I didn’t really begin carrying a pocket knife until I was in my 30’s—I know, what’s wrong with me? I simply wasn’t exposed to anyone around me who viewed them as more than utilitarian in nature. Where I grew up in Allentown, PA, nobody ever seemed very excited about pocket knives. When I was finally exposed to the wide variety of folding knives (Surprise! They aren’t all bulky Swiss Army or oversized Buck knives!) I was hooked. Kershaw remains one of the “tried and true” manufacturers of the “everyman knife” and their newest, the Kershaw Link 1776, is a beautiful thing to behold.
Made in the USA
This is, above all, a spring-assisted knife, with a beautiful slate gray handle and liner lock. But what really struck me immediately was that this beautiful piece of craftsmanship retailed for less than $70. And it’s Made in the USA—right in Kershaw’s manufacturing facility in Tualatin, Oregon.
That’s probably why Kershaw gave it the 1776 designation—typically reserved for tacky, flag-adorned, red white and blue knives that give a bit more obvious homage to the United States. No, Kershaw is banking that a sub-$70 USA-made assisted-open folder with a beautiful BlackWash stainless steel blade will practically sell itself as American innovation. And the “link” name pays tribute to the fact that this knife seems like the perfect bridge between more expensive USA-made knives and an affordable assisted opener. It’s hard to not be impressed with the value of this folder.
Kershaw Link 1776 Features
The Kershaw Link 1776 features a drop-point blade with 420HC stainless steel. 420HC is a heat-treated form of 420 steel that has higher amounts of both carbon and chromium to make it harder and to give it more corrosion resistance. It can be hardened to around RC 56-59. While, technically, 420HC is lower-alloy steel, it seemed to really hold a good edge and sharpened easily with my Lansky sharpening system (see our article on knife sharpening systems for more on why we use this over others).
Kershaw’s BlackWash finish really makes this folder look awesome. The finish held up well to intense use and has a pre-worn finish (much like those stone-washed jeans from the 80s) which is more forgiving than solid steel or a coated blade. Between this finish and the 420HC steel, the blade itself should be long-lasting and resistant to natural corrosion. It also has absolutely no lateral movement when opened, giving it a nice, firm hold when you’re cutting, shaving wood, or otherwise using the knife.
The machined aluminum handles are anodized dark grey and have nicely eased bevel edges to add additional comfort during use and handling. I have medium-sized hands, and this blade was the perfect EDC (every day carry), fitting neatly in my palm and giving me a very secure hold on the blade for cutting. Of course, with the Link, you actually have four options (three in addition to this one), so nearly anyone can find a version suitable for their use:
- Kershaw Link (black nylon handle, stonewashed finish) – $44.98
- Link Tanto (black nylon handle, stonewashed finish tango blade) – $55.28
- Kershaw Link Tanto Gray (grey aluminum handle, stonewashed finish tango blade) – $42.16
- Kershaw Link Blue – $46.02
Using the Kershaw Link 1776
Spring the flipper and the SpeedSafe mechanism treats you to a swift, crisp open with a decidedly firm snap. The flipper may take a bit getting used to—it’s firm. I like this, however, as there’s no chance of it opening accidentally. Once open, I like the way the underside of the flipper gives a slightly jimped edge for your forefinger. Jimping is lacking, however, on the back edge of the blade, but with the nice hilt provided by the aluminum handle and the flipper, you get a nice, stable grip.
The pocketclip is reversible on this knife for optional left-handed carry, and I was able to easily make the switch by using a small Allen wrench. I’m right-handed, but I tend to carry in my left pocket lately, due to the presence of my phone in the right (iPhone screens and knives don’t tend to play well together!).
The liner lock on the Kershaw Link 1776 is simple to use, and easily released by your thumb. It locks the blade securely, and releases it quickly when it’s time to fold it and put it away.
For an EDC knife, the Kershaw Link 1776 is going to be a new favorite. It holds an edge well, sharpens easily, and you can’t beat the price. The fact that it’s made in Tualatin, Oregon is a bonus that just makes it even more attractive. I love the BlackWash finish most of all—it’s my new favorite look, and I loved how it held up well to scratches and abuse.
- Made in the USA
- SpeedSafe open, built in flipper
- Reversible pocket clip (left/right)
- Steel: 420HC, black-oxide BlackWash finish
- Handle: Machined aluminum, anodized
- Blade length: 3.25 in. (8.4 cm)
- Closed length: 4.4 in. (11.2 cm)
- Overall length: 7.6 in. (19.3 cm)
- Weight: 4.8 oz. (136.1 g)
- Price: $44.98