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Monday, November 26, 2012

MArooned Guest Review: Kershaw Skyline Fixed-Blade

A guest-post reviewing a fixed-blade from Kershaw from VC correspondent Roadkill. Enjoy!
A few years ago, before I really got the knife bug, I picked up a Kershaw Skyline folding knife up at Walmart.(http://www.amazon.com/Kershaw-Skyline-Knife-Textured-Handle/dp/B001CZBDF8) It was good knife and became my EDC blade for the better part of a year.  When I discovered that Kershaw had made a fixed blade version, I had to snap one up.

The steel used is Sandvik 14C28 stainless. This is a Swedish steel that I found preformed well in the original Skyline.  It can be sharpened to shaving sharpness, maintains its edge well, resharpens wells, and has a solid corrosion resistance.  It comparable to the common mid-range knife steels like 440C or AUS8A if not better. Like most stainless steels the strength is good within reasonable usage.  Translation: It is steel for a knife not a sharp prybar. This type of stainless is not meant for batoning or chipping through concrete. Be mindful of that and it will last a very long time.

The 3.25 inch blade is known as a modified spear-point.  A classic spear-point is a drop point where both sides curve at the same angle to meet in the center of the blade.  The point position actually improves accuracy in the point.  Classic spear-points are often double edged or at least have a false edge on the spine.  The center of the blade is where the belly begins for both sides.  Unless the blade is very thin or very broad, the shallow belly reduces cutting ability.  In a modified spear point the curves at still at the same angle, but the grind starts above the center line and gives the blade a deep belly and greatly improved cutting and slicing ability.

The cutting ability of the Skyline does not disappoint.  In this it is much like the original. The deadly sharp blade functioned well in normal EDC tasks. It cut tape, cardboard, paper, and plastics easily.  In the kitchen, this little fixed blade really shone. I hold that if a potential defensive knife can’t make the grade there, it won’t work well for emergency goblin cleaving.  The knife spent several days making dinner. Medium sized onions and even stocks of green onion proved to be no problem. Despite the short blade length, the Skyline worked surprisingly well against the highly dense sweet potato and ordinary russet potato. I even cut up a head of lettuce into fourths and neatly shredded part for chicken tacos.  In cutting meat, it zipped through both raw sirloin and turkey cutlets with a frightening ease.  Do not doubt that it can’t do the same to a living thing.

The grip of the Skyline shares the same shape and materials as the folding version.  The grips are G-10 and have a good roughness to them and stay grippy even when wet or slimy. I do think they could stand to be flush with the knife tang, but I can’t say that it is necessary.  A nice choil provides an excellent purchase.  Good choils are a personal preference for me on a defensive blade. In well made sheaths they aid in drawing and during use they keep the knife in your hand.  The useless thumbstuds, the sub-par pocket clip, and the lack of jimping kept the folding Skyline from standing next to the Benchmade Griptilian and Spyderco Delica as one of the world’s best EDC knives.  Being a fixed blade knife, the newer Skyline automatically looses two of those minor faults. However, the lack of jimping remains. As much as I’d prefer to have the jimping it never really becomes a problem.  It is still nicely controllable and easy to use with out them.

The first rule of EDC fixed blade knives is to expect to have to buy a custom or third market sheath. As a result I rarely consider a predictably crummy factory sheath to be that much of detraction.  However, the Skyline’s simple right handed leather sheath goes beyond crummy and treads upon dangerous.  The deep pocket design catches the knife’s guard.  The effort to remove the knife could easily cause you to cut yourself or someone else.  To illustrate, I was able to suspend an unloaded 3 inch Ruger GP-100 from the knife’s lanyard hole without any danger of it pulling the blade free.  Given the tactical feel of the original, I believe that this design would be better served by ambidextrous Kydex sheath that leaves the choil exposed to aid the draw.

In spite of the sheath, the fixed Skyline is an excellent and inexpensive EDC fixed blade. I have no complaints about this excellent knife’s performance.  It does everything that EDC or defensive knife should do.  Yet, I cannot consider this another job well done by Kershaw.  Not when they’ve done everything they can to make this knife die unknown and unloved.

The folding version of the Skyline ended up with respectable following.  Searching for “Skyline Knife” on Youtube alone will turn up many reviews.  The original was sold by Walmart and various other big box stores in addition to online smaller on and offline stores.  The public was well exposed to the folder and sales have kept it in production for years now.  A fixed version could expected to capitalize on this popularity. However, new fixed Skyline isn’t new at all. It has been out for a few years already and recently was discontinued.  As a Cabela exclusive, this knife has not received any attention save a few mentions on old knife forum posts.  No professional reviews, no advertisements, and even Kershaw’s own website contains trace of the fixed Skyline.  I would still not know about the fixed Skyline if not for BladeHQ having bought a bunch of them at closeout prices.  It is an ignoble end for a very good knife.  Visit Cabelas and BladeHQ to snag one of these before they’re gone for good.  The Skyline is on BladeHQ’s Black Friday/ Cyber Monday sale for a mere $18.99 in both black G-10 version. They may be all gone before this post is made.  (http://www.bladehq.com/item--Kershaw-Skyline-Knife-Black-Fixed--14126)

Special thanks to the early hominids that figured out that sharp rocks were useful and to JayG for abusing his readers with this review.-Roadkill
Thanks for the review, Roadkill! 

That is all.

4 comments:

Alan said...

That's a nice looking knife. I'm adding it to my want list.

Wally said...

Hooray roadkill!

RK gave me a ton of guidance when getting my feet wet in fixed blades and his advices was spot on.

Raadkill said...

Hey, Wally! How's the Kabar and the Izula working out for you and LF? Glad to help.

Alan, how many knives have I got you to buy so far?

Wally said...

I really like the Kabar, it has been doing very well by me. LF will probably be along to comment here soon enough :-)