Thursday, October 30, 2014

Review: Kershaw Freefall [EDC Pocket Knife]

Kershaw has come out with a slew of new knives. Some like the new Camber feature made-in-USA quality with better steels. But they didn't forget the budget segment, and we have a bunch of new models like the Swerve (which I recently reviewed) and this Freefall, which I bought from Amazon and I've been carrying the last couple weeks.

Kershaw Frefall EDC Pocket Knife - Product Link
Kershaw Frefall EDC Pocket Knife - Product Link


Product Description


The Freefall is a budget flipper, featuring their SpeedSafe assisted opening technology. It's produced in China using 8Cr13MoV steel and FRN (fiberglass reinforced nylon) scales with a steel liner. Obviously that makes it a liner lock just like their other models in the budget flipper class. Deep carry clip, aggressive texturing on the handle, ergonomic design--Kershaw keeps upping the ante for what people expect from a $20 pocket knife.

From Top: Spyderco Native, Kershaw Freefall, Swerve, Brawler, Skyline, SanRenMu LB-763
From Top: Spyderco Native, Kershaw Freefall, Swerve, Brawler, Skyline, SanRenMu LB-763


Official Specs (From Amazon)


  • Speed Safe assisted opening; Liner lock; Flipper and thumb stud; Reversible pocket clip; deep-carry
  • Steel: 8Cr13MoV, stonewashed finish
  • Handle: Glass-filled nylon, K-Texture grip
  • Blade length: 3 1/4 Inch (8.3 cm); Closed length: 4 1/4 Inch (10.8 cm); Overall length: 7 1/2 Inch (19 cm)
  • Weight: 4.1 ounces

Kershaw Frefall EDC Pocket Knife - Product View 1

Kershaw Frefall EDC Pocket Knife - Product View 2

Kershaw Frefall EDC Pocket Knife - Product View 4

Kershaw Frefall EDC Pocket Knife - Product View 4

Kershaw Frefall EDC Pocket Knife - Product View 5

Kershaw Frefall EDC Pocket Knife - Product View 6

Kershaw Frefall EDC Pocket Knife - Product View 7

Kershaw Frefall EDC Pocket Knife - Product View 8

Kershaw Frefall EDC Pocket Knife - Product View 9

Kershaw Frefall EDC Pocket Knife - With Kershaw Swerve 1Kershaw Frefall EDC Pocket Knife - With Kershaw Swerve 2


Initial Impressions


Since its cousin the Swerve made a pretty good impression on me, I was looking forward to unboxing this Freefall. First off, it's a little sleeker than the Swerve. It has a narrower tanto style blade, but for the most part looks very similar to the Swerve.

I noticed a few differences in the design right away. The Freefall does not have thumb studs, which I like. If you want to take the torsion bar out and make it non-assisted, you probably want the thumb studs. I've also wondered if it helps you if you get hassled by the man for carrying it. But I doubt the authorities are that stupid not to notice that it's an assisted flipper so I don't really see any reason for having the thumb studs on a flipper.

The next thing I noticed: it deploys smooth-as-silk. It's probably the smoothest deploying knife in my collection. The flipper lever is more prominent than others like the Brawler and even its cousin the Swerve.

Build Quality


The build quality of the Freefall (and similar budget Kershaws) is outstanding given that this is a sub-$25 budget knife. My idea of value is that it's the ratio between quality and price, and so I find this model to be a good value. There are lots of good values in this price range, and the Freefall is one of them.

Fit and Finish


Someday I'll buy a Kershaw with a centered blade. I haven't taken one apart yet, but they seem to suffer from the washers (teflon in this case) not being a uniform thickness. This makes the blade sag to one side, making it off center. And since I bought this knife with my own money and it came off some random shelf in whatever mega-warehouse Amazon keeps them in, it's a safe bet that lots of other folks are getting off-center blades like me.

Other than that, my review sample is above average for fit and finish. The roughness I'd expect to see on the steel liners and other areas people normally don't scrutinize aren't there, though the side of the clip is rough as I would expect. In fact, it looks like the liners were buffed until shiny.

The blade finish, FRN liners, jimping, even the screws, all perfect. I could not find one single nick, scratch or tool mark which I would expect to see on a knife in this price range. I guess the Kershaw logo in the clip being stamped non-uniformly could be considered a gripe, but I almost don't count the clips since nobody shows them any love anyway.


Kershaw Frefall EDC Pocket Knife - Blade Off Center
Grrrrr

Blade


The Freefall has a sleek, tanto shaped hollow ground blade made from Chinese 8Cr13MoV steel, which I like for EDC type knives. Mine came with a surprisingly good edge on it with very few flaws.

Someone on my Facebook page mentioned the fact that the fine tip of the tanto blade would not stand up to rigorous use and sharpening, and that's probably correct. Which doesn't mean that this blade isn't suited for EDC, because I think it is. It's just maybe not quite the beater that the Swerve is.

The spine of the blade features about a thumb-full of fairly smooth jimping. It's not as aggressive on this model, or weird like the squiggly jimping on the Swerve. It's functional without scratching your thumb.

Kershaw Frefall EDC Pocket Knife - Blade View 1

Kershaw Frefall EDC Pocket Knife - Blade View 2
Kershaw Frefall EDC Pocket Knife - Blade View 3Kershaw Frefall EDC Pocket Knife - Blade View 4




Self Defense?


I've been pretty vocal that I don't think that knives make the best self defense weapons. But many people do, and if I were to carry a knife for self defense, I think this one would be towards the top of my list. The tanto blade shape was created by the Japanese specifically for this purpose and when you pair that with a smooth assisted deployment in a sturdy package, it's hard to miss how ideal this model would be for that task.

Lockup


The Freefall uses a typical liner lock that you'll find on most of Kershaw's flippers, and most flippers in general. The blade deploys smoothly and locks up solid. Notice in the photo below that the liner is about half the width of the blade itself, which is great. Also notice the difference in the gaps on each side of the blade, which I believe is caused from the washers being different thicknesses. This is what makes the blade off center.
Kershaw Frefall EDC Pocket Knife - Blade Lockup: Top
Kershaw Frefall EDC Pocket Knife - Blade Lockup: Bottom
Nice and Solid








Handle


The handle on this model is sleeker, more curved and a little longer than the Swerve, which didn't fit my hand very well. The Freefall fits my hand much, much better. The longer flipper lever even makes a better blade guard.

And of course who could miss the aggressive texturing made of lots of little Ks. The feel of the FRN material is very grippy. It also puts my hand in a perfect position for putting my thumb on the jimping on the spine of the blade.

Kershaw Frefall EDC Pocket Knife - Handle View 1
Kershaw Frefall EDC Pocket Knife - Handle View 2


Clip


The clip on this model is of the deep carry variety, which can be moved from right to left but can only be carried tip up. But that's fine by me, because 9 out of 10 enthusiasts will want tip up carry. It wasn't so long ago that all Kershaws were coming tip down out of the box. I think Kershaw one day realized who its customers are.

Kershaw keeps experimenting with different clip designs. The Swerve has a unique clip where the clip is secured with a set screw through the handle. The Freefall is slightly different: It has the end of the clip secured by a screw on the butt of the knife.

I'll be honest that I like the Swerve's clip design a little better, though this clip carries a little deeper in the pocket. Most of my beef is that the clip pokes my hand a certain way when I hold the knife. It's not a deal breaker, but it's not ideal either.

And it wouldn't be a Kershaw unless the clip out of the box is tight enough to rip your pants or pull them off when you take the knife out of your pocket.

Kershaw Frefall EDC Pocket Knife - Closeup Of Clip
Clip is on the tight side like pretty much every other Kershaw ever made


Lanyard Attachment


This model has a solid steel insert with fairly aggressive jimping on the back. I'm not sure I understand its design, but it looks cool, and the jimping seems to help the grip a little bit.

Kershaw Frefall EDC Pocket Knife - Closeup Of Lanyard Attachment


Usability


This is a very usable model. We'll see how well it stands up over time and how well the tip stands up to repeated sharpening, but day to day this is a wonderful knife. Of course, it's almost twice as heavy as my Spyderco Delica, but it's also probably more robust with the steel liners and that steel reinforcement block with the lanyard.

I find myself carrying this knife more than I thought I would, just because it's sleek and deploys so smoothly. It carries well and feels great in my hand. Of course the clip is way too tight, but it will loosen over time. Better too tight than too loose ... I guess.

Kershaw Frefall EDC Pocket Knife - In Hand 1
I really like the grip

Kershaw Frefall EDC Pocket Knife - In Hand 2

Kershaw Frefall EDC Pocket Knife - In Hand 3

Kershaw Frefall EDC Pocket Knife - In Hand 4


Conclusions


I really liked the Swerve and figured I would like the Freefall, but I REALLY like the Freefall and have been carrying it fairly regularly. Where the Swerve will probably be consigned to heavy duty work in the garage once in a while, I think the Freefall might continue to see pocket time.

The off center blades are really annoying, though.

Gallery



Kershaw Frefall EDC Pocket Knife - Unboxing 1

Kershaw Frefall EDC Pocket Knife - Unboxing 2

Kershaw Frefall EDC Pocket Knife - Unboxing 3

Kershaw Frefall EDC Pocket Knife - On Scale

Kershaw Frefall EDC Pocket Knife - Caliper Measurement: Blade Thickness

Kershaw Frefall EDC Pocket Knife - Caliper Measurement: Blade Length

Kershaw Frefall EDC Pocket Knife - Caliper Measurement: Pocket Dump

Kershaw Frefall EDC Pocket Knife - EDC Friends

Kershaw Frefall EDC Pocket Knife - Next To Ruler






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