Kershaw 5520 Malt Assist Knife Review

Kershaw was established in 1974 and has been designing and creating fantastic knives ever since. When they founded the company, they had the drive to create and manufacture tools that knife users would be proud to own, carry, and use. To satisfy their drive, Kershaw is sure to use appropriate, high quality materials and they are dedicated to intensive craftsmanship. Something that Kershaw has accomplished is that when you purchase one of their knives or tools, you will be able to own that product for a lifetime, because Kershaw products last decades.

One of Kershaw’s goals is a commitment to innovation. Kershaw has actually pioneered many of the technologies and advanced materials that are now the standard in the knife community. Some of these innovative technologies include the SpeedSafe assisted opening knives, the knives that have interchangeable blades because of their Blade Traders, and one of their newer technologies is the Composite Blade Technology. This last one is where they combine two different steel types to give you the best of both worlds. Kershaw explains that they can use a steel known for edge retention on the edge, but then use a steel known for strength on the spine of the knife. This way, you don’t have to compromise with strength or with edge retention on your blade.

Kershaw is actually a sub brand of Kai USA Ltd. Kai is also strongly committed to innovation while designing, creating, and manufacturing their knives. For more than 100 years, Kai has even been Japan’s leading blade producer.

Kershaw knows that if this is the first of their knives that you have purchased, you will be back. And if this is not your first, you already understand how quality, durable, and innovative their knives are. One of Kershaw’s newest releases is called the Malt.

Kershaw Malt
Kershaw Malt

The Blade:

The blade on the Malt is made out of 8Cr13MoV steel. This is a Chinese produced steel that actually comes from a series of steels. All of the steels in this series are known as Cr steels. The best in the series is the 9Cr steel, with 8Cr falling close behind. There are Cr steels less than 8, but it would be a waste of money and your time. 8Cr steel is comparable to AUS 8 steel. However, it is more prone to rusting or corroding than AUS 8 steel is. The 8Cr steel is also softer than AUS 8 steel. Because it is a softer steel, this steel is easily sharpened. Almost any beginner sharpener would be excellent at sharpening the 8Cr steel. It is a good thing that this steel is easily sharpened, because 8Cr steel does not retain its edge as well as a high quality steel would. One of the biggest advantages to having your blade made out of 8Cr13MoV steel is that it is an extremely inexpensive steel, which helps to keep the cost of the overall knife lower. While this steel is not the best steel that you can find, it does make a great option if you are on a tight budget. And, the better that the steel is heat treated, the higher quality this type of steel will be.

The steel on this knife is finished with a PVD coating. This is a Physical Vapor Deposition. This process is done by introducing the steel to a material vapor that can be reacted with different gases to form a thin coating. This process is completed in a vacuum environment. Some of the advantages to this type of coating is that because of how it is applied, you won’t get a buildup of your coating around the corners or edges, like some of the other types of coatings. Because the coating provides a barrier between the steel and the environment and air, this type of finish with prolong the life of the blade by preventing corrosion and rust. The higher the quality of the coating (PVD is a high quality coating) the more expensive it will be. However, the higher the quality of the coating, the more corrosion resistant the blade will be and it will have a better chance at lowering reflection. Because of this coating, maintenance type will be significantly cut down. The coating on the Malt creates a dark grey color. The blade is actually two toned, with part of it being dark grey and another part looking much more reflective and silver. The two tone look creates a very distinctive look to the Malt.

The steel on this knife has been carved into a modified tanto blade shape. The tanto blade shape has no curves and is instead made up of straight lines and sharp angles. Tanto’s aren’t meant to be used for everyday knives, but this modified tanto is going to be able to get the job done. Because the tip is thicker and carries more steel towards the tip, the point is very strong. It can dig, pry, and hammer while also being able to cut. Tanto’s also excel at piercing, even through some of the hardest materials. There are a couple of drawbacks to the tanto shape, one is that the tip is hard to control, so you aren’t going to want to perform detail work with this blade. Another drawback is that there is a lack of belly, making slicing a little bit trickier. However, on this modified tanto, while there is no curved belly, the angle towards the tip starts further back and will allow you to slice enough. The Malt has been designed as a great everyday knife and the modified tanto blade shape will help you get all your daily tasks done.

 

The Handle:

The handle on the Malt is made out of steel. This is a durable material that has great corrosion resistant properties. However, it is one of the heavier knife handle materials, and it will weigh the knife down considerably. A steel blade is also known for being pretty slick, so Kershaw had to get creative with how they added texture. The handle of this knife is also two toned, with the silver part being raised above the dark grey part. Because of this, you get more grip than you would have. The silver part also has grooves going down the length of the handle, which also work to add grip. There is light jimping on the bottom edge of the handle towards the butt. Kershaw has also added a deep finger groove into the handle, to provide you with a solid grip during harder tasks.

The handle has also been finished with a PVD coating. This is what has created the dark grey color to the handle. It also ensures that your handle will be a little more resistant to corroding or rusting, while also cutting down on the reflective properties that steel normally features.

Kershaw Malt, Back View
Kershaw Malt, Back View

The Pocket Clip:

The clip on the Malt is black, adding contrast against the two toned handle. There are pre-drilled holes in the handle that slows the user to reverse the pocket clip in four different directions. You can carry your knife tip up or tip down and also carry it left or right handed, helping to make this knife an ambidextrous option. This pocket clip is held in place by two small, black screws.

 

The Mechanism:

This is a flipper knife. The flipper is a protrusion on the back of the blade that the user can pull back on, which then flips the blade out of the handle in a quick and easy manner. The Malt features Kershaw’s classic SpeedSafe Assisted Opening mechanism. This mechanism allows you to open your knife quickly and safely. One of the many benefits of a flipper knife is that it keeps your fingers safe and out of the way during the entire process.

The Malt also sports a Frame Lock, which is a portion of the handle that moves behind the blade to lock it into position during use. This is a safety feature of the knife, because with it, you won’t have to worry about your knife folding shut, onto your hand, in the middle of use.

 

The Specs:

The blade on the Malt is 3 inches long. When this knife is opened, it measures sin at 7.1 inches long, with a closed length of 4.3 inches long. This knife weighs 4.6 ounces. This knife was designed by one of the most sought after custom knife makers: Gustavo Cecchini. He is known for his innovative knife technologies as well as the striking lines of his custom designs, which you can clearly see in the unique look of the Malt. The Malt features Gustavo’s classic sculpted style, but does sport a little something extra.

 

The Extras:

This knife actually doubles as a bottle opener. The flipper protrusion on this knife isn’t the typical sharks fin shape. It actually looks just like any bottle opener would. Because of this unique bottle opener shape, the flipper is able to open any bottle. Kershaw has said that this knife, “also has an interesting feature that (we admit) just may have been inspired by the fine brew we were sharing with Gus at the time”.

 

The Pros of the Kershaw Malt:

  • The steel chosen for this blade is extremely inexpensive, helping to make this knife affordable.
  • The steel on the blade is a breeze to sharpen.
  • The PVD coating helps to prevent rusting and corrosion.
  • The PVD coating helps to cut down on reflections and glares.
  • The PVD coating won’t build up around the corners and edges of your blade and handle, because of the unique way that it is applied to the steel.
  • The modified tanto blade shape provides you with a very durable and strong tip, that can also dig, pry, and hammer.
  • The modified tanto blade shape also provides you with a partial belly that isn’t normally found on a tanto blade.
  • The steel handle is durable and strong.
  • The handle is also very resistant to rusting and corroding.
  • The pocket clip is reversible in four different directions, helping to make this knife ambidextrous friendly.
  • The flipper mechanism is efficient while keeping your hand safe during opening.
  • The flipper mechanism allows you to open your knife with just one hand.
  • The Malt sports Kershaw’s SpeedSafe Assisted Opening mechanism
  • The Malt features a Frame Lock, which is a great safety feature.
  • The flipper “fin” is actually a bottle opener, so this knife not only can complete all of your daily tasks, but also help you celebrate with a cold one.

 

The Cons to the Kershaw Malt:

  • The steel chosen for the blade is not a high quality steel.
  • The steel is very soft, so it does not hold an edge for long periods of time.
  • The steel chosen for the blade is not super resistant to corrosion.
  • Because the finish on the blade and handle is a coating finish, it will eventually scratch off.
  • The modified tanto blade shape will allow you to slice some, but it is not going to excel at slicing like a drop or clip point shape would.
  • The steel handle will add significant weight to the Malt.
  • The steel handle is not super grip-y.

 

Conclusion:

Kershaw has been known to break the mold and think outside of the box. They have thought up plenty of innovative ideas that have since become the classic standard in the knife world. Because of this, you know that when you purchase a Kershaw knife, you are getting the most modern ideas and your knife will be able to last a lifetime.

The Malt has been designed as a great everyday knife, with a great blade coating to add corrosion and rust resistant properties. You can get your Malt here. The modified tanto blade shape will help you get almost any job done, and as an extremely strong tip. The steel handle is strong and durable, not likely to rust or corrode any time soon. But one of the best aspects of the Malt is that the flipper “fin” actually doubles as a bottle opener. This knife is truly going to help you with almost any task.

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Kershaw Emerson CQC-5K Knife Review — Quick Review

Kershaw Emerson CQC-5K
Kershaw Emerson CQC-5K

The next installment in the Kershaw Emerson collaboration series features the classic attention to detail and manufacturing excellence you expect from a Kershaw knife along with the design elements that make Emerson knives so incredibly useful in everyday life.  The CQC-5K features olive drab handle scales of G10.  This linerlock knife all the cutting versatility you can imagine from a clip point blade.  And as a kicker, the blade has a black oxide finish for a slightly tactical look, but even more important, it offers an extra layer of corrosion resistance to the stainless steel blade.  Throw in the Emerson “wave feature” and you have a knife that opens fast and is ready for action with a quick pull from the pocket.

If you haven’t had a chance to see the “wave feature” in action, it is something to behold.  As you pull the knife from your pocket, you angle the pull back just a bit more than normal.  This allows the small hook, or “wave feature” to catch on the top corner of your pocket.  As you continue the pull, the blade actually pulls open.  This allows you to have a fully opened and engaged blade as soon as you have the blade out of your pocket.  Definitely a fantastic feature on a manual knife.

 If you have been looking for a manual knife the new CQC line of collaborative knives from Kershaw and Emerson is certainly one to check out.  These knives are relatively inexpensive.  They are built from materials that are going to last a lifetime with proper care.  The “wave feature” turns a manual knife into something special.  Plus they look fantastic.  Check out the CQC-5K on our website here.  Let me know all about your new Kershaw Emerson down below. 

SPECIFICATIONS: 

  • Designed by Emerson, built by Kershaw
  • Thumb disk; “waved shaped opening feature”
  • Manual opening
  • Liner lock
  • Reversible pocketclip (left/right)
  • Steel: 8Cr13MoV, black-oxide coating
  • Handle: Textured G-10
  • Blade length: 3 in. (7.6 cm)
  • Closed length: 4 in. (10.2 cm)
  • Weight: 3.7 oz. (104.9 g)
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Kershaw Emerson CQC-1K Knife Review — Quick Review

Kershaw CQC-1K Knife
Kershaw Emerson CQC-1K Knife

The newest release in the wildly popular Kershaw Emerson collaboration knives, the CQC-1K stinger knife gives you all the advantages of a high end Emerson knife at an extremely budget concious price.  Built with a black oxide finished blade that protects and keeps things low key, the CQC-1K boasts a textured black G10 front handle scale along with a stainless steel black oxide finished back handle scale.

The blade, like all the knives in this series, opens smooth with the “wave feature”.  This mechanism allows you to catch the spine of the blade on the edge of your pocket as you withdraw the knife from your pocket.  As the blade spine “catches” on your pocket, it pulls the blade into the open position so by the time you have withdrawn the knife fully, it is open and in the locked open position.  The blade locks in place with a solid frame lock.  Alternatively, you can open the blade with the thumb plate attached to the spine of the blade.

The modified and elongated clip blade gives you an extremely functional blade for everyday cutting purposes.  A full 3″ blade allows you to get all your daily cuts done whatever your needs may be.

Comes with a tip up, right handed pocket clip.  You can find this new Kershaw knife on our website here.  The product code is KS6094BLK.  Let me know what you think of yours below.


SPECIFICATIONS: 

  • Designed by Emerson, built by Kershaw
  • Thumb disk; “waved shaped opening feature”
  • Manual opening
  • Frame lock
  • Reversible pocketclip (left/right)
  • Steel: 8Cr13MoV, black-oxide coating
  • Handle: G-10 front, 410 black-oxide coated back
  • Blade length: 3 in. (7.6 cm)
  • Closed length: 3.9 in. (9.9 cm)
  • Weight: 2.6 oz. (73.7 g)
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Kershaw Knockout Assist Knife Review

Kershaw Knockout Assist
Kershaw Knockout Assist Knife with Olive Green Handle Scales

The Kershaw Knockout has been around for a while.  This year, Kershaw released their newest variation which includes an Olive Green anodized handle and a black DLC coated plain blade.  The new look is fantastic.

What is the Knockout?  Quite simply, it is a smooth operating assist knife that will satisfy your demands for a high quality, every day carry knife.  The anodized aluminum handle scales have an inset stainless steel plate that creates a frame lock that Kershaw has called the Sub-Frame Lock.  An ingenious design, it creates a solid framelock that will last for a very long time since the pressure of locking the blade is on the stainless steel plate instead of softer aluminum.

The Knockout uses the classic Kershaw SpeedSafe assist system.  Just push down the flipper and the blade gets going in a hurry.  It snaps out and then locks up via the sub-frame lock.  You can also use the generously sized thumb studs to open the knife–but I prefer the flipper.

My favorite part about this USA made knife is the size.  It is amazingly thin.  If you have ever held one of the old Kershaw Breakout Automatic knives–it is thin like that.  Which makes it nice for pocket carry–it doesn’t take up a bunch of real estate in your pocket.  So if you have been looking to upgrade from that Pocket Garbage™ you are currently carrying, think about picking up the new Olive Green Kershaw Knockout Assist Knife.  And let me know what you think of yours down below.

SPECIFICATIONS:

  • SpeedSafe Assisted Opening
  • Made in the USA
  • 4 Position Deep Carry Pocket Clip
  • Steel: Sandvik 14C28N stainless steel, DLC Coating
  • Handle: 6061 T6 Aluminum, Olive Green Anodized
  • Blade Length: 3 1/4-in.
  • Closed Length: 4 5/8 in.
  • Overall Length: 7 7/8 in.
  • Weight: 3.4 oz.
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30 Days with the Kershaw Blur — Knife Review

Kershaw Blur Assist Knife
Kershaw Blur Assist Knife–30 Days with Knife Review

When I opened my new Kershaw Blur, I noticed several things I immediately liked about it.  This being a Ken Onion design, it is built with the knife user in mind.  This is no fancy knife that can’t be carried and used.  This is a hard charging, built to perform knife that is ready for action when you pull it out of the box.  I immediately noticed the Trac-Tec grip tape inserts in the handle.  These feel just a bit spongy when pressed with a finger tip and are extremely grippy.  In another life, I rode skateboards.  Each skateboard deck has grip tape on it.  What you are looking for in grip tape is one that will keep your feet from slipping but won’t scratch the living daylights out of your hands when you grab your board in the middle of a jump or trick.  Same deal with a knife.  And putting my hands on the Trac-Tec grip tape insert, I can tell you–there is grip tape and then there is Trac-Tec.  This stuff is amazing.  It is soft enough that it doesn’t scratch and pull at your hand.  But the texture really gives your hand a solid purchase on the handle.  The next thing I noticed was how fast the blade opens when the thumb studs are activated.  A slight start is all it needs and the blade comes blazing out and locks up nice and tight.

Day 2 

Kershaw Blur
Kershaw Blur–Trac Tec Insert

I chose to carry the 1670OLBLK.  This means it has a black tactical blade along with a dark olive green handle.  Here are some basics about the knife.  The blade is Sandvik 14C28N stainless steel with a DLC coating.  If you aren’t sure what DLC means–it means a Diamond Like Coating.  It is a fairly durable black finish is reasonably hard and scratch resistant.  It will scratch, but not easily.  The handle is 6061-T6 anodized aluminum.  In the case of my knife, it is olive drab.  But the Blur is also available with handle colors of black, red and desert sand.  The cheat sheet of specs is as follows–direct from the Kershaw Website.

  • Made in the USA
  • SpeedSafe assisted opening
  • Liner lock
  • Thumbstud
  • Reversible (tip-up/tip-down, right) pocketclip
  • Steel: Sandvik 14C28N, DLC coating
  • Handle: 6061-T6 anodized aluminum, Trac-Tec inserts
  • Blade length: 3 3/8 in. (8.6 cm)
  • Closed length: 4 1/2 in. (11.4 cm)
  • Overall length: 7 7/8 in. (20 cm)
  • Weight: 3.9 oz.

The SpeedSafe system, if you don’t know much about it, is Kershaw’s proprietary spring assist system.  It opens fast.  I have had three Kershaw knives with the SpeedSafe and have been pleased with each one.  One of the selling points for me was the fact that this is a USA made knife.  A definite plus in my estimation.

DAY 7

Kershaw Blur Blade
Kershaw Blur Blade–Recurve Plain Edge, Black Finish

So what I noticed quickly was how sharp the blade is on my Kershaw Blur.  I haven’t ever had a blade with this shape belly before.  If you are wondering what a blade belly is, check out my blog post from last week on Quick Knife Terms.  The belly shape makes this a great knife for slicing actions.  So with that in mind, I set to work slicing everything I could put my hands on.  From apples to cardboard to little odds and ends around the office, I sliced a bit of everything.  Here is what I quickly noticed.  When I put the blade on the item to be sliced, I would place the part of the blade that is closest to my hand right on the item.  From there, I would pull.  The slight belly would “bite” on the item as I pulled the blade towards my self.  It would bite deeply into the item and slice it just like I wanted.  So I quickly realized, what the experts say about a belly on a blade is true.  It actually assists you in slicing cuts.  And the blade on my Blur sliced like a professional.  After several days of slicing, it still is cutting with no issues.

DAY 12

Kershaw Blur Knife
Kershaw Blur Knife–Side View

The thumb ramps on the Blur are different than any thumb studs I have ever had before.  They are angled.  Oddly enough, at first I really liked this.  Then I went through about a week where I didn’t like it. Now I am back to liking it.  Here is what happened.  When you put your thumb on these studs, the angle makes for a very natural thumb placement.  The pad of your thumb gets a solid spot to rest and as you flick your thumb forward and up (the same motion you used back when you were shooting a marble as a kid) the blade snaps right open.  This is especially nice for me.  About 10 years ago I shot a 3.5″ framing nail through the joint on my thumb.  It healed ok, but I only have about 80% strength in the thumb.  Some spring assists are hard for me to operate because of this.  Not the Blur.  It is the easiest I have ever put my hands on.  Then after a couple of days, I noticed I had several scratches on the back of my hand.  I couldn’t figure out what was going on at first.  Then I realized, the edge on the thumb studs was catching the back of my hand as I put my hand into my pocket where the Blur was resting.  For about a week, I thought it was going to be a deal breaker.  I was in love with the knife, but if it was going to slice my hand up–no joy.  But after a week, I noticed I wasn’t getting cut anymore.  Upon further study, I realized two things had solved the problem.  I had begun to put my hand into my pocket at just a slightly different angle.  And, over the now, 14 days of use, the thumb studs had smoothed just slightly.  Not a ton, but just enough that they don’t snag my hand anymore.  So problem solved.

DAY 17

Kershaw Blur Knife
Kershaw Blur Knife–Pocket Clip

The pocket clip on the Blur is in a normal position on the knife.  By this I mean that it isn’t a deep carry pocket clip.  Tip down or tip up, the pocket clip can be set either way.  I use it tip down.  I like the clip.  It is a bit wider than many pocket clips.  The knife also has a lanyard hole.

DAY 23

Had a bit of box work to do at work today. While I was at it, I figured I would cut a bunch of cardboard to see if the blade would stay sharp.  The blade performs extremely well when the material being cut is supported.  I noticed this the other day when I was cutting some thin branches off trees. It cuts extremely well when slicing. It works just as well on slice cuts whether you are pushing or pulling.

DAY 30

Kershaw Blur Knife
Kershaw Blur Knife–Spine View

If you are looking for a high quality assist knife, the Kershaw Blur definitely fits the bill.  Built tough with high quality materials, the knife is certain to quickly become an EDC favorite for you.  The handle is relatively thin and very comfortable due to the Trac-Tec insert.  The liner lock is plenty strong.  The assist mechanism is blazing fast.  The the blade is fantastic.  The pocket clip goes tip up or tip down–whichever you prefer.  And the knife is available in a variety of handle colors and blade finishes.  Don’t forget to check out the newest Blur with a blackwash finish blade.  Find your favorite Kershaw Blur on our website here.  And let me know what you think of yours down below.

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