Review Thoughts From a User New To CRK

Joined
Jul 1, 2014
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I have been actively collecting knives for the last three years or so. I've carried a knife with me every day for the last 10 years, but it wasn't until 3 years ago that I made the decision that I was no longer happy carrying a cheap, throw away folder. Up until March 1st of this year I was only interested in traditional slipjoints and fixed blades. I had owned a Benchmade Griptilian, but didn't care too much for it as a carry knife. It was a fine knife, just not for me.

On March 1st of this year I received, via trade, a Spyderco Manix 2. I traded for it mostly to give somebody else the opportunity to get some use out of some slipjoints that were just gathering dust in my basement. I really didn't think I'd like the knife, but figured I could trade it for something I did like or give it away. To my surprise, I really liked the knife and started carrying it. I knew that it wasn't something I'd carry long term, as it was just too big for my needs, but I did enjoy flicking it open and closed and the feel of the knife in hand. I ended up giving the Manix 2 to my father, and he carries it every day and loves it.

I decided that I was going to try to find some modern folders that I could really get into and start using on a regular basis. I had an opportunity to obtain a Hinderer XM-18 and did so, mostly because of the good reviews that they get. I knew it was too big for me, but I was trying to figure out what I liked and what I didn't. I carried it around for a couple weeks and was eventually offered a small carbon fiber Sebenza in trade for the Hinderer.

The Sebenza is another knife that I knew I would not like, but again it's on many people's list of "must have knives". I figured I'd play with it for a while, figure out what I liked and what I didn't, and then I could move it for a knife that I actually wanted using the knowledge I had gained. I have always shaken my head at people that spend thousands of dollars on Chris Reeve knives. To me they all look the same, and they're very plain jane. There isn't anything unique or inspired about the design. They're just a couple slabs of metal screwed together with a blade between them. Nothing special at all. We'd go to knife shows and I would point out the tables that had dozens of CRK knives on them and be baffled at how people could get sucked into the marketing of a product that's so obviously run of the mill. I knew that people touted the high tolerances, but whatever. That's not something I care about, and certainly not something I'm going to spend a small fortune on.

Then my Sebenza came. Within five minutes of opening the box I knew that I'd found my knife. Not that exact knife, it was a righty and I'm a lefty, but I knew that there was something to this CRK thing. I felt like I was holding the modernized version of a classic slipjoint knife. Other than it being made for the wrong hand there was literally nothing I would change about that knife. I didn't carry and use it a whole lot because I knew that I'd be flipping it and didn't want to damage it and lose a bunch of money. However, I was taken with the design and execution.

This week I was able to meet with a dealer and check out the entire Chris Reeve lineup. I handled large and small Sebenzas and Inkosis with and without inserts and graphics, Mnandis, and Umnumzaans. I was able to sell off my Sebenza and use that money to buy my new CRK. My choice was the plain jane small left handed Inkosi.

My knife came in today and I think I'm done. I'm not done buying knives, but I'm done looking for something better. This is it. I can carry this knife for the rest of my life and be fully satisfied. It's everything I've been looking for. If I spent $2000 on a custom knife I would hope that it came out exactly like this Inkosi. There is nothing about it I would change.

I know that this might not be the most interesting read to those of you that have drawers full of CRK knives. However, I'm hoping it might be of interest to somebody that's considering their first CRK. I never thought I'd be a CRK fan and I felt kinda stupid even getting one, but I'm so glad that I listened to those of you who say that everybody should try one.

Here's my new favorite knife:

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Officer's Match

Gold Member
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Jan 23, 2013
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Beautiful knife, and I very much enjoyed the read. I've been around the block several times in the knife game, and I agree about the Inkosi. I have a Large (made on my birth date) and will add a small too, likely a carbon fiber one.

 
Joined
Jan 4, 2016
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Nice post. I too recently picked up my first CRK - a large insingo with carbon fiber - and I get it. It really is a beautifully made knife.

Edit to say... if you really want to appreciate your knife even more, take it down, clean it, grease it and put it back together. Every single piece is a thing of beauty! It really is a sweet knife to maintain.
 
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Thank you all for the kind words. I'm glad that some of you found my post worthwhile. :)

Edit to say... if you really want to appreciate your knife even more, take it down, clean it, grease it and put it back together.

I took it apart to get the lanyard off of it. I'm just not much of a lanyard guy. I'm really impressed with the simplicity of the design and how easily it goes together again. I was worried about the Inkosi because of the comments about how you have to adjust the pivot to your liking. I really liked how there was no thought in reassembling the 21. You just tighten it up until it's snug and off you go. I was pleasantly surprised with how easy the pivot on the Inkosi is to adjust. I tightened it down and the action was way to stiff. I put the wrenches to it and loosened it a little and it was perfect. There was no back and forth like I was worried about. Just one little tweak and voila.

But I got to dispute one thing with you, many CRK's are anything but plain.

I have admired many of the pictures you post and am in awe at the collection you've amassed. I was lucky enough to get to handle some UG Sebenzas and some even had damascus like yours. They are wonderful, and I appreciate the work and detail that goes into getting the different colors of ano that comes through. However, at the end of the day they're still a very simple knife despite having very complex graphics and steels. Compared to something like the Hinderer with it's modularity or the Olamic 247 with all of the customization that they offer I really didn't expect CRK to blow me away. Ironically, the simplicity is the thing about the CRKs that blew me away. I had a short period when I debated getting a gussied up version, but in the end I knew that the more simple the knife the more I'd appreciate it in the long run. Chris Reeve came up with a great knife and knew when to stop. In comparison those other knives just seem like they're trying too hard, like that insecure person at the party that has to constantly one up everybody's story. Nothing against any other knife, they're great and all. It's only in comparison to CRK that they fall short.

C. Hess. Great story and good knife choice. It would be a great choice but it seems the knife was made for the wrong hand.

I know what you mean. That is exactly my feeling about 95% of the knives I've ever seen. Good knife, would be great if they'd make one that would work for me. Luckily, CRK is willing and able to fill that need. ;)
 
Joined
Nov 18, 2005
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That's a good point about simplicity. To me one of the most appealing points of the Sebenza is its almost brutal simplicity, brutal being meant in a good way. I would also say that, again to me, the Sebenza has a simplicity that the adjustable-pivot CRK folders do not have. Ironically, it takes a huge amount of attention to detail and small tolerances to achieve that kind of simplicity.
 

Lone_Wolfe

Dazed and Confused
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May 3, 2011
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I have admired many of the pictures you post and am in awe at the collection you've amassed. I was lucky enough to get to handle some UG Sebenzas and some even had damascus like yours. They are wonderful, and I appreciate the work and detail that goes into getting the different colors of ano that comes through. However, at the end of the day they're still a very simple knife despite having very complex graphics and steels. Compared to something like the Hinderer with it's modularity or the Olamic 247 with all of the customization that they offer I really didn't expect CRK to blow me away. Ironically, the simplicity is the thing about the CRKs that blew me away. I had a short period when I debated getting a gussied up version, but in the end I knew that the more simple the knife the more I'd appreciate it in the long run. Chris Reeve came up with a great knife and knew when to stop. In comparison those other knives just seem like they're trying too hard, like that insecure person at the party that has to constantly one up everybody's story. Nothing against any other knife, they're great and all. It's only in comparison to CRK that they fall short.

While I didn't agree with you about plain, I definitely do agree with you about simplicity. That's really one of the things that makes a CRK stand out, the fact that even I can take it apart, and get it back together CORRECTLY!

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Joined
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Thanks for a great post and review, Cory. While I wanted to say thanks, I suspect my credit card won't :). Although I own and regularly carry modern folders, I've been primarily interested in traditionals since being bitten by the knife bug. Lately I've been sort of edging around the Chris Reeve pool thinking about sticking my toe in, and your review gives me a little nudge, so to speak. I think I'm going to have to pick up a CR knife. There isn't a store that carries them anywhere near me, so I'll have to do it all online. I'm thinking standard Large Sebenza 21 might be a good place to start, but if anyone has other suggestions I'd love to hear them.
 
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... I'm thinking standard Large Sebenza 21 might be a good place to start....

I like what you're thinkin'! It is a great place to start - pretty much THE classic CRK. I just picked up a large 21 with the insingo blade and it really isn't too large. It is just an awesome knife all around. Honestly, you can't go wrong with that!
 
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I like what you're thinkin'! It is a great place to start - pretty much THE classic CRK. I just picked up a large 21 with the insingo blade and it really isn't too large. It is just an awesome knife all around. Honestly, you can't go wrong with that!

Thanks, TR. Much appreciated.
 
Joined
Oct 29, 2013
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I have a couple of customs, a handful of midtechs, friction folders, slip joints, SAKs of various sizes and production knives from the likes of Spyderco, Strider, ProTech, Kershaw and more, yet it seems that whenever I reach for an EDC, a CRK finds its way into my pocket.

Yes, the argument can be made that some of my knives offer more interesting designs, more refined ergos, possibly superior steels, etc, but my small Sebbies, and small Inkosi – and yes, even my Mnandi – seem to combine the best of them in a way that is equal to more than the sum of their parts. They just feel "right", if that makes any sense, and have yet to encounter a task that they weren't up to.

Anyway, congrats on your new Inkosi, and if I may be so bold, please allow me to offer an anticipatory congrats on your second CRK, too... ;-)

Regards,
Adam

PS - While I have carbon fiber, a Starbenza, micarta and wood inlays, and even a custom blue/gold anodized job (my small Inkosi), I've yet to own a proper "plain Jane" 21. This will change shortly.
 
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You guys crack me up.

John, I haven't owned a large, but did get to handle a couple. I don't think you'd be unhappy with one. I went with a small because it's more of a size that I'm used to carrying. The smalls are almost the exact same size as my Lanny's Clip. Here are some pictures of the small 21 with my Lanny's and a large stockman. Maybe these will give you a frame of reference.

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I wish I had similar pics with a large 21 to show you. They're about the size of a Queen Mountain Man, GEC 23, or Case Backpocket if you're familiar with any of those knives.

As for my new buddy, it's been happily riding in my pocket since I received it Saturday. I haven't had much hard use to test it with, but it's done a fine job on some steak and cardboard. Some days are just tougher than others. Today it was along for a ride to the library with my kids.

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Thanks, Cory. The size comparisons are super helpful. I just grabbed one of my 23s for reference, and it's about perfect for my hand (I don't, though, carry a 23 very often since I'm not fond of ripping my fingernails off every time I want to open my pocket knife). As soon as KSF has the large 21s back in stock, I'm going to use some store credit and grab one.
 

Ironbut

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Mar 1, 2016
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Those in manufacturing understand how hard it is to make something that appears simple.

I'm sure I'm mis-quoting this but, it's a quote that's been stuck in my mind for a long time & I think it describes CR knives:
"A craftsman knows he's acheived perfection, not when there's nothing left to add, but rather nothing left to take away."

I've accumulated "a few" knives over my 68 years, but my Sebenza 25 is the only modern folder I've carried since I got it 18 months ago. I've been considering a small Inkozi for several months now. I don't know what's holding me back, but I just can't make myself hit the "Add To Cart" button.
 

Ajack60

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Apr 21, 2013
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you know, at the end of the day, any good quality knife will cut stuff.
For me, what sets the CRK apart from the other fantastic knives I own, like many have already stated is the simplicity and sense of reliability that makes a CRK what it is. I have peace of mind knowing CRK has a top notch Customer Service Department that will service my knife if the need arises. Because of that, I put my CRK's through more than any of the other knives I carry. I've been carrying two knives daily for a while now and one is a CRK. I have a tendency to rotate other brands for the second knife.
The main reason I enjoy carrying a CRK is that with each snail trail, ding and pocket worn look, the knife takes on a personality that is unique to me. I have several CRK's for rotation and eventually they all will get there.:D
 
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