Sometimes my Smith & Wesson Extreme Ops tactical knife seems a little extreme and antisocial in its camouflage. So when I was recently perusing sporting goods at my local Walmart, the Kershaw 1550 ST Blackout caught my eye. It was black and all business. The knife handle is black as is the blade. I also appreciated the fact that it was made in the United States of America. In these recessionary times, it’s always good to choose an American product first. The Kershaw 1550 ST is a lockblade knife with a 3 1/4-inch stainless steel blade in a 4 3/8-inch by 1/2-inch thick polyimide plastic handle. The first 1 1/8-inch of the Tungsten DLC-coated drop point blade is serrated. The handle is contoured and textured to provide a secure grip. The knife has a removeable pocket clip to secure it in your pocket or to a belt. The metal on the clip is pretty stout so the knife should be held very securely.
The most notable technical feature of the Kershaw 1550ST is the Speedsafe technology that holds the blade securely and makes it quick to deploy. Renowned knife designer, Ken Onion, invented the “Speedsafe” knife when he wanted an easily manipulated folding knife that wouldn’t be a switchblade. An internal torsion bar holds the blade in place when the knife is closed. However, when the knife owner uses his thumb to press upwards on a metal stud affixed to the side of the blade, the force overcomes the friction holding the blade in place and the blade flicks out and deploys very quickly. The torsion bar then locks the blade into the deployed position for safety. When the owner is finished with the Kershaw 1550ST Blackout, he simply pushes the torsion bar to the side and closes the knife. With the Speedsafe technology, you can deploy the Kershaw 1550ST with one hand. If you’ve ever had to use a knife in a high stress situation, you can appreciate the one-handed ease and safety of the Speedsafe technology.
Of course, as a humble freelance writer, I don’t go on rescues, climbs, sailing adventures, or commando raids every day. However, the Kershaw 1550ST Blackout regularly accompanies me on late night walks with the dog. A competent tactical knife can be a comforting presence. In mundane duties around the house, the Blackout’s blade has also proved plenty sharp. I’ve used it to liberate many items from plastic packaging and cut various plastic ties and straps. In the interest of writing a good review, I even went the extra mile and accidently jabbed myself with the Kershaw Blackout. The drop point blade was needle sharp and immediately drew a little blood from my thumb. It was just enough to remind me to cut away from my body and to avoid using a serious tactical knife when a pair of heavy duty scissors or when a smaller knife like my Case Mini Blackhorn is available. The Kershaw 1550ST Blackout is a rugged knife meant for rugged tasks.
The suggested retail price of the Blackout is $89.95 according to the Kershaw website. However, Walmart and Amazon have the Kershaw Blackout 1550ST for far less. It’s a great, no-nonsense, knife for sportsmen, first responders, soldiers, adventurers, and collectors.
KAI USA website (www.kershawknives.com)
Ken Onion Knifes (www.kenonionknives.com)