What to Expect in a Balisong at Different Price Points
If you are a first time balisong buyer, you might be wondering why the price range of balisongs is so large. You can purchase butterfly knives on some websites for less than $10, but some balisongs cost thousands of dollars.
Why is the price range so wide, and why would someone spend thousands on a butterfly knife that is just as functional as any other cheaper knife? What is the best balisong to buy at each price point? What is the best balisong trainer, and what is the best balisong for flipping?
If you're looking for answers to any of these questions, read on for a breakdown of what balisongs look like at different price points.
Most balisongs below $20 may not be worth the price in the long run. At this price point you’ll see a lot of extremely cheaply made trainers, as well as knives with handles that are pinned together instead of screwed.
These butterfly knives are usually very heavy, as most of them are made entirely out of stainless steel. They will probably fall apart on you after a few hard drops.
Commonly referred to as CCCs, these balisongs are made from rough cut cheap materials, will have quality control issues, and won't have any sort of special features. If you are looking for a very cheap entry into the hobby, this could be a good way to dip your toe in the water of the flipping world before going all out.
Balis below the $20 point are made with low quality materials and will most likely face issues in the future due to lack of quality. In most cases these balisongs are made with cheaply cut trainer blades and pins instead of screws.
Though they're hit or miss, a $20 butterfly knife will flip better than no balisong at all. Once you jump out of this price range though, there is a very obvious change in quality and performance.
Knives at this price point will feel much better in the hand, as they are constructed with better materials and are usually much lighter. For most options in this price range you will also be able to adjust your pivots and take these knives apart if they have screwed handles.
The $50 range is where I’d recommend starting out if you just want to test the waters of butterfly knife flipping. The Squiddy line by Squid Industries or other plastic balisongs might be a good choice if you want something non-threatening and light weight. You might also want to look into BBbarfly trainers for something heavier and multifunctional.
The $50 price point introduces you to features such as actual pivot systems and screwed together handles instead of pins. Balisongs in this price range are usually still trainers, but they run on washer or bearing pivots and are a huge jump up in quality from cheaper balis. These butterfly knives will also have a longer life span than something cheaper.
At around $100 you will see more features and much better quality in butterfly knives. Companies like Maxace and Atropos make very high quality knives and trainers for very affordable prices.
These balisongs are made with higher quality materials such as steel or titanium liners, g10 or micarta scales, and decent pivot systems. Many companies also use more than just washer pivot systems in this price range - bearings and even bushings are becoming more and more popular in more affordable balisongs.
Here you will also find several high quality aluminum-handled trainers from US based makers such as Squid Industries, SvixCo, and NRBKnives. Nearly all of the knives and trainers in this price range flip and feel dramatically better than anything cheaper.
In my opinion, butterfly knives in the $300 price range have the best ratio of price to performance. Above this price the quality and feel of balisongs does still improve, but not always enough to warrant a much higher price tag.
For around $300 many balisongs are constructed with full titanium handles, or handles made from titanium liners and g10 scales. Many knives in this range, such as some products from BRS and Hom Design, can be customized with aftermarket parts made by third party makers, meaning you can fully customize your knife and make it flip and feel however you like.
Bushing systems are very common at this price point, and the handle materials are largely titanium, aluminum, and g10, which are about as good as it gets for flipping. Almost all butterfly knives in this category will flip and feel exceptionally well, and this is the price range where you will find some of the best price to performance value.
Once again, this knives in this price range will perform significantly better than anything in the price ranges before.
For around $500 you will find lots of balisongs that take elements of $300 knives and make them feel more premium. Some of these changes may include making the handles channel construction instead of sandwich, switching the blade steel to something more durable and suitable for everyday cutting tasks, modded elements such as titanium anodization, or limited edition versions of a knife.
While these added features are nice, they often do not dramatically change the feeling or flipping style of a butterfly knife. Many knives at this price point come from smaller knife makers, and might be made in small batches with high quality control standards.
This range starts to introduce smaller improvements than the price gaps before. Yes, many flippers prefer the feeling of channel titanium over sandwich construction, but this usually doesn't make a huge difference in flipability.
The same goes for improved blade steel - these features are nice and may feel or perform a bit better than less expensive butterfly knives, but not by much. The knives made by smaller makers in this price range, though, do offer unique characteristics not found in less expensive knives.
When you get into the $700 range of balisongs, you’re starting to look at premium knives. These are the best of the best when it comes to materials and precision.
Knives such as the MachineWise Serif and the Squid Industries Tsunami fall into this category. These butterfly knives are meticulously made in very small quantities to ensure the best quality possible.
While these knives feel and flip amazingly, they usually won't give you much of an edge over even a knife in the $300 range. Balisongs in the $700 range are meant for people who are very serious about the hobby and are willing to spend more and more for even the slightest improvements.
$1000 seems like a lot for a butterfly knife, but people are willing to spend this much for many different custom knives and midtechs. Custom balisongs and midtechs are a maker's way to show off their skills and create unique versions and colorways of knives as they wish.
Makers such as Eldon Talley, JK Design, Hansen Metals, and WB Concept make knives tailored to their exact preferences. Many of these knives can be purchased by participating in lotto drawings or by contacting the maker directly.
Balisongs in this price range still offer high flipping performance, but each feels unique because each knife is often made by hand, at least in part.
Custom knives and midtechs around the $1000 mark usually stop offering any new features other than each knife being unique. These knives are made to feel superb, unique, and the quality control is meticulous.
When you start seeing balisongs that are $2000 or more, you’re probably looking at either some vintage knives, a one of one, something ultra rare, or a knife that was made to look like art. Butterfly knives in this price range generally don’t bring any sort of new features other than stylistic improvements.
The price range of butterfly knives is very large and for good reason. Cheaper balisongs have far less features than expensive knives, and once you get above the price range of around $300 you will stop seeing significant changes in most butterfly knives.
Most of the features added in knives around $700 are very slight compared to other price jumps, though these knives have outstanding quality control and will feel exceptional when flipped. Butterfly knives around and above $900 generally don't have any new features that aren't found in less expensive knives, but often have aspects that make them unique, and some of these knives are completely hand made.
Since balisongs come in such a wide range of prices, there is no shortage of variety. Whether you're looking for a cheap trainer to just get into the hobby, a battle-tested performance flipper, or a high end collectors piece with dragon skin, there's a balisong out there for everyone!