I’ve followed the career of custom knife maker Pat Crawford for many years. And about 20 years ago – maybe longer, his son, Wes joined his dad making custom knives – and their custom knives are always in great demand. Today, we’ll look at the Crawford 1, designed by Wes Crawford, and produced by Cold Steel, in a very affordable version of one of Crawford’s custom folders.
Its nice to see a son following in his father’s footsteps, you don’t see this very often these days, for some reason. Another thing that is getting to be a rarity are custom knife makers – period! Certainly, making hand made knives is no easy task, I tried my hand at it once, and just didn’t have the patience or talent. Oh sure, I can “design” knives, but I can’t make them. I’ve known a few custom knife makers over the years, and have always been amazed at their talents, and how much work is involved in making knives – they are artists, no doubt about it. Each knife is a work of art, as well as a work of love, you aren’t just paying for a hunk of steel, you are paying for the talent involved in making a knife – a custom knife.
Many years ago, I used to collect (and design) custom knives, and found that it was a very expensive hobby. My entire collection was sold many, many years ago, when my family and I moved back to Oregon, after traveling all around the country, always looking for greener pastures. It was a tough decision to sell all those knives, but I have no regrets at all – other than selling off some of the knives that I personally designed and commissioned custom makers to produce for me. However, you do what is right for your family’s best interests.
Cold Steel  is owned by my long-time friend, Lynn Thompson, and Lynn has had a long relationship with Pat and Wes Crawford over the years. We are fortunate that Cold Steel has collaborated with the Crawfords over the years to bring us some of their designs, in a very affordable package. I know I could never personally afford to own any of their custom, hand-made knives, but owning a well-made production knife designed by this father/son team is the second best thing. And we can thank Lynn Thompson for bringing some of these designs to us.
Long time SurvivalBlog.com  readers will know that I’m a sucker for a good deal. Wait, I take that back: I’m a sucker for a great deal, especially when it comes to firearms and cutlery. I’m always tempted each and every time I enter my local gun shop, or when out of town, a knife shop. I think my beautiful wife steals my credit cards out of my wallet each time she sees me heading for a gun shop or knife store, so that helps remove some of the temptation to buy stuff I don’t need – and there is a big difference between “need” and “want” and more often than not, it is a “want” – I have all the firearms I’ll ever need for the rest of my life. Knives? Well, I don’t know if a person can ever have too many.
The Crawford 1
One of the latest folders from Cold Steel, is the Crawford 1 . This one is designed by Wes Crawford – his dad, Pat, is semi-retired, like me.
The Crawford 1 is a very cool-looking folder with a 3.5-inch blade, made out of 4034 stainless steel. Yes, the knife is made overseas, and I have no problems at all with quality merchandise being produced overseas, in modern up-to-date factories – not with slave labor – but genuine factories with paid workers. Yes, you can buy a lot of junk from overseas, but when it comes to Cold Steel products, it is very simple to understand: They don’t have any of their products made in Mainland China slave labor factories. Their products are made in the very best plants in the world. In this case they are made in Taiwan (Free China.) Cold Steel products are all up to Lynn Thompson’s very high quality standard or he won’t sell them – end of story.
The Crawford 1 only weighs in at 4.1-oz, and the blade is 3.3 mm thick, the handle is 4.78-inches long, and is two-toned, black with green overlays made out of Zy-Ex – very nice looking. There is a pocket clip for pants carry. I like the “belly” on the blade, for deep cutting and slashing in self-defense use. The lock is via a leaf spring, with a secondary safety lock, to help prevent the blade from accidentally closing on your fingers. The blade has a sabre grind for wide and deep cutting.
We also have a lanyard hole in the butt of the handle – something most people simply don’t appreciate. And, to top it all off, the blade is opened via a flipper, for some super-smooth opening. The blade locks up solidly, and the secondary lock on the handle is simple to operate as well.
[JWR Adds: Because this folder has projecting pivot tabs rather than a raised stud or a thumbhole, it should be legal for our readers in Germany–where knives specifically designed to be opened with one hand are banned. (The evil Einhand Messer–at least to the busybody minds of statist bureaucrats.)
Needless to say, but I always mention this, I believe that, Cold Steel knives set the gold standard when it comes to sharp knife blades – and the Crawford 1 was shaving sharp right out of the box. People often ask if I actually “shave” with the knives I test. Well, I don’t shave my face, but I test the sharpness of a knife’s blade by testing it against the hair on my arms and that is why I don’t have much hair on my arms these days – well, for the past 30 years. Another test is to see how the blade does on the hair on the back of my head – a super-sharp blade will grab and pull the hair – a dull blade will slide off the hair. I also check to see how a blade will slice newsprint.
During the course of my testing, I always test to see how well a knife blade will severe the never ending blackberry vines on our small homestead – they are tough, very fibrous – and it takes a super sharp blade to cleanly sever one of these vines with one swipe of the blade. The Crawford 1 had no problems when tasked with some of the biggest blackberry vines on our property. Some readers has put me to task, by telling me to simply use blackberry killer – nope, no thanks – we enjoy the free blackberries in many of our foods – even though it is quite the chore picking blackberries, it is worth the effort – we just make sure to wear gloves and long-sleeved shirts or jackets when picking.
Of course, opening the never-ending line of packages that USPS, UPS and FedEx brings to our door, is always a good test of a knife’s sharpness – especially those packages that have strapping tape around them – tough stuff to cut through. And, even though most of the knives I test are not kitchen knives, I use them around the kitchen and at meal times to see how well they do. I really love the way the Crawford 1 feels in the hand, too – just made to fit my hand.
I carried the Crawford 1 in my left front pants pocket for more than two weeks – knives in my left front pocket get more testing than those in my right front pants pocket for some reason. And, then “it” happened, I misplaced the Crawford 1, and never found it again – oh, its on my property – some place – and it may magically appear one day, if not, I’m going to get another one – I liked my sample “that” much, that I want another one.
Full-retail on the Crawford 1  is only $49.99 – a great deal if you ask me. They can sometimes be found for under $38 if you shop around. So, if you’re in the market for a great deal, check out this folder. It is a good one!