the price tag of $300 I would send this knife back and get a refund or replacement. Three issues with this knife new just out the box....
Lack of Loctite pivot and blade out of alignment ,also bad design of the flip tag that make you misfire the knife.

For $300 on a folder you should not have any of this issues. Ok you could for forgive some (or all) of this on a $30 folder but not when the price tag is $300.
I should have but it is too late now. The Loctite issue is a common one, and was easily fixed. Companies cope flak either way, some like the pivot to be Loctited from the factory and some don't. The major issue (slippery jimping on the flipper tab) could only be fixed by recutting the jimping, changing it to a more aggressive type, and again is a somewhat contentious issue, some like the jimping aggressive where others don't.
 

Randall

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I should have but it is too late now. The Loctite issue is a common one, and was easily fixed. Companies cope flak either way, some like the pivot to be Loctited from the factory and some don't. The major issue (slippery jimping on the flipper tab) could only be fixed by recutting the jimping, changing it to a more aggressive type, and again is a somewhat contentious issue, some like the jimping aggressive where others don't.
Yes, I've seen that. And Nick Shabazz has had some knives with aggressive loctite - he's had to put the knives in hot water before being able to undo them. I have a few knives that I've had to modify a bit. A couple to get to the liner locks easier; one I had to grind a divet under the clip so that it would hold better. Had to adjust the pivot screw on a couple - just a bit too tight. I think it's fairly easy to get close to perfection, but very hard to get that last bit; there is always something.
 

Wave Man

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exactly Randall, the Loctite issue is always going to be an problem for many, I too have had knives Loctited from the factory and I simply can't disassemble them as the Loctite won't let go.
 

Thrud

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for certain types of loctite, you can heat a screwdriver and apply it to the screw you want to undo. This does work.
 
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