Mt-151 from Mtech


This review consists of :

Introduction

The Mtech MT-151 appears to be a copy/clone of the Cold Steel Trailmaster, one of the more well known and respected large production bowies.

Lynn Thompson, president of Cold Steel, was one of the first production knife manufacturers to really aggressively promote knife performance through video, pictures and even live demonstrations, something they still continue today through videos on their YouTube channel such as shown on the right.

The fact that the Mtech line has such a strong likeness to other well known knives leaves a lot of people with a strong distaste for the blades. This review is mainly on how the knife performs copying issue is important and at times can become quite heated.

There are a few very nice commentaries of this knife on YouTube, two of the best ones are by :

These are not commentaries on specifications and light use. These are hard use reviews by any defination. Yhckelly also has many other videos on other Mtech knives on his channel which take these knives to some extreme levels and provides feedback, they are well worth taking a look at.

A shot of the well used MT-151 alongside a Busse Combat Battle Mistress and ESEE Junglas :

Specifications

Basic info :

Note it says 440 on the blade however it is not guaranteed to be exactly the AISI 440 series steels.

Stock testing : main

This knife is long enough and heavy enough that chopping is an obvious part of its scope of work. Comparing the Mt-151 to a Fiskars small hatchet, the 14" Sport model. Through 41 pieces of wood cut with each, the MT 151 ended up with an average perforamance of 84(3) % of the ability of the hatchet, out performed but not out classed. There was no effect on the edge from this work. The handle however did start to loosen and by the end of the chopping (790 chops) the grip was loosening around the laynard hole. The grip was also starting to wear, similar issues were noted the the Trailmaster.

To benchmark the carving ability, the MT 151 was compared to a Mora #1260. The Mt-151 was outclassed by the Mora and had only 45 (2) % of the rough stock removal ability so was out cut almost 2:1. However the lack of performance was not due to the geometry of the blade but simply due to the inability to choke up effectively due to the heavy double guard. The grip is thus so very far behind the point of contact and so there is a strong counter torque and wrist strain is very high. Of course though for heavy stock removal it is more effective to chop with the Mt-151, not actually carve but the cutting ability can be extrapolated for other similar work.

Extended use

The Mt-151 is fairly difficult to use in the kitchen due to the large guard which makes it both difficult to use to a cutting board and as well in any kind of choked up grip. For outside use this is not overly relevant and the solid cutting ability due to the thin edge and high flat grind will allow it to work well for a knife of its size. However it is on a scale of tolerable whereas knives like the Junglas are actually pleasant to work with inside the kitchen and out, again of course for knives of their size/class.

As a general chopping tool the MT-151 is a fairly powerful and efficient cutting tool for its size. As noted in the video on the right while the MT-151 can not compete with the longer and heavier blades in regards to the number of hits required it has :

The only downsides are :

Which brings up the issue with the balance/heft. This is a rather light knife for its size/length and the power is often ramped up with a very rear grip similar to what is used on Leukos. However the precision tends to suffer in such a grip and thus in general it is often better to work with a less power but more accurate grip.

Beyond stock cutting, working outside harvesting some deadfall and limbing alongside a few other blades a few things were obvious :

Edge retention

As a quick check on the edge holding ability the Mt-151 was reground with a eight degree primary bevel and then a a ten degree secondary was applied. It was was then compared to a Mora 2000 (same edge angle) in 12C27M. An average of three runs slicing cardboard on a draw produced the graph at the right which shows the MT 151 outperforming the Mora 2000 on slicing cardboard by about 2:1.

From the composition of the steels it would be expected that 440A would have significantly greater wear resistance than 12C27M as it has a higher carbide volume. However the Mora 2000 does start with a lower sharpness and that does effect the results. This would need to be reran with more careful sharpening to get more accurate performance comparisons, but this was just a quick check to see if the steel heat treatment on the very inexpensive Mt-151 was horribly flawed which it doesn't appear to be.

In a little more detail, the Mt-151 was compared to a Spyderco Forester in N690 slicing 1" used polypropylene rope. A few details :

Four runs were made in total, some generalizations :

Is there a difference in sharpening? Yes. The MT resharpened with 10 passes per side on a coarse waterstone, 10 passes per side on a 1000 grit waterstone, and then two passes per side on newsprint to remove any debris. The Forester took ten times as long due to the recurve, very wide bevel and low grindability the steel.

Durability

Curious about the edge durability a fair amount of wood work was done with a few different edge profiles.

To be clear of course in wood working, the durability of an edge is very much dependent on :

A little work on a very abrasive and damaging material to cut showed a few difference between the MT-151 and Hossom Forrester in N690:

In short, the higher carbide (and more expensive steel) takes more damage and is much longer to repair. Again, not unexpected given the nature of high carbide steels when over stressed.

Moving to harder work even to what is likely to be called extreme, this knife easily demonstrates solid toughness and does things which are easily going to get labeled as abuse even with much more expensive knives.

In the video on the right the MT-151 easily takes a hammer driving it through a paving brick with no real issues as long as the edge is kept in the 20-25 dps range. The damage is so slightly it is less than 0.005" thick and won't even show up on video.

Again though as noted in the video description there is a lot of variety in bricks and the impacts were not exactly well quantified - though taken with the other work done with this blade it paints a very consistent picture.

The image at the right shows a regrind of the MT after a lot of work which has settled into its more or less final working profile :

The of course the 3.5 dps primary grind. The transition bevel keeps the apex bevel at the minimum thickness and strengthen it allowing it to do harder work without rippling.

Sharpening

This steel is very easy to grind so much so that it only needs inexpensive stones and it quickly frankly is a waste to use a high end expensive stone on it because of just how simple it is to grind. It can even be filed fairly effectively however the chromium carbides will wear down file teeth rapidly.

However taking the edge to very high polishes can be a bit tricky or frustrating because it will burr readily this is likely due to the less than ideal micro-structure for edge stability, which is also likely the same thing which gives it the relatively high impact toughness.

Steel

Given the performance of the steel :

It is likely that the heat treatment is similar to :

This is likely to produce a steel which is 50-55 HRC and very tough due to the lower carbon content in the matrix and high levels of retained austenite. It also is a HT protocol which has a high tolerance to variance.

Grip

Checkered rubber grips are polarizing general, there are usually few in the way of neutral opinions. Personal opinion aside on the abrasive nature and comfort of the grip, this knife very quickly showed in use the same problems as seen on the Trailmaster from Cold Steel.

The video on the right describes and demonstrates in summary :

Aside from the durability concerns, the handle does have very good retention even when wet and it is comfortable in any orientation as it isn't indexing for a specific grip. The dual guard though does prevent any kind of sensible forward grip and this is why one of the most common utility modifications is to just cut off the top of the guard.

However the very simple handle design does show its obvious limit in design when compared to a handle with significant contouring. The video on the right shows a quick comparison vs the Hossom Forrester and there are a number of immediate and obvious differences :

Overview

Note that this knife can be bought on line for about twenty dollars or less and thus it has to set a lower bound for performance.

Summary :

Comments and references

Comments can be emailed to cliffstamp[REMOVE]@gmail.com or by posting to the following thread :

Or on the YouTube Playlist.

Most of the pictures in the above are in the album at PhotoBucket.


Last updated : 22/04/2013
Originally written: 11:29:2011
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