You know that kid in high school everyone liked? And you were fine with it, because they weren’t flashy, or cliquey, or trendy. They were friendly to everyone, from the popular kids to the jocks to the theater geeks.
The trusty Kalashnikov is the knife equivalent.
It’s got zippy action, holds up decently under use, is insanely affordable for an auto, and everyone seems to like them. The Kalashnikov manages to fit in everywhere.
Boker makes high-end pieces, traditional pocket knives, and even ones crafted of timber resourced from a medieval castle, but there’s just something about the sturdy Kalashnikov that surprised the knife world. This powerhouse auto is inexpensive but it’s not cheap, and it’s still relevant over two decades after its introduction. With a reputation for aerodynamic excellence, Boker Kalashnikov still reigns as King of the affordable automatic knife.
Without further ado, let’s jump straight into a deep dive on everything you ever wanted to know about the Boker Kalashnikov automatic knife.
First let’s run through the stats…
(Mini to XXL)
- 5.75” – 10.625” Overall Length
- 2.25” – 4.75” Blade Length
- D2 Steel
- Aluminum Handle
- 1.95 oz. – 6.42oz. Weight
- Plunge Lock
- Automatic Action
- Made in Taiwan
KNIFE LIFE SCORE
Like you, we’re always hyped to see to see what new marvel our favorite knifemakers produce, and that means when it comes to knives, it’s rare for a model to be a top seller even a year or two after its release. For the Kalashnikov to still be a best seller after twenty years on the market is incredible.
For many people, the Boker brand represents an entry point into the world of quality automatic knives. You may have a Microtech or Pro-Tech auto in your future, but for now, a budget-friendly Boker Kalashnikov can keep you squarely in your happy place.
FIT AND FINISH
Gone are the days of terrible fit and finish on affordable knives. Kalashnikov is on the spectrum of manufacturing that’s extremely high for their price point; the tolerance and finishing are definitely up to par.
DEPLOYMENT AND LOCKUP
When it comes time to talk about the action on automatic knives, we love using exaggerations and analogies. “It hits like a truck” or “it’s lightning fast!” I’m sure you’ve seen us do it before. With that said, it’s really something how much these bad boys spring to life with a pop.
Beyond the deployment of the blade, the Kalashnikov features an on-point lockup with its plunge lock. The last thing you want is a killer blade to deploy in your pocket and rip up your favorite pair of jeans, if not worse (you), but the button/plunge lock is super solid.
From the moment you get your new Boker in the mail, the AK-style magazine shaped packaging makes an obvious impact. The inspiration behind this knife comes from the gun community, and Boker makes sure you just can’t miss it.
EASE OF CARRY
It’s rare for a unique pocket clip to stand out in a good way. Why reinvent the wheel when so many fabulous designs already exist? I have to say, the retention of the pocket clip on the Boker Kalashnikov is really something. And by something, I mean it is aggressive, tight, and confidence inspiring. You’ll never have to worry about losing your brand new pocket knife.
In the pocket, this knife is both minimal and unobtrusive. The best sign of a good EDC folding knife is that you don’t think about carrying it, it just fits into your personal lifestyle perfectly without asserting itself when you’re not using it. The Boker Kalashnikov is an absolute win in that regard and has two sizes available.
BLADE AND STEEL
Originally, we rated this section as a “6,” but Boker has since upped the steel quality in the Kalashnikov, and now D2 is their usual choice.
This everyday workhorse steel is harder and has much, much better edge retention than the previous AUS 8. It also has okay toughness and an approachable price tag. On the downside, D2 has less corrosion resistance than AUS 8, but that’s to be expected. Read more about steels in our Steel Guide.
The Kalashnikov knows what it is and what it’s there for. It’s like going to a great diner and getting a stellar cheeseburger or a stack of pancakes. You won’t get caviar or Duck a’ L’Orange, but what you do get is dang good. Likewise, budget materials don’t prevent this knife from being excellent.
The aluminum handle is cast rather than milled and the coating is serviceable but could use improvement. The color will wear off faster than a premium knife, but for this price range you’re still getting a screaming deal. The character still shines through, and we all like a knife we don’t have to worry about beating up a bit. At the end of the day, the Kalashnikov is still a solid choice.
The Kalashnikov may be simple, but we love the way it fits in the hand. While some knives employ deep index grooves for your fingers, the Kalashnikov instead fits to your hand more through its size and dimensions.
The design seems to work well regardless of hand size. Both large / extra-large hands work with both the mini, standard , and XXL versions. Checking in with the Blade HQ marketing department, all have a similarly positive reaction to the ergonomics.
D2 is not as soft as the previous AUS 8, which makes it harder to sharpen. But not much. Also, if you have the right stones, though, you’re good to go. However, the superior toughness also means we’ve upped its score in cut tests. We can’t top off the chart, though. D2 became all the rage in knife world in the mid-sixties, but the world has moved on to bigger and better things and now D2 has much stiffer competition. You can read about some of the top-of-the-line steels in the industry here in our guide.
I will say, however, that for a budget knife there is nothing wrong with mid-range steel.
It’s really something when such an affordable knife also manages to feel luxurious, special, and unique. With versions employing Damascus steel, picture coded blades, and handles in every color under the sun, it’s easy to find a fun Boker Kalashnikov that fits your personal style.
Despite the cheapness, or rather the affordability of these knives, they are extremely fun to fidget with and I love the whole platform for its playful imaginative quality.
TOTAL KNIFE LIFE SCORE: 82/100
A score like that is honestly great for a budget switchblade knife. With the improvements made, it’s actually gone up two points since our original rating. If you can accept the fact that you’re not getting premium materials, you’ll enjoy a basic build quality and an action that will keep you entertained for years and years. All sizes of Kalashnikov are great EDC options if they’re legal in your area.
Check out our video below to see a Kalashnikov that has been through the ringer and is still firing like a champ!
MINI vs. FULL SIZE KALASHNIKOV
The Kalashnikov is a great auto for an EDC or a bugout bag. For heavy duty outdoors activity, you may be interested in having a bushcraft fixed blade so dirt and debris don’t work down into the mechanism when you’re out working in the field. However, these autos can still take on a variety of tough chores without skipping a beat.
Also noteworthy, the Kalashnikov has been carried by everyone from law enforcement officers, EMTs, to our military personnel. Like an apocalyptic roach, the Boker Kalashnikov may just outlive our human society as we know it!
Before doing this review, I checked out the Kalashnikov but I didn’t take a closer look. Since then, I hit our Library of Knives (yes, we have one) and messed around with the different incarnations, reveling in that lovely snap! sound every time I deployed them. I also talked to my fellow knife nerds, and I truly gained an appreciation for this solid EDC.
Now I’m going to have to add this automatic knife to my list of future purchases, though there REALLY isn’t ANY room. But that’s just the dangerous professional hazards we here at Blade HQ must face every single day in serving the greater knife community.
Stay sharp, knife friends!