History of Kershaw: Diversifying the Lineup (2010–Now)

Today, Kershaw fans enjoy a variety of knives that fit any budget or need.

With the departure of designer Ken Onion, it was time for Kershaw follow a new direction. One of the key challenges was figuring out how to move forward with new designs.

Instead of having a single premier designer, Kershaw put together an in-house design team that worked together to bring new products to life. Today, these knives are known as Kershaw Originals designs, and they have become a staple of the Kershaw lineup.

Over the years, Kershaw Originals have varied in size, style, and function. Regardless of the individual need, today there is a Kershaw for everyone. The overarching goal was to create the first brand customers thought of when they needed a knife.

Many of these knives proved to be technologically groundbreaking. Early in Kershaw’s modern era, fans got their hands on the Limited Edition Tilt, an eye-catching, innovative folder that gained great popularity. The angular, composite blade immediately stands out. It was also the first Kershaw to use Kai Velocity Technology (KVT).

Tilt (4001)

This manual opening system offers smooth deployment at just the flick of a finger. It’s so effective, some even mistake it for an assisted knife. And by winning BLADE 2010 American Knife of the Year, the Tilt proved that KVT was here to stay. From the Concierge to the new USA-made Bareknuckle, this technology has been included time and time again.

Aside of flipper opening, Kershaw also pushed for new locking technology. In 2012, Kershaw released the Knockout – the first production knife to take advantage of the patented Sub-Frame Lock.

Knockout (1870)

This sturdy lock functions similarly to a standard frame lock, using a strong piece of steel to prevent the blade from shutting. But instead of utilizing the whole back scale as a frame, a Sub Frame Lock consists of a smaller piece of steel. The rest of the scale is usually made of a lighter material, like aluminum. In the end, users to benefit from a strong lock that also results in a light, slim carry.

Backed by striking designs, cutting power, and new technology, Kershaw Originals were embraced by the knife community. But Kershaw went a step further.

In recent years, the brand has collaborated with many creative custom knife designers. These include Rick Hinderer, Dmitry Sinkevich, Les George, RJ Martin, Todd Rexford, and many more. Each of them has a unique take on knives. If one maker’s design language doesn’t speak to a customer, there’s a Kershaw out there that probably does. Rick Hinderer’s Cryo, for example, has found broad appeal and long-term success, winning the BLADE Best Buy of the Year award in 2012.

Cryo (1555TI)

With so many new knives and growing demand, Kershaw needed to expand capacity. In 2013, market success allowed Kai USA to add an additional 25,350 sq. ft. for logistics and inspection. This helped ensure customers were getting a quality product in a timely manner.

Kai USA employs over 430 employees today. Compare that to its humble beginnings — perhaps a couple dozen employees. Now, more Kershaws than ever are being shipped out worldwide. In total, the facility manufactures over one million knives every year. 

This also means that the company supports many American jobs. In 2017, Wal-Mart recognized Kai USA as key partner in its “American Jobs Initiative.”

These successes are showing no sign of slowing down. At SHOT Show 2019, Kershaw revealed its new products for the year. This vast lineup includes everything from SpeedSafe® knives to manual folders — big and small.

(From Top to Bottom): Seguin (3490), Collatera (5500)l, Launch 8 (7150), Reverb XL (1225), Decibel (2045)

What will the future hold? Time will tell. Kershaw designers are constantly coming up with new, exciting ideas. One thing is for sure. There will always be a Kershaw that’s ready for you.

Read More Kershaw History

Part I (1974–1979)

Part 2 (1980–1989)

Part 3 (1990–1997)

Part 4 (1997–2010)

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