People always tell me that they learn more from reviews of bad products than reviews of good products. Well...be prepared to learn a lot. The Kershaw Cryo is an unmitigated failure, one of the worst products I have ever reviewed. This wouldn't be such a big deal if I, like the rest of the knife world, hadn't had such high expectations. In the end the first cheap Hinderer-designed knife is more cheap than Hinderer-designed. In doing so it fails in almost every way. I don't say this because I am Kershaw hater. In fact I love many Kershaw designs--the Skyline and the OD-2 being two of my favorite blades. I also don't say this because I hate cheap stuff--I have given good reviews to lots of stuff under $30. I say this because it is true--the Kershaw Cryo is a complete and utter bust.
Here is the product page. There are no written reviews as this is really new blade. Here is a video review from Blade HQ. Here is a link to purchase the knife through, though I would recommend you buy something else, like a Skyline, if you don't already have one or if you want a knife this size that can really perform well, why not opt for a Spyderco Techno? (remember, purchases help the Haiku giveaway):
Blade HQ contacted me as soon as they got one in and sent it out to me for review. I have had it for about three weeks including one week of hiking and general outdoors use in Acadia National Park (which is just an awesome place to hike, ride bikes, and kayak). Here is the review sample:
This is a blade that illustrates a point and one that made me rethink my review system. It is a 2.75 inch blade that weighs 5 ounces for a blade to weight ratio of .55. Nothing I have reviewed is even close to that mark, nothing. This is a fat knife. And it didn't need to be. I know titanium is probably out of the question, given the budget of the knife, but aluminum certainly isn't that would brought down the weight considerably. There is absolutely no reason why a knife this size has to weigh that much. It is just TOO heavy.
But the design flaws don't end there. The knife is wide in the pocket, which is not a killer problem, but the addition of a flipper to a massively wide knife (given its blade length) and there is a mounting set of concerns. The flipper has some serious snag potential. But things don't end there. The thumb studs, which are truly useless, vestigial remains of a different deployment method, snag quite a bit in the pocket. I know they are used as stops for the blade, but why include them at all, especially if they are going to be little pocket grappling hooks? Either make them less likely to snag or mount a stop pin on the interior of the blade and get rid of them entirely. I'd prefer the internal stop pin, as it makes the knife cleaner looking and less likely to attract gunk (as thumb studs are want to do).
Still though, that is not enough to get a zero. I reserve a zero, especially in the all important design category for real stinkers, and this is a real stinker. The thing that pushes this knife down to the bottom of the barrel are the handle scales themselves. They are super, super slick. I like the jimping, but the handle scales themselves are just too slippery for any serious use.
Here is an example: I am, as you can probably tell by my last name, a sweaty Italian. I sweat thinking about hot weather. So when I was hiking in Acadia, I was sweating like a whore in church. I also had my two year old son in a backpack kid carrier. It was lot of extra weight and it kind of threw me off (I do use a hiking stick I made so it wasn't too bad). I brushed past a bush of thorns and they got caught, pretty viciously, on my clothing. Now I was on the edge of a 690 foot cliff so pulling and jerking around was not an option. I took out the Cryo, cut the small limb of thorns, and made it to a flatter place and removed them. This was not as easy as it sounds. First, I snagged the knife on my pocket pulling out. Then, when I was reaching around to make the cut I lost my grip. I didn't drop the knife, but I had to steady myself and regrip the blade. It has virtually no traction because of the slick steel handle slabs (which also add a good bit of weight).
The design of this knife is fundamentally flawed. It is heavy, snag prone, and slick. That is a zero.
Fit and Finish: 0
Walk away from this knife right now. The blade centering is atrocious, so bad in fact that opening and closing the knife sounds like you are opening and closing a pair of scissors. I can tolerate a bit off center. This is more than that:
The rest of the knife was fine, but a folding knife that damages the blade because of off centering is a fatal flaw. It is kind of like a car that has a nice interior but the engine doesn't work. It is hard to tell if this a problem with the whole line, because there are so few data points right now as the knife is still new, but it is not a problem you can fix at home. I repositioned the pivot twice and within a day of exceedingly mild use, the blade was smacking into the side.
The jimping is actually nice jimping, not so fine as to shred your fingertips, but hard cut enough to grab them. It is the handle scales that are the problem. They are super, super slick, especially when wet.
There is nothing in the way of traction on the non-lock side and only the pocket clip on the lock side.
The Paramilitary 2 has a blade that is 3/4 of an inch longer and a handle that is built for the gloved hand. It is a big and beefy knife. It weighs 3.75 ounces. The Cryo weighs 5 ounces. There is no reason whatsoever for that. This knife is a steel turd in the pocket and I personally would prefer not carrying turds of any kind.
Kershaw's 8Cr13MoV is an adequate steel, nothing good or bad. I found it to be razor sharp out of the box and very easy to sharpen (or strop, as I did not sharpen it on the Sharpmaker). I am not sure why this knife has 8Cr when the similarly priced Skyline has the vastly superior 14c28n steel, other than the fact that this knife is built in China and shipping European steel across the globe would add a lot to this knife's price tag.
Blade Shape: 2
Okay, finally, something from the Hinderer lineage that makes it into the blade. The blade shape is superb. In particular the tip strength is very, very good. There is plenty of belly as well.
The multi-faceted grinds, for the first time in my experience, do make this knife better. They deliver so much of the steel's thickness right to the tip. I also like the wider than average cutting edge grind (secondary bevel).
Deployment Method: 1
I like the Speedsafe assist, but I am not sure why they need the thumbstuds. Using an internal stop pin would make the knife cleaner and easier to retrieve. The big issue I have though is the sinking feeling that the Speedsafe assist is actually completely unnecessary. None of Hinderer's customs have it and they are bigger knives. A good flipper, a nice pivot, and a hefty detent can make flippers without assists as fast as flippers with them. I think the real reason for a flipper here is to cover up the inferior pivot, one of the places they can skimp to make the knife cheaper. All of the things necessary to make a flipper work without an assist require time and labor. A spring doesn't. If the blade was so big the spring was necessary, that is one thing, but in a knife this small I think it is a way to get around a cheap pivot and not actually a feature.
Retention Method: 1
Oh how tempting. The pocket clip is great looking, but in practice it is a little too tight and small for such a wide knife. I would have preferred the ZT/Strider wide flat clip here, but this is okay. Not my favorite but not terrible either.
A clip this thin on a knife this fat can allow the knife to roll in the pocket a little which makes the knife harder to retrieve. Add this to the already substantial obstacles to retrieval caused by the silly thumbstuds, wide body, and flipper and this knife is very hard to get out of your pocket.
Lock/Blade Safety: 1
Oh, but it has a framelock with a Hinderer stop. Yes it does. And the lock produces no blade play and locks up early. So what's the problem? This:
The real estate on the frame lock designed to catch your thumb is vanishingly small. Disengaging the frame lock is actually quite a challenge and with the slick handle scales it is harder still. This is a big problem and had me debating a 0 score here instead of a 1, but in the end the wiggle free frame lock is worth something.
Overall Score: 9 out of 20
What a punch in the nuts this knife was. I am so disappointed. I wanted this knife to be awesome and it just sucked. As I wrote on the Twitter feed: the Cryo makes me cryo. This knife had so much promise and it failed to deliver on almost every level.
But we are not without hope. The bones of a great knife are here. Kershaw, here is how you fix it:
1. Bring production to the US
This allows for better steel, like the 14c28n on the Skyline, or even better S30V. It also allows for an upgrade in the fit and finish, which will get rid of the centering issues.
2. Make the frame lock easier to disengage
3. Get rid of or slim down the thumbstuds
4. Use titanium or Ti/G10 on the handle scales with matte finish on the Ti.
This is will make the knife lighter and grippier.
This new blade would be much more expensive, probably around $100, but it would be a great knife and fill a hole in the Kershaw line up. They have very few mid priced knives, going from the $30 blade to the $300 Tilt with little in between.
UPDATE: The thumb studs, of course, are not stops. They are, in fact, completely useless. Additionally, the knife is not 5.0 ounces, but 4.2 ounces. Still too heavy. Neither of these oversights on my part changes the score. If anything, the weight thing is balanced out but the purely vestigial thumb studs. This knife still stinks, a lot, even with Nutnfancy's review.