Kershaw Knives/Kai USA Ltd.
Company typeCorporation
FoundedPortland, Oregon
1974; 50 years ago (1974)
HeadquartersTualatin, Oregon
Key people
Jack Igarashi, Chief of North American Operations, Kai USA ltd., Pete Kershaw, Founder
Number of employees

Kershaw Knives designs, sources and manufactures a wide range of knives, including pocketknives, sporting knives, and kitchen cutlery. Kershaw is a brand of Kai USA Ltd., a member of the KAI Group, headquartered in Tualatin, Oregon, United States.[1]


Kershaw Knives was started in Portland, Oregon in 1974 when knife salesman Pete Kershaw left Gerber Legendary Blades to form his own cutlery company based on his own designs.[2][3][4] Early manufacturing was primarily done in Japan by Ichiro Hattori in Seki.[citation needed]

In 1977, Kershaw became a wholly owned subsidiary of the KAI Group.[2][4][5]

In 1997 the U.S. production facility was opened in Wilsonville, Oregon. Due to an expanding market, the facilities were moved to a larger production site in 2003 located in Tualatin, Oregon. Other products are imported from Japanese and Chinese factories.[4]

A Kershaw Leek Assisted-opening knife in action.

On 28 December 1998, the USPTO granted and published Patent number US6006385A for inventors Peter G. Kershaw, Douglas B. Flagg, Craig Green and Katsumi Hasegawa. The patent was filed on 24 January 1997 by Kai USA Ltd, who was also the assignee for the duration of its 20-year life span.[6]

In 2002, Kershaw released a Steven Seagal model featuring stingray leather on the handle.[7][8]

In May 2005, Kai USA Ltd. won four of the top awards at the Blade Show in Atlanta, Georgia.[9] This was the first time in the show's history that one company won this number of awards in one year: 2005 Overall Knife of the Year, 2005 Most Innovative American Design, 2005 Kitchen Knife of the Year, and 2005 Knife Collaboration of the Year.[9]

In June 2007, Kai USA won the Blade Show's "Overall Knife of the Year Award" with the Kershaw "Tyrade" (model 1850), in which the company's patent-pending Composite Blade technology using two different steels in the same blade was introduced. The blade steels were D2 tool steel at the cutting edge, and a spine of 154CM stainless steel.[10]

In 2009 Kershaw won an award for the Speedform (model 3500).[11]

In 2010, Kershaw won "American Made Knife of the Year" for the Tilt (model 4001) and Shun won "Kitchen Knife of the Year" for the Shun Premier line.[11]

In the 2011 Blade Show, Zero Tolerance's 0777 won "Overall Knife of the Year," the ZT-Rick Hinderer 0560/0561 won "Collaboration of the Year," and the Shun Fuji line won "Kitchen Knife of the Year".[12]

Then in 2012, Kai USA Ltd. repeated its four-win sweep of the Blade Show awards. The Zero Tolerance 0888 won "Overall Knife of the Year", while the 0600 won for "Collaboration of the Year". The Kershaw Cryo won 2012's "Best Buy of the Year" and the Shun Taiyo was the 2012 "Kitchen Knife of the Year."[13]


Kai USA Ltd. has three lines of products; Kershaw Knives brand of sporting and pocketknives, Shun Cutlery, handcrafted Japanese kitchen cutlery,[4] and Zero Tolerance, a line of premium and professional knives.

Kai USA Ltd. is the assignee of more than 150 patents at the USPTO.

Kershaw has collaborated with custom knife makers including Hall of Fame knife maker Ken Onion on Kershaw's SpeedSafe knives,[14][15] Ernest Emerson, Grant and Gavin Hawk, Frank Centofante, Rick Hinderer and RJ Martin.[16]

In popular culture

In the television show Person of Interest, the character John Reece (played by Jim Caviezel) is frequently seen using a Kershaw Blur.[17]

In the television series NCIS, the character Leroy Jethro Gibbs (played by Mark Harmon) is seen frequently using a Zero Tolerance ZT0301 with Tiger Stripes.[citation needed]

In the television series Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern, the host Andrew Zimmern is frequently seen using a Kershaw Leek.

See also


  1. ^ Voyles, J. Bruce (1985). "Knives in the Northwest". Blade. 13 (4): 38.
  2. ^ a b Pacella, Gerard (2002), 100 Legendary Knives, Iola, USA, Krause Publications, 145. ISBN 0-87349-417-2
  3. ^ Inman, Naomi (2002)"Birds and Bees: How Businesses Are Really Born, Business is blooming—Oregon’s outdoor retail industry leads the world.", Brainstorm NorthWest Magazine, October 2002
  4. ^ a b c d "Kershaw Knives", American Handgunner, May–June, 2005
  5. ^ "KAI acquires the balance of Universal" Chain Drug Review, January, 2007
  6. ^ "Multi-tool". No. US6006385A. USPTO. 1999-12-28.
  7. ^ Cascio,Pat. (2003). "Steven Seagal's Knife", Tactical Knives Magazine, November 2003
  8. ^ Campbell, Robert K. (13 March 2009). The Gun Digest Book of Personal Protection & Home Defense. Iola, Wisconsin: Krause Publications. p. 118. ISBN 978-1-4402-2443-0.
  9. ^ a b "Kershaw Knives". American Handgunner. May–June 2006. 15 Jul. 2008.
  10. ^ Shackleford, Steve (2007). "Hand Salute the Blade Magazine Knives of the Year". Blade Magazine. November 2007
  11. ^ a b "2010 Blade Magazine Award Winners - The Knife Blog". 2 June 2011. Archived from the original on 7 December 2017. Retrieved 26 April 2018.
  12. ^ "Blade 2011". Archived from the original on 15 August 2016. Retrieved 26 April 2018.
  13. ^ "Kai's the Limit". Blade Magazine. November 2012.
  14. ^ Cascio, Pat(2007). 'Kershaw's Latest Tactical Folders', Knives Illustrated, February 2007
  15. ^ Gardner, Jim (2004) "Sweet Onions", Guns Magazine, June 2004
  16. ^ a b Ewing, Dexter (2013). "Factories Drink From the Custom Maker Well". In Joe Kertzman (ed.). Knives 2014: The World's Greatest Knife Book (34 ed.). Iola, Wisconsin: F+W Media. pp. 42–46. ISBN 978-1-4402-3700-3.
  17. ^ "Any Person of Interest Fans Out There? - Kershaw Knives". Archived from the original on 10 May 2017. Retrieved 26 April 2018.