Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Miscellany: Kershaw Skyline review

Can you still find a quality, American-made folding knife for under $40 and on sale in *gasp* Wal-Mart? Yes, as evidenced by the Kershaw Skyline, a liner-locking folder designed for "everyday carry," or EDC.

Let's start with the Skyline's blade. Out of the box, the edge is very sharp. I had a water bottle cap that wouldn't unscrew because the plastic wasn't perforated, but the Skyline easily freed it with only one light pass from the knife. The blade is hollow-ground (there's a concavity on each side). The result is a very light, aggressive slicer with excellent piercing capabilities. It's made of 14C28N steel, an alloy developed by Swedish materials company Sandvik. Sandvik markets steels like these in surgical blades, so you know this stuff can take a razor edge.

The knife is a "flipper" design - instead of pushing open the blade via a thumbstud or thumbhole, you use a lever to literally flip the blade out. It takes some practice, but it works pretty well once you get the hang of it. The pivot point is very smooth, so you really don't have to use a lot of wrist action to open the knife. I prefer the standard opening methods, but the flipper isn't a deal-breaker for me.

The handle is well-designed. The Skyline has a deep choil that provides good purchase for most types of grips. An advantage of the flipper here is that the lever also forms part of the choil; it'll take a pretty hard stab for your hand to go forward on the Skyline. The G10 handles have the consistency of high-grit sandpaper, but they're still not as aggressive as I'd like. Still, they provide adequate traction. The single steel liner and liner lock work well, with good lockup and no play on the blade.

The least impressive part of the Skyline is the pocket clip, which is way too stiff out of the box. You'll have to bend it to even make it usable. The knife can accommodate tip-up or tip-down carry, but only for righties - there are no lefty holes drilled into the knife. With all the EDC knives made nowadays with fully reversible clips, that's quite an oversight.

Overall, though, the Kershaw Skyline is a great, lightweight knife. You won't find many knives that weigh under 2.5 ounces with 3" blades. To get one that's made in America instead of a factory in Guangzhou is a minor miracle.


At 1:51 AM, Blogger James R. Rummel said...

Great post.


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