Last Updated: January 16, 2017
Back when the original Boker Kwaiken came onto the scene I was pretty excited. Modeled after knifemaker Lucas Burnley’s custom offering, this sleek design looked too cool to resist. That is, until, reviews started to pour in. People stated that the knife was difficult to open and the tip of the blade protruded out from the handle to the point where it would inadvertently cut you. No bueno. My excitement instantly turned to disappointment. Rather than buy the knife, and then slog through writing a review of something that I knew I wasn’t going to be happy with, I just decided to skip the Kwaiken entirely.
Despite the poor reviews, the Kwaiken developed its own cult following. This is thanks in great part to those in the knife customization crowd. Knifemaker / knife modder Alexander Dietz developed his own cottage industry around the “Dietz modded Kwaiken”. Clever dremel work converted the clunky Kwaiken into a nice little flipper. Whether Boker listened to customer feedback, or was planning on doing this anyway, they eventually offered their own flipper version of the Kwaiken.
This knife was hotly anticipated by many collectors, including myself, partially because it appeared to address some of the issues that plagued the original Kwaiken: the inability to open the knife easily, and the renegade tip. If that wasn’t enough, this time Boker decided to slather the knife in titanium. Bearings, flipper, titanium, and a fresh design from a hot custom knifemaker – yup, this one follows the formula that many enthusiasts are looking for these days.
I am going to see if this updated model is worthy of the hype, or is more of the same.
General Dimensions and Blade Details
The Kwaiken Flipper has an overall length of 8.375″, a 3.5″ blade, and it weighs 5.4 ounces. I hate to sound like a weight weenie but the first thing I noticed was how heavy this thing felt. It is a chunky knife and feels like a little metal brick. You would think that the relatively thin titanium scales would actually shave weight off the Kwaiken, but it’s over an ounce heavier than it’s non-flipper counterpart. Personally, that relegates the Kwaiken Flipper more towards the collectible category, and away from being a true EDC. Regardless, I am sure plenty of guys will enjoy carrying this knife, and there is nothing wrong with that.
The blade shape is a modified drop point. It is a sleek and dramatic blade shape that tucks perfectly into the thin handle. The tip is very fine and the knife is well suited for stabbing things. It has a hollow grind and the blade finish is very nice. The lustrous stonewash hides wear well and is more resistent to corrosion than a beadblast. For what it is, I like this blade shape.
Steel on my particular knife is Aus8. Given that this knife sells for more than $100, I heard quite a few grumblings about the choice of steel on both this and the original Kwaiken. Given that this knife was made in China, I don’t think Boker had a ton of options to choose from. Still, 154CM, S35VN, or some other higher end steel would have been nice given the price point. Personally I don’t have a problem with AUS8. It’s a hearty steel that sharpens easily and is fine to see on user knives. I can totally understand if some folks take issue with the AUS8.
Since purchasing the knife months ago, it looks like Boker now offers the Kwaiken flipper in an “upgraded” steel: V10. I wouldn’t call VG10 a huge upgrade over AUS8. In fact, I prefer Aus8 because I find it a little tougher than V10. Neither are fantastic edge holders but for EDC work they will get the job done.
Handle, Ergonomics, and Pocket Clip
The compact handle of the Kwaiken flipper is built like a little titanium tank. Thick full steel liners are under generous 3-d machined pieces of titanium, all supported by a solid titanium backspacer. Construction is simple and solid.
I really like the minimalist look of this handle. The way the liners shadowbox the titanium scales, and how the closed blade hides completely within the handle make for a very attractive design. The handle has a monochromatic appearance, although upon close examination the steel and titanium are slightly different colors. I am sure many knife modders view this piece as something of a blank canvas. I hate to spoil the party, but I enjoyed the look of the original Kwaiken with its micarta handles, and would prefer the contrast and lighter weight of micarta over the heavy titanium version. Still, the build is very good and the added weight does make the knife feel very substantial.
The Kwaiken Flipper feels good in hand. The simple design means this knife will work for a lot of people with different size hands. There is no jimping or really texture to speak of, which could be a good or bad thing depending on your preference. The only ergonomic “feature” is that the flipper doubles as a forward finger choil, allowing you to choke up on the blade a bit for more controlled cuts. All said I don’t have a problem with the way this knife handles and didn’t notice any hot spots or other ergonomic issues.
The pocket clip is a right side tip-up only affair that mirrors the design of the handle shape. It is simple and unobtrusive, and I like the way it looks. It holds the knife in your pocket pretty well, although I think the spring could be a hair stiffer. This is a heavy knife and the handle is smooth. While it has never fallen out of my pocket it doesn’t take a ton of effort to pull it out. I think a little more clip strength would be valuable here.
Deployment and Lockup
Obviously this knife uses a flipper for deployment. I am somewhat puzzled by the design of the flipper tab as it actually bows out where the index finger goes for deployment and is sort of slippery. It works but I think it could been designed to be a little easier to open. Still, the knife opens with a snap and flips well, thanks in part to the IKBS bearing pivot system. The detent is OK. It’s not going to flip like one of the new ZTs or anything, but the detent is adequate and the knife flips open with a snap.
For lockup you have a stainless steel liner lock. Mine engages around 90%. The steel is thick and the lockup feels very reassuring. There is no blade play or lock stick. This is a well implemented liner lock. The blade on my knife is pretty much centered.
Boker Kwaiken Flipper – Final Thoughts
The Kwaiken Flipper is a cool design and has been well implemented. I know it has been a good seller for Boker, and when you look at it on paper it is easy to see why. That said, I’d love to see Boker continue to refine this one as it is such a nice design. They have already moved in that direction by upgrading the blade steel, but I think they should also explore offering a lighter weight version of the flipper with a different handle material. I think the inclusion of both stainless steel liners and full titanium handle scales is a bit overkill and adds unnecessary weight.
I haven’t mentioned this yet in the review, but this is part of Boker’s “Plus” line, and is manufactured in China. Fit, finish, and general quality is very high on this knife despite being manufactured in China.
Also, I’m almost glad they didn’t go with a framelock here given Boker’s history of issues with titanium framelocks. I’d rather see a well implemented liner lock, than a messed up frame lock.
In closing, this is a cool little design and a memorable offering from Boker. I recommend it if you are into the design and are OK with the weight.
I recommend purchasing the Boker Kwaiken Flipper at Amazon or BladeHQ. Please consider that purchasing anything through any of the links on this website helps support BladeReviews.com, and keeps the site going. As always, any and all support is greatly appreciated. Thank you very much.