battle of the blades

A while back, I picked up a Kershaw Speed Bump, and have been very happy with it ever since – despite being a right-hand only knife, it has been riding around in my left pocket for the past six months, and the assisted-opening technology combined with the blade protrusion make opening it with my off hand a breeze. Now that our goverment is considering banning all knives that can be opened by one hand, I figured it was time to expand my collection, and the following post is a comparison of my current sharp-and-pointies.
So, for the purposes of this post, we will be comparing a Kershaw Speed Bump, a Kershaw R.A.M., and a SOG Trident TF-3 (TigerStripe). Coincidentally, these will be good to compare, given their roughly-equivalent prices. (Just jump to the end if all you want is gratuitous knife porn.)
Kershaw Speed Bump: $66
Kershaw R.A.M.: $65
SOG Trident: $63
Closed Length:
Kershaw Speed Bump: 4.88 inches
Kershaw R.A.M.: 4.31 inches
SOG Trident: 4.94 inches (with bayonet clip, 4.81 without)
Open Length:
Kershaw Speed Bump: 8.5 inches
Kershaw R.A.M.: 7.34 inches
SOG Trident: 8.56 (with bayonet clip, 8.44 without)
Edge Length:
Kershaw Speed Bump: 3.63 inches
Kershaw R.A.M.: 2.81 inches
SOG Trident: 3.38 inches
Kershaw Speed Bump: 4.63 ounces
Kershaw R.A.M.: 3.5 ounces
SOG Trident: 3.5 ounces
Blade Material:
Kershaw Speed Bump: Sandvik 13C26
Kershaw R.A.M.: Sandvik 13C26 coated with Tungsten DLC
SOG Trident: AUS 8 hardcased in TiNi
Blade Profile:
Kershaw Speed Bump: Recurve drop point, no serrates
Kershaw R.A.M.: Clip point, no serrates (can come with serrates)
SOG Trident: Clip point, 1.38 inches of serrates
Handle Material:
Kershaw Speed Bump: Akulon with Santoprene over-mold (with internal metal frame)
Kershaw R.A.M.: 6061-T6 anodized black aluminum with G-10 overlay
SOG Trident: Zytel
Assisted Opening:
Kershaw Speed Bump: Yes (Kershaw SpeedSafe)
Kershaw R.A.M.: No.
SOG Trident: Yes (SOG Assisted Technology)
Opening Method:
Kershaw Speed Bump: Blade protrusion or ambidexterous thumb studs
Kershaw R.A.M.: Flipper or ambidexterous thumb studs
SOG Trident: Ambidexterous thumb studs
Locking Method:
Kershaw Speed Bump: Stud Lock
Kershaw R.A.M.: Hawk-Lock (spring-loaded slider defaults to locked)
SOG Trident: Arc-Actuator and blade safety
Pocket Clip:
Kershaw Speed Bump: Removable (T6 torx); right-hand carry, tip down
Kershaw R.A.M.: Removable (T6 torx); right-hand carry, tip down or up; left-hand carry, tip up
SOG Trident: Removable (5/64 hex key); right- or left-hand carry, tip up
Special Features:
Kershaw Speed Bump: Patented stud lock, recurve blade, assisted-opening, lanyard hole
Kershaw R.A.M.: Patent-pending Hawk-Lock, one-handed closing, designated index- and middle-finger choils, lanyard hole
SOG Trident: Blade safety, assisted-opening, 3/16 inch cutting groove in handle, lanyard hole
Kershaw Speed Bump: Limited lifetime, original-owner only
Kershaw R.A.M.: Limited lifetime, original-owner only
SOG Trident: Limited lifetime, original-owner only.
Kershaw Speed Bump: None
Kershaw R.A.M.: Blade Magazine‘s 2007 Most Innovative American Design
SOG Trident: NTOA Tested and Recommended (overall score: 4.51/5.00)
As for subjective comparisons, I have owned the Speed Bump for almost six months now, and have only had the other two for about three days. My biggest gripe with the Speed Bump is that the pocket clip is not reversable, and since I carry it on my left side, that is occasionally awkward. I have found that, rather that using my thumb in my pocket to pull out the knife, using my index and middle fingers in my pocket to pull out the knife will work just as well, but that takes practice, and is still a bit awkward. Otherwise, the blade fits my hand nicely, and while the stud lock takes some getting used to itself, it becomes more natural and easy to use than even a liner lock, and has the added bonus of not requiring you to stick your fingers between the blade and the handle while the blade is folding.
The RAM is not assisted, which I initially thought would be a bad thing, but the “flipper” mechanic makes it more than easy to deploy, and just as fast as an assisted knife… which is a good thing, since the thumbstuds are smalll enough to be effectively useless. However, thanks to not being assisted, and thanks to the peculiar Hawk-Lock, you can close the knife one-handedly. Unfortunately, that Hawk-Lock takes some practice to use properly, and unless you slide its toggle all the way back, you are out of luck when it comes to folding the knife. The good news is that it will not accidentally fold, but the bad news is that it takes some effort to intentionally close. The G-10 inserts add a substantial amount of grip to the knife, the frame feels quite solid, and I really, really like the choils.
The Trident surprises me in that it is the only knife of the three not to have a full metal skeleton in the handle – there is some metal up towards the pocket clip, and some more metal back by the blade (probably as part of the Arc-Actuator), but the actual handle is mostly Zytel. It may be that Zytel is sufficiently strong not to worry about it, and the lack of metal helps the Trident with its weight, but it still is something to note. Also of the three, the Trident is the only one to have a pocket clip that is designed to make the knife disappear in your pocket – only the tip of the clip will show. However, the real reason for getting the Trident is its cutting notch – from my old Jeep knife, I can assure you that little notch is quite useful. A word of warning, though – when using the notch, be sure to engage the blade safety lock. I have no intentions of using that safety otherwise, but given that this blade is assisted, it could very easily pop out while using the notch, leading to potentially bad things.
End summation? The RAM is probably going to end up being my every-day carry knife, but all of them are outstanding blades that can be opened by one hand. If I could take the cutting notch and Arc-Actuator from the Trident, the recurve blade from the Speed Bump, and the size, design, weight, frame, and flipper system from the RAM, and roll them all together, I would pretty much have my ideal knife.
And now for the part you all have probably been waiting for: the pictures (click on any of them to make them bigger).
Some overall comparison shots:

A relatively normal-sized hand, I suppose:

Length measurements less than 6 inches provided by my Spievak ruler, and measurements over 6 inches provided by my measuring tape. Weights provided by my Salter electronic kitchen scale. Thanks to Two Point Enterprise’s SOG and Kershaw stores – decent prices and four days order-to-door is pretty good in my book. Additionally, thanks to Minstrel for finally nudging me into buying the knife I have had my eye on for a while, and for recommending TPE.
Oh, and to the United States Customs and Border Protection folks: Bite me.

7 thoughts on “battle of the blades”

  1. Thanks, Minstrel. The web seems to be lacking on decent knife reviews, so I was just seeing what I could do to help that situation out a little :).

  2. Very good post, plenty of information there.
    I typically keep my knives under the $40 dollar range, had expensive knives than lost them,nothing for frustrating that that.
    Currently I carry a Kersaw OD-1, but recenly purchases a CRKT M-16-O3Z, which isn’t a bad field knife, just found it to be a bit heavy for every day carry.

  3. travelling requires homework

    It is looking like Better Half and I will be headed to a small town in North Carolina for the Fourth of July weekend, and like all law-abiding handgun carry permit holders, I took it upon myself to research and…

  4. I would definitely like to keep my knives that cheap, but the assisted technology comes at a price, unfortunately. I love the way the OD-1 has the little nubbin that folds into the frame, though, and CRKT definitely makes some good stuff too, but their left-hand support is, unfortunately, lacking.
    Anywise, thanks :).

  5. smooth and shiny

    I really did not know that all of these various scales existed for my new Kershaw RAM… Or, rather, my wallet did not… Especially these Bois de Rose ones……

  6. box the second

    The second package had all of three total days of transit from Kalifornistan, including the sending and receiving days… Occasionally (very occasionally), USPS Priority Mail actually works out alright. At any rate, this one included items that bore no…

Comments are closed.