Kaviso Mini Keen Review: If Apple Made Knives

Kaviso Mini Keen Review: If Apple Made Knives

You would think in our age of super-search and AI-powered everything, that finding a knife would not be the hard part. The Mini Keen is surprisingly hard to find.

I have written about knives for more than a decade. I can recite evergreen lineups from memory. But I didn’t know the Mini Keen existed until relatively recently. What’s more odd is that its big brother, the Keen was a knife many of my reviewer friends raved about. So, how is it that the Mini Keen flew beneath the radar? One word — marketing.

When Massdrop burst onto the scene, it was brimming with excellent folders — the Gent, the Keen, a few nice Kirby Lambert designs — it seemed like a revelation. Then Massdrop dropped the Mass and became Drop.

Knives were still being made, but the steady flow of new good stuff slowed down. Then, all of a sudden, knives were gone. It spun off the knife and outdoor gear platform and called it Kaviso without much fanfare. And it is a shame. The Mini Keen framelock (there is also a budget version with a liner lock and 14C28N) is a great knife.

In short: If you want a nice EDC knife without going down the rabbit hole, buy the Mini Keen framelock. This small, simple, nicely finished knife will serve most users well at a reasonable price.

If Apple Made Knives: Kaviso Mini Keen Review

  • Steel
    S35VN
  • Grind
    Full flat frind
  • Lock
    Frame lock
  • Blade length
    2.8″
  • OAL
    6.77″
  • Weight
    2.6 oz.
  • Price
    $125
  • Country of origin
    China (this knife is made for Kaviso by QSP)

  • Excellent size and weight; ideal for EDC

  • Quick, faultless deployment

  • Nice finishing touches

  • In an era of rising prices, this is a good value

  • Clean Laconico aesthetics

Kaviso Mini Keen Review

(Photo/Anthony Sculimbrene)

Overview

The Mini Keen is a titanium framelock flipper. It has a spearpoint blade of S35VN. The knife has a high-polish belt satin finish. The titanium handles are contoured and nicely finished.

(Photo/Anthony Sculimbrene)

The sculpted titanium deep-carry clip allows the knife to sit nicely in the pocket. The knife deploys via a simple and grippy flipper tab. The knife is about 30% smaller than the Ray Laconico-designed Keen.

It was made for Kaviso by QSP after polling data from Kaviso users selected certain features. Polling-driven designs are a hallmark of Kaviso. The knife has a simple, nonthreatening appearance. It’s perfect to fit in the coin pocket on a pair of jeans.

Design

(Photo/Anthony Sculimbrene)

The Mini Keen stands out as a successor to another Massdrop/Drop/Kaviso blade: the Gent. Like the Gent, this knife is a small, simple flipper that focuses on delivering a user- and people-friendly design. It’s not your grandpa’s Case Congress, but if you brought that pocket classic into the modern era of knife designs, it would likely look like the Mini Keen.

It’s nicer and more solid than the Gent, and it has some higher-end features, despite having almost an identical price tag. If you are looking for your first truly daily carry pocket knife, not something burly or hard-use like you’d take on a camping or hiking trip, the Mini Keen is a perfect knife.

For most people, this is a knife that does everything they need and looks good doing so. If you aren’t a hardcore knife person, this could be your only blade and you’d be content until the end of your days.

Kavasio Mini Keen Review

Ray Laconico built an entire career on a foundation of simple, clean, high-performance designs. Think of him as making Apple-like knives: spare, pared-down knives that focus on carrying and cutting well. The Mini Keen is an excellent, rightly sized blade.

Carrying and using the Mini Keen proves just how right-sized the knife is. I usually carry a new knife for a few weeks — around the house, on the weekend, to work, and in jeans and slacks. It also has to do duty breaking down recycling and basic food prep tasks.

Finally, because I do woodworking in my spare time, the knife has to work in the shop a bit. In each of these roles — as a daily carry for an office person, around the house and yard, in the kitchen, and in the shop, the Mini Keen was capable. It zipped through cardboard and plastic packaging with ease thanks to a flat grind and relatively thin blade stock. It held up nicely, acting as a marking knife, pencil sharpener, and glue squeeze-out cleanup tool in the shop. 

(Photo/Anthony Sculimbrene)

The only place where I encountered some difficulty was food prep. Very large objects like an extra-large apple or a grapefruit (which is one of my son’s favorite foods) challenged the blade length a bit.  

It is also worth mentioning that the deployment here is thoughtlessly easy, thanks to a nicely shaped and textured flipper and a good (but not insane) detent. The all-titanium handle meant that I didn’t worry about it in the kitchen or the shop — I could wipe or blow water away, and a drop or two did little to impact the handle. The neutral handle shape allowed for many different grips, all of which were comfortable.  

After about a month of carrying and using it, I did get the knife to the point where I needed to sharpen it, and in that aspect, like with other S35VN blades, it did pretty well. It is not as hard to sharpen as something like S90V, but it was noticeably more time-consuming to restore than a Swiss Army Knife. I had zero issues with tarnish or staining, likely because of the chemistry and the high-polish satin grind.  

If there were one drawback, it would be the steel. S35VN is an excellent all-around steel, but in an age when MagnaCut or M390 are par for the course, S35VN is a bit behind the times.

Despite the steel detail, the reality is, for most people, the difference in chemistry will not matter one skosh. This is a great knife, and I recommend it highly.

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