Thursday, December 3, 2009

Ken Onion and CRKT, new folders with Ikoma Korth Bearing System opening

From my understanding, Ken Onion's decade plus involvement with Kershaw has come to an end. I don't know the details, but I remembered reading something to that effect late last year. I haven't heard anything specific about other collaborations between Mr. Onion and other manufacturers, but it seems the first fruits of outside-Kershaw involvement go to Columbia River Knife and Tool. No doubt Onion's partnership with Kershaw was immensely profitable for both parties. Onion still turns out his handmade customs, and from what I can see, many of the Kershaw knives he designed will still be produced in some form or another. Allen Elishewitz did the Stryker with Benchmade waayyy back in probably 1997/1998 and Benchmade still to this day makes a variation of the Styker, with the same name, but sans Elishewitz's name and logo, so I bet we'll see the same thing with Kershaw and Ken Onion.

quick specs for the CRKT/Ken Onion "Ripple" series of folders: (note that a smaller version exists as well, with a 2.7" blade)

* CRK405KXS: High Satin blade finish with Black Titanium Nitride frame coating Pocket Worn, Partially Serrated Edge
* Blade Length: 3.125” (79 mm)
* Blade Thickness: 0.10” (2,5 mm)
* Steel: Acuto, 59-60 HRC
* Handle length: 4.375” (111 mm)
* Overall length: 7.50” (191 mm)
* Weight: 2.9 oz. (82 g)

I'm not familiar with "Acuto" steel, but it sounds fancy, and with an MSRP of $125 USD, and a discounted average online price of about $80, I'm sure it's a great steel. This knife also uses the IKBS (Ikoma Korth bearing system) popularized by custom maker (and fellow South Puget Sound, WA neighbor) Todd Begg.

IKBS is a technology designed by South American knifemakers Rick Lala and Flavio Ikoma. Ikoma from Flavio's last name, and "Korth" is the name that Rick's custom blades go under. I've heard from some folks that the Todd Begg folders using IKBS, are buttery smooth, maybe the smoothest opening knives ever. It'll be interesting to see how Onion's new collaboration with CRKT, as well as the licensed mass production of a super technical ball bearing pivot system translate to a new factory made knife.

On the Onion/Kerhsaw front, today I picked up the limited edition G10-handled "Needs Work" knife by Kerhsaw, USA made. I always thought "Needs Work" was funny, not only for the obvious, but how it could be misinterpreted, like the knife "needs improvement" LOL. It's a very cool little knife, extremely stout with a great pseudo wharncliffe blade shape. The original Needs Work has cheesy polyamide handles, so I was glad to find the limited G10 model today at Sportco, for nearly $15 less than the suggested retail price. I've only had it a few hours, but, so far, I can't think of any way it needs work, except maybe to be put to task breaking down recycling, or cutting through Coke cans like they were butter, just for fun. The G10 Needs Work is one of the most insanely sharp knives I've ever owned, right out of the box. I have owned and played with thousands of factory fresh knives, having worked in a knife shop, and this is definitely one of the sharpest. The Speedsafe assisted opening is pretty smooth, though not quite as fast or sensitive as many of Kershaw's other assisted openers. All around, the Needs Work is a great knife, and speaks nicely to the quality of Kershaw's USA made products.

Also amazing for having paid well under $20, is Kershaw's Chinese made Oso Sweet (Onion). It's super lightweight, and is a descendant of Kershaw's early A/O's like the Whirlwind and Blackout. Kershaw and Onion damn near perfected the foreign made assisted opener, and the overall quality of the Oso Sweet shows just how far they've come since the late 1990's when overall Kershaw quality was severely inconsistent.

Anyhow, it'll be cool to watch what direction Ken Onion's new CRKT partnership takes, I'll keep y'all posted.

(they also make the Ripple knives with blue handles)


Spring Assisted Knives said...

Ken Onion makes awesome knives. i like his kershaw leek 1660. i carry it everyday. and its a great design.

Aaron said...

most definitely! I love the Kershaw/Onion "Needs Work", been carrying it every day. I just got hold of Kershaw's 'Chill' lightweight folder also, designed by RJ Martin, it's a super slim knife and very light.