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Knife Review: Kershaw Earth Brown Launch 4 Automatic Knife

Knife Review: Kershaw Earth Brown Launch 4 Automatic Knife

Posted by SD on Apr 28th 2020

The Kershaw Earth Brown Launch 4 Automatic Knife

Everybody knows that there is nothing like a Kershaw. Kershaw says, “From award-winning technologies and advanced materials to the solid sound of the blade lockup, when you’re carrying a Kershaw, you know you’re carrying the real thing. The real thing means value and plenty of it. With Kershaw, you get incredible bang for your hard-earned buck. Even our inexpensive models are impressive. In fact, everything about a Kershaw is solid, crafted, reliable. That’s why we can back each of our knives for the life of its original owner against any defects in materials and construction with our famous Limited Lifetime Warranty.

“And yes, people do own their Kershaw knives for a lifetime. (Although, occasionally, a Kershaw has been known to get accidentally left at a campsite, lost in the garage, or permanently borrowed by a friend.) The point is, you can always look to Kershaw for everyday carrying knives that can tame any cardboard box and liberate any purchase from its plastic packaging, sporting knives that make hunting, fishing, watersports, and camping even better, work knives that won’t let you down, and tactical knives that ensure you’re ready for anything.”

Kershaw was founded in 1974 with the mission to design and manufacture tools that knife users would be proud to own, carry, and use. This has meant that every Kershaw knife must be of the highest quality. Whether it’s a hardworking pocketknife, a hunting knife, or a special collectors’ edition, Kershaw always chooses appropriate, high-quality materials and is dedicated to intensive craftsmanship. Along with extremely tight tolerances and state-of-the-art manufacturing techniques, this ensures that Kershaw knives provide a lifetime of performance.

They also have a commitment to innovation and even pioneered the use of many of the technologies and advance materials that are today standard in the knife industry. They say, “Our SpeedSafe assisted opening knives were first-to-market. We introduced the concept of knives with interchangeable blades in our Blade Traders. Recently, our Composite Blade technology, which combines two steels into one blade, gives knife users the best of both worlds by enabling us to use steel known for edge retention on the edge and steel known for strength on the spine. And we will keep on innovating, bringing new and better technologies and materials to today's knifemaking industry and knife-using public.”

Kershaw is also a brand of Kai USA Ltd. For over 100 years, Kai has been Japan’s premier blade producer. Kai takes an innovative approach to product development based on the close coordination of research and development, production, marketing, and distribution functions.

Today we will be discussing one of their knives: the Kershaw Earth Brown Launch 4 automatic knife.

The Blade:

The blade on this version of the Launch 4 has been made out of CPM-154 steel. This is a steel that has been created and manufactured by Crucible Industries, so you know that it is going to be high quality. It is a harder steel, which does mean that it is going to hold an edge well. This steel has often been known as the similar but superior steel to 440C. CPM-154 is the superior because Crucible has added in Molybdenum to the steel matrix. This does help to increase the hardness, which is why the steel can hold an edge so much better than 440C. It is also going to retain similar levels of corrosion resistance, which means that it will stay fairly stain resistant and you shouldn’t have to worry too much about this steel rusting. Of course, like with any blade, always make sure that the blade is completely dry before retracting it back into the handle.

This steel is known to have high enough levels of corrosion to be able to stand up to most tasks that you come across. With this Launch 4 especially, you will be able to take on a solid number of tasks for how small the knife is. That being said, you do have to know that this is not a super steel and it is a smaller knife. You won’t be able to expect absolutely everything from it. This steel is going to be relatively simple to sharpen as long as you know what you are doing and have the right materials. This means that it is not the easiest steel to sharpen, but there are also much harder ones too.

CPM stands for Crucible Particle Metallurgy, which is a process that Crucible uses to create a finer gain structure. This means that the steel is going to be tougher and even have better edge retention. And, like with any steel that has a finer grain structure, the sharpening of it will even be slightly easier.

The blade on this Launch 4 has been finished with a black DLC coating. This stands for Diamond-Like Carbon coating. It got this name because of how hard and wear resistant the coating makes the blade.

Kershaw Earth Brown Launch 4 AutoKershaw says, “The DLC coating is applied in a process called Physical Vapor Disposition (PVD). In PVD, solid metals are vaporized in a vacuum at high temperatures. A reactive gas is introduced, forming a compound with the metal vapor. This enables the metal to be deposited on the knife parts in a microns-thin layer. The coating adds beauty, is environmentally friendly, and offers excellent wear and corrosion resistance.”

This means that the coating is not going to scratch or peel off like many of the other styles of coatings. This is because of the PVD process, which is more of a chemical change than any other. Also, the coating is applied so perfectly that you can expect a much-reduced level of friction. This means that cuts are going to be smother and easier. And, we can’t forget the DLC coating does create an even, matte black coating that looks fantastic as well as the rest of the benefits.

The blade on the Launch 4 has been carved into a clip point blade shape. The spear point is known to be more of a hybrid blade shape, one that can do well in a variety of different tasks, but not one that is going to excel at one particular task.

The shape is made of a symmetrically pointed blade, the center line of the blade is right where the tip falls. This symmetry creates a tip that is strong enough for piercing. It also sports more of a lowered tip, which means that you will be able to control the tip enough to perform fine detail work. The last major advantage of the spear point blade shape is that it does have a small belly. Of course, this belly is miniscule compared to other blade shapes such as the drop and clip point, but it does have enough belly to do some slicing with.

All in all, the blade structure is going to guarantee that you are prepared to take on a wider variety of tasks, but not be the best at any one task.

The Handle:

The handle on this Kershaw is made out of 6061-T6 aluminum. Aluminum itself is a popular option because it is tough, durable, strong, and incredibly corrosion resistant. The 6061-T6 alloy is the alloy that offers the highest yield resistance, which means that it is going to be the toughest of all aluminum handles.

Aluminum does have some drawbacks though: the first is that it has high conductive properties. This means that if you are living or working in a colder environment, the aluminum on the handle can be nearly unbearable with how cold it can get. The next is that aluminum does not offer as much grip and texture as some people are used to or require to feel in control. Since this is a smaller knife, it shouldn’t’ be too big of an issue, since you won’t be taking on the larger tasks, but you won’t have the best grip on it. The last disadvantage is that it is prone to getting scratched.

The handle has been anodized with an Earth Brown color, which is unique to this version of the Launch 4. The anodization process will also limit how many scratches the handle accumulates.

The Pocket Clip:

The pocket clip on the Kershaw Launch 4 is a single position pocket clip. It can only be attached for tip-up carry on the traditional side of the handle. This does mean that it won’t be ambidextrous friendly, but it does mean that the handle is going to look more elegant, due to the lack of drill marks. The pocket clip is not a deep carry pocket clip, but with such a short knife, that shouldn’t be too big of an issue. The hardware on this version of the Launch 4 is black, which matches the blade.

The Mechanism:

This is an automatic knife, which does mean that it is going to fall under a strict set of laws in the United States of America. These laws prohibit automatic knives in certain states, cities, and areas. It is your responsibility as the purchaser and user to know your local knife laws before buying and carrying this knife. BladeOps is not responsible for the consequences when those laws are broken.

This is a push button automatic, which means that it locks the blade open during use, then releases with the push of a button for storage as well. This also means that there is not going to be much fumbling when you are trying to get the knife open, all you have to do is push the button, which will deploy the blade, locking it into place. That is the biggest advantage of an automatic knife—when every second counts, this knife is going to stand up to the job.

Of course, because of all the different moving parts in an automatic knife, they can be harder to maintain. Each of the moving parts on the inside have to be maintained to keep the mechanism moving as it should. This does mean that you are going to need to be a little bit more careful with maintenance than you would with a manual knife. However, the benefits of an automatic knife often do outweigh the cons of an automatic knife.

The Specs:

The blade on the Launch 4 measures in at 1.9 inches long with a handle that measures in at 3.2 inches long. This creates an overall length of 5.1 inches long when the blade is deployed. This is definitely on the smaller end of the spectrum when it comes to pocket knives, but it still packs a punch. That being said, with the shorter length, you can expect to have it be much lighter weight. This version of the Launch 4 weighs in at a mere 1.8 ounces. Lastly, this knife was made in the United States of America, you can feel confident in the quality of this knife.


When Kershaw is discussing this knife, they say, “For 2016, we made something special for our neighbors to the south. And since we’re in Oregon, of course we mean California. So, for you, California—and for anyone who prefers a shorter-bladed auto—we made the Launch 4.

“The Launch 4 sports a blade of just 1.9 inches, nice and legal. And pretty handy, too.

The blade is high-performance CPM154 steel. This powdered metallurgy steel has more uniform distribution of carbides—so it takes and holds an excellent edge, provides good corrosion resistance, wear resistance, and toughness. The blade is DLC coated for an additional measure of blade protection and non-reflective good looks. Then to lighten the Launch 4’s weight, we made the handle and integrated backspacer of durable aluminum, anodized in [Earth Brown].

“The Launch 4 opens with a "low profile" push button. This low-profile button makes it harder for the knives to accidentally deploy. For left-handed use, press the blade-release/lock button with your index finger instead of your thumb. The Launch 4 has a single-position pocketclip and carries tip-up.”

This knife is currently in stock at BladeOps, so you can pick yours up here.