Little strokes of genius abound in this lightweight but stout pocket folder, the Kershaw Bareknuckle.
Someone at Kershaw thinks they’re clever. Take the Bareknuckle 7777, for instance. Based on the design of the Zero Tolerance 0777, this new knife honors the classic while offering “a slimmed-down profile and upgraded materials.”
And guess how much it retails for? That’s right, approximately $73. But is there more to this blade than its cutting wit? Let’s take off the kid gloves and find out!
Kershaw Bareknuckle Review
We’ll start with an overview of the Bareknuckle’s new, svelte dimensions. The blade is composed of 3.5 inches of 14C28N steel, with an intriguing drop-point design. The thickness is a sensible 0.12 inches, tapering past its stonewashed edges to a flat grind. The aluminum handle measures 4.7 inches, bringing the overall length to 8.2 inches.
As a complete package, the Bareknuckle is eminently carryable. Its 3.4 ounces are spread through a handle that’s just under half an inch thick, with a deep-carry clip that cants nicely toward the back of the pocket.
Kershaw: American Origins
I received this blade as a review sample from Kershaw’s factory in Tualatin, Ore. Like the Dividend and Link, this represents part of the company’s growing lineup of American-made knives. And, also like its cousins, the Bareknuckle represents a solid execution of an interesting design.
Check out the lines of this knife. It looks like a futuristic fighter jet or some alien bird of prey.
The style says, “Sure, I’m from the year 2092, but there’s no reason to fuss about it.”
Speaking of space-age materials, I’m not usually a fan of aluminum handle slabs. But, the Bareknuckle’s anodized siding is as pleasing to the hand as it is to the eye. And it maintains a good sense of grip without the clamminess I associate with cheaper metals.
Kershaw Bareknuckle 7777: Snappy Action
Deployment is handled by a low-profile flipper tab. Give it a healthy press, and the blade snaps through its arc, locking sharply into place. A combination of KVT bearings and a well-tuned detent provide a satisfying, fidget-friendly action. Closure proves equally pleasing, with the flipper tab dropping nicely against the user’s thumbnail before the blade swings back against its stop pin.
Should you choose to tune the action, disassembling the Bareknuckle is a breeze. The captive pivot turns easily with a single Torx key, though it doesn’t exactly line up with the cutout on the clip side. Those who prefer to add oil from the outside will find ample access to the bearings.
One of the more interesting features of the Bareknuckle is its subframe lock. See that cutout on the lock bar? It’s a stroke of subtle genius. Most frame-locking knives force you to keep your fingers off the bar during deployment lest you inadvertently apply pressure to the detent. Here, the cutout provides a natural resting place for your finger.
But what about security? Kershaw states, that “one side of [the] lightweight handle, or frame, is fitted with a steel plate integral to the frame,” allowing for a “larger and lighter knife yet with an extremely secure lock.”
At no point during my testing did I come across a situation that called this claim into question.
All this innovation means nothing if the knife isn’t good in the field. But over the month I tested the Bareknuckle, I found it to be a completely capable tool.
It starts with the blade shape. The thin stock and long, graceful belly sliced through onions, peppers, cardboard, paper, tape, and even solid squares of sealing wax with no adverse effects.
Its gently upswept curve reminds me just a bit of the Spyderco Spydiechef, though this design comes to a much more delicate point. I wouldn’t recommend it for any sort of prying duty, though; that’s a general no-no with my blades.
I do have a few complaints about the design. First off is the flipper tab, which, though jimped, can be a bit slippery. If your job involves perpetually damp hands, this may not be the knife for you.
Then there’s the pocket clip. While I love its angle and low-slung ride, the screws holding it in place do protrude into the fabric path. Many companies recess these into the handle, allowing for a smooth transition to the pocket. Not a dealbreaker, but definitely one of those knife nerd nitpicks.
Lastly, there’s the name. “Bareknuckle“? Really? I know thousands of names are already taken, but this one doesn’t paint a mental picture I associate with pocket knives.
Conclusion: Kershaw Bareknuckle
Long story short, I really like this knife. It’s a cool design forged from quality materials, as easy to use as it is to carry. The subframe lock is an interesting feature, and the straightforward disassembly makes maintenance a breeze.
Kershaw has a solid entry in the under-$80 price point here. Sure, I think the brand could have come up with a better moniker. But, to paraphrase the man behind another happy dagger, a Bareknuckle by any other name would cut just as sweet.