I recently had the opportunity to test and evaluate the Boker K-Bit. It is a small karambit style fixed blade. It is a Boker collaboration design with Newton Martin. The way it is shaped, packaged, and colored someone might assume it is designed specifically for tactical and/or defensive uses. While it certainly could serve in such a function, I found that looking at the knife from a perspective of the day to day utility serves a better purpose for the end user.
The K-Bit is made from one piece of 440C stainless steel. The entire knife is four inches long, with a one and five eights inch edge. Aside from the grind and edge, it is five millimeters (or approximately three sixteenths of an inch) thick. It weights one and one half ounces. It has a grey Titanium Nitride (TiNi) coating to protect the steel. 440C steel has had a bad reputation since the advent of mass produced cheap imported knives. I have to admit that whenever I see a knife is made in a 440 series steel I am apt to be less than trusting regarding the possible edge holding and toughness. (Editor’s Note: David is right about the misperception that many folks have on 440C but I think it’s often more the import 440A and B’s with less than optimal heat treat that help perpetuate that stigma on the whole 440 line. 440C used to be one of the top choices of custom makers before the waves of super steels in recent years and can be a great performer when treated properly.) The blade portion of the knife is chisel ground, which means one side of the blade is completely flat and the other side is shaped to form the blade profile. The main profile of the blade is a hollow grind. True to its name, the K-Bit is shaped like a small karambit. The blade has a bird’s beak style profile with a very aggressive tip, yet the tip is not thin enough to be overly fragile. It is however; fine enough to be used in a scalpel like manner. Straight out of the box the K-Bit had a reasonably sharp factory edge. It was not quite sharp enough to shave hair, but more than sharp enough to use as a utility edge.
The handle portion of the knife has a round hole through each end. It also has knobby protrusions cut into it all the way around the handle. With other designs I’ve seen these types of grip enhancements, and they are generally left incredibly sharp. Boker took the extra step and rounded the corners and edges. They provide an exceptionally large amount of grip without being painful to hold or use. The holes and protrusions also provide area to wrap the handle in paracord. I’ve never been a big fan of paracord handles on knives, but I tried it anyway on the K-Bit. I found that it really doesn’t increase the ability to grip the knife, but it does increase the moisture retention, and creates a larger potential for abrasion. It does, however make the knife feel more comfortable while holding it. I suppose you can call me biased, but paracord wrapping handles is just not my thing.
The K-Bit comes packaged with a fitted kydex sheath that is held together by three rivets. It also comes with a thirty inch ball chain. The three rivets in the sheath and the chain make for a rather modular and versatile combination of ways the knife can be mounted, tied, or hung to be carried around. Initially I tried the standard method of carrying it around like a neck knife. While it is handy to have hanging around, if it is hanging on the outside of clothing it tends to get caught on things. If it is inside clothing, it becomes a bit inconvenient to draw and to re-sheath. I took to wrapping the ball chain around my belt and leaving the sheath hanging just below my belt line. It makes for a convenient, quick access, and the sheath holds the knife very securely. It holds well enough that I am able to swing the knife and sheath around on the end of the chain very quickly, yet the retention remains one hundred percent. Any company can make an incredibly retentive sheath, but good sheath crafting is a delicate balance. The manufacturer has to set a positive amount of retention and still retain the ability to get the knife out of and into the sheath. Boker has achieved the balance, and beyond the retention, the K-Bit is easy to un-sheath and re-sheath.
In my time using the K-Bit it has performed quite well. Generally speaking a chisel ground blade can be a bit of a hindrance when cutting through stiff material. Because the grind is only on one side cuts tend to follow the grind lines of the blade. As long as that is compensated for, usage of the knife is no problem. I’ve mostly used it for opening boxes, trimming fingernails, and cutting paper. Referring back to my previously mention caution about 440 series steels, my concerns have been laid to rest with the K-Bit. The performance so far has not been disappointing in the least. Both the edge holding and toughness have met and exceeded my expectations. I’ve not done a single thing to maintain the edge on the knife just to see how well it stood up. It is no longer as sharp as it was, but for the day to day type of utility work I’ve used it for it still continues to serve well. The one large complaint I have with the knife is the TiNi finish. There appears to be some sort of flaw in the coating, because it has developed small areas of spotted rust all in multiple places on the coated surfaces. A little application of 000 steel wool and oil takes it off, but it comes back relatively quickly.
The small karambit style of the Boker K-Bit makes for a compact, handy package. The 440C steel has a thin and efficient profile. Combining that with the versatile kydex sheath and ball chain makes the K-Bit a knife that could easily make its way into anyone’s every day carry gear. Manufacturers suggested retail price is just over fifty dollars, but it can be found online for just over thirty. For that price it is well worth giving a try.
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