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Bargain or Just Cheap? – Steel Will Modus F25

Welcome to Bargain or Just Cheap? This series will review budget friendly knives for a variety of uses in a short format. All of the knives will cost less than $50 (in most cases, much less) and will be purchased out of my own pocket. I’ll buy them, carry them, and use them in an attempt to determine if the knife is a bargain or just cheap.


There was a time when Chinese made knives were mostly junk – at least those that were imported and sold very inexpensively. That is changing thanks to a wave of manufacturers like Steel Wil and othersl that are offering some really excellent knives that are often priced very competitively. That is certainly the case with the subject of today’s installment of Bargain or Just Cheap? – the Steel Will Modus F25.

Steel Will often offers two versions of the same design, one with more premium materials and one with more working class materials like FRN handle slabs and D2 steel. I often tend toward to working class model because they are very affordable and I actually happen to like D2 steel and FRN (plastic) as a handle material from all my years carrying Spyderco knives. The particular version of the Modus that I purchased is the F25-12 model. It features a 3.25″ D2 steel blade with green FRN handles.

The Modus features a modified sheepsfoot shape. Most sheepsfoot knives have a completely straight edge but the Modus’ edge sweeps gently up toward the tip giving it some belly. The blade is quite tall for a folder and the primary flat grind is nearly full height which does a very good job of thinning the edge. It cuts and slices very well.

The handle feels great in the handle and the texture provided by the patterned FRN scales is great. The full steel liners under the FRN have been skeletonized to reduce weight.

The lock up on these Steel Will liner locks is excellent. They typically exhibit early lock up with full engagement. The lock up on my Modus is among the best I have seen on a liner lock.

The Modus weighs in at under 3.4 ounces and it its FRN handle makes it very easy on pockets. The pocket clip is quite good with tip down left or right side carry, solid tension, and no sharp edges. I find these knives to be a joy to carry.

I think my favorite thing about these knives is how well they deploy. They are opened via a flipper and Steel Will has absolutely mastered the art of the flipper even without the use of ball bearing pivots which is mildly mind blowing. This knife is buttery smooth and has a perfect detent. It fires open easily and locks up with a satisfying snick.

NOTE: I have seen one Steel Will flipper that didn’t deploy well. It turns out the phosphor bronze washers were installed backwards (the smoother, more rounded side should be against the blade). Once they were corrected, the knife fired like a champ. It’s an easy fix.

Bargain or Just Cheap?

The Steel Will Modus is an EDC gem. It isn’t just a good knife, it is one of my favorite knives!

At around $40, it is definitely a bargain. It is light weight, deploys smoother than many flippers costing significantly more, and offers a lot of cutting performance in a sensibly sized package.

I am using Amazon as the price base line for this series. All knives were purchased by me from Amazon: Steel Will Modus F25-12 (there are other colors available)


Our goal is to represent knives for a variety of uses from EDC, to outdoor, to tactical knives. Do you have a favorite affordable knife? Let us know about it in the comments!

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