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Knife Review: Kershaw Epistle

Knife Review: Kershaw Epistle

Posted by SD on May 28th 2020

The Kershaw Epistle

Kershaw and their fans know that there is nothing that compares to a Kershaw. They have the award-winning technologies, they have the advanced materials, they have the solid sound of the blade lockup. All of this means that when you are carrying a Kershaw, you know that you are carrying the real deal.

So what does the real deal mean? Well, Kershaw says, “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.”

They were founded in 1974 with the mission to design and manufacture tools that knife users were going to be proud to own, carry, and use. This means that each and every one of their knives need to be made with the highest quality. From hunting knives to collectors knives, Kershaw makes sure that they choose the high-quality materials and pair it with intensive craftsmanship to get a top-quality knife.

Not only that, but they have a commitment to innovation. 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.”

The good thing about Kershaw is that you know you will always be able to rely on their knives. They have a good selection coming out this year, so keep your eyes peeled for all of their new knives hitting the shelves. The one that we will be discussing today is called the Epistle. It is being released this year, so you will be able to pick up your own Epistle at BladeOps soon.

The Blade:

The blade on the Epistle is made out of 8Cr13MoV steel. When Kershaw is describing this steel, they say, “You may have heard that 8Cr13MoV stainless is basically the equivalent of AUS8A. And it’s true. For everyday use, even a serious “knife knut” would be hard-pressed to tell the difference between a well-made 8Cr13MoV blade and a well-made AUS8A blade. Nevertheless, there are slight differences in the steel formula. While most other components are relatively equal, 8Cr13MoV has slightly more carbon for hardness and wear resistance and slightly less nickel. The 

Kershaw Epistle

key to blade performance for both of these steels is manufacturing quality. That’s where Kershaw’s expertise comes in. Kershaw precision heat-treats 8Cr13MoV steel to bring out its best high-performance characteristics: the ability to take and hold an edge, strength, and hardness. 8Cr13MoV is top-of-the-line Chinese steel and, we believe, offers our customers an excellent value. HRC: 57–59.” That is something that is unique about a Kershaw knife made with this steel. While this steel is commonly seen as a budget steel that holds its own, but not much else, Kershaw’s heat treatment transforms this steel into one that can excel at what it does. This means that you get better quality for less money. Truly, more bang for your buck.

  • Budget steel keeps the overall cost of the Epistle down.
  • Kershaw’s heat treatment allows it to excel.
  • Easy to sharpen.

The blade has been finished with a bead blasted finish. This finish is created when small ceramic beads are blasted at the steel at a high pressure. This process creates an even, matte gray finish that significantly cuts down on light reflection. However, the bead blasting also creates micro-abrasions in the steel, which does make it more prone to rusting. A bead blasted blade, even made from stainless steel, can rust overnight if left in the exact wrong environment. This shouldn’t be a huge deal, but you do need to be aware of it. If you never close the knife while damp, keep it out of humidity, and oil the blade occasionally, you shouldn’t have any problems.

  • Bead blasted finish is even, matte, and dark gray.
  • Bead blasted blade does need to be oiled.

The blade has been carved into a drop point blade shape, which is one of the most common on the market. This one has a lowered tip, which is going to give you more control over your cuts. It also has a broader tip, which is going to add strength and durability to the blade. This broadness is what allows the drop point to be as versatile and reliable as it is. Lastly, the blade has a large belly, which makes slicing a breeze with it. The only major disadvantage of the drop point blade shape is that the broad tip does mean that you won’t be able to pierce as easily.

  • Lowered and broad tip add strength and control.
  • Large belly for ease of slicing.
  • Broad tip does reduce piercing ability.

The Handle:

The handle is made out of anodized aluminum. The aluminum is already tough, durable, and corrosion resistant. However, the anodized finish is just going to enhance all of the qualities that you already love about it. This should be a very low maintenance handle. The anodization is clear, which shows off the sleekness of the aluminum.

There is a deep finger groove that adds comfort and control to the handle.

  • Aluminum handle is tough, lightweight, and durable.
  • Anodization enhances the handle.
  • No lanyard hole.
  • Deep finger groove for comfort and control over your cuts.

The Pocket Clip:

This is a single position pocket clip, which means that it can only be attached in one way. This one is attached for right handed carry and tip up. This is a slight disadvantage because it is not going to be ambidextrous friendly. Also, carrying a knife tip up is the more dangerous way to carry one. That being said, because there are not a lot of drill marks, the handle is going to look sleeker than if it were reversible.

The clip is a dark silver that matches the rest of the hardware on the Epistle. The pocket clip is a unique one, because it is much broader than your typical pocket clip. The width of this one covers most of the face of the handle. This is not a deep carry clip.

  • Not a reversible clip.
  • Right handed carry.
  • Tip up only.
  • Clip is much wider than your typical pocket clip.
  • Dark silver hardware.

The Mechanism:

This is a manual knife which means that it has no mechanical assist, such as a Kershaw SpeedSafe. To assist you in opening it, it has been equipped with a thumb stud. The Epistle also has been equipped with an inset liner lock.

The thumb stud is one of the most common opening mechanisms that you are going to come across in today’s cutlery industry. This is a small stud that sits near the spine of the knife. You can access this when the knife is closed, because the stud extends out of the handle, where you can use your thumb to push against it. This will swing the blade open, where it locks into place.

There are a few advantages of a thumb stud. The first is that it is easy to use. This mechanism is easy to get the hang of as well, which means that here is a very limited learning curve. Give it a few tries and you’ll have it down in no time. The next thing about a thumb stud is that it allows you to open the knife with just one hand. This is an advantage because it means there is less fumbling with it and more time for you to actually be using the Epistle.

Of course, there are some disadvantages. The first is a minor one: some people feel that once the blade is opened, the stud gets in the way of them fully using the knife. The second is a little bit of a bigger issue. When you do swing the blade open using the stud, it puts your fingers directly in the path of the blade. When you are being careful, this shouldn’t be a huge issue. However, if you are not giving it most of your attention, you could easily accidentally slice your fingers.

  • Thumb stud is easy to use.
  • Thumb stud allows you to open the knife with one hand.
  • Stud can feel like it is getting in the way.
  • Swinging the knife open does put your fingers in the path of the blade—not the safest mechanism.

Kershaw describes the Inset Liner Lock by saying, “A strip of stainless steel is riveted inside the knife’s handle—most commonly when the handle is a lightweight material. This enables us to create a slimmer, lighter knife, while still providing the strength and security of a locking liner.” This means that the handle can be smaller and more lightweight, leading to a reduced overall weight. The recued weight does make it easier to have with you at all times. Even though it is a slimmer and lighter weight structure, you know that you will be able to rely on it.

  • Inset Liner Lock reduces overall weight.
  • Inset Liner Lock is durable and reliable.

The Specs:

The blade on the Epistle measures in at 3 inches long with a handle and closed length that measures in at 4 inches long. This means that when the Epistle is opened, it measures in at an overall length of 7 inches long. This knife weighs in at 2.1 ounces, which is definitely on the lighter weight side of things. This can be accomplished because of the aluminum handle that greatly reduces the weight of the knife.


When Kershaw is discussing this knife, they say, “The Kershaw Epistle has everything you need in a pocketknife and nothing you don't. This good-looking minimalist design is sleek, slim, and very easy to carry.

“The 3-inch blade is made of 8Cr13MoV stainless steel—a solid, all-around steel that's also easy to re-sharpen when needed. The versatile drop-point blade shape handles most cutting tasks with ease. The blade is bead-blasted to produce a slightly darker blade finish that contrasts nicely with the lighter aluminum handle.

“The handle is lightweight and feels smooth and comfortable in your hand. Clear anodizing preserves the natural color of the aluminum. A custom pivot cap adds a touch of style and provides some additional handle texture. With its neutral two-tone coloring, the Epistle goes perfectly with whatever else you EDC.

“To get the knife down to an impressively light 2.1 ounces, Kershaw added several areas of weight relief. Much of the handle back features open construction to shed weight and provide for easy cleaning. A textured backspacer covers the rest of the handle. The single-position pocketclip also has two cutouts that make this pocketclip unique to the Epistle. The Epistle is a manual-opening knife. You can use the thumb stud to flick the blade open quickly, or treat it as a traditional pocketknife by simply moving the blade into position.”

You can shop all Kershaw knives here.