New Kershaw Shield: Will Hinderer lightning strike again for Kershaw?

Building on the success of the Cryo, Kershaw’s first collaboration with renowned knife maker Rick Hinderer, comes the new Kershaw Shield.  Where the Cryo echoed the design of Hinderer’s custom XM-18, the tanto-bladed Shield is descended from his newest tactical flipper, the Eklipse.  KAI-USA, owner of the Kershaw Brand would tell you that the Cryo series has been by far its biggest seller of the past three years, spawning several variants and a scaled-up version.  In fact, with the strength of the Kershaw brand and its distribution muscle, the Cryo series must be one of the best selling one handed opening knives of all time.

What made the Cryo such a megahit and could the Shield follow in its footsteps?

Its unlikely that the Shield can match the success of the Cryo because in the business of knives, timing can be everything and all the planets were aligned for the Cryo at the time of its launch.

Hinderer designed knives out of reach

Before the Cryo hit the market in 2012, fans of Hinderer’s innovative, practical, and overbuilt designs were hard-pressed to actually get their hands on one of his knives.  Hinderer limited direct sales of his custom knives to active duty military, law enforcement, and first responders.  Everyone else were left to purchase through dealers or on the secondary market at prices that reflected their limited supply.  In the sub-$4o price range, the Cryo opened the floodgates for the pent up demand of a Hinderer designed knife.

Today, there are multiple Hinderer-collaborations available and Hinderer himself also recently increased production capacity of his custom knives by moving to a new manufacturing facility making the supply of Hinderer designed knives much more plentiful.

Importance of the XM-18

The Cryo is based on the Hinderer XM-18, the knife many credit with sparking the titanium framelock flipper craze. It was also the first platform to offer Hinderer’s innovative ‘lock bar stabilizer’, which prevents the lock bar on a framelock knife from being bent or broken.  Hinderer, a firefighter for 10 years invented it after destroying a knife during an adrenaline-fueled 911 call as he recounts in this BladeHQ Meet Your Maker YouTube Video:

Hinderer Eklipse and Kershaw Shield

Hinderer’s Eklipse debuted at Shot Show in January 2014, and is slowly trickling into their regular production schedule. The knife has been enthusiastically received, but it’s hard to match the fervor that surrounded the original XM-18.

The Eklipse introduces a number of ergonomic and functional changes to the typical Hinderer formula, all of which carry over to the Kershaw Shield. First is the tanto blade shape, designed for aggressive penetrating cuts. Second, the handle is straighter than the curved XM-18 and more complex, with two finger scallops and a depression for the thumb.

The new Kershaw Shield is also slightly bigger and heavier and it ticks many of the same boxes that made the Cryo such a success including the affordable price tag and Kershaw’s popular Speedsafe assisted opening mechanism.  But whether it can match the runaway success of the Cryo, in a market where ‘Hinderer fever’ has cooled, remains to be seen.

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