Kershaw Knives Review: Keep an Edge on the Competition

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by  William Barton | Last Updated: 

Some may say your EDC obsession is out of hand. We say there’s no shame in doing your due diligence.

Our Kershaw knives review takes an in-depth look at three of the brands most popular models and equips you with everything you need to know before going in on a Kershaw.

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The Adult Man Image/Icon Image source: Kershaw

Kershaw

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Bottom line: Kershaw’s less expensive knives are nifty tools that stay sharp and perform well as everyday carry, while pricier knives like the Leek are vicious little things that arrive alarmingly sharp and pack a punch.

Ratings:

The Adult Man Image/Icon  Design The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon
The Adult Man Image/Icon  Quality of Materials The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon
The Adult Man Image/Icon  Value for Money The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon
The Adult Man Image/Icon  Craftsmanship The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon
The Adult Man Image/Icon  Customer Service The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon The Adult Man Image/Icon

Pros:

  • Kershaw backs their knives with a lifetime warranty and free sharpening (even if you shop through Amazon)
  • All blades are sharp and hold their edge well
  • SpeedSafe opening is butter smooth and pops open quickly

Cons:

  • No free shipping through Kershaw’s site
  • The Pub knife opens a bit clunky and needs two hands

Sometimes I order Amazon packages just so I have something to open with my EDC knife. 

Ok, that’s not entirely true. But it’s a satisfying feeling, isn’t it? 

Back when I was a coffee roaster, I picked up the cheapest pocket knife I could find to open the 150lb sacks of green coffee. At the time, I didn’t realize you could find a fantastic blade for under $50. 

Now that I’m a little older and wiser, I decided to swap out my dull and defeated pocket knife for something with some craftsmanship. But where to go? After asking around, I kept hearing the name Kershaw come up.

I picked up three of the brand’s most popular models to see if their knives have an edge on the competition.

What Is Kershaw Knives?

Kershaw Knives leek black

Kershaw Knives was founded in 1974 just south of Portland. In the early years, most manufacturing was done in Japan, but in the late 90s, Kershaw opened a plant in the Portland area and the brand continues to make many of their knives in the USA. 

Kershaw is known for their pocket knives, but that’s not all they do. I spotted throwing knives, a folding saw, and tactical knives, too. 

The brand is beloved by hunters and anglers because they’re relatively inexpensive, but highly effective. 

Kershaw Knives

Kershaw knives are an excellent choice for you if you’re getting into EDC and want an icon. Or if you’re a casual user and need a reliable piece that’s quick to open and slow to dull, Kershaw is an affordable, dependable, and sharp-as-hell choice.

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Things to Consider Before Buying Pocket Knives from Kershaw

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You don’t have to answer this, but: how many knives do you have?

I know guys who own ten pocket knives, but they’re still always searching for new models, new applications, and different styles of blades. 

Kershaw is beloved by knife enthusiasts, and because their price point is so reasonable, they’re also an excellent entry-level knife. 

If you’re looking for a professional-grade knife and cost isn’t an issue, I’d look toward a brand like Zero Tolerance. 

But if you just want something for your EDC that’s sharp, holds an edge, and doesn’t cost more than $100, Kershaw is an excellent choice. 

Kershaw Knives Review

To test Kershaw out, I picked up three of their most popular blades:

The Leek

Kershaw Knives top down edc knife

The Leek is an EDC legend. It’s arguably Kershaw’s most popular knife, and it’s one of the most popular pocket knives on the market. 

It was designed in 2003, is made in the USA with Sandvik 14C28N steel and it’s a testament to its functionality and quality that it remains one of Kershaw’s most sold models to this day.

Kershaw Knives leek in gunmetal

The three-inch drop point blade has very little curve in the belly, so it’s a sharp, slim piece that can tear up a cardboard box faster than you can say “allium.”

As for the steel, it balances edge sharpness and hardness well, and has a good deal of corrosion resistance. 

The Leek is made in the USA in Kershaw’s Oregon factory, so it stays close to its roots. I’m loving the SpeedSafe opening: it’s smooth and quite easy to snap open with a flick of my finger. 

Kershaw Knives leek black 1

I actually picked up two Leeks and gave one to my brother for his four-week wilderness safety trip in the Wyoming mountains. For fine cutting and piercing, the Leek is a total beast. It’s a little less suited to fishing or any small game cleaning because the blade is so straight, so you’d have a more difficult time smoothly removing a hide without piercing anything. 

Kershaw Knives leek

I’m digging the clip because it’s smooth and doesn’t tear up my jeans (or the shirt I’m wearing). Given that the Leek is so well suited to breaking down boxes and the clip is low-impact on my clothes, it’s quickly become my go-to EDC blade. 

It’s a minimalist design which is why I like the Leek so much. Some folks might take issue with the smooth, sleek handle as there isn’t a ton of grip, but I never do any heavy duty slashing with a pocket-knife, anyway. 

Kershaw Leek

The three-inch drop point blade has very little curve in the belly, so it’s a sharp, slim piece that can tear up a cardboard box faster than you can say “allium.”

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Oso Sweet

Kershaw Knives oso sweet knife folded up

The Oso Sweet is the first Kershaw SpeedSafe knife made in China, though it’s still designed, prototyped, and QC’d in the US. The price hovers near $20, which is stellar considering the quality of this piece. 

The handle is the most distinctive aspect of this pocket knife. It’s made with a glass-filled nylon handle and backspacer, and the drop point blade has a bit more of a belly when compared to The Leek. 

Kershaw Knives top down oso sweet knife

It’s another wildly popular, long standing design with a smooth SpeedSafe opening, but what I like the most about this blade is the weight. Coming in at 80g, this piece looks hefty but feels light as a feather. 

I’m not the biggest fan of the clip on this pocket knife. It flares out considerably at its bottom, and it’s a bit sharp, so after a recent car trip, I found that it poked a hole in the shirt I was wearing. 

Kershaw Knives oso sweet in grass

While I’m using the Leek as my main EDC knife, the Oso Sweet is what I’ll be taking with me fishing. The steel used has a 12% chromium addition, so it’s essentially stainless steel. It takes to sharpening well and has solid edge retention, but I don’t need to worry about getting this piece wet. 

Plus the blade has some belly to it, so it’s better suited to a fillet on the fly and cutting lines. 

Kershaw Oso Sweet

The Oso Sweet is another wildly popular, long standing design with a smooth SpeedSafe opening, but what I like the most about this blade is the weight. Coming in at 80g, this piece looks hefty but feels light as a feather. 

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Pub

Kershaw Knives folded open pub knife small knife

While I wanted to pick up a few utility knives for everyday use and to take on a few adventures, I also wanted to check out one of Kershaw’s more quirky pieces.

And that led me to the Pub knife designed by Dmitry Sinkevich. Armed with a 1.6-inch blade and weighing 54g, this knife can fit on your keyring (though I think it’s a bit too large for that—alternatively you can attach it to your belt loop).

The Pub knife also acts somewhat like a multitool, with a bottle opener and screwdriver on the tail end. When closed, a carabiner style hook sits at the head, and you can flip open the knife to reveal a stubby Wharncliffe style blade. 

Kershaw Knives pub

You can’t really open the Pub with one hand, so if that’s an issue for you, I recommend one of Kershaw’s SpeedSafe options. 

Kershaw Knives pub knife blade

I’ve been keeping my Pub stashed in my odds and ends drawer, as it’s exactly the sort of compact piece that comes in handy if you leave your everyday carry elsewhere. Plus, you never know when a cold one is calling you and you’re stuck without an opener. 

The Pub is another very low cost option from Kershaw, and it’s a fun piece to have around. 

Kershaw Knives pub knife folded with watch

Again, I’m still sticking with Leek as my go-to because of the slim minimalist design and clip, plus it has higher quality steel. But if you dig the funky design of the Pub, it’s hard to beat for its low price. 

Also, the Pub is a great option for knife fans who can’t legally carry assisted opening knives. 

Kershaw Pub

The Pub knife acts somewhat like a multitool, with a bottle opener and screwdriver on the tail end. When closed, a carabiner style hook sits at the head, and you can flip open the knife to reveal a stubby Wharncliffe style blade. 

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How is the Kershaw Knives Warranty?

Kershaw Knives oso sweet on handkerchief

Kershaw has a lifetime warranty on all their knives besides those bought as factory seconds. They can even replace your blade for just $10 if you break it. 

If the spring action or torsion bar wears out, it’s quite easy to send it back to Kershaw. You’ll need to pay shipping to get your knives there, but it’s a flat fee of $7. If you own multiple Kershaws, you can send them all back for the same fee (i.e. it’s still just $7 even if you send three knives). 

Kershaw Knives leek extended 1

Kershaw will also resharpen your knife when it’s out for repairs, but if you’ve given your knife a special edge and don’t want it changed, you can make a note of that and they’ll leave your pocket knife as is. 

Also, if you’re more of a DIY guy, you can order replacement parts for free through Kershaw, which is pretty incredible. 

I haven’t needed to use the warranty myself, but in reading through reviews of folks who have, it seems that Kershaw doesn’t ask questions and will refurbish your knife no problem. It can take a few weeks, so I recommend having a backup so you’re not without your favorite tool for a month.

Kershaw Knives

Kershaw knives are an excellent choice for you if you’re getting into EDC and want an icon. Or if you’re a casual user and need a reliable piece that’s quick to open and slow to dull, Kershaw is an affordable, dependable, and sharp-as-hell choice.

Shop the Kershaw Store on Amazon
If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

What do Other Reviewers Say About Kershaw Knives? 

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Kershaw is an everyday carry legend. There’s no shortage or professional reviews for every Kershaw model on the market. 

The Leek is their most popular and iconic by far. Reading through professional, enthusiast, and casual reviews, I could hardly find anyone bashing the quality. 

Some folks had issues when sending their knives in for repair (the main issue being length of time), but most people are impressed with the sharpness, quality, and ease of care for Kershaw knives. 

My Thoughts Overall On Kershaw Knives

What I Like

  • The Kershaw lifetime warranty with free sharpening makes them unique, and they’ll even back your knife if you buy through a third party dealer like Amazon.

  • The three blades I tried (Leek, Oso Sweet, Pub) hold their edge well and sharpen easily.

  • The SpeedSafe opening makes popping your knife open super easy with one hand. 

What I Don’t Like

  • Shipping is $7 through Kershaw’s site, though you can skip that by shopping with Amazon.

  • The Pub knife opens a bit clunky and needs two hands.

Who is Kershaw for?

Kershaw knives are an excellent choice for you if you’re getting into EDC and want an icon. Or if you’re a casual user and need a reliable piece that’s quick to open and slow to dull, Kershaw is an affordable, dependable, and sharp-as-hell choice.

The Verdict

Kershaw makes a mean knife. It’s incredible what kind of quality you can get for a little over $20. 

The Oso Sweet is a budget-blade, but it impressed me none-the-less. I had some issues with the clip, as I think it flares a bit too much at its tail, but otherwise, I like the high-chromium content: I can take this blade with me fishing and I don’t have to worry about leaving it wet or a little dirty. 

The Pub knife is a nifty gadget, and I’ve really enjoyed having it around. For anyone looking for a keyring knife, the Pub is an excellent option. I’m not that extreme, so I’ve been keeping mine in my catchall drawer (where I ironically end up using it more often than my EDC pocket knife). 

Speaking of my EDC knife: I have a new favorite. The Leek is awesome. It’s super sleek and the blade is wicked-sharp. When you combine the easy-going clip with the SpeedSafe flip opening, The Leek is super handy and a pleasure to have on my side on the daily. 

I can see why The Leek has become such an EDC legend—it deserves the praise it gets from the knife community.

Kershaw Knives

Kershaw knives are an excellent choice for you if you’re getting into EDC and want an icon. Or if you’re a casual user and need a reliable piece that’s quick to open and slow to dull, Kershaw is an affordable, dependable, and sharp-as-hell choice.

Shop the Kershaw Store on Amazon
If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

FAQs

Are Kershaw knives made in the USA?

Not all Kershaws are made in the USA, but most are. The country of origin is stamped on the blade, so you should be able to easily tell if the model you’re looking at it US-built or not. That said, the import knives go through a vigorous quality control process in the USA, so I didn’t notice any significant difference between the US knives and imports.

What is the best Kershaw knife?

I like the Leek as the best Kershaw knife as a balance of usability, durability, and price. Of course, I only need my knife for EDC, and almost never use it in a hunting or fishing application, so the drop point blade isn’t an issue for me. I prefer the slim design and low profile.

Are Kershaw knives guaranteed for life?

Yes, if your Kershaw malfunctions or breaks (or even just succumbs to general wear and tear), you can send it back to Kershaw as part of their lifetime warranty. Just pay shipping and they’ll send your knife back refurbished and sharpened.

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