Knife Review: Kershaw Atmos

Kershaw Atmos

I have never been a flick/flipper guy when it came to knives. I thought it was a bit cheesy and unnecessary. Part of my reluctance rested on the fact I was never that good at it – part of that was because of the knives I had tried. I always thought that if I wanted quick deployment capability I would go OTF. Now I am converted as converted gets for me.

The Atmos is a “flipper” knife from Kershaw that came out this past year. It marks Kershaw’s 3rd collaboration with maker Dmitry Sinkevich.

From Kershaw::

Designed by Dmitry Sinkevich, the Atmos features Sinkevich’s characteristic clean and practical design—but enhanced with extra detailing. In addition to the chamfered carbon-fiber, it also has a custom oversized pivot, a backspacer with wide lanyard attachment, and a reversible, deep-carry pocketclip. This manual knife opens quickly and easily with Kershaw’s KVT ball-bearing opening system. Extra detailing like this gives the Atmos a refined style that easily bridges the gap from workday to night on the town.

It is well thought out and squared away. With a 3″ blade it sits at the top of the legal limit for non-permit carry in many states (mine included).

STATS: (as reported by manufacturer)

  • KVT ball-bearing opening
  • Flipper
  • Inset liner lock
  • Reversible deep-carry pocketclip (right/left, tip-up)
  • Lanyard hole
  • Steel: 8Cr13MoV, satin finish with satin sanded flats
  • Handle: G10 with carbon fiber overlay
  • Blade Length: 3 in. (7.6 cm)
  • Closed Length: 4 in. (10.2 cm)
  • Overall Length: 6.9 in. (17.5 cm)
  • Weight: 1.9 oz. (53.9 g)
  • Country of Manufacture: China

The Atmos utilizes a flipper at the front of the blade that secures into a liner lock mechanism. Much of the knifee goodness of a flipper rests on how well it deploys. This one is excellent. It flips open easily. It retains well in the handle and lock up when deployed is probably as good as it gets for a liner lock. As with many flippers, the flipper itself acts as a quillon/guard when deployed. The Atmos does not have a ramp on the top of the blade but it does have aggressive jimping than runs an ample 3/4 of an inch.

From what I can tell there is no metal in the liner except the lock spring for retention. That helps to make this knife light – like 1.9 oz. It gets even lighter if you take off the all metal clip (which I did). Yet, there is no flex in the handle which is what one might expect. The handle is made up of just enough G10 material with a carbon fiber overlay. I was suspicious of the carbon fiber at first. However, upon using the knife it makes sliding in and out of the pocket easier. The knife still has good traction and I am sure it helps keep the handle rigid. It looks like Kershaw took a chance and got it right.

The blade is hollow-ground 8Cr13MoV. Not a premium steel but better than a lot of pocket knives with steels that hover in the 420 realm. My first impression is that it is feels relatively hard for the steel that it is which probably means that this offering has a better than average heat treat. The blade style is an aesthetically pleasing drop point.

When it comes to blade sharpness, life is like a box of chocolates. It is not a big deal for me, but this one came out pretty sharp. It passed the paper cutting test but struggled with the arm hair test though it did cut a few hairs.

A few cons are worth mentioning. First, the knife did not lock back properly out of the box. I had to move the liner lock back with a flat headed screw driver and lube it up. It might have just been the particular knife I was given, but there it is. Once I did that though, it was off to the races. I do not see it being a big deal but it could be for a knife n00b.


I am not a clip carry kind of guy. If you are, the clip is pretty much your standard clip. I did try it on my pants and the retention was good but it added much to the overall bulk of the knife.

The Atmos MSRP is 49.99 USD on Kershaw’s website. Elsewhere online, it sells in the 32.00 range. That is not a bad price, but I tend towards cheapskate so it could be better especially in a saturated market and especially for a liner lock. I am fairly sure the price will come down but either way you do get a lot of bang for your buck.

Our particular test knife came directly from Kershaw. It was sent as a review sample, with no expectation of return.

Not a kitchen knife, but the Atmos is a useful EDC slicer


Ratings (out of five stars)

Styling ****1/2

This is a good looking knife. In a saturated market it still stands out even for being so straight forward.

Blade ***1/2

I gave this a strong 3 1/2 but you could call it a four. A lot of what you will think of the blade depends on your overall view of pocket knives and their philosophy of use. The finish is excellent.

Ergonomics ****1/2

Deployment is so great I am still in the “flip it just cuz” phase. The handle is good but not as good as the deployment. There is enough of a “boxy” feel in the handle to keep it from getting a full five stars.

Ruggedness/Durability ****1/2

Time will tell on this one like all knives. It definitely feels solid. The retention of the blade in handle relies on torsion pressure and not sidewall friction/pressure against the liner so this will probably hold up better as I sharpen the knife and take away material.

Overall rating ****

Not an out of the park grand slam but more like an infield home run. For the price point I bet it beats many of its competitors in the space. It could be a 5-star value EDC if you can pick it up for the right price.






  1. stuartb says:

    Nice try, but let down by the 8cr steel. I have several similar Kershaw knives in this and I just cannot keep an edge on them. It seems Kershaw are behind the curve on this as several companies are raising the bar on steel selection and grind. Steel Will have the Modus (and Cutjack) with a similar shape and spec, but flat ground D2 blade that works a lot harder for $40.

    1. stuartb says:

      I dont want to come across as being negative, as i think its cool you reviewed the knife, as the budget end of things gets overlooked by big money blades (which is over $50 for me). My favorite carry is a Kershaw Hinderer, what a steal for just over $20, but I would pay a few more bucks for better steel than the 8cr13 on it.

  2. Len Zielenski says:

    What the hell is your qualification to rate any knife based on:
    1. Not liking flippers (until now apparently). Obviously you’ve never experienced a good one and there are literally thousands out there, even in the <$50 range.
    2. Not being a "clip person". Huh? The single greatest boon to knife carry since the invention of stainless steel. No more fishing around keys, matches, chapstick etc to find your knife.
    3. Being "cheap". This means you have very, VERY limited exposure to what is available in the knife world.
    4. Blade gets 3.5 stars? For 8Cr13MoV? Starting point for a seriously contender is 440c, 14C28N and D2 all of which have double to triple the edge holding ability.

    Sorry, but you are unqualified to review any knife.

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Knife Review: Kershaw Atmos

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