Many knife brands used SHOT Show as a launchpad for 2020 product lines. Here, we dive into CRKT, which has some unique new models hitting the market.
CRKT has been in the process of transformation for the past 4 years, and last year marked its first regular work in the high end. From the massive, blank-check design, the XOC, to the high-end version of the Homefront, it now consistently releases its best designs with great steel, ultra-high-precision machining, and prices to match.
It also introduced the very good Deadbolt lock last year, giving it a signature lock that’s both easy to use and very strong. This is where CRKT has been going for years, and it’s nice to see it finally there. The brand is still making good entry-level stuff, and lots of its 2020 lineup is clearly in that market space. Here are my favorites.
The notable high-end knife in CRKT’s lineup, the Panache (pictured above) is a hell of a blade on paper. Designed by Ken Onion with a clear eye toward a harder-use design, a la the Rick Hinderer XM-18, the Panache is quite nice.
A 3.6-inch blade of CTS-XHP with carbon fiber inlays makes this clearly a top-end piece for CRKT. At $295 MSRP, it’s probably right in line with other knives of this sort on the market. I’m a sucker for Ken Onion and XHP, so I’m probably going to get one for review.
CRKT’s collaboration with Kit Carson is probably the single most important collaboration in modern production knives, as it launched the M16, the flipper, and gave CRKT a perennial best-seller. So a follow-up isn’t surprising.
The M40 is a more sophisticated and robust flipper design and includes the Deadbolt lock. There are at least two blade shapes, with a tanto and a drop point. They both sport 3-inch blades of 1.4116 stainless steel. Both will sell for around $140 MSRP. (The tanto blade is $110 on BladeHQ right now.)
Designed by T.J. Schwarz, the Parascale is an unusual blade — a folder with paracord on the handle. The knife sports a series of slots where the paracord feeds through and then wraps up around the spine and back down the handle on the other side. The effect is similar to cord-wrapped-handled fixed blades.
Aside from this, the knife’s bones are solid. It sports a Deadbolt lock with thumb studs. It also has a deep-carry clip and a 3.1-inch blade of D2 steel. The Parascale retails for $150 MSRP ($130 on BladeHQ).
Another T.J. Schwarz design, the Overland is a rougher-use EDC knife with inexpensive materials: G10 and stainless handles and 8Cr blade steel. The 3-inch blade is an upswept sheepsfoot design with heavy geared jimping.
The geared look is carried over in the handle and backspacer. The G10 is olive-green, and there are nice, contrasting accents with an orange backspacer and pivot collar. All of the steel has been given a dark stonewash to hide wear and scratches. The CRKT Overland retails for $55.
CRKT is releasing updates to the interesting and nicely selling Provoke — a dark-earth variant and a rescue blade variant. It has a series of fighter’s folders from Brian Tighe, called the BT Fighter. (Why not the Tighe Fighter? Hmm … LucasArts might not like that). Flavio Ikoma designed a bigger knife, the Linchpin, with a Deadbolt lock.
New M16 variants are coming, because, well, cash cows do best in herds. The Thero ($45 MSRP) is a budget rendition of the Millit Torrent (a fantastic high-end production knife it is own right that seems to be out of production). The Vox Piet ($29 MSRP) looks like a rival to CRKT’s awesome budget folder, the Drifter.
Overall, this is a good lineup for CRKT: stuff across the price spectrum, nothing too silly or gimmicky, and a good implementation of the Deadbolt lock. The XHP in its lineup just works well. It’s a great, versatile steel.
Grade: A-; CRKT has a diverse lineup with good high-end, entry-level, and midrange blades.