Knife Review: Ken Onion CRKT Redemption Folder

Those who have been following my writing will know that my typical knife review documents a month or more of carrying a knife.

In the case of the new Ken Onion designed CRKT Redemption, at the time I am beginning to write this, the knife is still 2 days away from being formally announced. There will be a press release, which I will have already shared, and lots of people will be sharing. But the pool of people who will have actually used the knife will be quite small, and I am one of them. In addition to the older models that they have sent us to use a prize giveaways, they sent me a Redemption to put through its paces. It has been my exclusive carry for a week now, and I have enjoyed it thoroughly.

I will be doing my best to help those that might be interested in purchasing this knife arm themselves with the knowledge to make an informed decision. After all, a press release is meant to sound exciting and sell the product. A review should be non-biased.

Here is what I had to write about the knife in the upcoming October Knife News column:

Ken Onion Redemption is latest USA-made CRKT

Columbia River Knife and Tool, better known to enthusiasts as CRKT, is continuing its 2023 string of American-made releases, this time with the Ken Onion designed Redemption. Like the LCBK and Definitive, designed by Matthew and MJ Lerch respectively, the Redemption is being produced in partnership with Hogue Knives, and is the first Onion design being produced with an ambidextrous, crossbar-style lock.

The knife itself is patterned after Onion’s “Deadman’s Hand” custom design, harkening back to the days of riverboat gamblers and wild west saloons.“The Redemption blends design elements of a bygone era with modern attitude and premium materials to create a truly extraordinary folder,” said Doug Flagg, CRKT VP of Marketing and Innovation. “The combination of MagnaCut steel which delivers incredible strength and superior edge retention with the versatile Crossbar Lock and American manufacturing delivers not only an incredible product but is emblematic of the heights CRKT is reaching towards as a brand.”

The CRKT Redemption features a 4.06” CPM MagnaCut stonewashed, spear-point blade, which disappears completely into the handle when closed. The handle scales are Black G10, paired with stainless steel bolsters. There is a reversible pocket clip, and an embedded oval-shaped shield inlayed on each scale. MSRP is $225.

Find out more about Tualatin, Oregon based CRKT by visiting their website –, or by calling 800-891-3100.

I wrote that prior to receiving the knife, and the one oversight was in not highlighting the lack of a flipper, thumb-stud, or other mechanism to open the blade. The Redemption is essentially a gravity knife. One pulls back on the crossbar lock, and lets gravity pivot the blade from the handle. a twist of the wrist and a release of the lock, fixes the knife in the open position. Likewise, to close, one pulls back the lock and raises the front of the handle, and the blade swings back home into the closed position. Those who have handled a Civivi Elementum in its original button-lock configuration will be familiar with the operation of the Redemption. They will also know that it give the knife a “fidget-factor” that is off the charts. I cannot think of another knife that operates this way, though I am sure it has been done before. (The original German paratrooper “gravity knife” was out-the-front)

Here are the full stats on the Redemption:


The Redemption’s handle is a modified coffin style, and is one of the design features that gives the knife its western aesthetic. While a true coffin handle’s swell is more pronounced towards the palm, the Redemption swells slightly in the center. I cannot say if I would prefer the traditional handle feel, as this is a bit smaller than those from Mark’s collection that I have handled around the office, I can say that the handle fills my medium sized hand nicely, without hot spots, and providing a secure grip on the knife.

There is some jimping on the handle liners above the pivot, but it is not particularly aggressive.

The pocket clip is reversible for left or right hand, tip-up carry. It sits nicely in my pocket, though it is a bit larger than my typical EDC (Benchmade Bugout or Spyderco Native 5).  I definitely notice the difference, but those who are used to carrying a more robust EDC won’t particularly notice.


Construction: The fit and finish of this knife is quite good, with one exception, which I will get to in a minute.

The transitions between the bolsters and the G10 and the g10 and the shield are exceptional. The crossbar locking mechanism is smooth and does not stick, there is not blade wobble, and the blade is well centered.


The bobble to which I refer is a slightly uneven grind line on both sides of the blade, with one side being more pronounced than the other.

The sharpening line is shorter closer to the handle, and broader as the blade sweeps towards the tip. It is not a functional issue, and really not very noticeable at a casual glance. I include this because it shows up in the pictures. I don’t want that rare person who is going to notice to question what else I may not have mentioned. In reality, it is not out of bounds on a $225 knife. The $400+ knife collector would likely find it unacceptable.


As I have only had the knife for a week, the testing protocol is dialed back a touch.

As you can see, the Redemption has a great edge, slicing newsprint to ribbons with no effort or technique required. It cut light rope on the draw…

…but more impressive was that it had no trouble with 1/2″ climbing rope when cut against a board.

Cardboard was a bit of a challenge. Not because the knife is not sharp, but because the dagger-like geometry does not glide through cardboard the way a full flat grind would. It cut cleanly, but had a tendency to accordion the cardboard.

Because I learned what I needed to about the geometry early on, I decided to end the test without cutting strips until I wore out the blade. I am also saving up cardboard for a head-to-head steel test, and didn’t think burning through it for this test was necessary. The blade is MagnaCut, and while it would be nice to have a baseline result for this new super steel on the cardboard test, the Redemption’s geometry will make it an apples and kumquat comparison.

Moving onto culinary items, the CRKT Redemption performed remarkably well. After the cardboard test I was not terribly optimistic, but I was proven wrong.

It was surprisingly adept at peeling a tomato, dicing tomato, slicing jalapenos. and more.

It really functions quite well as a paring knife, despite the nearly dagger grind. It is never going to be one’s go to folding kitchen knife, but if pressed into service can handle itself with aplomb.

Wrapping Up:

The CRKT Redemption comes in a magnetic box, with a cordura zip-pouch. Not necessary, but illustrative of the importance CRKT is placing on their expanding line of USA made offerings.


The CRKT Redemption folder is not the worlds most perfectly functional EDC, with the Form/Function spectrum biasing slightly towards the former. The dagger grind precludes the sort of “jack-of-all-trades” performance one usually looks for in a purely functional EDC.

However,  if the aesthetics speak to you, you will be getting a highly functional EDC, that is well made here in the USA, and that comes with a very attainable MSRP, and succeeds in its design mission of “blend(ing) design elements of a bygone era with modern attitude and premium materials to create a truly extraordinary folder.”

I am happy to recommend this knife.

Find out more about Tualatin, Oregon based CRKT by visiting their website –, or by calling 800-891-3100.