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Have you ever been scrolling social media, passing by ad after ad, but then one catches your eye? The advertisement is well done and the product looks like it would be a perfect gift to yourself (or someone you know), but in the back of your mind you wonder if it performs as good as it looks. Or, if it will be all hype and fail miserably. Enter the Deejo knife. Sleek, ultralight, and sharp, with dozens of beautiful engravings and handle materials to choose from. The marketing around Deejo promises that this is the pocket knife to pair with an aspirational lifestyle. The marketing seems to be paying off as “Deejo knife” gets 3,500 Google searches every month.
But, is the Deejo all bark and no bite? I got one and field tested it to find out for you. I carried the knife around in my pocket, used it for some daily tasks, and I evaluated its design and components. But before we get into the depths of my Deejo knife review, let’s look at the specs.
- Weight: 1.35 ounces
- Blade Length: 3.63 inches
- Blade Steel: 2Cr13MoV
- Lock Type: Frame lock
- Pocket Clip: Right hand, tip down only
- Origin: Parts made in China, Assembled and Engraved in Paris, France
- Price: $90
What I like About the Deejo Knife
The Deejo knives are certainly eye-catching. The laser engravings (called “tattoos” by Deejo) are very attractive, and there are designs for nearly any interest. Hunting, fishing, wildlife, exploration, motorcycles, cycling, architecture, art, tech, geometric design, and on and on. The “tattoos” are well done, and whoever designed them did a great job. Also, the “tattoos” are etched fairly deeply. Some laser work can almost be rubbed off with a finger, but these engravings are deep enough to hold up and not fade. I was quite impressed with how they looked and felt.
While the frame and grip of the knife is extremely minimalist, it manages to be fairly comfortable in hand, as long as you aren’t really pushing on it. The knife is less than ¼-inch thick without the pocket clip, and it carries effortlessly. It’s so thin that you hardly notice it when you reach past it to grab anything else that might be in your pocket. Even with the pocket clip, the thickness is still under ½”. Speaking of the pocket clip, it does an adequate job of holding the knife in the pocket, and doesn’t get caught on everything I walk by. It has enough flare to be easy to pocket while keeping a low profile to prevent excessive snags.
Despite not having a thumb stud to help deploy the blade, the knife’s action is smooth enough that you can open it with one hand. While it certainly won’t flip open, it’s not a hassle to swing all the way out with your thumb. If you have any experience with liner or frame locks, you can easily close it with one hand as well, which is a big plus for me. One handed operation is the difference between a knife being carried and being left on the shelf.
Lock up on my blade was solid, and since the locking surfaces are both steel, the 90-percent engagement won’t be a longevity concern. Softer materials like Titanium will wear, and the lock faces will migrate over time, eventually making for a loose lock-up, but the steel lock on this knife erases those concerns.
The Deejo uses bronze bushings instead of cheap plastic washers found in many knives, which means the action will remain consistent for a longer time before needing any adjustment, and the pivot hardware is adjustable with common torx bits.
I also like the blade shape and geometry on the Deejo. The blade is long and narrow, and it’s thin enough to be a good slicer. When you open it, you feel like you’re getting more blade than you should be getting for a knife that is so thin and light. I tend to carry pocket knives in the 3.25 to 3.75-inch blade length range, so the Deejo fits right in the sweet spot for me. If you prefer a smaller blade, Deejo does make a more compact version that weighs a mere .95 ounce. Daily tasks like opening packages or cutting up an apple for a snack are all easily accomplished with the Deejo.
What I Don’t Like About the Deejo Knife
There is a lot to like about the Deejo, but it’s certainly not a perfect pocket knife. The first priority in a knife is cutting, which means that the edge and blade steel are really important. And this is where my two biggest gripes come from. My chief concern is the blade material: 2Cr13MoV.
Without diving too deep into metallurgy (read my guide to blade steel here), this Chinese made steel reveals much of its important components in its nomenclature. The 2C means that the steel is 0.2% Carbon. This is a low percentage in carbon terms, and it translates into a low score for edge retention and hardenability. In fact, in the packet supplied with the knife, we find that the blade is only hardened to 52-54 HRC on the Rockwell Scale. Most quality steels are hardened somewhere between 58 and 62 HRC depending on the composition. A further look into the packet reveals that the frame and clip are also made of the same steel, just at lower hardness levels. A knife of this price should be using a better blade steel with a higher hardness.
My second concern was also about the blade, namely the laser engraving on the blade, which extended down to the edge, and off it. This left micro-serrations as the laser removed edge material. This may have just been an issue on my knife, but it could speak to QC issues. The serrations were not deep, and they were easy to sharpen out, but this was still a head scratcher for me. The engraving seemed to be a bit low on the blade, so perhaps this blade wasn’t centered perfectly when it was lasered.
On the Deejo, there is one stop-pin that limits blade travel for both the open and closed position. If the blade and pin aren’t machined properly, it can result in loose lock up, or the edge of the blade contacting the frame when closing, which would create a dull spot and edge damage. On my copy, the heel of the blade must have been ground just a tiny bit too deep, which means the stop pin doesn’t stop the blade before the edge hits the frame out by the tip. Bummer. That will make a perpetual dull spot unless I remove some edge material and the heel rests on the pin. If this were a gas station knife, I wouldn’t care, because it’s supposed to be poorly fitted, but after tax, this knife will be pushing $100, and that’s not acceptable.
Lastly, the pocket clip on the Deejo is not ambidextrous, and it can only be carried in a tip down configuration. Tip down is fine if you are a sociopath or something, but normal people much prefer tip up carry.
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Is the Deejo Knife Right For You?
When you visit the Deejo website, it’s immediately apparent that the Deejo is marketed as a lifestyle blade. It is meant to be an extension of your personality. A sleek, modern, minimalist knife with beautiful artwork engraved on the blade to show off your passions and interests. For those who carry a knife simply to open some packages and letters, and other general light duty work, the Deejo will likely work well for you.
It’s been my experience over the years in my sharpening business that many people have low standards for sharpness and edge retention. And because this knife has a thin blade and good geometry, it will still go through the tape on your Amazon box with ease. People open boxes with their keys every day, and this will do a far better job, even after it quickly dulls. If you’re looking for a casual use knife that is as much a conversation and art piece as it is a knife, then the Deejo might be right for you.
However, if you are a bit of a knife nerd, and you have experienced a higher end steel, the Deejo will likely leave you feeling disappointed. I really wanted to like this knife as a knife, and not just as a display piece. My knife has an awesome trout fishing scene on the blade, and I just enjoy looking at it. But it falls flat on the performance. The tip down carry and the low-quality steel really hurt this blade for those who have come to appreciate a medium to high quality steel.
The truth is that there are plenty of knives out there in the $25 range that use better steel than the Deejo. Granted, they don’t have quality art engraved on them, but they will cut better for longer with their superior blade steel. At the end of the day, I am a function over form type of a guy, and the Deejo is a form over function blade.
Where I think this blade lives is in the “gift zone”. The designs are plentiful, and cover a wide range of interests and aesthetics, and I would be happy to get one of these as a gift from a friend or family member. It’s not something I would use, but I would happily display it on a shelf.
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The two guys who founded Deejo in France have a neat, lightweight design and some great artwork for their knives, but they fell short in the execution. If Deejo ever decides to upgrade the blade steel, I think the knife could go from a neat gift, to a genuinely useful minimalist blade that could be serviceable for backpackers, anglers, and even hunters. In its current configuration though, I think the Deejo is relegated to a fancy letter opener, and not a serious tool.