Every now and then, a knife design comes along that really makes an impression. It may be particularly innovative, or simply very well-suited to a specific task, or it could be what experts refer to as “just a damn nice knife.”
The Kershaw Blur is one of the latter.
A 7.9” inch beauty created by famed knife designer Ken Onion, the Blur has become recognized as one of the most reliable, versatile, solidly-built folding knives on the market. It is also one of Kershaw’s most high-profile and successful designs, despite having a price point that is far above much of the rest of their line.
In the following article, we’ll dissect this knife and evaluate each component to see how well it stacks up against the competition – and its own reputation.
See below for our full Kershaw Blur review.
- Blade - 9/109/10
- Handle - 7/107/10
- Deployment and Lock Up Mechanism - 8/108/10
- Quality and Features - 9/109/10
A high-quality design with a few flaws that potential buyers need to evaluate before purchasing. Overall, a solid knife that will perform well in many EDC situations retain an edge for a long time and do almost any job you ask it to.
|Conceptualize by famed knife designer Ken Onion.||On the expensive side for a folding knife.|
|Features Kershaw’s SpeedSafe assisted opening for quick, one-handed deployment||Due to the popularity of the knife, there have been copies produced|
|Made by Kershaw’s USA branch.||Some feel the Trac-Tec inserts are “too grippy” for pockets|
|Aircraft aluminum handle with Trac-Tec inserts for extra grip.||Doesn’t sit deep enough in the pocket for some.|
|DLC coated Sandvik 14C28N stainless steel blade.||Not an aggressive enough finger guard.|
|Has been called “the perfect EDC knife.”||Liner lock seems “flimsy” even if it doesn’t feel that way.|
Tips for Picking a Great Folding Knife
What are you looking for in a folding knife? What kind of jobs do you need to do? How much time can you spend taking care of it? All of these and many more considerations are very important to ask ourselves before we purchase a knife, no matter its reputation.
There are numerous factors that have little to do with the knife that will cause each user’s experience with a blade to vary. Below, we’ll highlight some of these, and see if we can help you determine exactly what you need in a knife before going into details about the Kershaw Blur.
Things to Consider:
Overall Size – Most folders are small, and designed to fit into the back pocket of the user. However, there are some serious flippers out there that are less concerned with concealment and more concerned with accomplishing heavy-duty tasks. Finding a balance between size and purpose will help you identify your perfect knife.
Geography – Folding knives, unlike fixed blades, feature various mechanisms that deploy, lock, and move the blade from position to position. If you live in a hot, wet, or cold climate, knowing how this will affect those mechanisms (as well as the blade itself) is an important consideration.
Deployment Mechanism – Deploying a folding knife has a lot to do with personal preference. However, in most cases, faster and smoother is usually preferred. Know what to expect, and how the mechanism works to avoid both disappointment and injury.
Weight and Portability – The point of a good folding knife is that you’ll have it on you whenever you need it. If it’s too heavy to lug around from place to place, however, you might end up leaving it on your nightstand instead. Finding a knife that has the weight you need with the performance you want can be a real game changer.
Your Budget – You don’t need to spend a fortune to get your hands on a great knife, but – more often than not – long-lasting and high-quality components don’t come cheap. Be sure to consider what you want – and how much you can afford – before clicking “Buy.”
The Kershaw Blur is not an inexpensive knife, and a lot of that has to do with its design pedigree (Ken Onion and the Made in the USA Kershaw Team) and the components. You could say that this particular knife features “all the hits:” a SpeedSafe assisted opening, anodized aluminum, and Trac-Tec insert handle, Sandvik 14C28N, and DLC (diamond-like carbon) coating.
These all add up to make a more reliable, more versatile, and a longer-lasting blade that should suit the needs of a broader group of users. In the next few sections, we’ll take a closer look at the knife, its components, and the competition.
Specifications of the Kershaw Blur
Steel: Sandvik 14C28N (with DLC coating)
Weight: 3.9 oz.
The Kershaw Blur seems designed to minimize complaints from all kinds of knife owners. It’s light, at only 3.9 oz, but deploys to nearly 8”, 3.4” of which is solid stainless steel blade. Its components are weather-tested and corrosion-resistant, and it features all of Kershaw’s signature design implements, such as the 4-way pocket clip, SpeedSafe assisted opening, and large, recurved multi-purpose blade.
This model has been called the “the perfect EDC knife.” How well it lives up to that name, however, will require a closer look.
Blade Design and Steel
The blade of the Kershaw Blur has remained one of its most highly-rated features since its introduction in 2004. With its large profile and slightly recurved design, the 3.4” Sandvik 14C28N stainless steel is reliable enough to handle heavy-duty jobs and versatile enough to pierce, slice, carve, and feather when needed.
The blade features a swedge along the top which supports piercing, making this an excellent knife to have with you in the factory as well as in the woods. To some users, the recurve will present a bit of a challenge come sharpening time. However, as the curve is very small, the Blur may be just the practice you need to get over the fear of sharpening rounded shapes.
For the Blur, there is genius in simplicity. The blade is elegant to look at but ultimately designed for hard use.
The blade resembles that of a kukri machete, but that doesn’t mean that its suited to chopping and hacking. This is a close-use knife, all the way. It’s ultra slim but nice and stout thanks to the swedge, perfect for slicing and cutting. As an EDC knife, it would be hard to beat this blade shape unless you anticipate a lot of jobs that would require a serrated edge (luckily, there’s a version for that here
That being said, some users have said they’d prefer the short line of jimping on the thumb ramp to continue on the blade, allowing for maximum control during precision tasks. Others are still hung up on the recurve, which they feel would be better suited to chopping knife than a 7.9” folder with little to no finger guard.
Either way you look at it, the blade design of any knife can’t please everyone, but the Blur comes pretty darn close. As long as you’re not looking to baton wood with it, you’re more than likely going to be satisfied.
Sandvik 14C28N’s claim to fame is that it allows for the maximum amount of hardness without compromising micro-structure integrity. Though considered by most to be a “mid-range steel,” it is in fact used on a number of high price range knives.
This steel is also prized for its resistant to rolling and chipping, and its better-than-average edge retention and ease of re-edging. Sandvik 14C28N is also naturally corrosion-resistant, but the DLC coating on the Blur increases this resistance 10-fold.
Are there better steels out there? Of course. However, for this price point and the expected versatility of a knife like this, few materials would be a better choice.
The handle of the Kershaw Blur, depending on who you ask, is either perfectly sufficient or a great example of when “innovation goes wrong.” Made of scratch-resistant 6061_T anodized aluminum (also known as aircraft aluminum) it features Trac-Tec rubber inserts to provide a reliable grip in all sorts of environments.
Too reliable according to many.
If a knife were to indeed be the “best EDC knife on the market,” the manufacturers would have to consider that most people will be pocket carrying, and according to many users of the Blur, the Trac-Tec inserts cause the knife to stick to the sides of pockets and impede retrieval. This is a major “Achille’s Heel” for a near-perfect knife. Keep in mind, however, that there are no complaints of how well these inserts perform when the knife is in your hand, just when in the pocket.
Overall, the handle is slim, sleek, and solid-feeling. However, if you can’t get it out of your pocket quickly, it limits how useful the knife can be in a lot of situations.
Deployment and Lock Up Mechanism
The SpeedSafe deployment mechanism uses a small spring to assist the user, who provides pressure to thumb stud in order to start the release. According to most users, the action is smooth and nearly instantaneous, which makes for easy one-handed deployment with just a small movement of the wrist. Overall, it’s reliable, quick, and the blade is solid and wiggle-free when fully deployed.
The problem with the deployment mechanism seems to be the thumb studs themselves, which man users report are “sharp” and “stair-stepped shaped.” While they haven’t resulted in injuries or anything severe like that, they are at an angle that allows them to get stuck on clothing or pockets, which detracts from the overall usefulness of the knife.
Again, folding knives are almost always going to end up in pockets, if the thumb studs are going to keep them from being removed smoothly, then it’s impossible to give even the best mechanism a 10 out of 10.
The Kershaw Blur features a liner lock mechanism that is driven by a thin piece of stainless steel riveted inside the handle. Once the knife is deployed, the steel liner moves into position behind the blade to keep in from closing until the user depresses the liner.
According to the manufacturer, the liner is extremely secure, and the use of words like “strong” and “reliable” to describe the mechanism in their marketing efforts. According to some users who own the knife, the liner doesn’t catch as much of the blade as they would like and seems a bit “flimsy” for reliable use.
Now, there have been no reported incidents with this liner lock failing. And, as Blur is designed to have a slim profile, it would make sense that the liner and blade would also be thin. However, if a knife design does not instill confidence, then there is a chance that users will hold back when using it, which devalues the knife altogether.
Overall Quality and Features
So, after a closer look, it becomes apparent that the Kershaw Blur has a few downsides that need to be considered. Despite its innovative and practical blade design, its lightning-quick deployment, and excellent overall feel, the sharp thumb studs, overly-sticky Trac-Tec inserts, and questionable lock-up are all factors that may detract from the user’s experience.
Now, I want to make it clear that in no way am I saying that this is a bad knife. Far from it. However, it’s important that each potential buyer have all the facts before making a purchase. If the lockup seems fine, the Trac-Tec sounds like a fantastic innovation, and the thumb studs won’t pose a problem for your needs, then this will quickly become one of the best knives in your arsenal.
Some Alternatives to Consider
There are alternatives to the Schrade SCHF9 if you want to check out other options. Here is a look at some of the best ones.
#1 Benchmade – Griptilian 551 Knife
Benchmade has made a name for themselves with their high-dollar, but high-value upscale EDC knives, and the Griptilian 551 is a great example. In the interest of maximizing versatility, the 3.45” 154CM stainless steel blade comes in multiple styles (serrated, plain edge, coated, satin finish), and features a drop point, utility-style shape.
Overall, the Griptilian is a bit larger than the Kershaw Blur but weighs the same. Perhaps the best feature here is the AXIS locking mechanism, which is one of the strongest and most reliable on the market. Best of all, Benchmade stands by their products with their Lifetime warranty and LifeSharp service.
Benefits / Features:
- Available in multiple styles (serrated or plain edge / coated or satin finish)
- 154CM stainless steel (tough, holds an edge, and rust-resistant)
- Glass-filled nylon handle
- AXIS lock is fully ambidextrous and very reliable.
- Manual, but opens and closes single-handedly
- Lifetime warranty and LifeSharp Service
- Drop point utility-style blade 3.45″ blade, an overall length of 8.07.”
#2 Cold Steel Recon 1 Spear Point
Another high-profile company known for their high-quality knives, Cold Steel has proved to be a favorite among knife enthusiasts all over the globe. Their Recon 1 Spear Point is designed for reliable EDC and can handle a wide range of tasks. It is 9.5” long with a 4” blade made out of S35VN steel with a DLC (diamond-like carbon) coating.
Perhaps what makes the Recon 1 most competitive with the Blur, however, is its Tri-Ad Lock mechanism. Known as the “safest folding knife mechanism on the market,” it can handle up to 800 lbs of hanging weight without failure. This makes the Recon 1 perfect for those who want a more heavy-duty, survival-oriented knife.
Benefits / Features:
- Designed as a tactical pocket knife for military and law enforcement.
- DLC coating on S35VN Blade Steel.
- Tri-Ad Lock mechanism is the “safest folding knife mechanism on the market” and can handle 800 lbs. of hanging weight.
- Blade tang sits flush with the locking mechanism
- Can baton wood
- The handle is 3D CNC Machined dual-tone G-10
- 9.5” long with 4” blade
# 3. SOG Folding Knife Pocket Knife “Flash II”
SOG is another reputable company that offers a great alternative to the Kershaw Blur – the Flash II. Comparable price-wise, the Flash II features a 3.5” Aus-8 stainless steel blade and a TINI (black titanium nitride) coating to increase the natural corrosion-resistance. The blade is partially serrated and features one of the fastest spring-assisted opening systems on the market.
The lockup is quite secure thanks to the piston lock mechanism (S.A.T. C+ piston lock), and SOG guarantees all products against defects. Even so, they also consider all replace and repair requests from buyers who purchase through a certified dealer.
Benefits / Features:
- 3.5” Aus-8 stainless steel blade. 4.5” when closed.
- Partially-serrated blade for more utility uses.
- S.A.T. C+ piston lock secures the blade and prevents failure.
- Features one of the fastest spring-assisted opening knife systems on the market.
- TINI (black titanium nitride coating) for corrosion-resistance.
- Glass-reinforced nylon handle.
- SOG considers all replacement and repair requests.
- Guaranteed against defects.
The Kershaw Blur has earned a serious reputation among knife enthusiasts all over the world, and it’s important to understand that the complaints that have been reported are few and far between. Still, offering a fair evaluation of a knife means taking a close look at the PROs and CONs, and allowing the customers to determine how much they matter. The handle material, thumb stud design, and locking mechanism – these are all fixable problems, but they may result in a more costly product in the long run.
Overall, the Kershaw Blur is going to perform well. It will cut, slice, feather, and pierce while maintaining a razor-sharp edge for a long time. For many knife owners – this is enough.
For more details on the Kershaw Blur, click the link below.