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CRKT vs Kershaw

CRKT and Kershaw: two of the biggest brands in the pocket knife industry. Many hall-of-fame knives have been produced by one of these two brands. Both brands are popular among fans of budget-friendly pocket knives. But what are the differences between the two brands? And why would you choose one over the other? Let's get into it!


Price range

As mentioned before, CRKT and Kershaw are popular among budget knife enthusiasts. For both brands, the majority of their offering lies in the £20 to £100 price range. Many of the most popular budget knives come from these two sources. Which ones, you ask? Here are a few examples.

Take the CRKT Squid series and the CRKT Minimalist series, for instance. Or the Kershaw Shuffle Series and the Kershaw Leek Series. You'll find that many knife enthusiasts own one of the knives from this series.

CRKT Squid & Minimalist
Kershaw Shuffle & Leek

Price-quality ratio and materials

Both CRKT and Kershaw are known for their excellent price-quality ratio. They offer great value for money. They also use the same materials. For example, the majority of the knives are equipped with an 8Cr13MoV steel or D2 steel blade. And most of the handles are made from stainless steel or G10.

Product range

CRKT and Kershaw are right at home in all markets. Both brands produce tactical knives, gentlemen's knives and sturdy fixed knives. But at the end of the day, both brands are best known for their EDC knives. And this is where most of their focus lies. When it comes to product range, the two brands are almost equal to each other in terms of knife types.


Both brands also regularly collaborate with well-known knife makers and designers. For CRKT, that means designers such as Ken Onion, Kit Carson, Richard Rogers, Lucas Burnley and Jesper Voxnaes. Kershaw works with Ken Onion and designers such as Rick Hinderer, Dmitry Sinkevich and Ernest Emerson.

CRKT CEO of Richard Rogers & Kershaw CQC-6 of Ernest Emerson

Country of origin

As is the case with many budget brands, most of its production takes place in China. And the headquarters are in the United States. Both CRKT and Kershaw are headquartered in Portland. Only a 5-minute drive from each other.

Differences between CRKT and Kershaw

KAI USA Ltd: Kershaw and Zero Tolerance

The main difference between CRKT and Kershaw is the fact that Kershaw is part of KAI USA Ltd. That makes this comparison somewhat complicated. Mother brand KAI USA also includes the knife brand Zero Tolerance. This brand primarily focuses on premium pocket knives, made in the United States. For that reason, Kershaw has a "bar" that the brand stays below in terms of price range and materials. While CRKT does not. This has little influence on this comparison article, but is a good thing to keep in mind.


While Kershaw tends to follow the beaten track, partly for the reason mentioned above, CRKT is always innovating and applying new ideas. The brand has many special mechanisms that they use, such as the Field Strip mechanism patented and designed by Ken Onion. With this mechanism, you can take your knife apart in mere seconds to clean it. Without any tools.

Or the deadbolt lock. This is one of the strongest available locking mechanisms that is incorporated into the pivot. The most important part of the deadbolt lock is the hardened steel wedge that falls into the cut-outs in the blade. It's really easy to use: you simply press the large pivot to close the blade. And there are many more. Kershaw/KAI USA also has a few under their name. But not nearly as many as CRKT.

Which of the two brands will you choose?

In many areas, we see few differences between the two brands. Where we do see a difference is the style of both brands. CRKT is more experimental and the design style is more distinct. This is also reflected in the designers CRKT works with. The knives they design are slightly different from normal and often more public-friendly.

Kershaw is a more serious brand. They are no-nonsense knives, made to be used. This is also apparent from their frequent use of an assisted opening mechanism. This is a mechanism that uses a spring to help open the blade. Also, the designers that Kershaw works with see the knife more as a functional tool than as a platform for creative innovations. Which of the two brands will appeal to you most depends very much on the above factors!