Blades and Knives

CRKT: A Winning Combination of Value and Performance

The CRKT Minimalist, side view, being held on a brown background with leaves

I have used Columbia River Knife and Tool products for well over a decade, always with satisfaction. Knives are often an investment and, at times, a throw away item. The CRKT product isn’t expensive, but it isn’t cheap, and that is a good place to be for a service-grade working tool. Among the most enjoyable knives I have run across in some time is the new production version of Brian Tighe’s My Tighe.

Closeup of internals of CRKT knives on red background
Superior design shows in the internals of a CRKT knife.

The custom grade, one at a time version, from this talented maker’s shop is certainly desirable but the CRKT version is affordable and useful. (Please do not purchase the cheap flea market knock offs- they will break, close on your fingers and otherwise prove completely unsatisfactory). My example was one of the first to hit the shelves, and it seems to be well made of good material and has held up well in use.

  • The blade is properly finished and the handles are well designed.
  • Knife geometry is simple—you need to present the blade in the proper manner to allow leverage for cutting.
  • The handle has to stabilize the blade and the hand must not slip forward and stub the hand when the knife is used.
  • If you are draw cutting a simple slip joint is OK, but when we can have a locking blade we should use it.

My Tighe

When opening shipping boxes and doing mundane chores around the homestead, a good knife like the My Tighe comes in handy. When cutting rope or other serious work, the My Tighe’s frame lock is a welcome safety feature. The frame lock utilizes part of the liner or the frame of the knife to lock into the blade. There simply isn’t anything stronger than this type of lockup. There is plenty of meat in the steel to lock the piece solidly in the open position.

The black CRKT My Tighe unfolded side view.
The My Tighe is a favorite folder for those looking for value and performance.

The frame features a solid design. The concave cut handle scales are ingeniously designed to enhance adhesion. There is an excellent understanding of human engineering apparent in these scales. The blade design features asymmetrical spine facets, a high hollow grind—that I prefer—and a deep belly. This makes for a truly versatile knife blade for draw cutting or difficult work with rope and other material. Frankly, the My Tighe would not be out of place as a skinning knife for most American game, nor would it be unwieldy in preparing food.

The satin finished stainless blade with scalloped serrations will cut heavy rope without snagging. Tom Veff invented the Veff serrations and he did a great job. Remember, a sharp knife is far less dangerous than a dull knife when performing cutting chores. The dull knife will snag and snub and your hand may be pulled across the blade. A sharp knife cuts smoothly.

CRKT showing Veff serrations
Veff serrations add to the cutting ability of many CRKT knives.

The frame is built from heavy-duty stainless while the spacer is aluminum. Modern Torx fasteners are used in construction. The knife may be occasionally tightened if hard use dictates. One of the more interesting aspects of the knife is the Outburst assisted opening mechanism that is used famously on a number of CRKT knives. When you begin to open the blade, at about the 30-degree point, the blade receives a mechanical assist to jolt the blade open and into the locked position. This is a very neat device that allows rapid one-hand opening of the knife.

If, like myself, you sometimes find yourself working under a vehicle dash or are in an attic and wish to quickly cut electrical tape while holding something in place with the other hand, the OutBurst opening assist is very handy. As a bonus the My Tighe is fully ambidextrous. The My Tighe isn’t a huge knife but bigger than some pocket knives.

The blade is a useful 3.6 inches long, at a strong .124 inch thick. When closed, the knife is 4.5 inches long. This is a large folder but it carries well on the pocket clip. Many years ago, when working in a salvage yard, I used a large folder to cut radiator hoses, remove windshield trim and cut the bottom out of vehicle upholstery. I cut the bottom out of the vehicle seats because there were always coins that came out!

Later, as a peace officer, a good sharp knife was essential during searches, in performing much the same chores during vehicle searches. I did not wish to reach under a seat with my bare hands and the folder was a great tool for the job. The My Tighe is a good knife for all around heavy-duty folder work. It isn’t a cheap knife but it isn’t so expensive that it would be a significant hardship if the knife were lost or broken. Remember- a knife makes a poor crowbar, so use the knife wisely. I like the My Tighe perhaps the best of any CRKT folders to come along in some time.

Moxie

I learned from a number of experienced individuals that sometimes it is good to carry more than one edged tool. You cannot expect a hatchet to do the work of an axe or for one knife to do everything you may need done. The CRKT Moxie is a very nice every day carry (EDC) knife that would also serve well backing up a larger knife.

The black CRKT Moxie, side view
The Moxie is an exciting design that is light enough for easy carry.

The Moxie is well suited to light chores and will handle about 90 percent of what we do everyday. Matthew Lerch, a noted knife maker, designed the Moxie. While the Moxie is light, it features a steel InterFrame construction. This provides a good foundation for the scales. The handles feature hard layering for strength and a softer upper handle for a tactile advantage.

The Moxie features a spear point blade. This type of blade is among the oldest and most successful blade styles. It is not specialized but rather useful in cutting, trimming, and other everyday chores. The Moxie features the FireSafe release button. If you have ever hand a folding knife open in the pocket you will find the FireSafe activation a good safety feature. It takes some practice to get the hang of the FireSafe, but once learned this system is easily manipulated.

We do not need speed in a knife, but we do need safety in a true working knife. The trick is to push down and then out on the release button and work it into the thumb stud opening device. In common with the My Tighe, the Moxie features the OutBurst rapid assist device. The grip is futuristic in appearance for lack of a better term. This is an attractive knife, light enough, and capable for day-to-day use.

Minimalist

I am not certain how to take the next CRKT product. This one is designed by Alan Folts, who has created more than just knife designs. The man has designed and executed a set of titanium chopsticks! Just the same, I wasn’t prepared for the Minimalist when opening the CRKT box.

  • This is a very small knife.
  • It is very light.
  • It is comfortable to carry but then it should be as it is feather light and whisper thin.
  • The full tang 2-inch Wharncliff blade has many advantages. It is a design sometimes called the safety blade as the subtle geometry makes for a knife that the user is unlikely to get stuck by. Yet, it is useful in many chores.
The CRKT Minimalist side view and Para Cord and nylon/glass filled sheath
The Minimalist is a very light but worthwhile knife.

The first thing I thought was that here is a fine letter opener. Compact, light, and with a bit of style the Minimalist is an interesting and useful knife. Although the Minimalist is quite small there are three finger choils for control (most knives only have one). A single choil would have resulted in much less control with this knife. If you wish, the Minimalist may be carried around the neck with the supplied Para Cord and nylon/glass filled sheath. This inverted carry is actually very comfortable.

The Minimalist is easily forgotten it is so light on the neck, but when you need the knife simply reach for the braided fob. The Minimalist weighs but 1.6 ounces. It is a little difficult to put a handle on this one and what it may be used for. I have no doubt it will be a useful knife. It is too light for personal defense to any meaningful degree, in my opinion—and I am the man with the knife scar on his face. However, the Minimalist is clearly a useful utility knife.

Razel

The final CRKT knife we are going to illustrate is easily the hardest working knife in the quartet. Graham knives, in Cleveland Tennessee, is the home of the Razel. Most knives have a single point. The Razel—a combination of the Razor and Chisel—is a cross between the two and a very good confluence of design. One edge is for precision work. The other is for pushing and tapping. For working with carpet, scraping paint off of old furniture, or removing gaskets, the Razel is something of a wonder.

Stubby Razel
The Razel blade is an ingenious and versatile solution to many cutting chores.

If you look closely, it dawns upon you that there are two blade points and each is quite sharp. The Stubby Razel is the smallest of the Razel series but quite useful. It will cut rope and paracord and it will also cut wire. How about taper reaming? The Razel will handle the chore in skilled hands. One cutting edge is right at an inch and the other, 2.15 inches.

The handle is especially well designed for good purchase and additional adhesion when cutting. A great deal of effort went into the working tool. This one rises above the realm of “nice to have” into “must have” for the craftsman. The Stubby Razel is a big hit around the household and quite useful for any number of workday chores.

These are just a few of the CRKT products I have come to use. They have a value beyond the utilitarian in simple pride of ownership. They represent a good value for the money and best of all they are interesting designs sure to provoke conversation among like-minded folks.

 

Do you have a CRKT knife? What are your thoughts? Tell us in the comment section.

[bob]

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1 Comment;

  1. I have a CRKT. I’ve owned it for a few years now and live it. I have the K.I.S.S.in the Dark – Black, Tanto, Combo Edge. I carry it almost everyday and use it mostly for monotonous things, but it’s the best knife I could carry outside of hunting knives.

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