There are hundreds of knife brands out there, but only a few continually come up in conversation and are widely known. Columbia River Knife and Tool (CRKT) is one of those super popular brands that has made quite a name for itself in the knife community, but how good is CRKT as a company, and how good are their knives really?
CRKT is a good knife company known for its affordable and well-designed knives. CRKT knives are well made, but the company has received some criticism on its ability to provide quality products consistently. CRKT makes its knives using great materials, but they often go for lower-end blade steels.
CRKT is one of those knife brands where you either love them or despise them. Because CRKT sometimes has inconsistencies in their products’ quality, whether you like the brand or not primarily comes down to what individual knife you receive.
Some people continually get duds from CRKT, while others (like myself) have only had stellar experiences with CRKT knives. Let’s take a deep dive into CRKT and take a look at the company and its products.
Are CRKT Knives Good?
Whether you consider the knife brand CRKT to be a “good” knife brand or not is highly subjective and can be influenced by your personal experiences with the company and a million other factors. Below I’ll take an in-depth look at CRKT as a company and its products to help you form an opinion and hopefully answer the burning question: “are CRKT knives good?”
CRKT Knives and Products
When it comes to CRKT knives and products, the answer to whether they’re good or not depends on who’s talking. I know some people who hate CRKT knives with a burning passion, while I actually like them quite a lot.
CRKT knives are generally on the lower end price-wise, though the company has begun to produce some higher-end knives targeted at the more premium knife market. Because of their affordability, the quality control and materials used can sometimes be less than ideal, but that is to be expected considering the price of most CRKT knives.
In my opinion, CRKT knives are not the highest quality or greatest in the world, but they are very well-made and overall solid products. I regularly recommend them to friends, and I own quite a few, so they’re overall quite lovely knives.
CRKT As a Company
As a company, CRKT has had its fair share of controversy and criticism, but overall, it is a very transparent and well-liked knife company.
Throughout the company’s history, there have been some design flops and mistakes (see this Blade Forums post where a CRKT Hootenanny knife had the wrong blade steel). However, CRKT is pretty good about addressing criticism and actually doing better going forward.
CRKT seems to listen and value its customers, which is quite a breath of fresh air, to be honest. Many knife companies disconnect themselves from their customers and audience, but that is not the case with CRKT, at least from what I’ve seen.
In addition to their excellent reputation, CRKT, as a company, is known as a very experimental and quality brand that doesn’t have a problem trying out new knife designs. I like new and intriguing knife designs and locking mechanisms, and CRKT has no shortage of fantastic ideas and knives.
Overall, CRKT is a well-respected knife company that, while it has had some slip-ups and controversies, is pretty good about responding and learning from mistakes.
CRKT is an overall good knife brand with many outstanding strengths that make it an ideal choice for many people. In the following few sections, I’ll briefly discuss a few of CRKT’s more prominent strengths and the attributes of each.
One thing that CRKT is known for is its knife and blade designs.
CRKT is one of those companies that likes to take risks and try out new designs whenever they can. Many CRKT knives have unique opening mechanisms, blades, handles, and pretty much any other design element that you can think of on a knife.
Besides the unique blade designs, CRKT has also been the innovative force behind new “Field Strip” technology, which allows you to easily disassemble and reassemble a knife while out in the field for cleaning.
One unique CRKT knife design that I really enjoy is the Fulcrum 2 Compact. The opening system on the Fulcrum 2 is super unique and very fun to use, plus it’s pretty sturdy and works well in my experience. Make sure to check out my review of the Fulcrum 2 if you’re interested, or you can pick a Fulcrum 2 up for yourself here.
CRKT is not afraid to try out new designs, and for the most part, they implement new knife designs well and don’t sacrifice quality for a cooler design. There is a wide selection of CRKT knives out there, so you can go risky with some of their more unique knives or play it safe with a tried and true design like the CRKT Ignitor.
Another great thing about CRKT is its affordable knives.
While the company definitely has a selection of higher-end knives, they also offer a good number of affordable blades. At least in my experience, even the lower-priced CRKT knives are exceptionally well built and able to stand up to some pretty intensive use.
I like more affordable CRKT knives because I can use them quite extensively, and when they inevitably break (because I use them so much and for SUPER demanding tasks), it doesn’t take the shirt off my back to replace them.
CRKT offers a wide selection of knives, so there is bound to be one that fits your needs and budget. CRKT’s affordability makes them an excellent option for people looking to get a solid and quality knife without spending a ton of money.
While it may mean less to the end consumer, CRKT is super good at branding and marketing its products. Few knife companies really nail their branding and marketing, but CRKT is one of those few that know what they’re doing and execute it well.
In my experience, CRKT is quite truthful in its advertising and doesn’t try to mislead its customers into thinking they’re getting a better knife than they actually are. Sometimes, CRKT overhypes a knife’s materials (which I’ll talk more about later), but their branding is solid overall and truthful.
The “CRKT” name has led to a bit of confusion regarding its pronunciation over the years, so make sure to check out my article on how to pronounce CRKT if you’re interested!
While CRKT has many strengths and aspects that they do exceptionally well, the company does have some weaknesses regarding its knives.
I personally don’t regard CRKT’s weaknesses to be too detrimental to the company because they’re doing so many things right, but some people might see them as a deal-breaker. It really comes down to what you expect of a knife and what aspects of a knife you prioritize and put an emphasis on.
I’m sure I’ve mentioned it or alluded to it at some point in this article already, but the material quality of some CRKT knives is less than ideal.
Don’t get me wrong, most CRKT knives are excellent and made of solid and high-quality materials. However, CRKT does have a knack for choosing lower-quality materials to make their knives more affordable overall.
This slight sacrifice in quality is something I’m usually able to look past because I tend to replace my knives often due to how much I use them, but this is a real problem for some people. CRKT tends to choose lower-end steels on even some of their more expensive knives, which can be frustrating.
The good news is that CRKT usually discloses the materials used quite clearly, so you should be well aware of the materials used to make your knife before you purchase. Just do your research and make sure you’re getting the materials you want, and you should be fine when getting a CRKT knife.
Another common complaint with CRKT is its inability to deliver consistently good knives.
Some knife companies can consistently deliver high-quality and well-made knives, but CRKT seems to have a few hiccups in their process. While I personally have never experienced any dissatisfaction with the quality of my CRKT knives, some people online have reported receiving knives with defects or problems.
Problems don’t seem to happen EXTREMELY often, but CRKT has a bit of a reputation for being unable to deliver a remarkably consistent product.
As I previously mentioned, some people dislike CRKT based solely on their experience of receiving a bad product. It just seems to happen more often with CRKT than with other knife companies.
However, I’ve owned many CRKT knives and have never had a problem with a flawed or defective knife, so take that for what it’s worth.
CRKT’s inconsistency really shouldn’t be the one thing that stops you from getting one of their knives because, in all honesty, CRKT knives are pretty great for the price. Just be aware that CRKT has a reputation for delivering inconsistent products, so don’t base your entire option of the company on a single knife.
Below are a few of my all-time favorite CRKT knives, so make sure to check them out if you’re interested in getting one for yourself!