The Kershaw Dividend is an EDC-sized USA-made folding pocket knife, with a retail price of around $42.
It features a 3″ blade size, anodized aluminum handles (model 1812GRY), and Kershaw SpeedSafe assisted opening mechanism.
Update: This review was originally published on 5/5/2017, and republished on 3/27/2020. Why? That’s easy – this is still one of the best folding knives under $50 and I continue to use my sample regularly.
I have been testing a sample of this knife for some time now, and have grown to really like it. It reminds me of the feeling I had when I first bought my Kershaw Leek knife, reviewed here.
How can such an inexpensive knife perform so well and still be made in the USA?
There doesn’t seem to be any compromises in fit, finish, or quality, but you’re not getting any super-premium blade steel alloys or titanium handle scales at this price point.
Somehow, I feel like you get more than what you pay for.
I find the Kershaw Dividend to be a quite nice pocket knife for EDC – everyday carry. It’s compact, but not tiny.
I like its subtle non-tacticool design.
It doesn’t have a safety lock, which my Leek seems to be unique in featuring, but the knife hasn’t opened up in my pocket unexpectently – or anywhere else – yet.
The SpeedSafe assisted opening feature works well. Press down on the flipper, and the knife swings out quickly and easily. You still have to put manual effort into moving that flipper, and it’s this that separates assisted opening knives from automatic knives.
As always, know your local knife laws and regulations before buying or carrying a pocket knife.
Features & Specs
|Kershaw Dividend, 1812GRY
Check Price: via Amazon | via BladeHQ | w/ Nylon Handle
One nice feature is that the pocket clip is repositionable, for tip up or down carry, and left or right. It’s set at the factory for righty tip-up carry.
When placed in a front right pants pocket and towards the rightmost outer side, the blade is held closed against the pocket wall. There is a lanyard hole, but I don’t like assisted-opening knives hanging out loose in my pocket. Accidental openings are unpleasant surprises, especially when tip-up.
The blade shape is described as being a drop point, but I would describe it more as a modified Wharncliffe.
It seems to work well for slicing-style cutting tasks, and also precision tip-work such as when scoring.
I should have cleaned the knife better before taking photos, but I thought it shows what I mean about tip-work. Some knife blades are shaped better for precision cutting, the Dividend is one such knife. But it’s not a uni-tasker. The “belly” of the knife is gently curved, but nicely optimized for general purpose use.
The flipper tab is small, but as large as it needs to be. It’s easy to feel for, and easy to press.
That’s a big benefit of the SpeedSafe opening mechanism, in my opinion – the flipper tab can be smaller. If this was a manual knife, a flipper lever that small might require too much force for a successful opening swing. My guess is that, if this were a manual knife, that flipper would only swing the blade open halfway without a flick wrist or other compensating energy transfer.
It’s a liner lock knife. You don’t have to dig your thumb in to release the lock and close the knife.
This is a well-done and comfortable implementation of a simple but strong and effective lock design.
I’ve taken a liking towards frame-lock designs, but you’re not going to find a frame-lock knife at this price.
The blade is perfectly centered, and you can see how the knife is constructed. There are two steel slabs, one serving as the liner lock, and the two anodized aluminum handle scales.
Sorry, I guess the lighting makes it look a little purple. It’s not. It’s a beigey gray.
The steel gives the knife strength and durability, the aluminum gives it a light feel and textured grip.
It’s got a backwards flag, I’m guessing to denote its USA manufacturing origins. I had to remind myself of the meaning.
The two threaded holes at the top show an alternate placement for the pocket clip.
Having 4 position options is unusual. With a lot of knives, especially inexpensive ones, you have places to move the pocket clip to, if you can move it anywhere at all. Sometimes the sole choice is “pocket clip or no pocket clip.”
Made in the USA. Nice.
Hopefully the close-up gives you an idea of what the knife handles feel like. They’re not smooth – far from it – but aren’t rough or aggressive. The texture feels like very fine grit sandpaper that has been worn down – rough and grippy without being aggressive or painful.
The pocket clip isn’t remarkable, but its versatility is much appreciated. It’s no trouble to clip to the pocket of my jeans. If removed, you’re left with a very slender knife, in case you’re a “knife on a lanyard in a pocket” kind of user.
It’s somewhat larger than the Kershaw Leek. Shown here is my new teal-anodized Leek. Honestly, I think I prefer the stainless steel Leek knives, but this one was on sale. I ordered it during a holiday season Amazon Kershaw sale a few months ago.
This isn’t the best comparison photo, but if you know the Leek, maybe you’ll see something helpful.
Here is the Leek, Dividend, and Link. The Dividend is said to be a smaller adaptation of the Link. It might not look smaller in photos, but it has a noticeably smaller feel to it.
Here’s another Link joining the fray, to the right, with a partially serrated blade.
And just the Dividend and Link.
The Link feels like more of a workshop knife, but the Dividend is smaller to carry and nearly as capable.
I have medium-sized hands, and tend to like knives with 3″ blades, which is probably why the Dividend seemed to be a great fit.
I cannot comment about the knife steel yet, but 420HC isn’t premium stuff. It’s not bad either, and seems to be holding its factory edge through quite a bit of use.
I think that the Dividend has all the makings of a Kershaw classic. Now all we need are some color options, and it’ll be perfect.
There is a glass-filled nylon handle option. But unless you had a good reason for going with that style of handle rather than anodized aluminum, spend the few extra dollars and get this one.
Given my experience with this test sample, would I buy one? Definitely.
Thank you to Kershaw for providing the review sample unconditionally.