A few weeks ago I bought a Columbia River Knife & Tool (CRKT) Crawford Kasper folder. It was an impulse purchase made despite the fact that I needed another knife in about the same way my 16-year-old granddaughter needs another pair of shoes. Nevertheless, it was only about twenty bucks, and it was larger than most of my folders. I have two or three other CRKT products that have impressed me as well-made, reasonably-priced production pieces.
The scales on the Kasper are dark gray. They appear to be made of some sort of polymer. Except for the linerlock cutout, the steel liner perfectly undergirds the scales so I’m not too worried about chipping or cracking. The texture is smooth but not slippery. Heavy use of the Kasper as a camp knife is unlikely to cause any scalding or blistering of the bare hand. It has an appropriately placed lanyard hole.
Now what I really like about this knife is the size of the grip. The blade is only 3.5 inches long and single-edged – no chance for legal trouble in the mere carrying of it. The haft, though, is 5.25 inches long, and it is designed so that my relatively wide hand is contained between the pseudo-guard and the pommel. The knife is flat-side and only about half an inch wide across the back, but since it is around an inch deep, it fills the hand nicely while not being too bulky in a front pocket. It might not be the knife to carry in your church pants, but it will be reasonably unobtrusive in most casual or work attire. Of course it has the pocket/belt clip which is removable – though I can’t see any point in removing it. As it is I carry it in my front pocket mostly, but it rides very nicely in the right hip pocket of my jeans. If I put it on my belt, I keep it more toward the back for comfort when sitting and bending.
The grip is grooved for the index finger (assuming a hammer hold) which facilitates operating the linerlock as well as enhancing control, retention, and indexing. A smooth lip at the pommel end braces the pinky and helps keep the hand in place. The butt slopes away to the spine creating a rounded projecting end that would be effective in a backhand strike. There are thumb ridges on the spine at the base of the blade to allow for more controlled blade-ward pressure in cutting. At the same point on the spine there is a simple but effective “safety” which, when pushed forward with an open blade, prevents the linerlock from being disengaged. The safety has to be pushed back toward the butt to allow the blade to close. It is probably not necessary, but it is not a bad feature. Most importantly the position of the safety has no effect on a closed blade. The knife will open in every case.
Speaking of opening, I think I had the impression that this was an assisted-opening knife. There is really no special mechanical assistance, though. The blade has the usual thumb stud. To open, the regular motion is employed. What is different is that the design of the haft and the weight and shape of the blade enable the knife to open with a snap of the wrist. A little push on the thumbstub, up more than out really, coupled with a slight wrist movement locks the blade authoritatively into place.
As far as the blade itself, in keeping the depth of the scales, it is deep as well. I have noted already that the length is 3.5 inches. Picture the business end of most Bowie knives, and you have the blade geometry of the Kasper. The false edge on top is almost as long as the cutting edge. The blade is thicker in the middle and back toward the base. I suppose a person could sharpen the false edge, but that would mean an exposed cutting surface when the knife is folded. Besides even at the point the top edge is close to a tenth of an inch wide and flat. Finally, the very tactical-looking blade is covered in a subdued coat of gray.
All it all it is a well-designed and good-looking knife.
I have not had a chance to do much field work with it. After some experimentation, I was able to get it decently sharp using a diamond hone and a ceramic one. It is not quite up to my standard of scary sharp yet, but it will certainly shave hair and pass the paper cutting test. I used it to do a little pruning of rogue shoots and branches, and it performed well. For a folder, the Kasper is a fair chopper. It is helped by the weight and substance of the blade and butt. I wouldn’t want to take down a big hickory with it, but it will handle some modest chopping if the situation calls for it.
Keeping in mind my oft-repeated caveat that I know nothing about and do not believe in knife-fighting, the Kasper appears to be a good weapon should it ever be pressed into emergency self-defense service. Again, the size, weight and design of this knife work to its advantage. In the standard grip, the blade will work well for slashing or thrusting. The pommel, as mentioned earlier, will serve in striking. Gripping the knife will multiple the force of a punch while protecting the hand. If the user prefers a reverse grip, the Kasper lends itself to that, providing a very secure feel that inspires confidence.
No, I didn’t need another knife, especially yet another tactical folder, but the Kasper is riding in my pocket more and more, and my twenty bucks looks to have been well-spent.
Read my follow-up here.