Thursday, March 20, 2014

Review: Kershaw Cryo [EDC Pocket Knife]

Kershaw Cryo EDC Pocket Knife: Product Link
Kershaw Cryo EDC Pocket Knife: Product Link
The Kershaw Cryo has been out for about a couple years now. This is a model I put off buying because it has received such mixed reviews. But it does look very appealing, and the Hinderer design gives it "street cred" so I eventually caved in and purchased one from Amazon. The wife liked the Kershaw Brawler I had given to my son in law, so I ordered a Brawler to go with the Cryo. My wife is disabled and has a hard time opening and closing pocket knives.

Product Description


If you like pocket knives, then you have probably at least heard of the Cryo which is a collaboration between Kershaw and Hinderer. Kershaw makes some great products (i.e. "flippers"), so most enthusiasts like myself pay attention to their new products. The Cryo features 8Cr13MoV Chinese steel that you will find on lower end knives and is actually pretty decent steel for an EDC knife. It holds an edge reasonably well and is easy to sharpen.

Other notable features include all steel construction with a frame lock mechanism and assisted opening via their SpeedSafe technology. It also comes with a deep carry clip that can be moved around for tip up and tip down carry. It comes out of the box configured for tip down carry. This knife appears to be intended for enthusiasts.

Official Specs (From Amazon)

  • Steel: 8Cr13MoV, Titanium carbo-nitrade coating
  • Handle: 8Cr13MoV, Titanium carbo-nitride coating
  • Blade Length: 2 3/4 inches; Closed Length: 3 3/4 inches
  • Tip up or tip down pocket clip
  • Speed safe and flipper opening systems; Frame lock locking system

Kershaw Cryo EDC Pocket Knife: Shown With Nitecore SRT3 Flashlight, Casio Watch and Victorinox Executive Pocket Knife

Kershaw Cryo EDC Pocket Knife Product View 1

Kershaw Cryo EDC Pocket Knife Product View 2

Kershaw Cryo EDC Pocket Knife Product View 3

Kershaw Cryo EDC Pocket Knife Product View 4

Kershaw Cryo EDC Pocket Knife Product View 5

Kershaw Cryo EDC Pocket Knife Product View 6
Kershaw Cryo EDC Pocket Knife: Top View

Kershaw Cryo EDC Pocket Knife: Bottom View

Kershaw Cryo EDC Pocket Knife: Closeup Of Logos

Kershaw Cryo EDC Pocket Knife: Closeup Of Flipper

Kershaw Cryo EDC Pocket Knife: Another Closeup Of Logo

Initial Impressions


Right out of the box I noticed the blade was way off center. At the time I didn't realize it was because the pivot screw was finger-loose. I could feel the blade rubbing against the frame. But it still had a nice feel flicking it open with the assist. The all-steel design makes it feel really authoritative when it opens. Even with some immediate issues, I could still see the appeal of this model. The frame lock engages nice and solid. Whatever other issues this knife has, there's no doubt about the lock. This thing is staying open.


Fit and Finish


Overall, unacceptable, but just barely. The pivot screw on mine came loose out of the box, with the blade horribly off center. And the jimping on the bottom near the frame lock is really rough around the edges and shows tool marks on almost all of it. Other than that, the rest of it is fine fit and finish-wise. I've always been a fan of Kershaw, and I can tell that they at least tried to give the Cryo a good fit and finish.

Kershaw Cryo EDC Pocket Knife: Showing Off Center Blade

Blade


I really like how they did the blade on the Cryo. Kershaw is the master of flipper style pocket knives and it really shows here. It's the typical hollow grind blade, sure, but they've made it look aggressive without taking any functionality away. The 8Cr13MoV steel is also typical of a budget knife, but they've given it a nice coating. Mine came with a good edge on it, and it comes to a nice, sharp tip.

The pivot screw on the Cryo uses a T8 Torx screw. Mine finger loose and was the reason the blade was so off center.

Kershaw Cryo EDC Pocket Knife: Closeup Of Blade 1

Kershaw Cryo EDC Pocket Knife: Closeup Of Blade 2

Handle


The handle is solid steel and just like the blade, coated with Titanium carbo-nitrade. There is no liner needed because the frame is the liner. Unlike other high end frame locks, there is no scale on one side of the knife. Good, I've never liked the look of those single scale knives. The grip probably suffers a little because of that fact, but that's fine.

Speaking of grip, there is some jimping on the bottom of the frame. My sample was machined poorly--the jimping looks really rough, and the the tool marks are obvious when I look closely at it.

The frame on this knife is nice and thick. This was designed to be a robust knife, and my sample succeeds in that goal. If it's a little rough around the edges, then it's solid where it counts.

Kershaw Cryo EDC Pocket Knife: Split View Closed

Kershaw Cryo EDC Pocket Knife: View Of Handle

Clip


The Cryo features a deep carry clip that can be configured for tip up or tip down carry. It comes out of the box set to tip down carry, which is a curious choice given that this is a knife for enthusiasts. All my other Kershaws came that way so at least they are consistent.

Normally the first thing I do with a knife like this is move the clip into tip up position. Unfortunately the T7 Torx clip screws on my Cryo are so tight, it stripped my USA made Craftsman Torx driver which now needs to go back to Sears. The irony wasn't lost on me that the pivot screw came so loose it was about to fall off, where the clip screws are so tight that they wasted what I thought was a good quality driver.

So for the time being, my Cryo will stay in tip down position until I dig up a new T7 Torx driver.

Kershaw Cryo EDC Pocket Knife: View Of Clip 1

Kershaw Cryo EDC Pocket Knife: View Of Clip 2

Kershaw Cryo EDC Pocket Knife: View Of Torx T7 and T8 Craftsman Drivers
Shown with T7 and T8 Craftsman Torx Drivers.


Lockup


This is a frame lock knife in the tradition of more expensive models. The frame lock is probably the strongest locking mechanism you can get, as long as it's done right. My sample looks done right, hitting about 50% of the width of the blade on the frame. This is a nice, robust lock.

Deploying the blade takes a little more effort because this is a decently heavy knife, but to most people it's just going to feel solid. Out of the box, the blade rubbed the frame and the lockup didn't feel too hot. But after messing with the pivot screw, the lockup feels great when I deploy the blade. I can definitely see some of the attraction of this design.

Kershaw Cryo EDC Pocket Knife: Closeup Of Frame Lock

Usability


In daily use the pivot loosens and gradually makes the blade off center until it starts rubbing the frame. Tightening the pivot screw brings the blade back to center. This is all well and good, but when the blade is at perfect center, the blade is frozen in place. To free up the blade makes it off center, and what's worse, the pivot screw is loose enough at this point to loosen on its own, fueling a vicious cycle which I've seen a couple other reviews of the Cryo mention.

Other than being high maintenance, and other than carrying the knife tip-down because my screwdriver broke trying to switch the clip, it's not a bad knife to carry. It's a little heavy for me personally, but lots of other people like carrying a more solid knife like this, and solid it is.

With tip-up carry and without the pivot issue, I would like this knife a lot more. As it stands, this is one that I mostly carry just for variety.


Conclusions


Great design, the implementation ... not so much. It's almost like they thought that having a Hinderer design automatically made it a good knife. Psst--you still have to build it. The Cryo isn't an awful knife, it's just probably not the knife that Kershaw set out to build, and that the people wanted. It looks wicked, and it feels sturdy. But the pivot is flawed, and the knife itself is rough around the edges. I'm a collector so I don't regret buying it, but if I was looking at the Cryo as a serious EDC, then I would keep looking. My Skyline doesn't have the 'cool factor' of the cryo, and the Brawler is even a little plain by comparison. If you are looking at flippers, Kershaw still gives you lots of good choices. The Kershaw Skyline doesn't have the assisted opening like the Cryo (or Brawler) but at about the same price, the USA-made Skyline is in a whole different league. There's also the Cryo II. It's a little bigger and supposed to be better made. The thing is though, the Cryo is the perfect EDC size. What I really want is just a well made Cryo. Maybe someday.

A funny thing happened with the Cryo. The more I play around with it, the more it makes me want a high end frame lock knife. If you're an enthusiast who doesn't mind busting out a Torx driver now and again, this probably isn't a bad knife. I don't personally mind having to futz around with tools, so my Cryo will probably be a work in progress. I hear you can put a 9mm shell casing in place of the locking disk.

Gallery


Kershaw Cryo EDC Pocket Knife: Shown With Kershaw Brawler - Closed

Kershaw Cryo EDC Pocket Knife: Shown With Kershaw Brawler - Open
The Cryo shown with its cousin the Kershaw Brawler

From Top: Kershaw Skyline, Kershaw Cryo Kershaw Brawler, Spyderco Native and SanRenMu GB-763
From Top: Kershaw Skyline, Cryo and Brawler, Spyderco Native and SanRenMu GB-763

Kershaw Cryo EDC Pocket Knife Next To Ruler

Kershaw Cryo EDC Pocket Knife On Scale

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