Kizer Matanzas is yet another high-end folding knife by Kizer from the Bladesmith series designed by Nick Swan and manufactured in China. The word Matanzas means slaughter in Spanish. It is part of Nick Swan’s first production knife collaboration after winning the Best New Maker award in 2016 in USN Gathering.

The Kizer Matanzas is available in two blade shapes: drop point and tanto. The one we will be reviewing today is the Kizer Matanzas Drop Point Carbon Fiber Titanium Black Gray. Its our 10th kizer Knife so far, which we are reviewing.  You can check more Kizer Knives Reviews, and we are disappointed by this knife’s performance.

Kizer Matanzas Review

Kizer Matanzas

Kizer Knives has different knives and is well known for their unique designs just like Kizer Matanzas, which is itself a unique knife. Its scales comprise of carbon fiber on one show side and titanium on the pocket clip side with a satin finish.

Thereby, its front side is black and the back side is gray pertinent to the handle material. The handle measures up to 4.56”. The blade is 3.44” bead-blasted drop point CPM S35VN with a blade stock thickness of 0.14”. The overall length of the knife is 8”, making a mid-tier folder.

It has a flipper as its opener with caged ceramic ball bearings and a Framelock with durable titanium frame and a stainless steel insert lock bar that acts as an over-travel stop pin. It weighs only 3.85 ounces.

Just as standard format, you should know, the key technical specifications, which tells you what to expect and what not from this pocket knife designed by Nick Swan who also collaborated with Kansept Knives as well.

Key Specifications of Kizer Matanzas

The Blade of Kizer Matanzas

The 3.44” blade with a blade thickness of 0.14” and an overall size of 8” places the Matanzas on the same spectrum of mid-tier folders as the Spyderco Paramilitary 2. Although PM2 is 0.25” larger. The bowie-esque drop point is better than the recurved tanto tip on this knife as the drop point makes the blade geometry sync with the handle and the overall size. The belly of the blade transitions from the forward edge to the recurve into a smooth shape.

The bead-blasted finish is a good finishing that works better with the black-coated blade. The silver steel blade with a bead-blasted finish does not get rid of fingerprints and corrosion. So it will show signs of wear after some use.

Kizer Matanzas Blade
Kizer Matanzas Blade

The harpoon-esque spine swedge serves as the thumb ramp with a high flat grind across the blade. The tip of the blade goes very high up proportionally but has a nice sharp point due to the flat spine towards the tip. There is a tiny sharpening choil that comes in front of the plunge line, leaving the sharpened edge uniform without any ‘beard’ to complicate the sharpening process.

The choice of the blade steel, as on most high-end Bladesmith series Kizer knives, is CPM S35VN. It has balanced blade properties like edge retention, corrosion resistance, toughness and ease of sharpening. It is equally easier for the manufacturer to grind, so the S35VN is a winner on both ends, the consumer and the manufacturer.

However, the factory edge of the blade is not very impressive. The blade stock thickness is also too thick for an EDC. The standard thickness that we have found great so far stands at an ideal 0.12”. Blades as thick as 0.14” do not have a history of providing good cutting performance. Moreover, the high flat grinds are even but toothy towards the edge and not sharp from the factory, unlike the Kizer Feist.

The Handle of Kizer Matanzas

The handle of Kizer Matanzas is very interesting because it comes in two materials: carbon fiber on the inlay and titanium on the pocket clip side. The carbon fiber takes up all the surface area of the inlay, save for the border and wrapped together with two Torx body screws at the tail with a smooth radius that sits on the titanium plateau. The decorative pivot with the barrel keyed toward the frame prevents it from turning. You can also see the anodized blue ball pivot on both the sides that also works well.

Kizer Matanzas Handle Grip
Kizer Matanzas Handle Grip

The two materials are seamlessly synchronized with each other. You cannot tell where the inlay ends and the titanium begins. So it is safe to say that the finish and alignment of the two is remarkable. It is just one smooth piece of handle that offers a smooth and comfortable grip without any sharp edges. Its appearance is also very fine, unlike the Spyderco laminate that it sometimes uses.

Kizer Matanzas Handle Scales
Kizer Matanzas Handle Scales

Another detail to note on the handle are the thumb cutouts that are used to access the lockbar when the knife is in an open position. Kizer Knives Matanzas has neatly placed two reliefs on the inside of the scales that sit parallel to each other. It saves the show side of the handle for lockbar release access, which is a good attention to detail. It easily allows your thumb to drop down in to push the lock open. There are also a series of tiny machined striations on these reliefs for traction. When you open the knife, the bolster of the scales matches the blade tang curvature and flipper tab, creating a smooth guard.

The knife has an open construction with a design that is a flow-through overall. It features a pair of polished hourglass-shaped standoffs towards the handle’s rear that supports it.

Kizer Matanzas Pocket Clip
Kizer Matanzas Pocket Clip

The pocket clip is a spring clip for right hand tip-down carry. It uses a pair of miniature standoffs to hold top of the clip off the scales. It is unusual but allows the clip to go deep into thick fabric of the pocket.

Deployment and Lockup of Kizer Matanzas

The Kizer Matanzas uses a flipper and bearings pivot like many Kizer knives and other tactical utility EDC knives out there. It uses low-friction pivot-caged ceramic ball bearings to make the deployment smooth.

However, the narrow handle may place your middle finger straight into the lockbar when in closed position, increasing the detent strength when opening it. The same problems occurs in Zero Tolerance 0450. But you can work around it, you will find the flipper tab a bit tricky.

Kizer Matanzas Deployment
Kizer Matanzas Deployment

Its contact surface is shallow and curved, and is quite short, but does have a jimping for extra traction. The detent smoothness is medium – not too stiff and not too light. It offers just the right amount of tension to flick the blade out every time. But to make it even smoother, you can clean it with some 3-in-1 oil and compressed air to return it back to the right-out-of-the-box smoothness.

Kizer Matanzas Locking
Kizer Matanzas Locking

The framelock on Kizer Matanzas is a one-piece stainless steel lockbar insert that also serves as an overtravel stop. But there is a mild vertical lock rock if you grab the blade from the tip when in closed position. It is hardly noticeable and not hazardous, but it is there. The lockup itself relative to the lock face is about 30%.

My Experience with Kizer Matanzas

Unfortunately, the impressive Kizer Matanzas being a high-end knife does not lend itself to hard use. Although, the features, fit and finish on this knife are fine, and there is nothing functionally wrong with it. But the drop point is a better win than the recurved tanto, but that would not have improved its performance either.

And as good as the blade geometry is, the thick blade is not of much use with the basic EDC tasks like food prep, roll cutting on a flat surface or punching holes in packaging material.

Kizer Matanzas My experience
Kizer Matanzas My experience

However, carrying the knife is easy, especially with the spring deep pocket tip-down carry. The blade is fully enclosed inside the handle when in a closed position. The synchronization of the blade and handle is great. It is long and narrow in the pocket. Its lightweight 3.85 oz. is not a drag on your pants or shorts either.

The rounded flipper with its low profile does not get caught on things when in use. However, the blade and the spine are too close together in proximity when closed that the edge of the blade can come into contact with the hand or other items. The tanto version of the knife may be a bit hazardous in this regard, since it can come into contact with the other items in your pocket. But the drop point does not have this issue.

Kizer Matanzas
Kizer Matanzas

The ergonomics are solid though not remarkable. It is flexible in forward and reverse grips but lacks a good forward finger choil with the guard created by the bolster. The flipper is somewhat shallow, and so is the thumb ramp. The thumb ramp is also too long for comfort.

So the field test of this knife did not go so well, but it is easy to carry with great features but lacks in performance.

Pros & Cons of Kizer Matanzas


  • High-quality materials: CPM-S35VN steel blade offers excellent edge retention and corrosion resistance.

  • Slim and lightweight: Comfortable for everyday carry (EDC) due to its thin profile and 3.85 oz weight.

  • Smooth deployment: Caged ceramic ball bearing pivot allows for effortless flipping action.

  • Secure lockup: Frame lock provides strong and reliable blade retention.

  • Versatile blade: Drop point style is suitable for various cutting tasks.


  • Sharpening challenge: Thin blade may be difficult to sharpen for some users.

  • Handle thickness: Slim profile might not be ideal for users who prefer a thicker grip.

  • Lanyard hole placement: Located near the pivot, which some users may find inconvenient.


Kizer Matanzas vs Zero Tolerance 0450

Zero Tolerance 0450 shares the same price, blade length, material and style. Both have a blade length of more than 3” with a drop point CPM S35VN and a stout titanium framelock and a flipper opener. Although ZT 0450 is lighter than Matanzas at 2.9 oz. for titanium and 2.5 oz. for carbon fiber, and a bit shorter in overall length. But the blade shape of ZT 0450 is more even with a standard drop point.

Kizer Matanzas vs Zero Tolerance 0450

Kizer Matanzas vs Zero Tolerance 0450

The ZT 0450 is configured for tip-up right and left hand carry, unlike the Matanzas. It also has a stonewash finish, which works better than the bead-blasted finish on Matanzas. When it comes to performance, ZT 0450 offers a better cutting performance and edge than the Matanzas.

Kizer Matanzas vs Spyderco Mantra 1

Spyderco Mantra 1 also has a full titanium construction with flipper tab and ball bearings. And of course it comes with its trademarked Spyder-hole or Spydie-hole for deployment.

Kizer Matanzas vs Spyderco Mantra 1

Kizer Matanzas vs Spyderco Mantra 1

It has a full flat grind in CPM M4 tool steel. It offers immaculate cutting performance and cuts like razor, unlike the Matanzas. It is also low maintenance and easy to carry. Although it costs more than the Matanzas, but offers its high value in return.

Conclusion: Kizer Matanzas Review

We found Kizer Matanzas review to be quite a contrast when it comes to features, fit and finish compared to its performance. The blade geometry, handle ergonomics and pocket clip are all great. But the blade stock thickness ruins its cutting performance and stops it from performing tougher and harder EDC tasks.

Kizer Knives Matanzas Review, kizer Matanzas Review
Kizer Knives Matanzas Review

Although it is a high-end knife and comes in a premium packaging with a pouch and a cleaning cloth, its field test did not go so well. We found its price to not relate with its usage. Whats the point of having a tool in your pocket, if you can use it the way you want because it’s delicate.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Kizer Matanzas is a high-end custom knife from the Bladesmith series designed by Nick Swan and manufactured in China.

Kizer Matanzas offers good features, but lacks in cutting performance as per our usage and uts also mentioned in our Kizer Matanzas review as well.