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Today’s review will focus on the Kershaw Spec Bump 1596 assisted opening pocket knife. I would classify this knife as a medium to large assisted opening tactical knife. It was designed by Ken Onion and just by looking at it, one can tell it is one of his designs. "I wanted to make the Bump as multi-tasked as possible," says Onion. "The blade design is unique, but at the same time, it's very practical and fluent at a large number of jobs." Before beginning, I need to state this review will be based on observation and research, and will not be based on my actual use. The knife I purchased is from the first production lot, and I am going to keep this brand new knife in my knife collection or future sale. So I have not actually used it. Some of this review will use feedback gleaned from other user’s reviews or from the Kershaw Company.
Statistics of my Kershaw Spec Bump
Model number: 1596
Manufacture date: Aug 2005
Blade Steel: CPM154
Closed length: 4 15/16 in (12.5 cm)
Open length: 8 1/2 in (21.6 cm)
Blade length: 3 5/8 in (9.2 cm)
Measured weight: 5.4 oz (153 g)
Liner: Stainless Steel
Handle material: G10
Spacer material: G10
Thumb Studs: Dual thumb stud for R or L
Unfortunately Kershaw has discontinued production on this knife; however, if you are patient, you may be able to find them on ebay or other web sites. Kershaw made several varieties of the Bump which are:
The patented “Speedsafe” assisted opening feature allows the user to smoothly open the knife with a small manual push on the blade's thumb stud, or flipper. Quoting Kershaw, "The heart of the SpeedSafe system is its torsion bar. Closed, the torsion bar helps keep the knife closed, preventing it from being opened by 'gravity'. In order to open the knife, the user must apply manual pressure to the thumb stud to overcome the resistance of the torsion bar. After the blade is out of the handle, the torsion bar moves along its half-moon track and takes over. The blade opens smoothly and locks into position, ready for use." I find the deployment is fast, but not blinding fast; and it seems like the term “Speedsafe” is accurate. I also found the thumb studs a little short and difficult to use for deploying the blade. In my opinion, they need to make them slightly longer. However this is not too much of an issue because it is so easy to use the flipper that works very well.
Once opened, I find the lock-up is extremely solid. In no way is there any hint of looseness or wobble. The patented “Stud Lock” is the stud on the blade that, on most tactical knives, is just used to open them. But on the Bump it is also "an extremely secure lock that has 3 points of lock up." The stud slides up (towards the tip of the blade) to release the lock. A spring keeps it from sliding on its own. The spring is pressed in so as not to fall out, and is open on both sides to allow dirt or pocket lint to be shaken or blown out. (Note some of this verbiage is from Kershaw) I am experiencing a little difficulty getting used to the stud lock, and further practice is going to be necessary for me to quickly stow the blade with one hand. I think I am just so used to liner and frame lock set ups.
Stud Lock Configuration
The Bumps also have a sliding safety next to the pocket clip. When slid downwards it locks the blade in the closed position keeping it from opening in your pocket should you accidentally engage the opening feature. The safety is very solid and I like this feature. On the other hand the knife seems unlikely to accidentally deploy, and I doubt I would use it if I were to carry it.
Safety Lock Configuration
My Spec Bump features a re-curve blade made of CPM154 stainless-steel that is coated with Tungsten DLC (Diamond Like Coating), giving it a blacked-out look. “The Bump re-curve blade offers ideal leverage in tough cutting situations and a precisely centered point to handle piercing tasks.” The knife came extremely sharp; no complaints here. Note I did read one review where the outer 1/3 of the blade was not as sharp as the inner 2/3. I do not have an explanation for this.
One of the highlights for me is how extremely comfortable the knife is in my hand. I have a somewhat large hand and the handle shape/3D contouring fits my hand perfectly. I would call it my most comfortable knife. The grip is also very good with the machined textured finish on the G10 handles, combined with the lower cutout contouring and jimping provided. It does not at all feel like it would slip from my hand, even if wet. I also like the size. Not too big, but not small either.
Another highlight for me is the precise machining and good finishes. The operation is silky smooth, and the blade is perfectly centered between the liners. As a result they are able to make the blade to liner clearances very small, which in turn allows the knife to be thinner and weigh less.
Although I have not used this knife, I read several reviews from users that “have put it through the wringer”. I found a consistency of comments regarding its ruggedness and toughness. It holds up very well in the field and with hard use. Many users have been using theirs for years and are quite happy with their Bumps.
The Bumps have a very nice pocket clip probably made of stainless steel, although I could not confirm this. It has a very nice flexibility but does not feel “flimsy” at all. I would judge it as a very nice design that would hold up very well. It is attached with two screws at the pivot joint end and only has one position, tip down. It also has a lanyard hole for those desiring a lanyard.
In summary, the Spec Bump 1596 is an aggressive looking, assisted opening Ken Onion designed knife made of great materials and with fine machining/finishes. It has many wonderful features that make it a great candidate for an EDC or field use. It is a very nice size and is superbly contoured to handle a wide variety of tasks. If you are in the market for such I knife, I would highly recommend it because this Bump will not slow you down.
Finally I will finish with Pros and Cons.
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