For knife enthusiasts, one blade that will certainly cause quite a stir is the Kershaw Leek. Why did this knife create such hype? For one thing, the Leek is one of the many prized creations of the award-winning custom knife maker Ken Onion. Other reasons why the Kershaw Leek is so popular is because of its usability and the materials used to create this knife which make it a very popular option for a light use gentleman’s EDC knife. Continue reading our Kershaw Leek review below to find out what we liked and didn’t like about this knife.
Kershaw Leek Review: Blade Steel
The blade steel used in this Leek up for review now (model 1660) is Sandvik 14C28N stainless steel, a common steel among many of Kershaws more budget oriented knives. It has what I would call a modified wharncliffe blade shape with a length of approximately 3 inches. As for the handle, Kershaw decided to use a 410 stainless steel material for the 4-inch handle. The Kershaw Leek folding knife is also relatively heavy for its size and slim profile, the entire knife weighing about 3.2 ounces. If that is too heavy for you Kershaw also sells a aluminium handle version which weighs almost a full ounce less than the steel version at only 2.4 ounces. Note that the aluminium model uses a liner lock instead of a frame lock.
Kershaw has a long list of excellent knives but the Leek series is one group that includes the most popular and highly reviewed US made knives from Kershaw. Since the Kershaw Leek Folding Knife is a creation of Ken Onion, you can expect this knife to include Ken Onion’s signature design, which is the SpeedSafe ambidextrous assisted opening system. The Speedsafe system allows the user to easily open the knife with either their right or left hand. Another feature that can be found in the Kershaw Leek folding knife is the bead-blasted stainless steel handle which gives the Leek a striking and elegant appearance. Kershaw has also released a version of the Leek with a black tungsten DLC-coated blade (Sandvik 13C26) and handle (along with many other color options) that enhances the overall performance and rust resistance of the knife while also giving that particular black Leek a non-reflective surface for a more tactical look. The moment the Leek was introduced, many knife enthusiasts were quick to try out this new masterpiece. This knife has gotten a mixture of reviews and like all blades it has its own pros and cons, which you will read below in our Kershaw Leek review.
The Positive Side of the Kershaw Leek Folding Knife
Affordable – For a folding knife of this quality and feature set, the Kershaw Leek is sold for roughly $40. When compared to other knives with similar performance, weight, features and a high quality fit and finish, the Kershaw Leek is definitely a lot cheaper.
Sharp Blade – This version of the Leek features a 14C28N steel blade. It is capable of very sharp edge, is easy to sharpen, has decent corrosion resistance, good edge retention and high hardness (14C28N can range from 55-62 HRC).
Opens in Two Ways – When it comes to blade deployment on the Leek, you will have two options to choose from. You can either open it using the blade protrusion (flipper) or the thumb studs. Using the thumb studs will allow you to open your Kershaw Leek folding knife at the pace that you want (either slow or fast) but the blade flipper will give you the opportunity to open your Leek at an amazingly fast speed. It is one of the fastest deploying non-automatic blades I have ever used.
Fast and Easy To Open – Even though the Leek opens at a fast speed, it is actually very easy and safe to use despite the fact that this folding knife includes a spring assisted opening system.
Plastic Safety Lock – The safety lock that you will find built into the handle is made out of plastic. Because of the plastic safety lock, you will avoid chipping the blade even if you close the knife with the lock still engaged.
Tight Frame Lock – When the Leek’s blade is deployed, you can be sure that it will stay safely in place because the lockup of the steel frame lock is fairly early and really sturdy, tightly securing the blade in place. No blade play to speak of.
SpeedSafe System – One feature of the Kershaw Leek collection that sets it apart from all the other knives in the market is its SpeedSafe knife-opening system. This system allows Kershaw Leek users to open their knives by merely applying pressure to the blade protrusion or thumb stud. The SpeedSafe system also includes a torsion bar that prevents gravity from slowly opening the knife.
Jimping – The Leek has jimping on the spine and choil area of the blade. It isn’t very aggressive, but does provide good enough grip for the light cutting tasks which this knife is designed to undertake.
The Negative Side of the Kershaw Leek Folding Knife
A Little Slippery – The Kershaw Leek’s smooth stainless steel handle doesn’t provide as firm of a grip as something like G10 or FRN. It can be a little slippery; especially if you’re using the knife while working in a wet or oily situation.
Thin Blade – Compared to the majority of other blades of other high quality knives, the Kershaw Leek has a thinner blade. To avoid chipping or breaking the blade, users will have to refrain from using the Leek knife to pry things open. The Leek’s tip has very little steel and seems like it will be very fragile for anything other than light use.
Pocket Clip – The Leek pocket clip is not ambidextrous, meaning it can only be carried in right handed tip up/down carry. In the tip down position, it carries really low in the pocket with only a small tip of the knife visible. However, it sits a little higher in the pocket when carried in the tip up position.
Safety Lock Problems – Some owners of the Kershaw Leek have experienced knives that have a faulty or loose safety lock. Fortunately the loose safety lock issue can be easily fixed with a little tightening of a torx screw. It can also be completely removed for those who do not need a safety lock. The safety can be easily removed without disassembling the knife. Note that if carrying in the tip down orientation removing the safety lock may result in the blade accidentally opening in your pocket.
The SpeedSafe System Issue – While the Kershaw Leek Folding Knife may open as quickly as a switchblade, the two actually operate in very different methods. Kershaw Leek knives that include the SpeedSafe system will not open by using gravity alone or with the touch of a button. Those who are using the Kershaw Leek must overcome the resistance of the torsion bar manually. This is where the problem comes in. Not every state in the United States has legalized the use of this type of system. This is the reason why some knife retailers will refuse to ship the Kershaw Leek and similar knives to certain zip codes in the country. Although the Kershaw Leek folding knife with SpeedSafe is very safe and easy to use, it is still up to you to do some background information research and check regarding the legalities of using the SpeedSafe system in your area.
Final Conclusion On The Kershaw Leek Folding Knife
The Leek is a great light use gentleman’s EDC knife with a non-threatening appearance and very thin profile. All Leeks are American made and they come in a large variety of materials and blade shapes so you will have no problems finding a Leek that fits your style. Kershaw produces Leek’s with partially serrated blades, tanto and a plain edge. Handle materials include G10, aluminium (in many colors) 410 stainless steel, and titanium along with a few limited runs. Blade steels used for the various Leek models include 440C, S30V, 13C26, 14C28N, ZDP-189 and even a Leek with composite blade made from two steels (14C28N and D2).
This has been a guest review for the Kershaw Leek. If you would like to leave any comments, opinions or write your own user review of the Kershaw Leek folding knife please share your thoughts below.