Earlier we took a look at my first impressions of the CRKT Doug Ritter RSK (Ritter Survival Knife) Mk6. Since then I have put it through the battery of our standard cutting tests, as well as some “survival” oriented chores this blade is designed for. Now that I’ve had a chance to carry and use it more thoroughly, we can see how well it has performed.
You can read more about the general qualities of this knife in my original mini-review, but here is a quick recap. This skeletonized neck knife has a 3” blade, is made of 8Cr13MoV steel, comes wrapped in orange paracord and includes a glass-reinforced nylon sheath with a couple of attachment options. Due to the poor execution of the original paracord wrap, I created my own. Once removed, the factory wrap measures 38” in length, while the lanyard/fob gives you another 42” to work with.
Let’s start with the sheath. As mentioned in my previous review, the sheath will scuff the blade of the RSK Mk6. But how well does it work?
Retention is excellent. Drawing the knife one-handed requires a firm push with your thumb while extracting the blade, and it snaps back into the sheath with a nice click. Steady pressure is required to push the blade all the way in before it snaps, however. It comes with a lanyard for neck carry, as well as a belt loop attachment which can be set up for multiple positions.
There are no recommendations included as to the best way to attach the lanyard. I untied the knot, removed the plastic slider, threaded the cord through the sheath, and returned the slider and knot for security. I am sure there are better ways than this (leave us some suggestions in the comments!), but this being my first neck knife I’ve never experimented with any before.
The knife is lightweight enough and hangs very comfortably around the neck. Removing the knife is easy to do one-handed, but resheathing is a little trickier.
The only way I could accomplish the task without using two hands, was to use my chest as an anchor, while pushing the point of the blade toward my body, and into the sheath. It was a little unnerving, but it worked.
Kudos to CRKT for making their sheath and belt loop so modular. Using the holes in the sheath, there are 24 different possible positions that you can mount the loop. Vertical, inverted, horizontal and other angles are all achievable.
I carried it for a while in a horizontal cross-draw configuration and found it to be unobtrusive and easy to sheath and re-sheath as needed. The knife tends to rattle a bit in the sheath (not noticed when neck or pocket carried) and that can be a turn off for some, but I had no problems with it.
The method I used most often for day-to-day use was simply slipping the sheath into my front jeans pocket. If I EDC’ed a fixed blade, this would be the way I do it. To use a knife review cliche, the slim package simply disappeared into the pocket. Like a good pocketknife, it was there when I needed it, but wasn’t reminding me every two seconds that it was there.
Having never used a skeletonized knife before I was dubious about how comfortable this knife would be while in use, and how effective the paracord would be in providing a usable grip. The answer? In most light to medium duty uses, the level of comfort and grip was just fine.
The knife feels very natural in the hand–saber grips and pinch grips especially. Sometimes finger grooves on a handle can be too obtrusive, but the ones found here are shallow enough that most people should find them comfortable. My medium-large hands had no problem with them.
And now on to the meat of this review. This being a “Survival Knife,” I put it through more than just our standard cutting tests. I wanted to see if the RSK Mk6 could perform when abused. Would it be good enough to be the only knife you take into the great outdoors, or merely better-than-nothing. My gut told me the answer would be somewhere in the middle.
Before we begin, I should note that I did have to resharpen the knife before I did much with it as the factory edge was decidedly lackluster. I used my Spyderco Sharpmaker’s 40º bevel to bring it up to snuff.
I don’t have any Shotgun News newsprint laying around, but I could sharpen it enough that it would easily slice the paper of my local grocery store circular.
After putting a hair-shaving edge on this low priced blade I started cutting… and kept cutting… and cutting. I got through 180 linear feet total of corrugated cardboard against the grain. Impressed? I was.
A little more detail on its performance. Through the first 50 feet, the knife simply zipped through with very little effort. Around the 110 foot mark the edge of the cardboard started to crumple but the blade was still cutting through and not tearing. At 180 feet my cardboard hand was cramped and the cutting had been getting considerably more difficult. Surprisingly, I took the knife back and tested the edge on newsprint again, and it still cut cleanly across the length of the blade. Throughout the test, my knife hand did not feel fatigued, although I did have a nice indentation on my thumb from the thumb ramp. The paracord did its job here.
One thing I did notice here, and during other tests, was that the knife tended to lose its razor edge rather quickly–after only about 15 feet of cardboard I could no longer shave hairs with the edge–but held on to an effective utility edge for quite a while.
¾” Manilla Rope
I did not expect the RSK Mk6 to perform well here and I was correct. I could not pull the knife through a loop of the rope, and laying it flat and sawing against the rope was still less than effective. Much of this was probably caused by the nice polished edge I had put on the blade. The rougher factory edge would have undoubtedly performed better. Bottom line, if you are going to cut heavy rope, put a less-refined edge on your knife, or use a serrated blade.
And now on to the “survival” tests.
The integrated finger guard on the Mk6 is effective at protecting your digits and, along with the thumb ramp, allows excellent fine control while carving or notching with the knife. Green wood was quite easy to carve but harder woods were more difficult. Part of this has to do with the edge retention. More notably though, the extra effort required was very uncomfortable on the knife hand. This was the first time I felt that the paracord wrap was not enough.
Before you laugh, I am not talking about chopping down trees here. The Mk6 is obviously too small and lightweight for any serious chopping, but there are times where some light chopping could be done.
By using the paracord to extend your grip and holding the end of the handle between your thumb and forefinger, small snap chops can be performed. This is an effective way to trim small green branches. By bending the branch over, a quick strike to the portion under tension can achieve quick results. In this case, the large paracord fob installed by the factory would be very effective at providing the extra grip needed.
Again, due to the size of this knife, you aren’t going to be splitting much wood with it. I did split some kindling off of the sides of larger pieces of wood and had no issues with damage to the knife. The thickness of the blade helps in this capacity.
In a survival situation you may have to baton across the grain to remove larger branches. I took some split hardwood I had laying around, a little over 1.5” thick, and set to work. The RSK Mk6 did just fine here considering its size.
By batoning a V (as you would when chopping with an axe) I cut through the wood ten times, and was left with a tingling knife hand, but an undamaged edge. The blade was still cleanly cutting through newsprint afterwards.
Drop points like this one tend to be stronger than a clip point. To test the strength of the tip, I drilled a series of bow-drill divots, followed by stabbing and prying loose chunks of wood. I could not see any discernible damage to the tip afterwards.
Skinning & Food Prep
The RSK Mk6 has enough belly that it should skin quite well, although the thickness of the blade will probably reduce its efficiency somewhat. The story is the same for tasks such as cutting up onions or potatos; the high flat grind slices well, but its thickness can work against it.
I used the knife to break down a chicken, and its small size and usable belly proved very effective. Cleaning and gutting small fish should be equally trouble free.
Obligatory “Can It Be Lashed To A Stick?” Section
Yes it can.
Ease of Sharpening: Moderate
One thing I had to do somewhat frequently throughout these tests was sharpen the blade. I was somewhat surprised at the level of effort it took to bring the edge up to acceptable levels. It is definitely not as difficult to work with as the S30V found in the Benchmade Doug Ritter knives, but for the amount of work it took I would have expected the edge to last longer than it did. Perhaps what you give up in edge holding, you get back in toughness, as shown in the batoning and tip strength tests I performed.
Provided you don’t let the edge get too dull, it won’t take much to bring it back to hair shaving with the standard Sharpmaker routine, but you will have to do this fairly often. This could present a problem in survival scenarios when you may have to improvise something to sharpen the blade
For me the RSK Mk6 is a bit of a mixed bag. Would I want this as my only knife in a survival situation? No. But I still like it. It would make a nice backup to a larger fixed blade. I think it is even better in the role of affordable fixed blade EDC. Its ergonomics, design, and sheath system are all quite good, while at a price that should be within reach of nearly anyone.