Kershaw Launch 13 Review: This Auto Makes Its Own Luck

Kershaw Launch 13 Review: This Auto Makes Its Own Luck
Photo: Marty Stanfield

An intriguing take on the wharncliffe design matted to a rock-solid action, the Launch 13 proves a cut above the rest.

Kershaw Knives’ Launch series of USA-made automatic knives has been a great seller for the company. Offering USA-made automatics in premium materials at a fraction of the price of what you can buy others in this class.

The Launch series is a collection of automatics of all sizes and all blade shapes, each is stirring. Their designs are modern and artistic in nature, adding a bit of excitement to your everyday carry rotation. One of the more intriguing designs is the Launch 13, which we will examine in closer detail here.

Launch 13 Blade

The Launch 13 is a slender design, with an angled wharncliffe blade. Most wharncliffes are straight, but the Launch 13’s blade is canted a bit to allow the easier use of the entire cutting edge while holding the handle at a natural angle.

Kershaw Launch Clip
Photo: Marty Stanfield

The blade itself measures 3.5-inches long and is ground from CPM154 stainless steel. This steel is a particle metallurgy version of 154CM, an alloy used widely in the knife industry and a long-time standard when it comes to high-end blade steels. 

The blade is flat ground and has a prominent swedge for a more aggressive appearance. The blade exhibits a two-tone finish, with the bevels and swedge having a satin finish look and the flats and spine black coated. 

The thumb rest portion of the blade spine has machined-in traction notches, which accommodate your thumb perfectly and provide a solid base in which to apply downward pressure on the blade to facilitate additional cutting power when needed.  

Launch 13 Handle

The futuristic-looking handle is machined from T6 6061 aircraft-grade aluminum that is both lightweight and strong. Perfect for knife handles. Kershaw gives the handle a black hard-coat anodized finish which provides the handle’s color, as well as boosts its scratch resistance. 

Launch 13 closed front
Photo: Marty Stanfield

The handle measures 4.5 inches long. It has a tapered construction from the pivot to the butt end. This not only makes the Launch 13 carry very well in the pocket but helps it fit the hand comfortably. 

The large finger recess situated in the middle of the gripping area on the handle is where your middle finger locks in, and the rest of the fingers fall into place naturally. In hand, the feel is awesome. It’s very secure and confidence-inspiring, tackling all your cutting chores.

The handle sports a couple of cutouts that helps to further lighten the weight. Additionally, the handle’s spine also has a few holes in it. This not only contributes to the minimal weight of the handle but makes it easier to clean the inside of the handle with forced air or rinsing with tap water. 

The edges of the handle are chamfered nicely to soften the edges and eliminate hot spots. Finally, a steel deep carry-style pocket clip is affixed to the very end of the handle to carry the Launch 13 deep in the pocket.  A custom machined triangular pivot bolt and large lock button round out this overall stellar package. 

Cutting Profile

In use, the Launch 13 is a powerfully efficient cutting tool. The straight-line edge and defined point easily score material or efficiently cut through using a pull stroke. Furthermore, the straight-line cutting edge does well whittling and carving.

Kershaw Launch 1 cutting cardboard
Photo: Marty Stanfield

Thanks to the Launch 13’s grip ergonomics, the knife feels rock solid in your hand during use. It doesn’t feel like this one’s going to get away from you the longer you use it.

Another great characteristic of the design is the canted blade. It might look a bit weird but get the knife in your hand and use it, then you quickly see the design makes a lot of sense. It allows for a more natural wrist angle during use, something not a lot of other wharncliffe blade folders offer.

CPM154 holds an edge well, but not as long as CPM S30V. Still, it’s a great choice for this type of knife. The blade steel and the straight-line cutting edge both make resharpening easy when the time comes, given there’s no belly or recurve to negotiate with the sharpener.

As for tasks, the Launch 13 is a great work knife for those of you who make use of a knife regularly while on the job or while doing handyman chores around the house or homestead.

Launch 13 Action

When it comes time to put the blade into play, a simple press of the firing button releases the blade and the coil spring propels the blade to the fully open position. The action is fast and smooth, and concludes with a satisfying audible Click when fully open. The knife’s plunge lock is very strong at holding the blade open and there is zero play.

Launch carving carboard
Photo: Marty Stanfield

For a midsize folder, it’s very lightweight. Coming in at 2.4 ounces, the Launch 13 can be carried with you all day without weighing you down. You really do not feel the knife clipped to your pocket as you move around. It just disappears! This is a very nice gesture as most knife users do not like to carry all that bulk around. 

Final Cut

In conclusion, the Launch 13 from Kershaw Knives is an exciting-looking automatic folder, made in the USA with premium materials. What is the MSRP you ask? The answer: $225. 

Kershaw isn’t the first manufacturer you think of when it comes to high-quality USA-made automatic folders. But, with its Launch series in general and Launch 13 in particular, maybe it should be.

If you love automatic knives, check out the Launch 13. It’s a worthy addition to any collection. And it’s not afraid of work either! 

Launch 13 Specs:
Use: Everyday, Work, Tactical
Type: Automatic
Style: Pocketknife
Designer: Kershaw Originals
Blade Steel: CPM 154
Blade Style: Wharncliffe
Blade Edge: Plain
Opening Action: Automatic, Opens With Push button
Lock Type: Push-button lock
Pocketclip: Reversible deep-carry (right/left, tip-up)
Handle Color: Black
Country of Origin: Made in USA
MSRP: $225

Check Out Kershaw Knives For More Information.

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