Customer Reviews: Kershaw 1550ST Blackout Partially Serrated Folding Knife
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on March 4, 2010
I highly recommend the Ken Onion Kershaw Black Out to anybody looking for their first pocket folding knife, or to somebody looking to step up from a folding utility knife seeking a few more features and higher quality materials/craftmanship.

While I consider this knife to be an entry-level model, given it's price point, the craftsmanship and performance exceed expectations. Those who are accustomed to (or expect the quality of) excellent folding knives from manufacturers such as Emerson, Cold Steel, or Benchmade might not fully appreciate the value of this knife at under $60.

Handle: Polyimide, not G10 or Kydex. I have rather large hands, so it feels a bit small but not so much that it gets lost in my hand. There is little if any flex in the handle which has a metal liner. The knurling is fairly deep and sharp enough to provide very good traction when dry, adequate when wet/greasy. Great with gloves. Includes a lanyard hole which is big points from me. Held in the hand with blade retracted, the backstrap is smooth and rounded making for an excellent loaded fist. Likewise it is just long enough to protrude either side to be used as a tactical impact device in a hammer-fist or modified ridgehand. Probably not intended, but good to know if the chips are down.

Clip: Knife rides tip-down only, which I don't mind. Clip only attaches to one side. What I do like, is 1) the clip is very firm but well contoured and 2) the knife rides very low in the pocket. About as low as it can. That to me is a deal-breaker for a knife. There is some checkering under where the clip meets the handle, which does accelerate wear on your clothing or belt, but it's acceptable and could be modified.

Blade: The steel is quite good, Sandvik 13C26 (**this has since been improved, see "The Real Review's" comment below!) is used in razor blades, surgical blades and many knives intended for food industry use (i.e. heavier duty than the home kitchen). 13C26 is martensitic, which means it has been rapidly cooled (quenched) to trap carbon atoms in the crystaline structure, increasing hardness. Chromium content of the steel is a bit higher than many forging alloys. Generally the steel is very resistant to corrosion and provides good wear resistance, both of which contribute to edge retention. Comes razor sharp from the factory and is fairly easily sharpened with a basic stone, although a wetstone really makes this knife sing. The drop point makes detail work possible as a utility blade. The length and heft of the blade suit it well as a backup personal defense knife. I have yet to utilize the serations, but they are deep, aggressive and sharp. If they ever got dull, you'd probably be best bringing to a professional for sharpening. I like the blade coating, but depending on how you use the knife you may wind up scratching it from cutting various materials. This is no way degrades the functionality, but it doesn't look as slick as the knife does when it's new. That might matter to some people, not to me. The backside base of the blade has a few ridges that are in a perfect spot for your thumb to aid retention, a nice feature.

Assist Mechanism: Fast, easy to manipulate, relatively quiet. Easy to retract.

Locking Mechanism: Strong, practically no side-to-side play when locked. I haven't done spine hits to test the strength of the lock, but I have no fears that it will come loose unexpectedly even under harsh use.

This is the second Ken Onion Kershaw I've owned, the first was the straight blade version. Unfortunately, I lost that knife at a job site, sometime in the last couple weeks of a 6-month project! I tried a few other knives in the interim but wound up returning to the Ken Onion Black Out and decided to try the serrated version. Money well spent.


First use of the serrations.. not your typical use, but they performed well. Was eating an avocado and had to get the pit out. Stabbed it with the serrated portion of the blade and gave it a twist, popped right out.

I then decided it was time to give them a real test and found a dead 1" branch of maple. Went right through. Not the cleanest cut but the aggressive profile is a real wood hog.
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on November 27, 2009
I carry this knife as my daily use knife. I wear it with dress pants and with jeans, and it does not draw attention to itself. I work in a professional environment where carrying a knife would be looked at askance- but this slips into my pocket and is unobtrusive in a way that a knife with more tools on it would not. It is sleek, black, and subtle. Until I take it out to pop open a box or something like that, no one even notices it.

The speed stub is reversible, which is good for me as a left hander. What is not reversible is the clip- so when I take it out of my pocket, I still have to flip the knife over. That's the only real draw back of this knife. That would move it from four to five stars if they had just drilled holes on the reverse for me to move the clip.

The blade holds a edge, and sharpens up well. The tooth edge I haven't had much use for, but I am glad it is there.
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on January 3, 2015
I have had this model knife for about 17 years. I recently lost my old one, found a new one online and ordered it. About a year ago, The thumb stud came off the old one. I sent Kershaw an email asking if I could buy this part for the knife, and they sent me a kit with the thumb stud, pocket clip, and screws for no charge. This knife is sharp enough to shave with right out of the box. After significant use, it is easy to sharpen and holds an edge fantastically well. The spring assisted opening is lightning fast and there is no doubt as to whether it is locked in the open position or not. I use mine every day to strip wire of all sizes, open boxes, cut insulation, etc. (I'm an electrician/HVAC tech) and the knife hold up to all sorts of abuse. All in all, a very well designed knife. Also, the blade blackout NEVER wore off the old knife, nor did it scratch.
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on September 3, 2012
This is my second Kershaw Ken Onion knife. I also own the tactical blur. I love the blur and wanted a marginally smaller knife of a similar design. Have to say I'm really disapppointed with the black out. The blade is great, just like my other Kershaw but the handle feels like cheap plastic. The blur feels so much better in my hand that there is no comparison. The pocket clip is reversible on the blur, not so on the black out. The blur also has a thumb stud for opening on both sides of the blade so you can open it with either hand. The black out allows you to place the single thumb stud on either side but then you can only open it with your strong hand. The thumb stud itself has a different feel. The blur has a flat side that allows the thumb maximum leverage. The black out thumb stud is round and is harder to push open.
Do yourself a favor and pass on this knife. Get a tactical blur. Much nicer and I actually paid less for it.
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on September 8, 2007
This is a great knife. The blade deployment action is smooth and lightening fast. A solid pocket knife.
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on February 18, 2013
This is just an amazing knife for every day carry. You can easily flip it open and closed with one hand thanks to the spring assist. It holds a good edge. I've only sharpened it a couple times in like 2 years. I use it all the time. The serrations are brutally efficient. They'll strip plastic, bark, wire insulation, whatever...

Be mindful that this is a folder, and obviously not full tang. Treat it like you would treat a folder and you'll be very satisfied.
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on May 27, 2016
I have had this knife for several years. It was recently stolen
while at work. When I realized it was gone, I had to have another one just like it. They don't make these anymore (made in the USA), so I was very pleased to find them available here on Amazon .
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on February 24, 2007
Best non automatic knife on the market, Kershaw manufactures an EXCELLENT blade. Its the only knife I carry except for my Boker Auto. (For dress up occasions :) ) I have several Kershaws.
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on September 4, 2014
This is my second Blackout. I had my first one for 3 years and it performed super for all tasks. I put it down some where and it walked away or was lost. I have two other Kershaw folders with heavier handles that I have been carrying for a few months. They just didn't feel the same. I ordered this one last week, it came in two days and it is back in my pocket every day. I don't understand the knock in some of the reviews about the weight of the handle. This knife is a perfect weight. It has a longer clip than many knives so it sits very deep into the pocket; You don't see it and it doesn't bounce around. I spend a lot of time on boats and this knife is used a couple of times a day. If I lose this one over the side, I will be ordering another one. I highly recommend this product.
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on August 22, 2009
This is one of my all time favorite knives. It has a very lightweight (but quite strong) plastic handle, so you can easily carry it in your pocket all day. The assisted opening is very reliable. The shape feels good in your hand. And the serrations make short work of cutting tasks.

Joseph M. Vottis
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