When it comes to cars, motorcycles, guns, and knives, you generally get what you pay for. But sometimes, a statistical outlier stands apart from the crowd. An anomaly, a deal that’s just flat out, too good to be true. Occasionally, you find a piece of gear that presents such a great value for the money, you wonder why everybody doesn’t own one or more.
Well, the Kershaw Thermite is just such a bargain. I’ve tried to find a blade that offers an identical level of quality and features at the same price point, and simply can’t. It’s not that the Thermite is just a good knife for a low price—it would be an outstanding blade at two, or even three times the price.
In the world of folding knives, the Kershaw Thermite showcases pretty much everything you could ask for when it comes to a daily carry piece. And here’s exactly why:
It has a purebred background.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, clinging to your old-fashioned cutting tools, you know who Rick Hinderer is. For the uninitiated, Hinderer got his start making knives in the mid 1980s with his hand-made art knife business. Over the years, he used his expertise found as a fire fighter and EMT to transition to the realm of hard-use tactical and utility cutting tools.
This unique background means that Hinderer blades have the specialized features that experienced users clamor for, without giving up an ounce of functional style. Unfortunately, to get the features of a genuine Hinderer-made blade, you normally have to get in a long line and pull out several Benjamins when you reach the end of it.
While the Thermite isn’t actually made by Rick Hinderer, Kershaw worked directly with Rick to design it. Normally, an inexpensive knife typically has less-than-stellar features and some shortcomings with the overall layout. That simply isn’t the case with the Thermite. You get high-end style, functionality and attributes, without the semi-custom price.
It’s been thoughtfully designed.
One of the most distinguishing features of the Thermite is also one of its most effective— the Spanto tip. A combination of the blade terms tanto and spear point, the Spanto combines the durability of the former and usability of the latter into one versatile design. Just behind the cleverly designed point lies a hollow-ground straight edge that excels at slicing tasks. I have yet to find a cutting chore the Thermite can’t handle.
A knife is only useful if you have it with you, and the Thermite offers many different means of carry. First, there’s the pocket clip. The slim design is properly tensioned for a fast release without giving up any retention, and keeps the knife riding low in your pocket. I’ve never preferred my pocket-clip equipped knives to stick out much, and the Thermite nails the ride height perfectly. Kershaw even goes so far as to brand this feature with the name “Deep Carry.”
This clip is reversible, for tip-up or tip-down positioning. While the Thermite comes configured in the tip-down orientation, I swapped it in favor of tip up. I found that moving the clip to the rearward position improved the grip, especially when choking up on well-executed spine gimping.
Finally, a lanyard slot at the rear of the Thermite provides a convenient place to slip a paracord loop or braided tassel.
Kershaw puts an attractive, stonewashed 3.5-inch blade in the Thermite, which is cut from 8Cr13MoV steel. Similar to the popular AUS-8 steel in terms of its ability to hold an edge and ease of sharpening, 8Cr13MoV is a perfect choice for daily chores. It even comes with your choice of an attractive stainless finish, or a more tactical black coating.
The blade is projected out from the grip by the stiff spring of the Kershaw SpeedSafe assisted opening system, which is activated by either the ridged thumb stud or unobtrusive rear flipper. Once the cutting edge is deployed, it’s held firmly in place via a beefy frame lock. This 410 steel lock is actually an integral part of the clip-side of the Thermite, which means it’s literally not going anywhere.
The opposite scale is more subdued, due to the fact that it’s attractively milled from a black, textured piece of G10 composite scale.
I hate it when I lose things. I especially despise it when they are things that I use all the time. And it makes me absolutely livid when I misplace an expensive piece of gear.
While I’ve carried the same Thermite in my right hip pocket every single day for nearly the past two years (and have grown quite attached to it), it wouldn’t be the end of the world if it found itself lost in the bottom of a creek. I mean… it currently retails for under $32. I can afford to replace it at that price. If I’d lost a genuine Rick Hinderer? Forget it.
The price also means that the Kershaw Thermite makes an excellent, high-quality gift that’s certain to be used and treasured for years to come.
Let’s face it, knives are not like guns. While the practical difference between a cheap gun and an expensive one is night and day, few end users will find any difference between a $30 blade and a $450 knife. For the most part, they both perform daily chores and tasks the exact same way.
A high-class background and design, combined with the stellar reputation, warranty and quality of Kershaw will make this clever pocket folder a favorite for years to come. You’ll probably find yourself shelving your current every-day-carry blade after using it one last time to open the shipping box for your new Kershaw. Give the Thermite a try!