The Lansky World Legal is one of the more interesting knives in my newly started “slipjoint” collection. The name “World Legal” implies a sense of legislative submission or social neutering, as if to say, “It’s so harmless, it’s world legal!” As you can see quite clearly with your own two eyes, this is world legal based on technicalities alone. When I showed my grandmother (who is British born and bred) the Kershaw Cinder and said that it was illegal to EDC in the UK (due to the lock), then showed her the Lansky World Legal and explained this is legal to EDC, she just rolled her eyes and muttered, “Politicians.”
We tend to view legality of certain objects based on risk, but the law doesn’t work like that. We can’t say, “Let’s ban scary knives,” (anti-gun people have been trying this nonsense for many years) because a knife is simply a sharpened slab of steel. Unless it has a technical function that can be quantified (lock, deployment mechanism, etc.) we are always going to have knives like that Lansky around: knives that just defy our visual expectations.
The Lansky World Legal is one of the chunkier knives I have handled, coming in at around 6 ounces in total. It’s bulky and imposing. Like a pitbull. I don’t think this knife is what politicians had in mind when they thought up the standard for a UK legal option, yet here we are folks. It’s a mean looking tyke with a furious bite and possibly the strongest slipjoint that I have ever handled. Like, ever.
Closed, it’s only 4 inches long. Due to its sheer width, it’s hard to gauge how small and yet enormous this knife really is. I think taking into account that the blade is only 2.75 inches long, it’s crazy how imposing this knife is. Deploy it and ask people how long the blade is – I wager they will all say over 3 inches.
The scales are made of nylon. Unlike the Spyderco UKPK, these scales are very pretty and look almost like G-10 with their contoured edges and molded texture. Spyderco, take note. This is a sub $20 knife that looks better than your $50 equivalent.
The width of the Lansky World Legal carries over to every aspect of the knife; oversized blade stock, oversize pummel/glass breaker/giant slab of steel on the butt – oversized everything really. This is the least gentleman-like knife I own. Even my Spyderco Dodo is positively graceful next to it!
The interesting thing about the World Legal isn’t its ability to bypass laws, but rather how Mikkel Willumsen came to implement the slipjoint when he designed this knife. The slipjoint itself is horrifically strong. There’s absolutely no way you are opening this puppy one-handed. Feel free to prove me wrong and post a video so that my jaw can hit the ground. This slipjoint’s aversion to closing is extremely hard to put into words. It’s utterly awe inspiring, and the only slipjoint I would ever feel confident doing rougher work with. It is rock solid to the point that it can be annoying to open and close. If your fingers ever get in the way of the blade closing down on the handle, may God have mercy, because this knife won’t.
Speaking of the blade, it’s a weird S-Recurve kinda deal, its grinds are very subtle, but distinct enough that it doesn’t really fall under any categories. I know what you are thinking: How do I sharpen it? No idea – haven’t done it yet. But I imagine I will have to use a rod-type system like the one on my Spyderco Sharpmaker. This blade ain’t gonna play well with a waterstone (unless you want to turn it into a Wharncliffe).
The steel used is 9Cr13MoV. A great steel (relative to price), however I have noticed that some sellers list it as 440C and other reviews mention that to. I presume that originally it was 440C and later transitioned to 9Cr13MoV. Please let me know if you bought one and what steel it was (and when you bought it). Regardless of the steel you get, they will both provide similar performance with a slight nudge towards 9Cr13MoV in edge retention (in my experience). Then again, heat treat is more indicative when comparing those two steels.
Interestingly, the blade is finished very similarly to the Kershaw Emerson collab. Check out my review of the CQC-6K and look at the blade, then look at the photograph below, extremely similar. Beautiful satin/hand rubbed (looking) finish on the flats and a stonewash on the grinds. Looks awesome, and taking into account the entry price of the Lansky – it’s frankly incredible. Makes you question the value of higher priced knives, no?
Fit and finish is shockingly good. It’s a brutish knife that looks like it came out of a comic book, but in my experience, everything is rock solid with nice threading and zero evidence of burrs, rough edges, or machining marks. For such a rough and ready blade, they kept to tolerances very nicely. My Spyderco Urban (yes, I know, I always use it as an example of piss poor finish) cost many times more and is far inferior in every respect in terms of grind, finish, and fit.
Lansky does provide a thumbnail nick in the World Legal. It’s well designed and enormous, but in my experience, I just use one hand to pinch the blade and pull, whilst the other holds the knife. The sheer strength of the slipjoint mechanism would cause you to lose your fingernail should you attempt to use it as such.
I have to really grip the blade tight. I know I am repeating myself, but I cannot overstate this enough. This is a meaty blade with a meaty non-lock, if you catch my drift.
The clip on the is Lansky World Legal is pretty perfect. Not subtle in terms of placement, but aesthetically, it’s both minimal and rugged. 4 way possibility (left, right, and tip up/down), all using 1 flat head screw. Gotta love that simplicity. I also like the fact that Lansky chose to use standard Allen screw heads for all the other screws (3 in total). It’s refreshing to handle a budget knife that doesn’t feature a torx size 6 screw head. I recently picked up a Boker Tech and stripped the screws trying to get the clip off. Cheaper knives usually use cheaper screws and yet manufacturers persist in using T6 torx. What a load of nonsense. Don’t try to pretend to be a midrange or high end knife with properly hardened screws. We all know they are basically made of pot metal, so please cater to your users and use a flat head or Allen screw. Can’t believe this has to be said, but after stripping God knows how many T6 screws on Boker Plus knives – I have had enough.
Back to the non-locking lock. No choil means that if it fails, you will 100% lose your fingers. There is a mid stop and I don’t worry about the slipjoint ever.. slipping, but it’s something worth noting. I like the Spyderco habit of using giant choils. It especially makes sense on a non-locking knife.
In terms of ergonomics, they are utterly unique. This is one of those knives designed on a computer by a smarty pants designer and thus has a lot of jimping as well as finger groove, thumb ramp, etc. In practice, I find it reasonably comfortable and I “get” what Mikkel was trying to do when he designed the World Legal. This is a knife designed to be held, but sadly my major critisism as with all “ergonomic” knives is that the design is so aggressive in its bias towards holding it a certain way that it often feels unnatural.
I have always loved neutral handles like those on my L.T. Wright Genesis because neutral handles allow your fingers to nestle into a position that you are comfortable with. When it comes to ergonomic designs like the Lansky World Legal, they’re created to cater to the average hand, but by doing so, the feel is just “not quite right” for most people. This is not to say that the World Legal is not a comfortable knife, far from it, but rather that its the sort of knife you hold and think, “I wish it had a smidgen more handle here.”
With all that said, saber grip is comfy, the blade has an aggressive tip that just wants to bite in, and in terms of slashing, it’s a pretty great option.
Choking up is technically viable, but the lack of a lock and choil makes this option pretty horrifying to me. As a young teenager, I once cut off a significant portion of one of my fingers (like, the whole upper third – sideways, including part of the bone; yes, it luckily did grow back, though at a funny angle), so I am naturally weary of such events repeating themselves.
With that said, my one issue with this knife in terms of finish is the edge Lansky put on it. This was clearly designed for rougher work and the grinds are thick, as you can imagine. The tip is pointy and will pierce flesh as well as paper or other materials you regularly cut, but it isn’t ground to the same level as a higher end knife like the Kershaw Leek or any Spyderco (talkin’ edges here, not finish). This is not a major issue, as it’s still sharp and pretty damn vicious, but a few minutes with the Sharpmaker will make the World Legal into a much better cutter.
Is the Lansky World Legal a tactical knife? On paper, it;s a folder with a 2.75 inches of blade and no lock. Got that? Now look at the photograph below! So yes, it’s inherently a bad idea for a defensive option. Deployment speed is excruciatingly slow (and that’s without being placed in a stressful environment), as well as the risk of losing your digits, the lack of penetration, and finally the lack of reach. For a defensive option, I much prefer smaller knives (I am a follower of the Fred Perrin school of thought), but this would quite honestly be a last ditch option for me. Even then, I would take a glass bottle.
It looks mean, but it’s just an aggressive looking EDC. Not a UK legal Spyderco Civilian.
The pinch grip is once again, technically viable, but not advisable. Comfort is limited and performance is questionable. I include it in the review for review consistency only (I have a format people!).
6 ounces, very meaty blade. Thick steel slip joint/back spacer with oversized steel pommel. Steel liners.
Lots of steel people, balance is going to be an issue, but honestly, my hats off to you Mikkel and the fine people at Lansky – this is actually a decently balanced knife! Yes, there is a handle bias, but all things taken into consideration, I am surprised it didn’t feel like I was holding a boat anchor. Definitely viable for EDC use.
Like many brooding, menacing knives, I find the World Legal to be quite pretty in its own way. I know many find this over the top styling to be needlessly abrasive to the sheeples out there, and if you asked me 15 years ago if I would ever EDC a knife that looks like this, I would have laughed. But these days, in these times, I think these sorts of knives are very important. Society has pushed an agenda of docile design on us. We are not supposed to like these sorts of knives and much like the Cold Steel Voyager XL’s (Tanto/Vaquero) I find myself with a sense of defiance when I rock one of these. It’s a screw you to polite society, and frankly, I don’t care if it’s “aesthetically abrasive.”
Finally, let’s talk about that damn pommel. I thought I was going to be able to ignore it for the whole review, but Elise sneaked this picture in so here we are. It’s a thick, heavy, vaguely pointy steel triangle that sticks out of the butt. Does it work as a glass breaker? Probably not amazingly well, but I am sure it can break glass. At the end of the day, I would wager that this was a design decision, not a functional one.
Which is fine, because it looks badass as hell.
In many respects, the Lansky World Legal Knife feels like a satirical object – a way of explaining to our overlords that any attempts to legislate common sense will be answered with derision. This is a knife that is legal pretty much everywhere and yet looks like it wants to murder you. It’s glorious in its unabashed styling and purpose, and if Lansky released this with a backlock, it would be a best seller. It’s just that cool.
When reviewing budget price knives, I am always stuck in an odd position. This knife presents unreal value for money: great fit and finish, design by a Famous Dane, and a unique sense of style, too? All for sub-$20?! Its a bargain no matter how you look at it.
If you live in the UK or any other restrictive country, then it’s a no-brainer. You may not EDC it, but it’s certainly cool to have.
If you live in the States, I’d personally snap one up anyway – because its cool to carry a pitbull with no teeth. Afterall, it’s just a lil’ slipjoint, right?