There are good knives. There are cheap knives. But, are there any good, cheap knives? Yes. The Kershaw Compound is one such knife.
I recently purchased a Compound knife to evaluate its usefulness as a daily carry tool. I own several nice knives that I don’t like to use for mundane tasks, but a lot of the inexpensive knives I have owned seem to quickly wear out or just aren’t up to the task to begin with.
The Kershaw Compound impressed me enough that I decided to write a review of it. If you appreciate a quality knife that nearly everyone can afford, keep reading.
At its most basic, the Compound is a folding knife with an assisted opening feature. Kershaw’s assisted opening technology is called “SpeedSafe.,” which allows for rapid, one-handed opening of the blade.
On the Compound, there is a small protrusion that sticks out of the handle when the blade is closed. The user merely pulls back on the protrusion, which allows the blade to overcome an internal torsion bar. Once the resistance of the torsion bar is overcome, the blade snaps into place.
I discovered that I really liked the SpeedSafe opening. Gripping the handle of the knife, I was easily able to activate the opening protrusion with my index finger. Opening was swift and sure. Every time I opened the knife, the blade locked solidly into place.
More on the SpeedSafe assisted opening system can be found on the Kershaw website.
The 3.5” blade is made of 8CR13MoV steel with a bead-blasted, satin-style finish. The Kershaw logo is emblazoned on one side, while the model number (1940) and country of origin (China) is on the opposite.
8CR13MoV is a stainless steel made in China that is sometimes compared to AUS-8 steel. 8CR13MoV is considered by many to be inferior to AUS-8, but not a poor metal for a knife blade. I found the blade to be very sharp, and it held the factory edge throughout the evaluation period.
There is no jimping on the spine of the knife. Without looking, you can feel where the handle ends and the spine begins, but the fit is tight. Even though I tried, I could not get this area of the knife to pinch my thumb.
When open, I found there was very little wiggle in the blade when I tried to move it side-to-side. The liner lock kept the blade solidly fixed open. I could not get it to close on itself without activating the liner lock.
The handle uses textured G10 material, or does it? The packaging for the Kershaw Compound states the handle is “textured G-10.” However, the company’s website shows the handle material is a generic “glass-filled nylon.” Is it true G-10? Unfortunately, I can’t give you a definitive answer.
The handle of the Compound is textured, though not very aggressively. The texture is pleasing to the touch, but it is not likely to help very much with retaining a good grip purchase when used. The plus side is the grip will not damage your pants. Although I like the rough texture used on the Be-Wharned knife from BLACKHAWK!, those G10 scales will seriously ruin a nice pair of pants in short order.
The knife handle may be a little small in the hand for some people. A slightly taller handle would have perfectly filled my hand. As is, the knife is still comfortable to hold and I was able to get a good grip on the handle. For someone with larger hands, the fit of the handle to the hand may not be as good.
This Kershaw knife has a small pocket clip. It is affixed to the handle by a pair of small screws. The clip can be reversed to the opposite end of the handle, allowing for point up or point down carry. The clip cannot be relocated to the opposite side of the handle, however.
If I could change only one thing about this knife, it would be the pocket clip. I would prefer that the clip color match the handle (black). I would also prefer a longer pocket clip, and the ability to swap the clip to either side of the knife.
These are relatively small things. None of the clip “problems” would keep me from buying it, but the changes would seem to be relatively easy to implement by Kershaw.
The Kershaw Compound knife is very affordable with an MSRP of only $39.95. Currently, the knife can be purchased on Amazon for about $25 including free shipping.
Inexpensive doesn’t always mean an item is a bargain, but in this case it does. During my review time with the Compound, I found the knife to be a very capable performer with no major drawbacks. For general cutting work on the job or around the house, this knife works extremely well.
The Kershaw Compound not my first choice for a self defense knife, but it is not a poor choice. Compared to many of the sub-$20 knives currently on the market, the Compound stands out as a good choice for personal protection at this price point. Throw in the lifetime warranty and free lifetime sharpening, and $20 sounds like an unbelievable bargain.
Update July 2013: It has been a full year since I wrote this review. In that time, I have carried the Kershaw Compound knife almost every day. It has performed exceptionally well in all manner of tasks. The opening mechanism continues to work well with no signs of wear or loosening up. I continue to recommend this knife to anyone needing a quality knife at a good price.