BY KEVIN O'CONNELL
October 05, 2008
Lake Oswego, Oregon, USA
5' 7" (1.70 m)
150 lb (68.00 kg)
Backpacking Background: I started backpacking about 6 or 7 years ago, mostly taking weekend trips and occasionally going out for a whole week. I spend my summers in the field, so I am no stranger to the trail. I am a minimalist, and will pretty much do anything to shave off some weight, but I am more about experiencing the local ecology then than getting to point B. Mostly I hike around my local area, so a forest setting, rainy and pretty hilly, although I do occasionally do a snow trip. I am trained in wilderness survival and first aid. I also enjoy rock climbing, mountaineering, buildering, snowboarding, and parkour.
Manufacturer: Kai USA
Year of Manufacture: 2007
Manufacturer's Website: www.kershawknives.com
Listed Weight: 3.5 oz (99 g)
Weight as delivered: 3.5 oz (99 g)
Steel: 13C26 stainless-steel
Complete Length: 7.72" (19.61 cm)
Closed Length: 4.5" (11.43 cm)
Blade Length: 3.22" (8.18 cm)
Blade Coating: Tungsten DLC
Handle Material: Injection Molded Polyimide
Pocket Clip: Yes
Serrated Option: Yes
MSRP: US $89.95
Kershaw's Blackout knife is a folding blade primarily marketed as an everyday utility knife. It features a 13C26 stainless-steel blade, a Tungsten DLC coating, and Kershaw's patented SpeedSafe opening system. Tungsten DLC (Diamond like Coating) was first developed by a weapons company looking for a non reflective coating that increases steel hardness (90 on the Rockwell C scale). The SpeedSafe function is an assisted opening method in which the user applies pressure to the thumb stud. A spring then flips the blade out into the "ready" position, all with one hand. Unlike a switchblade, the user has to overcome the force pushing on the handle. The handle is Injection Molded Polyimide- an extremely stress-resistant uncured plastic resin.
The Kershaw Blackout comes in surprisingly refreshing cardboard box. I was happy to see that more time was invested in the knife than in the packaging. It also included a foldout sheet with instructions on using the SpeedSafe function and the warranty.
When the blade is opened, it is held in place by the "inner handle": a piece of metal that bends out from where the blade sits while closed. This inner handle puts pressure on the butt of the blade to hold it in place. To close the knife while holding it in my right hand, all I do is push it from right to left, back to the inner wall of the knife. With practice, I learned how to close the knife using only one hand.
After playing around with it for a while, the only thing I can say is wow. Simply opening it is a joy, and hearing the sharp metallic click as the blade flips into place is just an added bonus. To open the knife, all I need to do is press on thumb stud. The blade just jumps right out into position and locks firmly into place.
|Balances behind the pivot point, just where you want it to|
I carried this knife every day last summer while I taught wilderness survival, rock-climbing, and whitewater rafting, but here a few specific trips I have taken with it.
Glacier National Park, Montana (Backpacking)
Florida Keys, Florida (Kayak Island hopping)
Silver Falls, Oregon (Backpacking)
Twin Lakes, Oregon (Backpacking)
Smith Rock, Oregon (Rock climbing)
Mt. Hood, Oregon (Snowshoe Backpacking)
Lenore Wilderness, Idaho (Canoeing, Backpacking)
The only negative aspect of the knife at this point is the pattern on the grips. They dig into my hand, fraying the skin.
After some time, the speed and force of the SpeedSafe function deteriorates. However, this is a good thing, because it cuts down on the chance of a unintentional opening. I did not even notice until I borrowed a friend's, and nearly dropped it when I opened it. However, I have found I am able to combat this by cleaning and oiling it frequently.
One of the major concerns I have heard from most people is, "Won't it open if I drop it?" So I dropped a (new) Blackout 10 times on four different surfaces. I dropped it on Cement which opened 3/10 times, and on hardwood which opened 4/10 drops. On carpet it opened 1/10 drops, and dirt opened 0/10 drops. These numbers might seem high, but I have never had any problems, and I use this knife quite frequently.
I have managed to scratch up the black coating by lighting a few matches on it, but they only show if I look for it in the sun. I have to say, I am surprised with just how well the coating has held up. I am a big fan of black knives, and have never before seen a coating that stands up to this kind of abuse.
The one issue I have had with the knife as far as durability goes is the strength of the tip. The first time I bent it I was prying the husk off of a coconut (granted, it might be extreme). Although it was bent so far it would not close, I bent it back into shape and planned to bring it to Kershaw later. After exchanging it (see below), the tip on the new knife again bent slightly from everyday use. So although the tip does bend occasionally, It does not impede on preformance, and is very fixable.
Testing the Warranty
When I went to the Kershaw factory's customer service counter there were about three people ahead of me, but they were taken care of within 10 minutes. The lady behind the counter was very nice, and informative. The first thing she did was look at the straightness of the blade, then tested the edge. She just said that the knife was not up to Kershaw's standards, and gave me a new one, with no questions asked.
After a few frustrating attempts with several stone kits, I stropped it. It is just as sharp as when I first got it. This steel seems to hold a edge well, although it is hard to get it sharp in the first place.
Easy to close and open with one hand
-The assisted opening adds a new level of use to this knife. I don't think I could go back to using a knife without it.
The shape of the handle allows it to fit my hand comfortably.
Good customer service
-Forgiving return policy, knowledgeable staff.
This is a good looking knife, period.
This knife is not a huge monster that weighs my pack down, it's light enough to throw in my pocket and go.
Scratch resistant coating
The Tungsten DLC coating holds up very well.
SpeedSafe function deteriorates with time
That oh so satisfying click wears out with time. Can be repaired though.
Even though I have never experienced this, the possibility is always there.
Two separate knives bent at the tip.
After using this knife for a long period of time, my thumb looks like it went through a blender.
It is frustrating that the only way to get a decent edge on this knife is stropping.
The Kershaw Blackout is a good knife solid knife. I have split logs, cooked food, and mass produced 20 bow-drill sets with this knife. Although there may be better fixed blade knives out there, I have never seen a folding knife with this level of craftsmanship or sophistication. I require a very high level of performance from my blades, and the Blackout delivers. It is has earned a place in my pack, and become a regular in my pocket.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
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