When someone says “premium knife” and the initials C-R-K are used, everyone thinks “Sebenza.” But over the past few years or so, Columbia River Knife and Tool, the OTHER CRK(T), has started to pump out a host of nicer knives. While their line up is still mostly mired in 8CR overseas entry level stuff, some of which is not bad, a few knives have been released in premium configurations. Of those, the Squid II is by far the nicest and by far the best blade CRKT has ever sold.
One reason it has taken so long to nail this premium feel is that CRKT, like the vast majority of knife companies in 2023, is not so much a knife maker as it is a knife producer. The difference is huge and important for knife folks to understand. Here is the difference, using Benchmade v. CRKT as a simplified example.
Benchmade has a bevy of in-house designers working on new blueprints for knives. Once they finish with the CAD drawing they walk over to another part of the Benchmade factory and hand it to a person working at a series of advanced metalworking machines. Through all sorts of high tech tools, they take raw materials and make the knife as designed. Everything is in-house.
CRKT instead, works differently. They have a network of custom makers that help design their blades. Those plans get shipped to CRKT and they are either edited a bit or taken as is, and sent to a manufacturing company, sometimes referred to as an OEM (original equipment manufacturer). Once the design is made, it is distributed, sold, and marketed by CRKT.
That is a good explanation of CRKT.
As for the Squid, it is one of Burnley’s most popular designs. I like it, but I like others better. Lucas is a super nice guy.