There Are Few Factory Makers As Well-Known As Kershaw. The Oregon-Based Company Continues To Innovate And Create Top-Tier Knives.
Kershaw is a beloved knife brand set to celebrate its 50th year in business in 2024. In the years since the company was founded a half-century ago, it has delivered some incredible products that continue to set industry standards today.
Kershaw has become a staple of the knife industry at large and they represent a significant percentage of what is being regularly carried in pockets all over the country. Pete Kershaw began the company to create excellent outdoor knives and eventually partnered with Japanese company Kai to bring more high-quality products to market.
The modern Kershaw knife is a truly high-quality tool, and lucky for us, the company has a dizzying number of options that can fit just about any niche you may have.
Kershaw’s Top Ten
Kershaw has a large fanbase because the company is incredibly consistent at making quality knives at quality prices. These 10 have stood out as some of the company’s best.
The Kershaw Leek is arguably the most prominent product that the company has released in recent years. This knife is the epitome of what you would consider being an everyday carry tool: it is light, sleek, and has an extremely reliable mechanism.
The lines of the product are immediately recognizable and it has achieved iconic status among knife enthusiasts. At the time of this writing, Kershaw offers over a dozen variations of the Leek, and, while the internal mechanism is the same, you get your choice as far as cosmetic features go. Currently, handle materials range from plain aluminum or color-anodized aluminum to exciting options like copper.
The actual copper handle material will patina over time, giving your individual knife a unique look as you carry and use it. Despite the fact that copper weighs a little bit more than aluminum and this knife costs a bit more than the other products in the Leek line, it isn’t for everyone. The Leek’s mechanism is an assisted-open type, and it is one of the more reliable and energetic on the market. In carrying Leek knives over time, the author has never had a failure to open or to remain closed.
Leek Knife Specs
Overall Length: 7 inches
Blade Length: 3 inches
Blade Steel: 14C28N
Weight: 3 ounces
Handle Material: 410 Stainless/Copper/Carbon Fiber
MSRP: $99.99-$174.99 depending on materials
The Skyline was one of Kershaw’s most recognizable products. The simple, black-handled knife
was one of the more popular carry options of years past and it earned a reputation for being strong and reliable at a good price.
There are, of course, other products that now fill its niche, but the Skyline will not soon be forgotten. Its status as a common, affordable, and reliable knife helps it make this list even though it is no longer available.
Many Kershaw fans have lamented the decision to axe this otherwise popular knife, and it has achieved a moderate collector interest since early 2021 alongside the Shallot and Camber, themselves very well-received by fans of their respective styles.
Skyline Knife Specs
Overall Length: 7.4 inches
Blade Length: 3.1 inches
Blade Steel: 14C28N
Weight: 2.5 ounces
Handle Material: G-10
Kershaw Lucha Carbon Fiber
At a hefty $500 retail the Lucha in carbon fiber is one of the more unique and interesting offerings currently had by Kershaw. This balisong is arguably one of the highest quality production blades of its type. Even custom options available on the market may not be able to match the Lucha in terms of overall fit and finish at the price.
For fans of this type of knife, this is certainly a holy grail item, and it boasts some very nice features. The blade rides on KVT ball bearings for exceptionally smooth handling. At a full ounce lighter than the original model, the carbon fiber Lucha features striking handles that are composed of blued titanium and overlaid carbon fiber.
The price is quite hefty for an EDC knife, though it’s without a doubt worth it to the person who loves flipping and twirling. While the fidget spinner craze ended a few years ago, you’ll probably find yourself playing with this knife in your hand more than you will end up performing cutting tasks with it.
Lucha Carbon Fiber Specs
Overall Length: 10.25 inches
Blade Length: 4.6 inches
Blade Steel: CPM 20CV
Weight: 4.9 ounces
Handle Material: titanium with Carbon Fiber Overlay
Taking a departure from today’s tactical and overbuilt blades, the Kershaw Federalist is a rugged gentleman’s knife that has a number of interesting and tasteful features. While the company does make a number of traditional styles of gentlemen’s knives, the Federalist is geared for that man of taste that still has to get some work done throughout the day.
This knife has a more traditional closing and opening mechanism reminiscent of the knives of yesteryear. It has a nail nick for opening and lacks any assist mechanism. In fact, the company lists this blade as a non-locking slipjoint with a dual-detent system. You’ll likely want to save this knife for general tasks and leave the heavy lifting to a more substantial tool.
In place of polished wood and silver inlay, the Federalist features green Micarta grip panels and a matte finish. Seeing as how assisted opening and larger, tactical-style blades have the majority of market share, it is refreshing to see that Kershaw is still catering to people who view knives as simple, everyday objects.
Federalist Knife Specs
Overall Length: 7.5 inches
Blade Length: 3.25 inches
Blade Material: CPM 154
Weight: 2.1 ounces
Handle Material: Micarta
Kershaw Launch 14
The Launch 14 is a large, automatic opening, cleaver-bladed knife. This is a hard-use tool that has the looks of a collector’s piece. Not all automatic-opening knives are meant for daily use, but this one breaks the mold and is geared for any task you may find on the job site or in your daily adventures.
The cleaver blade is not for everyone. Some people prefer to have a distinct drop point while others definitely prefer the more adaptable Wharncliffe style. The knife lacks a true puncturing tip, which to some could be considered a detriment. The steep tip angle on these cleaver-type blades is actually excellent for true cutting tasks where spear point or drop point blades may be too fragile.
Using a cleaver-style knife for puncturing can be achieved, although the stout angle of the tip may be too coarse for fine work. When it comes to cutting things like straps and heavy tubing, the type of knife we see here definitely excels. The Launch 14 is elegant in its execution and has very functional, subtle features, such as a recessed opening button and carbon fiber panels.
Launch 14 Knife Specs
Overall Length: 7.75 inches
Blade Length: 3.375 inches
Blade Steel: CPM 154
Weight: 3.2 ounces
Handle Material: 6061-T6 Aluminum, Carbon Fiber Scale Front
Kershaw Reverb XL
Borrowing the same features as its smaller namesake, the Reverb XL is a daily carry knife that has a wide range of uses for the outdoors. The knife has a long, upswept blade, reminiscent of fillet knives. Because of its size and light weight, it makes an excellent companion for the fisherman who enjoys working out of a canoe or kayak.
The knife doesn’t take up much space and doesn’t require an additional sheath. Not only that, at under $50, it won’t cause you financial issues if it accidentally falls overboard. The knife is very simple in terms of operation, it is a manually opening blade with a liner lock.
Although it lacks a fast opening blade, the discerning outdoorsman or angler shouldn’t find this to be an issue, considering that once the blade is out, it is likely going to get used for quite some time. If you find yourself in coastal towns, or perhaps going for a cold one after a fishing trip, this knife will not stand out like a fixed blade will.
Reverb XL Knife Specs
Overall Length: 7.4 inches
Blade Length: 3 inches
Blade Steel: 8Cr13MoV
Weight: 2.2 ounces
Handle Material: G10 with Carbon Fiber Overlay Front
Kershaw Lonerock RBK2
Knives with replaceable blades are something that have been around for quite some time. In the last 10 years, we’ve seen a greater interest in this style of knife, if you can even call it a knife in the first place.
The Lonerock RBK2 is a kit that includes a main, folding handle assembly, and a non-folding ‘buddy’ handle. The ‘buddy’ is simple and non-folding, but takes the same blades as the folding assembly. The basis of this system is meant for hunters as a means to keep sharp blades at the ready with no additional maintenance.
Keeping a good edge on the blade is no easy task in less than ideal conditions. Many people think that sharpening is as simple as pulling the blade through an off-the-shelf sharpener, but inevitably every knife needs to be professionally re-edged at a certain point. If your blade is replaceable, you shouldn’t have to worry about that latter part of the process. If the knife goes dull, simply pop in a new blade and keep working.
Lonerock RBK2 Knife Specs
Overall Length: 7.2 ounces
Blade Length: 2.8 ounces
Blade Steel: #60A
Weight: 1.4 ounces
Handle Material: Glass-Filled Nylon, Rubber Overlay
At just under $60 retail, the Interstellar is a mean looking knife that has function at its heart. While it appears to be an out-the-front automatic, the Interstellar is instead a manual knife that opens in the same way as a standard box cutter. The blade features a serrated tanto point and has an affordable price to match its rugged looks.
Kershaw lists this knife under their work knife category, and while it looks tactical, this knife is perfect for the job site. It is easy to use with heavy gloves on, and is excellent for controlled, one-handed operation. The tanto point is excellent for getting into those tight spaces and it is serrated for cutting through various types of cord and material.
People that work with materials like drywall will enjoy its ability to score easily before cutting. If basic folders and box cutters aren’t your style, you should really consider the Interstellar for your daily use. After a long day, you may want to break open some cold ones, and the Interstellar comes with an integrated bottle opener in its frame.
Interstellar Knife Specs
Overall Length: 6.9 inches
Blade Length: 2.7 inches
Blade Steel: 8Cr13MoV
Weight: 3.1 ounces
Handle Material: Glass-Filled Nylon
Kershaw Blur With Glassbreaker
The Blur is a rugged and popular design from Kershaw. Not only is it a suitable knife for daily carry, the glass breaker version is a simple-to-use and affordable rescue tool. Similar to Kershaw’s other assisted opening knives, the Blur can open with one hand and is ready to go into action. The glass breaker can be used with blade open or closed.
Additionally, the particular model we are talking about here also has a deep, swept belly with aggressive, scalloped serrations. This type of situation should make quick work of seatbelts or other types of common materials found in vehicles if someone needs to be removed quickly after an accident.
This knife features a pointed tip, so unlike other types of rescue tools that are designed to be completely blunt, you will need to take care not to accidentally stabbed or cut someone you were trying to free with this tool.
Blur Knife Specs
Overall Length: 7.9 inches
Blade Length: 3.4 inches
Blade Steel: 14C28N
Weight: 3.9 ounces
Handle Material: 6061-T6 Aluminum, Trac-Tec Inserts
Emerson is well known for producing some exceptional tactical knives. The company needs no introduction here, and luckily, for us, they have collaborated extensively with Kershaw.
This particular knife, the CQC-10K, is striking to look at with its green scale handles and aggressive, Bowie tip. The knife features the patented Emerson Wave Feature that allows for an otherwise unassisted knife to open instantly upon draw. With practice, this knife can be drawn and opened in a fraction of a second, even faster than can be attained with an assisted opening mechanism.
This knife is not just for self-defense situations, it is ruggedly built, and should be an excellent friend for the field and trail. Thanks to its fine point, it can also be used for tasks such as fishing or skinning small game.
CQC-10K Knife Specs
Overall Length: 8.5 inches
Blade Length: 3.5 inches
Blade Steel: 8Cr14MoV
Weight: 5.1 ounces
Handle Material: G10 Front, 410 Stainless Steel Back
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