The Karambit style knife has recently become rather popular. All manner of “self defence” gurus have espoused its greatness via youtube and it seems every knife company has released a version or will be soon. However despite the trend it has a number of detractors and debates rage as to it’s pros and cons.. Now seemed a good time for me to finally get round to reviewing one of the most well known folding Karambits on the Market – The Fox Karambit.
So first up what defines the Karambit knife? The first thing most notice is the curved blade. The style originates from South East Asia. Specifically from the western sumatran people. Folklore suggests that the blades shape was based up an animals claw and was originally a farm implement. It was highly unlikely that the Karambit was used widely by any military of the time. Drawings and statues portray spears and “Kris” style knives as being the standard military issue. The humble Karambit may have been carried by a few but the concept of armies being highly trained in its use are fraudulent and likely being pushed by afore mentioned self defence gurus from developed western countries to add authenticity to their teachings.
My well used Karambit. Notice the “wave” design which allows very rapid deployment.
The original Karambit was a fixed blade design. The version we have on review today is a folder. Fox cutlery are not trying to reproduce an authentic historic piece, instead they have taken parts of the original design (blade shape, finger loop) and blended them with new materials and technology.
Design features and quality.
Fox cutlery hail from Italy and have been making knives and equipment for many years. They have a solid reputation among their customers. When I first recieved the Karambit I must say I was impressed. The quality and assembly of the knife was spot on. Nothing was loose and the blade snicked out to a very secure feeling lock. Like most folding knives the blade can be deployed with a flipper which is depressed with your thumb (might need a bit of wrist flick as well). However the really fascinating part design wise is the addition of the Emerson Wave. The Wave is a feature dreamed up by Emerson knives, a small hook on the blade which snags the pocket as you draw it out and deploys the folding blade. It sounds gimmicky but actually I found it to work perfectly using a variety of different clothing and a little practice. One word of warning – the blade deploys extremely rapidly and you should make sure that your own body and anyone elses is well out of the way when you draw the knife from your pocket. The wave feature works so well that you will find the blade deploying every time you draw the knife.. You have been warned.
A video clearly showing the wave feature in action.
The handles are either G10 or Alluminium depending on preference. I went for G10 as it feels very comfortable and is easy to grip.
The knife features a pocket clip and allows the karambit to sit low and comfortable without being to noticeable. The clip can be repositioned for left or right pocket carry very easily (three small torx screws). The clip itself is VERY strong. You might find it tough to push onto thicker materials. The combination of grippy handles and super strong pocket clip can cause the knife to be hard to pull out with thicker trousers. Some users have solved this problem by sanding the G10 smooth directly under the clip. Probably a sensible idea if your life depends on drawing the knife effectively 100% of the time. Personally I have not found it to be a great issue.
The blade is made from N690co, a high end Cobalt steel which is also used by Spyderco and Extrema. N690co sharpens relatively easily and holds a good edge. It is also fairly resistant to corrosion but that does not mean you should leave it wet. All knives appreciate being dried and oiled after use! The blade was razor sharp from factory, I did not even need to touch it up. It passed paper tests with ease cutting laser sharp lines with no tearing using only a little pressure. This is not a blade you want to be running your thumb along unless you are masochistic! The blade is designed purely for cutting, it is not meant for prying or chopping, the shape and delicate razor sharp tip serve a specific purpose which brings us onto the next subject..
This knife has very few practical uses in the modern western world. As mentioned previously it is a poor choice for the usual activities – firewood, shelter building, carving, general DIY.. This blade was designed for martial applications. If you are a practicing martial artist using weapon based systems then this may suit you. If you just think it looks awesome and would like it as a collectors piece then superb. Just do not ever imagine it has practical applications around the home.. There are much better designs for those purposes. The only time I have ever used the Karambit outside of a martial arts setting was for trimming up window film for secondary double glazing. The sharp curved blade was a real benefit for that.. But it is hardly a common occurence. I practice martial arts and that has been my main reason for purchase (and I am a sucker for anything that I find ingenious such as the wave function!). If you live in America or somewhere with similar laws the Fox Karambit would no doubt be an ideal every day carry item for self defence. Its fast deployment and cutting ability would make it highly effective. For many other countries the laws would not allow a person to carry a knife like this. Based on UK law the blade is a little to long and it locks which would get you in serious trouble unless you had a valid reason for carry…
I paid £70 for my Karambit about a year ago. Although that may seem pricey to some when you consider materials used, overall quality and the price of competitive models I think it represents a bargain. Fox offer excellent warranty and have a good rep for customer services and satisfaction. Fox could have asked twice the price for this blade and people would have paid it. Superb!!
The Fox Karambit is an amazingly well made knife. It is highly efficient and incredibly sharp. If you wish to use a karambit for martial arts then I cannot imagine many are better. Fox even make a blunt practice version before you sever any of your own fingers trying daring knew moves. The only downside to this little beauty is that you wont find many uses outside of that sphere. I highly recommend to collectors, martial artists and for defence in relevant countries. It will not dissapoint. For those of you looking for a do it all chopper – look elsewhere..