Pat’s Product Reviews: Columbia River Knife & Tool’s “Ultima” Knife

One of my favorite knife companies is Columbia River Knife & Tool (CRKT). They offer a wide variety of cutlery, at affordable prices. You get quality for your hard-earned dollars, and that means a lot to me. CRKT was started by two former executives from Kershaw Knives. CRKT is now solely owned by one of those executives, Rod Bremer, who I delight in calling a friend. You should see some of the e-mail exchanges between myself and Bremer, you’d think we totally hate one another – truth be told, if one of us started talking nice about the other, we’d think something was mentally wrong with the other…it’s just the nature of things between Rod and I.  

I was on-board, close to the start of CRKT, and I’ve probably written more articles about CRKT than any other writer. And, for good reason, too. CRKT has steadily grown their line-up of knives and tools over the years. I believe this is the 16th or 17 year that CRKT has been in business, and they have grown slowly, by doing it right. I remember during one of my visits to CRKT, and Bremer showed me their then-new M-16 folder. I saw promise in the knife, and I suggested they produce the knife with different colored handle scales, one color for police, one for rescue and fire personnel and one for the military. It took CRKT a couple years to incorporate this suggestion. However, I believe the M-16 line of folders is one of their best sellers.  

The CRKT “Ultima” fixed blade knife has a 1.4116 stainless steel blade that is 4.95″ long. If you’re interested in the make-up of the 1.4116 stainless steel, check out the CRKT web site for complete information. All I know is, that it’s a good steel, that takes and edge, holds it reasonably well, and it’s fairly easy to re-sharpen. It has a Rockwell hardness of 55-57, and that makes it just hard enough to hold an edge, and easy enough to re-sharpen. The blade is also black TiNi coated for added protection and stealth. The blade is a modified tanto style, with a hollow grind.   What you’ll also find on the Ultima are some serrations, and these aren’t any ol’ serrations. These are called “Veff” serrations, and they were invented by a fellow Oregonian, Tom Veff. The serrations are very aggressive, and make cutting any type of fibrous material a piece of cake. Plus, they are easier to sharpen than most other serrations. The Handle on the Ultima is make out of super-tough Zytel material (black). the multi-purpose Cordura/Zytel sheath is a nice addition to the knife, and it allows for belt carry as well as MOLLE carry.  

The designer of the Ultima is Michael Martinez. His background includes work as a sculptor and inventor. And he has a martial arts background. Martinez found many fixed blade knife designs lacking in one particular area, and that was how they felt in the hand. Martinez set out to figure all this out, he had some medical specialist exam the problem, and found that you needed 23 areas of contact in your hand, for a knife handle to feel good. Martinez was able to come up with 22 of those contact points in the Ultima’s design – great work!  

The butt of the Ultima has a built-in pry bar tip, for light prying work – again, this is a handy idea, incorporated into a really outstanding survival/combat knife. I’m played with a lot of knives over the years, but no one else, that I can recall, has designed a pry bar into the design of of a production knife.   The Ultima is very quick in the hand, it can be used for all types of camp, hunting, combat and survival chores. I believe CRKT used to offer an Ultima with a longer blade – I’ll have to dig through my knife samples, but I’m sure I have one. I don’t know why CRKT would stop making a longer blade Ultima, however, I’m not into marketing and CRKT knows what they’re doing. I believe a longer blade Ultima would be of more use than a shorter blade version. However, there is nothing wrong with the current Ultima at all – I just like bigger knives.  

The Ultima comes with an outstanding Zytel-lined Cordura sheath. The knife with sheath has suggested retail price of $129.99. And, quite often, you can find CRKT discounted at many sporting goods and discount stores. As I said at the beginning of this article, I appreciate quality and value, CRKT offers both in the Ultima. So, if you are looking for your next fixed blade knife, and you are on a budget, like I am, the CRKT Ultima is worth a close look. And, don’t forget, CRKT offers a lifetime warranty on all their products. Be sure to check ’em all out.  – SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio