The Sandrin TCK: Tungsten-Carbide Perfection

posted on December 14, 2019

Knives have been a part of human culture since we figured out how to sharpen rocks. Since those days, knife design has become as much of an art as it is the development of a tool. The pursuit of a perfect balance between size, edge hardness and functionality is a never-ending quest. Like any age-old craft, knife design can get bogged down in a “we’ve always done it this way” mentality. In situations like this, it takes a seismic shift in thinking to move another direction. One shift in design recently came to my attention and without beating a cliché to death, it is a game-changer. Say hello to the Sandrin TCK 416.

The Sandrin TCK 416 is unique not only in looks and thickness, but most importantly, in the material from which it is made. The blade is crafted from tungsten-carbide, which makes most serious knife aficionados do a double-take. Tungsten-carbide has been a go-to material for industrial applications forever on items that require incredible hardness. Things like the hulls of ice breakers and deep-sea oil pipe seals are common items made using tungsten-carbide. The problem with this material is that it can be brittle and is subject to shattering like ceramic in applications outside of the norm. This is where Sandrin has really changed the game. 

The company uses a patented method of sintering a proprietary grade of polyhedral tungsten-carbide from particles of tungsten, carbide and cobalt, making its blades hard and not brittle. Most steel knives have a hardness from 52 to 57 on the Rockwell scale, which is considered high. The TCK has a hardness of HRC 71. In most cases, a blade this hard would be prone to breaking, but that is not the case here. The edge is simply bomb-proof.

On top of incredible hardness, polyhedral tungsten carbide doesn’t rust and allows the TCK to retain an edge unlike any other blade—it will never require sharpening. You can, however, sharpen a steel knife with the top edge of a Sandrin blade. Tungsten carbide is the hardest metal on Earth—the only thing harder is diamond. The thin, super-string blade cuts like a razor.

Beyond function, the overall design of the knife is noteworthy as well. The knife is perfectly parallel with artisan attention to detail. The circles on the blade are measured in the Fibonacci sequence (1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8) in both diameter and from the center of one circle to the next. The knife is only 4.5 mm thick and is a featherweight at 1.34 ounces. It is a perfect slimline folder for everyday use.

All of this magic takes place in a small knife works in Italy. Sandrin is a division of the elite 1911 manufacturer Cabot Guns. The Sandrin brand however is held by its parent company Turmond, Turmond is a second-generation, family-owned business that has been mastering tungsten carbide for more than 40 years. Allessandro Colombatto, the creator and director of Sandrin Knives, started grinding carbide at the age of 12. By age 24, he started crafting tungsten-carbide blades for industrial high-speed cutting applications. Behind the TCK is measurable, proven science. Now, the company dominates the worldwide cutting-blade market by mastering the science and application of TC.

The Sandrin TCK 416 is a unique knife that mixes good looks with unmatched performance. I have carried the TCK 416 for months now and have not been shy about using it on everything from cardboard to rope and anything else I needed to cut. In all of this use, it has never even begun to show signs of losing its edge. A quick paper test after almost every use produces a smooth slice of the paper with no snags or grabs.

For serious knife enthusiasts, this is a very big deal. Cardboard especially has a way of liberating a blades edge from the knife. In fact, it is so sharp that I encourage you to be mindful of the edge. While always a safety rule, the TCK 416 will show you no favor if you are reckless with its edge. This is a great EDC-style knife, and with a price point of only $249, it is an easy decision. The Sandrin TCK 416 is definitely a knife you need in your collection and in your pocket. The first-generation of Sandrin TCK 416 knives are sold out, but the company has an all-new model available in the TCK 2.0.

Sandrin TCK Knife Specifications

Overall length: 7.87 inches
Blade length: 3.23 inches
Cutting edge: 42 degrees
Blade thickness: 0.035 inches
Blade material: Tungsten-carbide
Blade style: Wharncliffe
Blade grind: Flat
Finish: Mirror-polished
Edge type: Hollow grind
Handle length: 4.52 inches
Handle thickness: .39 inch (clip included); .17 inch (without clip)
Handle material: Titanium/carbon fiber
Weight: 1.34 ounces
Pocket clip: Titanium
Knife type: Folding
Opener: Manual opening
Lock type: Frame lock
Country of origin: Italy


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