Columbia River Knife and Tool, or CRKT, was born in Oregon in 1994. This company was founded by Paul Gillespie and Rod Bremer. This is an American company that is known for its distinction in design, selection, and quality. This company did not truly take off until the 1997 Shot Show when the K.I.S.S (Keep It Super Simple) knife was introduced. This is a small folder that had been designed by Ed Halligan. Within the opening days of the show, the years’ worth of the product had sold out.
For over 20 years, CRKT has put innovation and integrity first, making a commitment to build products that inspire and endure. To achieve this desire, they operate on a simple principle: the greatest thing they can give their customers is Confidence in Hand. They also collaborate with the best designers in the world. Some of these collaborators have been Ken Onion, Harold “Kit” Carson, Allen Elishewitz, Pat Crawford, Liong Mah, Steven James, Greg Lightfoot, Michael Walker, Ron Lake, Tom Veff, Steve Ryan, and the Graham Brothers. CRKT also owns fifteen patents and patents pending. Some of these patents are the Outburst assist opening mechanism, the Lock Back Safety mechanism, and the Veff-Serrated edges.
CRKT has recently released a brand new knife called the Gusset and the Gusset Black with Triple Point Serrations. These two knives are the same design with a few minor differences.
The blades on both of these knives are made out of 8Cr13MoV steel. This is a Chinese steel that comes from the Cr series of steels. The highest quality out of the Cr steel is the 9Cr, with 8Cr falling closely behind. This steel is usually compared to AUS 8 steel, however, the 8Cr steel is slightly inferior to AUS 8. One of its biggest features that it boasts is how inexpensive the steel is. This steel can get a very fine edge and hold onto its edge for long periods of time. And, as a bonus, this steel is extremely easy to sharpen because of how soft it is. This steel also has a very high level of corrosion resistant properties. This steel is well balanced between strength, cutting, and anti-corrosion properties.
One of the differences between these two steel types is the finish that the blade sports. One of the versions of the knife has a gray Titanium Nitride finish. This is one of the best coatings that can be applied to a steel. One of the main reasons that this finish is used is to provide the steel with a different color. And the other main reason that this finish is used is to increase the durability of the blade. The Titanium Nitride finish is known to be extremely scratch resistant as well as extremely peel resistant. One of the unique characteristics of this finish is that it is applied through a process of plasma deposition performed in a completely air-sealed vacuum. This is a benefit because in many coated finishes, the finish runs or is coated unevenly, which makes for an uneven and unsmooth blade and also makes the coating more likely to scratch, peel, or chip off.
On the other version of the Gusset, the finish on the blade is Black Oxide. This is finish is also known as blackening and it is a conversion coating for ferrous materials that is used to add mild corrosion resistance and an appealing black appearance.
The blades on these knives have been carved into a drop point blade shape. The drop point blade shape is the most popular blade shape on the market today and it is a very versatile and all-purpose knife. To form the shape of this knife, the back or unsharpened edge of the knife runs straight form the handle to the tip of the knife in a slow curved manner, which creates a lowered point. This lowered point works to provide you with more control over your cuts and slices while also adding strength to the tip. The drop point blade shape is often confused with the clip point, because they work to be able to perform similar tasks and are also both very versatile. The biggest difference between the two is the point. The clip point has a thinner point that gives you better stabbing capabilities, while also being much weaker and more prone to breaking. The drop point blade shape has more metal towards the tip, which makes for a broader tip, and thus, less sharp. So while you do lose out on most of your stabbing and piercing capabilities with a drop point, it is so much stronger. Because of the extra strength it can hold up to heavier use and because of both of those characteristics, the drop point blade shape is very popular on tactical and survival knives. The broad tip is both a major advantage, but also a drawback to this blade shape. And because the tip is so easily controllable, this blade shape is very popular on hunting knives. This is because the lowered, broad, and controllable point makes it easier to avoid accidently nicking internal organs and ruining the meat. One of the last reasons that this is such a versatile and all-purpose blade shape is because of the large belly area that the shape sports. This belly area provides plenty of length that makes the Gusset the perfect knife for your everyday tasks as well; many everyday tasks involve some form of slicing. Because the Gusset has a drop point blade it makes it the perfect option to take on all of your common tasks that are expected, but it also prepares you to take on the unexpected challenges and adventures that accompany your life.
The edges on the two versions of the Gusset do vary. The version of the knife that sports the gray Titanium Nitride coating has a plain edge. This is the more traditional edge that you can purchase. There are a handful of benefits to having a knife with a plain edge. For starters, a plain edge is much easier to sharpen and you can get a finer edge on it. Second, the plain edge is the perfect edge for your push cuts, which involve slicing, peeling and skinning.
The version of the knife that has the Black Oxide finish features a combo edge. This is when the half of the blade which is closest to the blade is serrated and the other have has a plain edge. This type of edge has a tendency to make the customer feel like they have the best of both worlds. They have the serrated portion of the knife which is ideal for cutting through the thicker materials such as rope and branches, because you can saw through them. But, they also have the plain edge for any common slices that they need to perform.
In the end, edge style is purely preferential because you can get a very sharp edge on a serrated edge and plain edges do have the capacity to cut through the thicker materials. It’s best to look at what you expect to do the most with your blade and make your choice based on that.
The handles on both versions of the knife are made out of stainless steel. This material provides exceptional durability as well as crazy resistance to corrosion. However, stainless steel is also not lightweight. To cut down on the weight that the stainless steel handle would add, CRKT has cut out different geometric shapes in the middle portion of the handle. This is an effective tactic to keep the Gusset more lightweight, while also giving the user a fresh, unique style. Stainless steel is also fairly slippery, but the geometric shapes help in that area as well. Stainless steel is a very strong material, so the Gusset is going to be able to take on those harder tasks.
The finish on the two versions are different though. The gray blade has a matching gray handle and the black blade has a matching black handle. Since these knives are both monochromatic, it gives you a sleek, almost futuristic feel to it.
To keep your grip as comfortable as possible, CRKT has carved out a shallow, elongated finger groove and has added a finger guard to protect your fingers. On the butt of the handle, there is a row of thick jimping to help provide you with a secure grip. And as an added bonus, the butt of the handle also features a lanyard hole.
The Pocket Clip:
The pocket clip on both versions of the knife match that particular versions color. The clip is skeletonized to go with the handle as well as cutting down on weight. The handle on the Gusset has only been drilled to attach the clip for tip down carry on the traditional side of the handle.
The Gusset is a folding knife that features a flipper opening mechanism. The flipper is a small protrusion that comes out of the spine of the handle when the knife is closed. You pull back on this flipper and it puts enough pressure on the blade to flip it open and then lock it into place.
The Gusset features CRKT’s IKBS system. This system was designed by Flavio Ikoma and Rick Lala. It uses lubed ball bearings that are set into the folding knife pivot. Because of this system, you can have a rapid blade deployment that is smooth and fast.
The Gusset also features a frame lock mechanism. This is a very similar mechanism to a liner lock except that a frame lock uses the handle to form the frame and therefore the lock. The frame lock is situated with the liner inward and the tip engaging the bottom of the blade. The frame lock is released by applying pressure to the frame to move it away from the blade. When it is opened, the pressure on the lock forces it to snap across the blade, engaging at its furthest point. Frame locks are known for their strength and thickness.
The blade on this knife is 3.568 inches long, with a blade thickness of 0.123 inches. The overall length of this knife is 8.125 inches long and it features a closed length of 4.581 inches. This knife weighs in at 4 ounces even.
The Gusset was designed by Ken Onion, who is known at CRKT as the real deal. He was the youngest ever inductee into the Blade Magazine Hall of Fame in 2008 and he is recognized as one of the most innovative and successful knife designers of all time. In 1996 he created the first commercially successful assisted opening mechanism and 20 years later he unveiled his award winning Field Strip Technology. He is the designer of the successful Eros folder series as well as the award winning Hi Jinx. It seems to me like Ken Onion is never at a loss for ideas.
The Gusset is a flipper knife that was named after the gussets of a metal dune buggy that adds additional strength and helps to reduce the overall weight. These knives are made out of 8Cr13MoV stainless steel which resists rust and corrosion well while also maintaining a very fine edge for long periods of time. As an added bonus with the blade, the steel makes sharpening a breeze. There are two different finishes for you to choose from: dark grey TiNi or a Black Oxide finish. There are also two different blade edge styles to choose from, the dark grey blade having a plain edge and the black blade featuring a combo edge. The drop point blade shape on these knives make them perfect for taking on heavier duty tasks as well as getting you through your everyday tasks. The stainless steel handle and pocket clip are skeletonized to reduce the weight behind this knife. This knife is strong, durable, and resistant to rusting and corroding. Either versions of this knife will be the perfect addition to your knife collection and you can get them both at BladeOps.