It was the year of Pulp Fiction, with Schindler’s List and Jurassic Park picking up academy awards. Elsewhere in the world two men from Kershaw Knives, Rod Bremer and Paul Gillespi, were brewing up a new blade company, which would become CRKT, Columbia River Knife & Tool company. For three years the pair would toil in obscurity, until their K.I.S.S (Keep It Super Simple) Knife designed by Ed Halligan was introduced at the Shot Show where the small folder would skyrocket CRKT into the public’s awareness. They would go on to manufacture blades designed by the biggest names in knifemaking. Ken Onion, Harold Carson, and the Graham Brothers are just a few of the noted notables who have contributed to CRKT’s impressive quiver of products.
Based today out of Oregon, CRKT still makes affordable knives meant for everyday carry. They work to create unique, custom designs using modern methods and equipment that are always looking forward. With the huge array they’ve made over the last 20+ years, choosing which blade is best can be a struggle, which is why we trimmed the average pieces away to make room for the 8 best CRKT pocket knives for EDC.
Pro: Steel liners are fully embedded in handle
Con: Liner lock and pocket clip are excessively tight
Simpleton: The Drifter is the inexpensive go-to knife for workers who need durability at a price that won’t put them in debt if they need to replace it. Stainless steel liners make this a tough blade to hurt and an easy choice for when you need to dig or pry at something. The basic black G-10 handle with textured grip lacks finesse or poise, but that’s why this is a knife for using, not showing off at a little cocktail party. Continuing with the minimalist appearance, the drop point blade is a workhorse for most situations and versatile enough to go from opening letters to cutting a seatbelt in seconds.
CRKT Folts Minimalist Razor Edge
Pro: Belt and neck loops
Con: Weak steel
Hold On: For EDC, only the daring choose to go with a fixed blade knife. The Folts is a solid choice for daily use with its spear point for capable self-defense and unique Wharncliffe blade that works for daily tasks. It comes in at a 55-57 on the Rockwell scale due to using slightly softer 5Cr15MoV steel. With the flat design it’s easy to keep an edge on with just a little strop work or the occasional trip across the whetstone. Micarta scales with finger grooves complete the package and add more accuracy to work as well as making it tough to rip from your grip.
CRKT Ken Onion Ripple
Pro: Easy to conceal
Con: Handle bears a worn look that detracts from window appeal
Ninja Vanish: The Blur from Kershaw might be Ken Onion’s most famous knife, but if you’re looking for his deeper cuts, then you want the Ripple. It’s a satin finish knife that runs up to 59 on the old HRC. It uses an aluminum handle so there’s no worry about oxidation causing parts to stick or degrade. Under the hood is a set of 2Cr13 liners for a little added resilience that does little to add to the weight or reduce the slenderness of this knife. If it’s smooth operation you seek, this uses an Ikoma Korth Bearing System for pivoting that opens and closes like sliding along pure buttered silk.
Pro: True folding combat knife design
Con: The clip does not accommodate deep pocket carry.
Honor Bound: Crafted out of AUS 8 and black from point to pommel, the Hissatsu is an EDC essential for the modern samurai. The Zytel scales are gently textured for increased hold without being awkward to grip. It has a mild Outburst assisted opening for deployment at the snap of your fingers and a stiff lock along with CRKT’s AutoLAWKS system to keep it in place when you’re putting pressure on the blade.
CRKT Ikoma Fossil Veff
Pro: Flipper doubles as a smart finger guard
Con: Serrations are prone to chipping
Odd Man Out: You’re going to get some rubberneckers with a ton of questions when you pull this out. It’s a little hard to get past its striking looks, but when you do, you’ll find that the hammered stainless steel handle covered with G-10 scales and 8Cr13MoV steel blade is not to be trifled with. It employs a frame lock that won’t give a millimeter when put to the test, along with deep serrations that make short work of rope or paracord. Opening is handled with a ball bearing IKBS that swings open like a gate in your grandma’s picket fence.
CRKT Ken Onion Foresight
Pro: Beefy, wide blade
Con: Bulky and requires tip down carry
Look Ahead: The Foresight is another of Ken Onion’s babies. In this case he followed the adage “Form follows function” and made it to work, allowing the chips fall where they may when it came to looks. The end result is a sleek, slick, hyper-functional knife that lacks pomp and instead offers up utility in any circumstance. Finger grooves on each side give it grippable, ambidextrous operation with your choice of a plain edge or combination edge with sawing serrations. The AUS 8 steel with its onyx titanium nitride coating slips in and out without a hitch and vanishes into your pocket.
CRKT No Time Off
Pro: Short and slender
On the Job: Flavio Ikoma has made some beautiful knives with some stylish arrangements, but he’s proven that when it comes to devising something tough rather than attractive, he really knows his business. The waffle iron grip works like a set of waffle stomper boots, making the No Time Off hard to drop and reduces slipping to almost nothing. A glass reinforced nylon handle gives it a little survivalist toughness right at the base, while the working surface is BD1 stainless backed by a 420J2 liner. It’s both small and trim as well as burly and ready for action.
Pro: Lovely clip point blade
Con: Limited texture on handle
On Point: G.S.D. stands for Get Shit Done, and this hunk of hardware from knife legend Liong Mah is built for work, but the sleek lines also make it a helluva display piece for those who prefer a little more flash when they want it known that they’re on task. It’s sufficiently classy for pulling out at the office and more than sturdy enough for when you’re bivouacked on the side of Kilimanjaro. It’s small, it’s safe, it’s smooth, it’s industrial, and it’s downright beautiful.