I was asked if we’ve got a top Kershaw knives round up by a reader the other day, and since we haven’t yet gotten one up, here we are.
Kershaw is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of knives, and frankly, if you are reading this, I very much doubt you haven’t owned one – let alone handled one of their designs.
Kershaw historically did a mixed bag of design. In fact, I even still own a Kershaw Gulch, which if you are new to knives, will not look anything to you like a stereotypical “Kershaw” style knife.
It’s easy to dismiss Kershaw as that company that does modern flippers (though that’s also true), but it would be a mistake. Kershaw has had a long history of putting out interesting knives, way before flippers came into play. In my opinion, along with Gerber, I think Kershaw has put out some of the sexiest vintage knives around. Check out the Kershaw 1050 on eBay (pretty much the only place you will be able to snag one up) and tell me that knife is not a beauty!
In any case, Kershaw certainly doesn’t need me to stick up for them. Over the past 20 years, they have made a lot of waves in the cutlery world, with critically acclaimed innovations like the Speedsafe assisted opening system. They’ve also helped considerably in making flippers genuinely accessible to the mainstream – which is something all knife aficionados should be thankful for!
When I think Kershaw, I think flipper, and for good reason – no manufacturer (correct me if I’m wrong in the comments) makes as many flippers as Kershaw. In my opinion they have really nailed the mechanism. My first flipper was a Kershaw (I think it was a Leek) and admittedly I was unsure about the whole concept – flipper + spring assist? Totally foreign concept for someone who used to EDC Spydercos 24/7. But here we are. It’s 2017, and after doing quite a few reviews, I think it’s fair to say I am a convert to the Kershaw fan club, and you should be too.
Kershaw’s consistency cannot be faulted. I know when I pull down the flipper of my Link – the blade will fire right out like a bat out of hell. Same with any other Kershaw flipper I own.
First time, every time. Don’t knock it until you try it!
Top 5 Best Kershaw Knives
1. Kershaw Blur
I know, I know, many people in the comments will be outraged that I didn’t pick the Skyline as the #1 Kershaw knife (make your own list!), and will be annoyed that I didn’t even pick a flipper in the #1 spot, but honestly, I love my Blur. Regardless of performance or bang-for-buck, some knives you just love, and this is one of them for me.
The Blur has fantastic fit and finish and a very solid, comforting feel. It’s hard to put into words, but to me, it’s in the same category as my CRKT Hissatsu. It’s a knife I simply will never get rid of and is easily in my top 5 models from any manufacturer. Solid design with “just right” everything. Admittedly, I am not a fan of the thumb stud, but the Speedsafe spring assisted system makes deployment a breeze, and you guys all know I love my nested liner lock folders.
Read our review of the Kershaw Blur
When Ernie first announced his collaboration with Kershaw, I was stunned. These are legit Emerson designs with great manufacturing from Kershaw at an obscenely low price point. I promise I am not sponsored by Kershaw, but with the amount of praise I showered on this knife when I reviewed it, I should be.
Read our review of the Kershaw Emerson CQC-6K
3. Kershaw Leek
In my opinion, the classic flipper. I absolutely love mine even though it’s a touch heavy relative to its cutting power, but nonetheless it has a super, super acute needlepoint blade which is remarkable as manufacturers tend to avoid true needlepoints due to them snapping off during hard use, and thus having to deal with endless warranty issues. If you haven’t owned a real needlepoint before, you need to. Absolutely love it. A real modern classic.
Read our review of the Kershaw Leek
4. Kershaw Link
Bang for buck, I reckon this is the best Kershaw. Super sexy design with high performance blade, super nice flipping action with the Speedsafe system, and feels like a knife that should cost $100! Oh, and did I mentioned it’s USA-made? No one does bang for buck like Kershaw and this is the perfect example.
I’d recommend getting the aluminum blackwash version that I got. Much better feel.
Read our review of the Kershaw Link
Full disclosure, I haven’t received mine in the mail yet (damn you Atlantic ocean!) but I already know it’s a winner. Besides, this guy said it was a real winner and I trust his opinion to a fault.
More Excellent Kershaw Options? Other Worthy Contenders
Yes, it’s super popular and for good reason. Great utility/all around EDC flipper and made in the USA to boot. Great, solid knife that is almost universally loved.
Almost full size Emerson for sub $40. Couple that with one of the sexiest blades I have seen – I know it’s at the top of my list to review this year. I really love what Ernie & Kershaw are doing together, and you should too.
Read our review of the Kershaw Emerson CQC-10K
I own a few of the lil’ knives (they cost less than $10 each!) and I think they’re pretty much the best key chain knife currently on the market. I wish the steel was better for the sake of edge retention, but let’s be real, you are not going to use a knife this size to cut mounds of cardboard. This is a solid little tyke with a good lockup and great ergonomics with size taken into account.
Extremely popular design. Very low entry price point with solid performance and great durability. If I had to have 1 knife for rough work (think along the lines of cutting dry wall) I think this would be it. I don’t know how it could possibly get damaged and the Speedsafe assist will make sure the blade flies out even if the knife is all gunked up. Great beater option.
Read our review of the Kershaw Cryo II
Full tang, carbon steel blade that happens to measure 14 inches long. One hell of a lightweight chopper with great reach. I like to think of it as a North American machete – better on thicker branches, but still lightweight enough to wield all day. I know a lot of you didn’t like the Gerber Parang (I loved it, sorry), but I think this is a solid alternative.
6. Kershaw Volt
I gave this to a friend of mine who EDCed it for over 2 years. This friend happens to work in construction cutting drywall and does pretty tricky things with it, every single day. This is the knife that made me realize how great the Speedsafe assisted opening system is. If you work in a dirty environment where you need to whip out a knife and cut stuff roughly all the time, this is one of the best options you’ve got. The blade never stopped for a break and to this day it’s still working away like a champ. Dependable to a T.
Read our review of the Kershaw Volt
As far as I know, the Thermite is now discontinued – which is a damn shame. But fear not, as it’s still available if you hunt stores (especially on eBay), the Thermite is a legit Hinderer design with amazing ergonomics. Photographs just don’t do the knife justice. When I first handled it, I was shocked. The grip is so natural that I really couldn’t believe it. Rick designed a real winner here and I really wish Kershaw kept this one in production!
Read our review of the Kershaw Thermite
Super affordable Rexford design which is beautifully minimalist with very nice 3D machined G-10 scales. Very impressive and when I say affordable, I’m talking sub $20 here.
Alright, the Secret Agent is basically the sort of knife I would own for collection purposes only. I dig it because it’s badass and everyone should own something this fun. This is a legit dagger, not a knife, but a dagger. I like to think of it as a modern take on the Fairbairn-Sykes commando dagger.
10. Kershaw Chill
I am a huge fan of this knife as you know if you have read my review. It’s particularly interesting as it’s an extremely affordable flipper and yet doesn’t have the Speedsafe system. A spring assist flipper will allow you to have looser tolerances and still have a perfectly functional knife so I am very impressed with Kershaw for creating a legit manual flipper that actually works at such a low price point. The detent is solid and its sleekness/portability is best in class. Pound for pound, you get a lot with this flipper.
Read our review of the Kershaw Chill
11. Kershaw Launch 3
The Launch 3 is sadly a knife I will never own. The UK does not allow me to play with fun things like automatic knives because it’s a nanny state and thus I am forced to live vicariously through other people who can buy it. So why is it on this list? Just look at it. It’s probably the prettiest automatic (sorry not sorry Microtech), and I want it.
12. Kershaw Shuffle
Full disclosure; I am not the biggest fan of this knife but my better half is. Elise loves this little tyke, and admittedly, it is extremely functional and very cute with solid performance relative to size.
Read our review of the Kershaw Shuffle
Interestingly Weird Options: Coolest Quirky Kershaws Around
I had to add these to the list somehow because they are just too damn cool looking to be forgotten, even if they are not top-list worthy compared to the knives listed above.
What on earth where you thinking Dmitry? This is one of the weirdest looking little-big knives I have seen. Not only that, it’s technically a multi-tool as it features a bottle opener and a screwdriver. If you want a really quirky EDC, this is it.
Read our review of the Kershaw Pub
A lot of knife companies add a vague prybar shape to the butt of their knife. Thus so far, I think only Kershaw has gone full tilt and actually added a legit prybar function. And when I say prybar, I mean it. This is a chunky steel prybar that extends way beyond the scales. No excuse to use your blade for prying now, aye?
Clearly a chopper designed by someone who wanted maximum chopping power, aesthetics be damned. It’s a brute of a blade and this makes me like it. Like an ugly, loyal dog that you can’t help but love.
What Are Your Favourite Kershaws?
Your turn to chime in now!
What do you think deserve to be the top 5 Kershaw knives? Time to make your own list and rattle it off to me in the comments.
Any cool offerings you’ve seen from Kershaw in the past that I’ve forgot to mention? Let me know about those, too.
Don’t hold back! Leave your opinions in the comments.