If you’re not into pocket knives, the name Kershaw might be an unknown name to you. Kershaw is an American knife manufacturer in Oregon who makes some very nice and reasonably priced pocket knives. They make a majority of their knives in the US but also have some Chinese offerings. They’re pretty well known for quality and innovative designs. As for the second part, Blem, that doesn’t sound good…but it actually is. Blem is short for blemish and are what Kershaw calls knives that aren’t up to spec. How are they not up to spec? That differs but they’re all still functional and safe. They just might have an appearance problem. Kershaw sells these blems for less than the normal knives but they don’t have Kershaw’s normal warranty.
Below is a picture of the Kershaw knives I currently own and carry. From top to bottom is a Leek, Blur and Junk Yard Dog. A designer by the name of Ken Onion is responsible for the Leek and the Blur. He has some other offerings through Kershaw that are also named after onions such as the Chive, Shallot, and Scallion. You get it? See his name is Ken Onion and they’re…well you probably get it. The Junk Yard Dog is the blem and the others are normal offerings that are a little worn from carrying. In the case of the Blur, it is a little worn from the Lansky sharpening system I used on it. I tossed a quarter in for size comparison.
Here’s a view of the back of the knives. I’m not a big fan of the clip on the Junk Yard Dog. It just looks gaudy. It will probably be replaced or modified at some point.
You’ve probably noticed that the blades on the Leek and Junk Yard Dog don’t look normal. They’re what Kershaw calls a “Composite Blade” and they’re pretty neat. There are multiple grades of steels that have different properties to them. One steel might take a keen edge quickly but dull quickly too. Another steel, that is formulated differently, may be very wear resistant and tough. Such is the case with Kershaw’s composite blades. They laser cut two pieces of steel to loosely fit together and then braze them together to make a single blade. More info can be found in this video. For the Leek and Junk Yard Dog most of the edge is Sandvik 14C28N while the cutting edge is a fancier steel, CPM-D2. The Sandvik is Kershaw’s normal steel, which is still quite good, and the cutting edge is CPM-D2 tool steel. This gives you the advantages of having a premium steel on the cutting edge and lower cost by having most of the blade made up of a different steel. It also looks pretty cool. How well is the union of steels? Kershaw says it is permanently joined and that a brazed joint can be stronger than the metals around it. So, don’t look for the blade to come apart anytime soon.
How does Kershaw denote a blem? They mark the blade with four Xs. Thats the only thing they do from what I can tell but it wouldn’t surprise me if they left some markings off as well. You can see the four Xs below on the back side of the blade.
Ok, you’ve seen several pics of the Junk Yard Dog blem. Do you know what is wrong with it? Don’t look down…go look again….
Figure it out? Nope, well I can’t blame you because it’s pretty small and you can’t look real close. Take a look at the picture below. See how the two pieces weren’t joined up perfectly? The bottom part is a little off center. As far as I can tell, and I looked it over pretty well, that is all that is wrong with this blem knife. It in no way affects the knife or how it operates but Kershaw wouldn’t let it out the door as a normal knife.
You won’t find a blem in regular stores. I think the only place you can get them is from the factory in person. Thanks to the internet though, you can get one shipped to your door. I purchased mine at kershawguy.com. The site is run by a guy named Dave Anderson and he is well reviewed online. Dave guarantees that you’ll be satisfied with your knife. So, you really can’t lose. Sure, you don’t have the factory warranty but you’re guaranteed to get a knife you’re happy with. Kershaw makes quality items so I wouldn’t expect them to break without you seriously misusing them and I imagine most people will never need the warranty anyways.
Are you looking for a good pocket knife? Take a look at Kershaw’s offerings. They’re very clear about the specs and where the knives are made on their site. They have numerous knife designs over a wide range of prices. I’ve been happy with mine and think you might be as well. If you want to pay less, be sure to check out a blem. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.