CRKT Minimalist, by Pat Cascio

As the name implies, the CRKT Minimalist is a very small knife. There isn’t anything fancy about the design, but just wait until you hold one in your hand. We are reviewing one of the CRKT Minimalist this time around.

Little Knives

Long time readers will know that I’m just not very “big” on little knives. Yeah, they have their place in the knife line-up. However, I’ve always felt that bigger is better and can do more than any little knife can do. Well, I still stand by that statement, but there sure are exceptions to this rule of mine. Enter the Columbia Rive Knife & Tool Minimalist line-up. There are actually three different blade designs. I’m checking out their Bowie fixed blade knife this time around.

Minimalist Line By Alan Folts and CRKT

The Minimalist line was designed by custom knife maker Alan Folts of Melbourne, FL. He has been designing and building knives for over 20 years now. And as a part-time knife designer myself, I know how hard it is to design knives. As to making knives, I’m a lost cause. I just can’t make knives. However, I have several of my designs out there being made by a couple different knife companies. One is CRKT, which is producing my OC3 double-edge fighting knife. (This is a shameless plug!) I respect custom knife makers and designers, because I know the work that goes into producing a new design. And, let’s face facts, there are tens of thousands of knife designs on the market. So it takes some thinking and designing to come up with something new and different.

Minimalist Line- Wharncliffe, Tanto, and Bowie Style Blades

The Minimalist line has Wharncliffe, Tanto, and Bowie style blades. So there is sure to be one there to fill your needs. I elected to test the Bowie style blade, because it has been around a long, long time and is a fairly versatile blade design, in my humble opinion.

Bowie Style Blade

One of the first things you’ll note, when using the Bowie style blade, is how well it cuts and rips through material. That’s something, considering that, the blade is only 2.125 inches long, which is small by any standards. However, keep in mind that this is a fixed blade knife is not a folder, and a fixed blade is always stronger than any folder. I don’t care who says anything different; facts are facts!

The Bowie style Minimalist comes with a plain edge made out of 5Cr15MoV stainless steel with a Rockwell hardness of 55-57. This makes this little knife easy to re-sharpen when it dulls, yet it will still hold an edge a good long time, too. The blade comes with a bead blasted finish, and it only weighs 1.6 oz. The handle material is a polished Resin Infused fiber material that’s almost bullet proof, too. Plus, the knife comes in a glass reinforced nylon sheath.

Carried in Sheath with Paracord Necklace- A Hideout Knife

Okay, all of the above might sound a little bit boring, but it’s not. Here’s the kicker on this little fixed blade knife. It is carried in the sheath with a 550 Paracord necklace. That’s right! This is a hideout knife, one that you can wear around your neck. My only complaint is that I’d like to see the necklace made out of military-style dog tag chain. If someone grabbed this little knife, while it is around your neck, they could strangle you easily! 550 Paracord is super tough stuff, and it’s not going to break, whereas a bead chain will break loose. Of course, this is easily solved by purchasing a bead dog tag chain. They are only a buck or two. Problem solved!

Can Carry Knife On Thin Dress Belt

Plus, there is an attachment that you can screw onto the sheath, and you can carry this little knife on a very thin dress belt. It won’t fit on a gun belt, because these belts are too thick and too wide. Still, the option is there to carry this little knife on a particular belt. It would work nicely if you’re dressed up in your Sunday going to meeting suit!

Deadly Sharp

Right out of the blister package this knife is deadly shaving sharp. Believe me, it was a chore to get the knife out of the blister packaging. Ugh! I was more than a little impressed with just how sharp this little knife came.

Knife Fighting

I spent 35 years in the martial arts. Part of my training consisted of knife fighting, not knife defense, although I taught that. But I was actually fighting with a knife, big knives and little knives. And, this was only taught to my Black Belt students. They had earned the right to learn how to fight with a knife. What amazed my Black Belts was that you could inflict some very serious damage, even kill, with a little knife just like the Minimalist.

Minimalist’s Grooves for Super Tight Hold

The handle on the Minimalist has grooves. Your fingers just naturally fall into these grooves effortlessly, too, for a super tight hold on the knife.

Use for Knife Fighting in Self Defense

Needless to say, during knife fighting, we used dummy targets made out of cardboard, rubber tires, and just about any material you could think of. Now, a blade the size of the Minimalist isn’t going to penetrate deeply enough to reach the heart or lungs, when defending yourself against an attacker. However, you can easily, very easily, blind an attacker by going for their eyes, which is an easy target, and slicing through the arteries in the neck, thus disabling an attacker in very short order. And, you can sure slice the hands of an attacker and their arms, even if they have heavy clothing on. This isn’t meant to be a primer in how to use a knife for self defense but just something to keep in mind. You are limited in some areas, as to how long of a blade you can legally carry. And, if restricted to a short blade knife, you can still use it for self defense.

Testing Procedure for the Minimalist and Results

My testing procedure for the Minimalist was different than I usually do, because of the short blade. I did practice stabbing it into stacked cardboard and I had no problems there. It wickedly cut and slashed right through cardboard. I used some old cargo pants, and the knife slashed right through them, even though that is heavy cotton material. Another nice advantage to a small knife like this is that you can have some serious control when doing up-close and fine cutting chores.

Super-Duty, Last-Ditch, Hideout Knife That Can Be Worn Around Neck for Self Defense

If you’re in the market for a super-duty, last-ditch, hideout knife and one that only weighs 1.6 oz and can be worn around the neck for rapid deployment for self defense, then take a close look at any of the three CRKT Minimalist fixed blade knives. I’m sure one will fit the bill for your needs. Don’t be taken by the short blades. They will sure save your bacon in an urban environment, no problems at all. Just keep in mind, even with a little knife like this, you can still inflict lethal blows and possibly kill someone, though knife defense is a last resort. Keep this in mind. Your intent is to only stop an attacker. If they pass away because they refuse to stop their attacks on you, that is their doing. Just know the laws before using deadly force.

The Minimalist retails for only $39.99, and if you shop around, you can find them deeply discounted. They are a good buy, and a knife you’ll forget you have hanging around your neck in short order.


  1. If you want to carry differently, say with a thicker belt, buy some hook-and-loop (aka “velcro”) at the dollar store. One strip at your desired carry point on the back of your belt, waistband, etc. and one on the sheath. Stays put with inside the belt/waistband carry. Wouldn’t work for a heavier/larger knife.

    I carry the wharncliffe – has always been a favorite utility choice.

  2. I really like my CRKT minimalist;

    I know Sensei Cascio personally, and if he’s advocating something with respect to self defense and or weaponry you can be sure its quality stuff and meets the requirement for any and all SHTF use, scenarios ………..I don’t leave home without it around my neck under whatever shirt I’m wearing!…..CRKT, more good stuff!!

    REP / Semper Fi!

  3. I have three, 2 spews and one Bowie. when i’m not wearing a rigger style belt i carry on my front. these knives are super handy and light. alpha concealment sells a IWB sheath, i’m waiting for my first to arrive.

  4. The Minimalist is a very small knife, a handy and lightweight tool but the finger grips to me limits its use. But they do help provide a secure hold as you said. CRKT designed a winner here.

    I prefer the Cold Steel Bird/Trout model, the ring at end supplies a great way to hold onto it. The present model is stainless steel, but the very early models of this were Carbon V – those are awesome. This CS makes for a very nice neck knife – I’ve fallen asleep with it when camping and forget to take it off, its that comfortable. Also very nice for hunting and processing game – works inside the body cavity very well.

    Thank you for your review.

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