Since the 1970s, Kershaw Knives have been celebrated for quality, innovation, versatility, and affordability, whether it’s a Kershaw pocket knife that’s used to open a box, a sporting knife that’s perfect for hunting and fishing, or a tactical knife that’s designed for self-defense and combat scenarios.
The owner of Kershaw Knives, Kai USA Ltd. is headquartered in Oregon and also owns Shun Knives and Zero Tolerance Knives. The world-renowned company has manufacturing plants in the United States, China, and Japan.
Kershaw knives don’t just bring five-star reviews and high quality to their legend, they also have some Hollywood star power as well.
Kershaw knives have shown up in celebrity hands on television and movies, ranging from Desperate Housewives to Driven to Kill. But their popularity isn’t based on fame; it’s based on the reputation for quality and durability that’s backed up by sales numbers and testimonials from satisfied customers who aren’t going to buy a knife just because action hero Steven Seagal used it.
And below, be sure to check out our interactive table of pocket knives, and see how well they compare to the various Kershaw knives we’ll discuss throughout this article:
|SOG Flash II||$$|
|Spyderco Paramilitary 2||$$$|
|Gerber Bear Grylls||$$|
|Kershaw Shuffle II||$|
Kershaw Pocket Knife: About Ken Onion
A Ken Onion knife brings its own star power to the blade.
Ken Onion’s partnership with the company has endowed knife collectors with a timeless legacy of design and beauty. The assisted-mechanism opening that he created is probably the most famous of all his patents. The accelerated opening means that the knife opens as quickly as a switchblade, but is legal, unlike the automatic opener knives, which are banned in many states.
Some other worthy notes about Ken Onion:
- Onion began to apply his creative talents while a Marine, where he developed an innovation for helicopters that was adopted by the military.
- He made his first knife in 1991.
- In 1996, he created the assisted-mechanism opening.
- He has 36 patents for knives, locks, and various mechanisms.
- In 2008, Onion became the youngest living member to be inducted into the Blade Magazine Cutlery Hall of Fame.
- Celebrities as diverse as Nicholas Cage, Ziggy Marley, and Pamela Anderson collect Onion custom knives.
Below, please take a moment to view some of the best-selling pocket knives currently for sale on Amazon:
|1) Spyderco Tenacious|
|2) Kershaw Cryo II|
|3) Opinel No.7|
|4) Gerber Paraframe|
|5) Kershaw Knockout|
Popular Models of Kershaw Knives
Here are a few of the more popular Kershaw knives, and a little about them, as well.
- Cryo, voted Blade Magazine’s 2012 Best Buy of the Year: The $49.50 Cryo was developed for Kershaw by Rick Hinderer, whose real-life experience as a firefighter and EMT inspired his knife design.
It has the Kershaw assisted opening that can be accessed with the thumbstud or the built-in flipper. The Cryo is smaller than some of Hinderer’s other designs, but is sturdy enough to be an every-day-carry (EDC) knife. The knife is high in quality and low in price at $27.81, and it wins praise for a special feature—the coating that is durable enough to withstand time spent in a pocket full of change without chipping.
If ever a knife came with a fan club, it would be the Ken Onion Leek, and over 600 Amazon reviewers giving it a 4.7 star rating bear witness to its popularity.
At $33.50, this knife brings affordable efficiency to its package. It’s an assisted-opening knife with a torsion spring that finishes the opening process after the manual start, but it’s not a switchblade. One complaint about the thumbstuds is that their small size makes this process somewhat difficult. The best option is to use the index-finger-open feature. The overall weight is 3 ounces, with a blade that’s 3 inches long and a handle that’s 4 inches long.
Cutting plastic straps and cardboard boxes are all tasks that the Leek Every Day Carry (EDC) knife can take care of with minimal effort from you. And if you’re not opening packages or cutting up fruit, this self-defense knife has an ambidextrous opening system, so that it’s suitable for left-handed as well as right-handed users.
Whether you’re slicing apples or defending yourself or family, you can decide whether the serrated or smooth version of the knife better suits your needs.
The knife is especially useful for first responders, such as paramedics, because the partially serrated blade can cut seat belts and rope. So if you’re someone in need of a good EMT knife, well, this might be perfect for you.
This knife also wins praise because it doesn’t sacrifice strength, and the handle fits easily in both the hand and the pocket. While the 440A metal of the blade isn’t the highest-quality steel, it nonetheless maintains its sharp edge even after use. It has an advantage over the higher-end steels which need to be professionally sharpened. When this blade becomes dull, the Leek can even be sharpened at home.
Remember when you were young and your parents selected a carpet that wouldn’t show the dirt? The blade and handle of the Leek achieve the same effect, even after being used. While other knives need a good cleaning after doing their work, the Leek cleans up easily and maintains its beauty and appeal
Designed by Ken Onion, this model takes its name from the fact that it features a thumbstud that allows the knife to open single-handedly and as swiftly as a switchblade.
No need to worry about this knife being illegal, however, because it’s not regarded as an automatic knife. It just, as it name implies, opens in a blur.
It has a 3 3/8 tanto blade that’s partially serrated. The aluminum handle’s Trac-Tec inserts are intended to provide a non-slip grip, but some reviewers complain that it gives the handle a sticky feel.
Its tanto point lends versatility to its strength, with the added ability for thrusting, so that it’s equally adept at cutting open a cardboard box at Christmas time, or cutting through Linoleum flooring if you’re working on a “Honey do” list. All this power and strength fits in your hand and rests easily in your pocket, and the price of $59 won’t do any damage to your wallet.
Kershaw Black Shallot
Made in the U.S., this EDC knife with its partially serrated stainless steel blade has a recurve which makes slicing and chopping easier because it needs less edge.
Buyers can choose either a smooth or a partially serrated blade of 14C28N steel, which is resistant to corrosion and stands up well to heavy use. Like the Kershaw Blur, the Shallot has the SpeedSafe manually assisted opening that’s suited for right-handed and left-handed users. And at 4 3/8 inches closed and 4.2 ounces in weight, this knife fits comfortably in the pocket.
The blade has a stainless-steel handle with a frame lock that holds the blade in position until the user releases it. Made in the U.S. and costing less than $100, the knife is designed to make short work of both everyday routine tasks, but it’s just as skilled at doing work which require strength and power.
Okay, we admittedly sort of fudged with the rules here, but since Kai USA produces both Kershaw and Zero Tolerance Knives, we felt it was fair to mention this particular blade.
Winner of Knife Depot’s Knife of the Year for the past three years, the Zero Tolerance knife wins praise for being both a work of art and rugged, and that’s high praise for a knife.
It’s over $200 in price, which means it’s not going to be an impulse buy, but a knife of this caliber is an investment worth making. One satisfied customer stated in his Amazon review that this knife is the closest a buyer will come to owning a customized knife for less than $400.
The knife weighs 5 ½ ounces and is 8.8 inches long. It has a large blade, but the knife is light and when folded, fits easily into your pocket or your purse. One buyer’s criticism of the Elmex finish is that it shows scratches, but this is a trait and not a flaw of the stonewashed steel. The blade’s stonewashed finish reduces the effects of corrosion. The texture of the handle helps prevent a slip and is easy to grip securely. The lock conceals the blade until you use it. Made in the U.S., the ZT comes with a lifetime warranty.
What to Look for in a Great Blade
- The brand of knife should be a name that’s recognized among knife collectors. Not only is the quality of a brand-name knife better, but so is the customer service. Respected knife manufacturers like Kershaw want to keep you happy, so that you return to them as you build your collection.
- The steel needs to be strong and durable so that the knife performs to your expectations and lasts.
- The handle needs to have a good grip so that holding it doesn’t leave your hands with blisters after you’ve used it.
- The lock keeps you safe by making sure that the blade doesn’t close on you during use; a low-quality knife with a weak lock will have a blade that won’t be secure when it’s being used.
- The clip should be smooth and not have sharp edges or a protruding screw. The clip should allow your knife to rest deep inside your pocket, and not be so tight that you have a hard time getting the knife out.
- The design of the knife should mean that it feels like an extension of your hand when you grip it.
Now that you’ve become a knife owner, you’ll start to recognize the famous names like Buck, Victorinox, and Spyderco. But you can be sure that Kershaw will always be included when top quality knife manufacturers are named.
Hopefully, this overall review of knives better helped you determine what kind of Kershaw pocket knife is best for you. If you liked this article, I strongly recommend reading the following:
For more pocket knife reviews, be sure to head back to the Reliable Knife homepage!
If you enjoyed this article, please join the Reliable Knife Facebook page!