Knife Review: CRKT Carajas

Image: Chris Dumm

The Columbia River Knife And Tool ‘Carajas’ flipper looked like some pretty neat steel when we first previewed it last month. After our short preview article, CRKT reached out to me and sent me one for testing with no strings attached.

Purely on its own strengths, the Carajas is now one of my favorite EDC knives of all time. It has a couple of minor issues, but it still adds up as a great knife and an excellent value.

DESCRIPTION

The Carajas is a liner-locking flipper with a 3.12-inch modified drop-point blade. The shape is somewhere between a deep drop-point and a single-edged spear point. The steel is satin-finished Sandvik 12C27 stainless with a fairly shallow hollow grind and four relief holes near the spine. The blade rides on an adjustable IKBS ball-bearing pivot, with a strong closure detent and a well-jimped flipper/guard.

The Carajas has two thin liners of unspecified stainless steel and a right-handed liner lock. The scales are aggressively-textured G10, in a greenish color so dark it’s nearly black. The liners are joined by a jimped polymer spacer and stainless Torx fasteners. The pocket clip is positioned for right-side, tip-up carry only.

ERGONOMICS

Image: Chris Dumm

The Carajas has a very secure grip for a knife so thin and slender. The grip measures a pocket-friendly 4.25″ long by 0.5″ thick and averages just 0.75″ wide, but you’ll never need to worry about it slipping from your fingers. It’s just big enough to give a solid four-finger grip.

Image: Chris Dumm

Cutting ergos:
G10 can be a sharp material, and the Carajas’ scales are aggressively textured. They’re scalloped and edged almost to the point of being too abrasive for comfort, but they somehow manage to stay comfortable even for prolonged use. This photo also shows the jimping on the back of the blade over the pivot and the jimping of the polymer handle spacer.

I don’t see handle-jimping on many knives, but designer Flavio Ikoma made a bold and ultimately correct decision to give this small handle as much texture as comfort allows. This knife cannot slip out of your hand, and your fingers cannot slide forward onto the blade.

Opening ergos:
The Carajas flipper action is nearasdammit the best of its kind I’ve ever used. The ball-bearing pivot is smoother than many pivots on most knives costing twice as much, and the strong closure detent flicks the blade open with authority once you overcome the closure bias. It’s not an assisted opener, but it’s just as fast and reliable as one and there’s no possibility of it trying to flick itself fully open in your pocket or backpack.

One of my few issues with the Carajas is that the closure detent feels just a smidge too stiff. You’ve got to press hard and deliberately to overcome the closure bias; just a little too hard for comfort.

Carry ergos:
The Carajas is great in your pocket, and it’s easy to get it out of there too. The slender dimensions and light weight make it very comfortable for pocket carry, and the textured grips and spacer give it a quick and secure presentation.

But it can take some effort to get it clipped into your pocket. The pocket clip is pretty stiffly sprung and the G10 scales are heavily textured under it. The lip of your pocket can get caught between them, and it takes a firm downward shove (and sometimes a two-handed effort) to seat the clip over the lip of your pocket.

The pocket clip is also too tall for truly discreet carry, because a full inch of the grip protrudes from the top of your pocket.

FIT AND FINISH

Image: Chris Dumm

The assembly detail and fit of the Carajas is very good for a $60 knife. All the metal bits are smooth and shiny, there are no gaps between parts, and the fasteners all arrived tight and unmarred.

The blade is properly centered in the liners, and showed no forward or backward wobble. It developed a tiny bit of sideways play after all the cutting tests and a quick resharpening, but the adjustable pivot screw makes this a complete non-issue. A minuscule bit of tightening eliminated the blade play without slowing down the flipper action. I managed to slow down the flipper action by deliberately overtightening the pivot, but this adjustable pivot has a huge ‘sweet spot’ of tightness where the blade swings open easily and locks without wobble. Not all flippers are like this.

BLADE TESTS

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Newsprint
The Carajas arrived extremely sharp for a factory-new knife. It cut hanging newsprint, and even extra-delicate Shotgun News newsprint, with almost unmatched ease and precision. This puts it in the very top tier of sharpness among all the knives I’ve tested, almost up there with the mighty Moras and the super-expensive Robson X-46 and Chris Reeve Sebenza.

I credit the extreme hardness of the Sandvik 12C27 steel, which CRKT heat-treats up to HRC 60-61. It takes a wicked edge.

Grade: A+.

3/4″ Manila Rope
With only a 3″ blade and a plain edge, I didn’t expect much from the Carajas in this test of tough cutting. It didn’t do very well when I tried to slice rope on a cutting block with push and draw strokes. To my surprise, however, it pulled through a section of looped rope in a single (very strenuous) pull. Rope cutting is as much a test of a knife’s grip as of its blade, and the Carajas’ very firm grip really helps it out.

Better rope-cutting results would doubtless be obtained with the combination-edge Carajas, which uses CRKT’s patented (and simple to resharpen) Veff serrations. Even the plain-edged Carajas does surprisingly well, although not great.

Grade: B. This is pretty good for a smaller plain-edged knife.

Cardboard
The Carajas was so sharp that it simply unzipped box cardboard for the first 50 linear feet. It lost its newsprint-shaving edge at that point, but kept on slicing boxes (with noticeably increased effort) for another 70 feet before it really ran out of steam. The blade started rolling the paper plies at 120 feet and I called the test done. It never got hopelessly ‘dull’ though.

Sandvik 12C27 is an outstanding mid-priced stainless steel when it’s used right, and it powers the Carajas (as well as Mora’s stainless blades) to excellent performance in our tests.

Grade: A+.

Ease Of Sharpening
After I punished the Carajas with a mountain of box cardboard, it didn’t look for revenge at the sharpening bench. The basic 40-stroke Sharpmaker routine completely restored its exquisite newsprint-shaving factory edge. I didn’t completely trash the edge and have to reprofile it, but for routine resharpening it doesn’t get any better than this.

Grade: A+.

CONCLUSIONS

Image: Chris Dumm

This knife really impressed me in most of the ways that matter. It’s got a sturdy, comfortable grip and an excellent blade that takes and holds a very keen edge. All in all it’s a well-made and very versatile knife for sixty dollars.

Favorite Features

  • The blade! Sharpness, edge retention and ease of sharpening are simply excellent.
  • The well-textured grip is and secure in your hand and fairly comfortable, which is not always a given with grips this thin and slender.
  • The pivot is extremely smooth and extremely stable. I credit the IKBS ball-bearing pivot for making this one of the best non-assist flippers I’ve ever used.

Least-Favorite Features

  • The Carajas isn’t easy to clip to your pocket, because the G10 under the clip is too textured. Smoothing it out would be an easy mod for anyone with a Dremel tool, but it would be an even easier factory redesign and it wouldn’t change the knife’s looks or functionality in any other way.
  • While he’s at it, Flavio Ikoma could replace the dogleg pocket clip for a folded-over (possibly deep carry) pocket clip. The Carajas sticks a little farther out of my pocket than I like, and the glimmer of satin steel is a dead giveaway.
  • I’m not sure if the holes in the blade are needed to lighten the blade for easy flipping, or if they’re just a bold fashion statement. Either way, they clog up with cheese and sausage during picnic duty and you need a cotton swab to get them clean.

SPECIFICATIONS

Type: Unassisted flipper-action pocketknife.
Lock: Right-handed liner lock.
Pivot: IKBS ball bearing.
Blade style: Modified drop-point/spear point.
Blade dimensions: 3.125″ length, 0.1″ thick.
Blade material: Sandvik 12C27, satin finished.
Grind: shallow hollow grind.
Scales: Textured dark-green G10.
Pocket Clip: Removable right side, tip-down carry only.
Weight: 3.08 oz.
Length: 4.25″ closed, 7.375″ open.
Origin: Taiwan.
Street Price: $50-60.

RATINGS (out of five stars)

Styling: * * * *
The most subjective of all ratings, but I just like it’s looks. I’d skip the holes in the blade, though.

Blade: * * * *1/2
Other than the holes, I wouldn’t change a thing about the blade. It’s got great sharpness, edge retention and ease of sharpening, and it’s also a versatile shape and size for everyday tasks.

Ergonomics: * * * 1/2
Unusually secure and comfortable in hand for a smaller knife, but it does lose some points for the G10 being a little too aggressively textured and for the difficulty of clipping it in your pocket.

Fit And Finish * * * *
Every part is bright and tight and exactly as designed. Possibly the smoothest and quickest non-assist flipper I’ve ever handled.

Ruggedness/Durability * * * 1/2
I didn’t attempt to wear out or break this knife, but it’s got a solid construction for an EDC knife. The twin liners and G10 scales look like they’ll go the distance. The 0.1″ thick blade won’t last long as a pry bar, however, and ball-bearing pivots are vulnerable if you drop them in sand.

Overall Rating: * * * *
Unless you’re slicing a lot of cheese and sausage, there’s almost nothing to criticize about the CRKT Carajas. The basic ergonomics are very good, and the blade is fantastic. Whatever CRKT does to that 12C27 steel, they need to keep doing it. This is a very serious knife for $60.

Manufacturer’s link here.

 

comments

  1. Sam L. says:

    Is it the IKBS pivot that keeps them from having tip-down carry? If they had both left- and right-side carry, and tip up and down, the grips would have to be less aggressive, but how much less need it be?

    1. Nathan says:

      No. The pivot system has no bearing (hehe) on clip position. Many IKBS knives are tip down, but tip up is the fashion, as it is generally easier to deploy

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Knife Review: CRKT Carajas

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