Kershaw Cathode Knife Review

Kershaw Cathode
Kershaw Cathode
Kershaw Cathode

There really is nothing like a Kershaw. From award-winning technologies and advanced materials to the solid sound of the blade lockup, when you’re carrying a Kershaw, you know you’re carrying the real thing. The real thing means value and plenty of it. With Kershaw, you get incredible bang for your hard-earned buck. Kershaw says, “Even our inexpensive models are impressive. In fact, everything about a Kershaw is solid, crafted, reliable. That’s why we can back each of our knives for the life of its original owner against any defects in materials and construction with our famous Limited Lifetime Warranty. And yes, people do own their Kershaw knives for a lifetime. (Although, occasionally, a Kershaw has been known to get accidentally left at a campsite, lost in the garage, or permanently borrowed by a friend.) The point is, you can always look to Kershaw for everyday carrying knives that can tame any cardboard box and liberate any purchase from its plastic packaging, sporting knives that make hunting, fishing, watersports, and camping even better, work knives that won’t let you down, and tactical knives that ensure you’re ready for anything.”
Kershaw was founded in 1974 with the mission to design and manufacture tools that knife users would be proud to own, carry, and use. This has meant that every Kershaw knife must be of the highest quality. Whether it’s a hardworking pocketknife, a hunting knife, or a special collectors’ edition, Kershaw always chooses appropriate, high-quality materials and is dedicated to intensive craftsmanship. Along with extremely tight tolerances and state-of-the-art manufacturing techniques, this ensures that Kershaw knives provide a lifetime of performance.

Kershaw also has a commitment to innovation. Kershaw pioneered the use of many of the technologies and advanced materials that are today standard in the knife industry. Kershaw says, “Our SpeedSafe assisted opening knives were first-to-market. We introduced the concept of knives with interchangeable blades in our Blade Traders. Recently, our Composite Blade technology, which combines two steels into one blade, gives knife users the best of both worlds by enabling us to use steel known for edge retention on the edge and steel known for strength on the spine. And we will keep on innovating, bringing new and better technologies and materials to today’s knife making industry and knife-using public.”

Today we will be discussing the Kershaw Cathode which is an assisted opening knife.


The Blade:

The blade on this knife is made out of 4Cr14 steel. This is a value priced steel that is incredibly stain resistant. It has been hardened to an HRC of 55-57. This is a Chinese steel that is known for being a budget steel. While it is going to get the job done, it is not going to do much more than that. It will be tough enough, barely. It will be strong enough, barely. It will maintain its edge, but not for long periods of time. The biggest advantage that this steel can give you is the low cost, which does keep the overall cost of the knife down.

The blade has been finished with a stonewashed finish. Kershaw creates this steel by tumbling the blade with ceramic “stones” that give the blade surface a desirable roughened or scuffed look. The look can be pronounced or subtle, but either way, it will preserve the original look of the blade through time. This is because this finish works to hide scratches, smudges, and fingerprints that accumulate overtime. The finish gives the knife a very rugged, well-worn look. For the Cathode, it gives the knife a very futuristic look.

The blade on this knife has been carved into a tanto blade shape. Something unique about the tanto blade shape is that it is not meant to be an all-purpose knife. This blade shape has been designed to do one thing and to do that one thing really well. The tanto blade shape has been designed to pierce through tough materials. This blade shape is similar in style to Japanese long and short swords, which were designed to pierce through armor. In the 1980s, Cold steel revamped the shape and popularized it. The blade shape is made up of a high point with a flat grind. These characteristics are going to lead to a very strong point that is going to excel at stabbing, especially hard materials. The blade does have a lot of excess metal near the tip, which makes it capable of absorbing the repeated impact from piercing through hard materials that would cause most other knives to break. Something else that is unique about this blade shape is that the front edge of the knife shape meets the spine at an angle, instead of the typical curve. This means that the blade is not going to have a belly, because you get the stronger tip instead. While this knife is not going to equip you for any task, it is going to equip you to take on any tough material that needs to be pierced through.

The Handle:

The handle is made out of stainless steel. An alloy of iron and carbon, most steel also has additional elements alloyed in it to enhance specific characteristics. Stainless steels contain chromium to enable them to withstand rusting. Stainless steel is going to provide the knife with high durability as well as being very resistant to corrosion. However, this material is not lightweight and is going to add significant weight to the handle. Because the knife is smaller, it should not be an out of control weight, but it definitely will have some heft to it. That being said, stainless steel does not come with much texture and the manufacturer will have to add in grooves or etchings to provide the knife with significant friction.

This is what the cathode excels at. The manufacturer has carved in plenty of geometric shapes, which provide plenty of texture. The handle has also been stonewashed, which matches the blade well. The handle has a spine that is straight for about 2/3 of the way until it angles down towards the butt. This angle is equipped with a row of jimping that will add even more grip. The belly of the handle has a large finger guard that is only enhanced by the flipper on it. The finger groove that follows is elongated and shallow, but does have a row of jimping to give an even better grip. The knife is more angels than curves, which match the geometric patterns on the handle. The butt is squared off. This knife does not have a lanyard hole.

The Pocket Clip:

The pocket clip is reversible for either left or right handed carry. This helps to make the knife fully ambidextrous and most comfortable for anyone who wants to use the knife. The clip can only be attached for tip up carry, which is the more dangerous way to carry the knife. This is because if the knife accidentally comes open in your pocket and you reach into it, you may get cut. The clip is black, which contrasts with the silver steel of the rest of the knife. The clip is kept in place with two screws which match the rest of the hardware on this knife. The clip is long and tapers towards the end.


The Mechanism:

This is an assisted opening knife, which means that it is not fully automatic or fully manual. You have to begin to open this knife manually before the mechanism engages and it will finish opening automatically. This means that it will open almost as smoothly as the automatic knife, but it does not fall under the strict laws that the automatic knife would. The knife is equipped with a flipper, the Kershaw SpeedSafe Assisted Opening mechanism, and a Frame Lock.

The flipper is a protrusion on the back of the blade that the user can pull back on, or flip, in order to move the blade easily out of the handle. The flipper enables fast and easy one-handed opening. The flipper also makes this knife ambidextrous, which means that it will work easily for either left or right handed people alike. The flipper is also very safe because when you are opening the knife, it keeps your fingers out of the path of the blade, unlike a thumb stud. That being said, it does take a little bit more time to get the hang of opening a knife with a flipper. The first few times, just take it slowly.

The SpeedSafe assisted opening mechanism uses a torsion bar to help move the blade out of the handle. It also works to enable smooth and easy one-handed opening. And no, it does not fall under the definition of a switchblade. Kershaw was the first to bring SpeedSafe® assisted opening knives to market, launching a revolution in opening systems—and winning numerous industry awards along the way. Originally designed by Hall of Fame knife maker, Ken Onion, Kershaw’s SpeedSafe knives flew off the shelves. Today, almost all knife companies offer some sort of assisted opening knife, but none matches the popularity or proven durability of the original. The heart of SpeedSafe is its torsion bar. Closed, the torsion bar helps prevent the knife from being opened by “gravity;” it creates a bias toward the closed position. To open the knife, the user applies manual pressure to the thumb stud or flipper to overcome the resistance of the torsion bar. This enables the torsion bar to move along a track in the handle and assist you to open the knife. The blade opens smoothly and locks into position, ready for use.

In a frame lock knife, the knife handle—its “frame”—consists of two plates of material on either side of the blade. To ensure a secure lock up, one or both of these plates is usually metal. When the knife is opened, the metal side of the frame, the lockbar, butts up against the backend of the blade (the tang) and prevents the blade from closing. To close a frame lock knife, the user pushes the frame to the side, unblocking the blade, and folds the blade back into the handle. Like locking liner knives, frame locks are manufactured so that the locking side of the frame is angled toward the interior of the knife, creating a bias toward the locked position. Both the blade tang and the lockbar are precisely angled so they fit together for a secure, reliable lockup. The thickness of the frame material blocking the blade open makes the frame lock extremely sturdy.


The Specs:

The blade on this knife measures in at 2.25 inches long with a handle that measures in at 3.25 inches long. The overall length of this knife when it is opened measures in at 5.5 inches long. This knife weighs in at a mere 2.7 ounces which is very lightweight. However, this is a shorter knife, so the weight does make sense.



When Kershaw is discussing this knife, they say, “In a battery, the cathode attracts the positive charge. One look at Kershaw’s new Cathode tanto and we predict you’ll have a very positive attraction indeed.

The Cathode isn’t ultra-fancy, just ultra-functional. The 2.25-inch tanto blade is great for slicing and piercing. A top grind adds a touch of style, while heavy jimping on the spine ensures a secure grip—especially when you need to choke up on the blade for detail work. The blade opens with a flipper and our SpeedSafe assisted opening, so one-handed opening is a breeze. And, since it’s a flipper knife, it’s perfect for left- or right-handed users.

The handle is stainless steel, cold-forged with a repeating pattern that’s not only looks good, but also enhances grip. The Cathode locks up securely during use thanks to the solid frame lock. Black hardware, including a backspacer with additional jimping and a reversible pocket clip, sets off the Cathode’s all-steel good looks.” So come on over to BladeOps and pick up the Kershaw Cathode today.






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