Gear Review: Kershaw Livewire Double Edge OTF Knife

Kershaw Livewire OTF Knife Review
Rex Nanorum for SNW

I struck gold geographically when I bought property in Northwest Oregon. I’m remote enough that I don’t see people unless I want to, but close enough to towns to enjoy the amenities. Even more enjoyable from a gear reviewer’s perspective is the wealth of blade manufacturers located along the Columbia river.

CRKT, Gerber, Benchmade, and my favorites, sister companies Kershaw and Zero Tolerance.  When I saw the opportunity to review Kershaw’s new out-the-front (OTF) auto-open knife, the Livewire Double Edge OTF, I jumped on it.

Kershaw Livewire OTF Knife Review
Rex Nanorum for SNW

First let’s check out the measurables and features of the Livewire.

Tech Specs:

  • Blade Length: 3.45 in. (8.8 cm)
  • Blade Material: CPM MagnaCut
  • HRC 62-64
  • Blade Finish: Black PVD coating
  • Blade Thickness: 0.125 in. (3.2 mm)
  • Closed Length: 4.8 in. (12.2 cm)
  • Handle Material: 6061-T6 aluminum
  • Handle Finish: Black anodized
  • Overall Length: 8.25 in. (21 cm)
  • Weight: 3.1 oz. (88 g)
  • Designer: Kershaw Originals & Matt Diskin
  • Blade Style: Spear Point
  • Opening Action: Automatic Sliding Button
  • Lock Type: OTF internal lock
  • Pocketclip: Reversible deep-carry (right/left, tip down)
  • Country of Origin USA: Design, Prototype, Quality Control, Manufacture

Okay, the Livewire is unboxed. First impressions? Th MagnaCut blade is extremely thin and incredibly sharp. This is truly like a razor. It’s certainly not a “do it all” utility blade. The Livewire simply isn’t designed for that role. This blade is a spear point designed for piercing.

The deep pocket carry pocket clip is indeed a deep carry clip.

Kershaw Livewire OTF Knife Review
Rex Nanorum for SNW

The Livewire is really light. Three ounces is tiny, but the body of this thing still feels solid. The same goes for the slider responsible for popping the blade out and reholstering it. There’s no wiggle or slop in the slider switch. This is a tightly built unit.

Speaking of the slider, I like how this thing works. There’s a good amount of resistance before the blade deploys, and a good length of travel on the slider as well. I really can’t imagine a scenario in which the Livewire deploys unintentionally. There’s just too much movement required to make that happen.

It’s almost like a two-stage trigger. Once you’ve pushed the slider forward to the front of the channel there’s a bit of additional resistance (or a “wall”) you hit right before the blade deploys. I like it.

Kershaw Livewire OTF Knife Review
Rex Nanorum for SNW

Once the blade is out, it is on lockdown. While I can pull the blade slightly farther out than its locked resting position, there’s no give at all when trying to push the blade back into the housing. Obliquely and horizontally, there’s only the slightest movement in the Livewire’s double edged blade. This is a solid design, and it’s well manufactured.

The handle is nicely designed, both in size and shape. This fits my size medium hand well, and has grip texture in all the right places.

Let’s be honest though, we all want to know about the OTF function right? Even gas-station switchblade combs from the 80’s worked for a little while before giving up. How does the Kershaw Livewire perform over an extended period of time?

Use and Abuse

I’ve had the Livewire for a couple months now.  Rather than just incorporating it into my daily homesteading routine, I wanted to simulate use over a longer period of time.

I’ve had this knife in my hand for a couple hours a day, popping the blade in and out, repeatedly. Snikt-Snakt. Snikt-Snakt. Again, and again. It has become something like my own little fidget spinner. I tried keeping count, but somewhere past 300 repetitions of perfect reliability I gave up on that. That happened around day three.

Kershaw Livewire OTF Knife Review
Rex Nanorum for SNW

As I neared 1,500 cycles of blade in, blade out, the Livewire started picking up some failures.  The blade wouldn’t pop all the way out, requiring me to grab it and pull it into place. Or sometimes it wouldn’t retract entirely, and I’d have to manually reset the blade outwards and try again.

Was that it? Had I reached the failure point of a modern OTF blade’s lifespan?

No. Before you make camp on a premature conclusion, I should mention that I hadn’t cleaned or lubricated the Livewire at all up to this point. Some beeswax from a hive I’d been working on had stuck to the blade and gathered pocket debris, providing just enough resistance to slow the blade down and prevent proper function.

A little dot of lubricating oil and a wipedown of the detritus and the Livewire is back to popping in and out with reliable regularity. The sluggish velocity I’d misattributed to a weakening spring is gone, replaced with the vigorous SNIKT-SNAKT it started with, a noise worth of a comic book sound effect.

What about the blade itself?

With an auto knife it’s really easy to focus on the kinetic act of deploying the blade. That’s fun, exciting, and satisfying in a way all 10-year-old boys understand. The blade though, is where a knife earns its keep. Kershaw has made a nice living delivering blades that outperform their generally modest price points. The Livewire, however, isn’t a budget pocket blade.

I feel like the Livewire’s double edged MagnaCut blade is worthy of the overall package though. Even after a couple months of rough use (and occasional misuse), the Livewire is still incredibly sharp. I haven’t managed to chip the blade at all yet, something I do with disappointing regularity.

A trip back to my homeland of Southeast Alaska meant the Livewire was subjected to the harsh coastal saltwater-rich environment so famous for destroying gear. This is a grand testing ground for testing out protective coatings, as any flaw means cancerous rust starts forming almost immediately.

As the photos show, most of this knife still looks new. The pocket clip shows some wear, and there are a couple tiny chips at the “mouth” where the blade comes out, the result of me (ab)using the Livewire as a prybar.

Kershaw Livewire OTF Knife Review
Rex Nanorum for SNW

The last (and most relevant) test I wanted to subject the Livewire to was a stab test. Pretty simple really…you take a block of ballistic gelatin calibrated to 10% (the FBI standard) and stab it. Lots of times.

This type of gelatin is better for testing bullets than blades though, considering its very “dry” texture really imparts a lot more friction than more moist media does. Compare stabbing jerky to stabbing a steak. Still, it has value in its consistency.

Kershaw Livewire OTF Knife Review
Rex Nanorum for SNW

How did it perform? Exactly as you’d expect. The thin blade profile offers nearly zero resistance as the keen edge follows the spear tip in. This is an extremely purpose-built pocket knife, and that purpose is to quickly and effectively deploy in a tactical scenario that involves stabbing.  I’m not going to sugarcoat it, that’s what the Livewire is all about, and it’s good at it.

Kershaw Livewire OTF Knife Review
Rex Nanorum for SNW

Final Thoughts

There’s a lot to love about the Kershaw Livewire OTF knife. The PVD coating and anodization have held up well. The blade came very finely honed and has maintained that edge remarkably well. The OTF automatic mechanism is well designed and will run for a long time given the most minimal maintenance. The deep carry pocket clip is too deep for my preference, making me feel like I need to fish it out a bit when I want it, but many will likely disagree with me on that.

Bottom line — Kershaw has made an extremely solid product in the Livewire. MSRP is $320 currently, while the street price is in the $240 range. It’s up to you to decide if that’s a worthy price point or not for an American-made knife with a MagnaCut blade, but in the meantime I’ll be enjoying mine.


Jens “Rex Nanorum” Hammer


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