If you’re looking for a new knife to add to your EDC collection or just a general knife to literally carry every day, the Elementum is probably already on your list. But, if you’re wondering if this knife is worth your money, this CIVIVI Elementum review is worth your time.
There’s quite a bit to know about the CIVIVI Elementum before you purchase it, and I’ve owned mine for several weeks now (almost a year with the latest update of this article). I’ll go over a little about the company, the details about the knife, and my impressions of this budget-friendly pocket knife.
Table of Contents
- CIVIVI Elementum Review: The Backstory
- CIVIVI: The Company
- CIVIVI Elementum Review: What is it?
- The CIVIVI Elementum Review: My First Impressions
- CIVIVI Elementum Review: Pros and Cons
- CIVIVI Elementum: Overall
- Your Turn
- CIVIVI Elementum Review FAQs
For anyone too busy to read the whole review, here’s the deal: Is the Civivi Elementum worth it? Absolutely. Keep reading to find out, or buy it on Amazon now.
The Graying Area is now an Amazon Associate, so if you buy anything through the links in our reviews, we’ll make a commission. So buy a lot. Buy like, 30 Elementums.
CIVIVI Elementum Review: The Backstory
Before I dive too deeply into the Elementum, you should know how I came to own one. The story actually adds quite a bit of value to this review.
I didn’t know anything about the Elementum when I ordered it. Not one damn thing. I needed some fodder for Instagram hobby, and I knew it looked good in other guys’ photos. At the time, my buddy Howard (www.toilandrecoil.com) was in the middle of posting a few days’ worth of content with his Elementum, so I asked him about it. I immediately ordered an Elementum from BladeHQ, and the rest is history.
Now, this is important for two reasons:
- I get a lot of free stuff sent to my door to review. The Elementum is not one of those items. I paid for it with my cash.
- I had no knowledge of this knife’s action or anything. All I knew was it was a good-looking liner lock and it came in green (which I have a thing for).
Other than that, it was pretty much a blind date.
CIVIVI: The Company
If you’ve never heard of CIVIVI before, it’s for a good reason: The company’s only a few years old.
If you’re thinking that three years doesn’t seem quite long enough to trust a brand, I’d say you’re my kind of consumer. But, there’s another factor to consider: CIVIVI is a subsidiary of WE Knives, which has a 20-plus-year-old track record and a far more recognizable name. This China-based knife manufacturer has been producing some seriously innovative, top-notch knives made with popular modern materials.
According to the CIVIVI website, WE noticed a gap in the EDC market for functional, practical, EDC-style knives. Rather than change the face of the WE lineup, WE Knives launched CIVIVI in 2018.
In that time, CIVIVI has come to offer folders, fixed-blade knives, multi-tools, utility knives, and tactical pens. And it seems it has a hard time keeping many of these items in stock.
As far as EDC folders go, at the time of this article, CIVIVI has over 40 knives for sale on its site. Again, stock is an issue, but there are tons of knives.
So, is CIVIVI a new entity? Yes. But it has the backing of a well-established parent company with the budget to grow an extensive lineup quickly.
CIVIVI Elementum Review: What is it?
Let’s break down the nuts and bolts of the CIVIVI Elementum so you’ll have a better idea of what you’re looking at. Keep in mind that there are so many variations that I couldn’t possibly write about all of them at once. Also, I’ll discuss the blade utilizing my relatively limited knowledge of steel; I don’t claim to be a steel snob or expert.
So, what is the CIVIVI Elementum? At its core, it’s an unassisted, folding, liner lock pocket knife. But it’s how it goes about being all those things that make it so unique.
- Length: Roughly 7 inches
- Blade Length: 2.9 inches
- Blade Width: ⅞ inch
- Blade Thickness: .12 Inches
- Blade Material: D2
- Blade Grind: Hollow
- Finish: Satin or Stonewashed
- Weight: 2.89oz (depending on the model)
CIVIVI Elementum Review: The Handle
When you start shopping for your Elementum, you’ll probably feel a bit overwhelmed with the sheer amount of options available. You have the choice of carbon fiber, G-10, micarta, ebony wood, guibourtia wood, brass, copper, rosewood, and a few other variations. They’re also available in a bunch of different colors, including green, blue, purple, orange, and more.
There is a pocket clip, but it can only mount in one position. And, it’s actually the source of my biggest complaint. The Elementum also has an eyelet by the base for a lanyard, if that’s your thing (spoiler: it’s my thing).
Like most modern EDC knives, the Elementum features a thumb-activated liner lock. The lock itself offers a bit of jimping to provide some purchase for releasing the lever.
If you forced me to describe the shape of the handle, I’d have to say it’s shaped a bit like a teardrop, which is one of the things that first attracted me to the Elementum.
CIVIVI Elementum Review: The Blade
Another thing you might find while shopping for an Elementum is there are a few choices when it comes to blade material. You’ll have a choice of satin D2, stonewashed D2, and Damascus steel (which my friends at Nothing But Knives reviewed).
If you’re not terribly familiar with steel, allow me this feeble attempt at a breakdown: D2 steel is a high-carbon, high-chromium steel. The high carbon content means it can become very sharp and maintain that sharp edge for a long time. But, with high levels of carbon, a blade can oxidize pretty quickly. The high chromium content fights oxidation, making this material durable and long-lasting.
Damascus steel has a wavy pattern, and manufacturers make it by hammer-welding strips of steel and iron together. It’s not my cup of tea, but it’s very strong and can become extremely sharp.
The blade measures just under 3 inches. This was probably intentional, as it will help some of you living in highly regulated states. If your legal limit is 3 inches, well, this blade’s just legal. The shape is a drop point and it has a hollow grind — fairly simple and straightforward.
The Elementum’s blade also has a thumb-activated flipper, but there isn’t a thumb stud.
Just like the handle, I really liked the look of the Elementum’s blade. The typical, stout drop point blade with a nicely curved belly looked great in shots, and it’s my personal favorite blade shape for EDC. I just like the style’s ruggedness.
And, let’s not minimize how easy the blade is to sharpen. Just a few minutes on the Work Sharp Precision Adjust Sharpener (available on Amazon) and this thing is razor-sharp again. Check out my full review on the Work Sharp here.
CIVIVI Elementum Review: The Action
Here’s what you need to know about the action: This knife is unassisted, but it doesn’t feel that way. There are no springs or any metal of any sort under any real tension at all. You might ask, “Then, why the flipper?”
Hold your horses; I’m getting there.
The CIVIVI Elementum has a perfectly machined detent that holds the knife in the closed position. It also has a set of ceramic bearings in the pivot. When you press the flipper and the blade flips free of the detent, the momentum and ceramic bearings flip this knife open like an assisted knife — a funny point you should keep in mind for later.
The CIVIVI Elementum Review: My First Impressions
I knew that the CIVIVI showing up at my door would be a turning point for my Instagram page, but I didn’t give it a ton of thought. I didn’t do any research on the knife at all. I really liked carrying my Opinels, and I don’t care much for heavy tactical knives.
When I felt how light the Elementum actually is, I was surprised. No, it’s not as light as my Opinel Number 6, but it was noticeably lighter than the Kershaw Brawler I had carried around for years. I also liked the texture of the G10 scales as well as the jimping on the liner lock and the blade. Also, the blade was sharp as hell.
The Elementum already scored a few points.
Overall, the fit and finish were really impressive. Initially, I was a little disappointed that the pocket clip was not moveable, but I did like the design. It has a deep clip that allows the knife to sit far into a pocket, not sticking out like most other knives I own. With a dark pair of pants, this knife could disappear from sight altogether. But there’s one other issue with the pocket clip, and I’ll mention that in a bit.
I loved the action. It was so snappy and satisfying. It flipped open so well time after time. It also shut so effortlessly. I was really impressed, but I was also very confused.
I couldn’t figure out how this knife could open so well yet fold without any tension on the blade. I looked it over several times, looking for a spring of some sort that would flip it open. I couldn’t find it, and it was driving me nuts.
It was at this point that I reached back out to Howard to let him know my knife came and that I could finally be part of the cool kid club. He agreed that it was an impressive knife and that it actually made him rethink his assisted openers. “Assisted openers?” I thought. This is how the conversation went:
Me: “But.. mine’s assisted opening….?”
Riveting stuff, I know. The point is that I had no idea that this knife wasn’t assisted opening. I had just gotten a direct line to the marketing manager at CIVIVI days prior, and I just had to reach out for clarification. He laughed and explained that the perfectly machined detent and bearings are responsible for the action. It is indeed unassisted.
Another reason for me to be impressed with the Elementum. I will say, however, if you want to get the absolute most out of your Elementum’s action, a bit of Knife Pivot Lube (available on Amazon) will do the trick.
CIVIVI Elementum Review: Pros and Cons
The Elementum is far from the perfect knife, but it has a lot going for it. Let’s discuss the pros and cons.
- Excellent build quality
- Aesthetics are on point
- Innovative action
For the money, the Elementum looks and feels great. I only paid $50 for it, and I feel like I got a lot more than a $50 pocket knife. Also, the innovative action makes it as effective as an assisted opener without violating almost any law on the books. If you can carry a pocket knife, chances are you can carry the Elementum. Assisted openers aren’t illegal in New York state, but that’s a big plus in my book anyway.
- Pocket clip is not reversible or moveable
- Lip on the inside of the pocket clip snags on pocket
Originally, I liked the pocket clip’s design, as it was stiff and held the knife deep into the pocket. After more use, I sincerely dislike it. I’m right-handed, but I carry in my left front pocket. The fact that I can’t adjust this knife to how I prefer to carry it (blade tip down and back when folded) irritates me. I tied a leather lanyard to it so I can grab it quickly, but it’s not the same. I’m twice as fast at deploying my Brawler with my left hand than I am the Elementum, and it has nothing to do with the action.
Second, to make the Elementum sit deeply in the pocket, the pocket clip has a hooked shape. This hook has a lip where it screws to the handle of the knife. For a knife that’s so easy to use one-handed, I have to use two hands to put it back in my pocket: One to place the clip over the pocket and the other to manipulate my jeans so they don’t hang up on the lip.
I don’t wear expensive selvage jeans, but if I did, I’d be downright irritated at how the clip slides over the pocket. If CIVIVI simply recessed the clip into the handle, this wouldn’t be an issue at all.
CIVIVI Elementum: Overall
So if you’re looking to get down to the brass tax, here it is: The Elementum has not left my pocket for more than a day since I got it. I love this knife. I’ve been carrying it for weeks now, and it’s just a stellar piece. For the price, I don’t know if it’s beatable. Compared to my other assisted and non-assisted knives, it just feels like it’s light years ahead in design and quality.
Is it the perfect budget EDC knife? No; I can’t stand its pocket clip. But is it the best budget EDC knife? I have to say I think so at this point. It’s a well-built knife at a killer price point. It’s a great EDC knife for any guy who likes a quality tool that he can trust — because that’s exactly what this is.
Do you love or hate your Elementum? Is there a better budget-minded EDC knife out there? Have a thought someone else might find helpful? Let me know in the comments below. Also, be sure to subscribe to the email list so you don’t miss any awesome content like this.
CIVIVI Elementum Review FAQs
Are Civivi knives any good?
I’ve owned a few knives from Civivi and I’ve found the quality to be top-notch. Some of the company’s designs are a bit over-the-top, but everything works as it should and the materials are excellent. There are small issues, such as the pocket clip not being recessed, but overall, Civivi knives are excellent budget pieces.
What steel is the Elementum?
Civivi’s aim is for the budget-minded knife shopper, so it uses durable yet affordable D2 steel in the Elementum. It comes in satin and stonewashed, but there is also a Damascus blade.
Where are Civivi knives made?
This might be a deal-breaker for some hardcore EDC guys, but Civivi makes its knives in China. As a subsidiary of the Chinese brand WE Knives, it only makes sense that the brand would manufacture its knives in China. That said, there’s no reason to believe that there’s a sacrifice in design, usability, or quality.
Is the Civivi Elementum worth it?
The Elementum is absolutely worth it. If nothing changed about the Civivi other than its country of origin, it would cost twice the price. Since adding the Elementum to my collection, it’s one of the most carried knives I own.