Kershaw has everything from premium out-the-front (OTF) knives to budget-friendly assisted-opening knives. The breadth of its offerings in price range and style is part of what makes Kershaw excellent—it has something for everyone!
If you want a crossbar lock knife, Kershaw has you covered. Looking for a sweet karambit? Look no further. In the market for a USA-made automatic, a flipper knife, a knife designed by a renowned designer, a Cali-legal automatic, a balisong, or…well, you get my point. Kershaw has it all.
Below, I’ve assembled a list of Kershaw’s very best, spanning the range of its many fantastic options.
“Imagine two cheese sandwiches made on baguettes. Now butter the ends of both sandwiches and attach them to a third, sharp sandwich using sturdy bolts. The Lucha is like this sandwich monstrosity, with butter-smooth pivots that are tightly secured, only much less lunch-like.” – unknown
Have you ever wanted a perfectly sized and attractive butterfly knife that has no blade play, is built incredibly well, and is well-priced? The Kershaw Lucha is (subjectively) the former two and (arguably objectively) the latter three. It has nicely weighted steel handles for high momentum flipping and a tough 14C28N steel blade that’s ideal for the stresses balisongs must often endure.
The Lucha makes this “best of” list not just for being Kershaw’s best bali but for being one of the best balis on the market! You can’t argue with data, folks. To supplement the Lucha, there are a host of aftermarket parts for customizations, the prime source of which is Flytanium.
I own a Lucha and put Flytanium’s titanium Lucha scales on it, which I anodized gold and purple. I also removed the latch, which you can do with any Lucha. But if you’re not into knife customization but want something lighter than steel for the handles, check out Kershaw’s premium Lucha with titanium, carbon fiber, and CPM 20CV steel. Pick one of those up, and I’ll be jealous!
“I’m pleased to report that the Livewire is, in fact, not a live wire—it doesn’t electrocute you. In fact, it’s very comfortable, and using the switch is easy and painless.” – anonymous
Lay the Livewire beside some comparable USA-made OTF automatic knives. You’ll notice many things in common: a premium steel blade (in the case of the Livewire, CPM MagnaCut super steel), an anodized aluminum handle that’s strong and lightweight, very little blade play, and consistent and powerful automatic opening and closing.
Then you might notice some differences: The Livewire has a subtle, out-of-the-way pocket clip, no glass breaker, very easy actuation, and distinctive styling.
The biggest difference, though, you won’t notice until you look at the Livewire on Blade HQ or (heaven forbid) some other knife retailer: The Livewire is much cheaper than its competition! And with new colorways popping up around every corner, you can pick the one that suits your fancy!
I can’t overemphasize how accessible the Livewire is—and I don’t just mean the price. OTFs receive criticism for being difficult and even painful to operate. But Kershaw made a point to divorce the Livewire from ‘difficult’ and ‘painful.’ Part of its design process included putting prototypes in the hands of an older woman to ensure she, too, could enjoy this pocket knife. The Livewire isn’t just the macho man’s OTF—it’s everyone’s OTF!
“When the Kershaw Launch 2 was discontinued, I panic-bought it. But I wasn’t expecting to fall in love. I did. The only problem: The Launch 2 has fifteen pretty sisters (woe to my wallet). The oldest is the Launch 1, and she’s still blooming.” – still anonymous
The story of the Launch 1 isn’t so different from that of the Livewire: Put the Launch 1 beside its competition, and you’ll see that the quality of the build and materials is high, but the price isn’t. Coincidentally, I, too, fell in love with the Launch 2—I’ve been singing the praises of the Launch series since.
So, what does the Launch 1 offer? User-friendly CPM 154 steel, anodized aluminum scales, hard-hitting automatic action, and rock-solid lock-up. And for the price of just over $100, it’s well under the cost of comparable models. And if that doesn’t convince you, just read the reviews!
“The Launch 4 brings Romeo and Juliet to mind. Imagine a poor automatic knife barred from its lover, a knife nut in California. But this version of the story has a happy ending: The Launch 4 gets a short enough blade and is welcomed into the land of its lover.” – definitely not me
Knife nuts everywhere deserve a good automatic knife at a good price, even our friends in California who have some restrictions on the blades they can carry. The people asked, and Kershaw delivered! The Launch 4 is far and away one of the best-selling Kershaw knives we offer. It has the same quality and materials as the Launch 1 but comes in at a lower price to match its smaller stature.
The Launch 4 isn’t just for those in California. You may want a small automatic knife for any number of reasons. If that’s the case, I recommend this bite-sized, American-made Kershaw. And don’t worry: It comes in many colors, so you should have no problem finding one you like.
“As a child, my brother had a friend who was obsessed with karambit knives. He talked endlessly about them, and one day, he finally got one. Only the blade curved backward like a trailing point, not forward like a hawkbill. He had settled for a fake karambit. The Outlier is not a fake karambit.” – okay, maybe it’s me
The karambit is a combat-focused knife with a hawkbill-style blade and a ring for your finger. Normally, it’s held in a reverse grip, with your index finger in the ring. Karambits are cool, menacing knives, and the Kershaw Outlier assisted opening knife is no outlier. (See what I did there?)
One thing people often fail to consider with a karambit is its EDC (Everyday Carry) value. What’s the most used part of a knife’s blade? Its tip, no doubt. Karambits have forward-swept tips that are begging to be used. So, if you’re one of those people who thinks karambits are cool but don’t know what you’d do with one if you ever got one, might I suggest EDC use? You’ll find it remarkably effective.
But why choose the Outlier? Several reasons: It’s made by a reputable brand, has a snappy assisted opening blade, the thumb stud and flipper are both satisfying to use, and it’s under $50! If you needed an excuse to get a karambit, now you don’t. Why not start with the Outlier?
01110100 01101000 01101001 01110011 00100000 01101011 01101110 01101001 01100110 01100101 00100000 01101001 01110011 00100000 01100011 01101111 01101111 01101100 – Chat GPT (prompted by me)
The numbers don’t lie: The Knife Community likes the Iridium. We get it already—calm down! (But really, don’t. We like the hype.) I was privileged to hold one of the earliest Iridium samples before the knives were publicly announced. The moment I did, I knew it would be a huge hit.
And boy, was I right.
When you want an EDC knife, you usually want a folder with a lightweight, durable handle, a tough, performance-centric steel, and a secure lock. It should be medium-sized, have a straightforward design, have a reversible deep-carry pocket clip, and an ambidextrous lock that lets you close the blade without jeopardizing your fingers. Last but not least, it needs to be accessibly priced. The Iridium DuraLock is that knife.
“The Leek is a tool for dads. Put it under the sink and inform a loved one that there’s a Leek under the sink. Better yet, put it in your boat before a lake outing, and, well, you know what to do. Also, it makes a great EDC knife.” – the enigma (possibly me)
The Kershaw Leek is a USA-made assisted opening pocket knife designed by Ken Onion. When I presented my coworker Michelle with all the knives on this list, she selected this one as the one she’d choose. It’s small, sleek, well-made, and wicked sharp. It opens with just one push of the thumb studs or flipper and locks with a liner lock. A safety switch at the bottom prevents unintentional blade firing.
The Kershaw Leek is a best-seller for good reasons. One of those reasons is the number of variations available for the model. Want a MagnaCut Leek? Blade HQ has you covered. Want a camo one? You’re at the right place. And so on.
“A knife that’s, ironically, not blurry.” – knife lover
The Kershaw Blur is a USA-made assisted opening pocket knife designed by Ken Onion. (Yeah, like the Leek. So why is this the best Assisted Opening Knife and the Leek the Best Knife by a Renowned Designer? Because I require order. Also, the Leek is more Ken Onion-y, and the Blur is more assisted opening-y.)
My friend and coworker Michelle picked the Blur as her second favorite. Just looking at it, it doesn’t seem special, but once you get it in your hand and use that unique thumb stud, you’ll find it’s pretty dang great. At least, that’s how it was for me and Michelle. George, whom you might know from the Blade HQ YouTube channel, even remarked that, if he didn’t know better, he might assume this was a Microtech—that’s a compliment!
The Blur has aluminum construction, grippy rubberized inserts that provide substantial purchase, and a reversible tip-up or tip-down carry pocket clip. Its thumb studs are where it’s most unique: They are angled so that once you rest your thumb on one, it’s almost intuitive how to push to get that blade flying out. And I’d be remiss if I failed to mention that the Blur has some of the best assisted opening action out there. And I am remiss that I don’t own one (yet).
“Have you ever been shaking salt onto your food only to have the lid come off, resulting in half the shaker emptying onto your plate? When cooking up the Clash, Kershaw did that over its simmering pot of knife stew; only it was value that spilled instead of the salt.” – *sigh* Fine. I’ll admit it. It’s me.
If you want a knife that works, will hold together, is sharp, and won’t break the bank, then you want something like the Kershaw Clash. It’s an assisted opening pocket knife with a tip-up/tip-down pocket clip, black FRN (Fiberglass Reinforced Nylon) scales, and steel liners. The liner lock will prevent the blade from closing on your fingers. Best of all (and this should be no surprise considering the category), you can buy one for under $50.
One not-so-obvious feature of the Clash is how good it feels in the hand. The curves and grooves are in all the right places, making it an exceptionally ergonomic tool. If you don’t want to feel like you’re holding onto a brick when you’re breaking down boxes or opening letters or what have you, consider the Clash.
“A knife divided cannot stand. It’s fortunate that knives don’t need to stand. Can you imagine a knife with feet?” – Jacob Miller
The Kershaw Dividend has two steels that make up the blade: CPM D2 (better than regular D2) for the cutting edge and Bohler N690 for the spine. Pair that with aluminum scales, steel liners, and flipper-actuated assisted opening action, and you have a striking, attractive, and effective cutter.
Flipper knives are beloved for being ambidextrous, easy and intuitive to use, and generally very effective at deploying the blade. With the Dividend’s assisted action, you can count on that blade coming out every time, sounding that satisfying *click* as the liner lock engages. To top everything off, this USA-made knife has a four-position pocket clip, allowing you to carry it however you like.
I touched on this before, but it’s worth touching on again: Kershaw’s Launch series of automatic knives offers some of the best autos out there—even when you’re not considering their price. And that’s what makes their relatively low price so incredible: You’re getting just as much quality, and it simply won’t cost you as much.
Specifically, the Honorable Mentions are the Launch 11 for being small, simple, and extremely lightweight; the Launch 13 for its unique and ergonomic design; the Launch 15 for being the first Kershaw knife to feature CPM MaganCut steel; and lastly, the Launch 16 for changing the story, being a tactical knife boasting a thicker tanto blade, CPM M4 steel, and grip inserts like on the Blur.
Kershaw is proof that you don’t need to spend exorbitant amounts of money to get a high-quality American-made pocket knife.
Kershaw offers an extensive range of knives. You want premium, it’s got it. If you want budget, look no further. Looking for a balisong, an OTF, or a crossbar lock folder? Kershaw’s your one-stop shop. Kershaw is a company dedicated to knife enthusiasts, and it shows.
“A good knife is like a good lover: You need to be able to count on it, and as much as it needs to look nice, it needs to be sharp.” – Jacob Miller