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Kershaw Leek Review

A slender, svelte pocket knife with great materials and a reasonable value
Kershaw Leek
Kershaw Leek
Credit: Kershaw
Best Buy Award
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Price:  $100 List | $45.00 at Amazon
Pros:  Beautifully constructed, assisted open, good value
Cons:  Slender handle makes it hard to apply even pressure, thin blade is fragile
Manufacturer:   Kershaw
By Jediah Porter ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Aug 25, 2022
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
65
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#6 of 18
  • Blade and Edge Integrity - 30% 7.0
  • Ergonomics - 20% 6.0
  • Portability - 20% 8.0
  • Construction Quality - 20% 8.0
  • Other Features - 10% 0.0

Our Verdict

In our extensive testing of a select group 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, knives ready for more aggressive usage, and knives designed specifically for backpacking or climbing, but none struck the value balance as well as the Leek. We granted the Leek an award in consideration for its usefulness, durability, and reasonable price.

Editor's Note: We updated this review for Kershaw Leek on August 25, 2022, with more information from our in-depth testing, an unbiased take on value, and a section highlighting other directly comparable products.

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Kershaw Leek
This Product
Kershaw Leek
Awards Best Buy Award   Best Buy Award Top Pick Award 
Price $100 List
$45.00 at Amazon
$55 List
$38.89 at Amazon
$40 List
$39.95 at Amazon
$19.00 ListCheck Price at REI
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Pros Beautifully constructed, assisted open, good valueSimple, reliable, sturdyCompact carry, familiar blade, bottle openerSharp looking and cutting, good materials, inexpensiveSerrated blade portion, carabiner carry option, lightweight, good blade steel
Cons Slender handle makes it hard to apply even pressure, thin blade is fragileLow profile handle, heavier than other optionsSmall handle, not available with Leatherman's best blade steelLess-than-ideal pocket clip orientation, sharp stowed edges wear clothingRudimentary construction, primitive lockback
Bottom Line A slender, svelte pocket knife with great materials and a reasonable valueThe fully customizable pocket clip makes it a good choice for the consumer who doesn't know their pocket clip carry preferencesA compact, lightweight, affordable pocket knife with a handle that is a little too small for robust tasksA budget knife that leads its price range in performance and downright impressive qualityThe best knife we have tested for rock, ice, and alpine climbing
Rating Categories Kershaw Leek Ontario Knife Compa... Leatherman Skeletoo... Sanrenmu 7010 Petzl Spatha
Blade and Edge Integrity (30%)
7.0
7.0
6.0
6.0
6.0
Ergonomics (20%)
6.0
6.0
4.0
5.0
5.0
Portability (20%)
8.0
7.0
9.0
7.0
8.0
Construction Quality (20%)
8.0
7.0
6.0
7.0
6.0
Other Features (10%)
0
0
1
0
0
Specs Kershaw Leek Ontario Knife Compa... Leatherman Skeletoo... Sanrenmu 7010 Petzl Spatha
Weight 3.1 oz 2.8 oz 1.3 oz 3.2 oz 1.5 oz
Blade Length 2.9 in 2.7 in 2.3 in 2.7 in 2.7 in
Blade Material Sandvik 14C28N stainless steel AUS-8 Stainless Steel 420HC stainless steel 8Cr13MoV stainless steel Sandvik 12C27 stainless steel
Handle Material 410 stainless steel Nylon 6 Steel Stainless Steel Nylon
Blade Style Drop point, straight Drop point, straight Drop point, straight Straight Drop Point, hybrid straight/serrated
Blade locks closed? Yes No No No No
Opening Style Assisted, ambidextrous thumb stud; back-of-knife finger tab Ambidextrous thumb stud Thumb hole Ambidextrous thumb stud Ambidextrous thumb hole; ridged traction ring
Lock Mechanism Frame lock Liner lock Liner lock Frame lock Lock back
Carry Style Pocket clip and lanyard hole Pocket clip and lanyard hole Pocket clip and lanyard hole Pocket clip and lanyard hole Carabiner hole
Closed Length 4.0 in 4.0 in 3.4 in 3.7 in 4.2 in
Overall Length 7.0 in 7.0 in 5.9 in 6.5 in 7.0 in
Thickness (w/o pocket clip) 0.3 in 0.4 in 0.3 in 0.4 in 0.5 in
Other Features or Functions None None Bottle opener None None

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Leek is a well-crafted, elegant knife. The blade of the Leek bears the brand of its designer. Well-respected pocket knife guru Ken Onion signs off on the overall blade design (hence the "Leek" moniker; many Kershaw models have onion-themed names.) The slender blade is made with excellent steel and careful attention to detail. You can deploy the assisted-opening feature with either your thumb or index finger. This versatility and ease of deployment alone stand out at any price. We tested the Leek many years back and then revisited it more recently. (We are thorough in our testing.) What we found years ago holds up now, even after testing a couple dozen more knives in the meantime. The Leek is great, in a seemingly timeless fashion.

Performance Comparison


Kershaw Leek pocket knife - the kershaw leek is a compact, affordable, high-end knife for many...
The Kershaw Leek is a compact, affordable, high-end knife for many different applications.
Credit: Jediah Porter

Blade and Edge Integrity


Evaluating knife blades is a difficult task, especially when trying to apply objective terminology. Sharpness alone is difficult to assess in quantifiable terms. Considering 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 first portion of a two-part 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. Elsewhere around the house and on your adventures, be mindful of the delicate nature of that fine edge. If you know you'll tackle heavier tasks (home improvement, auto repair, maintenance, woodworking, etc.), a sturdier blade is likely a better choice.

Kershaw Leek pocket knife - close examination reveals the section of "rolled" edge, near the...
Close examination reveals the section of "rolled" edge, near the tip. Blades inherently must strike a balance between thin and cutting easily, and thicker and more durable. The Leek uses high-end steel and a thin profile, but sometimes the edge will roll.
Credit: Jediah Porter

Ergonomics


The Leek is thin and small. It is about the same length as both our Editors' Choice winners. The length is just right for everyday carry. A deeper and thicker blade might feel better in some circumstances, but this fine edge and slender blade are great for foods and textiles.


As an everyday carry pocket knife, the thickness of the Leek handle is slightly 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. The assisted opening spring can also be engaged with a not-so-standard index finger flick. Brilliant. The blade locks open with a simple and efficient liner lock.

Kershaw Leek pocket knife - action series documenting the assisted opening function of the leek...
Action series documenting the assisted opening function of the Leek. The blade of the Leek can be deployed as shown here: the user uses his or her index finger to get the blade started. The user only needs to get it moving, then quickly, as shown here, the blade opens the rest of the way with assistance from an inner spring mechanism.
Credit: Jediah Porter

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, you can switch the pocket clip for tip-up or tip-down carry. If the user carries the knife clipped to their right front pants pocket, the knife can be arranged to pull out and deploy in a seamless motion.

Kershaw Leek pocket knife - the frame lock mechanism of the kershaw leek. here, in the process...
The frame lock mechanism of the Kershaw Leek. Here, in the process of disengaging the lock to close the blade.
Credit: Jediah Porter

Portability


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 knife's frame 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. For backpacking use, you might find something lighter and/or smaller to be better. Otherwise, given what day-to-day use usually entails, the Leek is optimally sized to balance function and portability.

Kershaw Leek pocket knife - the kershaw leek, clipped and ready for whatever you need, provided...
The Kershaw Leek, clipped and ready for whatever you need, provided what you need does not require the most stout blade.
Credit: Jediah Porter

Construction Quality


At no point in either session of 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 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 significant 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 a more sophisticated fashion. The Leek is in this latter category. It is thin, light, and smooth while holding up very well to all but the most rigorous use.

Kershaw Leek pocket knife - the blade-closed lock of the kershaw leek. this simple plastic tab...
The blade-closed lock of the Kershaw Leek. This simple plastic tab holds the blade closed until the user slides it out of the way.
Credit: Jediah Porter

Other Features


The Leek is a simple pocket knife with no extra features.

Kershaw Leek pocket knife - the simple design of the kershaw leek is lightweight, clean, and...
The simple design of the Kershaw leek is lightweight, clean, and compared to bulkier options, is perfectly comfortable for wear in a front pocket.
Credit: Jediah Porter

Should You Buy the Kershaw Leek?


The Kershaw Leek is a finely crafted interpretation of a common tool. It strikes a balance of form and function usually reserved for far more expensive equipment. 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. 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. Considering the balance of cost, durability, and usability, the Leek has earned one of our value award badges.

What Other Pocket Knives Should You Consider?


Although this blade earns our award for value, the Kershaw Leek is not inexpensive – it fits almost exactly at the median of our price range. As an everyday wearable knife, you may be better suited to a more price-point option like the CRKT Drifter. On the other hand, if you'd rather invest in a blade guaranteed to stand up to the test of time, you may find more value in spending the extra money on a model like the Benchmade Mini-Barrage 585.

Jediah Porter
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