I have been a long time fan of Kershaw knives and have owned a few over the years. What I probably appreciate most about Kershaw is that their knives are relatively inexpensive. Kershaw has probably made hundreds of knives over the years that are worth much less than $50.
I recently took a Kershaw Brawler and have been playing it for the last two months. I have to say, for the small price, it’s not a bad pocket knife. That’s not to say he doesn’t have weaknesses, because he does, but we’ll talk about that later. In the meantime, here’s a quick look at what I like and don’t like about Kershaw Browler.
- Tactical style
- good grip
- Good overall performance
- Not in love with the tanto blade.
- The oxide layer can drain
- Fixed pocket clip
The Kershaw 1990 Brawler has a custom American Tanto style blade with Speedsafe technology. The broiler has an overall length of 7.1 inches and a closed length of 4.1 inches. It has a four-way pocket clip so you can carry it comfortably in your pocket.
The handle is just over half an inch wide, 0.56 inch to be exact, which is slightly larger than my other folding knives. I usually wear jeans with wide legs, so that was a problem for me. However, I can imagine this could be a problem if you wear tight jeans.
It weighs about 3.8 ounces, similar knives like the Ontario Rat and Spyderco Tenacious are slightly lighter. But the too thick brow doesn’t bother me because I always have it in my hand.
Under the bowl with FRN handle is a stone lining. As you can imagine, the knife is equipped with a liner locking mechanism.
One important thing to note about the Brawler, this knife is made in China. If you don’t like Chinese knives, this is clearly not the one for you.
As mentioned earlier, the Kershaw Brawler has a tanto style blade. Tanto was never my favorite knife. Not from a cosmetic standpoint, I think it looks nice, but from a user standpoint I prefer a belly with a longer cutting edge.
But since it wasn’t my favorite style, I didn’t buy many of them and didn’t use them often. Having carried the Browler for the past few months, I was pleasantly surprised by this knife.
The first thing I noticed is that the top is incredibly sturdy. The blade has a thick spine and is drawn at the tip. I was worried that this knife would not be a great piercing knife, even though it is designed for that. I compared Brawler’s tanto to a drop point on a piece of lined cardboard. The drop-off point got lower, but Tanto left more.
I was expecting these results. Tanto was originally designed to pierce armor and other hard materials. This blade therefore requires a strong, thick tip.
The blade is made of 8Cr13MoV steel, a common and inexpensive tool metal widely used in Chinese products. Many popular budget knives use this steel, including Tenacious, Persistence by Spyderco and Cryo & Cryo 2 by Kershaw.
Since this steel is not exactly known for its corrosion resistance, the blade is coated with black oxide, giving it an elegant and tactical look.
Although the 8Cr13M0v has some drawbacks, I think it is more than adequate for this type of knife on a limited budget. Even though it lacks certain edge strength and corrosion resistance, you can easily sharpen it like a spatula if necessary.
The handle is made of glass fibre reinforced nylon (GRP) or fibre reinforced nylon (FRN). The ladder has a structured, mesh-like design. I really like the handle and I feel like it has just the right texture.
The handle is a bit thicker than the other knives in the same category, and I like that. The shape, thickness, and a pair of well-placed wipers on the thumb rail ensure that the knife sits well in the hand. I think everyone will be impressed with the ergonomics of the Browler handle.
The handle also features a four-pocket carry clip, a fairly common feature on most knives of this material. It doesn’t take much to drill them, so why not.
I have some issues with the pocket clip, it is incredibly tight out of the box. You have to work really hard to break in and get back on your feet. And wearing lace is a little revealing, I wish it was a little deeper in the pocket.
A browler is a lined opener. The blade is also easy to open with a hinged rubber. A simple tug on the fin and Speedsafe swings the blade and it locks with the liner lock.
The blade has a double vignette, but make no mistake, these are technical blade stoppers. Of course you can open the blade with your thumbs, but I find that more difficult and always use a fin.
I have never had any problems with trim locks and their durability, I find them as strong as many other types of knife locks. I always have a problem with padded locks, they are difficult to use with gloves. You must remove the glove or place your finger on the liner.
Something else I want to mention is that I have seen many knives in this price range with blades that are not centered in the sheath. That makes me think it must be some kind of knife game. The Browler’s blade is perfectly centered, whereas my Kershaw Cryo 2 is very off center. You can see the difference in the pictures below.
The blade fits well to the coating and when inserted, I haven’t noticed any blade play on this knife. I made heavy cuts with it, so it was pretty impressive to me.
Some will say that the biggest drawback of Chinese products is their durability. However, my experience over the past few months with this knife is that durability is not an issue. I’ve said this before, but I don’t abuse knives to see what they can handle. I use my knives for everyday tasks like everyone else. Cooking, opening boxes or other similar tasks.
I made some heavier cuts on thicker boxes to test them for this magazine and the knife worked well. She cut the cans without any problems at first, but stumped a little later during the cutting test.
I was able to restore the edge with some work on the flaking rod. So as long as you don’t damage the blade too much by performing tasks not intended for this knife, it will work well for you.
Kershaw Fresh Case
Freefall and Brawler specs are almost identical. Actually, Freefall is a little bigger than Brawler. The bowl handle is textured with a unique K design. If you’re interested in a slightly larger version of the Brawler with a ceramic blade instead of a black-oxide blade, check out Freefall’s site.
The Cryo can be recognised from afar by its all-metal casing. This is perhaps Kershaw’s most popular knife. It comes in three different models: an all-metal drop version, a black drop version, and a black tanto drop version – almost like the Brawler. The Cryo is smaller than the Brawler suit – both in blade length and length at full deployment. It is slightly heavier than the Browler due to its all metal body. The blade itself is slightly curved compared to the straight brush.
If you are looking for a knife primarily for outdoor tasks, the Cryo knife is better suited for hand throwing than the Brawler. It is also more comfortable to wear due to its small size. But if you need a knife for everyday use, the Brawler is a winner because of its reliability, feel and ease of use.
Ontario Rat 2
If you are looking for a knife that is flexible enough to be versatile, the Rat will be your knife of choice. In many ways, he’s almost like Brawler. Unlike Brawler, Ontario Rat can only be opened manually. The Blade Rats are much more versatile at the drop-off point than the Browlers. The Rat is almost identical to the Brawler, although the finger grooves in the Rat’s handle offer a much stronger grip than the Brawler’s mechanical design. But Browler is by far the best in terms of looks and style.
So the comparison is clear. If you want a folding knife, the Rat should be your choice; and if you’re a fan of black knives and want a versatile knife, the Browler is the one for you.
So, can I recommend Kershaw Brawler as an EDC file? Absolutely, I think it’s an excellent little EDC budget.
This knife has its limitations and may not be for everyone. I think the knife is incredibly strong for a knife made in China. The thick back of the blade and the robust tip make drilling through hard materials safe and easy.
But perhaps the best feature of the Kershaw Brawler is its price, it’s a very affordable EDC and it fits most people’s budget.
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Kershaw knives generally offer excellent quality at a reasonable price. … Among Kershaw’s most popular series of pocket knives are the Cryo, Leek and Shallot models, which are designed for everyday use. In the tactical and professional category, the Blur and CQC lines are good choices.
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