The Kershaw Leek may just help change my mind concerning modern knife designs!
I have never been a big fan of what people call “tactical” folding knives. In fact, I have never been a fan of calling anything tactical outside of a purely tactical situation. I am often amused at hearing someone talk of a “tactical knife” while discussing the merits of a “tactical sheath” made of “ballistic nylon”! What a gut buster!
The blades on such knives are usually too short, seem to be designed solely for slashing, have big bellies and with all the emphasis on lightness, (When did everyone become so weak that 3 or 4 ounces is just too heavy for a man to carry?) the new knife breeds are so light that they don’t have the heft to be truly effective in a real world conflict!
With my old Buck 110, even if I can’t sling it open in 2 milliseconds, I can still use it like a hammer or a roll of quarters to add momentum to a punch, and it has a four inch blade with a massive chunk of steel locking mechanism that has been found to be near perfect in over 60 years of hard use by thousands of very happy consumers!
“Tactical” Knives in General
Lately, though, I have been checking out some of the more modern varieties. To be honest, I am not much impressed by most. Most suffer from the same problems I presented earlier, and a few more. The locking mechanism on most is weak to the point of silliness! Liner locks and crappy little bar locks assisted by tiny little springs prone to failure do not impress me. Frame locks work quite well and are solid by design. Back locks, the system developed by Al Buck for the Buck 110 are a big step forward if anyone can ever get one right on these knives and do so at a practical price. One of them did catch my eye, though.
One modern knife did catch my eye, though: The Kershaw Leek!
The Kershaw Leek has a sturdy frame lock, good ergonomics, at least better than most in its style, and a blade that I truly love! It is The Ken Onion designed Kershaw Leek is a pretty impressive knife!
The Kershaw Leek blade
What caught my eye first was the blade. The company calls it a “modified drop point”. What it really is, is a Wharncliffe blade! You can say that it has a little belly, rising slightly at the end, but it is still a Wharncliffe blade. No offense intended toward Kershaw or Ken Onion who created the Kershaw Leek design! In fact, I would love to congratulate both for this great stroke of insight!
The Kershaw Leek blade style
I was a fan of the Wharncliffe style of blade for many years before it became popular here in the U.S. It is simply a brilliant and practical blade that can do service as a boring tool, a carving tool, a food preparation tool, a stabbing tool, and almost every other purpose for which a blade may be used! It may not be as sleek as the drop points, spear points, spey tips, and skinners, but it is more practical than all! Finding one on a modern knife large enough to hold, and small enough to use was a revelation! The Wharncliffe blade is the most practical blade for many purposes, and is a quite suitable substitute for almost all other purposes! If you could only have one blade style, you would be wise to make it a Wharncliffe!
The Kershaw Leek blade material
The blade steel is Sandvik 14C28N which has high corrosion resistance and wonderful edge retention qualities! I have used mine all day for tasks that would dull most other blades in a few minutes, and the razor sharp edge will still shave me, and that is no small feat! Sharpening is easy and pleasing on my old hand cut Arkansas stone.
Complaints about the blade
I really don’t have any complaints about the blade. The complaints have come from other commentators who think the blade is too thin at the tip, or too thin on the top, or too thin altogether! To such opinions, let me just gently but firmly reply: Horse Hockey! This blade is more than strong enough to stand up to the rigors of everyday life, even if your everyday life is like mine was, spending a vast majority of your time in the great, and often hostile outdoors! It is just as welcome in genteel company for opening boxes, or carving fruit on a picknick! If you find yourself in jungle survival conditions needing more than what this blade will supply, you are probably a good candidate for the Darwin Awards anyway!
To me, all of these little knives are just, well, little knives! I like a big handle that will not leave my hand cramped with 20 minutes of use, and a knife with some serious heft.
The Kershaw Leek does not have such heft nor handles. What it does have is a very well shaped body that fits neatly into the hand of a normal human without said human having to stretch too much, nor grip too tightly. It is near perfect for what it is and the purposes for which it is intended.
Opening and closing
With both the ambidextrous thumb studs and the rear finger assist, the rapid deployment (there is another of those words) is an intuitive thing! The Leek opens rapidly from either method or both. It is slick and quick, and ends with a satisfying metal click! Closing is simple and intuitive as well!
It also locks up tight with the frame lock on my 1660. The frame lock is reasonably strong, but I wish we could have the sort of back lock that I have on my ancient (it was new when I bought it) Buck 110! At any rate, the blade locks up tighter than a liner lock, or one of those spring assisted bars that is no stronger than the slinky little springs that shove them forward! The Leek 1660 locks up right and tight and is ready for a fight!
Kershaw does not recommend stabbing as a part of knifely duty!
Okay, I must admit that pocket clips mystify me. I still can’t quite get used to the idea of not having the folding knife deep within the recesses of the pocket, or a fixed blade attached to the belt or in some other way fastened to the torso or the limbs. I thought I would give it a shot, though, what with me getting all open and modern and such!
The fact is, that it was not hard to get used to, and the movement from the pocket to defensive posture was very fast! I have some reasons why that is not the most important part of the equation that I will take up in the future, but this type of carry is pretty easy to work with.
My one objection to the clip on the Kershaw Leek is this. It comes from the factory upside down That is not a big deal. You simply need a # 6 Torx head to pop the clip onto the other end and make opening more intuitive and faster without having to flip the thing over!
There is one feature which I do not care for on the Kershaw Leek, and that is the tip lock. It is a safety feature to prevent accidental opening and it is effective. The trouble is, that in a heated situation where things happen quickly, this could and would prove to be a hindrance.
I am not suggesting that one should disable it, nor am I suggesting that one should not use it. I am simply stating the facts as I see them after using the product for a while. What you do is your own responsibility.
The Kershaw Leek designed by Ken Onion with the Wharncliffe blade is a top notch knife, even from the perspective of an old timer like me! If you have differing opinions, keep them to yourself! Just kidding, we like open opinions! Comment on our facebook page: facebook.com/knifedom!