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Reviews > Knives > Folding > Kershaw Spec Bump Knife > Test Report by Ray Estrella

Kershaw Spec Bump Knife
Test Series by Raymond Estrella
January 03, 2008



NAME: Raymond Estrella
AGE: 47
LOCATION: Huntington Beach California USA
HEIGHT: 6' 3" (1.91 m)
WEIGHT: 200 lb (90.70 kg)

I have been backpacking for over 30 years, all over California, and in many of the western states and Minnesota. I hike year-round, and average 500+ miles (800+ km) per year. I have made a move to lightweight gear, and smaller volume packs. I start early and hike hard so as to enjoy the afternoons exploring. I usually take a freestanding tent and enjoy hot meals at night. If not hiking solo I am usually with my brother-in-law Dave or fiancée Jenn.


The Product

Manufacturer: Kai USA Ltd
Web site:
Model: Spec Bump
Model number: 1596
Manufacture date: March 2007
Closed length listed: 4 15/16 in (12.5 cm) Verified accurate
Open length listed: N/A
Actual length open: 8 1/2 in (21.6 cm)
Blade length listed: 3 5/8 in (9.2 cm) Verified accurate
Weight listed: 5.2 oz (147 g)
Actual weight: 5.4 oz (153 g)
MSRP: US $199.95


Product Description

After looking at the knife on the manufacturer's web site, I have to say that it was exactly what I expected. My initial impressions are that this is going to be a very nice knife to use.

It came in the retail box and was in new condition. It seemed to be complete with all listed components in place. I was easily able to understand the directions included.

The Kershaw Spec Bump is a folding knife from the company's Utility/Police/Military line of knives. It features a re-curve blade made of S30V stainless-steel that is coated with Tungsten DLC (Diamond Like Coating), giving it a blacked-out look. Only the sharpened edge is shiny. The manufacturer claims that the strangely shaped blade "Offers ideal leverage in tough cutting situations and a precisely centered point to handle piercing tasks". The blade has the Kershaw logo and the designer's name (Ken Onion) on one side. The other has the product number, manufacture date, and "Made in USA" along with "S30V", which is the stainless steel grade. It comes to a point that feels sharp enough to dig splinters out with. (Yes I do that.)

It has a "3-D machined, black G-10 handle". (G10 is a laminate produced by inserting continuous glass woven fabric impregnated with an epoxy resin binder while forming the sheet under high pressure. It is then machined like wood.) The handle has a diamond-bump star-burst pattern. It seems to give me a pretty secure grip. It is also very comfortable to hold with the blade down, or with it facing up with my thumb resting in the sharply curved space created by the handle and knurled face of the Index Open feature.


SpeedSafe is the patented, assisted-opening system used on the Spec Bump. It assists the user to smoothly open the knife with a manual push on the blade's thumb stud, or Index Open feature. The Index Open feature is the triangular knurled protrusion on the back of the closed knife. When open it protrudes below the blade acting as a finger-guard.

As I do not know the actual physics/mechanics of the knife I quote Kershaw; "The heart of the SpeedSafe system is its torsion bar. Closed, the torsion bar helps keep the knife closed, preventing it from being opened by 'gravity'. In order to open the knife, the user must apply manual pressure to the thumb stud to overcome the resistance of the torsion bar. After the blade is out of the handle, the torsion bar moves along its half-moon track and takes over. The blade opens smoothly and locks into position, ready for use."

The patented Stud Lock is the stud on the blade that, on all my other knives, is just used to open them. But on the Spec Bump it is also "an extremely secure lock that has 3 points of lock up." The stud slides up (towards the tip of the blade) to release the locks. A spring keeps it from sliding on its own. The spring is pressed in so as not to fall out, and is open on both sides to allow dirt or pocket lint to be shaken or blown out. The spring may be seen in the top picture.


The Spec Bump has a sliding safety next to the pocket clip. When slid downwards it locks the blade in the closed position keeping it from opening in my pocket should I accidentally engage the Index Opening feature. I like this.

About the steel Pocket Clip, they say that, "It is not to be worn on the belt, as this can be an unsafe way to carry your knife. It is meant to be clipped with the handle on the inside of your pocket and the clip is on the outside of your pants." That is how I carry my knife on all but winter trips. On them I carry it in the top of my gaiters with the knife inside and the clip outside.

The knife came with a zippered black vinyl pile-lined carrying case. It has the Kershaw logo on one side. As I will be carrying the Spec Bump every day, I do not expect to ever use the case.


One thing I noticed during the writing and extreme inspection of this knife was the fact that it was not as sharp as I expected. But just at the end of the blade. The two thirds nearest the handle were sharp, but the end of the blade (which I always expect to be the sharpest part) was not. This is not to say that it is not sharp enough to cut, but it is not rub-my-finger-across-and-get-goose-bumps-sharp like I expected. I pulled out a magnifying glass with a 6x inset to look at the edge. One side was uniformly ground with very limited striation. The other side had deeper grooves, indicating a courser grind. But it also showed a second angle of sharpening on a steeper angle than the original plane, right at the edge. I am going to take this step out when I go to Minnesota in 3 weeks (where all of my stones and steels are).

This concludes my Initial Report. The following is the results of the first two months of use.


Field Conditions

I have been carrying the Kershaw every day. But the backpacking trips that I have carried on have been as follows:

On a 42-mile (68 km) overnight backpacking trip in the eastern Sierra Nevada.

Overnighter in Wasatch National Forest in Utah

Dayhike at Whiting Ranch Regional Park in California.

28.5 mile (46 km) fast pack on a section of the Pacific Crest Trail

In the Cleveland National Forest (southern California) on an overnighter.

Over-nighter on the Desolation Trail in the Mount Olympus Wilderness in Utah.

Elevations have ranged from sea level to over 11000' (3350 m) and temperatures have ranged from 40 F to 90 F (4 to 32 C). Weather has been mostly nice with a few rainy days.


I love this knife. The past two months has seen me carry it for all but 9 days. I have used it to cut vegetables, steak, chicken, boxes, food packages, guy-line cord and my son's pizza. (He just has to use a fork.) It has done a wonderful job of it all.

The blade is still sharp. It is holding the edge very well. I have used the point to dig a tick head out of my shin while camping in August. It has a great point for that kind of work.

I have worn a bit of the black coating off the back of the blade. I did it by prying beer caps off, levering the knife (closed) across my knuckles with the back of the blade under the cap. It works quite well, but I am sure that Kershaw does not condone the practice. I stopped after I noticed what was happening. I now use the edge of the Index Opening protrusion. It works even better. (Sorry Kershaw…)

My favorite thing about the knife is the Index Open feature. It opens so smoothly and quick. I just never get tired of opening it. And it seems to be the favorite of everybody that sees it too. They always have to try it themselves. (A few times usually.)

The handle material is holding up quite well. I know that it has brushed against rocks while hiking but looking through a magnifying glass reveals no scratches. It has provided a stable grip even when my hands have been wet or sweaty.

It has taken me a while to get used to the lock release being on the blade. But I do like it a lot. Many years of doing it other ways are hard to forget. It works smoothly every time also.

The pocket clip has been great. The knife has never fallen off my pocket, or even been pulled off by brushing against things. There is no weakening of the clip that I can see. This is very good. I have wrecked the clip in cheaper knives in a few weeks.

I did run the knife over a steel. It helped smooth out the rough edge that I mentioned earlier and made it sharper.

If there is anything that I can find negative about the Spec Bump it would be the weight. It is pretty heavy. That is not a bad thing as it makes for a good secure feel when holding it. But I do think about it when I am paring weight for a hike. Kershaw does make a lighter version of this knife called the Speed Bump. Maybe in the future I will get one of them.

This concludes the first two months of use. The following reflects the last two months of testing.


Field Conditions

Again I have carried the Spec Bump almost every day, but it was used on the following backpacking trips.

78-mile (125 km) three-day trip from the Rock Creek Lake area down to Glacier Lodge in the John Muir Wilderness in the Sierra Nevada range of California. The temperatures ranged from freezing to 70 F (21 C), elevations ranged from 7800' to 11800' (2380 to 3600 m)

I carried it with Jenn to American Fork Canyon for an overnighter. It was the day after a storm. Starting elevation of 6800' up to about 8400' (2070 to 2560 m) with temperatures a chilly 37 F (3 C) in the day and just below freezing at night.

It went with me on a two-day hike along the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) from Snow Creek road north to the Whitewater River, in the desert near Palm Springs California. The temps were low of 44 and up to 79 F (7 to 26 C).

I carried it on an overnighter to Little Round Valley and from there to Mt San Jacinto in the first snow storm of the winter. 10 days and two more storms later we were back to the same area for another one. The temperatures on the two trips ranged from 40 F to 20 F (4 to -7 C).

I took it with me on a snowy 2-day trip to Bryce National Park. The temps were from 36 F down to 5 F (2 to -15 C) and in snow to almost 3 ft (1 m) deep where drifted.


I have not changed in my opinion of this knife. I love it. I am so used to the way that it opens and closes that when I have to carry another knife (like when I fly to Minnesota and do not bring checked luggage) I find myself stumped trying to close them because the lock is all wrong.

I took it to my Dad's house in Lancaster and showed it to him and my brother. My brother noticed the dark line where the grind was different and offered to sharpen the Spec Bump with a five-stone system. I of course took him up on the offer. An hour later he handed me the sharpest folder I have ever had. Two months later it is still wicked sharp. This is some fine steel.

One thing that I have noticed is that the sliding safety has engaged itself three times while in my pocket. I am not too crazy about that. I want to know that I can open the knife one handed when I need to.

One time while in a restaurant I had the knife catch on my keys as I was removing them from my pocket. The Spec Bump fell out and landed right on the Index Open lever. The knife of course sprang open drawing some shock looks.

I have had no problems with the durability of the knife. It has been dropped and caught on things with no apparent damage or wear. (And yes, I still remove caps with it.) I have washed it in streams, lakes and sinks with no rust showing even though I have never oiled the blade except by cutting cheeses and meats.

I will be using the Spec Bump as my everyday knife for the foreseeable future. I will also use it for winter hiking but will go back to my fixed blade regular hiking knife for 3-season backpacking.

I am very happy to have been able to test this great knife. Thank you to Kershaw and BackpackGearTest for letting me do so.

This report was created with the Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.

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