Columbia River Knife and Tool Inc., or CRKT, is a knife company that was born in 1994 by Paul Gillespi and Rod Bremer. They weren’t noticed at first, but when they released the K.I.S.S. knife in 1997, they began to gain ground. CRKT produces a wide range of tools including fixed blades, folding knives, multi-tools, sharpeners, and carrying systems. CRKT has also collaborated with custom knife makers such as Ken Onion, Pat Crawford, Greg Lightfoot, and the Graham Brothers. Today I have chosen four of the most popular CRKT knives. I’ll go over the pros and cons of each one as well as what makes it a unique knife.
The Folts Minimalist Knife:
This knife was a collaboration between CRKT and Allan Folts, who is an acclaimed custom knife maker. He is truly an artist, who looks at both form and function to give you the perfect balance. Folts says that this knife design took over two years to design. Folts took this knife to many different knife shows and took the feedback from hundreds of people to see what they liked and didn’t like about this knife. He would tweak the knife in small ways every time and what resulted was an amazing design and knife.
This knife has a 2 1/8-inch-long blade. This fixed blade is a full tang knife and the steel used is 5Cr13MoV. This is a softer steel than you would find if you were using a high end steel. And because of that, the edge is going to dull a faster than a high end steel; however, this knife is easy to sharpen and you can get a crazy sharp edge on it. Even when you get it right out of the box, this knife is going to be sharp. The Folts Minimalist actually comes in three different blade shapes. When it was originally designed, it had a wharncliffe blade. It wasn’t long before a bowie blade and then a tanto blade followed. The finish on this knife is a stonewash finish. The grind is a hollow grind and this begins around ¾ up the blade.
The handle on the Minimalist is made out of linen micarta scales which are a forest green. This material is actually a better material than you would usually find with a knife this price. The handle is an extremely comfortable handle that will fit well in almost any hand. But, because of the small size, you will probably only be able to fit three fingers on it. But, there are finger grooves in this handle, which help you have a more secure grip. There is a small lanyard at the butt of the handle to allow you to get a better grip on the handle.
The sheath for this knife is made out of Zytel, which is a hard plastic. The blade locks into this sheath very securely. On the sheath, there are six eyelets, which are perfect for attaching things if needed.
The overall length of this knife is just over five inches long and it weighs about 1.6 ounces. This is definitely on the smaller end of the knife spectrum.
Pros of the Folts Minimalist Knife:
- You can get the edge extremely sharp.
- This steel is easy to sharpen.
- You have an option of three different blade shapes.
- The handle fits perfectly in almost any hand.
- There are eyelets on the sheath for attaching things.
Cons of the Folts Minimalist Knife:
- The steel is a softer steel, so it will lose its edge quicker than other steels.
- You will really only be able to fit three fingers on the handle of this knife.
The Hissatsu Tactical Folding Knife:
This knife got its name because Hissatsu can be translated to “final blow” and this knife is designed to be more of a self-defensive tool than a utility knife. The very first version of this knife was a fixed blade and it was an instant hit. However, the blade on that version was 7 inches long, so it wasn’t an easy knife to conceal or have with you at all times. When CRKT released the folder version, they shrunk the knife down so that it would be easier to have as your everyday carry option.
The blade on this knife is 3.8 inches long and 4mm thick. This is a skinnier blade than you would normally find and it is also on the thicker end of the spectrum. This blade shape was chosen to be able to stab first, and then slash. The shape is a classical samurai design made out of AUS-8 steel that has a non-reflective black coating. This coating is perfect for situations when you don’t want to give away your position and you are worried about the light reflecting off of it. The AUS-8 steel holds its edge very well and stays sharp. AUS-8 is known for its cutting ability. This knife has two flat grinds that each make up around half of the blade. The spine slowly sweeps upward.
The handle on the Hissatsu is five inches long. The handle is a plain handle that has an almost coffin like shape to it. There is a small choil at the cutout that is next to the thumb opening. The knife has a flatter handle than you would normally find. The flatness of the handle is so that you can control the orientation of the knife better than with a rounder handle. When the main purpose of this knife is to stab, you are going to want to have the blade up, so that you can get a better penetration. The handle is made out of Zytel scales which are black and pebbled to give you a better grip. The pocket clip on this knife is a reversible clip, so you can carry the knife on the left or right.
The opening mechanism on this knife is CRKT’s OutBurst assisted opening mechanism. You can also get a non-assisted version if that is what you prefer.
The overall length of this knife is 8.75 inches with a folded length of 5 inches. This knife weighs 4.8 ounces, so while this knife won’t weigh you down, it is sturdy enough to take on your tasks. This knife also has a lifetime warranty.
Pros of the Hissatsu Tactical Folding Knife:
- The sole purpose of this knife is for self-defense and it can definitely defend you.
- AUS-8 steel is known for its cutting ability and it holds an edge extremely well.
- The flatter handle gives you fantastic control of your knife orientation.
- Ambidextrous pocket clip.
- This knife can be deeply carried.
Cons of the Hissatsu Tactical Folding Knife:
- The only purpose of this knife is for self-defense/stabbing, and it won’t be able to do much else for you.
The No Time Off Knife:
This knife is a collaboration between CRKT and Flavio Ikoma. This is also the first folding knife by CRKT to sport the locking mechanism Ikoma Locking System, or ILS.
This knife has a wide blade that is 2.99 inches and 0.15 inches thick. The steel used in this blade is CTS BD1, which was a newer material for CRKT. This steel has a high carbon content, which means that it is a pretty hard steel. This steel also has good edge retention properties and it has high wear resistance properties. The CTS BD1 steel is also an easy steel to sharpen. The tip of this blade is very strong and can even stab or pry on harder materials. Because most of the curvature of the blade is closer to the tip, it is harder to stab or penetrate, but it is still able to accomplish most tasks that you throw at it.
The handle on this knife is made out of fiber glass reinforced nylon scales that are colored black. The scales also have a waffle iron pattern to add texture and grip. There are two sturdy liners made out of 420J2 steel and also a large spacer. This spacer is there to accommodate the larger blade. There is a pocket clip on this handle which is a tip down clip. It is placed specifically so that it does not affect the grip that you have on the handle.
One of the most unique aspects of this knife is the Ikoma Lock Safety mechanism. This is a steel spring that is automatically placed between the liner and the scale, which doesn’t allow the blade to unlock if you squeeze the handle harder than you normally would. Also, with this system, the knife no longer needs to have a spring protruding into the liner to allow blade closure. It will take a little bit of time and practice to become accustomed to this new locking system, but once you do, it’s almost impossible to no appreciate it.
The overall length of this knife is 7.25 inches with a closed length of 4.28 inches. The No Time Off weighs 5.9 ounces. This is a perfect size for an everyday carry knife.
Pros of the No Time Off Knife:
- This knife is a perfect size for an everyday carry knife.
- This knife sports the Ikoma Locking System which is a new and innovative locking mechanism.
- The steel holds its edge for long periods of time and is easy to sharpen.
- The tip of the blade is very strong which means you can stab or pry with it.
Cons of the No Time Off Knife:
- Because of the blade shape, this is not an ideal knife for stabbing or penetrating.
The M21 Aluminum Folder:
When this knife was being designed, it was designed to be a variation of the highly popular Kit Carson Big Dog Deep Bellied. However, this knife has a simpler look to it.
The blade on this knife is 3.99 inches long made out of AUS-8 stainless steel. This is a high quality steel that holds an edge for long periods of time and is low maintenance. There are several different blade shapes for you to choose from. Some of these options are a spear tip edge, deep bellied, serrated, or recurve. You can also get razor sharp, semi razor sharp, combined, or triple point. The blade on this knife is 0.14 inches long. The blade is crazy sharp.
The handle on this knife is made out of 6061T6 anodized aluminum. You can get this handle in many different color options. The knife got its name because of the handle material. The locking system on this knife is the AutoLAWKS mechanism. This is a patented system, that ensures when the knife is open that it will stay open. The blade will not close accidently or by force. The knife uses the “Carson Flipper” blade extension which is a small protrusion in the blade that allows for easy opening. Plus, this protrusion doubles as a hand guard. You can open or close this knife easily with one hand.
The overall length of this knife is 9.25 inches long.
Pros of the M21 Aluminum Folder:
- The steel is a high quality steel that will hold an edge for long periods of time.
- The steel is a very low maintenance steel.
- There are many options to choose from for the blade.
- The blade on this knife is crazy sharp.
- The handle comes in a variety of different color options.
- The knife features the AutoLAWKS mechanism.
Cons of the M21 Aluminum Flipper:
- The pocket clip position is awkward and it ends up being pretty annoying.
CRKT makes a variety of different knives and tools. The four different knives that are in this article: The Folts Minimalist, the Hissatsu, the No Time Off, and the M21 Aluminum Folder are some of CRKT’s best knives. Two of these are fixed blades and the other two are folding knives. These four knives will be reliable and trustworthy for you. They will get the job done. CRKT’s has many unique and patented systems such as the ILS and the AutoLAWKS mechanism that everyone will love. These would be great knives to add to your collection.