Coming From Spyderco: C170GP Karahawk

Image courtesy Knife Center

I’ve never been attracted to Kerambit-style knives, mostly because they’re fixed-blade knives (which local laws don’t permit me to EDC) and because they don’t appear to be great general-use knives. If I’m dead wrong about this, I hope one of you will set me straight.

A high-quality folding Kerambit, however, is a whole different ball game. And that Emerson opener on Spyderco’s upcoming ‘Karahawk’ has almost got me hooked, if you’ll pardon my choice of words.

That big pinkie-ring would be a pretty obnoxious tell sticking out of your pocket, however. Rapid presentation, as always, is the mortal enemy of deep concealment.

The Karahawk will hit the shelves in September or October, but it’s available for pre-order right now at Knife Center. Unfortunately its $185 price tag may have a chilling effect on your interest level.


  1. Matt in FL says:

    That is not a knife I would ever carry. Mostly useless in everyday tasks, and while it might be useful in a fight, you’d have to practice a bit and sorta know what you’re doing, and I’m just not doing that.

    1. Aharon says:

      Matt, get your facts straight. The Kerambit design is a centuries-old proven and popular knife for everyday tasks used in the Pacific and in Asia, and among many distinct cultural groups.

      1. Matt in FL says:

        Mostly useless to me in everyday tasks…

        Better? 🙂

      2. Bob Damon says:

        The Karambits in use in Indonesia and Burma are all fixed blade and double edged. They are everyday knives.
        A folder misses out on having the sharp outer edge.
        I agree with Matt it’s not ideal for most EDC tasks, tskes more work to sharpen, but it does work well for defense, but requires training and practice.

  2. chuck k says:

    What’s the pointy thing on top of the spydie hole for? Opening beer bottles?

    1. Matt in FL says:

      It’s called the Emerson curve, and it’s designed to hook the edge of your pocket as you draw the knife out, in order to flick the blade open.

      1. Dale says:

        Matt’s right on this, but it does work well on beer bottles. Just be careful, that’s a live blade.

  3. Ham says:

    The curved blade is useful for cutting away webbing, seatbelts or clothing in an emergency with less risk of cutting whomever is being extracted. Any excuse to justify another blade.:)

    1. jon says:

      Those are the uses I would suggest; and I don’t see how it couldn’t be used for opening boxes, so with all it’s uses it’s not really different than any other pocket knife…..

      …although any knife that I carry would only be used for self-defense, regardless of what it could be used for, and requiring it to have any other purpose than self-defense is pure BS.

  4. Sam L. says:

    Linoleum knife. Carpet cutter. For fighting, not much of a sticker, and not a slasher. Too close to the other guy for comfort.

  5. jwm says:

    Are we just reviewing ugly knives here? How about something that doesn’t look like a wannabe Klingon wears it to conventions.

    1. Working on a review of my Mora Bushcraft as we speak. Just used it to cut back a locust sapling and some other tasks for which I would normally use a machete. Tremendous knife.

    2. Michael Anasakta says:

      Hey jwm, I love the look of that knife but your Klingon comment is great. LOL

  6. davidw says:

    Or you could spend $60 less and get the FOX Knives Karambit which also has the Emerson Wave, and it’s available right now.

  7. duroSIG556R says:

    I love Spyderco knives, however they need to up their blade lengths.

    1. jon says:

      Depends on where you live. In FL this falls perfectly within the legal bounds for acceptable blade length.

  8. C says:

    if you’re using it as a weapon, index finger goes through the hole.

    I personaly like the set up they have for deployment on the below linked karambit. The net effect is the same as the wave, but the execution is different. The kydex sheath pinches a bit on the blade causing the knife to open as you lift up on the handle. Once it locks, push forward and you’re ready to go.

    1. Bob Damon says:

      That’s a nice sheath for the folder. I went to the website, but did not see it listed. For me, using the index finger grip works best when using a fixed blade Karambit that is sharpened on both sides. For a folder, the opposite grip provides finer control and power for cutting.

  9. dwb says:

    I have the Spiderco Crossbill, which is also folding and I find it extremely useful. It does not have the cool pointy Emerson curve but its a bit longer. While its very useful, I’ve found curved blades to be a bit tricky to sharpen.

    1. I agree re sharpening. PITA IMHO. I EDC (sorry for the long run of caps) a neck knife with a slightly concave blade (I reviewed it a while back). The best way I have found is with a Spyderco Sharpmaker, but over time you blunt/round off the tip.

  10. NavyRetGold says:

    This knife appears to me to be every bit as ridiculous as that goofy Kershaw Shuffle which was roundly panned here not long ago, and at many multiples of price. Maybe somebody has a use for this thing, but I just can’t see it. Once again, Sal Glesser and Ernest Emerson will have to make their Mercedes payments from somebody other than me.

  11. Bob Damon says:

    The price seems a bit much with the Fox and 5.11 Karambits costing much less.
    And as many noted, it’s not much to look at.

  12. Really want this knife but the price is too much for a folding knife

  13. Sandan Kenpo says:

    Quick background: I spent 17 years studying martial arts (10.5 years in Kenpo), and I have a 3rd-degree black belt in Kenpo. That means I am reviewing this from a martial arts weapons (extension of hands in self defense) perspective, as opposed to a “knife collector” perspective. I do own a Fox 599 karambit and some other cheaper versions, so I am also comparing this Karahawk with those other karambits. The Fox 599 (cost $125) also has the Emerson Wave, by the way.
    The reason I got the Karahawk knife (for $173 from GP Knives) is because it seemed thinner than other folding karambits that I own, and that thinness piqued my interest because I wanted a lower profile everyday carry folding karambit. Spyderco achieved that thinness by using a lockback mechanism for the lock, instead of a liner lock… which requires a bit more width to accommodate. So here are my thoughts:
    Pros: (1) Thin so it is hardly noticeable in pocket; (2) Feels light in hand when performing self defense techniques; (3) The lock back theoretically will be more difficult to accidentally engage during rough use than the liner lock on most other karambits.
    Cons: (1) The Emerson Wave feature on the Karambit sticks out a bit too far to hold comfortable in hand in the closed position (vs. the Fox 599). A knife does not have to immediately and always be utilized lethally in self defense. The Fox 599 for example is a decent hunk of metal in your hand when closed, and either end (including the retention ring) can still be used as a blunt force object. Then it can be opened with the Emerson Wave dynamically during motion without changing your grip (if you have it in the reverse grip). However, the Karahawk is a bit too “bulky” to hold comfortably in the closed position as a non-lethal alternative. It is thin, yes… but also a bit “chunky” as measured from the spine to the Emerson Wave feature. (2) The retention ring is not designed for flipping or spinning comfortably. The ring’s dual metal sections are too thin so they cut into the finger when rotating. Now, as a martial artist, I could not care less about continuously spinning karambits (really, it’s not practical)… but practicing flipping out for extension and then back in for retraction is still an important part of knife familiarity in my opinion. And even just flipping once out and once back in is a bit uncomfortable on the finger with the Karahawk. Contrast this with the Fox 599 which has a ring that feels like butter when flipping out for extension.
    Overall, so far I like the Karahawk.. and I will certainly use this as my everyday “executive” carry. But it is not the knife I’ll go to when practicing in general either in air or on my body opponent bags at home.

  14. Michael Anasakta says:

    Hi Sandan Kempo,
    Thank you for such an informative review.

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Coming From Spyderco: C170GP Karahawk

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