I went on the search for a new fixed blade EDC after thinking of the need for something a little more low profile, yet easily deployable from the weak side. I have a SOG Gambit, and a SOG Mini Pentagon I really like, but wanted to check something out that was a bit lower profile and more aggressive – enter the CRKT offerings you see before you.
I’ll tackle them one by one:
First up is the CRKT Minimalist Tanto – a tanto fixed blade. I prefer this one to the Keramin for my particular applications. The Minimalist has a nice grind on the blade, with a strong tip. While these blades did not pass the paper test outright, they did arrive sharp enough for defensive applications. I personally sharpened mine up to make them razor sharp. The 2.125 inch tanto blade is full tang, and the green and black Micarta handles are both pleasing to the eye, and the finger grooves are comfortable. The blade itself is made of 5Cr15MoV steel for my knife nerds, and has a hardness of 55-57 RC, and is stainless. The sheath that comes with it is very nice, and includes a lanyard to wear around your neck, as well as customizable belt loops to carry it vertical or horizontal. Since I wanted something to carry weak side, I carry it OWB vertically, but wore it a bit in the small of the back and it’s barely noticeable. The Minimalist comes with a braided fob in the back, for whatever reason. I didn’t find this useful, but didn’t find it to be a burden either.
As you can see in the photos, both blades a relatively small, and barely fit in my medium size hands. However, the finger grooves allow for a good purchase, and lend themselves to control of the tip. For a EDC backup, I think the tanto is a fine choice. Tantos were initially designed to puncture armor in ancient Japan, and these can easily poke holes in an assailant, or a box, bag or other bothersome item you may come across. The Kydex sheath that comes with it retains the blade very well, and you really need to yank it out the first couple dozen times to break it in. After that, it stays put, but does loosen up some.
The CRKT Keraminis a fine blade as well, and as you can tell from the name, is inspired by the aggressive hook of a Kerambit. Mainly used for offensive applications here in the states, the kerambit has roots in agriculture, but is a formiddable blade in trained hands to hook, slash, and stab. I found the tip to be a tad on the weak side, but this blade, as opposed to the minimalist, is not designed for stabbing, but slashing. This blade too is forged from 5Cr15MoV stainless steel, and is 2.38 inches in length. It also has the same beautiful Micarta handle and a full tang, adorned with a box stitched fob. I especially like the jimping behind the blade – affording your thumb a good place to rest for added pressure while cutting. Given the curved nature of the blade, unsheathing this isn’t as straightforward as the minimalist, but it holds fast in the sheath, and deploys quickly yet still requires the basic break in period to be a little more easy to unsheath. Again, it comes with a lanyard for neck carry, but also belt clips which can be attached to the sheath in a variety of ways for different carry positions.
I really like the sheaths for both knives – they are sturdy kydex with reinforced grommets and several mounting options. They are a tad on the small side, but low profile and easily concealed, and still ready for action. The blades arrived moderately sharp, but seem to hold a solid edge once honed a bit more.
Pros, what we like: Low profile, several carry options, full tang with jimping on the Keramin, and outstanding sheathes. They also have a nice handle which is shaped well and ergonomic. If you’re looking for a solid EDC backup or neck knife for a minimal cost, CRKT’s Minamalist and Keramin fit the bill.
Cons, what we don’t like: A bit on the small side, and the Keramin tip seems a bit thin, but hasn’t broken or shown sides of breaking with moderate use.