Today we review the The CIMA-1 (7Cr17MOV) Survival Knife, a full tang budget knife with an attitude. But will it survive stress testing?
A survival knife is one of your most important tools, in fact maybe THE most important.
They can also be very expensive, with some models running upwards of $400+, with an average price around $150 to $200 for a “quality knife”.
For your average survivalist prepper looking for a high quality knife these prices may seem outlandish. To be honest, sometimes they are. Like everything else, a lot of the price is branding and user hype.
If you’re budget isn’t that big and you’re looking for a fixed blade survival knife on the cheap, you may feel like you have few options.
All is not lost however, some budget brands actually are worth considering. We will discuss one such brand today, know as CIMA.
The company called CIMA makes quality budget knives that are superior to many $100+ survival knives at a fraction of that price, as little as $15.
A Cheap Knife? Seriously!?
WAIT! Come back! Lay your pitchforks down, stop typing that hate mail, and hear me out for a minute.
While the CIMA brand itself is indeed a budget knife, don’t let that immediately scare you off. This isn’t a gas station knife or some junk you would find on eBay or Wal-mart.
The reviews from actual users for CIMA brand knives are very high, including reviews from well known experts in the knife making and survival fields.
We’re honest around here, whether it’s popular opinion or not, and honestly, there is no real secret to making a high end knife.
Quality steel + modern production techniques + excellent quality control = a top tier knife every time.
Simple as that. It isn’t rocket surgery, right?
Yes, and no. While the equation to a great knife is simple, it can be difficult to pull off perfectly every time. This is why you can’t just choose any brand knife and call it a day.
The secret to getting a great deal on a cheap knife is to make sure you only buy from a reputable company that uses high quality steel and is serious about their production and quality controls.
Simply put, the company must truly care about their product and only sell the best. Shocking, I know, but seriously it’s a shame how hard it is to find brands that care more about selling quality products than profits alone. CIMA is one such company.
The reason cheap knives have such a poor reputation is because many manufacturers use the cheapest steel they can find, use shoddy production techniques, and then let just about every defect out the door to maximize their profits.
With so many companies out there letting just anything go out the door It’s no wonder cheap knives have a bad rep.
The CIMA-1 (7Cr17MOV) Survival Knife
The knife I’m reviewing today, the CIMA-1, is no exception. I suggest you check out the CIMA-1 (7CR17MoV) because it will perform and last basically equally well as an expensive $200 knife for a tiny fraction of that price.
The Cima-1 is made from 7Cr17MOV and actually says 7Cr17MOV right on the blade. What is that and why should you care? It’s not the name of a robot from a sci-fi movie, it’s actually the blend of steel in the blade.
We actually wrote a whole post on 7CR17MoV steel that explains what it is and why you want it, and according to Wikipedia, 7CR17MOV is a specially modified 440A stainless steel that contains more Vanadium than other steels.
The benefits of added Vanadium is increased overall strength, increased wear resistance, and increased toughness. All the things you want in a knife.
Because of this added Vanadium, you will be pleasantly surprised by how long the edge will last with 7CR17MoV steel.
Bear in mind that steel composition is only one part of the equation. The quality of the heat treat will make or break a blade (quite literally). Good steel with bad heat treat still makes a bad knife blade.
Heat Treat and Tempering
The CIMA-1 has a Rockwell of 58HRc, and from all accounts and more-than-real-life stress testing appears to be evenly heat treated throughout and tempered properly.
It is one solid knife! You can literally beat it, use it like a crowbar, or bang it into a tree and use it like a platform and it simply doesn’t budge. It flexes when it counts, returns to it’s shape, and doesn’t snap or chip.
It is a full tang knife that is 5/32″ thick, with an exposed tang past the handle. The handle is well designed, and I like that it uses a more universal grip that fits different hand sizes.
The choil, the un-sharpened part of the knife blade that is located where the blade becomes part of the handle so you can choke up on it for added control, is in the right place and balances the knife in your hand. The jimming, the grooved part on the back of the knife, makes a nice thumb grip too.
Video Review Of The CIMA-1 (7Cr17MOV) Fixed Blade
A video is worth a million words, and JoeRobinetBushcraft has an excellent video review on the CIMA-1 featuring real world use and extreme stress testing. The review starts at about 1:54. Check it out below, and check out his awesome channel too.
Joe echoes our review almost exactly. What I would add is that the knife batons through wood fairly effortlessly and worked well for us. Also the exposed tang can be a blessing and a curse, as it makes pressing down on the back of the knife more difficult and can hurt the palm of your hand.
Overall Review – 4.7 / 5.0
At the end of the day I would use the CIMA-1, and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a high quality budget knife.
It is well designed overall and has a nice balance. I like the Mikarta handle, it is comfortable and fits your hand. The blade did not bend, crack, or break through stress testing, and it holds a razor sharp edge through real life use.
You also have a choice of serrated or non-serrated, which is nice.
Bearing all this in mind, it is actually hard to find a better knife in the same price range that isn’t a Mora (which many people are not fans of for various reasons, and they are not full tang).
In my opinion, the CIMA-1 is one of the best fixed blade full tang knives under $30.
There’s no reason this knife won’t perform when it comes to bushcrafting and survival jobs in the wild, and every other outdoor activity we typically do.
I do wish it had a better sheath, preferably leather, but that is somewhat a mute point since no knife in this price range comes with a decent sheath. It does come with a minimalistic ABS sheath but the removable belt clip is far larger than necessary and adds unnecessary weight. I recommend taking the belt clip off if you don’t need it.
To round things up, the CIMA-1 full tang knife is perfect for the price. The craftsman is pretty amazing considering all things. I like that it is 5/32″ thick, as most budget knives are 1/4″.
The exposed tang gives you options, like tying on a paracord loop or busting up some nuts or bashing through a window, but generally I’m not a fan of exposed tangs.
The handle is also well designed, and I like that it uses a more universal grip that comfortably fits different sized hands.
As noted, I do wish the sheath was better, but if you take off the clip it’s not so bad.
All in all I suggest you check out the CIMA-1 (7CR17MoV) before making an expensive $200 decision on a knife that will perform and last basically equally well for a tiny fraction of that price.
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