Pocket Knives

Knife Review: Kershaw Blur S30V

Image: Chris Dumm for TTAK

Contrary to certain antiquated rumours, the Leek/Chive/Scallion is not the only knife Ken Onion has ever designed for Kershaw. The graceful Blur is another Ken Onion star in Kershaw’s lineup. The ‘standard’ model Blur comes in Sandvik 14C28N, and the upgraded S30V model is (IMHO) even better.

The S30V version has spent several weeks in my pocket now. It’s neither a folding short sword nor a delicate gentleman’s folder; it’s a capable, sturdy EDC knife that delivers a lot of comfort and performance for its $75 street price.

Overview

Image: Chris Dumm for TTAK

The Blur, for those who haven’t seen one, is an aluminum-framed folding knife with Kershaw’s Speedsafe assisted opening mechanism. The blade is 3.375 inches of S30V drop point, with a hint of recurve and a very shallow hollow grind. The aluminum grips have panels of Kershaw’s ‘Trak-Tek’ (basically a non-abrasive skateboard tape) inset into them for better grip.

Image: Chris Dumm for TTAK

The blade opens with prominently beveled ambidextrous thumb studs, and a right-handed steel liner lock keeps it open. Unlike the Leek/Scallion/Chive series, the Blur has no protruding flipper that can open in your pocket so there’s no need for a safety mechanism to lock the action closed. It never came open in my pocket, whether it was loose or clipped in place.

The pivot screw is adjustable, so you can tighten it to eliminate wobble or loosen it to free up the action. Mine was tightened perfectly out of the box and I never had to mess with it. I’ve talked to several other Blur owners, whose consensus is that you’ll probably never have to adjust yours either.

Image: Chris Dumm for TTAK

All of this is held in your pocket by a right-side pocket clip that’s reversible for tip-up and tip-down carry. The clip is sturdy and easy to use, but it’s nowhere near a ‘deep carry’ clip. and it rides a little higher if you opt for tip-up carry. If your pants are dark and your Blur is black it will probably go unnoticed anyway; it’s not a flashy-looking knife.

Carry Ergonomics

At nearly 1.5″ wide in the middle, the Blur is a bit broad in the beam for a discreet EDC knife. It’s only 1/2″ thick, though, so it carries pretty flat in your pocket. Solid aluminum scales do not the lightest knives make, and this one checks in at 3.9 ounces. This is more than one ounce heavier than a Spyderco Native, but an ounce lighter than a Benchmade 300.

Image: Chris Dumm for TTAK

The pocket clip carries the knife high enough that it sometimes catches on things, and mine quickly gathered some scratches on the body side of the butt. The grip panels keep it pretty well anchored in your pocket, despite the smooth and somewhat gently sprung pocket clip. It goes in easily and comes out quickly; I just wish it rode a little lower in my pocket.

Handling Ergonomics

Image: Chris Dumm for TTAK

The beveled thumb studs are among the most comfortable opening studs I’ve ever used. They’re perfectly angled and scalloped so that you don’t need to ‘pry’ the blade open with your thumb. Instead, you simply push your thumb forward (as shown here) and the blade jumps open.

Aluminum scales can be very slippery, but the Blur’s grip tape gives your hand a firm grasp when wet or dry. Metal grips also get cold in frigid weather, but I’ve always preferred fixed blades for snow camping anyway. I like to leave my gloves/mittens on as much as I can.

Image: Chris Dumm for TTAK

When the blade flips open, those perfectly-contoured thumb studs are now pointing against your thumb, and those suckers are sharp. If you don’t keep your thumb on the mildly-jimped shoulder of the grips, the studs will jam uncomfortably into your thumb. This isn’t ideal, but I don’t give the Blur major demerits for this issue because it’s not designed to be a heavy-use cutting knife.

Cutting Tests

Paper Cutting:
It’s a Kershaw, it’s S30V, and it’s sharper than hell. Even with a 40 degree primary bevel, it cleanly slices arm hair, newsprint, and Shotgun News crepe paper. Just like the Kershaw-made Zero Tolerance 0350, it earns an easy A+ in this category.

Box Cardboard:
You’ve seen plenty of pictures of strip-sliced cardboard so I’ll spare you the redundant graphics. The Blur S30V sliced through 100 feet of box cardboard before it lost it’s arm-shaving sharpness, and then cut through another 60 feet (with increasing effort required) before it stopped cutting cleanly. 160 linear feet of cardboard will turn a lesser knife into an overpriced EDC spatula, but the Blur could still slice copier paper. Grade: A++.

Manila Rope:
The Blur was a monster in the other cutting tests, but it did not exactly represent when it came time to cut through the 3/4″ Manila rope. It couldn’t just barely pull through a loop of rope with extreme effort, and it was pretty lame at sawing through it on a cutting board. Grade: B-.

Ease Of Sharpening

The S30V Blur was reasonably sharp out of the box. When I gave it twenty strokes on the fine Sharpmaker sticks like most new knives need, it was ready to party. I never made it truly dull. but even after I’d done my best with rope and box cardboard it only took another twenty or thirty strokes to bring back the newsprint-slicing, hair-popping edge.

S30V can be a terrible pain to sharpen once it gets really dull, but with edge retention like this I’m not sure what it would take to get it ‘really dull.’

Fit And Finish

Image: Chris Dumm for TTAK

I picked up this knife as a blemished second at Kershaw’s annual factory sale, but I’m still not sure why it didn’t make Kershaw’s cut. One machine mark, hidden on the inside of the grip halves, might be the culprit but I’m not sure. The blade is perfectly centered and wobble-free, and the grip anodizing was dark and even until I started scratching it up.

Favorite Features

  • Carry comfort.
  • Blade sharpness, edge retention, and ease of sharpening.
  • Quick, comfortable opening.

Least-Favorite Features

  • It rides too high in my pocket. (Then again, I say that about almost every knife.)
  • Those thumbstuds can gouge your thumb once the blade is open.
  • The jimping doesn’t add much grip.

Summary

Image: Chris Dumm for TTAK

Regardless of which steel you choose, the Blur is a great choice for an EDC knife. The ‘base’ model’s 14C28N is no slouch in the mid-$60 price range, and the S30V version brings astonishing cutting performance for less than $20 more. There’s only one caveat: the liner lock and pocket clip make it a poor choice for left-handers, or for weak-side carry by right-handed users.

RATINGS (Out Of Five Stars)

Styling: * * * 1/2
Not exactly stunning, but graceful and practical. A low-profile design that goes well with black Tru-Specs or tan Dockers.

Blade: * * * * *
Another excellent S30V blade from Kershaw.

Ergonomics: * * * 1/2
Flat and thin to carry and very quick to open, but watch out for those thumbstuds when you’re chopping away.

Ruggedness/Durability * * * 1/2
Solid construction, but it scratches easily and I wouldn’t mind a sturdier liner lock.

Overall Rating: * * * *
Excellent all-around performance and value for a general-purpose EDC knife.

Specs

  • Overall Length: 7.875″
  • Blade Length: 3.375″
  • Blade Thickness: 0.12″
  • Blade Material: CPM S30V
  • Blade Style: Drop point with slight recurve
  • Blade Grind: Shallow hollow grind
  • Blade Finish: Stonewashed
  • Edge Type: Plain
  • Handle Length: 4.50″
  • Handle Thickness: 0.47″
  • Handle Material: Aluminum
  • Handle Color: Black
  • Liner Material: Stainless steel
  • Weight: 3.9 oz
  • Pocket Clip: Right hand, tip up/down
  • Knife Type: Speedsafe spring assisted
  • Opener: Ambidextrous thumb studs
  • Lock Type: Liner lock
  • Model: 1670DSBLK
  • Country of Origin: USA

Manufacturer’s link here.

Discussion

14 responses to ‘Knife Review: Kershaw Blur S30V

  1. I love mine. I got it in a trade. It’s the 154CM/carbon fiber version and I took the assist out. It is still really smooth and quick

  2. Got a question for the class at large. What is the deal on big, fat blades on all the newer folding lock blade knives? I mean they are getting huge, for small knives, anymore. Not so much a criticism as just wondering. Is it something customers are clamoring for or is it being pushed by designers for some obscure reason?

    And as for Ken Onion designs for Kershaw, I own 2 and carry a Vapor every day. Like the all metal construction and the blade profile is quite nice, sharpens well and holds an edge even with the abuse I heap on it(and yes, I still mourn for my lost CQC9).

    • I see a lot of it coming from the demand for tanks. It’s just what’s in at the moment. You can find custom makers and production companies doing the standard ~.1″ thick blades as well as thick beasts. I believe it was Brad Blount that just a couple weeks ago made a 3″ blade that was .25″ thick. Long story short, it’s what’s hot

      • Ah, once again I am less than clear, bordering on foggily opaque. I mean fat as in from back edge to cutting edge. So many lock back folders you see for sale have that large bellied appearance, I been wondering for a while if it is something people are wanting or just what is the flavor of the week sort of thing. Chris reviewed the Ken Onion design for CRKT Eros a couple of days ago and that is more my idea of a nice blade configuration for a small lock back knife, though I have to admit that one is a bit narrow. Still, a nice looking knife.

        • And I keep using the term lock back when the vast majority anymore are liner lock. Words mean things, and for someone who types as many words in a day as I do you would think I would use them more precisely.

  3. Oh, and on this review, I would down check it on the pocket clip, on the wrong end for me, prefer clip on the pivot end so that when opening edge is facing downward. Not real big on serrated sections, either. I know, makes me a weirdo.

    • You can reverse the pocket clip for whichever kind of carry you prefer, as long as it’s in your right pocket and not your left one. I happen to prefer tip-up carry, but I think it was originally set up for tip-down.

      • Ah, looked through the pics and yep, extra holes for clip on opposite end. The user customizable features on newer knives is nice, though most of them are usually on the same side. Guess righthanders are the norm in most things, even pocket knives. 🙂

  4. We need a sticky around here with a guide to knife steels. I can’t keep them all straight.
    I bought my son a Kershaw Drone for a camping trip he made a few weeks ago. He really liked the assisted opening, and although he used it for tasks as varied as food prep and chopping kindling , it retained its “hair popping” edge. All for $26 (plus shipping and handling). Puts my poor unassisted cheap Buck to shame!

    • For a very reasonable price you can get an excellent blade, or a complete piece of crap for a lot more money. It is rather hard to sort out what is available in your average store, anymore, much less at any given fleamarket. Sticking to known brands is a good rule, although there is quite the after market in branded knives which can burn you. I have to admit I have never had a “bad” Kershaw. Had a couple I don’t like, but more just specific models that I did not really care for, plastic scales on grip, blade shape that I did not like, that sort of thing. As for Bucks, have had one on me since 1974, only complaint is they can be hard to sharpen. Once you get that sweet spot you got it made.

  5. I own both a 14C28N Black Blur, and a S30V Satin Blade Blur. I almost always have one of them on me, and I can’t think of a better edc or defensive edc knife. The speedsafe assisted opening and angled thumbstuds work together so well you will be amazed the first time you try it. The blade design is optimized for slicing, and both steels are excellent at holding a razor edge. Excellent value for the price, IMO. I pretty much agree with everything in the review.

  6. In my pocket right now. One of my best knife purchases. I carry this knife everyday unless it’s in the “needs sharpening” pile. Great knife. Excellent edge from factory, excellent edge retention, good steel, great deployment speed, useful blade shape. The slight recurve makes it very adept at slicing and package opening, etc. Awesome knife.

  7. I’ve known of 3 Blurs now that have had the locks fail and cut the hell out of people. One of them was a gift I gave my Bro-in-law. If Kershas would make this a frame-lock, it would be in my top 5 again. But sadly, if you look at the Amazon 1-star reviews, you’ll see a lot of lock issues (and with the S30V, broken tips/blades).

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