Kizer Cutlery Bladesmith and Prime Series Knife Guide

Kizer Cutlery created the premium Prime and Bladesmith series of knives to compete with other high end knife makers.

Kizer Cutlery’s  Premium Bladesmith and Prime Series Knives Are On Point

Kizer separates their high-end knives into two different series: Bladesmith and Prime. They don’t seem too concerned with differentiating between the two series with the 2018 catalog (which is mostly organized by designers), possibly because the difference between the two is a thin line. I honestly can’t work out an exact difference in philosophy between the two, other than that the Bladesmith stuff is generally a little better quality and materials. So in general terms you can think of the price and quality of all the Kizer series like this:

Kizer Vanguard: $50-100 for good quality

Kizer Prime: $80-200 for good to great quality

Kizer Bladesmith: $150-300 for optimized quality

Honestly, I wouldn’t recommend the Prime and Bladesmith knives to someone just looking for a casual EDC knife. If you like these designs, I would suggest taking a look at Kizer’s Vanguard series first. That’s their budget line, and Kizer does a great job maintaining a high standard of quality with it. But for those don’t mind the triple-digit price tags, this list should pique your interest.

Alright, enough chit chat.

Bladesmith Series

Bladesmith Kizers are where you’ll find the neat custom designs made in the full glory of their material selection and manufacturing cleverness. These are all collaborations with somewhat lesser known custom designers, many of which I’d never heard of before getting into Kizer. So if nothing else, this is a good place to expand your knife pallet.

Bad Dog

The Kizer Cutlery Bad Dog is a high quality, practical pocket knife.

  • Overall Length: 9.75”
  • Blade Length: 4.25”
  • Blade Steel: S35VN
  • Style: Drop point
  • Grind: Hollow
  • Handle Material: Titanium
  • Weight: 6.63 oz
  • Lock Type: Frame lock
  • Designer: Matt Cucchiara
  • Model #: 5463A1

It’s hard say this is any one blade style because designer Cucchiara went all in on recurve. The whole thing is a very slicey, curvy flipper that ultimately comes down into a sweet-looking drop point blade. There’s a lot of talk about how comfortable this knife is, and it’s well balanced enough that you don’t really feel how big it is, so all that curving in the design seems to be doing its job. That being said, it looks unwieldy in person. In terms of looks, the Bad Dog’s design suits the smaller Vanguard version with the three inch blade better. In that case you have a pocket friendly slicer. The Bladesmith version is bigger than some fixed blades, so the delicate lines you see on the screen travel a far distance to make up a surprisingly tough folder. I’m just not sure what its intended purpose is beyond looking cool.

 

Guru

The Kizer Cutlery Guru Pocket Knife.

  • Overall Length: 7.5”
  • Blade Length: 3.0”
  • Blade Steel: S35VN
  • Style: Sheepsfoot
  • Grind: Flat
  • Handle Material: Titanium
  • Weight: 4.0 oz
  • Lock Type: Frame lock
  • Designer: Matt Degnan
  • Model #: 3504A2

Kizer has always been pretty on point with their sheepsfoot knives with stuff like their golden child the Gemini. In fact, you could think of the Guru as the fatter brother of the Gemini since it has the same style of blade but shorter and thicker and, for some reason, more handle. This would make for a nice urban carry, but the blade actually seems more suited to bushcraft thanks to that thick spine and shallow grind. It’s got some generously comfortable handling, clean action, and looks non-threatening for the most part. It might look funny with that small blade-to-handle ratio, and I’m intrigued by that choil at the base of the blade, which I assume is so you can choke the blade up, but looks like it might be a little too small to do so comfortably and it cuts into the overall cutting edge length on the blade. Besides that odd bit of shaping, there’s no denying this is a solid tool.

Also, if you’re picky about your flipping mechanism, they actually make the Guru on both a thumb stud and a flipper version.

 

John Gray Brute

The Kizer Cutlery John Gray Brute is a well designed EDC knife.

  • Overall Length: 8.5”
  • Blade Length: 3.5”
  • Blade Steel: S35VN
  • Style: Wharncliffe
  • Grind: Hollow
  • Handle Material: Titanium
  • Weight: 7.05 oz
  • Lock Type: Frame lock
  • Designer: John Gray
  • Model #: Ki4473

Specifications say Wharncliffe, but there’s a definite feeling of spear point to this knife thanks to the significant height of the blade, which is only the first of a lot of interesting things about the Brute. The main thing here that you’ll probably only ever see on a John Gray-designed Kizer knife is that gigantic phillips-head pivot screw. That’s something John Gray specifically told Kizer to do because he wants you to be able to adjust this knife with a quarter, although taking it all the way apart will still take some torque screwdrivers. I don’t know if this was designed for outdoor use, but this would make for a beautiful hunting knife (it’s maybe a little too much knife for typical urban EDC). The blade was made to slice and the structure is a simple two slabs of titanium so it’s easy to clean up and maintain.

Ning Shoal

The Kizer Cutlery Ning Shoal is a CHinese styley folding knife.

  • Overall Length: 8.0”
  • Blade Length: 3.5”
  • Blade Steel: S35VN
  • Style: Drop point
  • Grind: Hollow
  • Handle Material: Titanium
  • Weight: 5.14 oz
  • Lock Type: Frame lock
  • Designer: Kim Ning
  • Model #: Ki401B1

The Ning Shoal is pretty sizable where pocket knives are concerned. It’s a thick blade with a deep grind and a nice long curve into a point. I really like how the blade on this looks because it’s the kind of design that can take a few smacks if it needs to. I’m less excited about the patterning on the milled handle, but this a comfortable knife by all accounts, so I’d be willing to look past that. Like a lot of Kizer Bladesmith knives, this was made for slicing, and seems to be a good candidate for the large handed. The jimping is also a nice controlling detail. Seems to me a good all-around EDC, with some careful outdoor potential.

Vagnino Zipslip

The Kizer Vagnino Zipslip is a well designed folding knife with a weird name.

  • Overall Length: 6.8”
  • Blade Length: 2.8”
  • Blade Steel: S35VN
  • Style: Drop point
  • Grind: Flat
  • Handle Material: Titanium
  • Weight: 3.15 oz
  • Lock Type: Slip joint
  • Designer: Mike Vagnino
  • Model #: Ki3507

This is one of Kizer’s first attempts at a slipjoint knife, and it’s a pretty strong attempt even if it does look a little funky. The ratio of handle to blade is pretty extreme, but I do like how they’ve designed it be choked up with that big finger choil nesting where the base of the blade meets the handle. It might look awkward, but it’s hard steel with a good flat grind and a blade safely under three inches. This is a whittler if I ever saw one. Personally, I wish there was more of a cutting edge to it. This thing is 70% handle and choil, but it does get high marks for being incredibly friendly where strict carry laws are concerned.

 

Pinkerton Escort

This high quality Kizer Poxket Knife was designed by Dirk Pinkerton.

  • Overall Length: 7.8”
  • Blade Length: 3.5”
  • Blade Steel: S35VN
  • Style: Drop point
  • Grind: Flat
  • Handle Material: Titanium
  • Weight: 5.44 oz
  • Lock Type: Frame lock
  • Designer: Dirk Pinkerton
  • Model #: Ki4481

The Escort is just barely a drop point. The first thing I thought on seeing this knife was “oh weird, a straight folding knife.” But there’s just enough of a drop to create a useful point and nice classic look. But more interesting than the subtle drop point and overall understated look of the knife is the length of the jimping they’ve set on the back. This is clearly a knife made to give you some control. It’s not what you call elegant, but there’s a certain no-nonsense tactical vibe to it that’s endearing in a way similar to an ugly but well-tempered and reasonably-sized dog. It doesn’t look special at first, but you can take it anywhere, and, over time, it grows on you.

 

Splinter

The Kizer Splinter is a great gentleman's folding knife.

  • Overall Length: 7.5”
  • Blade Length: 3.78”
  • Blade Steel: S35VN
  • Style: Wharncliffe
  • Grind: Hollow
  • Handle Material: Titanium
  • Weight: 2.6 oz
  • Lock Type: Frame lock
  • Designer: Collaboration with Tomcat Knives
  • Model #: Ki3457A2

Weird. This knife is weird. All due respect to Tomcat Knives, who came up with the original design. This is a neat sheepsfoot. There’s a lot of clever stuff going on in this aptly-named sliver of a blade. It has a milled pocket clip, it’s light for a titanium-handled knife, the flipper bump is discrete, and overall it comes out as just a very different-looking knife that’s surprisingly useful. That thinness is hard to get around though, and will probably have some consequences in terms of ergonomics for some people, along with the angles of the grind which seem to go in every direction, which, on such a thin, short blade makes for a confusing sight. All things considered, though it’s a neat slicer, probably not quite like anything else you own, and one of the cheapest knives in the Bladesmith series.

 

Tigon

The Tigon is a result of a design collaberation between Kizer and Tomcat Knives.

  • Overall Length: 8.5”
  • Blade Length: 3.6”
  • Blade Steel: S35VN
  • Style: Drop point sheepsfoot
  • Grind: Flat
  • Handle Material: Titanium
  • Weight: 5.8 oz
  • Lock Type: G-10
  • Designer: Collaboration with Tomcat knives
  • Model #: 4450A2

One of the the few knives you’ll see on this list with G-10 scales. I’m almost inclined to call foul on the price for that detail except the sheer mass of S30V steel used for this pretty sizable three and a half inch blade justifies a lot, and the Tigon still has a good set of titanium liners riding on the inside. Also, in terms of Bladesmith series stuff, this is on the cheaper end, and I actually prefer G-10 scales to metal for handling anyway. This thing’s going to have a pretty secure grip in hand, thanks to that curved design. I’ve had a couple knives with this kind of handle and while it makes changing grips more uncomfortable, it’s great to have for traditional grip. I do have to wonder if there isn’t a little too much space in that top finger choil, but at the end of the day, you’ll have a good overall EDC with a tough flat grind.

 

Desert Dog

The Kizer Cutlery Desert Dog is a durable pocketknife for people that use pocket knives often.

  • Overall Length: 7.5”
  • Blade Length: 3.1”
  • Blade Steel: S35VN
  • Style: Drop point
  • Grind: Hollow
  • Handle Material: Carbon Fiber
  • Weight: 4.72 oz
  • Lock Type: Liner lock
  • Designer: Mike Vagnino
  • Model #: Ki4496

I guess this is the Bad Dog’s little brother. I’m not sure if Mike Vagnino intentionally made this as some kind of call out to Cucchiara’s design (or maybe it’s the other way around, since I’m pretty sure the Bad Dog is a more recent design), but this is a much more modestly sized alternative, if you want a knife with a recurve blade. It’s also one of the few with carbon fiber scales, which may or may not be a bad thing depending on what you like. It still has titanium liners riding inside, so this knife is tough, but that does mean it has a liner lock instead of a frame lock. Lot’s of compromising going with on with this knife in the context of all the other Bladesmith series stuff. Least of which is probably the G-10 spacer riding at the bottom. It’s a bit of a shock to see so many non-titanium materials being used after the metallic marathon going on in the rest of this list, but it does make for a light knife for its size. That goes a long ways to making it pocket friendly, and the curving dimensions make it comfy all around.

 

Prime Series

The Prime series doesn’t seem to be quite as filled out as the Bladesmith. Personally it seems redundant with the Bladesmith series because it still, for the most part, features knives by custom designers with pretty much the same materials. You’re more likely to come across G-10, carbon fiber, or VG-10 steel in the Prime knives, but I don’t see Kizer adding anywhere near as much to this series as to Bladesmith or Vanguard. It’s possible that a year or two down the road I’ll be editing this section out of the blog entirely.

Activ Bantam

The Kizer Cutlery Activ Bantam was designed by Kim Ning.

  • Overall Length: 7.0”
  • Blade Length: 3.0”
  • Blade Steel: S35VN
  • Style: Drop point
  • Grind: Hollow
  • Handle Material: Titanium
  • Weight: 3.31 oz
  • Lock Type: Frame lock
  • Designer: Kim Ning
  • Model #: Ki3404A3

A sweet little flipper by a designer who’s done some consistently solid work for Kizer. As far as design goes, this is a simple piece that they kept light so it makes for a nice all around EDC. At this size and weight, you’re not going to feel this thing in your pocket, and when you pull it out, you’ve got S35V steel in a hollow grind. So this is a mean slicer. Even if it doesn’t exactly have anything spectacularly different about it, I do think this is one of the better looking Kizer knives available. Although I’m a little thrown off by the combination of flipper and thumb stud action on it. It’s a nice thought, but generally I’m only using one or the other. Maybe the variety of deploying options will even out the wear of the knife, but since this is on ceramic bearings, general wear and tear isn’t that big of a risk anyway.

 

Nick Swan Matanzas

The Kizer Matanzas was designed by Nick Swan.

 

  • Overall Length: 8.0”
  • Blade Length: 3.44”
  • Blade Steel: S35VN
  • Style: Drop point
  • Grind: Flat
  • Handle Material: Titanium with carbon fiber insert
  • Weight: 3.85 oz
  • Lock Type: Frame lock
  • Designer: Nick Swan
  • Model #: Ki4510A1

I appreciate a flipper that hides the flipper tab when its open. It’s not a pet peeve when they don’t, but when I see something like this Matanzas deploy and come together so well it automatically makes me classify the knife as classy as hell. So here’s one of Kizer’s best gentleman folders. It has a way of continually hiding its dimensions. At eight inches it’s a pretty big folder, but the slim profile makes it seem smaller. Thing is, once you get into that perspective of a small knife you start to see all the ways it’s actually pretty hefty. Nick Swan also did a huge favor for Kizer designing a knife with a carbon fiber insert. It really makes the knife stand out in the Kizer line up, even including the Bladesmith stuff.

 

Aileon

The Kizer Aileon is a modern looking folding knife by Nick Swan.

  • Overall Length: 8.0”
  • Blade Length: 3.5”
  • Blade Steel: S35VN
  • Style: Clip point
  • Grind: Hollow
  • Handle Material: Titanium
  • Weight: 3.65 oz
  • Lock Type: Frame lock
  • Designer: Nick Swan
  • Model #: Ki3304-BRK

The Aileon gets points for being a little different. I’m not sure I like the difference, but it makes for a fun toy to play with if nothing else. The clip point on this thing is so severe it would be a wharncliffe with just a slightly straighter cutting edge. If you like a point, though, you should like this knife a lot. It has significantly more point than almost any other knife I can think of. And despite all the weird angles on this thing’s handle most people seem to find it pretty comfortable. The way they have everything lined up seems to just conform to the hand. For example, the pocket clip, which is usually a hotspot on Kizer knives only goes a little ways up the handle, and the the butt end of the knife actually angles just off the hand where the meat of the hand might overlap to give some relief. And it’s a decent sized knife all around with a four and half inches of handle. So it might be a funny looking slicer, but it still manages to be slicey and comfy.

 

 Basalt

The Kizer Basalt is a tough looking folder.

  • Overall Length: 7.9”
  • Blade Length: 3.38”
  • Blade Steel: S35VN
  • Style: Clip point
  • Grind: Flat
  • Handle Material: Titanium
  • Weight: 3.98 oz
  • Lock Type: Frame lock
  • Designer: Azo
  • Model #: Ki4505

Maybe it’s not the most original blade on the block, but it might be one of the most comfortable on here. I like the way the handle angles in, because it’s not so extreme that it feels unnatural. There’s also a healthy bit of jimping down the heel of the knife which makes it really grippy. I don’t think it’s exactly a winner for beauty, but that’s mostly because the handle looks like the handle looks like a tank someone forgot to paint. The blade actually looks pretty nice. It actually reminds a little of the Begleiter, despite the fact that it’s a clip point. The angles are subtle enough that the whole thing keeps a thin profile that’s pleasant to look at.

 

Feist

The Kizer Feist is a sleek looking folding knife.

  • Overall Length: 6.5”
  • Blade Length: 2.87”
  • Blade Steel: S35VN
  • Style: Drop point
  • Grind: Hollow
  • Handle Material: Titanium
  • Weight: 2.68 oz
  • Lock Type: Frame lock
  • Designer: Justin Lundquist
  • Model #: Ki3499

The Feist is among the handful of Kizers that should get a lot of credit just for being different. It might look like a metal pill, but it’s the only one that does, and there’s something to be said for that. If you’ve researched this knife at all you might have come across reviews or news about some manufacturing difficulties. The first run of the Feist was clunky, to say the least. But Kizer did a pretty impressive turn around with it. Listened to what customers were saying, fixed up the manufacturing issues and re-released a much cleaner, more fit run of the Feist. Now it’s a great gentleman front flipper to carry around town or, since it has a bit of a paring knife shape, use in the kitchen.

 

IFT

The Kizer Cutlery IFT is a well designed pocket folder by Kim Ning.

  • Overall Length: 7.5”
  • Blade Length: 3.25”
  • Blade Steel: S35VN
  • Style: Drop point
  • Grind: Hollow
  • Handle Material: Titanium with G-10 inlays
  • Weight: 303 oz
  • Lock Type: Frame lock
  • Designer: Kim Ning
  • Model #: Ki3452

I’ve been seeing a lot of “out of stock” and “discontinued” signs being thrown around on this knife. I can’t find news of it being explicitly discontinued, so I’m keeping it on this list anyway. This is a sweet knife, and one of the few Kizers that’s more than just a couple nicely tuned slabs of titanium on a drop point. It has kind of a Buck knives vibe with that thick handle and steep drop point in the blade. I think it has a lot of potential as a hunting knife. If you can’t find this regular version, you might be interested in the slightly larger IFT-L. There’s less than an inch of difference between the two. It’s actually a little confusing why they made the larger version that size at all, and might have something to do with the scarcity. Either way, this is a tough flipper worth having if you can get your hands on one.

 

Sliver

The Kizer Sliver Pocket Knife.

 

  • Overall Length: 8.5”
  • Blade Length: 3.5”
  • Blade Steel: S35VN
  • Style: Drop point
  • Grind: Flat
  • Handle Material: Aluminum
  • Weight: 3.11 oz
  • Lock Type: Liner lock
  • Designer: Elijah Isham
  • Model #: Ki4419A1

As far as I know, this is the only aluminum you’ll find in either Bladesmith or Prime series. That’s liable to change based on the popularity of this thing. It has the kind of classy but approachable design that you can take anywhere. I’d even consider it for a camping knife if it were a little shorter. As it is, the Sliver Sunburst is a cool thing to show off with some decent cutting power. That aluminum and slim profile also lend toward putting the price in Vanguard-price territory which is a huge point in its favor. The Sliver really embodied the kind of surprising price-for-value designing and manufacturing that Kizer is famous for.

 

Isham Megatherium

The Kizer Megatherium was designed by Elijah Isham.

  • Overall Length: 8.63”
  • Blade Length: 3.6”
  • Blade Steel: S35VN
  • Style: Wharncliffe
  • Grind: Flat
  • Handle Material: Titanium/Carbon fiber
  • Weight: 5.43 oz
  • Lock Type: Frame lock
  • Designer: Elijah Isham
  • Model #: Ki4502A2

This is a knife for big hands and people who really like corners. The Megatherium is Kizer’s famous giant knife, also famous, I think, for being surprisingly comfortable. It has an odd way way of conforming to the hand and securing your grip that turns an unwieldy-looking knife into something that actually feels pretty nice to hold. There are a lot of details all throughout this thing that make it handle nicer and ride better in the pocket. The only issue being, of course, that you need a fairly large pocket for it to really be comfortable. If that ends up being a problem I would highly suggest looking into the new Isham Theta. It’s not quite a copy of this design, but it is a good smaller alternative to the Megatherium.

News Letter


Sign up for our email updates. We promise not to inundate your inbox with daily emails, because that would be a lot of work.


2018-09-02T22:59:42+00:00

About the Author:

Copywriter with vague delusions of grandeur. My time is spent aggressively oscillating between drinking coffee at my computer and running through the woods with pointy objects.
Share
Share
+1
Tweet
Pin
0 Shares