RADA Knives Review: Quality American Craftmanship
By Bobby B. | December 2021 | Knife Brands
Rada Cutlery is a popular American-made brand that’s been around for almost 75 years. Chances are you’ve seen a Rada knife or even used one before even if the name doesn’t sound familiar. Many Americans grew up watching their grandparents and parents use the silver aluminum handle knives that Rada is famous for. Manufactured in the Midwest since 1948, Rada prides itself on being one of the only knife brands completely built in America. From materials to manufacturing, Rada knives are 100% true American craftmanship.
Many new knives and knife sets have been added to the Rada product line over the years. They’ve also expanded into other kitchen gadgets such as cooking and kitchen utensils, baking pans, and food mixes. Regardless, the company’s goal has remained the same, “to provide outstanding knives at an exceptional value”. Here in our Rada knives review, we take a closer look and what makes Rada one of the most trusted brands in America and how their knives compare to other popular brands.
Rada Knives Review
Outside of being made-in-America, let’s consider other qualities that make for a good kitchen knife, such as blade steel, edge retention, and construction.
Rada uses T420 stainless steel to make all of their knife blades. This steel has high corrosion resistance which protects the blade from rusting. At the same time, it is one of the softer steels used in knife making, even when tempered. Therefore, it won’t hold its edge as long as other knives made from harder steel, and may need to be sharpened more frequently.
On the other hand, Rada blades are hand sharpened and hollow ground. Meaning the knife tapers toward the edge creating a thin, sharp cutting edge. This type of grind creates some of the best knives for slicing. The hollow grind and softer steel also make Rada knives much easier to sharpen at home. Rada sells an inexpensive knife sharpener that works well with their blades, allowing you to quickly sharpen their non-serrated knives as frequently as needed.
When it comes to constructing the knives, Rada uses stamped blades as opposed to forged. Stamped blades are not as durable as forged blades; although, they are lighter and less expensive. With this type of construction there is also no bolster but there is a small guard built into the handle to keep your finger from slipping onto the blade. Rada has two different options for knife handles. The most popular and recognizable is their solid brushed aluminum handles. These handles are not dishwasher safe and will lose their polished look (oxidize) if not hand washed. If you’re looking for a dishwasher safe option, you’re in luck. Rada also makes a black resin handle option specifically for that purpose.
Hollow Ground Edge
Rada Knife Sharpener
Finally, two last important features if you’re looking at purchasing a Rada knife is price and warranty. Rada knives are inexpensive, especially if you compare them to other popular brands such as Lamson or Henckels. This is widely due to the fact that they use less expensive materials to craft their knives and they aren’t importing materials from overseas. Just because they are inexpensive however, doesn’t mean they are low quality. In fact, Rada backs all of their knives with a Lifetime Guarantee and will replace any product if there are defects in the material or craftmanship. This provides customers added confidence knowing they are purchasing from a company that stands behind its products.
Pros and Cons of Rada Knives
We spent hours researching the Rada brand and reading customers reviews to educate ourselves on their knives. Based on our research, here is list of the benefits and drawbacks we discovered.
- Sharp, hollow ground edge
- Great knives for slicing
- Easy to sharpen
- Lifetime Warranty
- 100% American Made
- Stamped blade, not forged
- Thin blades not made for chopping
- Must be sharpened more frequently
- Aluminum handles are hand wash only
In general, there are more pros associated with Rada knives than cons. However, it really depends on the type of knife you’re looking for. We found that Rada knives are very good at slicing. Which explains why most of the knives they offer are paring, slicing, or steak knives. If that’s the type of knife you are looking for, Rada would be an excellent choice. The thin blades are razor sharp and easy to sharpen when dull. You won’t find a better slicing knife for the price anywhere else.
Many people commented on how the aluminum handles oxidized after numerous hand washings or because they accidentally got placed in the dish washer. This can be a deal breaker for many, especially when purchasing steak knives that are often used with guests. Though the reviews are not wrong, Rada does provide tips and sells a cleaner/polish that helps you restore the aluminum handles to their original finish. Check out the YouTube video below demonstrating how to restore Rada brushed aluminum handles. If you’re worried about your handles oxidizing, this will give you some peace of mind and provide a way for you to keep your knives looking new. As seen in the video, Rada recommends a product called Bar Keepers Friend to help clean your knives. This product has also been recommend by other knife brands as a good tool for removing rust from blades.
Rada Brushed Aluminum Handles Before and After Oxidation
Rada Knives Compared to Other American Brands
There is no question that there are better knife brands than Rada on the market. However, as previously mentioned, Rada excels at making affordable, sharp knives that are great for slicing. Therefore, when we decided to compare Rada to other brands, we decided to look specifically at how the Rada paring/slicing knives compared to other brands knives of the same type. Also, since being American-made is one of the main features that brings people to Rada, we decided to compare them specifically to other American-made knife brands.
Lamson, CUTCO, and Case are other popular American-made knife brands. Of these three brands, Rada is most similar to Case and CUTCO. All three brands have stamped blades, and use similar steel. Case’s Tru-Sharp steel is similar to Rada’s T420. Both are softer steel that is easily sharpened. Like Rada, Case offers two handle types, wooden (not recommended for dishwasher) and a black synthetic (dishwasher safe). What sets Rada apart from Case, in our opinion, is that Rada has a Lifetime Warranty compared to Case’s Limited Lifetime Warranty, and they also have a lower price point.
CUTCO uses a high carbon 440 steel for their stamped blades. This means that it is slightly harder than the steel Rada uses allowing it to have a little better edge retention. CUTCO handles are made of thermo-resin and though they are dishwasher safe, it is recommended that they be hand washed. Like Rada, CUTCO also offers a Lifetime Warranty. What sets these two brands apart is price. CUTCO is much more expensive than Rada. Aside from users liking the look and feel of the CUTCO knife, there’s not a lot to suggest that it performs better than the Rada knife.
Lamson knives are one of the only fully forged knives made in America. They use imported high quality German Steel to craft durable, quality knives that rival many German and Japanese knife brands. Since there are so many differences between the Lamson and Rada brands, we choose not to compare them in this post. However, if you would like to learn more about Lamson knives, please see our full review.
Rada Knives Review Conclusion
The Rada brand prides itself on being 100% American made, which is no small feat in today’s world. They produce affordable, well-made knives that have been found in kitchens for more than 70 years. When it comes to paring, slicing, and/or steak knives, you can’t go wrong with Rada’s pricing and Lifetime Warranty. Their knives are extremely sharp and though they may not hold their edge quite as long as other knives, they are easy to sharpen back to their original edge. If you’re looking to purchase a Rada knife, we would suggest also purchasing one of their inexpensive knife sharpeners to help you maintain all non-serrated edges.
Overall, Rada is a great choice if you’re looking for a sharp slicing knife. Even with frequent sharpening, these knives have been known to last for decades. Depending on the handle type you choose, there may be additional maintenance involved to keep them looking their best, but that’s to be expected with almost any knife brand.
Rada Knives and Knife Sets
Rada knives are available individually or in 2-to-8-piece sets. They do offer one 8-piece oak block set, all other sets are packaged in gift boxes. Below are four of Rada’s more popular sets. Click on the image to see pricing information.
Utility Steak Knife Set
3 Piece Gift Set
7 piece Starter Gift Set
Serrated Steak Knife Set
Rada Knife FAQs
Where Are Rada Knives Made?
Rada knives are handmade in Waverly, Iowa. Furthermore, all of the materials used to make Rada knives comes from the USA.
Are Rada Knives Dishwasher Safe?
Rada knives with the black resin handles are dishwasher safe. However, hand washing is recommended for Rada knives with the brushed aluminum handles. Placing these knives in the dishwasher will cause the aluminum to oxidize and lose it’s shiny appearance.
What Kind of Warranty Do Rada Knives Have?
Rada knives have a lifetime warranty that protects against all manufacturer and craftman defects. Rada will replace all knives with any of these defects, however the customer may be responsible for shipping costs.
Are Rada Knives Any Good?
Yes, based on our research, Rada makes quality paring, slicing, and steak knives for an affordable price. They’re a trusted brand that’s been around for nearly 70 years. When taken care of properly, Rada knives can last decades.