Kershaw Launch 7, by Pat Cascio

The new Launch 7 by Kershaw Knives is their newest folder. It’s an automatic push button opening knife.

Kershaw Knives

I still remember when I took my first tour of the Kershaw plant how small it was. If memory serves me correctly, there were 17 people on the shop floor making knives. Since that first trip, Kershaw has moved into a much larger building, and no sooner did they move in they had plans to expand their operation. My last tour of Kershaw was several years back, and they had several hundred employees on the shop floor, in the warehouse, loading dock, and front offices. KAI Corporation in Japan actually owns Kershaw these days. The daily operation at the Kershaw plant is overseen by “Jack”. He prefers to be called that, because it’s hard to pronounce his Japanese name. He’s a wonderful man who always has time to shake my hand and chat.

Automatic Knives, Not “Switchblades”

I’ve mentioned this many times in my articles about automatic knives, that is a folding knife that opens by the push of a button. The uneducated still call these types of knives a “switchblade” for some reason. It’s not operated by a “switch”; it opens by the push of a button. The blade is then swung open by the stout spring, and it locks in place.

We have Hollywood to “thank” for demonizing the automatic folder. Back in the 1950s and1960s, all the gang members in movies carried a “switchblade”, and for some strange reason people still believe this type of knife is deadlier than any other folding knife. That’s far from the truth! An automatic folder is just a little bit easier to open for some people. Honestly, I can quickly open many other folding knives with the flick of my wrist; it’s faster than trying to locate the button on an automatic folder.Kershaw Launch 7

Of course, an automatic folder is illegal in many states and locales, so be advised. You can’t mail order an automatic opening folder, if you live in a state that doesn’t allow them. And any reputable dealer will tell you so, unless you are active duty military or law enforcement. For many, the push of a button is more convenient than having to use a thumb stud to push the blade open or pull the blade out of the handle. We have assisted-opening folders, and Kershaw was sure a pioneer in this regard. The assisted-opening folders are as fast to open as an automatic folder in my humble opinion. Still, there is a big demand for automatic opening folding knives, and I don’t have a problem with that at all.

Launch 7 Designed By Tim Galyean

Under review is the Launch 7, the hottest and newest automatic folder from Kershaw. This knife was designed in-house by long-time employee and designer Tim Galyean. I had the opportunity to meet Tim once, many years back. He demonstrated the 3D CAD machine that could produce a polymer prototype of a knife, based on the information that was fed into the machine. It was amazing, to say the least.Kershaw Launch 7

Launch 7 Blade

The Launch 7 has a 3¾-inch blade made out of CPM 154. This is the powdered metallurgy verson of the 154 CM knife steel that was very popular with custom knife makers many years ago and still is. According to the Kershaw website: “This version offers improved toughness, grindability, and polishability as well as providing excellent corrosion resistance and edge retention.” That’s saying quite a bit. I value the 154 CM steel in knives and had a number of knives I designed and had made for me by custom knife makers over the years, and they used 154 CM. I was very impressed with it. However, it sounds like the CPM 154 is an even better steel. This works for me!

The blade is black. The company doesn’t say what the coating is on the Kershaw website, but it appears to be a powder coating. It could be TiNi, but I don’t think so. It offers a nice, subdued look to it that is very tactical looking. At the same time, the handle scales are sculpted aluminum and have a very futuristic look to them. The blade is a drop point design, which is one of the most popular and useful for many cutting tasks. The back spacer is black and made out of aluminum, and it extends for better than half the length of the handle scales. There are no worries about “butt” wiggle in the handle, as is found on some knives with very small back spacers. Handle scales are anodized a nice gray color. Again, it has a very subdued look.

Pocket Clip

The pocket clip is stout and is also reversible, and the knife is carried with the tip up. I don’t have a dog in this fight, but there are many knife users who insist on a folder being carried in the pants pocket either tip up or tip down. I don’t see any difference when drawing the knife from my pocket if one method is better or faster than the other.Kershaw Launch 7

Made in America

One thing that many knife users insist on is that their knives be made in America. The Launch 7 is made here, and there is an American Flag embossed on one side of the handle. I know some folks don’t like knives made in China. They don’t want to support the Red Chinese government in any manner. It’s a political thing for many. Then we have knives made in Taiwan. Once again, many won’t own knives from that country. I keep trying, all to no avail, explaining to people that you get as good of a knife as you want from these countries.

If you want a 50-cent knife, they will make one for you. If you want a $500 knife, you can get one that is worth every dollar of it. Kershaw has some of their knives made overseas, and most people don’t pay any attention to the country of origin. To the consumer, buying quality knives made overseas allows us to get an outstanding product at a very reduced cost. I’m off my soap box!

Secure Hold

The handle scales are nicely done with the sculpting, and they curve downward toward the butt of the Launch 7. There is no lanyard hole in the butt of this knife. Take it for what it’s worth. Where the bottom handle scales are, at the front, is an area milled out for your index finger to go. It is perfectly situated; your finger just falls into this area. The top front of the handle scales have no “friction” grooves for your thumb, and because of the design the knife really doesn’t need this feature. You will have a secure hold on this knife when it is opened.Kershaw Launch 7

Button For Opening and Closing

The button for opening and closing the knife is perfectly sized. It’s easy to get to, to press and open the blade, and this same button locks the blade open. Another press on this button releases the blade so you can fold it back into the handle scales. It’s very secure. The pivot pin the blade rides on is a bit bigger than you’ll find on some knives, and that is a good thing because it’s stronger. As expected, the Launch 7 came razor sharp out of the box and it stayed that way through my limited testing. Most of my testing was done in the kitchen and in opening UPS and FedEx boxes. I didn’t expect anything less from CPM 154 steel, since it is better than 154 CM.

Flawless Design and Good Value

The Launch 7 has a retail of $149.99, and that’s a heck of a deal if you ask me, considering all the outstanding features and materials used in producing this knife. The knife was absolutely flawless in design and manufacture, too. No flaws could be found, period! If you live in an enlightened state and can own an automatic opening folding knife, check out the Launch 7. It is one classy, sleek, and futuristic looking folder that won’t let you down.

– Senior Product Review Editor, Pat Cascio


  1. I have had a Kershaw Black Horse since 1983 and it is still as tighr when opened as it was when new. Blade has seen alot of sharpening but it has finger grooves on handle and give fantastic soft grip. Love Kershaw knives.

  2. I prefer the top up carry. I use my knife no less than 30 times a day and just prefer this method. I use to carry a SOG flash that was a top down. Unbeknownst to me it open in my pocket. I found out when I stuck my hand in my pocket to get my keys out and sliced my palm. I have since switched to the Kershaw speedsafe and love it.

  3. When we rented a car a few years ago, it was in a state that forbids switchblades. But the car key for the rental car was a switchblade style, and they had no problem with that. If ground to a point, that key would make a small but effective knife. So illogical!

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