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Kershaw Knives was first started in 1974 by Pete Kershaw, formerly of Gerber Knives. Pete wanted to make his own cutlery based on his own designs, so he launched his own company in Portland, Oregon.
In 1977, Kershaw Knives became a subsidiary of the KAI Group, and manufacturing of Kershaw Knives is done primarily out of Kai USA’s factory in Tualatin, Oregon, with some knives being produced overseas in Japanese and Chinese factories. The good news is that the Skyline is 100% manufactured in the USA!
- Blade length: 3.125 inches
- Overall length: 7.375 inches
- Closed length: 4.25 inches
- Weight: 2.5 ounces
- Blade material: 14C28N
- Handle material: G-10
- Locking mechanism: Liner Lock
- County of origin: USA
- Price range: About $40
Designed by Kershaw’s in-house designer Tommie Lucas, the Kershaw Skyline features a 3.1” long, 1/16” wide spear/drop point blade, with a 4.3” long handle. The overall length of the knife opened is 7.4”, and the Skyline is a mere 4.25” closed in your pocket.
The Skyline weighs only 2.5 ounces, so this knife will not, by any means, weigh you down when you carry it. With the clip installed on the knife, the Skyline is about .5” thick; without the clip, it is a mere 3/8” thick. This is an EDC knife that you can carry discretely since it won’t make a noticeable bulge in jeans or slacks.
The Skyline’s blade has a spear-point shape with a slight drop and hollow (saber) ground. The blade is made from Sandvik 14C28N steel, a Swedish steel known for its high edge retention and sharpness factors. Kershaw used to fit these knives with the inferior 13C26 steel but that changed in around 2009.
Sandvik recommends 14C28N steel for such applications as chef’s knives, so the steel is designed to be readily sharpened to razor sharpness, with excellent edge performance, decent hardness, and impressive resistance to corrosion.
Sharpening is surprisingly low effort on the 14C28N too. Trust me when I say you’ll struggle to find a better steel on a knife in this price range. So far, so good.
Handle and Ergonomics
The Skyline’s handle is made from textured G-10 scales which are also nicely rounded-off to avoid any annoying sharp edges. G-10 is an advanced, modern fibreglass with excellent toughness and lightweight. G-10 scales are typically so durable they are practically indestructible, which is something you typically want on an EDC knife.
The texture of the scales provides the Skyline with an excellent grip, so you don’t have to worry about the knife slipping out of your hands during use. Damn this thing is grippy! To add to this, the blade features a finger groove that your index finger can rest in, helping with grip and to prevent the knife from folding closed on your hand. You won’t find any jimping here but to be honest you don’t really need it on a knife of this size/weight.
Deployment and Lockup
Opening the Skyline can be done using either the ambidextrous thumb stud or the flipper. The thumb studs are not my favourite as they’re quite close to the handle which makes it tricky to pull off a swift opening with your thumb each time. I prefer the flipper.
Using the flipper, once you’ve practised it a bit, you can flip the knife open quickly and easily using just your index finger. You won’t find any spring or mechanical assist here folks, this baby is manually opened by your fingers alone. Still, I’ve gotten opening this knife down to an exact science and can deploy the blade as quickly with just my index finger as I can any spring-assisted knife. Kershaw’s intelligent use of quality bushings pays off here.
The liner lock on the Kershaw Skyline is a bit of a unique design, only wrapping on one side of the blade. This keeps the weight down on the knife and doesn’t seem to prevent the knife from staying open when in use. It locks up nice and tight, and the finger groove adds an additional layer of protection if you are nervous about the knife closing on you unexpectedly.
Features, Fit and Finish
The Kershaw Skyline comes with a reversible pocket clip and pre-drilled holes in the handle for tip-up or tip-down carry. It rides pretty low but not as low as some others I’ve seen (e.g. Leek).
The pocket clip is a bit tight at first but loosens up just enough for easy use after a few days of carrying. Like most knives, the Skyline does require a bit of a “breaking in” period for everything to work smoothly, and the pocket clip is the one that usually needs breaking in the most.
The important thing is that the pocket clip does not loosen up too much, as I’ve experienced with some EDC knives; it still retains the knife in my pocket when I need it to, even after months of everyday usage.
At this price point, you’d expect only the bare minimum when it comes to fit and finish. I find many sub-$40 knives suffer from off-centred blades, poor production materials, significant blade play (or wiggle), weak locking mechanisms and generally uneven finished on the handle and blade. Not so with the Kershaw Skyline. I’m not saying this stands up to a premium EDC knife but in this price bracket, I was very impressed. Everything seemed smooth, tight and even.
The first thing that struck me in using the Kershaw Skyline is that’s it’s pretty well balanced. I often have people ask me what exactly I mean by “well balanced” so let me explain. This doesn’t necessarily mean that it will balance on my finger when placed between the blade and handle. A knife is well balanced when it’s comfortable to use in a variety of different styles, angles, grips, etc. The handle is not overly heavy nor too light. The blade is not overbearing nor too small. Everything just feels right in your hand.
I’ve used my Skyline for everything from cutting through cardboard to slicing apples at the chef’s station at camp, and the knife feels right every time. The hollow grind of the blade gives the edge a slightly concave shape that makes it very well suited for slicing.
The blade on the Kershaw Skyline is reasonably strong yet flexible, but its thin width means I would not recommend using this particular knife as a prying tool. That’s perhaps one downfall of the knife, but it’s a trade-off that has to be had to maintain it’s thin profile. I’ve used the Skyline for light prying, but I could see the blade snapping if you tried prying something with too much force.
In my real-world experiences, I was able to use the Skyline to cut through 10 or 15 long cardboard tubes easily and still pass the ‘paper-test’ thereafter.
Kershaw Skyline vs Leek: Similar size and both made from 14C28N but the Leek has ‘assisted opening’ so it’s going to deploy a little quicker. Personally, I find the blade shape of the Skyline to be better suited to EDC tasks than the Leek. Also, prefer the G-10 handle on the Skyline to the more slippy steel handle on the Leek. BOTH great knives but the Skyline has the edge in my book.
Kershaw Skyline vs Spyderco Tenacious: The Tenacious is a thicker, heftier knife but also has great reviews and performs very well. Again, both great knives and I would go with the Tenacious if you need something a little more rugged, otherwise, the slimmer Skyline win.
Kershaw Skyline vs Blur: The Kershaw Blur is beefier, more durable and more solidly built with dual steel liners, aluminium scales, and thicker stock blade. Oh, it’s a little pricier too. The similar equation here to the Tenacious comparison in that I would choose the Skyline over the Blur unless you need something with more muscle.
Make no mistake, the budget EDC segment is very crowded indeed. Even when you filter out the crap you’re still left with a pile of decent contenders. Thankfully, the US-made Skyline stands out from the crowd.
To sum everything up, I find the Kershaw Skyline to be an excellent EDC knife for someone with a limited budget who doesn’t really want to advertise that they are carrying a knife. With or without the pocket clip, the knife is slim and lightweight, but the knife is still large enough to have a myriad of uses in the bush or in the garage.
The Skyline holds an edge quite well, the pocket clip is adjustable to your particular style of preferred carry, and the G-10 scales are grippy yet darned near impossible to break or mar. This is one of my favourite EDC knives, and for good reason—it’s robustly useful and small enough to fit in with all of the other things I need to carry in my pockets.
I see it’s currently priced around $40 but I’ve seen it drop as low as $30 from time to time. Either way, it’s a deal. If you’ve never been a fan of EDC knives, give the Skyline a test spin. It might just make a believer out of you!
The Good: Nice size, lightweight, decent blade, great value for money
The Bad: Somewhat weak tip, ineffective thumb studs
Bottom Line: With limited money to spend the Skyline is a no-brainer