A Great All Around EDC Pocket Knife That is Easy To Carry and Tough to Categorize
The Civivi Relic refuses to be defined by an intended use. This makes it tough for lazy knife bloggers to categorize and then criticize it. Unfortunately I drew the short straw here at NBK (which means I lost a drinking game), so I ended up being the lazy writer assigned this knife.
Initially I tried to categorize the Relic as a hard use knife, then a gentleman’s carry, and then took a swing at tactical, but it really doesn’t fit neatly into any of those.
It has a practical design, but the thin skeletonized liners, relatively thin blade, and barrel spacers ensure that nobody calls it a hard use knife. The linen Micarta version I tested for this review has a classic aesthetic, but the tactical-adjacent look of the blade keep the knife from being included in any kind of gentleman’s carry list. The design is not ideal for hunting although it could handle skinning in a pinch.
I have carried this knife for two weeks now, and I used this knife for everything from box cutting to food prep. It handled pretty much every task well in-spite of its lack of a given purpose. I finally had to concede that the Relic is just a great all-around EDC… with a pair of tweezers in the handle.
|Blade Hardness:||59 – 61 HRC|
|Blade Thickness:||0.12″ (3mm)|
|Blade Shape:||Drop point|
|Handle Material:||Linen Micarta|
|Multiple Handle Options|
|Super Slicey Blade|
|Ambidextrous Pocket Clip|
|Excellent Fit and Finish|
|Sacrifices toughness for the sake of weight|
|Internal Stop Lock|
The Handle Ergonomics
In spite of its lack of contouring, the Relic’s handle is pretty grippy. It is also fairly comfortable. The sides of the handle do have a little bit of give to them if they are squeezed hard with a hammer grip, but that is to be expected with thin skeletonized liners and Micarta scales with very little resin.
Both of these features help make the Relic lighter at the cost of toughness and durability. But we have already established that this is not a hard use knife.
The lack of resin on the Micarta handle scales gives the handle a nice texture that is really grippy in wet or dry conditions. The 4.6 inch handle offers enough real estate to get a good grip on the knife regardless of hand size. The chamfering on the edges of the handle is deep enough to prevent hot spots when doing repetitive tasks or pushing hard to cut through something tough. I also appreciated the fact that the liners where chamfered at an angle to make them feel smoother when gripping the handle tightly.
It is interesting that this knife was obviously designed to be capable of work, but it lacks the heavy duty build required for hard-use tasks. It is kinda like Civivi decided to build a work knife for folks who don’t do really hard work. This makes sense considering the above statement is true of the majority of us.
The blade of the Relic is made of Nitro-V steel which is an extremely tough steel similar to AEB-L, but it offers a bit more corrosion resistance. Nitro-V was created by New Jersey Steel Baron in 2017 which makes it a relatively new steel. Initially there were some bad batches of Nitro-V floating around the knife world, but that problem seems to have been fixed. The last few years have seen a huge increase in the popularity of Nitro-V due to its respectable edge retention, good toughness, and great corrosion resistance.
At 3.45 inches the Relic’s blade is pretty long for a Civivi pocket knife. This, combined with the high flat grind of the blade, makes the Relic an excellent pocket knife for food prep. Especially when compared to hard-use, thick-bladed beasts like the Cold Steel 4Max scout.
I have carried the Relic as my EDC for about two weeks now, and I have been extremely impressed with the Relic’s slicing ability. This is due in part to the fact that it is pretty thin behind the edge. Technically this makes the blade a little more prone to chipping, but the toughness of the steel helps it tackle harder tasks. Still, it is definitely not a hard use knife.
The tip of the Relic’s clip point blade is centered, giving it an almost spear point look. It also gives the impression of being tactical-adjacent even though the word “tactical” was never used in Civivi’s marketing material. Ultimately the surprisingly aggressive look will help Civivi sell more of these knives, but it also keeps the Relic from fitting squarely into the gentleman’s folder category. It adds to the undefinable charm that defines the Relic.
Fit & Finish & The Inside Stuff
The fit and finish of the Relic is excellent, especially considering its sub $100 price point. The blade is centered, the handle chamfering is consistent, the screws are recessed, the blade grind is even, and the knife is sharp as hell right out of the box.
The liner lock of the Relic locks up tight every time, and I have never experienced any lock stick when closing the blade in the two weeks I have been using this knife. The liner lock is extremely easy to disengage thanks to the mild jimping and the fact that the liners are relatively thin for the sake of minimizing weight. The slight handle cutout on the non-locking side of the knife also plays a big factor in the quick and easy disengagement of the liner lock.
Civivi is known for the buttery smooth action of their folders. They were one of the first companies to offer caged ceramic ball bearings on budget friendly knives. With that in mind I wasn’t shocked by the impressive action of the Relic, but I still appreciated it.
The flipper tab is relatively small and well rounded. As a result there is zero fingertip discomfort when deploying the blade quickly, but it does result in the occasional misfire.
Where the hell is the Stop Pin
Most folding knives have a visible stop pin between the liners. This pin is what stops the blade from moving up when it is flipped open. After a few hours of messing with this knife I realized it didn’t have a stop pin between the liners. As a knife reviewer I realize that a few hours is quite a long time to miss a fairly important detail, but I was still hungover from the drinking game loss.
Once I had the Relic disassembled, I discovered the stop pin was embedded in the tang of the blade rather than the top of the liners. I assume this was done for aesthetics, and I have to admit that it does give the knife a cleaner look when viewed from the top.
I am a little concerned the unique stop pin placement Civivi chose will ultimately sacrifice a bit of durability, though. The Relic’s stop pin is a little smaller than the much more commonly used liner stop pins, and it will be more difficult to keep clean from pocket lint, dirt, and dried pivot gear build up. Fortunately this knife is really easy to dissemble and put back together. The Relic is not the only knife to use this type of stop pin, but it is pretty rare. Up until now I have only seen photos, but I am not a much bigger fan of it in person.
Everyday Use (How Well Does it Cut stuff That Needs cutting)
This knife is a helluva a slicer. Its tall flat grind and blade thinness behind the edge are similar to a good kitchen knife, and it behaves like one when doing food prep tasks. Obviously this knife is a great option for meals on the road or on a hike. Just don’t plan on using the Relic for any kind of wood processing tasks other than basic carving. It is not quite tough enough for the fun stuff.
The Relic is not an ideal camping knife, but it can handle the simple outdoor stuff like sharpening a hot dog stick or small branch cleaning.
Campfire cooking is where it really sets itself apart from most of other pocket knives. It is one of the best food-prep folding knives with a blade under 6 inches I have tested. It is not quite as good as the Off-Grid Enforcer X or the Cold Steel Voyager, but those knives are considerably bigger and heavier. The Relic offers a pretty good compromise between weight and capability when it comes to food prep.
In The Pocket
The skeletonized pocket clip of the Relic is nothing special, but it does get the job done. The knife we ordered arrived with what I consider to be the ideal amount of tension. I didn’t have to put a nickel in it for a few days to loosen it up or tweak it with pliers to tighten it.
The Relic is definitely a deep carry knife. It almost disappears in the pocket, so you can carry it confidently to the office without raising an alarm. The grippy Micarta handle and the top slot of the skeletonized handle make it really easy to get a good grip when removing the Relic from the pocket.
The resin-free Micarta handle scales offer a little resistance when drawing the Relic from the pocket. I assume the G-10 versions would have a smoother draw. While the textured Micarta of the Relic’s scales may not result in the smoothest pocket release ever, the knife is still much easier to remove from the pocket than a lot of hard use and tactical knives with heavily textured GFN or G-10 handle scales.
I was pleasantly surprised to discover that is was not only possible but fairly easy to remove the tweezers from the Relic handle without removing the knife from my pocket. Kudos to the Civivi design team for paying attention to the small details that ultimately result in warm fuzzy feelings in the stomach of knife nerds and a lack of buyers remorse in their more normal customers.
This review has been hard enough to write. If I had to complain about the bad placement of the tweezers it might have killed me.
The Civivi Relic is tough to define. If I was forced to classify it under threats of violence I would probably categorize it as a gentleman’s folder due to the obvious effort that it was made to be lightweight. It is similar in a lot of way to the Civivi Conspirator even though it has a different locking mechanism.
The thin skeletonized liners, resin-free Micarta, relatively thin blade, small hex screws, and the barrel spacers all point to a knife design that chooses to cut weight at the cost of overall toughness. That is not to say the Relic is fragile or poorly made. It isn’t. It is very capable at handling the every day tasks of the average modern man or woman who doesn’t get that sweaty or dirty at work.
I have had a lot of fun carrying this knife as my primary EDC knife for the last couple of weeks. There were several times I truly appreciated its impressive slicing ability. There were other times that I really appreciated its relative weightlessness. (Relative to the big ass overcompensating folders that usually weigh down my overworked pockets).
I also really like linen Micarta handle scales. I enjoy watching how hand sweat and dirt changes them over time. When I took this knife on a run I found that it wasn’t quite light enough to ride in the pocket of my delicate running shorts, so I moved it to the backside of my waistband where it rode quite comfortably – sucking up my butt sweat and mixing it with my hand sweat. Now my Civivi Relic handle is truly unique. And it has a pair of tweezers comfortably embedded in the handle just in case.