Today, we are talking about Kershaw’s Dividend. It’s a small folder.
My General View on Small Folding Knives
I’m not really big on small folding knives. Bigger folders can, well, do more chores better than most smaller folders. I like a folder with a blade between 3.5 inches and four inches in length. A blade length of 3.75 inches seems about perfect for my every day carry use. But that’s just me, I guess.
However, I won’t turn my nose up at a well-made, well-designed smaller folder, not in the least. I appreciate cutlery, period! All knives have a use. Keep in mind that the knife was man’s first tool. And a knife is first and foremost a tool. Any other uses are secondary. I know, I know. We all fantasize about going toe-to-toe against the bad guys, armed only with a folding knife. Excuse me? I’d rather run than fight, if at all possible, when it comes down to using a small folding knife to defend myself. But I have, in the past, used a folding knife in a self-defense situation. But, it’s not my first choice!
Preferences for Self Defense
I have more than 35 years behind me in the martial arts, and I have several Black Belts in various martial art styles. Given my druthers, I’d prefer a walking stick or a Bo, if going up against someone with a knife. Of course, a handgun is better, but sometimes we use what we have on-hand. All of my former martial arts students, young and old alike, were trained in the use of a walking stick for self defense. I don’t know of any place in the world where it is illegal to carry a walking stick. Think on that.
One thing about me is that I’ve rarely been called a “gentleman” in the truest sense of the word. Oh, that’s not to say that I’m not a gentleman. I am. But there are some people I’ve known over the years, like the late Grand Master John McSweeney, who founded American Kenpo Karate. He was a true gentleman. So, whenever I see small folding knives, very well-made folding knives, I consider them “Gent’s Folders”. You really don’t have to be a gentleman to carry one. Additionally, one thing I see a lot, with smaller folding knives, is that guys are always cleaning their fingernails. I personally prefer to keep my fingernails trimmed so there isn’t much dirt that gets under them. It just doesn’t thrill me to see someone running a blade under their fingernails.
The rich and very rich who call themselves “gentlemen” are often seen cleaning their fingernails with a custom folding knife that probably cost them a thousand dollars. Okay, it’s their knife. Do with it as they please. I find many uses for a smaller folding knife other than cleaning my fingernails. One comes to mind readily– opening mail. It’s much easier to open a letter with a smaller folder than it is with a larger one. And, many every day chores are done easier with a smaller folder. Yet, still I prefer a bigger one. Again, that’s just me!
Some months back, I received a Press Release from Kershaw Knives, announcing a new folder called the “Dividend”. It just caught my eye. First off, it was designed in-house, not by any well-known knife makers. Secondly, it has a Flipper that activates their patented SpeedSafe assisted opening device, which Kershaw is famous for. And, the price point really caught my attention. It is “Made In The USA” and is only $69.99, plus it can be found discounted if you shop around.
A Quick Run Down
The little Dividend, at least “little” to my thinking, has a 3-inch long blade made out of 420HC, which has a nice stone washed finish on the blade. I really like it. The blade is locked open via a liner lock, which is easy to use, and the aluminum handle scales are anodized gray. It’s very classy. You can get one with a different handle material for a few bucks less, but I liked the aluminum handle scales. There is a lanyard hole, which is always appreciated, and a pocket/clothing clip that can be moved around to all four positions on the knife for right or left hand/pocket carry or tip up or tip down carry. The little Dividend only weight 2.8 oz. You don’t even know you have it clipped in your pocket.
The blade design itself is close to a Warncliff style but not quite. It is also a very effective design for up-close detail cutting. The entire knife was done to perfection. I put on my gunsmith magnifying lighted goggles and really looked the knife over. There was not a flaw or blemish to be found any place. How do they do that at that price point? Amazing!
The flipper is actually a portion of the blade. When the blade is closed, the flipper sticks up a little bit through the handle scales on the front/top of the handle. You simply apply light pressure to the flipper, and the blade flings open. It opens with authority, too. It’s not some piece of cloned junk that doesn’t work. And, the blade locks-up firmly when opened, too. The knife is very slim and trim, which is another sign of a genuine “Gent’s Folder”, if you ask me.
I carried the Dividend for a couple of weeks, using it for all manner of chores. Many of these chores consisted of cutting open packages from UPS or FedEx. I tried my usual slicing through a blackberry vine with the Dividend, but the blade is just a tad bit too short to fully slice through one of these vines. The blade was sharp enough, but it just needed a little more length to completely sever one of these tough vines.
Now, as I mentioned at the start of this article, I’m not thrilled about using a knife in a knife fight. However, even little folding knives can be used very effectively to defend against an attacker. You just have to know the limitations. You can’t stab very effectively unless you are going to the neck or throat area, where arteries aren’t buried deep behind muscle. For a small folder like this, slashing is it when it comes to self-defense. A couple cuts across someone’s bare wrists, and they won’t have control of their hands any longer. So, even a little folder can be used effectively for self defense. However, the knife wasn’t designed for this purpose. But it is a tool to be used for a lot of different “chores.”
Try as I might, I simply couldn’t find anything to fault with the little Dividend. I’d like to see Kershaw come out with a larger version, like with a 3.5-inch blade. That would be right up my alley! And, keep it under a hundred bucks? Oh yeah….
Check out a Dividend at your local knife or sporting goods shop. It really is a pretty classy little folder, and if you’re a genuine “gentleman”, I don’t see how you can pass it up.
– Senior Product Review Editor, Pat Cascio