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An Onion That Won’t Make You Cry
The Kershaw 1660 Ken Onion Leek folding knife has a funny (and long) name.
Leeks and onions are both similar vegetables, but in this case they mean very different things.
Ken Onion is a knife designer from Hawaii. He came up with the SpeedSafe assisted opening mechanism for Kershaw and is one of their most well known knife designers.
The knife I carry every day was designed by Ken Onion. He has a flair for minimalist stylings, but all of his knives are more practical than they appear at first glance.
We’ve already reviewed another of his designs, the Blur, which is a bigger brother to the Leek.
Why did Kershaw name this particular knife the Leek? Probably because it is a sleek Onion design. Combine the two and you get the Leek!
Who The Kershaw Leek Is/Isn’t For
Kershaw is both a quality and economic choice, and the Leek is their most well regarded EDC offering.
However, it is not a rugged outdoors knife. It could handle some bushcrafting tasks, but isn’t designed for whittling or batoning and has a thinner tip than most blades, so it cannot handle heavy abuse.
If you are someone who carries a pocket knife because it makes your life easier, the Leek is good for you. If your life depends on your knife, there are better options.
The Kershaw Leek is also not a very flashy knife, so if you make decisions based more on aesthetics than practicality, the Leek may leave you wanting.
|Blade Material||Sandvik 14C28N Stainless Steel|
|Blade Shape||Wharncliffe (modified drop point), Hollow Grind|
|Blade Edge||Straight or Serrated|
|Blade Finish||Bead-Blasted Satin or Black|
|Handle Material||Bead-Blasted 410 Stainless Steel or 6061-T6 Anodized Aluminum|
|Lock||SpeedSafe System, with frame lock, thumb stud, and ambidextrous flipper|
|Misc||Pocket clip that can be moved between tip up and down, manual secondary lock|
The Leek’s Features
The Kershaw Leek by Ken Onion is an eager knife. When you hold it in your hand the blade seems to curve forward as if it lacks patience about being used. The assisted opening feature just adds to this.
The tip is rather thin. The Wharncliffe shaped blade can also be called a modified drop point, so the tip is thin top to bottom. Mix in the hollow grind and the tip is thin side to side.
This makes for a precise tip, but do not pry anything using this knife. You have probably heard that advice before and pried something anyways. Do not do that with a Leek!
The blade is just as sleek as the tip. It slices well, and you can choose whether or not you want a partially serrated edge (the 1660ST).
The SpeedSafe system provides some opening assistance to ensure that unfolding the blade is quick and easy. There is a thumb stud if you prefer that method, or a flipper on the back of the blade which can be used with either the right or left hand.
Obnoxiously, the knife is not entirely ambidextrous. The pocket clip can only be mounted on one side, though it can be inverted if you prefer to carry your pocket knife tip down instead of tip up.
The scales are 410 stainless steel. They are smooth, and though the bottom of the blade does curve out to help prevent your forefinger from sliding forward onto the edge, the handle is not very contoured.
This allows for most hand positions to work, but the lack of a safe place on the blade itself to hold prevents choking up the blade from being a good idea. There is also not much grip for your thumb on the back of the knife.
So long as your hands are dry, the handles work well. If it is raining or you are trying to skin a deer, you may lose control.
Also, the stainless steel handles move the balance point of the Leek back to the handle, diminishing the effectiveness of the fine tip somewhat.
The aluminum handles are a little lighter and are available in colors other than steel or black, but are more expensive.
There is a secondary lock on this folding knife past the frame lock that locks the blade after fully opening it. This second lock can be used to prevent the knife from opening when you want to keep it closed.
Some assisted opening knives seem to jump open without provocation, which this secondary lock will prevent. If you do not have this issue, then it is small and out of the way. This feature can be safely ignored.
The blade is made from Sandvik 14C28N stainless steel. This is not a high end steel, but it is much better than the cheap pocket knives you can find for a few bucks each. It holds an edge and resists staining pretty well.
What I Liked About the Leek
If you need to cut something in a delicate manner, such as when you need to remove a splinter that has nothing extending out of the skin, this knife is one of the best.
The size of the Leek hits my sweet spot for a pocket knife I would like to carry every day. It seems neither too large nor too small, though the unusual shape of the blade can seem a little odd at first.
The Wharncliffe shape mixed with the hollow grind is a good design for an edge that loves to cut.
The price of the Kershaw Leek is also pretty good. It is not inflated; Kershaw makes good knives but does not tend to add digits onto the price solely because of their name.
What I Didn’t Like About the Leek
Ken Onion must be right handed, because other knives he has designed have this same fault, some to an even further degree.
At least this knife is less biased than many others, so if you are a south paw, it may still work for you.
Just don’t expect to be able to reverse the pocket clip.
The edge is also very thin. This aids in its ability to slice well, but that also means that the Leek will not stand up under rough use like some other pocket knives.
Though I like the size of the Leek, some people may prefer a larger or smaller knife.
If you want a smaller EDC knife, Kershaw makes the Scallion (another nod to Mr. Onion).
For a larger blade, check out the Kershaw Blur, also by Ken Onion.
Sometimes there are limited edition versions of the Kershaw Leek. They may be worth the price if you want an uncommon pocket knife.
Some other knife makers offer their customized version of the Leek, so if you want to spend a bit more, you can get one with “Artisan-Crafted Vein Turquoise” handles.
You probably should buy that one. I missed out on the opportunity to buy a mammoth ivory handled blade a few years back and have been kicking myself ever since.
The Kershaw Leek is an assisted opening folding knife designed by Ken Onion. The sleek and precise blade makes it excellent for slicing, but also prevents it from being able to handle rough play.
It is a wonderful EDC knife, available for a non-extravagant price.