Great folding and fixed blade knife designs by Ken Onion for Kershaw and CRKT

If You Are Looking For a Ken Onion Designed Knife From Kershaw or CRKT, This List is a Good Place to Start

Ken Onion has about a million knives that make him famous. The big hitters seem to be stuff like the first Hi Jinx and the Chive. Certainly his run of vegetable-inspired knives hit the knife community like a big hole in the wallet. He designs knives like Stephen King writes books: suspiciously fast and with an enviable assurance of success. So I decided to try putting all of the currently available Ken Onions knives in one place. I don’t think I’ve succeeded yet, but this is everything I’ve found so far. I’ll add to this list periodically as I find new stuff.

Kershaw

Onion designed a really solid run of small slicers for Kershaw a while back, all of which feature Kershaw’s Onion-designed SpeedSafe Assisted Open system. I don’t really care about assisted open, but I really don’t feel like copy/pasting that in the details for the next 5 knives on this list, so I’m saying it here and you can just kind of mull it over as you read.

These knives have the kind of compact design that’s more finesse than power, but comes in handy for most of what you do, provided what you’re doing doesn’t require a blade over 4 inches, because all of these pretty much just dance around the 3 inch mark. I like all these designs well enough. If there’s a legitimate criticism to be made, it’s that after a while they all start looking the same. If you actually handle a few of them, though, you’ll see there are small degrees of difference, mostly in the blade shape, that justifies each design being on its own.

Leek

The Kershaw Leek was designed by Ken Onion

  • Blade Length: 3.0”
  • Overall Length: 7.0”
  • Blade Steel: 14C28N
  • Blade Style: Wharncliffe
  • Grind: Hollow
  • Handle: Stainless Steel
  • Lock Type: Frame Lock

I’m not crazy about the look of the Leek, but that’s my own thing. Wharncliffe blades in general just look silly to me. That’s not to say they don’t have a place in the knife world, and as long as Ken Onion is designing a bunch of knives that are primarily distinct through their blade styles, he might as well throw this one in there. I shouldn’t rag on it too much though. There’s something to be said for a fine point on a slender blade. It makes a nice letter opener. Honestly though, it seems like so many people jump after this knife that I don’t feel like I have to tell you why it’s good. It looks neat if it’s your thing, and there’s nothing wrong with a stainless steel body and framelock. So long as you’re careful with that tip, it’s a pretty reliable piece.

 

Chive

Ken Onion Designed Kershaw Chive

  • Blade Length: 1.94”
  • Overall Length: 4.9”
  • Blade Steel: 420HC
  • Blade Style: Clip Point
  • Grind: Hollow
  • Handle: Stainless Steel
  • Lock Type: Frame Lock

On the other side of the spectrum (in terms of blade shape) is this curvy piece piece of equipment. Ken Onion really turned it up to 11 on this one. I brought this knife up before in another shameless attempt at getting you to buy things under the assisted open category, and, holy damn, did you people go for it. The Chive is good. I like the look, I like the 420HC steel, I even like that odd little attempt at jimping. The only thing I don’t really like about the Chive is the 2 inch blade. Don’t get me wrong, I like having blades of all sizes around me. I just don’t find myself reaching for that size very often.

 

Scallion

Kershaw Scallion folding knife designed by Ken Onion

  • Blade Length: 2.5”
  • Overall Length: 5.9”
  • Blade Steel: 420HC
  • Blade Style: Drop Point
  • Grind: Hollow
  • Handle: Aluminum
  • Lock Type: Liner

So if you’re like me and think the Chive was too small, it turns out Ken Onion has us covered. The Scallion is essentially the Chive with an extra half inch padded on. Same steel, more or less the same blade design and grind. There are a couple small differences. For instance, you can get this with a liner lock instead of a frame lock. I’m guessing the Chive was just a little too compact to make a liner lock worth it. That bit of extra length is just enough to make the Scallion a worthy camping knife for me, so between the two I definitely prefer the Scallion.

 

Blur

Kerhaw Blur pocket knife designed by Ken Onion

  • Blade Length: 3.4”
  • Overall Length: 7.9”
  • Blade Steel: S30V or 14C28N
  • Blade Style: Drop point
  • Grind: Hollow
  • Handle: Aluminum
  • Lock Type: Liner

A couple things I like about the Blur:

1. It’s the longest Kershaw knife on this list with about a 3-and-a-half-inch blade, and overall just under 8 inches. Normally that wouldn’t be a big consideration for me, but the Ken Onion options under the Kershaw label get small quick, and I don’t need that many 2 inch blades.

2. The slight recurve of the blade. Maybe it will complicate sharpening a little, but that little bit of wave on the edge can add so much cutting ability when the blade is made well.

You can also get it serrated, which seems like a neat idea, but for me kind of ruins the look and flow of the blade’s slicing. But I also rarely regret having a serrated edge, and this is one of the few with a blade long enough to fit a useful serration in the first place, so it’s a tricky field.

 

Blackout

Ken Onion Kershaw Blackout With SV30 steel.

  • Blade Length: 3.25”
  • Overall Length: 7.6”
  • Blade Steel: 14C28N
  • Blade Style: Drop Point
  • Grind: Hollow
  • Handle: GFN
  • Lock Type: Liner

Update: The Blur has been discontinued. I can’t find a decent Amazon listings for it, but it looks like it’s still circulating on eBay if you feel like you just have to have it for some reason.

If the Blur isn’t quite your style, the Blackout is a good alternative. It’s just about the same size but with a GFN handle (which also makes it a little cheaper), and a straighter edge. It has a little more of a tactical look, which is neat, I guess. If I’m being honest, the name and all black, straight-edge aesthetic of the knife seems like it’s trying too hard to look scary and cool in an urban carry kind of way, but there’s no denying it’s a solid build. And I actually like GFN handles in general as a vastly underappreciated, low-cost material that’s easily more durable than most people really need.

 

CRKT

While I’m not personally a huge fan of CRKT, it seems like a good place for Onion to be right now. There’s a lot of variation in the stuff he’s making for them, and even if they aren’t always exactly winners, each knife at least seems to have a unique identity that makes it interesting to own. It looks like he’s taking a slightly more urban tactical turn from the vegetable theme he was so fond of with Kershaw, and that’s produced some pretty fun knives.

Eros

The CRKT folding knife is a great gentleman's folder by Ken Onion.

Blade Length: 3.0”

Overall Length: 7.0”

Blade Steel: Acuto 440

Blade Style: Spear point

Grind: Hollow

Handle: Titanium

Lock Type: Frame lock

Open System: Flipper

 

It doesn’t get much more gentleman carry than this with Onion. A sleek profile with a titanium handle and an unusual stainless steel make for a cool EDC to show off and talk about. If you’re unfamiliar (because I sure as hell was) Acuto 440 is supposed to be a kind of 440C improvement, so it’s fairly hard but its best feature is that it can take a very sharp edge and has good corrosion resistance. It doesn’t have the look of a heavy use knife, and the blade is definitely designed for light slicing, but it’s still tougher than the wispy aesthetic would have you believe.

 

Foresight

If you like finger grovves the CRKT Foresight is an excellent knife designed by Ken Onion.

Blade Length: 3.5”

Overall Length: 8.75”

Blade Steel: Aus-8

Blade Style: Drop Point

Grind: Hollow

Handle: Aluminum

Lock Type: Liner

Open System: Flipper

 

This gets pushed as a tactical knife but really it’s just a tough-ish EDC. The Aus-8 blade with ti-nitride coating is a nice touch. This knife is pretty resistant to the elements thanks to that, and the blade shape itself has plenty of curve and material behind it to make it a hefty slicer. Aluminum is not exactly a tactical material, though. It’s just too smooth, and no amount of finger grooving is going to fix that. Outside that, this is a really good option if you like larger folding knives and are a fan of Aus-8 like me.

 

 

Homefront

The CRKT Homefront folding knife designed by Ken Onion

  • Blade Length: 3.5”
  • Overall Length: 8.1”
  • Blade Steel: Aus-8
  • Blade Style: Drop Point
  • Grind: Hollow
  • Handle: Aluminum
  • Lock Type: Liner
  • Open System: Manual flipper

Okay, forget what I said about the new urban aesthetic for a minute. Ken Onion went full outdoor survival with this one. He came up with this neat idea called “Field Strip” for the Homefront that’s supposed to make it a lot easier to take your knife apart for cleaning and maintenance. I haven’t had a chance to play around with this, and while most people seem to say it works well enough, the reviews are a little mixed. If it works as smoothly as CRKT claims then this would be a fantastic hunting/survival knife. Ken Onion actually designed four versions of this knife (so far) with different blade styles and a somewhat lower grade 1.4116 steel: the standard one you see above, the EDC, the Tactical, and the Hunter.

 

Hootenanny

This upswept design by Ken Onion is a practical pocket knife.

 

Blade Length: 3.34”

Overall Length: 7.88”

Blade Steel: 8Cr13MoV

Blade Style: Drop Point

Grind: Hollow

Handle: GRN

Lock Type: Frame lock

Open System: Flipper

 

For the most part this feels like a run of the mill EDC with a nice clean design, but the jimping up high on the spine of the blade and the choil cut into the flipper tab change things slightly. Ken Onion clearly made this thing to be enveloped by the hand. My instinct is to use this as a whittling knife, but Ken Onion is also a pretty avid hunter from what I understand, so he might have had some more practical purposes in mind. Either way, the little details help turn what would otherwise have been an unremarkable knife into something I’d actually like to play around with.

 

Prowess

The Kershaw Prowess folding pocket knife is popular for good reason.

  • Blade Length: 3.4”
  • Overall Length: 7.75”
  • Blade Steel: Aus-8
  • Blade Style: Drop point
  • Grind: Flat
  • Handle: GFN
  • Lock Type: Liner
  • Open System: Manual flipper

The Prowess is a little more of a typical EDC design. There are no fancy gimmicks aside from something called the “IKBS ball bearing pivot system” which sounds nice, but I have to assume it’s just a slightly smoother design to any other ball bearing system. You can also get it with triple point serrations or plain edge, but the options stop there for the most part. There’s actually not a whole lot about this knife that I would say makes it stand out aside from the fact that is a really simple, strong design. There’s nothing wrong with simple strong designs. I like the way it looks, and I’d say it’s worth the $50 price tag you’ll typically find it at.

 

Outrage

Outdrage pocketknife was designed by Ken Onion for CRKT

  • Blade Length: 3.25”
  • Overall Length: 7.9”
  • Blade Steel: 8Cr13MoV
  • Blade Style: Drop Point
  • Grind: Hollow
  • Handle: Aluminum
  • Lock Type: Liner
  • Open System: Manual flipper

From a purely aesthetic standpoint, the Outrage is confusing. The blade by itself looks nice enough to be on display, but the handle looks like they made the mold by having someone squeeze some putty then flattened it with a rolling pin. Don’t get me wrong, I like the milled design, and the aluminum looks pretty sleek. Maybe all the waviness actually makes it feel more comfortable in the traditional grip, and the knife is bound to be a great slicer. I just get skeptical when designers try to make a handle fit this closely to my hand. You don’t know my hand, Ken Onion. Really nice blade, though.

Ruger Windage

The aggresive design of the CRKT Ruger Windage make sit stand out from the average edc folder

  • Blade Length: 3.9
  • Overall Length: 8.9
  • Blade Steel: 8Cr13MoV
  • Blade Style: Drop point
  • Grind: Flat
  • Handle: Aluminum
  • Lock Type: Liner
  • Open System: Manual flipper

This is one of three (last I checked) knives designed by Ken Onion for CRKT’s Ruger line. The idea behind the Ruger folding knives is apparently to offer knives that are in some way reminiscent of the gun’s look or its ability as either a tactical or survival tool. Whether any of the knives accomplish this is up to people who are into Rugers, I guess. The Windage itself has a couple interesting features that make me curious. Primarily that tension clip looping out at the bottom of the handle. The first time I saw this knife I though it didn’t have a pocket clip at all, and I’m still trying to decide how I feel about this particular design. They also this knife with Veff serrations, which is nice of CRKT, but I’ve explained my mixed feelings about these things in my Ignitor review.

 

Ruger Hollow Point

The great looking CRKT Ruger Hollow Point pocket knife was designed by Ken Onion.

  • Blade Length: 3.1”
  • Overall Length: 7.5”
  • Blade Steel: 8Cr13MoV
  • Blade Style: Trailing Point
  • Grind: Hollow
  • Handle: Polymer
  • Lock Type: Frame Lock
  • Open System: Manual flipper

While we’re on the subject of Ken Onion’s Ruger designs, let’s talk about the odd Buck 110 throwback that is the Hollow Point. I don’t think he actually had the 110 in mind when he designed it, but it’s definitely the first thing I thought of when I found this knife. The Hollow Point is a sturdy slicer with a hollow grind and a nostalgic outdoorsy design. He made two other versions of this design: the Hollow Point Compact, which is a little under 2 inches shorter than the standard, and the Hollow Point +P, which comes in at about an inch longer overall. So hunters rejoice. There’s a sort-of-110-type flipper with a lanyard hole out there with a size that fits everyone.

 

Relay

The CRKT Relay is a Snap-On Tolls exclusive knife designed by Ken Onion.

Blade Length: 3.16”

Overall Length: 7.5”

Blade Steel: Aus-8

Blade Style: Drop Point

Grind: Hollow

Handle: GRN

Lock Type: Liner

Open System: Flipper

This knife is technically available to buy, but from a convenience perspective, it’s not available at all. CRKT released the Relay as a Snap On Tools exclusive which means you won’t find it in Amazon or Blade HQ possibly ever. In fact, as of this writing, I haven’t found it online anywhere other than eBay so it’s possible the only way to get this knife is to walk into an actual physical store like some kind of stone age peasant and pick it up in person. That’s a shame because this is a great outdoor/hunting design that looks pretty tough and comfortable. Maybe someday I’ll stop being lazy and actually go outside to look for it.

 

Ripple

The CRKT Ripple folding knife was designed by Ken Onion, and it is a great slicer.

  • Blade Length: 3.2”
  • Overall Length: 7.5”
  • Blade Steel: 8Cr13MoV
  • Blade Style: Modified drop point
  • Grind: High hollow
  • Handle: Anodized aluminum
  • Lock Type: Frame lock
  • Open System: Manual flipper

This knife was made to be silky smooth. I think Ken Onion was trying to communicate that through the overall shape of the knife, but I’m not sure he quite got there. That being said, there’s something alluring in the subtle waves of this knife. It’s a born and raised slicer with that long-curved edge that’s pretty typical of Ken Onion designs, and a high hollow grind. I really like the minimalism of this knife in terms of features. I feel like Onion does his best work when he’s not adding funny gimmicks to knives, and despite the Ripple’s insistence on telling us its fast and smooth through its milled handle markings, when you strip it of decoration it’s just a nice EDC to have.

Recently, CRKT updated this knife with a couple of carbon fiber editions, which makes sense for this knife design, but it does make me wonder if that would make this knife slippery.

Swindle

The CRKT Swindle is another great Gentleman's folder by Ken Onion.

Blade Length: 3.2”

Overall Length: 7.5”

Blade Steel: 8Cr13MoV

Blade Style: Wharncliffe

Grind: Hollow

Handle: Stainless steel

Lock Type: Frame lock

Open System: Flipper

 

I can’t really work out exactly what this knife was designed for, but it looks interesting if nothing else. This thin profile and weird tension lever pocket clip thing make it a good conversation piece with other knife nuts. In that sense it’s a great gentleman folder, and it’ll ride smooth in the pocket. I see some potential use for the sharp point as a good way to open up packages without making a mess. It would be a great letter opener too, but on the whole I think you just get this knife to be a little different.

Hi jinx Z

Great looking practical pocket knife from CRKT.

  • Blade Length: 3.25”
  • Overall Length: 8.0”
  • Blade Steel: 1.4116 SS
  • Blade Style: Drop point
  • Grind: Flat
  • Handle: GFN
  • Lock Type: Frame lock
  • Open System: Manual flipper

The first iteration of the Hi Jinx was, by some standards, a perfect knife. It was hailed as a masterpiece of ergonomics and cutting and durability. It was also like $400.

Big differences with the sequel include a GFN handle instead of titanium, a fractional drop in length (probably due to the slight difference in grind), and a significantly less respected manufacturing country (the first one was made in Italy by Lionsteel). But I’ve owned plenty of good knives made in Thailand. The steel, though, gives us the most cause for close inspection. I’d never heard of 1.4116 SS before looking at this knife. I did a little research, and it’s most often compared to either 440A steel in terms of actual hardness and use, or 420HC steel in terms of chemical composition. Knowing CRKT doesn’t exactly implement top of the line heat treatment I suspect this is nowhere near Buck’s 420HC. Supposedly the HRC is 55-57, which is a little under CRKT’s typical 8Cr13MoV, but still okay for me. I appreciate the attempt at making a budget version of the Hi Jinx. I’d be willing to take a risk on this knife for $40.

 

Gusset

A unique handle and well designed blade make this folding knife a great EDC option.

  • Blade Length: 3.6”
  • Overall Length: 8.1”
  • Blade Steel: 8Cr13MoV
  • Blade Style: Drop point
  • Grind: Hollow
  • Handle: Stainless steel
  • Lock Type: Frame lock
  • Open System: Manual flipper

If you’re looking for a knife you can get dirty or drop off a cliff (for some reason), this is probably the best you’re gonna find from Ken Onion. The open-frame stainless steel handle makes for a pretty robust structure. Also, they don’t talk about this much in most descriptions, but it makes it a lot easier to clean grime out from inside the knife. Oddly, this is one of the more boring looking blade designs I’ve seen from Ken Onion, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. A hollow grind drop point blade made out of an okay steel with 58-60 HRC will get you where you need to go. It just doesn’t have that typical curving flair that I’m pretty sure everyone loves the Onion for. Regardless, it’s a tough knife with a good amount of function for the price.

 

Bombastic

The vintage design of the CRKT Bombastic makes it one of the most popular Ken Onion knives.

  • Blade Length: 3.3”
  • Overall Length: 7.8”
  • Blade Steel: 8Cr13MoV
  • Blade Style: Spear point
  • Grind: Flat
  • Handle: GFN with stainless steel bolsters
  • Lock Type: Frame lock
  • Open System: Manual flipper

The idea behind this design was some kind of WWII throwback. I can kind of see it, but i wouldn’t have called it a vintage call out if CRKT didn’t say it a dozen times in their product descriptions. The knife is cool though, and one of the few Ken Onion’s you could actually justify calling tactical. I’m not sure those hand guards built into the blade would actually do much to protect the hand, but it’s a nice gesture, and the spear-point blade with a false edge does a lot for that point. It’s a neat EDC, and, if nothing else, just a fun knife to play with.

 

Fixed Blades

I honestly never would have guessed that Ken Onion made fixed-blade designs until I started looking around for stuff for this blog. Far as I can tell he’s only made them for CRKT, but I’ll be adding to this list occasionally as I come across more. I should note that he’s made two machetes for CRKT so far, forebodingly  named the Chanceinhell Machete and the Halfachance Parang. But those are machetes, and this list is a little too long for me to be making exceptions.

Ruger Muzzle Brake

The CRKT Muzzle Break is one of the few fixed blade knives Ken Onion has designed.

  • Blade Length: 7.0”
  • Overall Length: 12”
  • Blade Steel: 8Cr13MoV
  • Blade Style: Clip point
  • Grind: Hollow
  • Handle: molded polymer
  • Sheath: Molded polymer
  • Structure: Full tang

I’ll give him this, when the Onion goes fixed-blade he doesn’t fool around. The Muzzle Brake is part of CRKT’s Ruger series. He designed the handle to be similar to a Ruger’s grip, but beyond that I’d say he went pure bowie. It’s got all the shape and build of a decent survival/hunting knife. The only thing I’d say against that is I wouldn’t really want to do any chopping with a hollow grind on 8Cr13MoV steel. It’s just hard enough to be brittle, and the fineness of a hollow grind would make me nervous if I was going after a log. It would make great skinning though.

 

Humdinger

The CRKT Humdinger fixed blade knife is a great fixed blade option by Ken Onion.

  • Blade Length: 6.0”
  • Overall Length: 11.4”
  • Blade Steel: 65Mn carbon
  • Blade Style: Trailing drop point
  • Grind: Flat
  • Handle: Thermoplastic polyurethane
  • Sheath: Kydex

This is a little more what I’d expect from Ken Onion in the fixed blade realm. It has a long, smooth curve just asking to slice into something and a flowing aesthetic that makes you want to keep it clean. He clearly had long hunting trips in mind with this one. It has a big belly and a flat grind with a soft steel that you could easily sharpen in the field. The handle is a comfy polymer instead of steel, and the sheath is made for horizontal carry so you can scout carry it for long hikes. I’ve had a little trouble finding out if it’s full tang or not. My suspicion, just from looking at pictures, is that it’s no more than three-quarters, but if we’ve learned anything from knives like the Morakniv stuff, it’s that three-quarters tang is plenty. Of anything I’ve seen come out of CRKT, this is easily the first knife I’d pick in the survival category.