CRKT Linchpin, by Pat Cascio

As I’ve mentioned many times before in my review articles, I’ve been packing some kind of folding knife since I was about five years old, so did most of my friends I grew up with, back in Chicago in the mid-1950s. My wife and I watched a movie a few weeks ago, called “Mr. Scout Master” and without going into the details, it was about a grumpy old gent, who decided to take on the task of being a Boy Scout Leader. At some point in the movie, this fellow actually needed to be rescued by an 8-year old, and as luck would have it, this little guy had a Boy Scout folding knife – as all good Boy Scouts did – back then. And, they were never without that multi-bladed folding knife. Today, they would be expelled from school if they were caught carrying a “weapon” like that. My, how times have changed. Many big cities will even prosecute you if you carry a small knife “concealed” in your pocket. Insane!

I’ve been around knives all my life, and when I was younger, I owned more than my share of cheap, poorly made folding knives – we all used to buy them from the local hardware store, and they didn’t think anything of selling us knives – even big fixed blade knives. You see, back then, everyone in the neighborhood knew everyone else. And, one of the guys who worked at this hardware store, went to school with my parents, so he didn’t have a problem selling me knives at all…and know one went around the neighborhood killing anyone with their knife. A prized possession was a genuine Boy Scout knife, and I owned several of them over the years. When I worked full-time for the Illinois National Guard back in Chicago, we sponsored a boy scout troop – myself and two other full-time workers worked with the kids back then – all inner-city most poor kids, but we had a good ol’ time just the same.

Today’s Boy Scouts of America does NOT resemble the Boy Scout troops we had back then. We had the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts. However, today, girls are allowed to join the Boy Scouts – and many do – instead of joining the Girl Scouts. And, needless to say, the Scouts were forced to accept leaders recently, that were prohibited from working with kids back in the day. And, if I have to explain it to you, then you haven’t been paying attention…there are numerous lawsuits that have come about because young boys were sexually molested by those leaders. ‘Nuff said!

Even today, a good folding knife is a highly prized possession by many boys and men today. I love a well-made folder. I’m something of an amateur knife designer myself – have several of my designs on the market today. However, I’m not very good at designing folding knives – fixed blades, oh yeah, I can do those. But it takes a real talent and mechanical skill to design a folding knife. Back in the day, most folding knives didn’t really have any sort of lock to keep the blade locked open. Today, most folding knives have some type of lock, to keep the blade from closing on your fingers. And, it never ceases to amaze me, of the number of new locks that have come along. Just when you think “nothing new here in the way of a lock” – then someone comes up with one – and a strong one, too.

Custom knifemaker and designer, Flavio Ikoma, has come up with one of the strongest locks I’ve seen on folding knives, and it could well be, “the” strongest, to date. The latest design from Flavio, is his Linchpin folder, and I really like this one – a lot. It just seems to fit my hand perfectly, and many people who handled my sample said the same thing. The Linchpin has Flavio’s Deadbolt lock on it, and it is not only super strong, but soooo easy to operate one-handed. And, I just don’t know how you’d break this lock, in order to have it fail and close on your fingers, it is “that” strong. It just provide incredible strength.

A flipper is used to open the blade, and the blade rides on the IKBS ball bearing system – one of the smoothest of its type to come along – we are talking very little effort to press on the flipper, and the blade comes out of the handle smooth as butter. The handle scales are glass reinforced Nylon that affords some light-weight in the knife, and provides an excellent grip under all weather conditions as well.

The blade is right there where I want it to be, with it being 3.73-inches in length and made out of 1.4116 stainless steel, and I’m not familiar with this steel. However, in my testing, the blade never dulled, but I did touch-up the edge just a little bit…I don’t like to allow my knives to get dull if at all possible.

Flavio Ikoma, received some of his training as a knife maker, from Ken Onion, one of the best of the best knife makers in the world…Ken lives in Hawaii, and Ikoma lives in Brazil  – I’m assuming Flavio, made several trips to Hawaii to get some help from Onion. In any event, I’ve tested a couple of folders from the mind of Ikoma, that are being produced by Columbia River Knife & Tool and they are sheer perfection – they are made in Taiwan (Free China). To repeat: CRKT products made overseas are not produced in slave labor factories, far from it.

When it came time to test the Linchpin, I actually hated to do any destructive testing, the knife is beautifully made, with a nice finish on the blade…it appears to be more a work of art, rather than a working or everyday carry folder. The knife was used around the kitchen and the old BBQ grill, and it easily sliced right through raw as well as cooked meat without any problems. The extremely tough test of slicing through a blackberry vine – is always a good test of a knife’s edge…and I found some of the biggest and thickest blackberry vines I could find, and the Linchpin easily, with any effort clean sliced through those vines, free-hanging with one single slice of the blade.

Another extremely tough material to cut through is thick poly rope, and if a knife doesn’t have a super-keen edge on it, the blade will slip right off of this material, no problems encountered in this part of the test. Cotton rope – zero problems getting through it…I also cut up a lot of cardboard boxes that I receive almost daily from USPS, UPS or FedEx – and cardboard is one of the toughest materials on a knife’s edge, it will quickly dull even the best of blades…as I already mentioned, I never had to touch-up the edge, and some of the cardboard boxes was thick and heavy, but the blade easily sliced through it…and shaving on the edge of a piece of newsprint was no problem, either.

I carried the Linchpin for more than two weeks, in my right front pocket, and didn’t even know it was there, it only weighs a little over 6-oz and my wife washed a pair of my cargo pants, with the knife still attached in the right front pocket with the pocket clip, and there was no damage to the knife at all.

I’m really impressed, and I mean REALLY impressed with the Linchpin, and it has a full retail price of only $119.99. However, shop on the ‘net and you’ll find it quite a bit cheaper than that…it’s one heck of a dandy every day carry folder for the money, and it is classy as well. Once you pick one up, you’ll have a difficult time putting it down again. It’s a lot of knife for the money, and that Deadbolt safety. Wow, is all I can say.


  1. Regarding Scouting. It was an important part of my life: Cub Scouts, then Boy Scouts, up till about age 16 or 17 I think. Great time, great experiences, and still great friends with some guys 50 years later. It was probably a decade or more back when political correctness made the decision for the BSA to allow gay scoutmasters…I believe in NO discrimination, however a change in Scouting occured as a result. About a year ago I saw a copy of Boy’s Life in the dental office…It was not even close to the same magazine I grew up with. In a way, Scouting in my time was making us into little soldiers and outdoor survivors. The things we were taught would not be considered today–Way different today, softer, more feminine focus, and no hard core subjects such as hunting, skinning and tanning , as well as cooking the game killed. Even so, I tried to order a subscription of Boy’s Life for my 9 year old grandson. Never has arrived…and maybe just as well, now that I see they are bankrupt and being sued for sexual abuse…I realize how much I resent this. How many men are allowed to be Scoutmasters in the Brownies or Girl Scouts? Honestly, I think this a type of planned destruction of the “male toxicity” hype of old school Scouting..

  2. I forgot to add that we not only carried pocket knives…I think every boy did, but we also kept our .22 rifles in our school lockers for shooting practice in the gym after school! Nobody ever thought about shooting anyone else. If there was a disagreement between two boys then we put on boxing gloves and fought it out under the eye of the Scoutmaster, who was often one of the school coaches, and a ring of other boys…then shook hands afterward. Those were good days, wonderful life learning experiences, and made superb long lasting bonds. Things have not gotten better with time.

  3. Pat, I have to comment on your praise and anger with Boy Scouts. I to was very upset with BSA when they changed their adult leader policy. I was reminded tho that the organization has more safeguards in place to protect both youth and adults than any organization out there, churches included. We can safeguard against the evil we know about but it’s the ones we don’t know about that we constantly have to be vigilant about. Two deep leadership always. Regarding them allowing girls. My feelings are mixed as it is Boy Scouts. I have a story for you. I maintain a scout camp. I had a group come in to camp, boys and girls. They camped in separate campsites girls in one boys in another with their respective leaders. The girls helped me plant a bunch of tree seedlings and had numerous questions about the outdoors. Didn’t know what the boys were doing. When they all left for home the girls campsite was clean and in order. The boys campsite was in disarray and several of the tent tie out points had been cut. So… in my mind the girls are welcome back anytime, the boys and their adult leaders. They’re welcome back too but I have a few splitting mauls that need the rust removed and it won’t be with sand paper….. I’m just an old guy in the mountains trying to make a difference in the lives of our youth in a fallen world.

  4. I liked the article Pat. I’ve been carrying a CRKT folder, on and off, for about 20 years. Still have the first one that I started carrying. Actually the second one. The first got lost, but I liked it so much I went out and bought another one exactly the same.

    Their knives have always been made with exceptional quality, and materials for a price that the average working man can afford. They aren’t cheap, but they are affordable, and I think probably the highest value for the the dollar you’ll find in any production knives.

    As time has gone on, and I’ve gotten older, I can afford to carry something a little more upscale, and I’ve tried a couple companies, but I always seem to come back to CRKT. They have always been a knife I can depend on, no matter what, and to be honest, I use them harder than any other knife. A $100 CRKT knife will get used when a guy might hesitate if he was carrying something more fancy/expensive.

    To quote Dick Marcinko: “Knives are like American Express – don’t leave home without it.”

  5. I was a Girl Scout, absolutely delighted in the experience, and completely support the separation of the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts. There is no reason girls and boys cannot share in learning on all subjects, but it is not necessary that they do this in a co-ed environment. In fact, it is probably developmentally healthier if the learning environments are distinct. Some might wonder if my views are a product of the era in which I grew up, or by virtue of my family culture — and neither would be the case. I simply believe that the co-ed environment (almost regardless of age) changes the nature of the learning experience, and not in the best ways.

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