Review - CRKT KISS


Gold Member
Basic Member
Feb 25, 1999
I recently picked up a CRKT KISS. Literally, I just found it on the ground. Despite the fact that it was free, I think it's a lousy value.
First of all, the serrations are about as dull as a butter knife. This knife looks to have been used very little -- the straight part of the edge has obviously been sharpened, but is very little worn, and the rest of the knife shows almost zero wear and tear. The serrations on this specimen, which appear entirely undamaged, still will barely cut slivers off of my thumbnail.
Second, the lock on this knife is extremely inconvenient. I have never had a problem with closing a knife one handed, but this one is difficult to shut one-handed due to the positioning of the lock in relation to the clip and the handle, as well as the potential worry about cutting oneself on the closing blade. On the plus side, the lock appears relatively strong. I opened the blade slowly, then rapped the back fairly hard on my desk. This didn't faze the lock at all. I then decided to test for blade-play. There was absolutely none. The blade locks up solidly, with no play in any direction. However, with slight pressure, using just my bare hands, I was able to flex the blade/handle juncture significantly in any direction. I definitely wouldn't want to use this knife for any sort of hard cutting.
Regardless of this, I doubt one would be able to, given the impossibly poor handle economics. Given the enormous, unwieldy clip, and the total lack of any sort of grooves, choils, or any other of those gripping devices we take for granted on a well-designed knife, I find it difficult to hold this knife with any degree of confidence, and I would much rather use my teeth than this knife in any sort of "tactical" situation, not necessarily a fight, but rather in what James Mattis describes as a "sport/utility" use, such as in whitewater rafting, climbing, or any other situation in which knife-handling conditions are not ideal.
In conclusion, this knife might make a cute money clip, but I'd rather have a Spyderco Cricket, because then I could cut stuff.
Note to any satisfied KISS owners: I do not intend this as a personal attack on you or your knife. I am well aware that the provenance of my test sample is doubtful, however I don't believe the concerns which I have expressed above would be greatly affected by the condition of the knife, as most of them relate to design, rather than execution. In fact, I am rather impressed by the fit and finish of the knife, especially given its relatively low price, and place of manufacture. Comments are welcome.
Okay, it wasn't sharp out of the dirt.... how about after you sharpened it? Did it hold an edge?
Not that it sounds like you will try ... but I wouldn't try using it as the cute money clip either ... my CRKT PECK bit me after about 2 weeks as a money clip ... and I was really careful with it ... I guess that's probably why I was able to use a bandaid and not stitches!
I remember a time when Yugo compact cars were a craze. Of course, that died pretty quickly. I think if there was a lesson to be learned there, it was that just because something was cheap.. dirt cheap.. that doesn't mean it was great value. I think that's the secret to wise investments: It's not how much you spend per se, it's the overall value of the investment; how much you put in versus to how much get out.

To that effect, I must confess an ugly secret of mine. I detest the KISS, the stiff KISS, and the PECK. Hate them. While they seem like terrific buys on the surface, the bare-bone skeletonized handles make them tremendously dangerous pieces of tools to handle, even for utility use. If liability was added into the equation, the overall value plummets, IMHO.

Usually, I try to keep ugly stuff to myself. On the other hand, if I can deter people from making what I consider as unsound and unsafe purchases, well, it's worth the brief stink.

[This message has been edited by SB (edited 16 April 1999).]

O.K.- I USED TO carry a KISS.

I carried it as an everyday light utility knife after putting my own edge on it(not that sharp from the factory). I used it for cutting paper,fruit,boxes,etc., and thought it was a pretty decent knife for the money (cost me $20).

The blade is sturdy,it is very easy to open with one hand,and it looks pretty cool.

This past weekend, I used it to cut open some bags of concrete mix. Because of the bags requiring a fairly strong grip pressure to cut open, the knife folded more than one time(good thing the blade was in the bag each time).

This knife has now been retired and will not see the light of day again.

C.O.'s-"It takes balls to work behind the walls "

That was really my intention in posting such an unflattering review of the knife. I honestly wouldn't want anyone to purchase this knife, out of concern for their safety.
I know, I tried a KISS in a store and it opened choppy and closed dangerously. It was cheep but I got a Benchmade Stryker instead.
I bought a PECK because it looked "interesting and different" (and of course it was cheap). I put it on my keyring and before the end of the day it bit my finger when I stuck my hand in my pocket to get something. I took it off my keyring and back in its box.

I didn't return it to the vendor or anything, because it is still a cute toy, but I don't intend to carry it either. If you like it, fine, but beware! It bites.

Paul Neubauer
I've got a plain edge KISS in my back pocket as we speak, doing the only duty it's fit for, namely keeping my money together.

Here's a few of my thoughts after owning and carrying this knife over the better part of a year.

Edgeholding: None to speak of. I believe the blade is made out of something like 425 or 440A, but this knife was definitely heat-treated SOFT. When sharpened freehand using the hones from a Spyderco Sharpmaker, and then stropped for guaranteed burr removal, this knife pops hairs with the best of them, probably due to its thin edge. Two cuts into corrugated cardboard reduces it to no hair cutting ability AT ALL. Strangely enough, I can sharpen several pencils on it without noticeable dulling. Perhaps the abrasive filler in the cardboard...?

Money Clip: The whopping fat clip, which is about the same length as a standard Benchmade/Spyderco metal clip, but at least 1.5 times the width, makes its girth uncomfortable for pocket carry. I find this is ideal for money clip carry simply due to the increased surface area the clip provides when grabbing onto your money and ID cards.

Ergonomics: None to speak of. This is NOT an ideal utility folder. No finder indexing to speak of, no handle contours to prevent your hand sliding onto the blade. The silly miniscule thumb stud is a liability. Once the stud is removed with an Allen hex wrench, the blade can be easily opened one-handed by pushing on the primary bevel (created by the saber-ground blade) using thumb-pressure. I find closing one-handed is easy as well; see my post in the Spyderco-forum on one-handed opening and closing.

Safety: I now have a 1 cm long gash in one of my pants pockets from this knife self-opening. Luckily, I came out with no additional gashes on myself! I attribute this to having my keys in that pocket as well. As my keys are rather weighty, (Leatherman Micra, 2 Photon lights, Storm whistle), I think something snagged on the once present thumb stud and jarred it open. The lack of scales makes accidental unlocking a GIVEN should you encounter any torquing motion while cutting.

So why do I have this knife still?

Good question. As a stock knife, the KISS leaves a lot to be desired. Particularly as I bought it at grossly inflated prices at a House of Knives in Canada (about $55 Cdn?). However, as I'd just spent a couple hours there checking out the Benchmades that I'd then mail-ordered for much better deals, I felt I should support the local store. Here's how to make the KISS better in terms of safety:

Disassemble the knife by undoing the pivot screw and removing the blade. Now, using finger pressure only, bend the lock-bar further in the direction of travel. Reassemble the knife and test. You will now find that when the knife is closed, the lockbar exerts more pressure against the blade. This increases the engagement of the ball detent, helping to prevent self-opening. (Dremmeling to deepen the recess in the blade for the detent engagement is optional.) In addition, when open, the lock-bar will spring further across the blade tang and require more force to accidentally unlock.

Next step is to tighten down the pivot screw and anchor it with lock-tite. Strangely enough, this knife never gets loaded with pocket lint or dirt into the washers at the blade pivot, a common cause of gritty action. As a result, even with the pivot screw tightened, the knife opens and travels smoothly; it just takes more force to do so. These actions with help prevent the dreaded auto-opening; my KISS hasn't done it since.

The clip tension can be easily set by removing it and bending, depending on just how many cards/cash you tend to carry with you. I only have 4 cards and no money (damn knife habit!
), so the factory tension was fine.

Finally, sharpen and strop to hair-popping and use it like the money clip that it is. It's unusual enough to not scare the "non-knife enlightened", doesn't flip open by centrifugal force to draw warnings from the police, and lets you carry your money with less bulk than a wallet. Finally, you get a back-up blade in reserve in case a really sharp blade is warranted.

You DO have other knives on you right?

Hello all,

Months ago I purchased a KISS I carry it everyday in a cardholder in my breast pocket.

Next I purchased a STIFF KISS, finally a PECK. Bought them for what they were, not what they are not, hence I love them. (TEXT: Short and to the point).

[This message has been edited by clyde (edited 16 April 1999).]