Anciently, Japanese women and men of the samurai class once carried the kwaiken blade. Primarily used for self-defense in indoor spaces, the kwaiken had an advantage over the long blade katana and intermediate sword wakizashi in smaller spaces. Women carried them in their kimono, either in a pocket-like space (futokoro) or in the sleeve pouch (tamoto), for self-defense purposes.
Today, the modern kwaiken also serves as a great self-defense tool for men and women everywhere. Its slim profile, and durable design are perfect in this realm.
As a smaller version of the katana or even the wakizashi, the Boker Kwaiken is still an impressive knife. Below is a list of all the specifications you need to know before getting a modern twist on an ancient classic.
- Product Type: Flipper
- Locking Mechanism: Liner Lock
- Overall Length: 8.38″
- Weight: 4.45 oz.
- Handle Length: 4.88”
- Blade Length: 3.50″
- Blade Thickness: 0.130″
- Blade Steel: VG-10
- Blade Edge: Plain
- Blade Style: Straight Back
- Blade Finish: Black
- Handle Material: G-10
- Handle Color: Black
- Sheath Included: No
- Pocket Clip: Tip-Up
Even though this blade has been around for many generations, it is best to cover the basics of the knife and the new modernized additions to the Kwaiken.
Burnley Knives was founded in 2003 by Lucas Burnley in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Their mission is to “create custom knives with a superlative level of design and function utilizing ever evolving techniques and materials.” Much of Burnley’s inspiration comes from spending time with his father, time out among Mother Nature, and action packed survival stories and films. Over the years, he has experimented with a range of styles to combine classical knife designs with modern materials and techniques.
The Boker Kwaiken opens with a “flipper.” The flipper is that part of the blade that protrudes near the knife spine when the blade is closed. One advantage to having a flipper is when the blade is opened, it acts as an additional finger support when gripping the handle. It also, depending on the size, can serve as an extra way to protect your fingers when cutting. When proficiently skilled, a user can open a flipper knife in the blink of an eye. As the user pulls back on the flipper blade protrusion, the ball bearings rotate so that the blade glides out of the handle then locks into place, ready for use. Without the use of a spring or torsion bar to assist the blade out of the handle, the IKBS opening system is a manual opening system that provides a smooth, easy blade opening.
IKBS Ball Bearing Pivot System
One of the new twists to the Boker Kwaiken is the IKBS System. The Ikoma Korth Bearing System (IKBS) is a ball bearing pivot system for folding knives. The IKBS gives an exceptionally fast and smooth opening and closing action without much friction. The pivot requires very little maintenance and has a long service life. It works is by using uncaged ball bearings at the pivot which are held in grooves machined into the folder frame and blade. The IKBS was originally designed to fit in balisong knives, but because of its versatility it can be used in most kinds of folding knives (mainly liner locks and frame locks).
The IKBS system is highly favorable because of its simplicity.
An ordinary bearing is designed to rotate at high-speed for a long period of time and usually with some load applied on it. This required additional hardware such as bearing races and cages. With a simple flipper knife, such as the Boker Kwaiken, it was possible to eliminate those bulky and complex pieces, leaving just the steel balls to rotate the blade. Instead of external races, there are recesses made in the liners to hold the steel balls. And the pivot pin is used as the internal race. The steel balls that make up the IKBS are inexpensive and can be easily replaced without the need of any adjustment, making maintenance quite simple. The IKBS system is slightly adjustable. If any blade play occurs after time, tightening the pivot screw can easily eliminate it.
If you want a knife with a relatively narrow point and yet a curved belly, a straight back blade is the one for you. It is well suited for both thrusting and cutting. There isn’t too much of difference between a straight back and a dropped point. However, a straight back blade is the simplest of blade shapes. The sharp edge starts near the handle and curves towards the tip of the blade. The unsharpened edge continues straight from the handle to the tip. Simple, no? Having a straight back on your knife blade helps improve the strength of the blade. It also makes it ideal for adding thumb pressure when slicing and chopping. The straight dull back won’t hurt your thumb when adding a lot of pressure.
VG-10 Steel isn’t a common steel you hear about. Though it is not used much, the blade steel is still excellent in quality. Sticking with the Japanese theme on the Boker Kwaiken, VG-10 is a cutlery grade stainless steel was originally designed and produced by Takefu Special Steel Co. Ltd., in Japan. It is a high carbon stainless steel containing 1% Carbon, 15% Chromium, 1% Molybdenum, 0.2% Vanadium, 1.5% Cobalt, and 0.5% Manganese. Even though carbon only makes up a relatively small amount of the total material of the blade, it is still a significant amount for stainless steel. The G in the name stands for “gold,” referring to the “gold standard” that this stainless steel is considered to have met. One of the original uses of this steel was in the horticultural industry. This is because of its ability to make clean, grafting cuts. Thus it would not fray or destroy the vessels of the plant. VG-10 was originally aimed at Japanese chefs, but also found its way into sports cutlery. VG-10 is quite capable of retaining an edge, while still being rust resistant. It is preferred by many professional chefs. With VG-10, you also get the hardness of a carbon steel. It is more expensive when compared to other steels such as 440 steels, but is well worth it. All of these qualities of this steel make this knife great for everyday use, plus its ability to take abuse.
The liner lock is one of the most prevalent locking systems used in the knife industry and is the locking mechanism on the Boker Kwaiken. It was invented and patented in 1980 by Michael Walker. A liner lock works by having a section of the liner spring inwards and wedge itself beneath the tang of the blade when it is opened all the way. This locks the blade open between the stop pin and the liner locking mechanism. The liner lock is easy to manufacture and reliable to use. The biggest advantage of the liner lock is the easy one-handed opening and closing. Most other locking methods are not as easy to close one-handed. This type of locking mechanism, in conjunction with the flipper, makes this knife perfect for one-handed use. Not only for right handed people, but for left handed people as well.
The handle on the Boker Kwaiken is full of mysteries, like its origin, that are waiting to be unlocked. Do not let its appearance deceive you. There is a lot more than meets the eye. The handle is quite slim. In fact, it is three quarters of an inch thick in its thinnest spot and grows to just under an inch thick near the pivot area. Though it is slender, its weight is very dense. In total, the knife weighs around four and a half pounds. For such a small knife, the Kwaiken has quite the hefty feel to it.
In addition to the slimness and weight of the Kwaiken, the handle also includes the specially fabricated handle scales. Made from a single G-10 piece, the lower part has a milled, wood-like texture for a neat design and a secure grip. The portion near the pivot is made without this texture to provide a contrasting look from the scales. This special look gives the knife a unique appeal while retaining a natural look.
G-10 or G10 is similar to Micarta and Carbon Fiber and is often used in handles because of its moisture imperviousness. G-10 is a fiberglass based laminate made by layers of fiberglass cloth that are soaked in an epoxy resin, are compressed, and then baked. The result is a material that is hard, lightweight, and strong. The surface of the G-10 is a checkering texture that is added for additional grip support. A unique property of the material is that the grip improves when wet. This material is difficult to break. It is also an ideal handle material because it does not shrink or swell in extreme hot or cold temperatures. Many knife companies prefer to use G-10 because of these properties, but also prefer to use it because it is easy to shape into different designs and has a possibility for an unlimited number of colors. This handle is recommended for knives that are to be used in survival situations. G-10 is considered the toughest of all the fiberglass resin laminates and stronger (though more brittle) than Micarta. Its main advantages include its toughness, its light weight, it is strong and durable, impervious to water, low maintenance, and relatively inexpensive. Though it can be brittle, and occasionally have a cheap plastic feel, G-10 is a fantastic handle material.
As an everyday carry knife, it is important to know how the Boker Kwaiken feels when being carried around all the time. Those criteria include its carry depth, its weight, its thickness and width, and its appearance.
The Boker Kwaiken is comfortable to carry in your pocket. The slim design takes up minimal pocket real-estate. Because of its smaller size, it sacrifices the potential for a really secure and comfortable grip. When closed, the knife is 4.88 inches long. You’ll find that most comfortable carry knives are anywhere between 3.5 to 5 inches long when closed. The knife rests just near the edge that range. Frequently, before any knife purchase, I ask myself, “Will the knife fit in my pant pocket?” But I also ask “Will the knife fall out of my pocket?” The knife is a deep carry knife. The pocket clip allows the majority of the knife to fit within my pocket.
One of the more important aspects to consider when choosing an everyday carry is its weight. One of the worst feelings that can happen on a day to day basis is carrying something heavy in your pocket. A good knife weight ranges anywhere from as little as 3.0 ounces to 5.0 ounces. The Kwaiken barely fits right into this range. It weighs 4.45 ounces. For the size of the knife, I would be careful about getting it if you are sensitive to your pocket weight. But again, it is within this range of comfortable weight. The knife is just dense.
Thickness and Width
Like we mentioned before, the knife is very slim. At most, the knife is just under an inch thick. And the knife is just under half an inch wide from handle scale to handle scale. There is hardly anything to the Kwaiken.
When the knife is closed, it looks pretty conservative, especially with its “wood grain” finish. But when the knife is unleashed, it does have that ancient samurai intimidation to it. It’s as if it says “Be careful, this knife will come after you.”
Boker is constantly coming up with knifes that work well for a decent price. At $135, you will be happy with this purchase. There are many creative minds going into this blade. From the creators of the IKBS System to Lucas Burnley, and from the people over at Boker to the ancient Japanese creators of the kwaiken, the Boker Plus Tactical Kwaiken is a huge hit. You will want this in your armory.