February 24, 2021

Kershaw Knives Fringe, by Pat Cascio

Kershaw Knives, never ceases to amaze me, with the number of new and exciting knives they come out with each year, and what is even more amazing, are the prices on these knives – very affordable, to say the least. I like Kershaw products, they are right here in my “adopted” home state of Oregon. Actually, I was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois – but I’ve lived most of my life in Oregon – it is my selected home state, even with the messed-up Liberal politics they have, it’s still a great state to live in. We have it all, ocean, forests, mountains, high desert with plenty of ranching, farming, and logging land to boot. In terms of land area, Oregon is predominantly conservative.  But unfortunately, it’s the big cities, like Portland and the tri-county area around it, Eugene and Salem, that have the highest populations, and they are mostly liberals. They represent the majority of the population, and hence they presently control the state legislature and governorship. ‘Nuff said!

Kershaw Knives is owned by the KAI Corporation in Japan, and if any country knows about making great knives, it would be Japan. But it wasn’t always like that. Right after WW2, Japan was producing some very sub-standard cutlery, but that changed many years ago, and they now produce some of the finest blades in the world. So, they know a little bit about producing great knives, and I’m happy to say, that the knives with the Kershaw name on them are outstanding in all respects, especially the price. This particular model is made at a Kershaw-contracted factory in Mainland China. The Kershaws sourced there are quite good.

I could be wrong, but I believe that, Kershaw was the first major knife company to come out with assisted-opening folders, and then many others followed suit, with their own type of assisted-opening mechanisms, and some work much better than others. Make no mistake, an assisted-opening folder is not an automatic-opening folder. You still have to touch the blade and start it to open, unlike an automatic-opening folder, where all you have to do is press a button for the blade to open. Still, some locales have banned assisted-opening folders, claiming they are “automatic” or “switchblade” knives.

With the assisted-opening folder, you have to start the blade opening with a thumb disk or thumb stud, and depending on the mechanism, you might have to actually start the blade opening, by as much as 15 – 25 percent, before the assisted mechanism takes over and opens the blade the rest of the way, until it locks in the open position. Believe it or not, some people can’t seem to get the hang of this, no matter how hard I try to explain or teach this to them. Some believe they have to follow the blade as it opens, that just hinders the assisted-opening part…once the blade starts to open, after you start it, you remove your thumb off the blade, or it won’t fully open. Really easy to do, with a few minutes of practice…just take your thumb off of the thumb stud or disk and let the assisted part take control and the blade will open and lock open.

Some Specifications

The Fringe from Kershaw is really a very cool little Everyday Carry folder, to start with, it is eye-catching, with its gray Titanium carbo-nitride coating on the blade and the handle. The carbon fiber insert in the handle just adds to the great looks of this little folder. I say “little” because the 8Cr13MoV stainless steel blade is only 3-inches long. It almost puts it in the Gentleman’s Folder category if you ask me. I prefer blades on folders to be 3.5 – 4.0 inches long for my uses, just seems to work better for me for some reason. However, there is nothing wrong at all if you prefer a shorter blade on your folder.

Another point worth mentioning is that the handle is actually slimmed down a bit, and it makes for great carry in your pants or shirt pocket with the deep carry pocket clip. The knife only weighs in at 3.5-ounces, so you don’t even know its there.

A word about the stainless steel used, it is a very affordable version, and it takes an edge and keeps it sharp for a good while, and best part is, it is easy to re-sharpen as well. This folder is produced in China, and that helps account for the low retail price of $59.99 and that’s a bargain. Kershaw uses what they call a “Speedsafe” assisted-opening, and it is fast, to be sure. It makes opening the folder with one hand easy, with a little bit of practice. Just apply some pressure to the closed blade, and the Speedsafe takes over, opening the blade – fast! The Fringe has a closed length of 4.1-inches, and an overall open length of 7-inches.

My Tests — With Some Help

As is my usual practice, I take my knife samples to the local gun shop that I haunt, and let the guys play with it and give me some feedback. Most of them like folding knives with shorter blades for some reason – and they keep busy all day long opening UPS, FedEx and USPS packages and they find that 3-inch blade length on a folder more to their liking – I have no problem with that. They all fell in love with the Fringe, especially the assisted-opening Speedsafe feature. Of course, they all had to put the knife in their pants pockets, and all commented on how they didn’t even know it was clipped there.

The Fringe came shaving sharp from the box, and I used it to cut all manner of stuff around the homestead. As always, the thick blackberry vines are a challenge. Unfortunately, the short 3-inch blade wouldn’t fully cut through the vines – the blade was sharp enough, but we needed it to be a little bit longer – it came close to cutting through those vines with a single swipe, though.

Opening cardboard boxes – not a problem at all, nor was opening mail a chore. I did run into a problem with the poly rope, it was more than a challenge for the Fringe to cut through – the blade was really sharp, but the tiny teeth on the blade – almost microscopic – just wouldn’t get a good bite on the poly rope – oh I got through it – but I had to really “saw” on the rope to get the blade through it. No reflection on the Fringe, because poly rope – thick, poly rope is tough stuff and hard to cut. With a short blade that was a big challenge for the Fringe. Failing this test doesn’t mean the knife was a failure, no, far from it.

My every day “uniform” is a pair of cargo pants, hikers for shoes and a t-shirt. In warmer weather, I put on a button-down shirt, but it is never buttoned, in order to cover my concealed carry handgun. It has two patch pockets in the chest area, and I keep my cell phone in one pocket, and my reading glasses in another pocket. I easily clipped the Fringe in the pocket with the reading glasses, and didn’t know it was there because it is so lightweight. So, that’s something to consider if you wear button-down shirts, if you don’t want to place a folding knife in your pants pocket.

When I was a kid, we all carried some kind of pocket knife – today, that will get kids expelled from school for a year – too bad, we are so narrow-minded about this. I remember, sitting on the front stoop, with my grandfather, back in Chicago, Illinois – and we would spend several hours whittling on a piece of wood. Nothing more than just shaving the wood and making a pile in front of us. It was fun! Today, kids have to be entertained by playing video games of some sort. The Fringe would be a great starter knife, if you dads want to spend some quality time with your sons or daughters, just shaving wood. And you never know what the topic you might discuss that may come up.

One thing that has made me cringe over the years, is when someone will clean beneath their fingernails, with a pocket knife – ugh! Sends shivers down my spine just thinking about it right now. There are better ways to clean your fingernails than using a sharp knife – I just don’t get it! However, if you are prone to doing this sort of thing, during a board meeting at some big corporation, the Kershaw Fringe will work nicely, and everyone will think you have a custom-made knife that costs hundreds of dollars.

The little Fringe is a lot of knife for the money, and it looks great as well. It looks like you spend a lot of your hard-earned money on a custom knife. For $59.99 you get a lot. However, shop around, and I’m sure you can find this folder on-line for less money, or at some of the big or small box stores in the sporting goods department. I ‘lost” my Fringe to my wife, she saw it and wanted it for opening mail at the kitchen table…works for me, and it’ll work for you, too.

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