The Kershaw 1660 St, designed by renowned knife master Ken Onion, is without a question one of the most popular pocketknives ever. Every year, Kershaw distributes massive quantities of the Kershaw 1660 St, much to the chagrin of big-name competitors Gerber, Benchmade and Spyderco. However, how is it that a knife named after a vegetable has become so common? I’ll explain why in this article.
Over the decades, the Kershaw ‘Ken Onion’ Leek has earned quite a reputation. Many of you are probably familiar with Kershaw Knife, which has quickly established itself as one of the leading manufacturers of pocketknives in the United States. In 1974, Pete Kershaw, previously of Gerber Knives, founded Kershaw Knives to produce knives based on his own inventions. Kershaw Knives was purchased by the KAI Group in 1977, and production of the knives was shifted to Kai America’s Tualatin, Oregon plant. Some knives are now created in Japanese and Chinese facilities, while many, notably the Leek, are still made entirely in the United States.
Kershaw has been utilising Swedish-made Sandvik 14C28N steel for a long time, and for valid reasons. If you’ve studied knife steel guidelines, you’ll understand that Sandvik 14C28N stainless falls into the higher mid-range category. Essentially, it’s one of favourite metals in this category because of its excellent price-to-performance relationship. This steel’s edge performance is especially spectacular, and it retains a high degree of strength and corrosion resistance. The 14C28N is a good choice for an EDC blade of this sort because it’s simple to sharpen and retains its edge better than other options at this price point. You might sharpen this monster with your eyes closed, really.
The Kershaw 1660 St has a wharncliffe-style shape to it, with a relatively flat edge and minimal to no curve (or’belly’). It shortens to a very tiny point, which is ideal for precision jobs but problematic in other circumstances.
Ergonomics And The Handle
The Kershaw Leek’s handle is made of 410 stainless steel with a bead-blasted polish. A stainless steel handle is sturdy and durable, but it can be slick in the hand. The Leek is an excellent example of these traits. In reality, the knife’s handle is so slick that it was difficult for me to have a secure grasp on it during my testing. Perhaps if the choil was a little rougher, the knife might be a little easier to hold. However, because of the way this knife’s grip is built, I’d have a hard time endorsing it for modest duty use from a safety aspect. You’ll be OK if you stick to EDC-style tasks.
Kershaw developed the Leek for right-handed carry exclusively, however by moving the pocket clip, you can handle it tip up or tip down. The knife slides easily in and out of the pocket thanks to the slick handle, and the pockets clip is small designed to be inconspicuous but sturdy enough to keep the knife in place while you do collapses and back flips.
Lockup And Deployment
The Kershaw 1660 St was built with Kershaw’s SpeedSafe assist system, which allows you to open the knife swiftly and effortlessly with a press on the thumbstud or a draw on the flip. People, this isn’t a switchblade! When you flick it out, the knife emerges rapidly enough to be effective, but quietly enough not to set off any alarms.
Kershaw’s SpeedSafe assistance system is one of the company’s most well-known inventions, and it renders the knife so simple to release that it might well straddle the line between legal and unlawful aided opening methods. If you don’t like the SpeedSafe, you can simply disconnect the springs and have it function without it.