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Quick Review: Kizer Zipslip

Discussion in 'Knives' started by el_murdoque, Nov 28, 2019.

  1. el_murdoque

    el_murdoque Loaded Pockets

    Jan 27, 2018
    Likes Received:
    Okay, I have had some time with the Kizer now, so I feel that I can post my thoughts on this one as well.
    I kept the title 'Quick Review:' for consistencies' sake, but I guess this might also be a long one.

    The Zipslip is a Michael Vagnino design which can be had in three different versions.
    1. The Kizer Zipslip G10 with N690 blade steel and G10 handles.
    2. The Kizer Zipslip Titanium with S35V blade steel and titanium handles
    3. The MV2 original (made by the man himself) with CPM154 blade steel and G10 handles.

    The one that found its way into my home is number 2, the titanium version.

    So what do we have here?
    It is, as the name suggests, a slipjoint knife, capable of one handed opening by using the thumb hole.
    It has a blade length short of 3", which makes it legal in most European countries, which it is targeted for.
    We have titanium scales, a titanium backspacer and a titanium deep carry pocket clip (tip up, right hand only). The special thing about this particular Slipjoint is called the Everflush backspacer, which does not appear to move while opening or closing the knife. This is done by mounting the backspacer fixed, with a little metal piece, sitting in a pocket, which acts as the backspring, hidden away on the inside of the knife.
    More of that later.
    The blade itself is a little smaller than the handle would suggest and has a beautiful grind.
    The titanium scales have the typical look of bead blasted titanium, which is hard to capture with a camera.
    I was not impressed upon seeing this knife on the internet, but informed that it looks better in natura. I can confirm this. I tried to do it justice in these pics, but you'll have to see one up close to get what I mean.
    The Blade has the same finish which is either bead blasted or a light stonewash. In my humble opinion, this matches the overall look very nicely.

    Let's look at the functionality of the components that make up this knife.

    1. The clip.
    It's made of titanium and has the same finish as the back spacer - both match the blade quite closely.
    This is done as a clip should be: It allows for deep carry, has a solid tension and no sharp edges.
    Furthermore, the screws that hold it in place are recessed, so they don't get any purchase on your pocket
    while sliding it in or out. It is easily put in the pocket, where it sits completely hidden (well, I already said
    deep carry) and comes out without resistance (apart from the clips tension). Well done.
    Everyone else: Look at this. Copy the features if need be.

    2. Operation of the Slipjoint:
    It is an EDC knife and it carries well - but that's only half of what it should do. Apart from carrying well it should also knife well. So how does that work out?
    The titanium scales have that groovy finish that gives it a suggestion of fine dining cutlery. As I said, it looks better in real life. The texture has more depth to it and it's not as shiny as one would imagine. Those grooves offer an okay grip, but every metal knife with a more or less smooth surface has the problem that the purchase of the fingers significantly lessens when moisture comes into play. The Kizer is not exempt from that rule. It grips well with dry hands, but offers less grip when your palms are sweaty, or worse, wet.
    It's a little knife, though. You do not want this for hard work, so you don't need a hard grip on it.
    The thumb hole in the blade has the edges rounded off in a very aesthetic way, which offers a smooth feeling. And a knife should be smooth, except for two places: The cutting edge (obviously) and the device you use for opening it. While this looks super nice, it's actually a bit of a nuisance. To swing the blade out of the handle, you need to push your thumb down hard to gain enough purchase. The slipjoint operates super smoothly, but since you are applying a considerate amount of lateral force, this operation is a lot harder than it could (and should) be. Did you ever wonder why Spyderco never rounds off the edges on their spydieholes? That's why. The way more expensive MV2 version of the Zipslip comes with hard edges on the tumb hole. This should be done on the cheaper Kizers, too.
    When you are gifted with dry skin on your hands and/or have meaty thumbs, this will be not much of an issue, but it bugs me nonetheless, because rounding off those edges is actually more work, only to create an inferior result.
    Upon swinging the blade from the handle to the fully opened position, you pass the.. . . the . . well, normally I'd say half stop, but in this case I must use the term two thirds stop. It does not stop half the way out or in, but in the position shown in the pic. I have no clue why this was done. It is a bit weird, because upon swinging shut by accident, the blade is a lot closer to your fingers, but it allows for a little smoother closing.
    The audiophile knife-head needs to apply an ear to this operation. Any knife with a solid metal backspacer and handle will provide a satisfying sound when the blade comes to rest and the Kizer does that exceptionally well. My ears very much agree with the operation of this little blade. But wait, there's more:
    The, erm, 2/3 stop also provides a click. This one is unusually high pitched. The pitch is a bit lower upon opening and a bit higher upon closing, but it is the solid pling of a small piece of metal, sitting in a metal frame, flicking against other metal. With a tiny little ring afterwards. Beautiful.
    This sound alone could justify owning one of these knifes.
    The S35V blade comes very sharp out of the box. It's not a mirror edge, but it's close. Slicing the thinnest of
    newspapers with minimal force applied is no problem at all.
    The unfolded blade forms a finger choil at the ricasso, which is half blade half handle. After that finger choil we have a tiny gap before the cutting edge starts, which allows for better sharpening. A useful little detail further down the line, when I will have to apply the stones for the first time.
    The backspring is not among the strongest, but only the strongest of flicking motions can make it twitch. I was not able to collapse it. But that is actually not an issue at all, because when you hold that knife, your index finger will sit in the choil and hold the blade in place. Your thumb will sit half on the blade and half on the backspacer and the rest of your fingers will find enough room on the handle to provide a solid four finger grip even for big hands. The shape of the blade allows for fine work and the good grip (provided you did not break into a sweat) also allow for medium cutting tasks, such as sturdy cardboard boxes or even slicing softer woods. The clip is so well positioned and formed, that my hands don't register it in a negative way.


    A word on the Box and the contents:
    The Kizer Zipslip ships in an unusually large, sand colored box. When you open that, you will find another box of nearly the same size, this one of harder material and black. Inside, you will find the usual paperwork, the knife itself, a big grey polishing cloth with the Kizer logo embossed and a knife pouch.
    This seems to address the collector more than the user. I usually care about the knife.
    I'd much prefer when Kizer ditched the pouch and shipped the knife in a box a quarter of the size. This would reduce overall cost by no small amount and they would be able to offer it cheaper. If they insist on case candy, how about the tools necessary to take it apart? You need a TX6 bit for the clip and back spacer screws and two TX8 bits for the pivot. TX6 bits are not exactly household items.

    So, dear people at Kizer, If you could implement the following changes:
    -Stop rounding off the edges of the thumb hole
    -Ship the knife without the pouch in a smaller, less fancy box and maybe pack in tools to maintenance the knife
    You could actually cut on cost while making a better product at the same time. Win/win.
    Thank me by sending me the first of the new batch.

    A word on the UKPK:
    The Kizer Zipslip has a lot in common with a knife that is very popular on the restricted European market: The Spyderco UKPK. So much indeed, that when presented with the homework to design a EU-legal EDC knife the teacher might have to want a word with the parents of Michael Vagnino and Sal Glesser because their works had too much in common for comfort.
    Both have a back spacer that won't move when the knife is opened, in both cases via the hole for the thumb. The dimensions are nearly identical, as is the handle-to-blade ratio. Both form the forward finger choil in the same way, and on both, the rear end of the finger choil which protrudes from the handle will hide the upper edge of the blade when folded.
    But the Kizer knife is not a mere copy of the UKPK. There are differences as well.
    The clip, which works only one way on the Kizer - but exceptionally well. The solid chunk of a full metal knife that weighs down your pocket considerably more than the reduced-to-the-minimum UKPK that weighs next to nothing. They share the great ergonomics and the good full handed grip and the feature that your index finger holds the blade in place.

    It seems like I had a lot to rant about in my review so I need to make one thing clear:
    I really really really like this little knife. So much I sold my UKPK. And others.
    This will be my EDC blade for the time being. I adore the little sounds it makes and how smooth everything feels and works. But I would like it so much more if my thumb felt more of a resistance from that darn hole.
  2. Moshe ben David

    Moshe ben David Loaded Pockets

    Jun 30, 2015
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    @el_murdoque: really really good review! (That's my hat lifting off to you...). Regarding the chamfering on the thumb hole. I basically agree with you. I also suspect that perhaps Kizer and others are reacting to comments by some reviewers regarding the sharp edges on the Spydie hole (this is something Nick Shabazz comments on all the time - usually not liking the sharp edge, even on Spyderco product out of their Taichung plant.)

    On the strength of your review I may end up with a Kizer Zipslip joining my other Kizers!


    Moshe ben David
    That Movie Guy and el_murdoque like this.
  3. earthman

    earthman EDC Junkie!!!

    Jan 12, 2014
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    I've not had one of those in my hand, would like to know how it compares to a Spyderco PITS, that in my mind is the daddy when it comes to a UK legal pocket knife.
    I have a couple of versions of UKPK, the titanium handled version is very nice if you want a bit more weight.
  4. el_murdoque

    el_murdoque Loaded Pockets

    Jan 27, 2018
    Likes Received:

    More than six weeks have passed now since I wrote that piece on the Zipslip.
    I want to add that in these six weeks, I've carried the Kizer every single day without fail (okay, there was one lazy Sunday where I was sick and did not change from my PJs, but that's it). I've found a deal on a little knife that I've been itching to lay my hands on since it was released. I bought that knife. I toyed with it at home. I've not taken it with me yet, because every time I pulled the Kizer from my pocket to put it on the table and pocket that other knife, I let the Kizer roll around in my hand for a bit and then pocketed it again.

    The issue with the rounded edges on the thumb hole has become better after about four weeks of daily use. I think that my fingers became more competent at using the knife while at the same time the knife has loosened up a little bit with the wear on the mechanism.
    I'd still prefer those edges to be sharper, but my main complaint has considerably weakened.