Gear Knife

Best Survival Knife – Kershaw 0160

Kershaw 0160 – Zero Tolerance Knives Kershaw-0160 Review – Best Survival Knife

Specifications and Description

  • Blade steel is 14C28N that also has a Tungsten DLC Coating
  • Handle is G-10 that is 3D machined in matte black
  • Blade Length is 5 in. (12.7 cm)
  • Overall Length is 10 in. (25.4 cm)
  • Weight 8 oz.
  • Includes a Kydex sheath

A Little Information about 14C28N Steel

14C28N steel developed by Sandvik is used exclusively by Kershaw and at the time of this review, there is no information to indicate otherwise. The material is known for its edge performance, hardness and corrosion resistance, all qualities you want to look for when shopping for a knife.

The HRC hardness scale ranges from 55 to 62. This means the steel is hardened well enough to prevent indentations. The Kershaw 0160 using 14C28N steel holds an edge well and yet it can be honed back to peak sharpness with little effort using your honing stone. This means the knife is a good all around survival knife that can also be used as a skinning knife because of its ability to hold an edge.

You simply do not want a knife blade hardened to the point it is brittle. Have you ever snapped a file? The steel in a file has to be harder than the metal it would be used upon, which makes it brittle. You want a knife blade to have some give but not have the edge roll over every time you use it. Imagine trying to sharpen a file. Too hard, of a steal for a blade and it is impossible to sharpen and yet too soft you would be honing every ten minutes.

When I sharpened the knife it felt coarse along the edge so I used a strop to remove the burrs thus, in my mind, it seemed a bit too hard but I put the edge under a good magnifying glass to see if there were any micro dings out of the blade and there were not.

Steel too hard will chip and that is not ideal. It honed well with my diamond stone, and then, later on, I used the sharpening steel that I use on kitchen knives and it did not seem to work as well which indicates the blade is hardened fairly well and will require a little effort with a good stone.

The handle is G-10 making it a high-quality handle. G-10 put in simplest terms is layers of fiberglass coated with resin then heated and compressed. The product, in the end, is a material that is virtually indestructible and is resistant to temperature changes. The handle is textured and it does not absorb the cold. G-10 or Micarta are my choices for knife handle materials.

Micarta is made using the same process as the G-10 process but instead of fiberglass, it uses linen in layers combined with resin then heat and pressure treated. I shy away from wooden or leather handles because natural materials require maintenance to keep them looking good and to keep them serviceable.

The Kershaw 0160 Zero Tolerance is, in my opinion, one of the better survival knives you can own. It does not have all the fancy jumping on the Choil (backside) to make the knife look fierce. You have seen the knives with what looks like saw teeth on the backside, this is all for the show for the most part and to make the knife look fierce and dangerous. Jimping or the serrations on the Choil are simply for your index or thumb to rest on so they do not slip when doing more delicate work with the knife.

Note the serrations (jimping) on the backside. The deep serrations you sometimes see on the so-called Rambo knives can, in fact, affect the blade strength. The 0160 is full tang, which is quite evident when looking at it. This makes for a very strong knife that you know will hold up well to the rigors of camp life.

Your survival knife should be a multi-tool. You should be able to skin game or clean fish with it, dig for roots, cut cloth or thread, carve small pieces of wood or make and sharpen a spear out of a slender sapling. You will be using the knife a lot so the grip has to feel good and not wear out your hand in a few minutes. The 0160 has an ideal grip whether you have on gloves your hands are sweaty or bloody or even if they are cold, it stays in place.

The sheath is adequate but any Kydex sheath is going to make noise as the knife slides in and out, which does not make it ideal for tactical situations. There is not any flex to the sheath, which makes it easy to draw the knife one handed but again there is the noise factor. If you know, you need to practice noise discipline then get a good leather sheath or heavy-duty nylon one to make it whisper quiet when drawing it.

I am not one to get a knife home and start banging on it to see if I can destroy it. I opened the packaging on the Kershaw 0160 and felt the weight and grip and found it almost perfect. Keep in mind you can destroy any knife regardless of what you paid for it, but you do expect certain things from a survival knife.

It shaved wood well and even chopped some chunks out of some saplings. If the knife weighed three pounds then it would be an ax so remembers what you use the knife for and in emergencies or in a survival situation you may need to use it as an ax, shovel or eating utensil but everything has it limits. The blade can be used to split larger chunks of wood by pounding on the backside with a stout piece of wood to force the blade through the wood.

The 0160 did well and you can expect to be able to hack through slender saplings, make wood curls for fire tinder, cut vines, heavy cordage and root around in the ground looking for water or digging up roots, grubs and worms for food.

Whether a blade is corrosion resistant or not I always clean them well after use and wipe some oil on them before putting away if available. Get in the habit of carrying not only survival gear and tools but also the tools and materials such as oil and honing stones to take care of your survival tools.

This is a five-star knife even though I do not care for the sheath and I am always amazed that manufacturers that make high-quality knives forget what they are about when it comes to the sheath. The sheath makes the knife look tactical but that is not what a good sheath is all about, it is about functionality.

One more thing about the sheath and it is a good thing and it is the fact there is not a belt loop behind the knife handle. This may not mean much to some but in a tactical situation with gloves on when you reach for the knife all you want to grab is the handle and not the belt loop or excessive material that always gets in the way. The handle should be floating free so to speak so all you grab is the handle when moving fast. This makes it ideal for strapping to your thigh, calf or securing upside down on a pack harness.


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