Sunday, April 10, 2011

Review: CRKT Ripple pocket knife

A few months ago, I reviewed a Gerber pocket knife. While I liked the knife generally, I was frustrated with how fragile it was. In the comments for that review, one of suggestion was to check out the CRKT M-16 or M-21. I sent e-mail to the CRKT folks and they promptly sent me an M-21 for review.

I didn't like the M-21. It's a sweet knife, but bigger and heavier than I need for a daily driver. So I sent it back and they suggested the Ripple, which is lighter and slender-er. And blue.

It was still slightly bigger and heavier than I was looking for, but after 4 months of using it daily (check out the Gerber review for more details on how I use my knives), it's heftiness feels right to me. It's like riding a bike with a different geometry than you're used to: weird for a few feet, then you settle into it.

Here's what I like:
  • Bearings. In a knife! I'm a sucker for bearings, so easy points there. The bearings are embedded into a little machined race in the blade. I've never felt such smooth action on a pocket knife. I'm no expert and I've only flicked open a couple dozen pocket knives, but this one beats them all in terms of smooth and fast action. I guess there's a technical advantage to quick flipping in say, street fighting or something, but generally, it's just rad. It's well-made and it's nice to use a well-made tool as often as I use my knife.
  • It's solid -- I like to throw my knife to stick into poles/trees etc. I open beers with the non-business side. I'm not gentle with knives. It's not really fair to compare the $125 Ripple to the $20 Gerber, but I'm gonna: 4 months was the end of life for most of my Gerbers. After 4 months, the CRKT shows almost no sign of wear and nothing is wiggly or loosey-goosey.
  • Sharp. The blade is hard. There's some serious high-zoot steel going on with the blade. Another unfair comparison to $20 Gerber: there is nothing to compare in this department. I cut food, tubes, wood. I use the little saw bit of the blade to hack through all sorts of stuff. There are no dents or chips in the blade. It's still actually sharp.
  • I like the size. Having a bit more blade and a handle that fills the palm of your hand really makes the knife more useful in that "tool" way.
The only thing I'd look to change would be to see how a composite body would work with this blade. As I mentioned, I've come to appreciate the heft, and it's really minor, especially compared to the M-21 they first sent me, but I'd like to see what this knife feels like a bit lighter and I wouldn't mess with the blade or the bearings.

In the end, this is a fantastic knife and I look forward to using it for years.

The lesson here is that I'm thinking that $125 knife that you use every day is worth spending $125 on if it's solid. Note how many times I used the word "tool" here.

I run across my old busted Gerbers all the time. When I pick them up now, they feel toy-ish. I don't think I would've spent $125 on this knife if the folks at CRKT didn't send it to me. I would've kept buying $20 shit knives forever. And that's stupid.

So, call me a shill if you will, but if you use a knife daily, and it's a shit knife, my advice is to go and spend the money on a nice knife.

3 comments:

Geoff said...

We will know not to surprise you in a dark alley..

Good review.

Anonymous said...

Some folks call it a sling blade. John calls it a CRKT Ripple bearings-action pocket knife.

andrew said...

I have a nit to pick. All folding knives have bearings. Most of them have plain bearings. Your fancy knife has rolling-element bearings.

Also, FRP composites are generally not as durable as good quality metals. They are only as UV, corrosion, and abrasion resistant as the matrix that they are set in, which is usually something like epoxy.