Rockstead Higo #102 ZDP-189 – A folding Masamune in Paris (Part I)

Rockstead is worldwide famous for delivering the most exquisite hard polished blades in the industrial knife world. All made by CNC machines in Japan and painfully polished by gifted hands, those extraordinary blades are shown able to be used hundred of times on hard bamboo and still being able to cut paper like razors ! It’s made by hardening the blade to HRC67 and even beyond and being almost obsessed by edge angles!
So cutting with a Rockstead is like driving a Lamborghini: you pay for the best materials and the best performances.
Rockstead Higo in its balsa crate
The balsa wood crate with the wrench and the certificate.

Thanks to Hanada San, director and display pilot of Rockstead knives, I will have the chance to test and review on the long run one knife he choosed for me on his table: one of his Higo knife, #102 with ZDP189 (HRC 66,6 I wonder why I have baptised it “Diablo” …) with Duralum handle and an integral lock.

Rockstead Higo in the rain
Notice how the edge is perfectly ground ! Amazing !

First thing you notice when you reveal the blade to the light is the exquisite attention to details. The edge is mirror polished and perfectly symetrical on both sides.
The hole in the blade (with a gauge) is the signature of Rockstead. It’s found on all their knives designed by Takeshi Saji. It gives some kind of high tech sci fi look to a very sober design.

Rockstead Higo
The infamous Saucisson test !

OK. the description of this knife as it’s found on their site is also spectacular: HIGO-J-ZDP BLADE / SHINOGIZUKURI
Full length : 213mm
Blade : 89mm
Material : ZDP 189
Thickness : 3.2mm
Weight : 104g
Hardness : around HRc67 !!!!


At that hardness…this can be used as a glass breaker !

Scale : A2024(duralumin)Hard-anolized treatment
Spring to chip : SKD11HRc61 (*)
Rockstead Higo Lock
(*) Because the sliding liner of the integral lock is termined by a chip of hard steel (HRc 61) like some unharded titanium lock can be more and more found.

Rockstead Higo CLosed
Perfect size for an EDC knife.

After the bamboo is cut and beat with this knife and Manila rope is cut 350 times, you can slice the paper. This easy maintenance knife is an easy-to-use knife that cuts well. The handle of the duralumin is light and is strong.The bottom of this blade edge is 30 degrees, and it’s continuously change to top of the blade.The top edge’s angle is 24 degrees. The change in this angle is a result of ROCKSTEAD that pursues sharpness. This is a knife of preeminent sharpness. You can enjoy its strong cutting capabilities for a long time. This scale is fixed with two screws and the resolution is easy. After cutting the fish and the animal, you can easily clean it.

Rockstead Higo
The tuscany ham was cut as thin as it desserved.

The straight folder is easily clipped on the front right trouser pocket. The Duralum handle is easy on the fabric and the clip is well positionned and all package is low profile. This is mandatory for an EDC.
The knife is absolutly well balanced in hand. Light and fast. Holding it in your hand is a pleasure. This knife exude pure perfection. It’s very straight and very versatile. The edge can be used up side down for skinning purpose.


Thea inspecting the balance of the knife. One centimeter behind the pivot.

Skinning ?!
Wait a minute, who is going to use a 1000 euros folding knife for skinning ?!

Rockstead Higo
The over size thumb lugs are very confortable to use and far enough not to be in the way.

Let’s not be fooled by the price of that jewel. The Higo-J is 400% performance oriented. It’s easy to clean and even is provided with a wrench if you need to take it apart. (Like Chris Reeve’s Sebenza). this the proof how the trust the designer has in their work. It’s of course an expensive tool but it has been designed to be used.
Remember the Emerson CQC6 craze 15 years ago ? They were as expensive as the Higo nowadays and some people used them hard.

Rockstead Higo

Of course, Hanada San is the first to display the unearthly cutting qualities of his knives. They are hard but they will not chip and they will cut and cut and cut until you strop them. Rockstead knives are mainly strop on compound. No need to scratch the beautiful finish.
That suit me perfectly as I love to refresh my edges on leather.   Mine did not get used enough to be stropped yet and I’m heading forward touching up its edge this way.

Rockstead Higo
Cutting a well done cheese is not the easiest talk. The mirror finish helped a lot !

As you can see the Higo has first been acclimated to our Whine Ham & Cheese country. And it passed that first test with flying colors.
Cutting fresh hot bread, Tuscanian delicate ham and all-done Saint Nectaire’s cheese were no problem for this beautiful folder. It get dirty but also get clean easily.
It’s sheeple friendly as its mirror and elegant edge is not as “scary” as on some other thick tactical folders.

The grind is saber with flat (almost convex) sides. It’s so gorgeous you can look at it fir hours and still be amazed but the worksmanship. The cut is powerful and easily control. All in all, it’s like a gentleman folder with a very very strong attitude which screams to be used !

The edge is pure razor. You could not expect less. So it goes through hard bread crust in a a breeze making thin slices by only pushcutting it. The only knife which can reach that performance out of the box was the mighty little C22 Walker which is also a ZDP189 knife and made in Japan…
(Oh yes, ZDP189 is new powder steel with 3% of carbon and 20% of chrome. At HRc 66,6 this is not a knife you want/can to get dull ! It will hold an edge and just ask some attention on a stropping belt to continue on and on… )

OK after that little civilized warm up, the beautiful Higo-J will now be confronted to hunting season and the joy of woodcraft.
Wood cutting do not lie…

The infamous cutting plastic bottle test… like in butter !

To be continued ! (and updated…)

Rockstead Higo Blade
Beautiful reflection of the clouds on the Higo’s mighty blade.

The road so far:

“Rockstead Higo-J ZDP-189: Fears and Cures”
“Rockstead Higo-J In the woods”
“Rockstead Higo-J: Part III – Masamune in Winter”

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6 Comments on “Rockstead Higo #102 ZDP-189 – A folding Masamune in Paris (Part I)

  1. hello!This was a really admirable Topics!
    I come from roma, I was fortunate to find your Topics in yahoo
    Also I get much in your website really thanks very much i will come daily

    Like

  2. great review & good practical explanation of this using knife. i’ve heard the japanese could twitch zdp to astounding feats. however at 1000 to 1500$ american it limits distribution.

    Like

  3. Pingback: Rockstead Higo-J ZDP-189: fears and cures « Nemo Knives Review

  4. Pingback: Rockstead Higo-J part II (in the woods) « Nemo Knives Review

  5. Pingback: Rockstead Higo-J: Part III – Masamune in Winter « Nemo Knives Review

  6. Pingback: Knives » Blog Archive » Rockstead Higo-J in the spring time « Nemo Knives Review

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