Just when I think I’ve seen it all in folding knives, someone throws me a curve ball. This time around, it is CRKT with their “Provoke” model by custom knife maker Joe Caswell. And, to be sure, this isn’t quite what most folks picture as a folding knife, when it comes down to it.
As a knife designer myself, I’ve designed quite a few fixed blade knives over the years, and most were made for me, by custom knife makers. I now have one folding knife design, and I’m trying to tweak the design specs, and that is no easy task. Fixed blade knives are much easier to design and to produce.
I can easily say I’ve had thousands of knives pass through my hands over the years, as a gun and knife writer. Some were really great designs, others were okay, and some were junk knives. The latter went in the trash. I wouldn’t waste my time, or my readers’ times writing about junk. I’m not easily impressed with most knives and guns these days. There’s only so much anyone can do to make these designs a little different from another design. And, in my case it is even harder finding the right words to describe some new features, when writing my articles. I oftentimes, depend on some of the guys at my local gun shop to toss some words of wisdom my way for my articles. However, most of the time I get “oh cool”, or “suh-weet”, or “nice” from them.
Karambit Style Blade
Having been involved in the martial arts for 35-years – I no longer practice – I love ancient knife designs, and some of them are hard to beat, even by today’s standards. The ancient East Indian Kukri is one such design – it is in a class all its own – it is a wicked fixed blade knife, that can nearly take a head or arm off of an attacker. Another design I like is the Karambit. These usually aren’t big bladed knives. However, with the “claw-like” design of the blade, it can rip and tear through flesh like you wouldn’t believe. The CRKT “Provoke” has a Karambit type blade on it, that is only 2.41-inches long – and that’s about par for the course on a Karambit knife.
The Provoke has a plain edge – no serrations, and the blade is made out of good ol’ D2 tool steel – once used only by custom knife makers. You have to really know how to work D2 tool steel – if not properly heat-treated, the blade can take a lousy edge and make it next to impossible to re-sharpen, too. The blade is finished is Black Titanium Nitride for a stealth look and resistance to corrosion. The handle material is 6061 T6 Aluminum – tough stuff. The knife isn’t a light-weight, coming in at 6.1-oz – but there’s more here than meets the eye for such a smallish knife.
Caswell’s Provoke has a secret – a futuristic secret – that is really pretty clever. At first glance, when you examine the Provoke, it is, let’s just say, a bit “weird” looking – putting it politely. It doesn’t look like any knife you’ve seen before. You can see the blade neatly tucked away against the handle material, but it takes a little bit of detective work to figure out how to open the blade. You see, this knife, is the first knife to ever feature truly innovative “Kinematic” technology.
When you look at the Provoke, it looks like a mechanical nightmare, with the levers and pivoting angles – it really is different. I used to be a fair hand at mechanical drawing in high school, so I know a bit about such things. This knife design has to have everything, and I mean, everything is perfect balance and harmony in order to work flawlessly – I kid you not.
So, how does one open the blade? Very easy to be honest, you just have to give a little “push” for lack of a better word, and the blade comes out from against the handle and locks firmly in-place. Again, this isn’t a folding knife per se, but more of a fixed blade knife, that is partially folded – if that makes any sense. You need to check out the CRKT web site and watch the video on how this whole operation works. It is much easier to watch, than it is to explain – trust me. Once open, the karambit style blade isn’t going to close on your fingers. Now, here comes the “trick” to getting the blade back against the handle…there is an almost flat piece of metal in the handle, and you have to press down on it just “so” in order for it to release the blade, and it goes back into the handle. Once again, everything has to be perfectly timed and in balance for this design to operate the way it does. It is one of those knives, you will spend hours playing with in your favorite easy chair – just opening and closing the blade back against the handle.
I note that there was supposed to be a pocket clip on the handle – I looked – and looked, and looked some more – and couldn’t find it. Hmmmm? Wait one – there must be a trick to the pocket clip, right? Well the pocket clip isn’t your traditional type, it is very thin and flat against the handle itself, so it was easy to miss. Only problem is, at least for me is, the clip is so flat against the handle, it won’t clip to my cargo pants I wear – my pants have an added reinforcing lip on the top of the pocket where you’d normally clip a folding knife. The clip on the Provoke is just too tight to clip in my cargo pants pocket – darn it! I don’t see CRKT offering a belt sheath for this knife. I hope they do!
Since the Provoke isn’t your typical knife, I didn’t do my usual testing – sure enough, the blade was super-sharp for ripping and tearing. I used the blade against cardboard, and it really did rip through it – imagine what it would do to flesh on an arm, or against a face or throat – we are talking wicked, my friends, very wicked, for self defense.
I can see the Provoke being used by first responders – police and ambulance – to cut through things – like seat belts, or cutting off clothing of an injured person, and of course, as a last resort as a self-defense weapon. With such a short blade, you can carrying this knife just about any place – just not on commercial planes, though. (Be sure to consult your State and local laws.) And many states and locales have restrictions on long of a blade a knife can have if you carry it. Those stupid laws, if you ask me. Again, the Provoke’s blade length is only 2.41-inches long. So that skirts many such laws.
If you’re in the market for something a little bit different – okay, I take that back – something a lot different than you’re used to seeing in a knife – then take a close look at the Provoke. It will be sure to catch your attention. And it is very addictive – you’ll just open and close it all the time – trust me on this, it is a mechanical wonder. This is much akin the mechanical fascination that people have with Butterfly type knives. It is one of those designs where I usually say “why didn’t I think of that” sort of thing. Well, never in my dreams could I have come up with this design!
Quality doesn’t come cheap, and this knife is sheer quality. Full-retail is $200, but shop around on the ‘net and your big box stores, and you will find it for a little less money. CRKT has already sold out of their first production first run – no surprises there. So if you want one, get busy and start looking around.
This knife design adds a whole new meaning to the word “unique”.