In the world of knives, Kershaw is one of the names that is synonymous with quality. Not only are the company's knives some of the finest available, but they are reasonably priced and rugged enough for hard duty. The Kershaw Boa is no exception.

The Boa is available with or without serrations to match your personal preference. If you want something other than tactical black, the Boa also comes with a natural-look steel blade and a patterned handle of turquoise, black, and purple. Either way, the Boa sports a blade made from CPM440V stainless steel and a heavy-duty aircraft aluminum handle.

The knife features designer Ken Onion's Speed Safe System (patent pending), which gives the Boa a lever-activated, spring-assisted blade. Simply flick your index finger down the back of the knife and it opens; it's simple and fast. It's also fully ambidextrous. If you prefer, you can use the blade's reversible thumb stud. But during testing, I found that using the Speed Safe flipper allowed for quicker deployment of the blade.

For safety, the Boa has a locking lever to prevent accidental opening of the blade when drawing it out or during strenuous activity. Like the Speed Safe flipper, the safety is easily operated with either hand.

Since many of us have a preference about how we carry our clip-it knives, the Boa goes to great lengths to accommodate those choices. The clip can be reversed so the user can carry the knife with the blade point up, cutting edge to the front, or rear; or as it is delivered, pivot point at the top, flat side of the blade forward. These combinations also allow the user to position the knife somewhere other than a front pocket; something that must be considered if the knife is a backup duty weapon.

Like many of its contemporaries, the Boa uses a liner lock to secure the blade. While some of my peers do not like liner locks (you can cut off parts of your finger if not careful when closing the blade), I have yet to lop off part of a digit in any of the reviews I have done. But always bear in mind that quality knives like the Boa are sharp, and when you're not paying attention accidents happen. That said, the liner lock is very secure when the knife is open and positively engages/disengages. In the case of the Boa, the lever is serrated to give you a good purchase on it when releasing the lock.

Kershaw uses CPM440V stainless for the blade of the Boa, and it comes from the factory very sharp. If you use a Lansky or Gatco diamond sharpening system, the Boa can easily be sharpened to the factory edge or better. Many old timers who use an Arkansas stone say you can make these blades shaving razor sharp. I, unfortunately, must rely on the new sharpening systems. Either way, the Boa's stainless-steel blade holds the edge you put on it and resists corrosion.

During the test session of the Boa, it was subjected to some extreme use. Since Pittsburgh has had not just summer rains but monsoons, the honeysuckle and grape vines around my house have been growing like wild. What better way to test the blade's mettle than by using it to cut back these weeds? It was a good field test. The blade did not rust, chip, or crack, and it held its edge.

All in all, the knife took the worst that could be dished out. My overall impression of the Kershaw Boa is that it is an excellent duty knife.

Kershaw Knives

Blade Length: 33/8 inches
Overall Length: 61/4 inches
Weight: 4.9 ounces
Blade Material: CPM440V stainless steel
Handle Material: Anodized/hardened aluminum
Price: $185

Scott Smith is a former active-duty Army MP.  He is airborne qualified and currently serving with the 171st Security Police Squadron of the Pennsylvania Air National Guard.