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Last Updated: June 18, 2019
As an OEM for various knife companies, Sanrenmu is responsible for a lot of excellent, affordable budget knives: models like the CRKT Drifter helped establish just how much we can expect from a cheap knife, setting the standards for things like the steel choice, fit and finish levels, and utility on budget folders.
As a knifemaker on its own, however, Sanrenmu has attracted controversy. Not only does it sell its knives at very low prices (a lot of times even lower than the budget knives it makes for other companies), but there are also features and designs in their catalogue that are taken directly from other knife companies, without their consent: most famously the Benchmade Axis Lock and the knife I’m reviewing today, the Sanrenmu 710, a knife that is commonly described (and decried) as a rip-off/knock-off/copy of the Chris Reeve Knives Sebenza.
I feel like any review of the 710 has to address this issue, however briefly. The 710 echoes the Small Sebenza’s lines, but a comparison of the two knives will show that the overall designs are different: the 710 is smaller, with a different blade shape and grind. Additionally, speaking as somebody who has always wanted but never owned a Small Sebenza, I can say that the 710 has never struck me as a substitute or cheaper replacement for one.
It has, however, struck me as an excellent little knife. It has all the quality of Sanrenmu’s OEM knives and as the unofficial ‘flagship’ of their SRM-branded blades, I think it’s worth looking at a little closer.
General Dimensions and Blade Details
The 710 has a blade length of 2-11/16”, a handle length of 3-11/16”, an overall length of 6-9/16”, and is made in China. The size of the 710 is just about right for an EDC knife. The weight, at 3.25 oz., is not inspiring, but with an all stainless steel construction you go in expecting to be disappointed in this regard.
I do think it’s worth discussing the fit and finish a little because, to be frank, Sanrenmu has a reputation for doing a slapdash job on their blades. I’ve owned two other SRM knives. My first was a 763, purchased three years ago. Out of the box it was completely adequate, besides a sloppy (but not catastrophically sloppy) edge bevel. The next, purchased maybe a year later, was a 605. Out of the box the blade centering was off, but a tightening of the pivot pin fixed this.
While neither my 763 nor 605 were bad out of the box, my 710 was almost pristine: the blade was centered, the scales were chamfered and lustrous, the edge bevel was much more even. The only issues were a slightly uneven finish on the blade itself, and blade decentering over time(easily fixable). Sanrenmu has always been seen as a bit of a gamble fit and finish-wise, but that’s never been my experience. Even so, the 710 was a step up.
The part of me that wants everything to be connected thinks that maybe, with the middle of the market bottoming out, the communal fixation on low- and high-end knives that this bottoming-out entails, and the new levels of quality and popularity Chinese companies like Kizer and Reate have been attaining, SRM has decided to work on their image and the level of quality in their products. Conspiracy theorizing aside, I find the 710’s fit and finish excellent.
The 710’s angular drop point is also excellent, a gloriously task-neutral, light-to-medium duty blade. The proportion of straight edge to belly is perfect. The tip is acute, and dropped to just the right point, making it easy to ‘lead’ a cut and accurately follow through. The 710’s blade offers very good, and very consistent, performance in all the standard EDC tasks.
An aggressive high hollow grind plays a key role here. Despite starting from fairly thick stock, the grind is very thin behind the edge, ensuring that the primary characteristic of a hollow grind – reduced friction and drag through material – is noticeable. In fact, out of the last few knives that I’ve reviewed, the 710 has done the best with cardboard cutting, the efficient, low-drag hollow grind making up for an edge that dulls fairly quickly.
As you’d expect the 710 is made from 8Cr13MoV, default budget knife blade steel. For me, 8Cr13MoV is the baseline for modern steel, setting the bar for acceptability in every area, but impressing in none other than sharpenability. I’ve never been surprised by 8Cr13MoV, but never really disappointed by it either. Adequate, a known quantity, and endearingly mediocre: what else is there to say?
Well, maybe just one last note: I think that, in our spec-obsessed modern age, we forget that poor edge retention in any modern steel is steel pretty decent: I cut through a lot of cardboard with the 710, more than I could reasonably expect to deal with in a month of standard use, before I noticed any real performance issues. I still prefer better steels, don’t get me wrong: I just think that we tend to hyperventilate when it comes to comparisons that, in 90% of the situations we find ourselves using blades in, don’t matter. Yes, 154CM or N690Co or S30V are better steels by a long shot, but in a regular week of use I certainly wouldn’t appreciate the difference.
Handle, Ergonomics, and Carry
The 710 is all stainless steel, never my preferred material for a handle, but good execution of substandard materials goes a long way with me, and on this 710 the handles are cleanly-cut and chamfered all around the edges inside and out, making them comfortable and solid-feeling in the hand.
The general lines of the handle also help. Clean and simple, just like I like it. There aren’t any unnecessary grooves, besides the acceptable choil/lock access cutout. Indeed, the handle would almost be too flat if a gentle, almost unnoticeable curve to the inside portion of the handle (the part your fingers cross over) didn’t lend some dimensionality to the knife.
The jimping on the spine of the blade is really good, the same squarish, ‘gear teeth’ jimping that you see on the CRKT Drifter. It keeps your thumb right where it needs to be to steer cuts, aided by the somewhat back-heavy balance: normally this isn’t something I like, but on a knife this small, with a blade ground so thin behind the edge, it feels right.
The texturing on the handle is less successful. Nail file or grip tape is definitely the cue visually, but it is much less textured than either. I appreciate the way it breaks up the monotony of the steel handle, but it doesn’t help with the grip during deployment, which this knife could use. The jimping and balance provide grip during use, but when you’re deploying the knife or trying to manipulate the lock you may fumble with it a little bit.
As is the case with a lot of SRM knives (Drifter included), the 710’s clip cannot be repositioned: tip-down, right-hand carry is all you get here. The lack of options is definitely a bummer, particularly considering how easily this knife could be drilled for all four positions, but the clip itself is good: slim, strong, effective. I like it much better than the wide, too-tight clip on the Drifter.
Thanks to the stainless steel scales, stowing and retrieval is effortless. This is the one area in which the handle material is an unequivocal win. Smooth retrieval/stowage and a slim overall profile make the 710 a great carry.
Deployment and Lockup
The 710 deploys via good old fashioned thumb studs and a common budget knife washer setup: a thin phosphor bronze/Teflon washer combo on one side, a lone Teflon washer on the other. This is probably a cost-saving measure, but regardless the performance here is indisputably good – great, even. Out of the box it was reliable and quick; after a drop of Nano Oil it became glass-smooth, rocket-fast: wonderful. Until I got my hands on a Vanguard Gemini, this was the early frontrunner for Highest Fidget Factor 2016.
I just don’t like framelocks. I’ve used a lot of them over the years, and I’ve never used one that didn’t immediately exhibit or quickly develop bladeplay. It isn’t really an issue, per se, because it can usually be tightened out again, but the fact is that framelocks are finicky in a way that a lockback or a liner lock just aren’t. The faster this obsession with framelocks ends, the happier I’ll be.
For all my grumpiness, however, the 710’s framelock is good. Steel framelocks are stronger and more reliable than titanium ones (and much cheaper, of course), and, while I did eventually get bladeplay, it isn’t much and yes, can be tuned back out. Besides this everything is good: the lockbar is easy to access thanks to that choil/cutout, and the lockbar disengages smoothly, every time. I like the liner lock on the G-10 Drifter better, but this’ll do.
Sanrenmu 710 Review – Final Thoughts
Sanrenmu knows how to put together an affordable, useful blade: they’ve proven that with their OEM work for Spyderco, CRKT, and others, and proven it again with their own knives. The 710 is very affordable, even in the context of the budget knife category, and it’s stiff competition for affordable favorites like the Drifter.
Sanrenmu helped to establish the budget knife archetype, and here we have as distilled a representation of that archetype as possible. The 710 is a very, very good knife.
- Sanrenmu 7010 is an all-steel construction knife and is very affordable for people who want to start with a cheap yet quality knife. The locking mechanism of this knife is quite proficient and supports a one-hand opening style from both sides. The knife is small and heavy, making it quite preferable for some rough applications. This foldable alloy steel knife holds the edge pretty well, even regularly.
- It comes with a Frame lock mechanism. It is highly preferable for everyday carry, hunting, and camping adventures. It comes with a straight-back blade shape
- It uses 12C27 blade steel for the making.The blade size for this knife is 2.7 inches. The weight is pretty much on the heavier side with 3.2oz.
- Blade Length: 7.0 cm / 2.76 inches; Blade Width : 2.4 cm / 0.94 inches; Unfold Length: 16.5 cm / 6.50 inches; Fold Length: 9.5 cm / 3.74 inches; Product weight: 90g
- You can clip it on your belt, backpack or somewhere else you want Folding design makes it more secure and convenient to use.
I recommend purchasing the Sanrenmu 710 at Amazon. Please consider that purchasing anything through any of the links on this website helps support BladeReviews.com, and keeps the site going. As always, any and all support is greatly appreciated. Thank you very much.
I own 6 Sanrenmu knives. I hate the fact that they “rip off” other manufactures but I also realize that many people can’t afford, or refuse to pay, $100++++ for a knife so Sanrenmu is the perfect option for those who want the beauty of the high end knives with cheaper materials. I’ll definitely purchase the 710 but it’ll never be carried or used, just like 99.99% of the other knives I own.
Great review, as always.
Ben Schwartz says
Thank for the kind words. I do think it’s a shame that SRM is known as the maker of proxy knives for those who can’t afford the real thing, because as you say they make really nice knives for the money, and could easily establish themselves as a competitor in the value-oriented knife market if they wanted to.
I think you might be surprised at how much you end up carrying the 710. I found myself missing its simplicity once I put it away after the review. There’s something very charming about this little knife.
I have to ask why do knife guys get so bent out of shape when a knife maker replicates another knife maker. Colt firearms don’t blow a head gasket when someone makes a 45 like there gun. But it is not a colt. You buy a $400.00 sebenza it is far superior to the $25.00 clone. But I don’t loose sleep breaking or losing a $25.00 knife
The 710 is the most honest knife I know of. It’s safe, sharp, works and has an OK markup. In a word: utilitarian. Over the years I’ve bought about ten of the things and given them to friends in need of a good pocket knife. While it takes some design cues from the Sebenza (of which I’ve owned 2), I’d rather call it an homage than a rip-off.
In the same vein, the only company I am aware of that always give their fair dues is Spyderco (Reeve Integral Lock, Walker Liner Lock etc). Yet, no one ever bats an eyelid at ZT “ripping off” the same CRK-derived frame lock.
That being said, I tend to carry other blades most of the time. I guess I’m too Gucci for the 710. The knives I tend to carry are overpriced, less practical and often worse at cutting, but such is jewlery. I view the knife much as I view the wristwatch, the illusion of “quality” in my mechanical timepieces out-competing the actual fact that the cheapest Quartz-movement is more accurate. Honestly, the SRM710 might be the best knife I’ve ever bought.
Ben Schwartz says
Thanks for the comment. Utilitarian is a good word for the 710. Most of my friends aren’t into knives, and the 710 is right up there with the Drifter as a blade I recommend they buy.
I wonder if people get worked up over the Sebenza look of the 710 because SRM does do some more overt copying (see their ‘Axis Lock’ knives) elsewhere.
I do think higher-end knives offer more tangible benefits than higher-end watches, but there is certainly a diminishing return the more you spend, and you do get most of the important knife stuff for circa $15 with the 710.
Sorry guys, I was thinking about Ganzo Knives when I posted the above. After reading the review I checked my knife inventory list and saw that I had 6 Sanrenmu’s. Ganzo copies other knives, Sanrenmu not so much.
Anyways, so many knives, so few brain cells left…
I love seeing reviews of knives like this. I don’t own any SRM’s, but I’m at a point in my life where I have to prioritize other things over gadgets/knives/toys for a while. As a result, I have been tempted to buy some of the more interesting SRMs and Ganzos just to keep my curiosity satisfied. But it’s hard to find really serious reviews of these knives. Tony has a serious review of a SRM on his site and you have a great review here. Other than that, we’re mostly stuck digging through forums and amazon reviews if we want impressions of <$20 knives. So thanks for doing this – I would love to see more reviews of interesting ultra budget knives.
Ben Schwartz says
Thanks for the comment. You’re right, it’s hard to find reviews of SRM/Ganzo knives. Yet another reason I’d like to see these companies start to work on their reputation in the US: a better public image might result in more widespread (positive) attention and coverage.
I think the SRM 710, like the other SRMs I have handled, is a great way to scratch the knife purchasing itch without dropping a ton of a money. Even if the 710 isn’t to your tastes, something in SRM’s multitudinous catalog will be.
Great reviews here in your site. SRM has now a new version of 710 which calls for 7010. Beside some changes in the handles look, it is still the same great knife. IMHO, the SRM’s 7056 is even better than this one (I think the SRM’s best one!).
Thanks for bringing these reviews to us.
Gary Elliott says
Really good and thorough review of a high quality, low priced EDC pocketknife! I’ve been carrying mine for several weeks now and just love it more and more. Bought several extras to give to friends since. I am still astounded at the quality level per dollars spent! Very nice looking and convenient size and great feel in my hand. The smoothness of the clip is also a big plus to me as it doesn’t tear up my hand when reaching past it into the depths of my pocket where I carry.
Ben Schwartz says
Thanks for the comment, I’m glad you enjoyed the article. Some people are down on the clip for being non-movable and tip-down, and it’s not the prettiest clip in the world, but like you say it does the job damn well. One of my big pet peeves is when a knife interferes with me reaching into my pocket, and sometimes even a small knife can have this problem if the clip is messed up. Thankfully that’s not the case here.
jason li says
Guys can now get the sanrenmu 710 lowest price @$9.9 only when single buy from the exduct.com, wholesale even low @$6.43, The price is reasonable, you will not feel rip off any more.
This is a very well done review; should be a model for others to follow. I have bought a dozen or more 710s from Gearbest, usually pay less than $5 each on flash sales!!!!! I like having a basic, reliable, well-made knife readily available in my car, desk, backpack, etc. and I am yet to find one that beats the 710 for all these things at anywhere near the price-point. For comparison on folders, I also love Opinels, Buck Bantams, and Boker sodbusters; all are great, affordable knives. Of course the newer Ganzo Firebird is also a sweetie, but they have been so popular lately that stocks are often sold out.