So you’re in the market for a new automatic knife. BUT, you may be restricted to blade length, features, or budget.
Maybe you don’t have hundreds of dollars to spend but you want a reliable and aesthetically pleasing knife to add to your everyday carry collection. Look no further than the USA-made Kershaw Launch 4.
In 2015 Kershaw released the “Launch Series” of push-button, safetiless automatic knives. After a year of gaining popularity with the Launch 1, 2, and 3 Kershaw released the Launch 4 in 2016 at SHOT SHOW as a great budget friendly California legal automatic pocket knife.
Basic Specifications of Kershaw Launch 4:
|Specification Type||Specification Detail|
|Overall length||5.1 inches|
|Closed Length||3.2 inches|
|Blade Length||1.9 inches|
|Blade Thickness||.12 inches|
|Blade Deployment||Spyderco Round Hole Opener|
|Handle Material||Aircraft Grade 6061-T6 Aluminum|
|Locking Mechanism||push-button plunge lock|
|Pocket Clip Orientation||Tip Up, Right Handed Only|
|Country of Origin||United States|
Using only the highest quality USA made parts and assembly, the Launch 4 features a CPM-154 blade steel and aircraft grade aluminum handles. CPM-154 steel is a very popular steel that is used on knives that cost more than twice the Launch 4’s price tag.
CPM-154 is known for a “do-it-all” steel that holds an edge well, is tough enough for any daily tasks, and is corrosive resistant.
A lot of companies use aluminum handle scales to save weight vs. other materials such as titanium, steel, G10, or micarta. The Launch 4 weighs only 1.8oz and the aluminum handle scales are the main reason why this knife is so lightweight.
Although sleek, the Launch 4’s scales feel secure in your hand and are willing to take a beating if you need to get down and dirty cutting that apple for your midday snack.
Aluminum scales tend to scratch easier than the other handle materials mentioned above, but that also adds character to your knife and will make the knife more “your own.”
The Launch 4 is a great option for those who are looking for a slim and lightweight pocket knife that will be there when you need it, but not be in the way when you’re digging for other things in your pocket.
The Launch 4 is “California Legal” due to having a 1.9” blade, just under the 2” legal mark to allow for carry in more restrictive states. (ALWAYS check your local knife laws to determine legality of any knife you are looking to purchase!)
Although small, the Launch 4 packs a huge punch! Most people use the phrase “the bigger the better” but when looking at valuable pocket space, most would agree that having a smaller knife is usually more acceptable.
The Launch 4 covers these bases when looking for a pocket knife that you don’t want to whip out and scare all your friends or coworkers.
In my testing, I have found that although the Launch 4 only boasts a 1.9” blade, it will handle any daily cutting tasks you may need to handle.
Look & Feel
The Launch 4 is an absolutely stunning everyday carry automatic. A beautiful stonewashed spearpoint blade, several different handle colors, and a sleek pocket clip make this California Legal auto stand out from its competitors.
The Launch 4 comes with a slim blacked-out pocket clip that runs almost the whole length of the handle. The only caveat for lefties is that the Launch 4 only comes in a tip-up, right-handed option.
Kershaw may release a left-handed version sometime in the future, but for now, you’ll have to get used to right-handed use.
I have “large” size hands, meaning I typically wear “large” size gloves in the field. Although the Launch 4 is a mere 5.1” in overall length I don’t feel like I’m the Hulk trying to hold a teacup.
The Launch 4 handle features an “hourglass” feel where the handle scales are wider towards the blade, and transition into a slightly smaller indent towards the middle of the scales. This hourglass shape allows my large size hands to really dig into the knife and get a great grip.
Although the Launch 4 is only a “three-finger grip” for me, I can tuck my pinky finger into my palm and go to work.
Deployment & Lock:
The Launch 4 features a “push-button” plunge lock. The push-button lock has no manual safety, but I have not had any issues with the Launch 4 accidentally firing inside my pocket.
It doesn’t take much effort to actuate the push button but you should definitely hold on tight because the Launch 4 fires open with incredible force! Okay, maybe not tornado force, but it is definitely a snappy little knife!
Featuring a beautifully stonewashed CPM-154 blade, the Launch 4 will hold its edge for a long time with proper care. I have carried and used my Launch 4 for more than 6 months now and have not had to do anything to the blade yet!
My Launch 4 has seen more packages and apple slices than I’d be willing to admit and the edge has held up tremendously well.
When it is time to touch up the blade, most of the time I use a simple leather strop and that does the trick.
Fit & Finish:
I own dozens of Kershaw pocket knives and not a single one has had any issues with fit or finish. The Launch 4 is no exception. There is no blade play side-to-side or up-and-down and the tolerances are tight.
The push-button plunge lock is smooth and the partially open construction of the knife makes cleaning out pocket lint and debris a breeze.
As mentioned previously, after owning the Launch 4 for several months and using it at least once a day I have had no issues with any cutting tasks I have put before it. I have cut everything from letters and packages to fruit and vegetables and paracord for knife lanyards.
The Launch 4 slices through everything with ease.
The only thing that some may have an issue with is the Launch 4’s pocket clip. Although very sleek, it is not a true “deep carry” clip. The Launch 4 sticks out approximately .5” from the pocket line with the stock Kershaw clip.
Although not a “deep carry” clip, the stock clip from Kershaw is very robust and has not bent or snagged on anything during its pocket time.
The Launch Series:
The Launch Series in general is a great budget-friendly way to get you into the automatic knife world without suffering great blade steels, handle materials, overall craftsmanship, or long wait times.
After their introduction in 2015, the Launch series has grown to 13 current models, many of them having several variants for your style and preferences.
Currently, the Launch 4 comes in eleven different styles on Blade HQ, but you should act fast as they sell out quickly!
The Launch 4 is a great entry-level automatic knife that fits into just about any budget. Being legal in just about every state I can think of, this stylish auto will fit into any person’s EDC rotation and be sure to wow your friends when you retrieve it from your pocket to use it.