Most helpful positive review
39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
Excellent bang for buck carry/utility knife
on March 4, 2010
I highly recommend the Ken Onion Kershaw Black Out to anybody looking for their first pocket folding knife, or to somebody looking to step up from a folding utility knife seeking a few more features and higher quality materials/craftmanship.
While I consider this knife to be an entry-level model, given it's price point, the craftsmanship and performance exceed expectations. Those who are accustomed to (or expect the quality of) excellent folding knives from manufacturers such as Emerson, Cold Steel, or Benchmade might not fully appreciate the value of this knife at under $60.
Handle: Polyimide, not G10 or Kydex. I have rather large hands, so it feels a bit small but not so much that it gets lost in my hand. There is little if any flex in the handle which has a metal liner. The knurling is fairly deep and sharp enough to provide very good traction when dry, adequate when wet/greasy. Great with gloves. Includes a lanyard hole which is big points from me. Held in the hand with blade retracted, the backstrap is smooth and rounded making for an excellent loaded fist. Likewise it is just long enough to protrude either side to be used as a tactical impact device in a hammer-fist or modified ridgehand. Probably not intended, but good to know if the chips are down.
Clip: Knife rides tip-down only, which I don't mind. Clip only attaches to one side. What I do like, is 1) the clip is very firm but well contoured and 2) the knife rides very low in the pocket. About as low as it can. That to me is a deal-breaker for a knife. There is some checkering under where the clip meets the handle, which does accelerate wear on your clothing or belt, but it's acceptable and could be modified.
Blade: The steel is quite good, Sandvik 13C26 (**this has since been improved, see "The Real Review's" comment below!) is used in razor blades, surgical blades and many knives intended for food industry use (i.e. heavier duty than the home kitchen). 13C26 is martensitic, which means it has been rapidly cooled (quenched) to trap carbon atoms in the crystaline structure, increasing hardness. Chromium content of the steel is a bit higher than many forging alloys. Generally the steel is very resistant to corrosion and provides good wear resistance, both of which contribute to edge retention. Comes razor sharp from the factory and is fairly easily sharpened with a basic stone, although a wetstone really makes this knife sing. The drop point makes detail work possible as a utility blade. The length and heft of the blade suit it well as a backup personal defense knife. I have yet to utilize the serations, but they are deep, aggressive and sharp. If they ever got dull, you'd probably be best bringing to a professional for sharpening. I like the blade coating, but depending on how you use the knife you may wind up scratching it from cutting various materials. This is no way degrades the functionality, but it doesn't look as slick as the knife does when it's new. That might matter to some people, not to me. The backside base of the blade has a few ridges that are in a perfect spot for your thumb to aid retention, a nice feature.
Assist Mechanism: Fast, easy to manipulate, relatively quiet. Easy to retract.
Locking Mechanism: Strong, practically no side-to-side play when locked. I haven't done spine hits to test the strength of the lock, but I have no fears that it will come loose unexpectedly even under harsh use.
This is the second Ken Onion Kershaw I've owned, the first was the straight blade version. Unfortunately, I lost that knife at a job site, sometime in the last couple weeks of a 6-month project! I tried a few other knives in the interim but wound up returning to the Ken Onion Black Out and decided to try the serrated version. Money well spent.
First use of the serrations.. not your typical use, but they performed well. Was eating an avocado and had to get the pit out. Stabbed it with the serrated portion of the blade and gave it a twist, popped right out.
I then decided it was time to give them a real test and found a dead 1" branch of maple. Went right through. Not the cleanest cut but the aggressive profile is a real wood hog.