Knife design is a subtle art. A blade can be well made, beautifully finished, and competitively priced, but if it struggles as a tool, then the whole exercise is in vain.
Maybe that’s what drew me to the CIVIVI P87 ($70). Designed by TV survivalist and knifemaker Kaila Cumings, the P87 represents one of her first entries into the mass-market jungle.
And while I have nothing but respect for the folks who struggle through the wilderness for our entertainment, the products released under their names don’t usually tend to be subtle. Take Bear Grylls, for instance. Though I’m a big fan of his recent wristwatch, his line of cutlery from Gerber has been pretty well panned by the outdoor community.
This is why, when I first caught sight of the P87, I was intrigued by the refined nature of the design. CIVIVI agreed to send a sample over for testing, and I waited to see if the reality would live up to my perception.
In short: The CIVIVI P87 is a lightweight, well-built cutting tool from designer Kaila Cumings. The blade, flipper tab, and upswept tip demonstrate a strong understanding of knife design, and CIVIVI’s fit and finish are up to the brand’s usual standard of excellence. For around $70, this is one of the more interesting small knives of 2022.
CIVIVI P87 Knife Review
Dimensions and Specs (From CIVIVI)
- Overall length: 6.5 in. (165.1 mm)
- Blade length: 2.9 in. (73.6 mm)
- Blade material: Nitro-V (59-61HRC)
- Blade thickness: 0.12 in. (3 mm)
- Closed length: 3.6 in. (91.5 mm)
- Handle thickness: 0.47 in. (12 mm)
- Knife weight: 2.49 oz. (70.6 g)
As far as modern pocket knives go, the P87 is a fairly modest beast. Its flat-ground, bead-blasted Nitro-V blade clocks in at just under 3 inches, which puts it on the safer side of the line drawn by some municipalities.
Its handle-to-edge ratio is a good one, with 3.6 inches dedicated to grip. This latter surface is made up of purple G-10, at least on the test model supplied by CIVIVI.
Buyers can black, green, or even pay the extra charge for a carbon fiber inlay.
In all configurations, most users will operate the blade with the flipper tab. Still, the knife can be opened using the dual thumb studs.
These have been thoughtfully positioned (almost) out of the cutting path. A sharpening choil lies below, with the designer’s logo hovering on the clip side.
In the Hand and Pocket
The P87 lived in my pocket for a full week after its arrival. Throughout this time, it proved to be a comfortable, easy-carrying tool. I have regular/large-sized hands, and its handle has just enough real estate to reach every finger.
The cutouts along the lower grip feel natural, and the knife has a way of nestling into your palm.
The design of the flipper tab is also particularly thoughtful. Besides its well-executed texturing, its hooked nature helps it serve as a finger guard once the blade is open.
But the protection doesn’t stop there. When disengaging the liner lock, the flipper tab is in a perfect position to drop against the user’s thumbnail. This keeps the sharp edge well away from your digits. Reposition your thumb, give the knife a quick shake, and the blade swings closed on the smooth arc of its ball bearings.
Speaking of smooth, CIVIVI has done a good job with the pocket clip. Its clean, deep-carry design allows the knife to ride effortlessly in your jeans or shorts.
There is one bit of weirdness, though. See that extra hole near the back? For a minute, I thought I’d somehow managed to lose one of the P87’s screws. But no — press photos have this same empty space.
It’s a vacant, threaded hole intended to allow left-handed users to switch the side of the pocket clip.
The P87 proved its capability through a variety of light- and medium-duty chores. The easy deployment and stowage made it all but effortless to use, while the colors and curves provided a nice bit of visual appeal.
I especially like the lines of the reverse-tanto blade, and the angular swedges that taper toward the tip.
And that, in truth, is my favorite part of this knife. Looking at the photos, I figured that the long belly and thin stock of the blade would make it a solid tool for food prep. While it did a passable job with some onions, carrots, and mushrooms, it was that beautiful upswept tip that won my heart.
Similar to the CRKT Razelcliffe Compact Blackout, this forward point makes an excellent package opener and box cutter. But while the Blackout is more of a utility-first item, the P87 manages to provide similar performance with a significant uptick in style.
As mentioned, this CIVIVI performed just adequately when it came to supper. I believe this is due to the short distance between the edge and spine of the blade. The stock may be narrow, but it has to do a lot of tapering in a hurry to get down to the sharpness.
Still, the P87 was more than a match for cardboard, rope, and a variety of similar materials.
After a week’s worth of use, I can say this for certain: The CIVIVI P87 is one of the best small knives I’ve tested this year. The materials and construction are excellent, and the $70 price point is certainly attractive.
But what I find most interesting is the thoughtfulness demonstrated in Kaila Cumings’ design. The well-executed flipper tab, the graceful utility of the blade tip, and the positioning of the thumb studs show a good understanding of the nuances that make up a great pocket knife.
In short, the P87 is another win for CIVIVI. And if Cumings has any new blueprints on the horizon, you can bet we’ll be paying attention.