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CRKT Knives

When most people think of swords and knives, they might first think of samurai swords, ninja daggers, and fantasy knives. Because of this, Columbia River Knife & Tool (CRKT) is unlike many other knife manufacturers. CRKT primarily creates knives, tools, and other accessories for military professionals and the working class. Anyone needing work, sport, camping, or professional tools should consider CRKT knives. Use this feature article to explore the company and many of their products.


Company History

The Portland, Oregon, area has a rich history of knife design and innovation. In 1974, a businessman by the name of Pete Kershaw left Gerber Legendary Blades and used his own designs to form his own company, Kershaw Knives. In 1994, exactly twenty years later, two Kershaw employees left their jobs to co-found their own company, Columbia River Knife & Tool. These men, Rod Bremer and Paul Gillespi, started small but began experiencing growth and success through their company within a few years.


CRKT is based in Tualatin, Oregon, but they ship knives worldwide. The Portland area is home to nearly a half-dozen knife manufacturers, so clearly there must be something in the water. Many of these manufacturers license products from independent knife designers, but each company also designs their own lines. Upon establishing CRKT, Bremer and Gillespi decided to utilize Taiwanese facilities rather than those in Japan. Just as outsourcing to Japan was a trend-setting move for Kershaw Knives in the 1970s, embracing Taiwanese facilities was a strong and bold move for CRKT in the 1990s.


Product Focus

As mentioned above, CRKT caters primarily to sportsmen and professional knife users. Here, you are not likely to find movie prop replicas, katana blades, or medieval props for use in live action role-playing (LARP). Many other companies and manufacturers can fill this niche for you. CRKT does carry a wide selection of tactical tools and weaponry, however.


In addition, the forces behind CRKT believe in innovation and technological advancements. They strive to create quality tools with custom designs by partnering with knifemakers including Greg Lightfoot, the Graham Brothers, Ron Lake, Michael Walker, and Ken Onion. Similarly, the company focuses on providing a variety of new product concepts and advancements. Many of the knives currently for sale through the CRKT website are upgraded and improved versions of earlier incarnations. Finally, their website also includes a “designer corner” which features biographical information on their top knife and tool designers.


When it comes to product warranties, CRKT limited lifetime knife warranty is a particular stand out for knife buyers. These warranties are exceptional as compared to the policies of many other knife and sword manufacturers. CRKT will replace your knife for free if it breaks or otherwise fails due to a material or manufacturing defect. “Tool abuse,” as it is known, is not covered. This term refers to knife owners who use their blades to pound, pry, or dig.


Tactical Weapons

CRKT believes in individuals taking control of their own environment and personal safety. The wide range of CRKT tactical tools are designed and manufactured with this in mind and are capable of performing in endless environments and conditions. Folding knives are always popular thanks to their compact size and security, while fixed blade knives are durable and ready for anything. Similarly, the tactical tomahawks are made to tackle any major project or intense situation.


CRKT also designs tools specifically for emergency responders and military coalitions. There are a variety of ER knives available for first responders, which are capable of sawing, cutting, or prying someone out of almost any circumstance. When disaster strikes, ER personnel can be prepared. Thanks to their ergonomic and sturdy design, the ER knives are also popular among campers and hunters as well as every day carry knives.


There are a variety of military-grade knives and weapons available, and many are currently in use by overseas troops and local coalitions. These knives incorporate a one-handed open function for quick and easy access, and are made with incredibly solid and durable blades.


Product Feature: Tactical Weapons Designed by James Williams

James Williams is a former Army medical doctor and martial arts practitioner and instructor, so he knows his design audience inside and out. Here is a quick look at four of his most celebrated designs, the first three of which were designed specifically for overseas coalition forces.


1. Hisshou (“Certain Victory”)

This is a professional weapon intended for use by military professionals and special force operators. The knives in this series (Hisshou, Shinbu, and Sakimori) are more powerful than their tactical tool predecessor, the Hissatsu. These blades are used in any situation where firearms cannot be carried or utilized.


The Hisshou has a 13” blade made of YK-30 high carbon steel. The blade is shorter than a traditional long samurai sword so that it can be used in tighter conditions. The Hisshou weighs just over a pound, which makes it ideal for slicing and slashing. This is not a work or sport sword, but rather a potentially life-saving tool for military personnel.


2. Shinbu (“Divine Valor”)

The Shinbu, like the Hisshou, is a specialized tool meant for close combat by military personnel. The blade is even shorter, closer to 9” and weighing under a pound. The tapered tip means this sword can do some serious damage.


Each of these three swords has a traditional stingray grip wrapped in cords for maximum control and power. In addition, the Shinbu comes with a belt-mountable sheath for fast, one-handed access.


3. Sakimori (“Noble Defender”)

The Sakimori is a fixed blade knife that can be worn or otherwise carried in a variety of ways. This knife is also full tang, with a blade just under 6” long and 9 ounce overall weight. Considered a “modified tanto,” the Sakimori is ideal for fast action. These are can also be belt or pocket-mounted. Like the Hisshou and Shinbu, the Sakimori’s handle is made wrapped in stingray skin and wrapped with cords for grip.


4. Tactical Pen

In addition to military-grade weapons and everyday carry knives, James Williams has designed a fully functional tactical pen. This sleek pen is made from aluminum with a colored finish. It writes beautifully but can also serve a quick self-defense tool. Shoe blades and lipstick guns may belong in an old spy museum, but this tactical pen is useful, stylish, and modern.


Every Day Carrying and Pocket Tools

You may find yourself longing for a pocketknife many times throughout any given week. Do you need to open a box or slice into a rigid clamshell package? Do you need to cut or strip wire or some sort of string? Do you have a car window punch handy in case of emergency?  Every day carry knives are meant to be constantly used and will likely get a bit beat up along the way. Investing in a companion blade is always a good idea.


Thankfully, CRKT offers a wide selection of every day carry knives. Fixed blade knives are available in a variety of blade designs and uses while the compact but sturdy folding knives are the most popular tag-alongs.


Hunting and Fishing Knives

Whether you go hunting with a gun, bow and arrow, or fishing pole, a high-quality knife is a must-have. Most of CRKT’s hunting and fishing knives are designed by Russ Kommer, who spent years guiding big game hunts and fishing expeditions in Alaska. These knives are comfortable enough for extended use and sharp enough to easily field dress a deer or filet a trout.


CRKT boasts a large selection of hunting and fishing knives that will make any sportsman happy. In addition, CRKT is currently developing and expanding a line of hunting accessories to make sure your day is spent lining up game and not worrying about your equipment.


Multi Tools and Other Accessories

Multi tools are a handyman’s dream, but they are also ideal for camping trips, backyard work, and every day carry. The tools are compact and efficient, designed for ease of use. They may include multiple blades, a bottle opener, a wrench, a set of screwdrivers, and a wire stripper. CRKT also sells compact screwdrivers that have a built-in LED flashlight.


Survival knives and bracelets are becoming increasingly popular. The Survival Para-Saw Bracelets, designed by Ken Onion, are available in earthy colors like tan, green, and black. These bracelets can be unraveled in case of emergency to reveal a nylon paracord up to nine feet long along with a tungsten carbide-coated wire saw. The cord is ideal for tying or securing while the saw can be used on wood and more. You can also purchase an attachment that includes a compass, LED light, and a firestarter.


CRKT also sells belt buckles and money clips as well as knife sharpeners. You can buy a traditional long sharpening system, or, for on-the-go access, a key chain sharpener. CRKT believes in vigilance and preparedness, and their tools will have you covered in any situation.