Reviewed 06/27/2011 by Jon G.
-Price Paid: $30.00
-Used for Light Duty/General
-Owned for Greater than 1 year
The Kershaw Chive is an assisted opening folding knife with a 1-7/8" 420HC plain edge blade, a closed length of 2-7/8", and an overall length of 4-3/4". It weighs 1.9oz. All measurements are according to the Kershaw manufacturer's website. My observations and critiques in this review are based upon my experience with the matte stainless handled version. Several variations of this model exist, so obviously some of my observations may not apply to them.
The tiny recurved blade came razor sharp out of the box, like most Kershaws I've handled. For everyday light-duty tasks like opening packages and envelopes, the 420HC stainless steel used in the knife blade holds its edge reasonably well for a steel of its quality. However, the Chive lost its edge quickly when I tried whittling sticks for roasting marshmallows.
Compared to other knives like the Spyderco Dragonfly, the Kershaw Chive's curvy blade shape is challenging to sharpen. Following the curves to put an even bevel on the edge using a whetstone or the Spyderco Sharpmaker was a bit difficult. It may be easier to avail yourself of Kershaw's free mail-in sharpening service when your Chive goes dull. However, as the steel is 420HC, it is soft and relatively forgiving when you do try to sharpen it yourself.
Ergonomically, the Chive is a TINY blade. Combining the stainless handles with the small form factor, this knife is difficult to maintain a grip on in anything other than ideal conditions (and I have fairly small hands). The anodized aluminum scales might do better in this respect, but between the small blade length and its propensity to slip out of my hands, I would not recommend this knife for anything resembling hard use.
The Kershaw Chive features Ken Onion's SpeedSafe mechanism, actuated by either dual thumbstuds or an index finger flipper. Using the index finger flipper appears to the the primary intended opening method for the Chive. As this knife is absolutely tiny, I found that using the thumbstuds to open the knife actually got in the way of opening the knife efficiently. Oftentimes I could not get my thumbs out of the way fast enough after actuating the SpeedSafe mechanism, and my thumbs actually kept the blade from opening all the way. Nevertheless, the assisted-opening mechanism is elegantly simple and opens the blade swiftly and with minimal effort. As the hold-closed detent and pressure needed to open the blade is so light, Kershaw included a hold-closed safety on the Chive, which consists of a plastic tab held on a sliding track, which can be actuated to cover the tip of the blade when the knife is closed. It is very simple and certainly does the job. If you plan to carry the Chive using the clip, I don't think the safety is necessary. However, if you are planning to deep-pocket carry the knife, using the safety might not be a bad idea, as the knife has opened inadvertently in my pocket twice during three years of carry and use.
The Chive in stainless steel is a frame lock design, and for its size is as tight as any folding knife I've handled. Blade-handle lockup is rock-solid; absolutely no wiggle back and forth or side to side is evident, even after over three years of use and being disassembled twice.
As with most assisted opening knives I've encountered, closing the Chive requires more pressure than a comparable manual action knife, as you are compressing the SpeedSafe torsion bar by pushing the blade back into the handle. It is certainly not unsafe, but feels very different than closing a more traditional action knife.
The Chive comes with a tip-down-only metal pocket clip, fastened to the frame with two T6 torx screws. It is proportionately-sized to the knife handle, and holds the knife unobtrusively to the pocket. The clip-to-handle tension is perfect, as it holds the knife securely to the pocket, but is easy to draw and stow. Certainly the slippery stainless handles help in this regard. Clipped to the pocket, it is certainly identifiable as a knife, but its unassuming size makes it easy to overlook. Between the tiny closed length and light weight, this is a knife you will forget you're carrying until you need it.
I carried the Chive for over three years, but have moved on to greener pastures. It certainly can handle the rigors of light-duty urban daily carry, but you can do better in terms of overall ergonomics (unless you're looking for a tiny knife) and blade steel.