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Last Updated: August 8, 2019
I can safely say that the Iain Sinclair CardSharp 2 is unlike anything else I have previously reviewed. A few months back the folks at Iain Sinclair contacted me about reviewing their latest version of their lightweight folding credit card knife, the CardSharp 2. Without much thought I decided it was something I’d be interested in. After all, it was a knife, I review knives – it seemed like an easy decision.
The package that arrived a few weeks later totally took me by surprise. I knew what I had signed up for, I would be looking a some sort of fancy folding credit card knife, but I really never expected something this light and slim. I don’t have a lot of experience with with credit card knives, and at first glance this small piece of steel and folding plastic puzzled me. I opened my wallet with a shrug, and slipped the Card Sharp 2 inside. After an extensive period of use and testing I’m ready to offer some thoughts on this unique offering from Iain Sinclair.
General Dimensions and Blade Details
The CardSharp 2 really is a light use tool. It is as long and wide as a credit card, weighs just under half an ounce, and is a mere 2.2mm thick (similar to 2 credit cards stacked on top of each other). You won’t be able to break down a refrigerator box, blast through zip ties, pry, chop or even tackle a well cooked steak with the CardSharp 2. But I think that is ok. The CardSharp 2 is designed to be ridiculously light, impossibly slim, and totally unique.
As for practical applications, this is a blade for those minor emergencies many people find in their day to day urban and suburban lives. I’m talking about opening a letter without damaging the envelope, clipping a coupon, or trimming a thread off your suit just before an interview. In my opinion, anything beyond cutting up a regular cardboard box is asking too much from the knife.
The blade is a 3 inch drop point made from some sort of “surgical steel.” Knife circles commonly refer to this as “mystery steel” and it’s really anyone’s guess what exactly this blade is made of. I found that it’s pretty soft stuff, and can easily take a working edge. Edge retention? It’s ok – I’d put it on par with 420HC. Certainly passable for its intended use.
Handle, Ergonomics and Carry
So the handle of the CardSharp 2 is really what this knife is all about. Everything comes folded up into the shape of a credit card, and if you disengage the safety latch, pop out the blade, and fold a couple flaps over you get a fully assembled knife. Actual assembly is really quite simple, but if you would like a more detailed demonstration I recommend checking out my video.
As far as construction is concerned, the handle of the CardSharp 2 is made entirely of plastic. The handle has flexible plastic hinges a couple series of snaps. This is what holds everything together. I’ve opened and closed the knife many times over the months and everything has held up fine. Will the plastic wear out after years of use? I have no idea. But over the past few months everything has been working well.
I know a few people were disappointed to learn that the handles were made of plastic when I released a pseudo-video review a few months back, but honestly I wasn’t sure what else to expect for $25. Sure aluminum and carbon fiber would be great, but for under $30 I just don’t see how that would happen. Plus, the plastic handles have held up fine.
I think another point worth noting is how well the Card Sharp 2 carries. Even though it didn’t get tons of use, the mere fact that I kept it in my wallet for all that time really goes to show how slim and light this thing actually is. When it comes to EDC, I’m a picky guy. I don’t like tons of bulk and I carry a very slim wallet. I don’t have much experience with credit card knives, but the the CardSharp 2 is much easier to carry than say, the popular Swisscard, which I find to thick to be regularly carried in my wallet.
Dedicating a section to “ergonomics” here is something of a misnomer but I figured that I would say a few words. The CardSharp 2 is actually designed to fit the hand with some jimping and something of a finger choil, but in practice I found the knife best performed if you held it in a pinch grip. This is mainly to keep the knife from coming apart, but it did feel fine for light use.
Deployment and Lockup
On the subject of deployment, the CardSharp 2 once again falls outside of my usual framework for a knife review. “Deployment” in practice is quite slow. You need to take out your wallet, remove the knife, put your wallet down, and fold the knife together. Needless to say you won’t want to count on this thing to save your life! However I think given it’s intended use the “deployment” here is just fine.
And “lockup” would be another misnomer. The blade kind of snaps together, but it’s quite flimsy and easily comes undone. I think that’s fine, again, when you consider the intended use and overall limitations of the design. If you hold the blade in a pinch grip around where the pivot would be on a normal folding knife, the CardSharp 2 is sturdy and I think you will be able to get your light use tasks accomplished.
A Word of Caution
I want to insert a small disclaimer cautioning you about attempting to take this knife on an airplane, or into a courthouse, or anything along those lines. The CardSharp 2 is easy to forget about, but if TSA found this knife in your wallet, it may generate an experience that you will always remember.
Iain Sinclair CardSharp 2 Review – Final Thoughts
As a fan of sturdy folding and fixed blade knives, the CardSharp 2 is not the first tool I would reach for when I need a job to get done. I feel like the CardSharp 2 caters first to the design crowd, then to gadget lovers and finally enthusiasts of cutlery. It’s an interesting design, but I would never replace my primary EDC knife with it. It’s a backup utility blade (or a backup for your backup) and a light use one at that.
But doesn’t mean that the CardSharp 2 is without merit. The knife weighs practically nothing, disappears into a wallet, and can be had for around $25. Personally, I view it as cheap insurance for those rare instances when I don’t have a real knife on my person. If you like the design, are a fan of credit cards knives, or are simply looking for a little extra blade insurance, I think the CardSharp 2 is a good buy.