I still have my first CRKT knife. A Hammond Cruiser which I bought from Heinnie Haynes in the UK. It was the first “flipper” I had ever used and I loved it, correction still love it! Will the CRKT Goken live up to that smooth flipper heritage? And what exactly is “field strip technology”?
Columbia River Knife and Tool have been around since 1994. They have a very strong reputation within the field cutlery industry for producing innovative, affordable, rugged knives. They have an extensive range which covers many user groups from EDC through to military. CRKT are well known for working with respected knife designers which resulted in icons like the M16 from Kit Carson.
The CRKT Goken is the result of a collaboration between CRKT and knife designer, James Williams. Williams is a former former U.S. Army Officer, martial artist and Mil/LE consultant. He designs knives and tools which are primarily aimed at the tactical and self defence market. His designs incorporate heavy Japanese influence especially in terms of blade shape.
The Goken is a lightweight flipper with an elongated Tanto blade described as a modified Osoraku Zukuri. The Osoraku Zukuri blade originated in the Muromachi period (1336 – 1573). It is defined by the large Kissaki (tip of the blade). The word Osoraku means “perhaps” which was carved on the original blade made by Shimada Sukemune of the famed Shimada school. Mr Williams clearly takes his Japanese history pretty seriously.
The CRKT Goken is a relatively lightweight (4.2oz) liner lock flipper. The liner is minimal to keep weight down. It is fixed firmly to one of the G10 scales which sport aggressive chequering. The chequering is a little to grippy for my preference as it induces a fair amount drag on the pocket. I should add that after a few months it did smooth off a bit and improve. The scales have a jimped area for the thumb to rest on just underneath the flipper. The deep carry pocket clip is very firm and can be mounted for left or right tip up carry.
The really unique feature of the Goken is the ease in which it can be stripped down and cleaned/reassembled. CRKT call this their field strip technology..
Field Strip Technology
The CRKT Goken is one of several knives which feature field strip technology. You will find a recessed lever behind the pivot pin and a jimped wheel at the base of the handle. Sliding the lever and unscrewing the wheel allows the scales and blade to separate. If you have taken folding knives apart in the past to clean them you will be aware of how annoying they can be. Bits tend to fall out, springs fly off and they are fiddly to get back together. This is particularly pertinent to flippers because dust and dirt build up at the pivot and negatively effect function.
The CRKT Goken has no tiny parts to fall out or springs that fly off. The design is as simple as one could make it while still retaining the expected functionality. The minimal frame lock mechanism, locking pivot lug, blade retention pin and jimped rear wheel are all on the right hand scale. Both scales house what looks like a slim ceramic spacer which aids flipping action.
The Osoraku Zukuri Tanto type blade is unlike any other Tanto I have come across. There are many variations of Tanto (Japanese – short sword) which usually feature an angular tip designed for penetratrative performance and strength. The Japanese swords needed to pass through leather and lacquered wood armour which a slash would simply glance off of.
The CRKT Gokens blade tip begins just under half the blade length creating a dramatic looking angle. The EDP (CRKT black rust resistant coating) finish combined with some awesome wording create a great aesthetic. I don’t know what the Japanese symbols mean but they look epic! The long point has a slight curve to it which gives the blade practical uses beyond its primary objective (tactical). This is a long blade in comparison to its width at 3.693″
The steel for those who are interested is 1.4116. The composition (C .45% – .5%, Cr 14.5% – 14.8%, Mn .4%, Mo .6%, P .02%, Si .4% – .6%, V .1%) place it near steels such as 425M. As with most steels the heat treat is all important and CRKT have ample experience in that area.
Let’s talk about the field strip technology first. I always strip or assemble with the blade closed. It is incredibly easy to take apart and clean. Putting it back together is just a matter of ensuring everything lines up, then tightening down the wheel and sliding the lever over. The wheel simply turns a screw which fits a thread in the scale on the opposite side. The lever retains the pivot pin/locking lug. CRKT have ensured neither are going to accidentally undo during use and I have never experienced that happening. I found the field strip to be a great feature which adds interest as well as function.
I have a couple of mild gripes regards the ergonomics. When you flip the blade out your finger comes to rest on jimping which is quite abrasive. After a few openings it gets to be a little annoying. No problem at all for glove wearers but something to keep in mind. The texture on the outside is also quite abrasive and tends to catch a little when drawn from the pocket. It makes for a very grippy handle but my preference would be for a little smoothing beneath the pocket clip.
The flipping action is really smooth and the lockup is firm. Despite the ease of disassembly the Goken feels as solid as any folding knife of a similar weight. It is obviously not designed for chopping wood or hard use but as a general use blade it is actually surprisingly useable.
Conclusion and Price
Most users of the Goken are likely to live in countries which allows knife carry for self defence. Many of our readers are stateside and the Goken is likely to appeal to that market as a light, convenient option. Equally it will appeal to collectors for its interesting aesthetic and the innovative field strip technology.
The CRKT Goken is priced at around $150. It has a lifetime warranty if used as intended. While it is by no means cheap I think it is a fair price for such an innovative and interesting piece. Light, unobtrusive, well designed and engineered, the Goken ticks all the right boxes. I would love to see a limited edition variant with smooth aluminium scales in olive drab. Yes it would weigh a little more but damn it would look so cool!