The Kershaw Shuffle is an interesting little tyke recently introduced to the Kershaw lineup. I am not generally a huge fan of folders that attempt to segue into the multitool market, but I found the (albeit flawed) implementation on the Shuffle compelling enough to review. Whilst I was ultimately disappointed with the multi-tool features implemented on the Kershaw Shuffle, I do still commend Kershaw for trying new things and not sticking to the status quo.
The Kershaw Shuffle’s knife design is innovation worth mentioning in this day and age of 3-4 inch blade tactical knives with overbuilt everything.
I particularly dig the white FRN scales. The Kershaw Shuffle comes in many different handle colours, but I there really aren’t many white-handled knives on the market, which is why Elise chose to grab this one in particular. It’s pretty refreshing to have an injection of new colors introduced into the market with this collection. The Kershaw Shuffle comes in this white-handled one, black handles, all black, a pink-handled version, as well as teal, lime green, and purple handles with a black acid-wash finish blade.
Right off the bat, you can see the Kershaw Shuffle’s diminutive stature in my hands. Coming in at 3.25 inches (8.3 cm) closed, it’s definitely on the smaller side of the pocket knife market. Not a bad thing at all, as most EDC knives tend to be overwhelmingly in the 3 inch blade category, and options are always nice to have.
Aesthetically, I must admit – it hits all the right notes for me. Really unique design with some nice pseudo utilitarian (more on this later) flourishes like a bottle opener and an oversized flat head screwdriver/lanyard hole combo.
The blade of the Kershaw Shuffle is very leaf like. If it had a hole, I would definitely believe it was a Spyderco, which is certainly not a bad thing, as leaf blades offer a lot of versatility in a small package – always a plus.
With 2.4 inches (6 cm) of blade, the Kershaw Shuffle is surprisingly viable for all EDC tasks that I have encountered, and frankly, I can’t think of a single thing a 3 inch blade could do that this little sucker could not. So I assure you – don’t be scared away by the size, as you might find you are pleasantly surprised when you actually do try using the Shuffle.
The 8cr13MoV blade features a hollow grind of average shallowness (it’s definitely not a folding lightsaber, nor a prybar for that matter), as well as a very slight top swedge. Cutting performance was average and within my expectations for this knife. After carrying the Kershaw Leek for a week, I find the Shuffle to be quite stout with a solid enough tip. I wouldn’t worry about using this knife with rougher tasks in mind but as mentioned before, it’s definitely not a beater either.
As you can (hopefully) see below, the Kershaw Shuffle utilizes a nested liner lock with very, very early engagement. I am not a fan of this, as the lock slips almost effortlessly. I get that collectors want super early lockup as a selling point, but as someone who uses his knives I find it pretty unsafe. I can force the lock to slip off with minimal pressure of my thumb over the spine of the knife. Very sloppy and I am surprised to see that on a Kershaw.
The backspacer of the Kershaw Shuffle is made of steel which adds far too much weight without the trade off from the two tools being worth it (more on this later). I would have been happier to have no tools and a lightweight FRN insert to complete the lightweight EDC package instead of this.
To put it in perspective, with its 2.8 ounces (74.9 g) of heft, the Kershaw Shuffle weighs more than my Spyderco Delica, and yet doesn’t provide as much blade. And remember, the Spyderco Delica features a stainless steel mid-lock, whilst the Shuffle doesn’t have that excuse.
The backspacer also has the totality of the jimping. I am not sure if the jimping is needed as the knife has enough finger grooves to offer superb hand retention, but it’s a nice aesthetic detail nonetheless. Reminds me a lot of the Spyderco Techno in terms of styling (protruding design).
As I mentioned before, the lock up is sub par due to a (much) too early lockup. Thankfully, the generous choil will save your fingers, and in time the lock up will engage securely as the liner lock wears in. Frankly, I feel the lock up should be rock solid out of the box, so that’s a big disappointment for me.
Centering is dead on perfect, as is the general fit and finish. Not a surprise, as Kershaw has always had excellent manufacturing and execution of budget folders. Better than any other brand in that price range as far as I am concerned.
Such a pity about having such a heavy knife (taking into account size) with such a nicely implemented nested liner. It’s like putting a 12x scope on an Uzi – why bother?
In saber grip, the Kershaw Shuffle is very natural and pretty damn secure. Very generous choil, and finger grooves aid with in-hand retention.
Choking up is interesting and allows a full 4-finger grip with considerable cutting power thanks to the Kershaw Shuffle’s very organic, curved shape that compliments the palm of your hands. For down cuts on wood, the Shuffle would excel.
Reverse grip is technically viable, but not comfortable in the slightest. Nowhere to rest your thumb, and the choil + finger grooves are clearly not designed to be held as such – not to mention the bottle opener digging into the flesh of your hands. Unpleasant.
The Kershaw Shuffle in pinch grip would be perfect if not for the bottle opener cut out. I really want to check out the Kershaw Shuffle II as it seems to have fixed some of my major criticisms of the Shuffle – namely a smaller (albeit, still steel) backspacer without a cut out.
Pocket clip is fantastic. The FRN “K-Texture” pattern handles are not abrasive against your pockets unlike some of Cold Steels G-10 (the Recon 1 comes to mind), and the deep carry design is both practical and secure.
It would have been perfect if not for the two screws sticking out. As you can see, it hampers deep carry, as the liner of my jeans are too thick to go over them. Sadly, if the screws were nested, that would not be an issue.
Balance point is all wrong. The heavy back spacer makes the Kershaw Shuffle far too handle biased, and when choking up on the knife I find the lack of forward weight to be jarring, especially in such a small knife. For light tasks like opening a parcel, I wouldn’t notice, but if I had to use this knife all day in a warehouse, for example, I wouldn’t be happy.
It’s a shame, as the ergonomics are quite excellent.
First tool up to be tested is the bottle opener. It looks good – no rough casting marks or defects – so I allowed myself to have high expectations.
Nope. Not as good as the Swiss Army knife bottle openers, and yet 4-5 times the weight.
The backspacer also goes beyond the scales to almost a triangular point. It serves as an oversized lanyard hole (very nice) and a mediocre flat head screw driver.
Technically works, but frankly, it’s superfluous to requirement. I just don’t see its potential use as worth the trade off in weight.
I find a lot to love about the Kershaw Shuffle and I do frequently EDC it as an inexpensive small blade that won’t scare the sheeple. Elise really likes using it and is incredibly fond of the white scales (if any knife manufacturers are reading this – add more white scales to your product lines, guys!).
All that being said, a plethora of little problems from the obscenely early lock up, needless weight, mediocre tools, and badly implemented pocket clip screws really hamper my ability to recommend it. Good try here, Kershaw, but in my humble opinion, you’ve nailed the aesthetics and now the utility of the design needs work.
Personally, I would go with the Spyderco Dragonfly II over the Kerhsaw Shuffle, as it’s roughly the same dimensions, has superior ergonomics, and doesn’t suffer from the aforementioned issues.
It’s a damn shame about the Kershaw Shuffle, however, and hopefully Kershaw doesn’t give up with the smaller folding knives, as the industry is sorely in need of more variety.