In our extensive testing of a select grouping of the world's best pocket knives, we found the Kershaw Leek to represent the cream of the crop at a reasonable price. Our test included less expensive knives and knives ready for more aggressive usage, but none struck the value balance as well as the Leek. We granted the Leek our Best Buy Award in consideration for its usefulness, durability, and reasonable price.Testers liked the blade almost as much as the twice-as-expensive Editors Choice Benchmade Mini-Barrage and found the Leek's overall shape to disappear into a pocket smoothly. Aesthetically, the Leek is probably the most inspiring knife in our test. All who viewed it exclaimed at the smooth lines and form-meets-function brilliance. The Leek is best put to use in everyday carry for the discerning user. Even if one pulls out the Leek in a more cosmopolitan company, the polished steel look won't turn anyone off.
Kershaw Leek Review
Cons: Slender handle makes it hard to apply even pressure, thin blade is fragile
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|Price||$73.21 at Amazon||$155 List|
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|Pros||Beautifully constructed, assisted open, good value||Incredible blade quality, assisted open, perfect combination of compactness/functionality||Great blade, classy wooden handle||Small, excellent materials and construction||Big blade, excellent steel, four pocket clip positions|
|Cons||Slender handle makes it hard to apply even pressure, thin blade is fragile||Pricey, blade lock mechanism not intuitive||Expensive, no assisted opening function||Short blade, issues with opening the blade, expensive||Bulky pocket carry, slim handle in use|
|Bottom Line||This thin knife disappears in your pocket, tackles most tasks, and is easy on your wallet||A high end construction of a knife carefully tuned to optimize portability and function||A compact yet "full size” pocket knife for day to day use and all but the heaviest of tasks||This high-priced knife makes a statement when you purchase and carry it||A long-time classic, enduring for its solid design, significant customization options, and continuous improvements|
|Rating Categories||Kershaw Leek||Benchmade Mini-Barrage 585||Benchmade 15031-2 North Fork||The James Brand the Chapter||Spyderco Delica 4|
|Blade And Edge Integrity (30%)|
|Construction Quality (20%)|
|Other Features (10%)|
|Specs||Kershaw Leek||Benchmade...||Benchmade 15031-2...||The James Brand...||Spyderco Delica 4|
|Weight (ounces)||3.1 oz||3.4 oz||3.2 oz||2.8 oz||2.3 oz|
|Blade Style||Drop point, straight||Drop point, straight||Drop point, straight||Drop point, straight||Clip point, straight|
|Blade locks closed?||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No|
|Opening Style||Assisted, ambidextrous thumb stud. And back-of-knife finger tab.||Assisted, ambidextrous thumb stud||Ambidextrous thumb-stud||Thumb stud||Ambidextrous Thumb hole|
|Lock Mechanism||Frame lock||Proprietary (Axis)||Proprietary (Axis)||Frame lock||Lock back|
|Carry Style, in addition to loose in pocket||Pocket Clip||Pocket Clip and lanyard hole||Pocket Clip||Pocket Clip||Pocket Clip and lanyard hole|
|Blade Material||Sandvik 14C28N||154CM Steel||CPM-S30V stainless steel||Crucible S35vn stainless steel||VG-10 Stainless Steel|
|Handle Material||410 stainless steel||Plastic||Stabilized wood||6al4v titanium||Plastic|
|Blade Length (inches)||2.9 in||2.9 in||2.9 in||2.7 in||2.5 in|
|Closed Length (inches)||4.0 in||4.0 in||3.9 in||3.8 in||4.1 in|
|Overall Length||7.0 in||6.9 in||6.9 in||6.5 in||7.0 in|
|Thickness (w/o pocket clip) (inches)||.3 in||.6 in||.5 in||.3 in||.4 in|
|Other Features or Functions||None||None||None||None||None|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Leek is a well-crafted, elegant knife. The slender blade is made with excellent steel and careful attention to detail. The assisted-opening feature can be deployed with either thumb or index finger.
Blade and Edge Integrity
The blade of the Leek bears the brand of its designer. Well-respected pocket knife guru Ken Onion (Hence the Leek moniker… many Kershaw models have onion-themed names) signs off on the overall blade design. Evaluating knife blades is a difficult task, especially when trying to apply objective terminology. Sharpness alone is difficult to assess in quantifiable terms. Adding in consideration for the edge's wear resistance and ability to withstand traumatic deflection and degradation makes objective and comparative assessment virtually impossible. Thankfully, though, quality blades feel good when cutting. Even sharpening a quality blade is a pleasant experience. The most casual user will notice the intelligence and integrity of the Leek blade. It is a sophisticated tool, and the user's experience reflects that.
Now, the Leek blade isn't perfect. The edge withstood a great deal of routine use. However, at some point early in the testing process, a portion of the Leek blade "rolled" over. The thin leading edge of the blade bent over, at a virtually microscopic level. The tester only noticed this well after the damaging event. The tester cannot put his finger on any single traumatic event, nor does he recall any specific heavy-duty cutting task. Generally speaking, this sort of edge wear is a function of a blade that has been ground to too acute of an angle. The aforementioned dulling event took place with the edge still in factory-delivered condition. Effective blade maintenance, in this case honing with standard kitchen steel, brought the knife back into visual and functional shape.
Our award-winning knives tend to have thicker blades. For "everyday carry" and usage, thicker blades seem more appropriate. For camping and kitchen use, the thin blade of the Leek is great.
The Leek is thin and small. It is about the same length as Editors' Choice. The length, as testified to in our Editors' Choice review, is just right for everyday carry.
As an everyday carry pocket knife, the thickness of the Leek is a little too slim. Extended usage and heavy cutting tire the hand with a knife of these dimensions. The blade can be opened much like the other knives in the test, with a thumb stud for either hand. Additionally, the assisted opening spring can be engaged with a not-so-standard index finger flick. Brilliant. The blade locks open with a simple and efficient liner lock.
Even more elegant is the mechanism that locks the blade closed. A simple slider blocks the tip of the blade in the handle. If one doesn't require the blade to lock closed. The slider can be left disengaged, or removed entirely. Finally, the pocket clip can be switched for either tip up or tip down carry. If the user carries the knife clipped to his or her right front pants pocket, this means that the knife can be arranged to pull out and deploy in a seamless motion.
Portability and ergonomics are generally at odds. Sound ergonomic design, especially when the knife is used for extended periods or heavy cutting, requires a handle with a rounded profile in a radius large enough to fill a loosely clenched fist. On the other hand, carrying a knife in one's pocket is more comfortable when the knife is thin and flattened. The Leek puts a mid-length blade in a thin handle. It virtually disappears in one's pocket. The pocket clip keeps it up out of the mess of change and keys. The frame of the knife can be threaded with a lanyard for other carrying options. We were very pleased with the portability of the Leek.
Only the tiniest knives in our test are more portable than the Leek.
At no point in our routine usage, aside from the blade "edge rolling" mentioned above, did the Leek show even the slightest weakness in construction. We carried, cut with, and dropped the Leek all over the US Mountain West. The assembly, weight, and materials inspired confidence and never let us down.
Since we pore over a vast market and select only the best knives available, we tend to get a review subset that is exceptionally well made. There are simply no highly regarded knives on the market that aren't well constructed. We had no problems with the construction quality of any of the knives we tested. That being said, some companies achieve robust construction with the sheer mass of materials, while others do so in more sophisticated fashion. The Leek is in this latter category. It is thin, light, and smooth.
The Leek is a simple pocket knife with no extra features.
The Leek is not inexpensive. In fact, it fits almost exactly in the middle of our price range. However, given the assisted opening, plethora of usability upgrades (locking open and closed, reconfigurable pocket clip) and impeccable construction, this is a knife that will last and last while encouraging more-than-daily use. Considering the balance of cost, durability, and usability, the Leek has earned one of our Best Buy award badges.
You can undoubtedly find budget knives for tiny fractions of the cost of the Leek. However, none will come even close to the function and quality of the Leek. It is best to think of the Leek in the category of boutique knives, with budget "gas station" products in an entirely different realm. As compared to the boutique knives, the Leek is on par with the quality at half the price. As compared to budget knives, the quality difference is such that they may as well be different products entirely.
The Kershaw Leek is a finely crafted interpretation of a common tool. It strikes a balance of form and function usually reserved for equipment far, far more expensive. The fact that it comes with a signature blade design and very durable construction merely sweetens the deal. Our testers have become firm converts to assisted opening style knives, in part due to the Leek's elegant variation on this theme.
— Jediah Porter