I think many of you will have seen this review coming. When Kershaw announced the “Pub” by Dmitry Sinkevich, I was beyond excited. It seems to me that Spyderco was always the de facto “weird ‘lil knives” company, but recently I have found myself straying and loving these new quirky offerings from other mainstream brands. As I have written about before, after so many reviews it’s exhausting to rehash another 3 inch drop point dressed in black G-10.
I want something new to talk about and hell, if nothing else: this is definitely new.
The most interesting aspect of the Pub is the weird optical illusion it has when using that keychain attachment feature you can see below. Believe it or not, it is the blade. Objectively, I am aware this design is more of a “look what I can do” in terms of design origins. Certainly not the quickest draw in the pack and a lot of the features are a consequence of an inventive knife designer being allowed to go wild for a bit. I can’t argue for this knife on the basis of sheer performance, but rather, I prefer to focus on the ingenuity of it all.
This may come across as a criticism, but honestly it’s not. The nature of the design means that some creature comforts have to be sacrificed, like deployment speed or ergonomics, and with the end result being so unique – I think it’s a worthwhile trade off!
Look at at photo below and tell me you don’t want to play with that knife! I have never, ever seen this kind of attachment implementation in my life, but I am really happy that Kershaw had the guts to do something so unusual when everyone else seems to be going in the same direction.
So, that clip/carabiner is obviously non-locking, as the blade needs to be able to be deployed relatively quickly (relatively being the imperative word). It is held in its closed position by virtue of the detent ball like any other knife. It’s weird to look at, but honestly, it’s not particularly radical in actual use. It’s like a bulky friction folder in terms of deployment, and I gotta say, it’s surprisingly easy to open once you get used to it.
Naturally, opening it two handed makes the entire thing a breeze, but even single handed it becomes something that one could, in theory get used to.
The only curve ball the Kershaw Pub threw at me was how petite the knife is. If you are deploying it with one hand, it will feel a smidgen unnatural.
Once the knife is open, it takes on the characteristics of your standard “little big knife.” Plenty of cutting power in a small package. It should be noted that the ergonomics do not lend themselves to prolonged hard use. Then again, it’s not exactly the sort of knife one would whip out to process a deer. Ergonomics are a natural consequence of the design choices the designer takes. If the design is conjured to serve a certain look or style like the Kershaw Pub was, then naturally it won’t be optimized for the shape of one’s hand.
I am not sure how I feel about this. It’s clear to me that the appeal of this knife is in its quirkiness. If it was hyper ergonomic, the aesthetics wouldn’t be as clean or as unique. Consequently, my interest in the knife would wane. It’s a catch 22 situation and I think Kershaw/Sinevich struck a balanced middle-ground. Yes, it’s very angular and quite odd to work with, but it’s by no means uncomfortable or painful.
In terms of cutting ability, the blade length is 42 mm of actual edge. It’s a hollow ground 8cr13MoV sheepfoot/Wharnie slicing demon, and whilst the stock is surprisingly thick (a hair over 2 mm) it is ground to a decently acute edge.
The only drawback is simply the size limitation, and that’s just physics.
The back scale is milled out of stainless steel and features a slip joint design that works perfectly in practical terms. I don’t think a lock would work particularly well with such a design. Frankly, the protruding clip/carabiner part of the blade act in exactly the same way as a friction folder would. If you are holding the knife properly, it won’t fold on your digits.
You can see what I mean with the photograph below. The jimping you can see halfway down top of the scale is in fact, part of the blade.
In terms of fit and finish, the Kershaw Pub is unsurprisingly pretty perfect. Centering was flawless out of the box and whilst after a couple of months of EDC the blade did start to stray off-center, it takes less than 10 seconds to adjust the pivot take it back down dead center.
It’s very hard to find flaws in modern inexpensive knives from Kershaw. Every surface is bead blasted/stonewashed to remove manufacturing marks and the nature of modern manufacturing removes the human element entirely. I would wager that 100% of this knife was made using automation. I very much doubt any part of it was finished with a human being in control.
This is both a positive and negative for me. On one hand, the lack of human involvement means that it feels very sterile and clinical. Everything is precise with no emotion behind it unlike a Buck 110, which is likely to have been handled by a dozen people before it reaches your hands. On the flip side, I trust that whatever I buy from Kershaw will more or less work out of the box. The heat treat is performed in huge batches and the manufacturing process is so unbelievably complex that any weird quirks are unlikely to crop up per individual sample.
Check out the laser cut slip joint/frame thingy in the above photograph. We are talking about ridiculous tolerances here folks! No way a one-man shop could make something so ridiculously precise, consistently, at such a low price point. It’s just not possible.
In terms of features, much like the Kershaw Shuffle, the Pub had a bottle opener and a flat head screwdriver. Both work adequately and in the case of the screwdriver, the shape of the handle is actually rather nice and lends itself well to apply some decent torque.
The thing is, the knife itself isn’t super light: 54 grams to be precise. I don’t think it’s a true keychain knife, but in the same vein, I don’t think it can replace an EDC knife altogether. For me, it’s a dependable backup blade with a solid amount of cutting power relative to its size that can be attached more or less anywhere. I have seen a lot of folks attaching it to a makeshift paracord necklace. It’s certainly contoured nicely enough to be comfortable, but the weight and the fact that this is a folding knife makes me weary of trusting it around my neck. Personally, on my belt is the way to go.
The nature of the carrying system makes deployment speed questionable at best. I did try to whip it out a few times, and it whilst it works with practice, it’s always going to feel clunky compared to a more normal/traditional knife.
One hand deployment: I tried people, I really did. I managed to work out a system, but honestly it doesn’t feel super safe and I can’t say I recommend it.
The pretty side of the scale is made of anodized aluminium. It does come in carbon fiber, but I wanted something more colourful. So much of my blog is taken up with drab tactical knives that when I get the chance to handle something fun like electric blue, I just can’t say no.
I don’t think anyone really expected my conclusion to be any different than it is: the Kershaw Pub is unique and for that reason alone we should give it some much deserved kudos.
It’s a hard decision for any huge company to create something that doesn’t really have a place in the market and that takes balls. The fact that this little quirky knife is actually very well made with a very solid blade makes the Pub a winner in my books, even if it’s sub-optimal as a primary tool.
If you need a knife to be attached securely to a vest, this is a great option in my opinion. As for me, I will be snapping up another one to keep in an Altoids kit. The lack of a clip and general dimensions make it ideal in my eyes, as an emergency back up blade.