Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Iain Sinclair Cardsharp 2 Review

The good folks at Iain Sinclair (a gadget design firm in England) contacted me through Dan of Blade Reviews.com and asked if I'd like to review the Cardsharp 2.  I said yes, having looked at the original's innovative design.  I want to get this out of the way at the beginning--this is not a hard use knife.  Not in any way.  It is, however, the smallest, lightest knife on the market with a useable blade.  It is half the weight of the smallest Al Mar ultralight.  It is the size of a credit card and the thickness of a thin mouse pad.  All with a 3 inch blade.  Again, this is not a hard use knife.  It is best used sparingly--cutting out magazine articles, slicing tape and packages.  It is a backup EDC blade, as I see it.  There is no possibility, given its size, construction, and materials that it could be pressed into a tactical role at all.  But with that massive limitation, I think it is worth a look.   

You almost expect the James Bond theme music to kick in when you open up the Cardsharp 2.  It is, after all, a pocket knife delivered in a package thinner than a CD case.  And it is from Great Britain.  So it may as well have included a self-destruct instruction manual that turned to vapor after you read it.  I would reference Q here, but apparently the Powers that Be in the James Bond film franchise world want to get rid of stodgy old (and cleverly funny) John Cleese's Q in favor of some "adorkable" young jackass.  I am sure he is a good actor (actually, no I am not) but the witty back and forth is not the same when cool Daniel Craig is chatting up some super geek more at home in a WoW dugeon raid than a spy machine shop.  Bring back John Cleese (he was a perfect recast after the first Q died).  Oh....sorry for the tangent.

Anyway, the Cardsharp 2 is an upgrade to the original Cardsharp.  The new feature is a safety disk that holds the blade flat to the card portion when the knife is in credit card mode.  Here is the product page.  Here is Dan's review:

Here is another review.  Here is the review sample of the Cardsharp sent to me from Iain Sinclair. 


Design: 2

This is one of the cleverest designs I have ever seen.  The folding mechanism is ingenious and the knife as deployed is actually quite useful in its shape.  Here is a picture of the knife fully unfolded and locked together:


This design allows this knife to go anywhere your credit cards can and for that, it is something to consider.  A knife that lives in your wallet is a knife you always have on you. 

Fit and Finish: 1

The materials are not bad.  Really, it is hard to imagine what else you could use, given the knife's shape and size.  The handle is plastic and it is bendable plastic at that, but when locked together, it is surprisingly stiff.  Not confidence inspiring, but definitely useable. 

Grip: 2

The jimping mantra has made it all the way across the sea, as the Cardsharp 2 has purposeful jimping.  The fold of the handle also provides something of a choil a real plus on a knife this thin.  Again, surprisingly grippy for the size, shape, and materials.

Carry: 2

Carry, well, carry is sort of a different issue here.  You can carry this, literally anywhere.  There is officially no reason not to carry a knife on you now.  They are the same size and shape as a credit card:


I carried my review sample for over two weeks in my wallet and it was none the worse for wear.  I was concerned that it would bend the blade or break and neither happened.  I did have the chance to use it a couple of times out and about and it attracted stares of curiosity, not concern. 

Steel: 1

The no name "surgical steel" does not inspire confidence in the blade steel choice, but performance-wise it has been fine.  Better than 420 HC, about on par with 8Cr13MoV (from Kerhsaw).  I suspect it might be Krupp 4116 steel, as it takes an edge well, is cheap, and often the steel in use when people throw around the label of "surgical steel" but that is just a guess.

Blade Shape: 2

Perfectly fine spear point blade with an ultra sharp tip.  This is a precision knife, not a hacker and the fine tip is helpful in the likely chores the Cardsharp 2 will be facing. 

Grind: 2

It is a full flat grind, which is nice, of course, but the thing I like about the Cardsharp 2 is the very large and very steeply angled secondary bevel.  This allows for a very shallow angle and that, in turn, allows for a very sharp edge.  That is a really unexpected nice touch on a knife that looked like it was more style than substance.  I wish Benchmade and Spyderco would use such steep grinds on their knives. 

Deployment Method: 1 

This is not a speedy knife, but as a back up EDC, it doesn't need to be.  In its role, the deployment method is fine.  Not great, as there is some bending and clicking that doesn't hit perfect every time, but certainly good enough.

Retention Method: 2

The knife's shape is its retention method--it is a credit card when folded.  That, in my mind, is about as convenient as you can get.  And since it is in your wallet it is pretty secure.  One issue, though, is that it may be a problem if you go into secure areas a lot.  I had to run it back to my car as I was in line to go inside a secure facility once.  

Lock: 1

Plastic flaps seem a little flimsy when compared to the power of a compression lock or the might of the awesome Tri-Ad lock, but they did actually do their job, quite well.  I liked it a lot. 

Overall Score: 16 out of 20

Well, this is not the usual.  But sometimes that is a good thing.  I really did like the convenience of a wallet carry knife with a real blade.  Most of the "card tools" out there are really junky and none have a three inch blade.  It is not a hacker.  I'd probably avoid cutting anything tougher than an apple, but in the role of a back up EDC blade, one that lives in your wallet, the clever design was great.  The steep angle on the cutting edge was a pleasant surprise and it held up well during the testing period, opening many late Christmas packages.  I would never use it as my primary blade, but as a "set it and forget it" wallet knife it is quite nice.

The kind folks of Iain Sinclair have given me permission to give the review sample away.  I make it a policy not to keep review samples, so here is your chance.  Post a comment to this review.  After a week, I will choose one at random and that commenter will receive the knife for free.


  1. MostMenAreRuthlessJanuary 3, 2012 at 3:05 PM

    Hey Tony... Interesting little blade. Not exactly my cup of tea, but I would love a chance at it for free! Thanks!

  2. Cool knife, i remember seeing the original and being amazed

  3. You're right, very James Bond. It is a nice looking blade.

  4. very intriguing, especially as a backup blade (like you said). FWIW, I completely agree with your opinions on the casting of Q...

  5. I got my wife one of the 1st generation Cardsharps. I would not mind having one for myself.

  6. I think your math is off somewhere. You give out 16 points in the course of your review, but only total up 15 at the end.

    1. Im pretty sure, the problem is not his maths but your reading Issue lol

  7. Good to see Cardsharp advancing their design on this interesting concept.

  8. I would love one of these to place in my planner/diary. The closed shape would fit in one of the card slots perfectly and the shape of the blade seems good for working with paper. I'd love to win this.

  9. I think this was the first knife I noticed when I started getting into EDC a few months ago, so I'm pretty sure this would be my destiny.

  10. I wouldn't speak to the quality, but the Iain Sinclair website also advertises a credit card sized HD camera. Cute.

  11. Excellent review Tony! I think that you are absolutely right - perspective is key, and is something I struggled with when formulating my initial impressions. Considering the size, weight, and overall design it's a great little knife.

  12. Nightskyuap@gmail.comJanuary 3, 2012 at 10:31 PM

    I've seen this knife in the past but didn't know much about it and wasn't aware that a design this small and this light could be useful. I see now that it is. Thanks for the review; I would love to own this unique and distinctive knife.

  13. Count me in! I'd love to add this to my EDC!

  14. I think you mean "fully" unfolded.

    Best regards,

    Loyal Reader

  15. That's a fascinating little knife. I like to keep my wallet as thin as possible but I'd love to give it a try.

  16. I'd be a little stressed about airport security since this knife is so easy to forget. Believe me, it's never fun to have to relinquish an EDC blade to an airport garbage bin. That said, I'd still love to give it whirl as my backup EDC knife. Keep the excellent reviews coming! /Jay

  17. I've seen mixed reviews of this knife...some, like yourself love it, and some hate it, although not for the actual design. One criticism in particular that a reviewer pointed out was that if you happen to forget this when entering a high security area, it could potentially raise much more alarm than a small keychain knife. Either way, I think it's an interesting little knife, and I'd love to try it out to see if I prefer carrying a knife in my wallet to carrying one on my keys (there's a SAK classic there now).

  18. Hum, cool. Definitely sounds more useful than some of the credit cards in my wallet...

  19. I'm so glad you finally got to this one. I've heard such mixed reviews that I've held back from buying one.

  20. Well that is an interesting design. I am curious about the handle, does it open like a tradional folder, a bali, or something else? Great review!

  21. They open like nothing else. Watch Dan's review. It is hard to explain.

    BTW I will not count this entry in the give away.

  22. That's an interesting little knife. It certainly looks like it would be more useful then the traditional credit card style multi-tool. I'd love the chance to try it out.

  23. It's an interesting concept, although I'm not convinced it would be the most useful little knife. It seems like the best way to carry it - and the intent behind the design - is to place it in a wallet. That would seriously impede access to it, I think.

    It would be worth giving a try, though.

  24. Cool knife deserves a comment :) - MSS

  25. Looks like an interesting knife!

  26. A sleek piece of equipment. It's discreetness might work both ways though, it could come in real handy or it could raise suspicion at security checkpoints.

  27. I agree, the "discreetness" concept of the product might not be very appealing for security personnel. It look good, nonetheless.

  28. This is a nice concept for a knife. I think that the discreetness style is just fine. It made this knife a very interesting one.

  29. Great review, I'm considering getting one now! Thank you!!

  30. DONT ORDER ONE!!!! I ordered directly from Iain Sinclair and that was months ago. I note from comments on their facebook page that I am not the only one. They are likely to just take your money and run.

  31. I ordered a CardSharp4 — 1 year ago today — As a 50th birthday present for a friend. Still nothing. They have my money, I have NO knife. Endless excuses via email when they bother to reply, yet they still offer this product on their website like it will ship in a few weeks. I have requested a refund, but do not expect to get it. AVOID IAIN SINCLAIR.

  32. If you have been ripped of by Iain Sinclair, please post comments in all social media outlets and use hash tag #iainsinclair.

  33. We are severely disappointed in the company of Ian Sinclair. We ordered a Cardsharp2 credit card knife for my father back in November 2014. We were told it would take 4-8 weeks to be shipped. It was to be a Christmas present, so we knew we were cutting it close. By January, we still had not received the knife or any type of email update so we emailed their customer service. We were told that they were backed up and it would be coming soon. Long story short, we still have not received our knife, despite several emails back and forth with promises of it "coming soon." For the last month, we've been trying to get our money back, but have not had success so far.

    I'd recommend you stay away from Ian Sinclair!! I don't know if their knife quality is great or poor because I never received mine. I would have taken a bad knife over no knife. Please proceed with caution.