By: Bob Vishneski
My first thought was “This would be perfect for sneaking into the kitchen late at night and making a sandwich without arousing the suspicion of my wife.” After a few humorous emails with the other Woods Monkey crew, I had another thought, one involving Christmas morning, 2012. My wife and I were heading across Route 80 in Pennsylvania to visit our family. I was glancing across the highway when I noticed a van and a car collide. The van went sailing off the road and performed four or five violent barrel roles before heading out of view. I quickly pulled over and had my wife call 911, noting the mile marker immediately in front of our car. I grabbed a knife, a safety axe, and a flashlight and dashed across the highway. I was convinced that everyone had to be dead or seriously injured given the way car had tumbled at high speed. The other image that flashed across my mind was that the vehicle might catch on fire or even explode upon my arrival, perhaps leaving me to make some very difficult choices in a few split seconds.
To my surprise, I found a Christmas miracle – A young man, his wife, and two small children were a bit shaken, but only had minor cuts and bruises. I was amazed and grateful for the stroke of good fortune for the family. I relayed the story from my perspective in a tale titled, “Miracle at Mile Marker 2493.”
As I looked at the Coast LK375, I realized that a rugged knife with a bright flashlight could indeed be helpful in such an emergency situation. Had my Christmas day emergency scenario happened during the dark and I had to extricate someone from their seatbelts in a time-sensitive situation (fire, smoke, etc.), the idea of needing two hands to hold a flashlight and a knife might not have been practical, since I might have needed one hand to adjust or move the person while I cut their seat belt. Thus I replaced my initial notion of using the Coast LK375 to make a sandwich in a darkened kitchen with one involving an emergency situation where someone’s life might be at stake.
3.75 inch (95 mm) blade
4.75 inches (121 mm) closed
8.5 inches (216 mm) open
Materials & Design:
Blade: 7Cr17 stainless steel
Handle: Polycarbonate over stainless steel liner
Pocket clip (included)
29 or 110 lumen light output
173 feet (53 meters) beam distance
1 X AAA batteries (included)
5.2 oz. (147 grams)
The LK375 is designed for the emergency scenario I described above, as well as other applications where it is not practical or convenient to hold a flashlight with one hand and a knife with another. I have seen some other light/knife combinations, but not one with a light this bright or one with this level of design. Clicking on and releasing the red button changes the power from 29 to 110 lumens and keeps the light on. At the 110 lumen setting, the light is very bright and suitable for cutting anything in close proximity to the knife. It even works well as a general purpose flashlight. It takes a bit of pressure to activate the red button, so there is little chance it will accidentally be activated when put in a drawer, glove compartment, etc.
I was expecting to need two hands to open the blade, despite the Spyderco-like hole in the blade. When I tried to open it single-handed, I was amazed at how smooth the action was. It wasn’t quite as smooth to open as my Spyderco Paramilitary 2, but it was extremely close, which says quite a bit considering the PM2’s reputation for its silky-smooth operations. Coast obviously put some thoughtful engineering into the opening mechanism and it shows in the smoothness and ease with which you can open the blade. The 7Cr17 stainless steel anodized serrated blade holds an edge very well and is easy to sharpen. It is a good “value” choice for a knife of this nature and no doubt helps control the costs.
I admit that I had to get over the LK375’s boxy look – it simply did not look as if it would be comfortable to hold. But despite its somewhat unconventional looks, the LK375 fit comfortably in my hand, and my index finger lined up perfectly with the red power button. The pebbled surface of the polycarbonate grip made the knife very easy to hold. The LK375’s gimping is very well done and added to being able to obtain a firm, comfortable grip.
Quality & Design
Coast makes excellent products and the LK375 is no exception. Once you get over the initial boxy look of the LK375, you will find that it is a high quality tool. It is extremely well-made and features quality materials and sports an excellent fit and finish.
At approximately $60, the value proposition of the LK375 is pretty solid given what the light/knife is designed for. Tool Logic offers some light/knife combos for between $20-$35, but these provide far less lumens than the LK375. SOG offers the BLT50N-CP, an attractive light/knife combo, but it only features 25 lumens, far less than the LK375’s 110 lumens.
For anyone involved in any type of safety operations, it is tough to beat the LK375 relative to the other products currently on the market. Same goes for those who might have hobbies where they sometimes work in the dark and need a good cutting surface and need a free hand to work on the tasks. Fisherman or hunters, who often arrive at their locations before dawn, might appreciate the features of the LK375. In short, if you have ever gotten frustrated at needing to hold a light in one hand and a knife in the other, the Coast LK 375 is for you.
Although I found the LK375 very comfortable to hold, I have very large hands. I suspect those with smaller hands might not share my opinion regarding the comfort of the LK375’s grip. Coast might want to consider finding some creative ways to shave a bit of the girth from the handle. This might attract a wider audience and boost sales for this handy device.
If you have a regular or even occasional need for a light/knife combination, I strongly suggest considering the LK375. It is well-designed for its intended use and carries Coast’s lifetime warranty. I hope I am never called upon to use the LK375 in an emergency situation, as I might have been on that Christmas Day in 2012, but I do feel better knowing I will have a powerful light/knife combination if it is called for.
You can see Coast’s full product line here: http://www.coastportland.com/