One exciting collaboration for CRKT, is working with a husband-and-wife team to bring their designs to the masses. Matthew and MK Lerch have already designed several knives for CRKT, this time around they have partnered with Hogue to produce these knives here in the USA. CRKT has produced a few knives domestically over the years but has primarily imported. Working with Hogue to produce these knives here in the USA is a big deal, and it's sure to be a hit with consumers and collectors.
The LCBK (Lightweight Crossbar Lock) is designed by Matthew Lerch. Matthew has had won several awards for his designs and has a few patents under his belt. Having been trained initially as a jeweler and watchmaker, Matthew progressed into manufacturing and tool making. Matthew sees his designs as functional art, and that can be seen in the beautiful lines and angles in his work.
The LCBK features a contoured G10 handle with a stonewashed drop point 154CM blade, ambidextrous crossbar lock, and deep carry pocket clip. The overall length is 8 inches, has a 3.48-inch blade, and a handle length of 4.52 inches. What first grabs your attention with this knife is the weight, coming in at 2.8oz it's insanely light. I'm so used to knives that have skeletonized liners; it does a great job at reducing overall weight. With the design of the LCBK and the Definitive as well, there's only enough steel internally to support the locking mechanism and that's it. The G10 handles make up the entire structural support for the handle. Between the G10 and the standoffs, there's plenty of rigidity with no discernable flex.
As far as comfort goes, it feels really good in the hand. It's a very subtle handle design, there's no finger grooves, palm swell, or jimping. It's just very comfortable and feels like a modern gentleman's folder. The G10 is smooth, and the contour is not truly rounded but is faceted. I think those subtle angles give a little bit of an extra grip compared to a handle that would have been smoothly contoured. On the rear of the handle there's an oversized or elongated lanyard hole. I take that back, there is jimping but in the non-traditional sense. There are ridges along the back of the lanyard hole which do provide grip against the palm of your hand.
The blade on the LCBK is sort of an elongated reverse tanto shape. The shape lends to a blade that's has a lot of tip and not so much belly. I don't have any complaints with the way the blade performed while testing. The blade is very tip centric, and as a result most of my cutting happened with the first half of the blade. In spite of the shape, it did well preparing vegetables for supper, cutting shrink wrap from pallets, and even some wire stripping. This shape was not idea for some of what I was doing but did good overall. For the price tag this carries I would have expected S35VN or something equivalent, but CRKT and Hogue chose 154CM. It's not the latest and greatest or any kind of super steel, but it still does a great job in terms of performance. I'm actually seeing this steel making a comeback in the last few years, more manufacturers are using this and D2 in their offerings. Often, I see it as a means to provide steel with good cutting performance while keeping the production costs down, I don't know the reason for steel choice here, but it doesn't detract from the overall package.
The thumb studs, pivot, and the crossbar lock all feature a design that's present on this model and the Definitive. It's decorative on the pivot, but really shines on the studs and the lock. Hogue has taken that decorative design and apply it to the studs and the lock as well. It looks attractive but also enhances the texture of them both. I feel I get better purchase on both the stud and the lock, thanks to the angular cuts in the material. What seems like a small design choice, being more aesthetic, ends up bringing function to art.
The other half of this duo is the Definitive, it has some of the same design motif yet is also strikingly different. Matthew's wife MJ has been working with her knifemaking husband, helping him run the business, and knows her way around the shop. MJ has followed in her husband's footsteps and has been given lots of encouragement from the community to pursue her interest in knifemaking. I think it was smart for CRKT to release both models together, they complement each other, just like husband and wife.
The Definitive is the larger of the two knives, coming in with an overall of 8.5 inches long, 3.55-inch blade, and a closed length of 4.93 inches. In spite of the difference in overall size, the knife weighs only 3oz. The design choice to remove liners with the exception of those needed for the locking mechanism was a very bold decision. I've handled a lot of knives over the years, and it still blows my mind how little these knives weigh.
When it comes to design differences and comfort, MJ is more aggressive with her lines and angles. The handle features a very large sweeping cutout where your index and middle finger both rests. The crest in the handle is trailed by a shallower scoop where your other two fingers rest. I've said before how much I love a handle that comfortably fits all four fingers, and this in definitely one of those. Like the LCBK, the Definitive features ridges along the back of the handle spine where it comes into contact with your palm. This subtle addition provides enough texture to help aid in control. Probably the most striking feature of the handles are the cutouts in the G10. This element seemed like an odd choice at first but help reduce weight and provides grip for your fingers as they wrap around the handle.
The blade on the Definitive is just as attention grabbing as the handle. The swedge and sweeping belly really accent the harpoon shape of the blade. Other than perhaps looking cool the harpoon shape doesn't add anything to the overall cutting performance. I appreciate the extra belly over the LCBK, and your index finger rests nicely on the spine when using the blade for controlled cuts. Unlike the LCBK, the Definitive has jimping on the spine of the blade, it's not overly aggressive and rather subtle. On the whole I don't think the Definitive performed any better or worse than the LCBK, both knives are pretty evenly yoked in cutting performance.
The LCBK and the Definitive are really good designs, highlighting performance, comfort, and good looks. I think the decision to release these alongside each other and have them produced domestically was a smart decision. CRKT is always one to make waves, and with all the cool collaborations this year we'll need a surfboard.