So far in 2023, the knife world has seen a lot of moving pieces land in new places and it’s shaking up what we’ve come to expect from certain manufacturers and price points. This has caused a major blurring of lines in terms of the classifications of production knives.
The biggest and most obvious example has been the crossbar lock mechanism, which, up until last year, was only known as the “Axis Lock” and was proprietary to Benchmade. Whether the patent ran out or Benchmade decided to share its technology with other brands, the adoption of this lock mechanism has spread like wildfire, and for good reason: It’s one of the strongest and most reliable lock mechanisms on the planet.
Kershaw calls its take on the crossbar lock the “DuraLock” and baked it into four new knives: Monitor, Covalent, Heist, and Iridium. Having the pick of the litter, I chose the most expensive of the bunch, the Iridium, and it’s been nothing but good, clean fun for under $100.
But I didn’t pick the Iridium to test because of its price; I picked it because it utilizes another feature that’s been picking up traction in the last few years — ball bearings.
In short: The Kershaw Iridium is the epitome of modern EDC knives. It’ll do anything you want it to do and look factory fresh even after spending a considerable amount of time out in the wild.
Kershaw Iridium Folding Pocket Knife
- OAL 7.9”
- Blade length 3.40”
- Blade steel D2
- Blade shape Spear point
- Grind Flat
- Hardness 58-61 HRC
- Lock type DuraLock
- Carry right or left hand, Tip-up, deep carry
- Weight 3.3 oz.
- Price $100
- D2 Steel
- KVT ball bearing system
- Form and function balance
- It’s a very sharp fidget spinner
- It’s always out of stock!
Review: Kershaw Iridium
Design and Features
The Iridium falls into place in terms of what we should all expect from an EDC folding knife in 2023. At almost 8 inches in overall length and sporting a 3.4-inch blade, the size, and balance of the Iridium is common. It also has a deep carry pocket clip, now a standard on most of the knives that came out last year and earlier this year.
In addition to the premium DuraLock feature, Kershaw included its KVT ball-bearing system for smooth blade deployment. A flipper might have been a nice addition here, but the ample thumb stud, aided by cutouts in the handle slabs, makes for easy operation. The cutouts also make the Iridium truly ambidextrous.
Though not entirely uncommon, the choice to use gray anodized aluminum handles is a nice departure from G10 or Micarta. I love both, but sometimes it’s nice to see something else out there in the world. You won’t get the same amount of grip with aluminum scales, but you do get a premium look, amplified by the Iridium’s bronze anodized backspacer.
The Iridium features a spear-point D2 blade designed to do just about anything you can think of, except prying. Spear point blades are fantastic and utilitarian, but you’ll snap the tip right off if you try to do any type of prying. I know a lot of folks frown on people using blades for prying, but it’s happening — so, it’s worth mentioning.
Kershaw hasn’t been as much on my radar as its sister company, Zero Tolerance, but the Iridium is a difficult knife to ignore. It represents the blueprint of what an EDC knife in 2023 is — not should be; not aiming to be — but is. In both form and function, the Iridium checks off all of the boxes and further points out the fact that classifying a production knife by how much it costs is irrelevant.
Above and beyond that, the Iridium is fast and sleek. It looks fast. It deploys fast. It’s a fun knife to carry and fidget with. I initially thought it would be even more fun and effective if it had a flipper, but the way this knife has been designed, the thumb stud was the right choice in terms of opening mechanisms.
Here’s the elephant in the room: the Iridium is really nice-looking. Its visage puts it in a place and time that will make it easy to identify what time period it came from, 20 years from now.
I’m a true-grit, function-over-form guy, but I really appreciate it when a knife company drops a knife that creates the balance between the two.
In the Field
The Iridium presents a problem for those of us who are fidgety by nature. It’s the kind of knife you pull out and flip around when you’re waiting around. This, of course, only aids in how easy and fluid this knife is to use when you need to use it.
It fits well in all hand types, and knife users of all experience levels will find it familiar and comfortable to use.
The cutouts in the handle scales that make the Iridium both easy to use and ambidextrous also act as an effective choil. When you’re stabbing and chopping with a knife, a choil not only keeps your hand in place so your grip doesn’t slip, but it also allows you to work longer without your hand getting tired.
I tooled around with the Iridium as my EDC for a month and found it to be both welcomed and effective. I wasn’t yearning for another knife to ride around in my back pocket. But I knew from its robust build and the D2 blade, I could really beat the snot out of the knife.
It’s the type of reliability that I aim for when I am looking for something new to use and abuse daily.
The Kershaw Iridium is a great EDC folding knife for anyone looking for one. It’s affordable, reliable, and made from materials that won’t fail you.
The DuraLock mechanism is reassuring, as it can’t fail. The D2 steel is easy to maintain and sharpen meaning that the Iridium will be spending more time out playing than sitting on your bench waiting for you to pamper it.
The aluminum handles are strong enough to act as the framework of the knife, but are aided by stainless steel liners just in case you decide to back over it with your tank.
I’m enjoying the rise of these knives that are built well from fantastic materials that don’t break the bank. Sure, there’s something wild about having a $400 folding knife in your back pocket. But, there’s also something about having a $100 knife that does everything that $400 knife does, without making you feel like a jerk if something happens to it.
Knives are tools. They’re meant to work for you. If they look good doing it, well hell, that’s awesome. The Iridium straddles the line of form and function, creating that balance you should be aiming for when it comes to the knife you want going along with you on all of your adventures.