Blades and Knives

Four Reasons the Kershaw Thermite Belongs in your Pocket

Stainless steel model Kershaw Thermite

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.

High-Quality Construction

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.

The Price

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.

Final Thoughts

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!

What is the best budget EDC knife you have found? Tell us about it in the comment section.

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (24)

  1. It’s a “flipper” style which I don’t like because it seems to me it could open in your pocket, besides, any knife which carries in the point-up position is extremely fast to deploy by inserting the thumb in the pocket in front of the knife, popping it free of the clip with the 2 middle fingers of that hand which places it right into the palm of the hand whereupon the thumb stud will rest directly under the thumb can be instantly activated.

  2. I was very interested in this knife until I saw the blade length. Some states still restrict knives with blades over 3″ in length, a fact that many manufacturers seem to forget when designing their product lines.

    Still, this would be fine to throw in the toolbox or take camping.

  3. The Gerber 450 EZ-OUT has been inexpensive and an excellent knife for the past 20 years for me. I lost the original, stupidly, when I was boarding an airliner and forgot it was in my pocket. Crazy, I know. But immediately purchased another, as it’s been just great.

  4. If you want to buy American made knives then go with Case or Buck. Probably the best made, for the money, made anywhere. Even great European companies like Puma are fobbing off assembly to China.
    Some popular companies knives are made both in China and Taiwan and I’ve found that 95 percent of the time that products from Taiwan are superior in grade of steel.
    In reality it makes little or no difference where a knife is made. Good steel is good steel and low grade crap is low grade crap. Buy a knife based on the quality of steel used and how quickly it can be deployed if it is used as a defensive tool.
    If it is used as a working tool it really makes no difference how fast it opens. A cardboard box or piece of rope generally won’t argue with you, but good steel is a must.
    Know what you are buying. Wikipedia has several great articles on grades of steel and their uses. If a seller doesn’t disclose the grade of steel used in their products don’t buy it no matter how cool the advertisement makes it look.
    A little research before you tap the “buy now” key goes a long way.

  5. I like Kershaw knives in general. I guess the Thermite is okay if you are okay with a cheaper made in China blade. I prefer the better USA made blades for the quality and to support US manufacturing. My current EDC knife is the Kershaw Camber which is a simple no-frills design made in the USA with a blade high quality S30V steel that retails for about $80. That is significantly more than the $30 Thermite. But, the way I see it, you get what you pay for, so it depends on what you can afford and how much political value you put into buying made-in-the-USA products.

    1. A little more careful read of the article will reveal the lock is what’s made of 410 stainless. The blade itself is 8Cr13MoV. You have your choice of exteriors with a stainless finish or black tactical. With a spring assisted opening its well worth a $30 price range.
      My gripe with a Kershaw is that bump on the back of the blade. Some people love it. To each their own.

    2. Good Lord, really? Pay closer attention to what the article says before criticizing the knife with a knee-jerk response. The locking mechanism is 410 steel, NOT THE BLADE itself.

  6. We are so predictable. Here I am about to gush about how great these knives are, and suggest the higher end zt line, when I get to the comments and it’s all corporate garbage about how one one guy or political party is ruining everything.
    How is this relevant to Kershaw knives?

    Also, Neville chamberlain was serving the same masters that Obama and bush and Clinton and regan. Follow the money.

  7. I agree with Sean 100%. If it’s made in China, I’ll pass no matter how low the price is. Unfortunately too many products we buy such as electronics like my HP laptop, my iPhone and numerous other items are only made in China and we have no choice. No thanks,

  8. Sean-follow the latest info from the Ayotollah and his new book on how to outfox America and destroy Israel. What separates Iran from those others you mention is the reason for their wantlng to destroy us. According to the powers of Iran it is a religious war that has its basis in the KORAN. Do you get how serious a threat it is? If you think there is any negotiating possible then you have absolutely no realistic idea of what those murderous people are capable of. Your mentality changes when you spend time there.Iranian nukes will be based on ICBMs and they WILL be aimed at your kids -a gift from the traitorous Democrat political operatives who put power ahead of Americas existence.And no you cannot put the Genie back in the bottle once its out. Sanctions were working just fine .Over 50% of the worlds trade goes thru this country of ours. The rest of the world would not risk that relationship.Do be afraid,be good afraid of those maniacs getting nukes.They will be happy to use them.

  9. Sean. I agree with you re: buying products from China. Too bad they are not smart enough to have our equivalent of the EPA or OSHA.

  10. Hey Sean whaddahyouthink-Imagine liviing in a country where the commander in chief goes to his enemy and begs them for a treaty. The enemy says screw you you get nuttin for us signing.The C.I.C. says OK and on top you can have a bomb on top of a missle and we will point it at your kids butt. The C.I.C. says OK and while youre at it Iwillgive you a ton of cash so you can blow up our closest ally. Think we got problems?

    1. Israel isnt our closest ally, that honor goes to England or France, or maybe Canada or Australia. I think, no, I know, that Obama is anti American, and wants us taken down a notch or 12. But a nuke from Iran isnt too big of a worry for me. China, NK, Russia, etc have had nukes for decades. The bigger worry is economic collapse for me. we have doubled our national debt in the last 6.5 years. Obama has spent more in the last 6 years than all presidents before him combined…

    2. @ Sean.

      Damn straight!

      Our country is suffering from Liberal/socialist-itis. A disease caused by the people who are elected by those who don’t work and rely on you and me to pay taxes so they can get a free ride. And before anyone gives me a lecture about the poor, single mother who can’t feed her 11 children, all of whom have a different father, maybe if they were willing to make a commitment to a spouse and do some work for a change they would’t be in this situation.

  11. Sean I am with you -but making a knife in this country? First “Frankie” from the metalworkers Union would stop by for his vig.Then the Boy . Scouts from the EPA would stop by to see your permits for the chemicals used in the finishing process.Then you want to distribute the knives but the Teamster Union stops by to read you the riot act about hiring drivers. Ok you call the Insurance co. to go over your premium and find out the call you missed was the agent saying you have been dropped because of the nature of your product.You go to your office for a moment of peace.The phone rings. The large check you deposited last week to cover payroll just bounced.Make the product overseas and to hell with the agggravation

    1. Or just make it in a conservative right to work state like Indiana, tell the unions and teamsters to go to hell. Get your loans through a local credit union and insurance company that is less likely to be corrupt and biased (though I have never heard of anyone giving a knife company problems) Not much you can do with the EPA, Guess all the knives will be Stainless, blued, or blackened.

      Not sure why the check would bounce, if it did, they wouldn’t get the product. and if money is so tight one order will bankrupt you then you have bigger problems.

  12. Made in China, no thanks. I avoid buying that countries garbage as much as possible. Maybe when they stop using slave labor, and putting our poisonous dog food, baby formula, lead painted toys, etc etc. Kershaw should make their Knives in another country, the US preferably, but even Japan or somewhere in Europe. Just not china, a growing threat in the Pacific.

  13. Another great every day Carrie knife happens to be the Btowning Opmod it is been discontinued but you can still find it in a lot of different locations. It happens to be one of the best ergonomically fitting knives in the hand I have ever seen and it holds an edge through exceptionally tough use The spring clip allows you to carry the knife upside down so you can just slide it straight down off your bill and then do your hand instantly open with the use of the thumb stud. Overall it just happens to be a fantastic knife and a fantastic price now that it’s been discontinued. You can usually be found for under $30

  14. “old-fashioned cutting tools”?

    Kershaws are great blades, as are CRKTs and a host of others. I was with you until you made this elitist comment about our old fashioned cutting tools. I have a Case I’ve owned since the 70’s, and it remains a great blade. For that matter, i have my father’s knife from the 30’s, and it remains a great blade.

    Kershaws are great knives and reasonably priced, and i like them, but please back off on the “if you don’t know about these you’re stupid” kind of comments.

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