Kizer Kyre Review
The Kizer Kyre is a collaboration between David Michalik and Robert Chromcak (Founders of TK Knives), in association with Kizer Cutlery as the manufacturer. It brings the aggressive yet stylish design queues of their mainstay knife, the Kyre, to the broader production market. Unique among the rest of the Kizer lineup, the Kyre sets itself apart as an interesting option from the company. Functionality takes a back seat on this knife in favor of aesthetics, which is something we’ll take a close look at in this review.
Kizer is the lower-cost, higher-volume cousin to the other three big Chinese superstars, WE Knife, Reate, and Rike. Many of their knives, Kyre included, keep it real with S35VN steel, steel lock inserts, and well-executed bearing systems. The trade-off for the generally lowers costs on Kizers (in comparison) is felt in the quality of the hardware, thinner cuts of material, and lower quality on things like the clip. Nevertheless, China is killing it right now in the $150-$450 production market, and for good reason. Kizer is no exception, and helps fill a niche that the likes of WE and Reate still haven’t achieved in terms of pricing. The Kyre is a great example among their lineup for us to analyze this exact theory, so let’s jump into it!
- Blade Length: 3.38”
- Overall Length: 7.9”
- Closed Length: 4.5”
- Weight: 4.4 ounces
- Blade Material: CPM-S35VN
- Handle Material: Titanium
- Locking Mechanism: Frame Lock
- Country Of Origin: China
- Price Range: About $180
I should note here as well that the Kyre is offered in a G-10 variant for $100 less than the Titanium version being reviewed here. I’ve only gotten to interact with the Titanium variant, so your experience may vary if you opt for the cheaper choice.
Form over Function
My favorite thing about the Kyre is the consistent arch which makes up the entirety of the knife’s spine. Among other features, the arch plays well into the aggressive facade. The knife is just about 8 inches tip-to-end, but it is illusory in its length thanks to its curved shape. I feel the theme of the knife reflects the essence of a shark. Sleek, aggressive, and big in the chest. This is what first attracted me to the knife, and remains my favorite aspect.
One of the most apparent physical features on the knife are the polished peaks, accompanied by the deep, dark valleys that sprawl across the titanium handles. When the knife is closed, you get feelings of a bat hanging upside down, with curled wings wrapped around its body. Maybe my mind is just feeling particularly animal-oriented on this one, but those are the evocations I feel.
There’s no doubt that the overall shape demands a second look. The only visual detail I’m not thrilled with are the sections at the bottom which surround the clip mounting area. I would have preferred that the pattern span the entirety of the handle with a tiny rectangular flat section that would be concealed by the clip. I can glean what they were trying to accomplish with the current shape, but it just doesn’t mesh well with me personally. Conversely, one of the other highlighting features is the hole in the blade. It brings the hardcore theme of the knife together really well, and makes me feel like I’m being mean-mugged. That covers most of the ‘form,’ but the ‘function’ isn’t quite as admirable
The only major gripe I have is the ergonomics. While the spine’s arch provides an unquestionably cool profile, it hinders the knife greatly when gripped in the hand. Holding the knife in a natural saber grip results in the knife facing a crooked angle. If you shuffle it around in your palm to get the right angle, then the ergonomics no longer feel right and you don’t have a controlled grip. Admittedly, the knife does much better in a pinch grip, which feels pretty good; though, I have a hard time getting passed the weird angling in any other grip. It isn’t going to impede you from ultimately getting things cut, but it might make you feel a tad, off, while you do so.
There is a long strip of decent jimping along the spine of the blade; it’s rounded off, yet it remains just a tiny bit sharp, so rubbing it isn’t stellar. That said, it provides pretty good purchase, so it does its job. I like that it’s a fairly long area of the blade spine as well, I measured it at just about 1.5 inches. This ensures you have a good spot for your thumb no matter where you’re choked up to on the knife. The handle is very smoothed out, but the ridges do give you enough to grip to feel good in the hand. It should also be said that the area allotted for your finger to disengage the lockbar is extremely comfortable and smooth, making it a standout feature. There’s plenty of knives that are triple the price which have a hotspot in that area, so I’m very happy about that.
Speaking generally, the blade on this knife is a fantastic slicer, but also gives way to two primary pitfalls when compared to some more widely regarded blades, like that of the Benchmade 940. While it offers a very tall flat grind, the blade’s length doesn’t match up to the height as well as you might expect. The cutting edge starts to curve starkly upwards about 2 inches into the blade. This may be fine for many who prefer smaller blade sizes, but the overall ratio doesn’t quite make sense for me. Not to mention the fact that those who usually prefer a shorter blade, prefer a smaller knife in general, which the Kyre is not. Admittedly, this is a very particular critique, as the blade is frankly a perfectly good size for any normal EDC task.
The other potential issue is that you have the giant hole in the blade. Luckily it is really quite large, meaning that cleaning it out is easy as heck, but it still might offend those who don’t like getting caught up in gunk or prefer to have less drag in their slicing. I personally like the hole, however, it needed to be noted as a potential issue for those who might not. It’s smoothed out though, so it shouldn’t do too much catching on anything. Overall the blade is going to execute package opening and breakdown very well, and was very nicely sharpened right out of the box. I would have liked it more if they’d lengthened it a bit, making better use of the handle size. It really felt like they could have packed more blade into the construction.
What’s it like to carry?
The action on the knife is relatively good for this price point, with a special twist thanks to the hole in the blade. Middle finger flicking from the lockside is intensely satisfying and really sells the knife for me. This knife is a great way to get a little bit of that Gavko flavor in a much cheaper package. Conversely, the flipper tab produces a lackluster deployment without a slight wrist flick or a strong push. Lightswitch style essentially doesn’t work at all, and push button has mixed success rates depending on how hard you push. It’s the weakest flipper-based deployment that I’ve experienced on any Kizer knife.
You may have luck with taking the knife apart and cranking up the detent strength, but I didn’t try this myself so don’t hold me to that. The finger flick typically provides solid lockup, however, so you’re still left with a fun and effective option for deployment. The blade closes very smoothly, dropping shut with a fair shake or two. This is a really fun fidget knife, and entertains for hours by just finger flicking and snapping it shut.
At 4.4 ounces, it’s not exactly the lightest knife around. A total lack of internal milling means those slabs of titanium make their presence known. That said, 4.4 ounces still falls within the range of decent EDC weight, so the knife will do just fine in a typical pair of pants or jeans. Of greater concern is the clip. I’d heard some negativity about the clip prior to receiving the knife, and I can understand where that animosity stems from. While made of Titanium, the clip doesn’t feel “3-D milled”, and is instead very thin, to the point of almost feeling flimsy. There isn’t a great ramp to get up over the seem of your pocket and; worse still, is that the way they cut the clip leaves a sharp angle at the tip, further reducing the clip’s compliance. Additionally, the clip doesn’t match the shape of the flat area I mentioned earlier, making the whole thing look out of place. It’s safe to say the clip is the worst overall feature on the knife. You’re probably looking at 2 hands to get it in the pocket unless you’re okay with really jamming it in there, which tugs on your pants.
Kizer’s packaging on their more expensive options has always been at the top of my list (barring pelican cases on high-end stuff). The entire package comes protected by a thin paperboard box that has the Kizer logo stamped on top, and inventory stocking info on the side. Crack that open, and you’re treated to a sturdy lift-top box, with stylized texturing and clean lines. Inside you’ll find another layer of protection, a nice digital-camo knife taco for easy travel. Included as well are all the usual knick knacks, such as a microfiber cloth, and warranty booklet. It’s really a step above the competition and you can tell they use different suppliers than the rest of the Chinese production powerhouses. I like uniqueness, so this scores points for sure.
The titanium frame on the Kyre offers a fantastic base for aftermarket customization as well. With the deep valleys and defined peaks, a two-tone anodization or other neat options are all available. The only limitation is your imagination. I had mine dressed in purple, and then we polished down the peaks for a clean mirror shine. Kizer offers the titanium variant in both plain, and a green/blue factory anodization. It’s nice to know that the plain one can be turned into just about anything though, so I thought it was worth noting. I really feel like it would have been worth it to offer this one in more anodization options, but with the G-10 versions, there’s already 4 skews of the knife, so I can see why they held off. Something to keep in mind, however, is that nowhere in any sales listing (that I could find), is it listed that the frame is PVD coated. You’ll have to remove the coating before the knife will take anodizing, so that’s a bit of a pain.
If you have $180 to spend on a knife, and you can only have one knife, you should be buying the Benchmade 940 I mentioned before, or a Spyderco Paramilitary 2, not a Kizer Kyre. It has to be said that this knife is a much better fit in a rotation of carries instead of an everyday carry. Don’t let me scare you away though, this knife is packed with redeeming qualities that make it an excellent piece in any growing collection. Having a well made, relatively budget-friendly knife that gives you that sweet middle finger flick action is just too special not to celebrate. It would have been nice to have an effective flipper tab as well, but who needs that when you’ve got a better option, right? If you’re not stoked about using the hole, however, I can’t say this product is worth the money. That deployment method, coupled with the wicked looks, are what set this knife apart among the sea of options.
The Good: Good looking, deployment includes middle-finger flick fun-factor
The Bad: Crooked ergonomics make for poor ‘usability’
Bottom Line: Good option for a fidgety collector, but hardly the perfect EDC