CIVIVI Elementum Review & Sharpness Test

TL;DR: CIVIVI Elementum is a low-key, compact, budget EDC flipper. Nice machining, even compared to expensive blades. Smooth, fast action. Ugly clip. Some say it looks clean and minimalist. Others say it’s boring.

Its D2 steel’s performance is “OK.” I would stick to the S35VN option. Compared to the D2 blade, the Elementum’s larger companion — the CIVIVI Praxis — performs a bit better at about the same price.

Blade Specs

  • Cutting Edge: 2.625″
  • Blade Width: 0.88″
  • Blade Length: 2.96”
  • Blade Thickness: 0.12″
  • Blade Shape: Drop Point
  • Blade Steel: D2 (reviewed), CPM-S35VN, 1095/15N20 Damascus
  • Edge Grind: High Hollow Grind

Additional Specs

  • Scales: G10 (reviewed), Micarta, Wood, Carbon Fiber, Titanium, Copper
  • Handle Length: 4.03″
  • Handle Width: 1.00″
  • Handle Thickness: 0.43″
  • Weight: 2.89 Oz
  • Lock: Channel Liner
  • Opener: Flipper
  • Clip: Steel, tip-up
  • Country of Origin: China
  • Model: C907E

CIVIVI Elementum Review

All but one of the Elementums are satin stainless. The Burgundy option is black and stone-washed.

First impressions: The Elementum (and CIVIVI’s other knives, like the Praxis) sports some interesting fixtures you wouldn’t normally find on a blade this cheap: A nice swedge; Refined satin finish; Caged ceramic bearings with detent; Deep hollow grind; Skeletonized frame; Perfect lock-up and action.

That’s because CIVIVI is manufactured by WE Knife, Co. They make much more expensive blades like Ben Petersen’s Banter, the Arrakis from Elijah Isham, and the Black Void Opus.

Basically, the Elementum benefits from being forged, machined, assembled and QC’d on a production line that’s also making $300+ blades. WE Knife just uses cheaper materials and simpler blades and handles on their CIVIVI stuff.

The Blade

The swedge and grind are consistent and mirrored well on both sides of the blade.

The Elementum’s blade is nicely machined. The factory edge isn’t eye-popping, but it’s sharp enough to handle rope and cardboard.

The drop point’s tip terminates along the center line of the handle, giving good accuracy and control. The satin finish is uniform and bright, with a very fine grain texture.

The high-grit satin finish provides a nice glow. No polish, but bright and frosted.

I love hollow grinds. They have the most cutting potential and provide fast action with low resistance. This grind makes the Elementum a great EDC knife for repetitive tasks. Like tearing town all those cardboard boxes in the garage, or cutting up cable at work on the daily.

The grind is high and runs all the way from the top of the choil to the swedge and tip. Flats are left atop the main portion of the spine, with some subtle jimping above the heel for added grip.

I didn’t feel any hot spots with a firm grip. Everything’s rounded well enough.

The choil feels a bit shallow. I have relatively “spiny” fingers, and it provides just enough grip to prevent my digit from having a skid across the edge.

But I wish it was ground just a bit deeper. The back of the choil flows into the flipper nicely, though. That should provide some extra anchor for your index.

The Handle

Basic G10; nothing to write home about.

The Elementum’s handle is fine. It’s comfortable, but not exciting. No fancy layers or patterns. Just solid colors. Scales also come in blue, burgundy, gray, orange, black, and purple. The texture is balanced: Good grip against skin, but not rough enough to fray pockets.

The stainless frame sits barely proud relative to the scales. Both the scales and frame are rounded with fillet edges. No hot spots.

All the Elementum’s bolts have T6 heads.

The scales, frame and clip are held together with typical Torx bolts. The main bolt has a smooth button head. Hardware is appropriately torqued, and I’ve had nothing come loose or wiggle after carrying this blade for about a week.

I used it to do some whittling on a hike; cut open a few MREs and tore down some Amazon boxes with it; And used it to tear up some Cat5 cable that was in need of disposal.

The Action

Jimping on the flipper provides decent grip.

This is a fun little knife to fidget with. The action is very smooth. Lock-up is perfect, there’s no rocking or sticking with the liner lock. The flipper needs little effort to overcome the detent, and the caged bearings and washers are fluid.

Usually, blades at this price point need a bit of polishing inside the frame to feel this nice. I imagine the quality of the Elementum’s action and fasteners is thanks to WE Knife handling production and assembly.

The Clip & Lanyard

The steel clip is “tip-up” and designed for right-handed carry.

The pocket clip gets the job done. I have no qualms with it. It’s utilitarian, and a bit ugly. But it’s comfortable when held and it does a fine enough job keeping the knife in place when carried.

The clip angle is correct. It keeps the handle vertical when secured inside the typical front pocket corner.

The lanyard loop is fine. Nothing to write home about. It’s wide enough for the typical braided 550 cord or leather strap. This knife is small and light enough that I wouldn’t put a lanyard on it.

The loop cut-out in the scales seems “off.” I’d prefer no lanyard loop, so the handle could look even cleaner. After all, the theme of this knife is minimalism. But I’m splitting hairs.

Sharpness & Edge Testing

I’m using the Edge-On-Up P50A Tester for these reviews.

Fresh out of the box and before I carried it for a week, I threw the Elementum on my Edge-On-Up Tester to measure its factory sharpness.

This tester measures the amount of force, in grams, the blade requires to cut through a piece of synthetic wire.

the PT50A Tester is accurate to within 1 gram of force.

In two tests, the Elementum required 206 grams and 198 grams to cut the wire. That averages out to a factory edge measuring 202g.

For reference, high-end cutlery should come in between 180g and 300g. So, this knife is on the better end of the scale.

Edge Retention Test

The “Janka” Scale measures wood hardness. Ironwood measures 3,260, placing it 15th out of 147 hardwoods.

To score edge retention, I use a standardized test: First, I measure factory sharpness, as above. Then I place the knife in a jig and run the edge across a piece of ironwood.

Five pounds of force is applied with a weight. The blade makes one hundred back-and-forth passes across the wood, from tip to heel.

Sharpness is then recorded again. The difference between a blade’s sharpness before and after the ironwood test provides its edge retention rating.

The PT50A wire used to test sharpness is certified to ensure accurate measurements.

I ran the blade on the Edge-On-Up twice, in the same location as before. With two scores averaged out to 278.5g (we’ll call it 279g) the Elementum maintained about 72.4% of its factory edge’s sharpness.

See the results from all tested knives below.

Knife / ModelFactory SharpnessSharpness After TestEdge Retention
Spyderco Para 3 12026545%
Benchmade 940 EDC17529060%
SOG TWI8-CP Twitch II12520063%
S&W Extreme Ops SWA24S16526063%
Buck Knives 110 Folding Hunter14522066%
Spyderco Tenacious15022567%
Ontario Knife OKC Rat II SP18527069%
CIVIVI Elementum20127972%
Opinel No. 1228037073%
CIVIVI Praxis18323080%
Zero Tolerance 0450CF24029083%
KA-BAR Dozier Folder27532585%
Cold Steel AD-1018520590%
CRKT Endorser23025092%
CJRB Feldspar21522596%
Cold Steel Recon 1 Tanto17721582%
Kershaw Link CPM 20CV23226289%
CJRB Ria Folder (12C27)19628369%
Gerber Paraframe 1 (ATS-314)18622085%
CRKT CEO18320490%
Kershaw Leek13319269%
CRKT M16-10KS22833468%
CRKT Squid21537557%
Vosteed Corsair16317494%

Learn why edge angle contributes most to edge retention.

The Elementum lost out to the comparable CJRB Feldspar, another 3″ folder made from D2 steel. That knife ranked 215g out of the box, then 225g after the Ironwood Test. That’s an impressive 96% edge retention.

The Feldspar has a wide flat grind, though. The wider edge angle probably helped it retain more cutting power. We doubt its performance versus the Elementum was due to any other factor.

The CIVIVI Praxis, which also has a flat grind, beats the Elementum. It scored 80% retention with initial sharpness of 183g.

The Elementum’s edge sustained no damage during testing. It maintained a bright, smooth finish.

After testing, the edge is still bright. Clearly visible factory grind marks remain with no burrs, flat spots, or other damage. I’m willing to bet the Elementum’s S35VN blade would perform better.

Final Thoughts (Carry time: One week)

I carried the CIVIVI Elementum for one week. Here are my final thoughts:

It’s a comfortable EDC knife for lighter duty. Its small, thin handle and simple blade make it a good companion in the office, warehouse, or backyard. It’s not a beefy, “tacticool” knife by any measure. It’s minimalist, designed to be inconspicuous, non-threatening, and forgotten until it’s needed.

Build quality is excellent. WE Knife applied its higher-end production to this budget cutter, and it shows. The Elementum’s hollow grind has high sharpness potential. But it isn’t super sharp out of the box, and it sacrifices edge retention for cutting ability.

This is a knife made for light cutting and simple utility. You can ruin it and probably not feel bad. The Elementum retails at about $50. If you don’t mind carrying a larger knife, I think the similarly priced CIVIVI Praxis might be a better value.