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Kershaw vs. Spyderco | Detailed Comparison

Spyderco knives are superior to Kershaw in terms of quality and performance. Although they tend to be a little more expensive, Spyderco knives have features such as assisted opening technology, thumb studs, or a pocket clip for easy carry, making them worth the added cost.

In this detailed comparison, I’ll look at the similarities and differences in design, construction, handle material, blade steel, and other features of both brands of knives so you can make an informed decision about which one is right for you. I’ll also discuss their pros, cons, and price points and talk briefly about choosing between knife brands in general.

A pocket knife with a blue handle and a short blade

Overview of Kershaw and Spyderco Knives

Kershaw and Spyderco knives are both well-known for their quality and variety. From pocket knives to kitchen knives, both brands have models that range from simple and budget-friendly to high-end performance knives. 

Kershaw is a popular American brand with over 100 years of experience producing quality knives. They have a wide range of models (from basic to fancy), each designed to perform a specific task. Many of their knives feature SpeedSafe-assisted opening technology, which makes them very user-friendly. 

Spyderco is another well-known American brand that has been around since 1976. It’s best known for its iconic folding knives, though it also carries kitchen knives and fixed-blade knives in its lineup. The main feature that sets Spyderco apart from other knife makers is their patented round hole which allows for easy one-handed opening and closing of the knife. 

Both brands are renowned for their craftsmanship, excellent designs, and cutting-edge technology. When choosing between the two, it really comes down to personal preference and intended use. 

That said, if you need more information on what to look for, here’s a detailed comparison of the two knife brands.


Both Kershaw and Spyderco offer a wide variety of options design-wise. Generally speaking, Kershaw knives tend to have more traditional designs, while Spyderco knives often feature unique and modernized styles.

Kershaw knives feature classic blade shapes and handle materials. They also typically come with a pocket clip to make it easier to store the knife in your pocket. Additionally, Kershaw’s knives are usually well-balanced and ergonomic to provide a comfortable and secure grip. 

On the other hand, Spyderco knives tend to have more contemporary designs. While they usually come with pocket clips as well, they also feature unique blade shapes and handle materials that offer enhanced functionality. Many of these knives also have added features like flipper tabs and thumbholes for easier one-handed opening.

Additionally, Spyderco offers a wide variety of locking mechanisms, such as: 

  • Compression Lock
  • Back Lock
  • Liner Lock


Kershaw and Spyderco knives both have above-average build quality and materials.

Kershaw knives use various materials such as 8Cr13MoV stainless steel, 14C28N Sandvik steel, and more for their blades. They also use G-10, aluminum, and polymer handles, depending on the specific model. Kershaw blades are generally heat-treated to make them more durable and resilient.

Spyderco also uses a wide range of blade materials, including: 

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Their handles are often made of G-10 or titanium, although they also offer models with composite materials like fiberglass-reinforced nylon (FRN) or injection-molded plastic. Like Kershaw, Spyderco knives are also heat-treated to improve the overall strength and durability of the blade. 

Both brands make full-tang knives, meaning that the blade and handle consist of one continuous piece of metal. This makes them strong and reliable for all types of tasks. 

Both also employ various locking mechanisms for added safety. Spyderco employs their patented “Spyderco Round Hole” for easy one-handed opening, while Kershaw has their patented “SpeedSafe”-assisted opening technology. 

Both brands also offer a wide range of sizes and styles to suit different needs. Kershaw’s blades range from 3 to 5 in (7.6 to 12.7 cm) in length, while Spyderco offers blades ranging from 2.75 to 8 in (7 to 20.3 cm). Additionally, both companies offer folding knives as well as fixed-blade options.

Handle Material

Both Kershaw and Spyderco knives offer a variety of handle materials to choose from. 

A pocket knife with a metal handle

Kershaw offers both stainless steel and aluminum handles, as well as their signature G-10 composite handles, which are lightweight, highly durable, and non-slip. They also use more unique handle materials such as carbon fiber and wood. 

Spyderco also has an extensive selection of handle materials, including G-10, titanium, and FRN (fiberglass-reinforced nylon). It’s also known for its patented Bi-Directional Texturing, which allows for superior grip and control when using their knives. Additionally, Spyderco has used more exotic materials, such as zirconium and carbon fiber, for their handle scales. 

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Blade Steel 

Both Kershaw and Spyderco use high-quality steel for their knives, but the type of steel varies.

Kershaw generally uses 8Cr13MoV or 14C28N stainless steel for their blades. 8Cr13MoV is a budget steel that offers decent edge retention and corrosion resistance, while 14C28N is a premium stainless steel that provides excellent edge retention and durability.

This Kershaw Leek Pocket Knife (available on Amazon) is one of the best, with 14C28N steel and SpeedSafe assisted opening.

Spyderco mostly uses CPM S30V, CPM S35VN, or CPM S90V stainless steel for their blades. 

  • CPM S30V is a popular, high-performance stainless steel designed to hold an edge well and resist wear. 
  • CPM S35VN is an upgraded version of S30V that offers even better edge retention and corrosion resistance. 
  • CPM S90V is a super-premium steel that provides superior edge retention, but it can be difficult to sharpen.

Both Kershaw and Spyderco offer quality blade steels with different levels of performance. While Kershaw typically uses more budget-friendly steels, Spyderco often uses higher-end steels for their blades.

Other Features

Aside from the features mentioned above, other things set Kershaw and Spyderco apart, such as blade shapes, locking mechanisms, deployment methods, and pocket clips.

Kershaw blades come in various shapes, from the traditional drop-point style to more unique designs like tanto or sheepsfoot. Spyderco blades tend to be more specialized, with their signature leaf-shaped designs, as well as others such as hawkbill or Wharncliffe.

Kershaw utilizes various locking mechanisms, such as the frame lock, liner lock, and plunge lock. Meanwhile, Spyderco knives have their patented Compression Lock system, which provides superior strength and safety.

Kershaw knives typically employ either manual or assisted opening methods. Manual opening requires users to manually open the knife with a thumb stud or flipper tab, while assisted opening uses a spring to assist in the process. Spyderco knives usually use different methods, such as the thumb hole, thumb disk, or Emerson Wave opener.

Kershaw knives come with various pocket clip configurations, including deep carry and tip up/down designs. Meanwhile, Spyderco knives usually come with the signature Spyderco wire clip, though they also offer a variety of other clips for different carrying styles. 

You can get this Spyderco ParaMilitary 2 Signature Knife (available on Amazon), which is renowned for being carry-oriented. Despite its top-notch construction, it’s fairly easy to use, even for someone who’s never had a carry knife before.

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Pros and Cons of Kershaw Knives

Kershaw knives are popular for their affordability, reliability, and durability. They offer a wide range of pocket knives for EDC and outdoor applications, as well as fixed-blade hunting and tactical knives. 

A green Kershaw knife

Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of Kershaw knives.

Affordable price pointsLow-end steels used in some models
Durability and reliabilityMay not be able to hold an edge for long periods of time
Wide range of knives to choose fromSome models have dull blades
Easy-to-sharpen bladesLocking mechanisms may not be as strong as other brands
Variety of blade shapes and sizesBlade shapes are limited compared to Spyderco knives
Variety of deployment methods
Easy to maintain and clean
Variety of pocket clip configurations

Pros and Cons of Spyderco Knives

Spyderco knives are renowned for their high-quality construction and premium blade steels. They have folding and fixed-blade knives, as well as sharpening systems, grinders, and other accessories. 

Here are the pros and cons of Spyderco knives.

Premium blade steels used in most modelsHigher price points than Kershaw knives
Durable, reliable constructionBlade shapes may be too specialized for some users
Variety of blade shapes and sizesSome models have dull blades
Patented Compression Lock system for superior strength and safetyHarder to sharpen than Kershaw knives
Wide range of handle materials available
Easy to sharpen blades
Variety of pocket clip configurations

Kershaw vs. Spyderco: Which Is Right for You?

Ultimately, when choosing between Kershaw and Spyderco knives, the decision depends on your personal preferences. That said, it’s also important to factor in considerations such as the following. 

  • Price point: Do you have a budget in mind? Kershaw knives are typically more affordable than Spyderco knives.
  • Blade steel: Kershaw and Spyderco use different blade steels. If keeping the edge sharp is important to you, choosing a higher-end steel such as CPM S30V or VG-10 (both from Spyderco) will be your best bet.
  • Handle material: Kershaw and Spyderco offer different handle materials, such as G-10 (from Spyderco) or Micarta (from Kershaw). Consider which material is most comfortable for you and offers the best grip depending on what activities you’ll be doing with the knife.
  • Blade shape and size: Consider which shape and size is best for your intended use. For example, sheepsfoot knives are useful in emergency situations where you must cut open someone’s clothes to administer first aid. 
  • Deployment method: Kershaw knives come with various deployment methods, such as a flipper, thumb disk, or Emerson Wave opener. Think about which method you prefer and which works best for your activities.

If you’re looking for a knife with top-notch construction, premium blade steel, and a wide range of handle materials, Spyderco is the brand for you. But if you’re looking for an affordable, reliable knife with various blade shapes and sizes, Kershaw is the brand to go with. 

Whichever knife you choose, remember that quality and maintenance are both keys to keeping your knife in top condition. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for sharpening and cleaning, and you’ll be sure to have a reliable blade no matter which brand you choose.

Final Thoughts

Kershaw and Spyderco knives offer a range of features that make them ideal for different activities. Consider factors such as blade steel, handle material, size and shape, deployment methods, and your budget when deciding which brand is right for you. If you choose to go with Spyderco, you are assured of durability and optimal performance.