In its extensive 100-plus page catalog, Columbia River Knife & Tool Company (CRKT) lists 44 different custom cutlery makers they have called upon to design many of their edged products. Custom knife craftsmen include Ken Onion, Ken Steigerwalt, Russ Kommer and others who have extensive experience both as knife makers and outdoorsmen. Combine that with top-drawer materials and quality cutlery manufacturing craftsmanship and you have edged products that provide the very best in functionality and affordability. CRKT recently brought out several products including the following three that should be part of every big game hunter’s kit and caboodle.
Foremost among this trio is the HOMEFRONT HUNTER, a unique design that allows the user to completely disassemble their knife for a thorough inspection and cleaning. One of the most significant problems with folding knives is their tendency to collect everything from pocket lint to tiny tidbits of offal as a result of game care within the knife frame. Removing that debris can prove difficult, especially with a knife that features some type of blade lock or brace. A little dried blood, a bit of animal fat or a small clump of hair can impede the reliable operation of such knives, and that can lead to the accidental closing of the blade on your fingers at a most inopportune moment. Given the fact that many hunting activities take place miles from emergency medical care, such an accident can lead to disaster.
The HOMEFRONT HUNTER features quick and easy “field strip” technology. With the knife in the closed position, push the scale-mounted lever up and rotate the integral scale mounted wheel clockwise until the handle scales separate. In an instant, the knife separates into its three basic component parts (a pair of handle scales and blade). Reassembly is just as easy¾replace the blade between the handle scales, press and hold the pivot, rotate the integral wheel counterclockwise and push the lever down. The entire process is very straightforward and allows the knife user to completely clean the interior of their folding knife.
The knife itself features a drop-point pattern blade, a tad longer than 3 1/2 inches and crafted from 1.4116 German stainless (carbon .4-.5%, chromium 14.5-15%, manganese .4%, molybdenum 6%, phosphorus .02%, silicon .4-.6% and vanadium 1.%). This particular steel is tough, quite stain resistant and easy-to-sharpen. The steel is similar to domestically produced 425M stainless and is generally Rockwell hardened to Rc 54-56, however, that means edge life is less than optimal.
In place of the traditional nail nick typically used to access the blade, a small protrusion on the back of the blade serves the dual purpose of allowing the user to flip the blade open as well as acting as a guard when the blade is open and locked. Additionally, handle scales are made from glass-reinforced nylon, feature an attachment clip and within the interior of the scales there is a simple brace that locks the blade in the open position.
Next up in the CRKT hunting knife lineup is the “BLACK FORK” Hunting Knife Set. This three-piece set combines a Wharncliff pattern skinning knife, a drop-point caper and a blunt tip-gutting knife, all crafted from stainless steel. The knives feature skeletonized configuration, with blades that measure a little over 2 1/2 inches in length. Best of all, the three knives are contained in a polyester rollup sheath with cut-proof inserts that is just the right size to fit in a pack or pants cargo pocket. As an accessory to a general-purpose hunting knife, this set allows the hunter to quickly and efficiently field dress, skin and cape any big game animal.
Another new CRKT hunting entry is the new PDK Precision Disposable Kit. Not to be outdone by other firms that have brought out knives with disposable blades, CRKT’s offering combines a molded handle knife with a permanently attached, plain edge scalpel-type razor blade. The difference between CRKT’s offering and the competition is the fact that the entire knife (molded handle and blade) is disposable. Rather than switching out just the blade, when one of CRKT’s disposable knife blades becomes dull the protective sheath can be replaced and the entire knife disposed of. The kit features four knives, with #60 utility blades in protective sleeves along with a pair of Nitrile plastic gloves. Slipped in your pack, one of these disposable kits makes quick work of any downed animal without the need to stop and sharpen your knife when the edge fades, and the gloves keep your hands free from the resultant mess.
It is gratifying to see a cutlery company like CRKT respond to the specific needs of big game hunters with knife designs that are fresh and right on target. In my experience, their products function not only as they should, but well beyond expectation.–Durwood Hollis