When it comes pocket knives it is hard to think of a better one hand knife to add to your collection than the Kershaw Leek, designed by legendary knife maker Ken Onion. The Leek is one of the fastest selling and most popular knives amongst many in the knife world, much to the dismay of competing manufacturers.
Winner of the best knife of the year in 2002, the Kershaw Leek remains a strong contender every year. But what makes this knife so highly coveted amongst collectors in an incredibly competitive market? And why do many other knife companies try to replicate it’s design? We hope to answer these questions and more by the end of this review, so read on to find out why this knife can constantly appeal to so many
Throughout this review we will weigh up both the pros and cons of the Kershaw Leek, offering an in depth look into one of the best EDC knives of all time. This Kershaw Leek review has been broken into 3 sections so you can find exactly what you are looking for and each section has been giving an individual rating. We can safely say however that if you are looking for a new knife and are trying to save yourself some money, then the Kershaw Leek could very well be the knife for you.
In a market currently obsessed with survival knives, we aim to help you discover why we think the Kershaw Leek is amongst the best low priced knives you can get today. check out our Kershaw Leek review below!
Blade & General Dimensions Review
Blade Length: 3.0 Inches
Blade Material: 14c28n Stainless Steel
Handle Length: 4.0 Inches
Handle Material: Bead Blasted Stainless Steel
The Kershaw Leek features a 3 inch long blade, supported by a 4 inch handle offering a perfect balance of control and utility. Including both the blade and handle, the Leek offers features an overall length of 7 inches. The total weight of the knife is just over 3 ounces, which is light enough for portability but sadly lacks some heft that you would expect from a fully steel build. The closed length of the Kershaw Leek is no more than 4 inches.
The Kershaw Leek blade consists of bespoke Sandvik 14C28N stainless steel, which is an exceptionally popular choice regarding pocket knives. It offers a sharp corrosive resistant blade that is easy to sharpen and rarely dulls. The 14C28N steel itself is uniquely crafted by the Swedish company Sandvik, offering some of the highest quality blade materials found in any EDC knife and unsurpassed durability.
The blade shape is perhaps closest to the wharncliffe style, providing full power across the entirety of the edge as opposed to a single sharp point. You can be sure that no matter what part of the knife you use to cut, the power will be the same. The tip of the knife can also be used thanks to an extremely sharp point which makes this suited to both carving and piercing tasks.
Ken Onion has opted for a plain knife blade edge as opposed to an edge featuring serrations on the Kershaw Leek, that traverses the entire blade from the handle to the tip. The high-quality edge is sharp enough to utilize straight out of the box, however like most knives its a good idea to give it a quick sharpen before use to maintain quality.
As great as this blade is, it isn’t entirely devoid of some downsides. One of the biggest issues with this blade, is that the sharp blade tip is extremely fragile, prone to breaking even when it’s only subjected to moderate pressure. Although the sharpness is extremely useful for piercing tasks, you must be extra careful due to this fragile blade tip.
That’s not the only downside however, as this knife sadly is also prone to blade rolling. Blade rolling occurs when the blade itself is more ductile than brittle and thus it folds in on itself when too much pressure is applied. This can cause a dull blade that can no longer offer the cutting pressure it once did. Due to this low edge retention, the blade will need to be sharpened much more frequently than usual. Thankfully, as we previously mentioned, the blade is easy to sharpen meaning when blade rolling does occur you can swiftly sharpen your blade and bring it back to the razor sharpness design that the Kershaw Leek EDC is famous for.
Overall, the Kershaw leek provides an impressive blade for this price point that can compete with the best. It does have it’s downsides but they tend to caused by improper use, but for a knife of this calibre a blade like this is exactly what you need. Later Leek models have improved on the edge of the blade rolling, so if you are looking for a similar blade without this issue then check out the newer Kershaw Random Leek.
Overall Rating for This Section: 4/5
Handle, Ergonomics and Pocket Clip Review
When it comes to using your knife, a sturdy but comfortable handle is exactly what most people will be looking for. The Kershaw Leek knife thankfully provides both of these due to it’s use of Bead-Blasted Stainless Steel in it’s handle. One issue that may become apparent with constant use is that the steel handle can sometimes become slippery as all metals have a tendency to do. This can be avoided somewhat if you wear gloves during use, but as this is a pocket knife, you may not always have gloves on you.
The main reason for why the handle is so slippy, aside from it being metal, is that Ken Onion has opted not to include jimping on the handle. Jimping is typically used to help offer grip on metal handles, however the Kershaw Leek has opted for a stylish appearance over functionality when it comes to the design of the steel handle. This knife should be perfectly fine for EDC based operations, however heavy duty usage should be avoided unless you have some form of grip based gloves with you. The supplied thumb studs can also be removed if you wish, offering another level of control to this one hand knife.
Alternative designs however do offer an aluminium scaled handle with a liner lock which is perhaps the variant we would be more inclined to recommend. Both types of handle however do feel weighty enough in your hand and are a good size for smaller hands. They can also both be dismantled due to Kershaw’s choice of screws over pins, which can be easily dismantled using a T6 Torx bit screwdriver.
Right handed users will be happy to know that the Kershaw Leek knife appears to be designed with them in mind. Sadly this does mean that left handed knife may struggle to wield this knife efficiently, making this excellent knife sadly lack some accessibility.
The pocket clip that Kershaw have supplied with the Leek can be re-positioned offering customers the option to choose between a knife tip up or down carrying position. Kershaw also get bonus points for their choice of pocket clip, as unlike many other cheaper knives, the pocket clip included with the Leek is both durable and unobtrusive. The Kershaw Leek knife rides low in your pocket too, making this ideal for long hiking journeys where you may require the use of a knife. Kershaw have also included a hole for your lanyard, so if that’s your preferred carrying position then you have been covered.
Once you get past how slippy the steel handle can be, the Leek feels extremely comfortable to wield. Sadly left handed knife users have been left out on this knife, which is a shame as most knives designed by Ken Onion utilize an ambidextrous build, so why not this one? What the Leek’s handle lacks in the functionality department, it truly makes up for it in design. The Kershaw Leek knife is both lightweight and sleek, offering a premium feel that is rare to find at this price point.
Overall Handle Rating: 3.5/5
Deployment and Lockup Review
Perhaps the best feature on the Kershaw Leek is it’s extremely fast and secure deployment mechanism that puts other EDC knives to shame. Ken Onion has designed the knife to utilize Kershaw’s SpeedSafe opening mechanism, giving you the means to open this knife by either pulling the flipper or pushing on the thumb stud. The assisted opening mechanism isn’t to quick that it becomes dangerous however, offering both a secure and effective method of deployment. You can also deploy the knife from both sides of the Kershaw Leek.
The Kershaw SpeedSafe mechanism is one of the most reliable assisted opening methods when it comes to flipper Kershaw knives, however if you’re not a personal fan then worry not as you can remove it from the Kershaw Leek. Simply remove the spring that is required and you will no longer have an assisted opening knife, which is what some purists and enthusiasts prefer. Although personally, we feel that you would be missing out on a solid part of the Kershaw Leek knife. When it comes to opening a flipper blade, Kershaw’s Speedsafe is one of the best!
You should also be aware that although the deployment action offers impressive speed, the Kershaw Leek is not a switchblade. This means it should be legal in most US states, but always check your state or county’s laws before purchasing any knife.
Lockup system can vary depending on whether you have chosen the stainless steel model which this Leek review focuses on, or the aluminium scaled handle. The steel model features a tried and tested frame lock, which is perhaps the most popular locking method when it comes to flipper knives. A frame lock is when the handle moves behind the blade and the frame itself keeps the blade secure and in place. This also offers an easy one-hand closing operation so you can quickly secure the knife once you have finished using it.
The aluminium scaled handle instead uses the classic linerlock as opposed to a frame lock which some of you may prefer. When the knife is closed a torsion bar is held by the tension this provides, keeping the knife in place. Once the knife has been opened the spring bar slips under the blade and holds the knife in place preventing it from closing on you during use. Mainly though, this is more of a personal taste as both methods offer an incredible way of securing your knife.
Both locks are sturdy and get the job done especially when the typical operations you use your Kershaw Leek knife for are common EDC tasks. Few people will have an issue with the Leek and it’s locking system as it is a fairly sturdy build.
Additionally, the Kershaw Leek knife comes with a secondary optional safety lock that isn’t particularly impressive but it does get the job done. This lock prevent the knife from opening by itself therefore preventing any potential injury in the future. You can op to tighten or loosen this up depending on personal preference, and if you find it unwieldy you can even easily remove it entirely. However, more safety is never a bad thing so we would personally recommend keeping it on but maybe slightly tightening it up as it comes fairly loose.
Overall, the Kershaw Leek offers an exceptionally impressive SpeedSafe assisted opening mechanism thanks to Ken Onion and his design decisions. But it is also no slouch when it comes to locking and safety measures, you would be hard pressed to finder a better build EDC knife when it comes to both of these points.
Overall Deployment and Locking Mechanism Rating: 4.5/5
When it comes to low priced EDC knives Kershaw have been one of the front-runners since their inception in 1974 and the Kershaw Leek is perhaps one of their best. The Leek offers an incredibly sleek and stylish knife design, without sacrificing much in the way of functionality and build quality. The impressively sharp blade which is easy to sharpen means the Leek can perform any EDC knife tasks as well as some of the higher end ones on the market. Although the handle itself could be improved, the locking and deployment system more than make up for this due to Kershaws attention to detail.
The biggest issue with this knife that we covered in this review is the handle. The grip itself can suffer from excessive slipperiness with constant usage, however if you wield it safely and wear gloves where feasible you will struggle to find much wrong with the Kershaw Leek. Users will also have to be careful when it comes to the tip of this knife as it can be extremely fragile. But these slight issues struggle to detract from an overall incredible deal that everyone will appreciate.
At 7.0 inches long when fully opened and a blade length of 3.0 inches, the Leek is an excellent size to put in your pants pocket and take it with you wherever you may go. This also reinforced by an exceptionally low weight of 3 ounces. The Kershaw Leek offers some of the best benefits of using a wharncliffe blade shape without entirely devoting itself to a single design. Kershaws decision to employ 14c28n steel also offers both exceptional rust and corrosion resistance.
When you take everything into consideration that we have covered in our Kershaw Leek review, you can rest easy knowing this handy little knife could very well be the best budget Gentlemans knife under $50. The Kershaw Leek sets the gold standard when it comes to old fashioned style folding knives available today and is a pleasure to use.
Overall Kershaw Leek Rating: 4/5