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.
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.
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.
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.
The 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.
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.