CRKT Bona Fide, by Pat Cascio

As a rule, I report the suggested retail price of the products I test, usually near the end of the review. However, this time, I’m reporting it first. This is the new CRKT Bona Fide folder, and it has a retail price of $125 – and as savvy shoppers know, if they shop the ‘net they can usually find CRKT products for a lot less than their suggested retail price. The Bona Fide, is another design from world-famous knife designer/maker, Ken Onion, who makes his home in Hawaii. It has been a lot of years, since I spoke with Ken – we’ve never met face-to-face, but we’ve talked on the phone, when I was interviewing him for an article some years ago, for Knives Illustrated magazine, when I was their West Coast Field Editor. And, Ken is, just a lot of fun to talk to – very down to earth, and he cusses like a sailor on shore leave, too.

The Bona Fide is so brand-new, when I received it back in early December 2020, that it didn’t even come with a box and no information about the knife. So, I had to contact the good folks at CRKT and ask for some information about the knife. I want to go back a bit, and talk about the suggested retail price on this knife. I was thinking that this folder, might just be their new flagship knife for 2021 – I like it “that” much. This is a first-class folder in all respects. I quite honestly was thinking this particular folder would easily have a retail price of around $200. It is spectacular and totally flawless in every aspect. Plus, it’s a real beauty, too. I’m obliged to mention that this folder is made in China where most of CRKT products are produced. This is a cost-saving to the consumer. If this folder were made in the USA, then I believe it would have easily retailed for $250 or more. I’ve been assured that CRKT products are not made in prison slave labor factories.

Ken Onion designed this folder to suggest the handle shape of a traditional Hawaiian wa’a or canoe. Ken Onion came out with the field strip technology some years ago on some of his folders, and CRKT was fast to recognize his talent, and put this technology to use in some of their folders. What this amounts to, is a folding knife, that is extremely easy to field-strip for cleaning. And, anyone who carries a folder in their pocket knows that the inner workings of a folder tend to get dirty and collect a lot of pocket lint. Most folks will simply run their folder under fast-running water, and hope the knife gets clean. Many times, that’s all you need to do, too. But if you want to get your folder looking like-new, inside, then you need to take the knife apart – some folders aren’t too bad in this respect, but others – its just not a good idea to do so – you risk losing some small parts – and that’s not good.

The Bona Fide is considered a Gen II Field Strip Technology, and it is one of those “so simple, why didn’t I think of that” ideas – that works very well. To start with, I thought that the Bona Fide, appeared to be a little “fragile” to my way of thinking – boy, was I wrong, and I hate admitting that, too. The blade is made out of tough D2, tool steel, and the handle scales are lightweight textured Aluminum scales, and because the knife is so lightweight, that’s probably why I thought it was a bit fragile – it only weighs-in at 4.3-ounces. The D2 blade is 3.59-inches long – just about perfect in my mind – I like folders with a blade between 3.5-inches and 4.0-inches long. The blade has a very soft satin finish to it, and one might think it is highly polished – it’s not. The overall length of the knife, when opened is 8.25-inches and closed its right at 4.66-inches.

There is a nicely designed, but not overly large, lanyard ring, that will accept some heavy 550 paracord. The locking mechanism is a stainless steel Liner Lock – and this folder locks up firmly – no worries about it closing on your fingers under some harsh use. The blade itself is drop-tip style, and suitable for most everyday chores for skinning wild game. On the top (rear) of the blade shallow friction grooves, for thumb placement when holding the knife in the fencing position – the most common type of hold many people use. You will also notice a small “protrusion” on the blade, when the blade is closed – this is the flipper used for opening the knife – no thumb studs. You simply press down on the flipper, and the IKBS ball bearing allow the knife’s blade to glide open – and butter-smooth doesn’t even come close to describing how smoothly the blade opens and locks into position for use. You might think it is an assisted opening blade at first, it is not! There is also a nice pocket clip on the butt of the blade, for tip-up carry. There is no provision for switching the pocket clip. The clip is designed for deep pocket carry.

Back to the Aluminum handle scales: As you have the knife open, and the blade pointing to the left, you can’t help but notice there is a silver-colored button on it. Nope, it’s not a button or opening or closing the blade. If you keep the blade closed, and you slide this button upward, it releases the whole shebang. You simply lift off the top handle scale – with the button in it, and then lift the blade off, and you’ll see the tiny IKBS ball bearings, and you are good to go to clean the knife. To reassemble, do the reverse. I think it is much easier to use than the original Field Strip design. I had to see how this all worked, and it took me a few moments to see how a little lock this is operated with the take-down lever, allows the handle scales to lock on the pivot of the blade. It is so small that you wouldn’t think it could keep the knife from falling apart when it is locked together.

My Tests

I don’t abuse products that I test, the factories have already done that themselves. Still, in the back of my mind, the Bona Fide appeared to be a little fragile to my way of thinking. So, I took the Bona Fide, with the blade locked open, as well as in the closed position, and threw it against a tree, about a dozen times, and the blade stayed locked open or locked close and it never became loose in the least. I thought the entire folder might disassemble itself – but it didn’t. So, I know it is a stout design – but I had to prove it to myself.

My usual testing was also performed, and that is to see how sharp a knife comes – right out of the box. I easily sliced through some dried blackberry vines, and they were sliced in half with one swipe. Opening mail and boxes – no problem at all, and “stabbing” stacked cardboard was no problem – the knife stabbed to the handle. Of course, the knife was used in the kitchen – I know, I know – a folder isn’t designed for this task, but I do it just the same. Before the virus lock-down, and we could sit inside of a restaurant to eat our meals, I would use whatever folder I had in my pocket to easily cut through whatever food I had that needed to be cut. I’ve gotten some strange looks from other folks who were eating, too.

Tool Steel

As you may be aware, D2 is a tool steel – a very hard steel – and if a knife comes with a dull edge or an edge that isn’t at the right angle, then it takes a lot of work to get that blade sharp once again – some might say that it is near impossible, and I wouldn’t argue that point. However, the Bona Fide, has a perfect angle on the blade, and came razor sharp right out of the box. D2 tends to hold an edge a good long time – depending on the heat treat, I don’t know what the heat treat was on this blade, but it seemed easy enough to put a great edge on the blade, when it got a little dull. I don’t like allowing my knives to get too dull – when you do, they are harder to re-sharpen. I actually used this folder for close to a month, and the D2 didn’t get super dull – but I touched up the edge several times on a set of crock stix just the same.

If you are in the market for a first-class folder – one that others will think you paid a lot of money for, then put a Bona Fide in your hand, and watch how many people will say “can I see that…” when whet they really mean, let me hold it…and keep an eye on it – it might just grow legs and walk away from you.