Even if someone is new to knife buying, they have probably heard of Kershaw, and for good reason. Kershaw was founded in 1974 by Pete Kershaw and sold to Kai Cutlery Co. Ltd. in 1978. The Kai Group is an over 100-year-old Japanese knifemaker. Since that time Kershaw has led the knife industry in innovation, developing and marketing the first assisted-opening folders, known as the SpeedSafe series. The company has a long history of working with famous knifemakers, and by that I don’t mean just famous in the knife community but that they’re practically household names, like the aforementioned Ken Onion along with Ernest Emerson, Rick Hinderer, R.J. Martin and Todd Rexford. It is, in fact, collaborations with the last three of those individuals that have produced the new folding knives reviewed here. Each represents a distinct innovation and is designed to meet the everyday carry needs and preferences of individual users.

While Kershaw manufactures many of its products in its factory in Tualatin, Oregon, its partnership with Kai Group also provides Kershaw with state-of-the-art production facilities in Japan and China. The new folders submitted for testing come from China and are designed for economy while sacrificing nothing in terms of quality. Two of these new folders, the full-sized Scrambler and the smaller Zing SS, are the result of a collaboration with R.J. Martin, who has won the Blade Show’s Best Tactical Folder award four times. Martin’s knifemaking background has an interesting twist. He started out making knives as a teenager in the 1970s and liked the science of steel so much that he became a materials engineer for Sikorsky Aircraft, working on new helicopter designs. This involved the use of high-end composite materials and CNC machinery, which has influenced his knifemaking and designs. Likewise, Martin’s experience with folding knives and sheath materials resulted in innovative design elements and solutions for many helicopter engineering needs. In 2001, Martin devoted himself full-time to knifemaking and knife design.

R.J. Martin Designs
The Scrambler (Model 3890) is a rock-solid folder with a 3.5-inch, 8Cr13MoV steel, drop-point, hollow-ground blade. All the metal parts are titanium carbo-nitride coated, giving it a distinct, subdued, matte gunmetal gray look. The finish also protects the blade against corrosion. The handle is stainless steel with the front featuring a black G10 scale with a good bit of grip. At 5.3 ounces, this was the most substantial of the five framelock folders I received from Kershaw. It was also the only one that did not feature a thumb-stud assist for opening…

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