Last year we gave my son in law a Kershaw Brawler and the wife of all people became infatuated with it. She has Rheumatoid Arthritis and it’s hard for her to open and close a normal pocket knife. When I was wrapping presents, the wife took it out of the box and said “I want one of these” and so a couple months later I got around to ordering her one from Amazon and I got a Kershaw Cryo for myself.
This is a typical Kershaw assisted “flipper” featuring their proprietary SpeedSafe assisted opening technology, a black-coated tanto blade and fiberglass reinforced nylon handle. The rest is fairly typical: liner lock, Chinese steel. The Brawler also features a removable clip which can be configured for tip-up or tip-down carry.
Official Specs (From Amazon)
- Steel: 8Cr13MoV, Black oxide coating
- Handle: Glass-filled nylon
- Blade Length: 3 1/4 inches; Closed Length: 4 1/8 inches
- Quad carry pocket clip
- Speed safe and flipper opening systems; Liner lock locking system
Unboxing the Brawler and Cryo at the same time, it was clear that this was the better knife. It’s not a frame lock, and it’s not an aggressive, solid chunk of metal like the Cryo. But the machining and overall fit and finish was very good, and put the Cryo to shame. The assisted opening is a little tight out the box–a little tighter than my son in law’s version. We also noticed that his earlier browser had a slightly different shape to the handle; they must have corrected something for my wife’s version.
Out of the box the wife just loved it, and I had to beg her to cough it up long enough to snap some photos of it and look it over.
Fit and Finish
The fit and finish on this Brawler is comparable to my USA made Skyline. Maybe even a little better. The blade is well centered and the FRN (fiberglass reinforced nylon) handle looks fantastic. It came with a good edge, though Kershaw always seems to over-grind the tip. No scratches, scuffs, tool marks, nicks–anything wrong with the finish on the handle and blade.
The blade is made of 8Cr13MoV which is a decent Chinese steel. Kershaw says it has a “black oxide” coating whatever the heck that is. I’m not a big fan of this type of blade coating but it does make the blade more corrosion resistant. It should last several lifetimes sitting in a desk drawer.
The blade shape is a typical tanto which probably makes it better suited to self defense than as an EDC blade. This style blade can have its productive uses, though. A tanto is better suited to prying than say a drop point, but I wouldn’t ever pry with a knife anyway. The missus uses her Brawler to open mail and this style blade is completely sufficient for the task.
I’ve always been a big fan of nylon/fiberglass style handles because they are really rigid, strong and extremely light weight. The Spyderco knives like the Delica, Endura and Dragonfly with this type of handle are very popular and well regarded, so I’m always happy to see a new knife with an FRN handle like this one.
The texturing on the handle is light but plenty sufficient. This is not a slippery knife like the Cryo.
Like most Kershaw flippers, the Brawler comes with a removable clip which can be configured for tip-up or tip-down carry. And like other Kershaws, the clip comes configured from the factory for tip-down carry, which I’ve always found curious because most enthusiasts prefer tip-up carry for faster deployment.
The Brawler uses a typical liner lock. The liner looks thinner than it seems like it should be, but it’s probably just fine since the steel liner is clad with the rigid nylon fiberglass scales. The deployment and lockup on this model is smooth as silk. That’s what a well centered blade gives you out of the box. After a couple hundred cycles on the lockup it’s still a little tighter to deploy than I would like, but it still has a good feel to it, and the wife has no problem opening it with her arthritis. The son in law offered to trade her for his, but she says that hers feels more solid.
I can always tell when the mail comes. I hear the solid *click* sound of her Brawler opening. It’s very strange hearing that coming from my wife’s desk. The other day it dawned on me that I’ve given her a switch blade and a stun gun, so I should probably be nice to her.
My son in law still loves his Brawler. I don’t think I’ve seen him without the telltale clip of his brawler. Where the Skyline
is more of a gentleman’s folder and my personal favorite, the Brawler is more aggressive looking and something a younger guy would be more inclined to carry.
The must be a good knife because the two people I’ve given one two frown when I ask them to borrow their Brawler. It’s a bit too weapon-looking for my taste, but it does have a really clean look and it’s well built. Kershaw knows their flippers, and this is a great model.