The Kershaw RAM is an important knife for one simple reason. It is one of the few knives that is designed to open with a flipper mechanism that is not paired with a frame or liner lock. The lock on the RAM (called a Hawk-Lock) uses a spring-loaded locking system that does not suffer from the weaknesses typically seen when exposed to lateral forces like the liner/frame locks.A picture of the internal mechanism can be seen here.
Stats for the knife are very good too. Steel is Sandvik 13C26, an easy to sharpen stainless steel with edge holding ability on par with 440C. The handles are Aluminum with a G10 slabs overlaid for comfort and grip and the pocket clip is adjustable to three different positions. The ergonomics incorporate a forward choil for increased control if needed with jimping for added grip with wet/slippery hands.
An important part of ergonomics that is often overlooked is how does the transition from use of the knife to unlocking work with one hand? Does the user need to manipulate the knife a lot to get to the lock and close the knife? On the RAM unlocking from a regular grip is intuitive and does not require any wasted movements. Accidental disengagement does not appear to be an issue either. The locking tab is located in an area that only sees interaction if the user does so intentionally, the tab is also not obtrusive to the function of the knife and does it's intended purpose excellently.
This knife is the best flipper I have experienced so far. The detent is strong but not overpowering and allows a very positive flick and close to 100% engagement, regardless of the position of the knife. The flipper is comfortable to use and does not have any hotspots. It is possible to open the knife with the thumb studs but it's usually not necessary to do so.
Gripe? Of course!
Due to the lock location and design the pocket clip is fairly short and as such is very tight from the factory. Removing the pocket clip and adjusting tension alleviates this somewhat but a longer clip would be much better. The jimping is what I like to call "soft jimping." That is, the jimping has a fair polish on it and has been smoothed down so it does not bite the skin as much. This is good for comfort but this style is not as grippy as the "hard jimping" seen on other brands like Spyderco. It is still better than smooth steel though.
There is also potential for "bounceback" if the knife is closed quickly and the tension is slightly off. Not really an issue since this did not appear from the factory and is not indicative of any defect, just something to be aware of. See the video for an illustration of this occurring.
How does it cut? The high hollow grind of the knife cuts well in the general EDC use role. The blade is fairly wide from edge to spine so there is some drag there when cutting thicker material but the relative thinness of the blade stock balances this out. One interesting thing about this blade is the extremely thin tip, the distal taper on the forward inch of the blade becomes fairly drastic and gives an unusually thin tip that is excellent for detail work and odd utility chores.
The aesthetic appeal of the RAM is also interesting. The lines are strong and it is designed in a "future-organic" way that balances the harsh lines and angles of one style and the curves and waves of another. I would and do plan to buy this knife again and would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone looking for a general folder.
Video sequence: Normal open/close, Bounce back close, partial close.