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Old West ‘Gambler’s Dagger’ Modernized: Ken Onion CRKT Redemption Review

Common on belts in the Old West, the 'Gambler's Dagger' sees new life as Ken Onion and CRKT's Redemption, a modern outdoor folder.

(Photo/Nick LeFort)
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Close your eyes and think back to your favorite Westerns:Tombstone,” “The Harder They Fall,” heck — even “Back to the Future III.” Think about the grit, the danger, the adventure — and think of the emotions of living at the cutting edge of outlaws and bandits in that time.

Basically, I want you to get as amped up about CRKT’s latest venture with knifemaker Ken Onion, Redemption, as I am.

The Redemption is Onion’s take on the classic “Gambler’s Dagger.” It’s a large knife that was usually worn in the boot of outlaws, gamblers, and the like that was designed for stabbing and slashing. For the Redemption, Onion employed MagnaCut steel, G10 handle scales, and a crossbar lock to update it for use and abuse in the modern world.

The end result is a large folding knife that could probably serve as a solid line of defense if you get caught cheating in poker, but could also come in handy in the outdoors.

In short: It’s doubtful that CRKT planned to have this Gambler’s Dagger become a viable tool in the outdoors, but MagnaCut, G10, and sheer size make it a no-brainer for your next camping trip.

Ken Onion Redemption


  • OAL 9.19”
  • Blade length 4.09”
  • Blade steel MagnaCut
  • Blade shape Dagger
  • Grind Flat
  • Hardness 60-62 HRC
  • Lock type Crossbar
  • Carry Right or left hand, tip-up, deep carry
  • Weight 4.9 oz.
  • Price $225


  • MagnaCut steel
  • G10 scales
  • Crossbar lock
  • Classic design


  • Really big for a pocket knife

CRKT Redemption: Review

CRKT Redemption Review
(Photo/Nick LeFort)

Design and Features

The Redemption is built off of a skeletonized set of stainless steel liners. It has G10 handle scales, a matching back spacer, and stainless steel bolsters to give it that classic dagger look and shape.

The blade steel is 4.09 inches of MagnaCut for strength and edge retention. Unlike most daggers, the Redemption only has one edge sharpened, which may be a disadvantage in a bar fight. But, it offers an ample cutting edge to give you a fighting chance and do pretty much whatever else you can think of with a blade this long.

The Redemption also carries the now ubiquitous Crossbar lock and a deep carry pocket clip that can users can switch to left-hand carry.

CRKT Redemption - Detail
(Photo/Nick LeFort)

I will add that this knife has a lot of detail that you could admire for years to come. I saw this in the machining of the bolsters, the grain pattern on the G10 scales, and the decision to include an insert in the unused cutout for the pocket clip.

First Impressions

Daggers are unique by design, but also in the fact that we’ve all grown to see them as weapons and not tools. Anytime I saw one in an old Western, it was either being used to cut an apple by some villainous character, or sticking out of someone’s back after they got caught cheating at poker.

Yes, the Redemption is all of that, but as I don’t plan on ever getting into a knife fight, I found its worth as an outdoor knife (as well as a dress knife) right out of the box.

But it is a big knife.

In fact, with an overall length of over 9 inches, 4 of which is blade, the Redemption is on the high side of sizing for pocket knives. How high? Possibly the peak.

When I wear it in my back pocket, it hits the bottom before the pocket clip is fully inserted. This isn’t an issue in my side pocket. And, not trying to be funny here, but it’s probably fine as a boot knife as well.

In the Field

CRKT Redemption - All The Grains
(Photo/Nick LeFort)

Early on, the Redemption proved its worth in slicing and stabbing, making it an excellent choice for meal prep. I had a thick steak I wanted to piece out before I put it on the fire. Stabbing into the center of the cut and slicing down provided clean, even cuts, and ensured there wasn’t any complaining at camp.

Important to note: The people I camp with are my 7- and 10-year-old kids. Those two girls could eat a side of a cow if there was salt, pepper, and grill marks.

The Redemption is too large for simple whittling, but it’s great for shaving and shaping wood. I know a lot of folks who are into making axe handles and spoons, and the Redemption could do that well.

It was also really good at batoning kindling. That 4-inch blade gives you a lot of real estate to play with in terms of splitting larger pieces of kindling. But I found that the drier the wood, the better the results.

That might sound like a no-brainer, but being that the blade isn’t very tall, it could get jammed up in thicker branches. Oddly enough, it’s the short, dagger shape of the blade that makes it great for shaping and shaving — no matter if the wood is wet or dry.

I doubt Onion or CRKT envisioned the Redemption being used as a reliable tool in the outdoors, but that’s what I do. And it let me really test this knife. Something this big will prove a hit or miss for the outdoors.

Even though it originally served to fight your way out of a cheatin’ hand of hold ’em, the Redemption’s MagnaCut steel and grippy G10 scales made it a real treat for outdoor use.

(Photo/Nick LeFort)

CRKT Redemption Knife: Conclusion

Is the Redemption the next EDC knife to take the market by storm? No. And it doesn’t need to be, being that it’s made from MagnaCut and G10 will put this at the top of a lot of people’s lists, however, and rightfully so.

The Redemption is a classically styled knife, modernized, and designed by one of the best knifemakers of our time. Ken Onion is a legend.

He’s done a lot for the knife industry as a whole, but in the last few years, his work with CRKT has been epic. I won’t list all the stellar knife designs he’s behind, but it’s worth your time to check out his Field Strip Technology.

With that being said, the Redemption feels like a passion project for Onion. Even though it’s large and shaped like a dagger, it doesn’t mean it’s unwieldy or out of place in the outdoors. A knife like the Redemption allows you to focus on one knife to carry instead of having a pocket knife and a belt knife.

If I had to sum this all up and put a bow on it, I would call the Redemption the perfect balance between a dress knife and an outdoor knife that fits in almost anywhere you feel like taking it.

What’s more? If you find yourself in a knife fight in some dark and dank saloon — you know you’ll get a few solid pokes in before one of those outlaws takes you out.

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