Kershaw US-made folders - overall direction?

Skywalker31

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Feb 29, 2012
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What's up with Kershaw's US-made folder lineup? From their website, current production looks like an olive Knockout, composite blade Dividend, Bareknuckle, Link, and the same Leek/Chive/Scallion and Blur that have been around forever. Then there's a bunch of Launch autos and a balisong.

What happened to all the cool US-made stuff they used to do? The Boa, original 1730 Groove, Bump/Speed Bump/Spec Bump, RAM, JYD II, Tyrade, Rake, Speedform 2, Turbulence, Camber, Piston, Echelon...? I don't want to pick on any one model too much (*ahem* Shallot, Skyline), because I understand that's a sales-driven call, but how come there's not much replacing them? It just seems like they used to have a good variety of interesting US-made designs that could compete well with the lower-end Spydercos or Benchmades in the same price range, and there's a lot less of that now.

Are they shifting US production capacity to things they can't import (autos/balisongs)? Do they see ZT as mostly filling this space for them, even with ZT prices starting at ~$150? Is the value just not there for a US-made Piston at $65 or Speedform II at $85, compared to what's currently imported from non-US manufacturing? Is this just a lull in Kershaw's current US production and we're going to see more designs soon?

What do y'all think? Or am I the only one still wanting something like this, hah :p
 

John_0917

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It seems like the expansion of the ZT line is growing into the segment once occupied by US Kershaw models, especially the upper end models in the $100s (adjusted to 2021 pricing more like $200).

Remember also that the head of sales of Kai US has a massive ego and really doesn’t care what the enthusiast community thinks, their social media is either an echo chamber (USN) or non-existent.
 

JonesE

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Skywalker31 Skywalker31 , I think you hit the nail on the head. Kershaw is shifting production to the Launch series. Most of the 420HC Link, Divided, etc.. have been discontinued. I think some of the onion knives will continue.

JonesE
 

gazz98

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Some of the issues might be licensing problems with the makers of the models you listed. I know Ken Onion designed a few of those and he is now with CRKT. Pure speculation on my part.

I think I own one Kershaw atm, a Snap On RAM.
 

Skywalker31

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Skywalker31 Skywalker31 , I think you hit the nail on the head. Kershaw is shifting production to the Launch series. Most of the 420HC Link, Divided, etc.. have been discontinued. I think some of the onion knives will continue.

JonesE

This is what it kind of seems like and I'm not really thrilled about it... There's some good-looking stuff in there, but laws are too restrictive for these products. I'm surprised there's enough of a market that the shift in direction makes sense to them.

Some of the issues might be licensing problems with the makers of the models you listed. I know Ken Onion designed a few of those and he is now with CRKT. Pure speculation on my part.

I think I own one Kershaw atm, a Snap On RAM.

That's an interesting point - but they're still making the Leek and Blur, and those are Onion designs as well, right? And some of the others are Tim Galyean if I recall correctly, who did the ZT0223 relatively recently. So he still seems to be working with KAI.
 

gazz98

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That's an interesting point - but they're still making the Leek and Blur, and those are Onion designs as well, right? And some of the others are Tim Galyean if I recall correctly, who did the ZT0223 relatively recently. So he still seems to be working with KAI.

Yes, Onion did the Leek, Blur, and invented the Speed safe mechanism. Not sure how the licensing deals are written and/or structured but it might be part of the problem. Because the Leek and Blur seemingly sell well, maybe those deals are re-upped every so often.

Again, just a thought on why some models might not be re-issued.

I think RJ Martin did a few on your list too.
 

jeffsenpai

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As a brand, Kershaw has for a few years now, begun to rely HEAVILY on import knives to carry the day for them. It is disappointing to see given that you know they have the ability to create great USA made product. I am willing to bet its working out for them monetarily though, so I doubt the pendulum will swing back to more US production anytime soon.

The last few years I haven't been impressed with their foreign offerings. A few from the 2021 catalog are of interest and I will buy just so I can see if they (their Chinese factory) have made any improvements. Right now, if I was in the market for a Foreign made production knife, Kershaw would not be the first place I look. Coming from someone who owns a 20+ Kershaws.
 
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Unfortunately, I have kinda lost interest in American made KAI products. I was stoked when they started making autos again, but several that I bought had issues. They had some cool designs this year, but seems everything new is either made in China or out of my price range (ZT), and I have never been a fan of frame-lock flippers. I will probably pick up their Bali songs.
 

John_0917

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It’s a shame they went the cheap/easy route with assisted and 420HC for most Links etc, most people here dislike assisted and it’s more geared to the tacticool crowd who also buy knives with gun makers names on them.

As a public service...the ZT website is not their brand name.com

That will take you to a very different kind of page...also featuring lubricants.
 

K.O.D.

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Both my Launch 8 and the one I bought my father have been excellent. No issues to report in nearly two years of owning mine. I plan to get a 13. And possibly an 11. My dad wants the 12 now.

Anyway, back on track. Many states are relaxing knife laws (Hell I'm in the Communist State of illinois and can have one with permit) so automatics are becoming more accepted.

I don't care for assisted knives though, so for most kershaw have been a turn off. How I see it:

Kai will split Kershaw and ZT into 3 divisions;

Kershaw for inexpensive foreign made knives
ZT for American made
Launch will become it's own brand

Just my .02
 
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As a brand, Kershaw has for a few years now, begun to rely HEAVILY on import knives to carry the day for them. It is disappointing to see given that you know they have the ability to create great USA made product. I am willing to bet its working out for them monetarily though, so I doubt the pendulum will swing back to more US production anytime soon.

The last few years I haven't been impressed with their foreign offerings. A few from the 2021 catalog are of interest and I will buy just so I can see if they (their Chinese factory) have made any improvements. Right now, if I was in the market for a Foreign made production knife, Kershaw would not be the first place I look. Coming from someone who owns a 20+ Kershaws.

According to Bladehq some of their best selling knives nation wide are the Kershaw Launch series and Kershaw Lucha, fwiw. If memory serves me right, they said in a YouTube video the best selling knife of 2020 by a large margin was the Lucha.
 
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'lucha' ... really? I'm a bit surprized tbh...

but I guess that is the lesson - combine great steel, 14c28n, with every kid-at-heart-mall-ninja design, butterfly! ; )
for reasonable price and bingo?

...perhaps mtech is on to something afterall?

(anyway, I do avoid this mall-ninja rabbit hole segment, but it does seem to have popular strength)
 
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