Review: CRKT Butte Folder, by Pat Cascio

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Some of my favorite knives are the ones that are simple in design, but still made out of good materials. The new “Butte” folder, from CRKT Knives, Columbia River Knife and Tool (CRKT) is fast becoming one of my favorites that have come into my hands for testing. I’ve always been of the opinion that “simpler” is better, when it comes to a lot of things, simply because there are fewer parts to break or lose.

The Butte is made in Taiwan (Free China), so keep that in mind – and you get as good as you want in a knife from Taiwan. And you get a lot of value for your money, too.

The Butte was designed by custom knife maker and designer Lucas Burnley, right in my home state of Oregon. He works out of Bend, Oregon – I just might have to pay him a visit one of these days – when gas prices get back to halfway normal. As it is, we limit our driving these days, to running a few errands each week – and that’s it. As this is being written, we are looking at regular unleaded gas going for $4.88 per gallon – ouch!

The folks at CRKT picked up on this Burnley design, and are doing a collaboration with him. This isn’t their first collaboration with him. Many of the knives that CRKT produces are collaborations with some well-known custom knife makers. This benefits us all, as we get some superb near-custom knives, at a fraction of the price we’d have to pay for a custom version of a knife.

The Butte has a blade material made out of D2 tool steel – it is not a stainless steel. However, it will stand up to a lot of weather conditions. Additionally, it holds an edge a good long time. Just don’t let the blade get too dull, or it will take some work to get it back to shaving sharp. I was introduced to D2 in a fighting knife made for me, by Bob Terzuola back in the early 1980s, and I’ve been a big fan of this steel for knives ever since. It’s not an easy steel to work with, but if you know what you’re doing, you can turn out some great blades, and with a little care, the blade will last you a long, long time.

The Butte’s D2 blade is 3.36-inches long, but it appears a little longer than that for some reason. The Butte only comes in one flavor – a plain edge – no serrations are available at this time. The handle scales are OD green and made out of G10 – a nearly bulletproof material, that will stand up to anything you can throw at it. The liners are stainless steel. The blade is an assisted opening design, that you can operate with either the thumb stud on the blade, or better yet, the flipper on the blade – much faster to access if you ask me. There is also a bronze spacer in the tail end of the folder that allows for use of a lanyard if you attach one. On the rear of the folder, on the top of the blade, there are “friction” grooves. These allow secure placement of your thumb, when using a fencing grip.

We also have the Ikoma Korth Bearing System (IKBS) in the pivot point of the blade, and this makes for one of the smoothest opening folders – period! There is also a deep pocket clothing clip on the butt end of the folder, and it can be moved from one side to the other if you are a southpaw. To top it all off, CRKT uses the Deadbolt lock to lock the blade open. This one of the strongest, it not “the” strongest lock on a folder I’ve run across. You will destroy the knife before this Deadbolt lock will fail you.

The D2 blade has a slightly subdued finish on it – it is almost impossible to get a bright shiny finish on D2 tool steel – and I don’t have a problem with the finish on this fine folder. The blade is more drop point than anything, and this is a very useful design on a knife, in my opinion.

Once you have deployed the blade, from the closed position, the Deadbolt automatically locks the blade open. To release the blade, you simply press down on the circular Deadbolt release on the left side of the folder and close the blade – keeping your fingers out of the path as the blade, as it closes.

As an aside, just as I was finishing writing this review article, the folks at CRKT sent me a very limited edition of the same knife – with high-tech everything. This edition of the Butte is a “Beaut!” It has S35VN steel for the blade and carbon fiber handle scales. The CPM S35VN “powder” steel formulation is stainless and Martensitic. S35VN is similar to the popular S30V. According to the Hudson Tool Steel foundry’s description of S35VN: “Its chemistry has been rebalanced so that it forms some niobium carbides along with vanadium and chromium carbides. Substituting niobium carbides for some of the vanadium carbides makes CPM S35VN about 15-20% tougher than CPM S30V without any loss of wear resistance.” This variant of the Butte is only available from the CRKT website. The cost is $300, and worth every red cent.

I’ve had a love affair with knives all my life – ever since I was about 5 years old. I used to haunt knife shops in the big malls, in big cities. We’ve lived a very rural lifestyle for the past 35 years, and I don’t get into the big cities very much – and that’s fine with me. I do however, “shop” for knives online and through various knife catalogs to see what is new and different. I can usually – not always – tell how I knife will feel in my hand, just by reading the specs. With the Butte, I wasn’t quite sure if I’d like this folder or not, but I ordered a sample for this article, and CRKT actually sent me two samples – they know my wife and two daughters love a good folder almost as much as I do.

Long-time readers will know that I like a folder that has a blade between 3.5-inches long and 4.0-inches – and I really like a blade that is about 3.75-inches long – they just seem to balance better in my hand. The 3.36-inch long D2 blade on the Butte, even though it is a little bit shorter than I’d like, just fits my hand perfectly – and I can’t find anything to complain about this folder in the least. Once you pick up this folder, you’ll know what I’m talking about – it just feels like a natural extension of your hand – its hard to put down – really!

I don’t test products to destruction – anything can be destroyed under the right circumstances. However, I do test products for what they were meant to do – and in the case of knives, I test them on various materials to see how well they cut, and hold an edge. I test knives on a number of tough materials, one is blackberry vines – and these vines are really hard to cut – with the best of knives, and they are wicked – the thorns will reach out and stick you in the arm or hand, so whenever I’m around these vines and they are all over western Oregon, I usually wear a heavy shirt – it helps.

I do my best to slice through blackberry vines with a single swipe of a blade – no matter what the size of the blade is – short or long. Of course, it takes more effort when using a shorter blade – like the 3.36-inch blade on the Butte. However, if I did my part, I could slice through most blackberry vines – except the thickest ones – even though don’t always fall to longer blades.

Polymer rope – I usually have some of the yellow-colored poly rope around, and this stuff if super hard to slice through – many blades will simply slide off the rope without cutting it – at all. So, it takes a really sharp blade, to get through this stuff. The Butte had no problems cutting this rope, several times over.

Cardboard – is one way to really dull any knife blade, believe it or not – I get packages several times a week, and my remaining German Shepherd stopped showing interest in playing tug ‘ war with me, and ripping the boxes into small pieces. So, before going into the recycle bin, we cut up most cardboard boxes, so we can get them all in the recycle trash. The Butte just tore through all the boxes without much effort.

Another test is in the kitchen, and while this isn’t a kitchen knife per se, we used it on several meals, AND at the kitchen table for cutting chores – all meat wasn’t any challenge for the Butte to cut through. I also stabbed stacked cardboard, and the Butte when up to the handle – no problems at all.

I like to show off the latest knives I get to my friends, to get their two cents worth, and everyone who picked the folder up, fell in love with it – everyone! I carried the Butte for two weeks in my right front pants pocket and forgot it was there – it is lightweight.

The Butte retails for $125 if you buy directly from the CRKT website. However, as I’ve mentioned many times, shop the Internet for your best deal on this folder. With inflation running wild these days, we have to watch how we carefully spend our money – on just about everything. And, “toys” like guns and knives, now take a backseat to our everyday needs. Like almost everyone, we’re learning to tighten our belts, and it isn’t easy.



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