Pocket Knives

Kershaw Brawler Review: Best EDC Knife On The Budget

If you are looking for an EDC sized pocket knife and have a tight budget, your best choice would be Kershaw’s brawler model 1990. Kershaw Brawler model 1990 is a midsized EDC pocket knife. This knife is also nicknamed as Kershaw speedsafe 1990. 

The knife is an ideal choice for daily uses like cut opening boxes, cutting leather, slicing through ropes, or any other everyday material. Although it was introduced in 2012, it’s still one of the best selling EDC sized pocket knife on Amazon.com. But is that knife actually that good? Let’s jump on our detailed Kershaw Brawler review and find out.

Dimensions of Kershaw Brawler model 1990 

kershaw 1990 brawler speedsafe folding knife

Kershaw Brawler model 1990 is a midsized EDC pocket knife. It has an overall length of 7.4 inches, which includes the 3.25 inches long blade. It weighs less than 4 oz. When folded, it is not more than 4 inches. 

The best part is that Kershaw 1990 brawler speedsafe folding knife is ideal for conceal carrying. So you can carry it in your bag, pocket, and jacket or in your belt without drawing any negative attention. Because of the 3.25 inches length, this blade can pass restrictions in most areas.

Build of Kershaw Brawler model 1990 

The Kershaw 1990 brawler is a high-value American Tanto style knife. It has a linear lock that features Kershaw’s signature ‘speed safe’ assistance opening technology. Kershaw brawler review would not be complete without discussing the build of the knife. The knife has 2 major parts, the blade and the handle. We will discuss about them below:

Blade: The blade is made from sturdy steel known as 8Cr13MoV. This is a good quality budget steel that is widely used by most china knife manufacturers. Although, this material has decent corrosion resistance and poor edge retention. So the knife is coated with a black oxide coating. 

It has a sleek black color, so naturally, it’s non-reflective. Since it has quite a lot of metal on the tip and edges, the knife is exceptionally sturdy with a solid edge and sleek look. But the steel used in the knife is known to have some issues. So it is recommended to use only a whetstone to sharpen the blade.

Handle: The handle is made of textured material called Fiber Reinforced Nylon or FRN for short. The stonewashed stainless steel locking liners are fully capable of providing a strong holdup for the blade. These liners also make the blade very light. The blade fits in the handle securely. When folded, the knife isn’t more than 4 inches. This feature makes it very convenient as an Everyday carry knife.

Notable Aspects of Kershaw Brawler model 1990 

kershaw speedsafe 1990

Deployment: Kershaw Brawler’s deployment is very fast because of the ‘Speed Safe’ assistance opening technology. The lock-up is very strong. There is no traditional stop pin in this knife. For both open and closed positions, this blade relies solely on the blade stops contact with the handle scale to keep the blade in place. 

Even after prolonged use, the lock-up of the blade remains secure. There are two options to open the blades, the flipper tab and the blade stops. Speed safe technology makes the deployment of the blade easy, but it has one drawback. It’s the closure. You have to fight the spring tension every time you have to close the blade. 

Handling and ergonomics: The handle of Kershaw speed safe 1990 has a very comfortable grip. Whether in hammer, saber or reverse grip, you can easily accommodate a 4 finger grip. The key reason for this is the 0.56 inches width of the handle. A typical width of a full-size knife handle is roughly 50 inches. So the extra length helps in handling. The knife also has a very well designed ergonomics for its price.

Pros and Cons of Kershaw Brawler model 1990 

Here we will list down the very basic pros and cons of the Kershaw Brawler model 1990.


The pros of the brawlers are listed below.

  • Completely Ergonomics design with a fast deployment.
  • Convenient size for fitting into the pockets, bags or even in belts.
  • Well balanced, sharp blades are ideal for everyday usage.
  • Easy and safe to Open and lock, especially with Kershaw’s ‘Speed Safe’ assistance opening technology.
  • A reliable lock ensures complete finger safety.
  • It’s very easy to sharpen the blade.
  • The width of brawler’s handle exceeds the width of the regular-sized knife. 
  • The knife is ambidextrous in nature. It can be used by both hands.


  • Poor blade grind and rather light for any hard usage.
  • The peak has some traction, which can be an annoyance in case of prolonged usage.
  • Does some damage to the fabrics of the place where it’s kept.
  • There is a high spring tension that makes it is hard for one-hand closure.
  • The blade’s fairly soft steel will lose edge with constant usage.
  • It can have some minor cosmetic deformity over time. 

Kershaw Brawler Review Closing thoughts

kershaw brawler reviews

The Kershaw 1990 is a very lightweight EDC budget knife that can be used on any type of everyday material. The strong strait blade combined with the handle is perfect for cutting or piercing through standard usage materials like leather or plastic. It also has a stylish and comfortable look to it. Because of this Brawler 1990 is a go-to EDC blade for most people. The very low price of the knife also adds to the appeal. 

End of the day, it holds on its own in the case of the price range, utility, looks and finally quality. If you are looking for a new EDC knife under $30 or utility knife for everyday usage, you should definitely consider Kershaw’s Brawler 1990 model speed safe folding knife.  

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