I was out shopping with the wife and kids a few months back, when I replaced a friend that had been with me daily for over a year. It took about 30 seconds to make the decision. Sometimes, you must look at your old friend, realize that they are broken, and move on. That’s how Kershaw’s tanto-bladed Freefall ended up in my pocket.
I broke a pocketknife a little over a year ago. Snapped the blade right off. It’s a long story that I’ll tell you later, but it was a good break, if there can be one. It left me without my every day knife, so I went back to the same store to try to replace it. No dice. But there was one with a similar build and some similar features from the same company, so I tossed it in the buggy and tried to rush my wife out of the store. If you’ve ever tried to rush a Rodeo Mom out of Tractor Supply, you know how well that went over.
NBO was in a bit of a transition last year. I wasn’t doing reviews, I just needed my knife. That’s why the knife isn’t brand new in these photos. I’ve used it to cut everything you usually use an EDC knife to cut. It’s been a letter opener and a steak knife. It’s chopped carrots and released hay bales. It really shined one cold night, while we were tarping the horse stalls at the barn, and I’ll show you why.
That’s the secret of it. Two things you can see, and one that you cannot. The blade is a flipper design. One handed opening, assisted by an internal torsion bar. The nub is a good design, it gives the mechanical advantage when pulled back, without allowing the blade to be pressed open from other directions. On the other side of the blade, we have jimping that is just aggressive enough to work through gloves. And not so aggressive that it rips your skin without gloves. The grips are helpful as well. They feel much like G10 but are less costly glass-filled nylon. And the K pattern not only gives the knife a little added branding, it serves the purpose of grip well. It’s not aggressive, it simply increases the surface area and adds ridges, it feels nice. It is slippery in oil, but in my use it has remained steady in my hand with water, sweat and blood without a problem.
Another feature of the Freefall, is the pocket clip. It is reversible, or as you can see in the image above, easily removed and chucked in the waste bin. I don’t carry a lot in my pockets, and I hate fumbling with clips, and the feel of the clip in my hand. For those who don’t mind the pocket clip, Kershaw has installed this clip to be easily changed for left or right-handed users, and it allows the knife to sit fully concealed in the pocket. This ambidexterity is limited to the pocket clip, however, as the liner lock is built for a righty, and southpaws would normally need two hands to close the blade.
Part of the reason that Kershaw can make a decent knife at such a low price, is the materials. The blade on this knife is 8Cr13MoV with a stonewashed finish. That steel name a bit confusing? That’s because it is a Chinese steel that is close to, but less expensive than, AUS-8. Many companies use this alternative in their budget friendly models to keep the prices down. The stonewash finish is another factor. It is less expensive than a polished finish, which honestly, you don’t want or need on a work knife. Especially one you might drop in a stable in the middle of winter.
In my experience, a flipper is just as quick as an automatic in use. And a flipper doesn’t have the switchblade stigma or legal stupidity. I don’t have anything against an auto, but a quality automatic tends to also be much more expensive. A similar automatic knife from Kershaw would run double the 40$ MSRP of the Freefall. (It averages half that price in retail.)
The Kershaw Freefall was originally a Tractor Supply exclusive product. It no longer appears to be available from Tractor Supply, however, if interested it can be purchased from the following online sources:
Amazon.com has it for about 19$ with free shipping right now.
BladeHQ Is offering it for 17.99, but shipping is not included.
Images of course were taken by and remain the property of the author. If you plan to steal my intellectual property, please let me know.
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