Let’s get one thing out of the way. I love me some Doug Ritter. In addition to being Chairman/CEO of Knife Rights, he has also designed some great practical edc and survival blade designs in collaboration with Benchmade, Lone Wolf (before they were bought by Benchmade), Becker Knife & Tool and Columbia River Knife & Tool.
How does the new RSK Mk6 stack up? Let’s find out.
Ritter’s first collaboration with CRKT was the diminutive RSK (Ritter Survival Knife) Mk5, a small affordable neck knife that he originally designed for use in an off-the shelf survival kit that he was designing with Adventure Medical Kits, called the Pocket Survival Plack Plus. I have to admit that this knife never really appealed to me. It was designed to a specific size and price, and while better than nothing in a survival situation, it would be far from my first choice.
But now they have released its bigger brother, the RSK Mk6. With a larger blade, and slight upgrade in steel, not to mention better aesthetics, I decided to order one, and apart from a few gripes the design is pretty solid. Since it’s billed as a ‘survival knife’ I will be evaluating it from that standpoint.
What we get with this package is a skeletonized neck knife with an almost 3” drop point blade with a fair amount of belly and a high flat grind. This type of blade shape is a very good all-around utility shape and is excellent for a survival oriented blade due to its versatility. The stonewashed finish on the blade also serves a purpose. Aside from looking great, it also increases the corrosion resistance of the surface of the steel. Speaking of which, the steel is 8Cr13Mov which is a definite upgrade over the 2CR13 used in the RSK Mk5. The blade is thick enough that it should withstand some light batoning in an emergency situation, but the grind is high enough that it should still be an ok slicer.
The knife handle comes wrapped in orange paracord, with a separate braided paracord fob attached to a hole in the rear of the handle. Also included is a plastic sheath (glass filled nylon), belt clip with attachment hardware, and lanyard. Unfortunately I noticed a problem right away and this is caused by the way CRKT executed the paracord wrap.
The cord starts at the hole near the blade, runs down one side of the handle and back up the other, winding up in the same hole where it started. As you can see in the photo above, this causes a significant bulge right where your thumb and forefinger would like to be. Not only does this interfere ergonomically, making fine grips more awkward, it also was enough to encourage my finger to slide forward and slip over the finger guard. This is a definite ding against the product in its outof thebox state. Fortunately, it is not difficult to rewrap the handle.
Ahh, that’s better! The fob contains a little more cord than the original wrap, and it provides just barely enough to start and end at the rear hole instead of the blade end. Wrapped thusly, the knife is much more comfortable to hold and easier to manipulate without the interfering bulge. The wrap still is not as tight as it could be; if there were a few more inches of cord in the fob, I could have put at least three more loops around each side of the handle. I will probably wind up re wrapping again with a longer piece of paracord to correct this. Now that we have gotten that out of the way…
Fit and Finish/Initial Sharpness
Like most factory edges, the one here is ok but needs some touching up. Outofthebox, I tried shaving some arm hairs, but the blade was not sharp enough, so I pulled out a piece of paper. The Mk6 could cut the paper on the straight portion of the edge but it started to catch along the belly, no longer slicing cleanly. I’ve seen worse factory edges on similarly priced knives, but I have also seen much better. The grind lines are slightly uneven but not enough for me to hold it against the knife, at least not at this price point.
The spine of the blade is finished nicely, with the edges rounded off very evenly. This makes for comfortable handling. However, since this is billed as a survival knife, it would have been better if they had not been rounded. A crisp right angle on the edges of the spine can be very useful in a survival situation. It can be used to scrape bark for tinder and can also be used to shave a magnesium block or strike sparks from a ferrocium rod for firestarting. This allows you to save your sharpened edge for when it is needed, and not dull it unnecessarily.
With the rewrapped handle, the ergos are quite good for its size. Obviously no paracord wrap will be as comfortable as a set of real handle scales, but it is acceptable. With my mediumlarge hands I can get a 3andahalf finger grip on the knife. The jimped thumb ramp is quite comfortable and will help with heavier cuts. The blade may be on the thick side but it still feels nimble, weighing only 2.4 ounces.
I used the blade to prep a pot roast, using it to cut up some onion, potato, and carrots. The short, thick blade works against it a bit here, but using a pinch grip was quite comfortable and made controlling the knife very easy. Reverse grips are a bit less comfortable.
Now on to my only major gripe with this package, this one worse than the poor paracord wrap. The sheath is made of glass filled nylon (i.e. cheap plastic) and while it is cost effective and retention is excellent, the design is so tight that it scuffs the blade rather significantly, as you can see from some of the pictures here.
This is very disappointing. Although it won’t affect the functionality at all, no one likes to see their sheath cause blemishes like this on their gear.
I don’t mind seeing wear on a blade–it adds character–but I would like the wear to come from use, not from an inherent design flaw! Demerits here for sure.
The good parts? The included belt attachment can be set up for vertical or horizontal carry. You can also attach the lanyard with its plastic slider to the sheath and use it as a neck knife. However, the tension is so tight that sheating/resheathing would be difficult to do without employing both hands if used in this way. Of course you could always use paracord to create your own attachment options with the many holes along the edge of the sheath.
Despite the shortcomings mentioned above, I am still enthusiastic about the RSK Mk6. It feels solid and the thickness inspires confidence. We will see how that translates into real world performance once I am able to get some field time with it.
However, unless CRKT decides to address the issue with the sheath I would hesitate to recommend the knife, even if it does perform well.
Doing your own paracord wrap is also a must do, as the factory wrap is definitely an ergonomic impediment. If you can live with these demerits, the CRKT Doug Ritter RSK Mk6 looks like a decent lightweight, budget knife for hiking/camping. I’ll know more after I get some testing done.
A Fun Starting Point for DIY?
I do see definite potential for for those out there that enjoy DIY knife projects. It would not be difficult to make a nice set of wood/micarta/G10 handle scales. Likewise a custom kydex sheath or some nice leatherwork would be a better alternative to the factory sheath. Personally I would also grind down the spine to get those crisp multiuse corners that I mentioned above.
In The Future…
I will have a chance to take it out into the woods next month and I will put it through its paces. I will most likely rewrap the handle before then and I have already put my own edge on it, but I will not mod the knife otherwise. I’ll use the factory sheath as well to get an idea of how it behaves in the field. I will hopefully be able to report then on how it performs at woodwork, fire prep, and other survival tasks in which the knife may be employed.
- Affordable (price paid: $34.94 shipped)
- Small but sturdy
- Feels good in the hand
- Poor paracord wrap
- Sheath scuffs the blade
- Mediocre sharpness from the factory
Specs (Measured with digital calipers and scale)
- Blade: 2.937” / 74.6 mm (measured from tip, to the edge of the forward handle hole)
- Cutting Edge: 2.756” / 70 mm
- Handle: 3.402” / 86.41 mm (measured from the most forward edge of the finger guard)
- Overall: 6.38” / 162 mm (manufacturer’s measurement)
- Knife With Factory Wrap: 2.4 oz / 68g
- Knife with wrap removed: 1.85 oz / 52g
- Sheath: 0.56 oz / 16g
- Sheath including Belt Clip: 0.92 oz / 26g
- Sheath including Lanyard: 0.88 oz / 25g
Blade Thickness: 0.144” / 3.66mm
Blade Material: 8Cr13Mov
Blade Style: Drop Point
Blade Grind: High Flat
Blade Finish: Stonewash
Edge Type: Plain Edge
Country of Origin: China
Manufacturer’s Link: https://www.crkt.com/rskmk6survivalknife2381