Spyderco Karahawk Review: The Best EDC Tactical Knife?
The Spyderco Karahawk is a karambit style knife designed for everyday carry. If you're into Karambits or simply looking for an EDC knife that serves double duty as a self-defense tool, this knife is one of the top options to consider.
With its high popularity, we were curious how this knife performs and whether it's worth the hype. We did lots of research on this knife, taking into account previous users reviews, expert opinions from knife enthusiasts, and watched experts' videos.
Read our detailed Spyderco Karahawk review below to discover everything we found about this knife.
Spyderco Karahawk overview and specs:
Before we delve into more details about this knife, we'd like to give you a brief description of what it's all about and its key specifications.
The knife was designed by Sal Glesser, one of the Spyderco co-founders. It features a dynamic design involving the classic Southeast Asian karambit style with a modernized folding knife.
It is powered by a VG10 stainless steel saber ground blade.
It comes with a patented Emerson wave deployment design which allows for automatic blade deployment as you draw it out of your pocket.
The knife has a compact handle design. It includes twin skeletonized stainless steel for added sturdiness and durability. The handle is then capped with textured non-slip G10 scales for a firm and sure grip.
A karambit ring is included in this knife handle to offer you an outstanding grip when holding the knife in various styles.
The blade is locked in place using a lock-back mechanism for high reliability.
Above all, the karambit style knife is armed with Spyderco's reversible hourglass pocket clip that supports ambidextrous tip-up carry.
Don't forget that this Spyderco comes in an all-black version for discreet carry.
These are the key specifications for this knife:
Ambidextrous, tip-up carry
Made in Japan
The handle of this karambit involves G10 scales. It offers a secure, non-slip grip that feels almost like light sandpaper.
We like that this handle follows a contour similar to the knife and even includes cutouts for finger notches to give you a sure grip.
The entire handle is then supported by stainless steel skeleton, which helps improve its overall durability while keeping the weight low on this knife.
And at the back of this handle, you'll discover a finger ring (typical of karambits) which makes the knife easy and comfortable to hold in reserve fashion.
By placing your index finger through this hole, you also make it hard for your assailant to disarm you in a self-defense scenario.
The Karahawk sports a 2.29-inch blade made from the high-end Japanese VG10 stainless steel. The blade is razor-sharp right outside the box and decently holds its edge.
Blade size is just below 3 inches and is perfect for legal carry for those who reside in areas with strict knife laws. This knife is what EDC enthusiasts consider as a small or medium-sized folding knife.
The choice of steel for this knife is also great! The VG10 has a reputation for taking an ultra-sharp edge and holding it decently well. What's more, it's super-easy to sharpen, and you don't even need to invest in premium sharpeners to give it a terrific edge.
Corrosion resistance is exceptional for this steel and makes cleaning and maintenance for this knife hassle-free for you.
For the design part, this blade is a hollow grind. Its hawkbill shape has an adequate amount of curvature to enable you to easily handle tasks like pruning veggies, cutting rope and light cutting jobs. But the blade is highly effective for slashing and stabbing in a self-defense scenario.
It also manages to form a solid tip that you can rely on for piercing jobs.
Karahawk has great ergos too! Thanks to its perfectly contoured handle with cutouts finger notches, this EDC karambit feels natural in your hands.
The textured G10 handle has excellent traction to further enhance a firm and solid grip in both wet and dry conditions.
While this little EDC knife is initially intended for reverse grip, it will also feel comfortable in the forward grip. This versatility lets you comfortably use it to slay boxes and do other daily EDC tasks.
The knife is pretty sleek and has a thin profile to comfortably fit it in your pocket. It's hardly noticeable in your pocket.
At only 3.8oz, the knife feels pretty lightweight in your hands. It also feels light in your pocket, so you won't feel like a bulky cutting tool.
The blade length is short and easy to control, whether as a utility cutting tool or for self-defense purposes.
It also comes with a finger ring on the handle butt that offers you a surefire grip. When using this tool for self-defense, having your index finger inside this ring will make it hard for your opponent to disarm.
Deployment and lockup
Deploying this knife is fun and fast, thanks to the Emerson wave feature. This feature automatically opens your Karahawk as you draw it from your pocket.
The Emerson hook you see on this blade grabs the inside of your pocket when you draw the knife and rotates it into the open position.
This rapid deployment makes the knife ready to go when you draw it out of your pocket and gives you a tactical edge over your assailant.
Remember that this feature is highly effective for this Karahawk due to its unique shape. You might have heard that the Emerson wave open sucks in most blades, but it won't disappoint you in this Spyderco.
It can even become pretty addictive, as you'd want to keep deploying it just for fun. The feature works perfectly well on your jeans, slanted pockets, baseball shorts, front pocket, and even back pocket.
Not all scenarios call for the rapid deployment method. That's why the designer of this knife included the Spyderhole onto the blade of this knife to offer you an alternative deployment method.
This is the opposite of Emerson's hook. It involves manually opening the knife by grabbing the hole on the blade's backside.
The knife has a lock-back mechanism for the blade. We know most people don't like this lockup. But Dr. Glesser, the brains behind the knife, had a solid reason for using this kind of lockup.
Owing to the high stress Karambits endure, they require a more robust and more dependable lockup. For this reason, he chose the lock-back over the liner lock due to its tight lockup and more reassuring.
On top of this, the designer placed a Boye dent on the blade to prevent your palm pressure from pressing on this lock and unintentionally releasing the blade when it's in use.
WARNING: We should warn you that this isn't a toy, and you should be extra careful when drawing it out of your pocket. One simple mistake can get you injured with its sharp blade, which is the last thing you want to imagine. Just be careful when deploying this knife. If you're not familiar with the Emerson automatic deployment, consider practicing with a trainer knife before you can get to the real thing.
Karahawk comes with the Spyderco's hourglass-shaped pocket clip. This is designed for tip-up carry only. It also allows for carrying the knife on either the right or left side, favoring leftie users.
The fact that it only allows for tip-up carry is self-explanatory. This is the only way you will enjoy the automatic opening Emerson wave feature this knife boasts. It helps actuate the Emerson hook against your pocket corner.
Since this clip is black-finished, it helps achieve the purpose of this knife—being low profile and not creating unwanted attention.
Fit and finish
This knife is made in Seki-city, Japan, with a great fit and finish. One thing all previous users agree on is that these craftsmen are good at their job. They paid a lot of attention to detail to this knife, and you can tell by its high quality, with tight tolerances in this knife. There are no detectable manufacturer errors in this Karambit from Spyderco.
Also available on:
That's all for our Spyderco Karahawk review. The defining feature of this knife is rapid deployment which works like a charm! The lockup is also rigid and secure.
The ergos of this knife are also out of this world. It's slim and lightweight and comes with a pocket clip, so carrying it in your pocket feels comfortable.
Blade size is not intimating and falls within the legal carry in most states. The blade steel is ridiculously sharp out of the box. It provides good edge retention, easy sharpening, and high corrosion resistance.
If you're looking for a folding knife for use as a utility cutting tool while doubling as a defensive tool, we highly recommend this knife to you.
But note that this isn't a bushcraft or camping knife, and you should only use it for day-to-day tasks.
If you collect Karambits, this Karahawk will also make a nice addition to your collection.