Top 25 Pocket Knives that are Indispensable: #6 Kershaw Leek

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In June, we took a survey to learn which pocket knives our readers believe should never be discontinued. Respondents were asked to name as many or as few pocket knife models as they wanted, and no brands or blades were off-limits. 404 respondents named a total of 268 models and the average respondent named 4.1 pocket knives. 76 out of 404 respondents said the Kershaw Leek should never be discontinued.

The Kershaw Leek wasn’t the first knife to feature the SpeedSafe assisted-opening mechanism, but it was the most popular. Its unmistakable modified wharncliffe blade accomplishes a wide variety of tasks with precision. Because the SpeedSafe action is so perfectly-tuned, the flipper tab can be small and unobtrusive. Only a light press is needed to send the Leek’s blade out swiftly and surely. Kershaw has included a safety lock toggle to keep the Leek closed in your pocket no matter what. With its great action, ergonomics, affordability, and compact form the Leek is a working knife with a wide appeal.

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Ironically, this ubiquitous knife started life as one of the most limited, seldom-seen Onion custom designs, the Splinter. Onion only made two Splinters, both prototypes that in his eyes weren’t up to his usual standards. In fact, he was convinced he should throw them away. Luckily, some clear-sighted friends talked him out of it and the Splinter lived on to become the blueprint for Onion’s most famous production collaboration.

The lines of the Leek haven’t changed much over the years. As is the case with the Blur, Kershaw continues to release many variants. This Kershaw classic can be had with different steels, handle materials and colors, and even different locking mechanisms. The famous “Rainbow Leek” was rumored to have been carried by Ken Onion himself for a time. The Leek also exemplifies Kershaw’s commitment to value. The Leek, despite its custom pedigree and its US manufacture, has never been an expensive knife. With the exception of discontinued rarities, all Leeks are reasonably priced, making this great design readily available to as many users as possible.

Some Leek models feature a frame lock, others a liner lock. Most modern Leeks have 14C28N blade steel, but there are models with Damascus and composite steel blades as well. Handle scales come in a rainbow of colors. The Leek is part of a family of knives that include the 2″ Chive, the 2.5″ Scallion, and the 3.5″ Shallot.

Visit KnifeNews tomorrow to find out which model is #5 on our list of the Top 25 Pocket Knives that are Indispensable.

Knife featured in image: Kershaw Leek

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#24 Emerson CQC-7 15/404
#23 Victorinox Cadet 18/404
#22 Benchmade Adamas 20/404
#21 Zero Tolerance 0562 21/404
#20 Cold Steel Ti-Lite 24/404
#19 Opinel No. 8 25/404 
#18 Zero Tolerance 0350 28/404
#17 Cold Steel Voyager 30/404
#16 Case Trapper 41/404
#15 Ontario RAT Model 1 43/404
#14 Benchmade Mini Griptilian 53/404
#13 Spyderco Manix 2 54/404
#12 CRKT M16 57/404
#11 Kershaw Skyline 58/404
#10 Kershaw Blur 62/404
#09 Cold Steel Recon 1 63/404
#08 Spyderco Endura 4 70/404
#07 Chris Reeve Knives Large Sebenza 21 75/404
#06 Kershaw Leek 76/404
#05 Benchmade 940 78/404
#04 Spyderco Delica 4 79/404
#03 Benchmade Griptilian 81/404
#02 Buck 110 Folding Hunter 90/404
#01 Spyderco Paramilitary 2 94/404