Beretta Airlight folders were the first two knives I've bought when my knife collecting hobby started. I no longer have 4" model, but I still keep the 2" model. Not so sure why :) Just a reminder from the times when I was starting and also that small one was the knife I've made my first attempts at sharpening. Does look messy. Anyway, I was at the sporting goods store and saw those knives. First I bought small one, then I got the bigger one as well. Back then, in 1997 internet dealers weren't that pveralent, so I had to buy my knives in local brick and mortar stores. Later on, somewhere in beginning of 2000, this model was discontinued and Beretta introduced Airlight II line of their folders. which tobe honest I liked less than the original Airlight line. And finally they've discontinued them altogether.
Genral- Large Beretta Airlight folder is approximately 4.75" long (closed) folding knife. The profile is quite slim compared to most of the folders I have ever seen or had. Kershaw Shallot ZDP-189 is probably the closest. Actually Airlight is 9mm thick and Shallot is 8mm thick, I'm referring to the handle thickness here. Besides being very slim, it is also very light. Obviously the knife with Aluminum handles and a skeletonized blade will be very light. Overall, for its time it was a pretty good folder, but 60$ was not cheap in 1997 either. One thig is the absence of the clip. Makes much less convenient carry. Major improvement with the Airlight II line was exactly that, Beretta added pocket clip.
Blade- Stainless 440C steel blade, partially (30%) serrated edge. Although I don't like the steel that much. I like how their look, also they are very light, due to aluminum handles and skeletonized blade, easy to open with one hand, in some cases very convenient to have serrated blades, or combined blade. Blade geometry is simple drop point. Back the I liked them visually, but now I am not big fan of skeletonized blades. In fact those were the only skeletonized blades I've ever had. Has its pros and cons. Pros being less weight and con being reduced strength. Although, in a folding knife you shouldn't need too much of a lateral strangth of the blade, but more strength won't hurt anyway, accidents happen.
The locking mechanism- They are lockbacks, but I wouldn't say it[the lock] is good on those knives, I have them around 2 years and haven't used them heavily, however when in Opened and locked position, the locking mechanism is a little bit loose, already :( To be fair I've seen folder knives those were in the same shape out off the box but anyway this is not a good reason for Beretta or anyone else.
Handle- Handle is anodized aluminum, spacer is stainless steel. Both are very well machined, and fit together very well. Spacer is polished. The handle also sports Beretta logo on the left side. Sadly there is no pocket clip attachment for this knife. So I just carried it in my pocket and perhaps that was one of the reasons I went looking for other folders. As far as ergonomics went, it was a good handle. A lot of folks have their arguments against metallic handles, but at least in sunny California I have never had problems with that.
Usage- I was using large Airlight folder for about 2 years, on and off. Mainly off though. It was the usual EDC use. Packaging, ropes, other small cutting chores. Can't say too many good words about their edge holding ability, although it is not worse then one would expect from factory 440C stainless steel. 440C is a pretty good steel even today, in 21st century, but mass production knives won't get maximum performance out of it. Fairly easy to sharpen, well, fairly easy to dull too :) There are 3 different sizes of those 5, 4 1/4, 3 1/4 inches closed, I got the biggest and the smallest.
- Blade - 101.60mm(4")
- Thickness - 2.54mm
- OAL - 215.90mm(8.5")
- Steel - 440C 56-58HRC
- Handle - Aluminum
- Acquired - 11/1997 Price - 60.00$
- Beretta Small Aluminum Airlight Lockback Folding Knife Review
- Beretta Large Aluminum Airlight II Lockback Folding Knife Review
- Kershaw Shallot ZDP-189 Folding Knife Review
- Benchmade 710 HSSR Axis Lock Folding Knife Review
Last updated - 09/01/11