I could probably spend all of my time writing about Kershaw budget EDC blades. Their roster is deep, and for many it can be a challenge to pick out just one. Thankfully they are all pretty good so the odds are great that you will find a winner. I am pleased to report that was exactly what happened with Kershaw Nerve. Labeled as one of their larger EDC knives, the Nerve packs a good deal of features into a relatively small price tag. I already said it’s a good knife, but lets take a closer look to see if this is something you want in your pocket as part of your every day carry.
General Dimensions and Blade Steel
The Nerve has an overall length of 7-1/2″ a 3-1/8″ blade and it weighs 3.8 ounces. It’s a good size knife for EDC but it has a little extra heft. I don’t mind heavier knives, and found the Nerve to be a good choice for my larger hands. Of course this kind of thing comes down to personal taste.
The blade is a modified drop point design. It’s an unconventional shape that may not excite everyone, but I found it likeable enough. Fans of blades with big belly will probably pass on this one as the blade shape is almost a wharncliffe. There is just a slight amount of sweep as you get towards the tip. Speaking of the tip, the one on the Nerve is fairly fine. This makes the Nerve a great choice for detail work, but somewhat delicate as well.
Kershaw went with their usual sandblasted finish for the Nerve’s blade. I like the look of it, but have found that this kind of finish is more likely to rust than other finishes. You will want to be careful when using and storing this knife – especially in humid climates. However, a little rust on a $20 knife isn’t going to be a deal breaker, just an observation having owned a number of these sandblasted blades.
Being a relatively inexpensive Chinese made knife, it should come as no surprise that 8Cr13MoV was used for the blade steel. As I have mentioned in past reviews, I like 8Cr13MoV a lot. For the money I don’t think they could have put a better steel in here. It’s an easy to sharpen steel that can take a very keen edge. It’s a little softer than other steels, so you will need to sharpen it regularly, but it will hold up alright and I generally think its a great choice for a value priced EDC knife.
Handle Ergonomics and Pocket Clip
The handle of the Nerve features G10 scales which is a nice feature for a knife at this price. Kershaw has been using Polyimide on a lot of their Chinese made knives, which is a kind of dense plastic. Personally, I like Polyimide, but I definitely see G10 as an upgrade here. Under the G10 we have full stainless steel liners that have been milled out to help reduce the weight. A black backspacer runs 2/3 of the length of the knife and everything is neatly bolted together for easy take down.
Ergonomics on the Nerve are really nice. First off, I like the size of the handle. To me, this is how big the handle of the Volt II should have been. There is plenty of room on this handle for my fat fingers in forward or reverse grips. Functional jimping on the thumb ramp and a nicely pronounced choil give me a good deal of confidence when wielding the Nerve. While it’s not really a tactical knife, I think you could get a good enough grip on it if you really needed to.
The pocket clip is surprisingly normal looking for a Kershaw. This is actually the best clip I have seen on a smaller Kershaw knife in a while. It’s not perfect, but I found it buries deep and has good retention. My major gripe has to be that once again Kershaw has opted not to make this knife fully ambidextrous. Drilling and tapping out 4 more holes on the other side would go a long way with their left handed customers and I really doubt it would take much away from the bottom line.
Deployment and Lockup
The Nerve utilizes a thumb disk for deployment. Really it isn’t a disk, it’s more of a rectangle, but it does work pretty well. Deployment is pretty smooth, with a combination of nylon and mystery metal washers. I kind of glossed over that in my video review but upon closer inspection I would have preferred phosphor bronze washers here – after all, the Tenacious has them and it’s a direct competitor to the Nerve. The advantage to phosphor bronze is that they will hold up better, and over the long term will probably be smoother.
The Nerve uses a thick liner lock and it offers solid and dependable lock up. Kerhsaw designed the lock bar so it would be very easy to get at. I find the knife easy to disengage when I want it to disengage it, but I also noticed that it stays firmly locked in place while in use. Lockup on my knife was nice and early and I could detect zero blade play in any direction.
Kershaw Nerve Review – Final Thoughts
Well there you have it, another solid EDC offering from Kershaw. This is a nice medium sized knife and packs a good deal of utility for its price and dimensions. G10 is a welcome upgrade and the fit and finish is excellent. My biggest gripes would include the non-ambidextrous pocket clip and the nylon/ metal washer combo. That said, I think many people will be able to easily forgive these minor faults, as the knife really does have a lot going for it.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, in my mind knives like the Nerve are part of what Kershaw does best. This is a knife that packs a lot of value into a small price tag. I noticed that Amazon is actually selling the Nerve for only $20 shipped. At that price I think it’s a steal. Usually these go for around $30, and I think even at that price this is a safe buy for anyone wanting a nice EDC knife with without breaking the bank.