River Of Steel

Columbia River Knife & Tool Rides The Crest Of The Wave.

The modern tactical knife era that began in the early 1990s unleashed a torrent of new designs ideas and technology, and no company has ridden the tsunami better than Columbia River Knife & Tool. Jumping on the trend from its early inception, the Oregon-based knife cutlery manufacturer came out of nowhere and within a couple of years had become a household name among knife enthusiasts. Today, CRKT enjoys a spot at the crest of the wave, with the elite of American cutlery companies.

In 1994, the year CRKT opened for business, the modern tactical knife genre was just getting its baby teeth. Collaborations with custom knifemakers, a practice now more common than not, were not nearly as prevalent at the time. But they were at CRKT. One of the first to acquire outside design help, the company brought talented tactical knifemaker Jim Hammond of Arab, Alabama on board for design help. He remains as one of their collaborators today, one of many the company has brought into the fold since.

Kit Carson, a custom knifemaker who is one of a handful who helped kick off the modern tactical movement, was brought on board in 1998. His M16 series designs — which included a flipper opening mechanism — and this designer’s off-shoots, are some of the company’s top sellers to this day. The flipper was a winning idea, and is now a popular feature found on many factory and custom folders. Currently, CRKT offers over 30 models of this knife, including a recently released emergency rescue version.

In those early years CRKT also supplemented their line with hunting and sporting knives to further broaden their base. Once again, collaborators were hired to add their design expertise. Noted outdoor guide Russ Kommer, who continues to add to this growing segment of the company’s stable, helped to lead the way.
By Pat Covert

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July/August 2012

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