The Kershaw Blur is probably the most popular knife that I own. It seems everyone I’ve spoken to either currently owns one, or has at least handled the Blur in the past, and when you see how much Kershaw brings to the table taking into account this knife’s affordable entry price, I can’t say I am very surprised.
It might not be my favourite knife due to its assisted deployment and its lack of a Spyderhole (sorry, Kershaw!) but it’s definitely one of very few knives I would recommend the most from my collection.
Right off the bat, we should discuss the glorified skateboard tape that Kershaw drenched the Blur’s scales in. They call these bits on the handles “trac-tec” inserts, and whilst you might be remiss into thinking it’s a lot like sandpaper, in reality, it’s more of a very heavily textured hard rubber inlay. I would wager that the trac-tec’s durability is on par with the soft rubber on the Mora 2000 which is to say – pretty darn tough. This stuff isn’t going anywhere.
The rubber inserts are certainly the most divisive aspect of this folder, and the one that elicits the most visceral “love it” or “hate it” reaction. I’ve spoken about this before in the Ontario RAT-1 review I did, I personally love them and find that they add a lot both in terms of aesthetics and performance. On the other end of the spectrum, however, Elise won’t even touch them, and hates everything about the way they look. Take what she thinks about the tactile sensation with a grain of salt, however; she can’t even stand the feel of the titanium on the Sage 2, as it’s too “gritty” for her taste. Definitely more “picky” than the normal person about how things feel.
In conclusion, much like pineapple on pizza (or anchovies!), or even Nickelback, the Blur’s handles are a pretty divisive topic.
In hand, the Kershaw Blur is clearly designed to fit into the mid-sized EDC category of folding knives, with a closed length of 4.5 inches (11.43 cm). I feel it passes the “just right” Goldilocks test of not being too big and not being too small with flying colours.
As a direct comparison, the Kershaw Blur is not *that* much larger than a Spyderco Delica 4, but it’s definitely more heavy-duty. I think there’s certainly a place in the knife world for the Blur. Sometimes jack-of-all-trade is a benefit in and of itself, and I find myself really loving having a compact(ish) folder that can handle heavier tasks along with the typical light everyday carry tasks.
Deployed, you can see how much blade the Blur brings to the table: a solid 3.37 inches (8.57 cm) of steel, which offers fantastic cutting performance when taking into account its still pocketable size.
The blade of the Kershaw Blur is a middle of the road 0.12 inches (3 mm), and the tanto blade is both tapered and has a nice swedge, meaning it has excellent penetration potential, whilst still having a relatively reinforced tip. The Blur wouldn’t be my first choice to pry with (the Recon 1 would be better in my opinion – if I had to be prying with a knife that is), but it’s still very much viable for rougher tasks.
The edge geometry is surprisingly excellent taking into account the Blur’s tactical styling. The tanto is ground with a very lean (shockingly so, actually) hollow grind. The steel choice varies on the model you get from 14C28N, 13C26, to BDZ1, but in my experience, they all offer roughly the same average performance. Definitely not a super steel, or even on the same level as CPM S30V (which the standard production of most Spydercos, like the Spyderco Paramilitary, Military, and Sage series knives for instance, uses), but taking into account the price of the Blur, this is to be expected.
I wrote about super steels in the past and my sentiments on the matter have not changed: in real world use the performance gain is not that noticeable. I personally don’t care much about the steel choice (regardless of which of the Blur’s steel options you end up getting), as no matter what, it’ll be a definite upgrade over 8cr13MoV and will handle everything you throw at it.
Much to my happiness, I found that Kershaw elected to have the liners on the Blur nested (like on my much-loved Spyderco Military). I have long held a crusade over the pointlessness of non-nested liners, and I really am glad that Kershaw went this route. It’s liner lock is excellent, with very positive engagement, and I noticed absolutely zero blade play or lock travel. So as far as I am concerned, the liner lock on the Blur is pretty damn perfect.
I don’t really have a favourite lock, but gun to my head, I would confidently say that a well made nested liner is as close to perfection as it gets for me.
Thinking about this more, actually, I do feel my bias toward knives with nested liners is pretty damn positive. I already own the majority of knives with nested liners that are currently available on the market. Nestled liners help to drastically reduce the weight of a knife, and offer no disadvantage whatsoever to the strength of the lock if done right. The CRKT Ripple and the Hissatsu (which unfortunately does mess up by having an incredibly heavy backspacer) are two examples of knives with good nested liner locks.
Reiterating a bit, the advantage of a nested liner construction is evident on the Blur, especially when you look at its overall weight of only 4.2 ounces, and the resulting superb balance. The Kershaw Blur’s balance point rests comfortably behind the pivot, and as a result, the knife feels very light and natural in hand. I don’t expect the weight to be the cause of any fatigue should you use this knife for extended periods of time, so great job here Kershaw & Ken Onion.
The Blur is made in the USA by CNC (at least the scales are CNC’d), and in terms of fit and finish, this level of manufacturing precision is evident. It feels like a premium knife with the parts fitting flawlessly and its perfect centering. I don’t own a USA-made knife with better manufacturing at this price point. Nothing else even comes close.
My one niggling dislike with the Kershaw Blur is the deployment method and thumb stud design. They are “unique,” with a single angled cut full of jimping. It is very aggressive and does work quite well, but couple with the assisted “speedsafe” mechanism – it does feel a teensy bit too aggressive sometimes. There is absolutely no way your thumb will lose its footing on the thumb studs, and I am sure lefties will appreciate the symmetry as well as the forceful thwack when the spring kicks in, but I do like the option of discreetly opening the blade, and with this current set up, discreteness is simply not viable (unless you use two hands! But that defeats the purpose a little bit).
For many of you, a super fast deployment is probably a benefit, but living in Toronto, I find that I can’t whip this one out in public, cut something, place it back in my pocket all without being noticed. Its tactical styling and aggressive deployment means I’m almost guaranteed a few eyeballs.
Speaking of not getting noticed, the pocket clip, scales, and hardware on the Blur are all matte black, which screams “super tactical,” but unless I point out the knife, I reckon it will actually fly under the radar. For a Ken Onion knife, the pocket clip is remarkably non-goofy, unlike the one on the CRKT Ripple, and I am very appreciative of that. It’s very similar to the one on the Kershaw Leek, which I’ve already expressed, I’m a-ok with.
The pocket clip is over-sized, but comfort is above average (ergonomics to be discussed later), and in-pocket retention is excellent.
The ergonomics are very natural in a saber grip. The organic Ken Onion designed lines really work with the palm of your hands to offer a secure, comfortable hold, and whilst the handles are not exactly thick, I will say that Kershaw did a great job with the contouring (take note Spyderco Manix 2 FRN – which will never hear the end of my complaining!) and I noticed no evident hotspots on the Blur when it’s gripped.
I will mention that the spine and the top section of the scales have an almost imperceptible amount of jimping. The Kershaw Blur’s jimping traction qualities are so subpar that people who don’t care much for jimping are unlikely to notice it. This is not a criticism, as the in-hand retention is excellent, especially when wet, as the trac-tec inserts do latch onto your finger tips quite nicely.
No real choil means should the lock fail, your digits will have a date with a sharp blade. I am not concerned, however, as the lock up is great (as mentioned before) and the liner lock is well engineered.
In reverse grip, the Kershaw Blur is average when it comes to levels of comfort. I find the scales to be too thin and stretched out to offer enough purchase for your palm. The reason this knife works so well in a standard grip is due to the organic lines and pleasant contouring, as it was designed for saber grips. Without those swoops and dips, you’re left holding a slab of relatively thin aluminum.
The Blur is viable for tactical purposes in a reverse grip, but not even close to my first choice.
Pinch grips would have been very comfortable if not for the (sharp) thumb studs biting into the fleshy section of my thumb. Moving my hand back and keeping my pointer finger on the spine resulted in a comfortable grip for those precious urban tasks of opening packages. The tanto blade excels at that due to the box cutter effect of its secondary point.
My Kershaw Blur is the Tanto BDZ1 version, but it comes in different blade shapes and a plethora of other blade and anodized handle colours (black blade, acid wash blade, navy blue scales), so don’t feel like you’re limited to this specific style option. If you want bright red handles with a more normal blade you can have that too.
I think Kershaw deserves a huge nod of approval and some serious appreciation for catering to so many different tastes in their collection. Far too often knife manufacturers design only for a specific target demographic and tend to leave those with more eclectic (or normal!) taste sitting on the sidelines. Not everyone wants a tiger stripe blade, or a clip point blade with black G-10 scales which seems to be the mainstream standard, and there’s nothing wrong with that!
The Kershaw Blur is a fantastic looking (and performing!) Ken Onion designed knife, made in Oregon, U.S.A. with decent blade steel and fantastic fit and finish all for an all-round good price. It’s pretty shocking how good a deal the Blur is, and really makes you question what makes the Benchmade 940 worth 2-3 times the price with similar construction and materials.
I have now amassed a pretty insane collection of everyday carry folding knives, and when choosing what to EDC for the day, I tend to go for knives that I either haven’t reviewed yet or those that put on smile on my face, and this is very much the latter. If Kershaw ever considers discontinuing the Blur, I will most likely snap up half a dozen of them for myself, as these are truly representative of a classic modern pocket knife.
Hands down: recommended.