Knife Review: Coast Rapid Response 3.0 Assisted Opener

Image courtesy Coast Knives

Coast is one of many Portland-based knife and tool companies that I already dig, and to which I will continue to cozy up as the managing editor of The Truth About Knives. At the 2012 SHOT Show, the awesome Coast guy handed Nick a Rapid Response 3.90 on the spot. My envy must have been obvious, because he offered me one too. Unfortunately I had to say a reluctant “no thanks, for now” because my home state outlawed assisted openers at the time . . .

That all changed a few months later, and as soon as the governor’s ink was dry on the new law, I was on the horn with Coast, begging for that assisted opener I’d seen back in Vegas. When the box of goodies arrived at my doorstep, it bore three gifts: the Rapid Response 3.90, its baby brother the Rapid Response 3.0 and a very clever illuminated multi-tool that I’ll review someday.

 Courtesy Chris Dumm for TTAK

The 3.90’s extra inch of blade requires another extra inch of handle to fold into, and this photo shows the fairly dramatic size difference between the two knives. With external dimensions of 4″ by 1.25″ by 1/2″ thick, the 3.0 is a much more comfortable knife for everyday carry. The reduced size gives it reduced weight (3.9 ounces instead of 4.8 ounces) although it isn’t any thinner than its big brother.

Courtesy Chris Dumm for TTAK

Both knives have a liner lock, a reversible hinge-down pocket hook and this switch that locks the blade open or closed. This manual lock is a reassuring feature for assisted-opening noobs like myself, and it has a fairly firm detent to keep if from unintentionally engaging or disengaging itself.

The blade is made from the same 5Cr15MoV stainless as the 3.90, and it shares the same drop-point profile in miniature. The shorter 3-inch blade is serrated along the bottom half of its edge, however, which is a big help when chopping up cardboard boxes like Nick was doing.

PROS

The Rapid Response 3.0 has been my EDC knife about half of the time since I got it last spring. Its smaller size makes it much more comfortable and practical as an everyday carry knife, and it’s kept its edge pretty well during the year I’ve had it. The serrations make quick work of boxes and recalcitrant plastic containers from Target.

CONS

Courtesy Chris Dumm for TTAKThe blade has more side-to-side play in its hinge than I like to see, but that criticism is secondary to a major problem that makes this knife very hard to employ: you have to push really really hard to flick the blade open. My 3.90 has a very comfortable opening mechanism, but the 3.0 is unreasonably stiff and its thumb stud is much sharper than it needs to be.

When I first got the 3.0 it took me a few days (and a deep, painful split in the skin of my right thumb) before I figured out just the right grip and thumb pressure to coax the blade open. This really surprised me, because the big 3.90 only requires a few ounces of pressure before its enormous blade flies open. Leghorn compared my Coast to his own, and instantly (and correctly) pronounced it essentially unusable.

None of our other Coasts had a closure spring this stiff, so the odds are that I just got a bad knife off of the production run. Even if its an isolated defect, in my case it’s a really serious one.

CONCLUSION

With a street price of as low as $25, the Rapid Response 3.0 can introduce you to the world of assisted openers for the price of a low-quality lockback. This would be awesome if the closure spring weren’t so dang stiff. Yours might work fine and open comfortably, but then again it might not (other reviewers have had problems with the closure spring) so you definitely want to try before you buy.

Ratings (out of five stars)

Styling * *
Not an ugly knife, but definitely has a utilitarian aesthetic.

Blade * * 1/2
Just as Leghorn noticed, the steel seems to be fairly soft and the edge isn’t very durable.

Ergonomics * as tested (* * * if it worked right)
Fairly comfortable to hold, but the outrageously stiff closure spring butchers your thumb when you try to open it.

Ruggedness/Durability * * 1/2
I haven’t abused this knife, but the blade is already a bit wobbly.

Overall Rating * * as tested (* * * if it worked right)
With its super-low price it would be a great value if they fixed the spring.

comments

  1. Loyd says:

    I started carrying the 3.0 last week based on Nick’s review of the 3.9 over on TTAG. I like it so far. Haven’t had a chance to give it a workout. The opening isn’t too stiff on mine. It’s my first assisted opener and I think it’s as tight as needs to be for me. It’s a better EDC choice for me than either of my previous 2 knives, a S&W Border Guard 2 and a Gerber mini skeletonized folder. I like it a lot so far.

    1. Chris Dumm says:

      I’m glad yours isn’t so stiff! It’s a pretty good value once the spring issue is fixed.

      1. Robert Farago says:

        Said the actress to the Bishop.

  2. SeaCreature says:

    Couple of comments.

    1) For all equipment reviews, I think it would be helpful to list the country of manufacture. At this price point, I’m guessing these knives are imported. Which is fine, if that’s what you’re into.

    2) Based on your review – it sounds like the manual lock will prevent the knife from opening. Have you had any problems with the lock being activated accidentally in your pocket, preventing the blade from deploying? I had a SOG Trident do this. I think it is a serious liability for any knife that may be carried as a defensive tool.

  3. Vern McCray says:

    I have always considered Coast to be a rather low budget retailer of crap. That being
    said I still have several of their products, I just don’t put them in a position of having to depend upon them. You generally get what you pay for and knives are no different. Moral of story save up and buy something that will last and keep an edge.

  4. Dogman says:

    I got one of these small Coast AO knives to review for Amazon Vine. I’ve owned some decent Chinese knives–all made with 8CR steel that took a great edge and held it through reasonable cutting so I’m not prejudiced against Asian cutlery. Truthfully, I really don’t like assisted opening knives anyway but I decided to give this one a try since it was a freebie and all I had to do was review it.

    Honestly, the small Coast was a POS. It was so tight it was impossible to deploy the blade with the thumbstud while holding the knife. No leverage was possible due to the ergonomics of the design. When I tried to open the blade two-handed, the damn thing jabbed me in the palm when the blade deployed with unexpected force. The lock on the handle was so stiff it was a joke to use. I never got around to checking the cutting ability of the less than stellar 5CR steel because I determined the knife was a disaster. Initially I thought I might give it away but, in good conscious, I could not subject anyone to this piece of dangerous garbage so I smashed it and tossed it in the trash.

    I’ve owned some crappy knives in my nearly 70 years but this was the worst case scenario.

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Knife Review: Coast Rapid Response 3.0 Assisted Opener

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