Cheap Damascus Knives for Christmas!

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Damascus knives are nothing like what you would associate with Damascus shotguns. The patterns are heavier, and these days made from forge welding several types of steel together.

Damascus knives are nothing like what you would associate with Damascus shotguns. The patterns are heavier, and these days made from forge welding several types of steel together.


You have probably already surmised that GunsAmerica is an enthusiast site run by enthusiasts. Therefore I feel it my duty to report on really cool stuff I encounter that relates specifically to guns and shooting sports, and other stuff that gun guys usually like. If you have been following my Prepping 101 series, you may have already read the “What is Your Fighting Knife” story, and in that I mentioned that there are some great deals to be had right on Ebay. Why these idiots from Pakistan don’t sell on GunsAmerica is beyond me of course, but I’m an Ebay junkie anyway. What I found of late is that as Christmas gets closer, the opposite of what you would expect is happening. Demand has been slow, and the prices have been coming way way down. Incredibly gorgeous Damascus pattern Bowie knifes and other patterns of hunting knife are going for crazy low money, and I can’t help but share you with you the deals I have found. The digest for this article is coming out on December 22nd, so if you don’t visit here during the week you probably missed out on gift buying for others, but who needs other people when you can can just buy gifts for yourself?
My total cost for these knives, top to bottom, with sheaths and shipping, was $55, $65, and $65. All of them had a "Make and Offer," and the seller took my offer.

My total cost for these knives, top to bottom, with sheaths and shipping, was $55, $65, and $65. All of them had a “Make and Offer,” and the seller took my offer.


Knifemaking Damascus is not the same as you find in pre-war era shotguns. The shotguns were made by winding steel layers around a mandrel, and that led to the historic “Damascus” pattern. Today these guns are very collectible, and you generally have to shoot them with black powder loads unless they are stamped “P” for pressure tested. Even then I wouldn’t use high brass with a Damascus shotgun, just target loads.

In knife and swordmaking, the term Damascus means almost the same thing, but not quite. Since 1973, Damascus in blades means “pattern welded.” There is such a thing as a historic “Damascus” steel, originating in the Middle East, but the Damascus that you are going to find on Ebay is always going to be pattern welded, created from a number of layers of steel melted together in a forge. The blacksmith folds the metal back on itself until he reaches the desired consistency and visual effect. Then the pattern can be accented by burning away some of the metal with acid and other techniques. Modern Damascus patterns can be very subtle and elegant, or they can be thick, crude and also downright pretty. If you want to read the actual history of Damascus, the Wikipedia page is fairly well done, and I’m embedding the first in a series on making Damascus steel here in the article.

This article isn’t, however, about the nerdy details in making Damascus. It is about buying modern, gorgeous, Damascus knives for cheap, and if you look through the pictures and links, there are a number of examples that really blew me away when the knives arrived.

three knives

Daggers are in such low demand that you can get them really cheap. The top dagger is the nicest and I paid $46 for it. The Swiss ring dagger was $60 and the other two were $100 total from the seller “unique knives.” But be careful with that latter seller because these knives were very lightweight and probably not top quality for the pricepoint.


Shipping from Pakistan only takes about 3 days to arrive at your door after they send it. From what I have seen, they all use DHL, and I noticed that the same seller is often selling under several accounts on Ebay. How quick the sellers ship can be extremely disparate though, so be very aware of the estimated delivery date in the ad. In the captions of the pictures I will link to which sellers were quick shippers and which were slow shippers. I also HAVE TO MENTION that the Ebay sellers have never seen the tidal wave of orders that a GunsAmerica article can generate. The early bird might be getting the worm here

Pitfalls? From what I have seen there are only two. One is that some sellers show you a picture of what looks like a heavy knife with a heavy stag handle, but the knife itself is extremely lightweight. This was a big surprise when the knife arrived, and a big disappointment for me. But even the lightest among the knives I got seem very sturdy, and though I am disappointed in the product, I don’t think it is necessarily a bad knife. I will show you which knives were heavy and which knives were not.

These three Kukri-Bowie concoctions were $190 total including shipping, and I didn't have to make an offer.

These three Kukri-Bowie concoctions were $190 total including shipping, and I didn’t have to make an offer.


Otherwise, the quality of the knives is very good, in my laymans opinion. I was initially concerned about the quality of the sheaths, because the pictures on Ebay clearly have the wrong sheath in the picture. But they are great. I think that the large order was delayed because the sheaths were not actually made yet, and when the knives were purchased, the seller contracted to have the sheaths made in Pakistan. All but a couple of the sheaths are high quality synthetic leather. You can’t expect real leather at this price. I am not at all unhappy with the quality of the sheaths.

But as with most things in life, Damascus from Pakistan is you get what you pay for, yet only to a certain point I think. Really gorgeous big stag handle knives with lots of filework are listed on Ebay from $80 – $150 or so. Many of these have a “Make an Offer” button, and if they do, don’t be afraid to offer $40. The seller may come back with a $68 offer, and it is up to you whether to take it or not. I had several sellers that just took the $40, or thereabouts, and some of those knives turned out to be the light ones. Rarely do you see free shipping ads from Pakistan, so expect to pay $20 or so per knife. Shipping discounts are also pretty rare for multiple purchases, unless they list more than one for sale in the ad, which I’ll show you.

This collection of small belt knives was spread over two ads, for $139 and $129, plus a total of $50 shipping. These arrived a month later, probably because the seller had not made the sheaths yet.  This is an overall cost of less than $30 per knife, for what you would pay $75-$150 for at a gun or knife show.

This collection of small belt knives was spread over two ads, for $139 and $129, plus a total of $50 shipping. These arrived a month later, probably because the seller had not made the sheaths yet. This is an overall cost of less than $30 per knife, for what you would pay $75-$150 for at a gun or knife show.


If you are what I call a knife snob this stuff isn’t really for your benefit. We all get it that this isn’t “real” Damascus, and that there are US bladesmiths that will charge you an arm and a leg for “high quality” work. But even they would agree that these are incredible deals for the work involved. How did I get started on this path of purchasing dozens of knives on Ebay? A few weeks ago I went to a Renaissance fair and one of the exhibitors was a hand made Damascus guy. There I bought a fixed belt knife for $70 and a short sword for $150. When I returned home I decided to work on my “Fighting Knives” article and began to research in Ebay. Upon seeing the prices, I thought wow, this would be a cool resource for holiday gifts. I wonder if they are too good to be true or if they are really nice? So I ordered a bunch, for as little as $20 per knife. The knives totally rock for the money. How do I not share that with you guys?

These three knives were surprisingly light, though they still feel like good quality knives.

These three knives were surprisingly light, though they still feel like good quality knives.


For example, these two knives are over a pound each, compared to less than two pounds for the other three.

For example, these two knives are over a pound each, compared to less than two pounds for the other three.


Look for a variety of filework on the knives. It is nice, but not everyone's taste.

Look for a variety of filework on the knives. It is nice, but not everyone’s taste.


This lot of 11 folders was about $20 per knife. Great stocking stuffers and corporate gifts.

This lot of 11 folders was about $20 per knife. Great stocking stuffers and corporate gifts.


These were the other folders I tried. They don't have a blade lock, but the open is positive and very useful. Also gorgeous and very different, for about $25 each.

These were the other folders I tried. They don’t have a blade lock, but the open is positive and very useful. Also gorgeous and very different, for about $25 each.


This one one of the more expensive knives, but not that much more. $115 with free shipping.

This one one of the more expensive knives, but not that much more. $115 with free shipping.


This is probably the coolest of the bunch. It was $69 with shipping, and each of those flats is razor sharp, and sharpenable with a small stone.  Against a grizzly bear I'd take that badboy any day.

This is probably the coolest of the bunch. It was $69 with shipping, and each of those flats is razor sharp, and sharpenable with a small stone. Against a grizzly bear I’d take that badboy any day.


This is a blank being sold by one of the Pakistan sellers. It is meant for knifemakers to build a handle and sheath on. if you look at the handle part, it would explain the light weight of some of the knives, but it is still one solid piece.

This is a blank being sold by one of the Pakistan sellers. It is meant for knifemakers to build a handle and sheath on. if you look at the handle part, it would explain the light weight of some of the knives, but it is still one solid piece. .186 Kilograms converts to about 6.5 ounces, so that explains the very light white bone handled knife at 8.2 ounces.

{ 19 comments… add one }
  • Muhammad Suleman August 15, 2016, 4:54 am

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    Thanks/Regards
    Suleman black smith
    CEO
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    Wazirabad. Pakistan
    Phone # +92-52-6903197
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    Web http://www.raziqind.com
    Facebook http://www.facebook.com/Raziqind.Custom.Knives

  • Rascal June 9, 2015, 1:29 am

    I know this article is somewhat old, but I want to leave my 2 cents anyway. Someone might find this useful. I have purchased 3 Damascus knives in the past few months. Two are fixed blades and 1 a folder. I normally carry either a ZT 0560 or a Benchmade 910 HSSR. I knew that the damacus knives would not be of equal quality to my EDC knives. That is point number 1- have reasonable expectations when buying these knives.

    When shopping for them on ebay I focused on negative reviews only. Pay attention to what the reviewers are saying and whether the nature of the complaints is consistent. This will tell you what sellers to avoid. Even among these inexpensive knives quality of the materials and fit and finish vary greatly.

    I am not a big fan of file work but many of these knives feature file work. Pay close attention to this feature because the file work can be a tip off to the overall quality of the knife in general. Is the file work symmetrical? Is it sloppy?

    The pictures are the most important part of shopping for these knives. If the pictures are blurry avoid the knife. If the pictures don’t show the knife from all angles avoid the knife. look in the description and if it doesn’t say that THIS knife is the one you are actually getting do not buy from the seller. Examine the pictures closely. Look at the pins in the handle. Are they round or do they have an unrounded shape and straight areas? Look at when the blade meets the handle. Are there spaces where they shouldn’t be? Is the finish in the area sloppy? Look at the tip of the blade. Does it look ground right or is it unsymmetrical? Look at the edge of the blade on both sides. Is the grind on both sides even? Look carefully for even slight yellowish discoloration on many parts. These are high carbon knives and even the faintest yellowing will be a sign of rust and a knife to avoid.

    Just because these are cheap knives doesn’t mean they are all poor quality. You just need to be patient to find the right one and inspect every detail closely. This will not garantee that you will get a great knife but it will stack the odds in your favor. I have been greatly plesed with 2 of the knives I purchased, the 3rd was just ok. 1 of the knives which was very nice even though it still had a few very minor cosmetic flaws, was purchased from CFK cutlery on ebay. Even with them I rejected many knives based on the pictures until I found one that was acceptable under their “unbranded” category. The other fixed blade was purchased from TNZ on ebay with the same story about rejecting many knives. The 3rd was a folder directly from pakistan, I bought it because it was the only steel liner I found, almost all have brass liners. For the price it was pretty decent but not outstanding. I think in general if you are looking for a inexpensive damascus knife your best bet will be a fixed blade. Hope this helps.

  • Randolph Butts December 31, 2014, 12:45 am

    Paul I took your advice and selected a Damascus steel knife from a supplier you felt offered high quality items. Like others I was reluctant to order something from Pakistan. However after reading your first article I ordered a beautiful Kukri from Nepal from the source you suggested, so once again I followed your advice. It turned out the knife I wanted was one being offered at a fixed price or OBO. Well I made an OBO you wouldn’t believe which 24 hours later was rejected. Then 24 hours later I saw something I had never seen on my eBay account. My original offer had been reconsidered and excepted. I paid for the knife which arrived today (DHL $20.00) and it is drop dead beautiful.

    Randy

    • Administrator December 31, 2014, 6:59 am

      You should see the one I got last week for like $75. Those crazy pakistanis just don’t get it that federal reserve notes aren’t actually money. 😉

  • Devin December 30, 2014, 1:41 pm

    Thanks a lot! 🙁
    Now I have to go out and spend a lot of ammo $$ on more knives!
    And my kid’s tuition is due.
    There were some amazingly beautiful blade pictured here.
    I guess I will have to start importing and selling these to feed my new habit.
    Your photos caused me pain.
    See you at SHOT!

    • Administrator December 30, 2014, 1:58 pm

      😉

  • John December 23, 2014, 11:08 pm

    I am a true knife nut and will buy almost any knife, that strikes my fancy and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. There are a number of Damascus knifes on Amazon sold by a company called King Knifes. I brought a really nice Bowie style Damascus finished knife from them about a year ago and the fit and finish was excellent. Came with a real leather sheath and the price was 40 bucks, plus another 25 for international shipping. Came from England, probably by way of Ticky Pakistan, takes a good, but not great edge, and I’m pleased with it but in all honesty I have to agree with the comments of one of the Amazon reviewers; “it’s a wall hanger.”
    Boker makes a really nice Damascus folder, a gentlemans knife if you prefer, with what appears to be highly polished burled oak side panels. This knife is a gem, reasonably priced and amazingly sharp.
    Now if Cold Steel would jump on Damascus band wagon and produce a knife with high quality steel i’de be a happy camper.

  • Whyawannaknow December 23, 2014, 2:05 pm

    I own and use numerous knives, hunt, fish, work outdoors a LOT, spent a few years as a chef (at a REAL restaurant, not a chain where crap food comes in prepared & frozen in bags!)

    I know what a knife needs to do for actual WORK. And if I want the best bang for my buck on knife steel and utilitarian features- I buy a Mora of Sweden made fixed blade knife for every day carry outdoors. I do use the scalpel bladed Havalon knives too.

    My taste in kitchen knives runs to the high end. Henckels 4 or 5 star series. Global G series. Not worth buying anything cheaper.

    I love the way Damascus looks, but will not accept a poorly made “looks good only” version!

  • Mike Crenshaw December 23, 2014, 1:12 pm

    The problem with them is that the laminated steel is junk with voids and delaminations. The heat treats are typically junk and they won’t hold an edge. They are just knife like objects and the money is better spent on a good quality mass produced knife you can use.

  • JUANITO CARDISSIMOAHUND December 22, 2014, 7:52 pm

    WHERE ARE THE LINKS TO THESE KNIVES?
    IS ANOTHER WORTHLESS ARTICLE?

    • Administrator December 22, 2014, 7:55 pm

      Throughout the article there are blue links. This is called the world wide web. It doesn’t come with an instruction manual.

  • Tom L December 22, 2014, 1:54 pm

    I’m ashamed to admit it, but I fell for a couple of these cheap Pakistani junk damascus knives on evil Bay a few years ago. Didn’t take long for me to pack ’em up and send ’em back for a refund! They looked great in the listing but upon closer inspection the worksmanship was quite poor and the steel was soft junk “tin can” imitation damascus! Live and learn I guess.

  • roger remund December 22, 2014, 1:35 pm

    the quality of such cheap imported damascus knives is really not well. its for decoration only and will usually not hold an edge, any simple 1095 carbon steel knife will be way more better by actual use as such cheap knife made out of scrap steel in india or pakistan and else. its same as theyr decoration arms they did make some years ago, buyers beware. if i get one of these as an gift i would not feel to amused.

  • Dr. Magellen Katte December 22, 2014, 10:58 am

    We have purchased a few of these ‘damascus’ knives and we strongly suggest that you test these knives for edge holding, flex (and return to true), shear strength, chip resistance, etc. If you want them for display, they are okay. If you want to actually use them, they leave a bit to be desired.

  • lostsionn December 22, 2014, 9:32 am

    be aware there are “powdered damascus” blades out there. these are ordinary steel which have a steel powder applied at the end to form patterns. the steel is not folded/welded, just decorated. i have seen these with the maker’s name written on the blade as well as various slogans.

  • Whyawannaknow December 22, 2014, 9:32 am

    These look good.

    My girlfriend bought several, based on looks- I tried to sharpen a couple of them. Been sharpening knives for field work and kitchen over 40 years, these blades are not made out of a knife grade material. They are ONLY for show, not use. You get what you pay for!

    • Administrator December 22, 2014, 10:00 am

      Generally the ad will tell you the hardness of the steel. They can be made razor sharp, and many of them come razor sharp.

      • Whyawannaknow December 23, 2014, 10:22 am

        I have yet to see a verified claim on hardness. Since thee blade is forged of 2 types of metal, the hardness VARIES all over and a hardness tester uses a VERY small area to make a dent for measurement… The number of folds has a lot to do with how the blade cutting edge behaves. So does the choice of steel and the tempering operation after final forming. Cheap Damascus look knives have only as many folds as needed for looks, often have NO final heat treatment- that would take time and lose money on an item sold purely for its appearance.

        Lots of these Pakistani forged Damascus look knives being imported! Look on the internet, at gun shows and even a few US store front and online based retail sources.

        Now look at your own comment section for the % of positive experiences and opinions on actual performance?

  • M Barros-Smith December 22, 2014, 6:25 am

    When the anti-Pakistani terrorist conspiracy theorists begin weighing in, they should check out HRC Cutlery Company out of Utah. Made with German and Swedish steel, I purchased a handmade 8 1/2″, “Laguiole” style folding knife with cocobolo handle and leather sheath for under $45.00. Nice quality at a decent price.

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