Kershaw is an esteemed brand that has an iconic reputation when it comes to the progress of knife technology. It is admired for its focus on ‘technology at affordability.’ The brand is always preferred when someone wants quality knives at affordable prices.
What’s more, is that Kershaw is always innovating. For example, it is already known for making novel locking mechanisms. Let’s explore it in more detail.
Kershaw Knives is a subsidiary of the Japanese KAI Group. Kershaw’s head office is in Oregon, USA. It also has its manufacturing facilities in China and Japan. KAI group owns two more sub-brands namely, Zero Tolerance and Shun whose knives, too, are admired for their superior craftsmanship and versatility.
Established in 1974, once Pete Kershaw left Gerber to make his company, Kershaw began its journey to make top-quality, versatile knives. For this purpose, it started employing only superior materials and diverse expertise. In 1977, Kershaw became a wholly-owned subsidiary of the KAI Group.
Until today, it has been doing so and delivering high-performance products. This is regardless of the knife series or type.
The brand is the founder of a few knife technologies, which are now the industry standard. For example, it introduced the SpeedSafe mechanism for an assisted opening for folding knives by partnering with its inventor, Ken Onion. This mechanism made folders very safe to close and open.
The brand also designed composite blade knives featuring a mix of two quality steels in a blade. The steel for the edge differs from the remaining part of the blade for ensuring a more powerful performance and lasting edge.
Similarly, the brand was the first one to come up with the notion of making knives having a switchable blade (not to be confused with switchblades). Known initially as blade Traders, this technology facilitates changing the blades.
Kershaw knives are also showcased by a few Hollywood stars. They can be seen in shows or movies such as Driven to Kill, Lost, Modern Family, and Desperate Housewives. Still, this cannot overcome the fact that its popularity is due to the quality, affordability, and durability benefits on offer.
Kershaw’s main line of manufacturing includes three types of knives – pocket, sports, and kitchen. It rarely makes knives for military purposes. Initially, the brand used Japanese materials for its products and imported them from Japan.
Kershaw offers a lifetime warranty. There is no need to worry if a Kershaw knife breaks. The brand can repair it for you or replace it with a different model. There is also a free sharpening service on offer.
Kershaw designs distinct models and almost all are folders. The fixed blade designs are rare (eg: Kershaw Camp 10). The brand takes care of the needs of an EDC enthusiast as well as a professional who needs a simple but powerful tool for different jobs. Following are the different types of Kershaw knives you will usually come across:
- Pocket: All pocket knives are compact and have a folding blade. As per what is known to be an acceptable carry size, small-sized knives from Kershaw can easily fit in your pocket. You will rarely find these models with several tools as attachments, unlike the Swiss Army models. This is because the focus is completely on a single blade and the handle.
- Task: Most Kershaw knives belong to this category. They are unique because of their blade styles. A few models feature high grind useful for scaling, while others are ideal for carving wood or handling a box. These knives are meant for both professionals and outdoor enthusiasts on adventurous trips.
- Kitchen: Despite having ‘Shun’ which is specialized in culinary knives as a sister company, Kershaw has produced a few cooking knives like Kershaw Emerson 3-Piece Cook’s Set
Top 3 of Our Favorite Kershaw Knives
Here are the top 3 Kershaw knives we love in no particular order.
Kershaw Leek Pocket Knife: Best EDC Folder
Designed by the American premier designer named Ken Onion, the Leek knife is among the popular Kershaw series appealing to those who are looking for a versatile yet sturdy EDC. Although its main feature is the unique SpeedSafe opening mechanism made by Ken Onion, there are a few more features to admire.
Slim but Versatile Blade
You get a versatile and modified drop-point blade being just 3-inches long and having admirable slicing abilities. It is ideal for most EDC tasks and the thin tip performs extraordinarily while piercing and performing detailed work.
The blade is made using Sandvik 14C28N high-performing, tough steel due to which its edge is razor-sharp and retains the same for extended use. This steel is also known for its improved hardness, extra strength, and resistance to corrosion. The credit goes to the increased nitrogen in its composition.
The handle is made using chromium-rich stainless steel that endures rust and corrosion. It also ensures an easier grip due to the implemented etching, lines, ridges, and patterns.
The sleek and slim Kershaw’s frame lock makes this knife stronger, swifter, and safer for deploying using a single hand. Made for retaining the blade within the handle, the tip lock exists as a slider. It is present where the blade’s tip comes across the handle scales. Just a thumb press is enough to use the slider.
Speed Safe Assisted Opening
This mechanism facilitates opening the blade with the least effort but for max functionality. With the help of a torsion bar, this mechanism ensures quick, safe, and smooth blade opening. For this, you only need to press the one-handed flipper or push a thumb stud.
Reversible pocket clip
With the pocket clip, you can carry the knife by keeping its tip-up or down. You can even set a suitable carry position.
- Light yet sturdy
- Quick deployment
- Resistant to scratch, rust, and fade
- Value for money
- Available in different colors
- Not the strongest tip
Kershaw Blur: Versatile Tactical Folder
This is another Ken Onion knife that packs power and performance, especially in tactical situations. It is designed for outdoorsmen such as hikers, campers, bikers, and carvers who are looking for exceptional performance from a mid-range pocket tool.
With a bit recurved and big blade setting it apart from other Blurs in the fan-loved series, this improved Blur now with blackwash finish is fit for multitasking. It has incredible slicing and piercing traits for handling tough tasks along with all tactical abilities of the previous models.
Attractive, Tough Blade
Kershaw’s patented finish, blackwash, is the result of a balanced mix of blade coating and stone washing. This gives a black matte texture that is resistant to marring, smudges, and fingerprints. The finish also reduces reflection and projects a smooth vintage tactical look.
The slightly curved blade is 3.4-inch long and is made using 14C28N stainless steel, Thus, it is ideal for applications demanding stability, sharpness, and rust resistance.
Anodized Aluminum Handle
Anodized for more protection, hardness, aluminum makes the handle durable, as well as resistant to scratches and stains. This aluminum gives a solid feel without rendering that unwanted heavy feel.
Unlike other handles, the handle of this Blur knife has Trac-Tec rough-surfaced inserts to render more friction to keep the risk of slipping away on the scales. The inserts are responsible for extreme grip and give a spongy feel when pressed. This means you will feel comfortable and secure while using this knife.
Two steel liners within each handle scale make up the liner lock that securely opens the blade and keeps annoying blade closure at bay. To close the blade, just move the lock bar towards the side.
The Blur, just like any other Kershaw knife, has SpeedSafe assisted opening for smooth, protected, and quick one-handed blade opening using a thumb stud.
Reversible pocket clip
This feature paves way for adjustable carrying ability. Resting on the frame, the pocket clip allows setting either a preferred carry side or a tip position.
- Premium look
- Cutting with ease
- Resistant to corrosion
- Firm pocket clip
- Available in different design variations
- Too thin liner lock
Kershaw Barricade: Best Multi-tool Rescue Knife
A rescue mission involves a variety of operations, such as cutting seat belts breaking a windshield and cutting a rope. All of them are well performed by the Barricade from Kershaw.
This affordable rescue knife is ideal for any law enforcement officer, firefighter, first responder, or a worried parent. It comes with some useful rescue tools and is highly visible even in the dark due to its orange handle.
The blade of the Barricade is made using highly-performing 8Cr13MoV steel, which is produced in China but is reliable and hard. This budget-friendly, heat-treated steel has less nickel and more carbon to ensure a higher hardness level and better edge retention.
It is capable of holding the edge, resisting wear and tear, and enduring abuse from adhesive as well as abrasive items. It is okay to expect good edge retention but not superb resistance to bending and shaving pressures. The blade also has a black oxide coating for ensuring minimal reflection and corrosion resistance.
Glass-filled Nylon Handle
The handle is made using a synthetic nylon polymer that contains glass threads to boost strength. The material is significantly tough, versatile, and capable of handling hard and heavy-duty jobs. It also contains extraordinary stiffness for ensuring a stable grip, heat endurance, dimensional stability, and wear resistance.
This lock keeps the blade firm while in use and facilitates easy closure.
SpeedSafe Assisted Opening
This Kershaw mechanism facilitates quick blade access using just one hand. The modified clip-point blade comes out using the flipper.
Single Position Pocketclip
Although not reversible, this deep-carry pocket clip facilitates comfortable to carry with good accessibility. It allows the knife to penetrate inside the pocket as much as possible.
This Kershaw knife comes with a strong carbide glass breaker as a lifesaving tool. Existing at the end of the pocket knife, it facilitates unimpeded accessibility in trapped or extreme underwater situations. There is also a cord-cutter as an escape tool that can cut seat belts, laminates, and wires.
- Value for money
- Frequent sharpening
Buying Guide: How to Choose the Best Kershaw Knife
Whether buying for the first or tenth time from a single brand, buying is considered smart when you know how to compare two knives of the same brand. For this, you need to know the factors based on which you can compare the knives. Let’s explore them now:
This is chosen as per the type of task you wish to perform. Following are the different styles to choose:
- Clip: For EDC
- Drop: For all purposes
- Recurve: For draw and pull cuts
- Sheepsfoot: For slicing push cuts
- Reverse Tanto: For piercing
- Wharncliffe: For slicing push cuts, carving, cutting, and utility tasks
Kershaw blades are composed of a variety of steels, each having its pros and cons. Most of them ensure ideal rust resistance, edge retention, and ease of sharpening. Following are the common steel materials in use:
- CPM S30V: Is tough, retains edge well, and ensures exceptional resistance to corrosion but sharpening is a bit difficult.
- SANDVIK 14C28N: This is known for exceptional corrosion resistance although the edge retention is not highly satisfactory.
- 8CR13MOV: Is known to hold the edge, is strong and hard, and is easy to sharpen.
- 420HC: Comes with boosted hardness level and resists to corrosion. It takes a good edge and is easy to sharpen.
The edge can be either plain or partially serrated. The plain edge is considered as the edge for general-purposes, which is what most people required for performing daily jobs. You can use it to cut a variety of items ranging right from an apple to cardboard. It excels at precision, push, and slicing cuts. It is also easy to re-sharpen such an edge.
On the other hand, a partially serrated edge is useful for special jobs. It is useful for cutting fibrous items such as seatbelts, ropes, and wooden bits. Although it is more difficult to sharpen, serrations remain sharp for more time than the plain edge.
The grind refers to how the blank is narrowed so that the blade turns thin along the edge. Kershaw employs two types of grinds namely, flat and hollow. The flat grind is useful for cutting and chopping as per the blade thickness.
On the other hand, a hollow grind features a slightly concave edge on both blade sides. This gives a thin blade and very sharp as well as a slim edge. Thus, such a blade acts as a superb slicer.
A few Kershaw knives come with a manual opening mechanism, while some have assisted opening such as SpeedSafe. The remaining ones are fully automatic that work with a single button push. Regardless of the system you choose, most Kershaw folders are operable with just one hand.
These mechanisms are backed by opening with tools. A flipper at the rear of the handle is for opening the blade using the index finger. For opening using a thumb, go for a knife with a thumb stud.
A push-button is always seen in automatic models and works best with the index finger or a thumb. A few manual knives may open with a nail nick that requires both the hands.
To choose the right handle material, consider your working space and conditions such as outdoor weather, or being underwater. The G10 material is ideal for any temperature level, while glass-filled nylon is perfect superb wear resistance.
In its journey of 45 years, Kershaw has been admired for making and delivering remarkable knives at a significantly economical rate. It is the brand that keeps innovating but price the products at affordable rates. The best Kershaw knife for you will differ from one task to another. Thus, you should choose as per the purpose or requirement.
Hi, I am Jay. I am the creator of Knife Guides, your one-stop site for everything related to knives. I am a computer engineer by profession, knife aficionado by passion. Here I work with a group of people who’ve always had a passion for knives and blades. Over the years we’ve kind of become experts and decided to share our knowledge and ideas. I am also an avid hiker and enjoy offshore gamefishing.