CRKT BAMBOOZLED: “EXCELLENT” DESCRIBES YOUNG KENNY ONION’S FIRST FULL-PRODUCTION BLADE
By definition, if you’ve been “bamboozled,” you’ve been deceived by trickery or flattery. When I first handled Columbia River Knife & Tool’s new Bamboozled folder, I was fooled by its solid feel, modern aesthetics, and quality build. I was convinced I was holding a folder that was surely well out of my price range.
But this finely crafted assisted opener from CRKT carries a suggested retail price of just $75. This is a very nice knife for that price.
CRKT BAMBOOZLED IS YOUNG KENNY’S FIRST
The CRKT Bamboozled marks the first full-production knife designed by Kenny Onion. Kenny, also known as Ken Jr., has a father who is a knifemaking legend. Yes, that Ken Onion. Apparently Ken Jr. was paying attention growing up around his dad because the Bamboozled has the looks of a knife designed by a seasoned pro.
“I wanted a simple blade shape that was good at your everyday tasks…but the blade needed to be thicker toward the tip for more demanding tasks, too.” – Ken Onion Jr.
“Getting into knifemaking was a huge fear because I have large shoes to fill being the son of Ken Onion—‘Sonion,’” he said.
Ken Jr., now 27 years old, made his first knife as a pre-teen.
“My father and I made a hunting knife together for a trip to Alaska,” he said. “It was a 6.5-inch hunting/skinning knife with an orange G10 handle.”
He said they often traveled to Alaska as they’ve been active in veteran assistance organizations such as PVA (Paralyzed Veterans of America) and Alaska’s Healing Hearts. Ken Jr. now works in North Carolina where he operates CAD (Computer-Aided Design) and CAM (Computer-Aided Manufacturing) equipment.
The Bamboozled will make an excellent EDC knife. It features a 3.34-inch blade of D2 steel with a plain edge and a satin finish. It’s very sharp. The blade is a drop-point, but the spine is straight most of the way, and only takes a dip near the very tip. I like the blade shape. I think you can do pretty much anything with it that you need a knife this size to do.
At the flick of the flipper, the blade glides open along an IKBS ball-bearing pivot and does so quickly and with authority as it makes use of Ken Senior’s patented SpeedSafe assisted opening mechanism. The flipper itself is in keeping with the knife’s streamlined profile. It protrudes just enough, and a curve on the front side of it engages nicely with the tip of the index finger when opening the blade. The liner lock provides positive full engagement with the tang of the blade, so there should be no doubt that the blade will be secure when you use it for tough jobs.
The knife features a stainless steel bolster that’s longer than you’ll find on many other knives. It’s fluted with a couple of simple vertical grooves at the rear of it. The fluting is an attractive touch and might aid in maintaining your grip, depending on how you hold the knife for certain cuts. When I first saw that prominent bolster I immediately thought that this was some artist’s modern take on the classic Barlow pattern with the intent of blending the old with the new.
The rest of the handle is nicely fitted with black G10 scales. A couple of back spacers separate the two halves of the frame. It’s an open design, and I like that in a knife that’s apt to see lots of time in a pocket where it can pick up lint and other debris. The steel deep-carry pocket clip is set up for right-side, tip-up carry.
ATTENTION TO DETAIL
Ken Jr. told me his approach to knifemaking is very similar to that of his dad.
“We’re actually very similar to how our brain works,” he said, “so we work really well together, and we have been for the past seven to eight years now. The best thing I think is we’re both very paranoid and meticulous about things, OCD for sure. I want someone to pick up a product and feel like we thought of everything for them. That’s the benefit of having two pairs of eyes on one knife. Every knife I do is proofed out by Ken Onion Sr. So I’d say patience and attention to detail are the best things my father taught me early on.”
THE BAMBOOZLED DESIGN
The Bamboozled’s unusual name was Ken Jr.’s invention, too.
“It was the first name that came to mind when I was designing the knife. It was tube shaped like bamboo and had a classic look to it. So I mixed the two things that came to my mind first,” he laughed.
“The Bamboozled will make an excellent EDC knife. It features a 3.34-inch blade of D2 steel with a plain edge and a satin finish. It’s very sharp.”
How did he arrive at the design of the Bamboozled?
“I really enjoy a mixture of the classic and modern. My father does too,” he said. “Someone told me a piece of information that stuck: Don’t try and reinvent the knife. Being that it was my first production knife, I knew I’d be under heavy scrutiny. So I made a knife that I would want to carry that was all knives to all people, something that kept it classic and kept it simple. I love classic, minimalist, and modern knives. So I made something that had a little of everything.”
He said his original custom version of the Bamboozled was a manual opener.
“I think incorporating SpeedSafe was smart on the production Bamboozled since it’s an homage to my dad,” Ken Jr. said. “I wanted a simple blade shape that was good at your everyday tasks, such as cutting open Amazon boxes, but the blade needed to be thicker toward the tip for more demanding tasks, too. Also, in my CAD software I can stretch a knife in the closed position to see how much knife I can squeeze into the handle. I do this for all the knives I design.”
“I’m hoping in a year or so I can get my own shop up and running to start making custom knives and EDC gear,” he said. “I hope to do a bit of everything, even outside of just knives. I truly just love what I do and making things. I hope that people enjoy what I come up with and I’m able to carry the torch. The best compliment I can get is someone having my knife in their pocket and genuinely loving it.”
Well, I can say that I am genuinely loving it. Here’s a reasonably priced knife that blends the classic with the modern. It’s well made of good materials, has a blade sized and shaped for wide-ranging capability, and snaps open at the flick of a finger. If Ken Jr. is concerned about the big shoes he’s expected to fill, he need not worry. He’s off to a great start with the Bamboozled. I wonder if he’ll follow up the Bamboozled with a knife called the Hornswoggled. If so, sign me up for that one, too.
LCBK IS ANOTHER GOOD CRKT CHOICE
This year, Columbia River Knife & Tool and Hogue Knives announced a partnership that will entail Hogue manufacturing some CRKT models here in the USA.
The first two USA-made models in this collaboration are the Definitive and the LCBK. The Definitive features a 3.7-inch blade, while the LCBK is a bit smaller and has a 3.4-inch blade. Both are made with 154CM steel, have G10 handles, and utilize CRKT’s ambidextrous Crossbar Lock. An interesting note is that MJ Lerch designed the Definitive, and her husband Matthew Lerch designed the LCBK.
I got my hands on an LCBK, which is an acronym for Lightweight Crossbar Knife. The LCBK feels good in the hand, with its tapered handle shape and the lightly textured G10 scales. The sharply angled drop-point blade comes to a very fine point. The knife was extremely sharp on arrival and its 154CM blade steel should provide excellent edge retention.
The LCBK’s dual thumb studs allow for one-handed opening with either hand. Sometimes thumb studs can be awkward to manipulate depending on the size and shape of the knife’s handle and where your hand naturally takes a grip on it. But I found the the LCBK’s handle worked well to position my thumb correctly for opening the blade.
The only option for the deep-carry pocket clip is for right-side, tip-up carry, no big deal for me. What’s nice is that the knife lives up to its name of being a lightweight as it tips the scales at 2.8 ounces. I’ve been finding it to be a very good carry choice.
Model: CRKT Bamboozled
Type: Assisted opening folder
Overall Length: 7.81 inches
Blade Length: 3.34 inches
Blade Steel: D2 with satin finish and plain edge
Blade Thickness: 0.11 inch
Closed Length: 4.45 inches
Handle Material: Black G10 with stainless steel bolster
Lock Mechanism: Liner lock
Weight: 3.7 ounces
Other: Steel pocket clip for right-side, tip-up carry
Model: CRKT LCBK
Overall Length: 8 inches
Blade Length: 3.48 inches
Blade Steel: 154CM with bead-blast finish
Blade Thickness: 0.12 inch
Closed Length: 4.50 inches
Handle Material: G10
Lock Mechanism: Crossbar lock
Weight: 2.8 ounces
Other: Deep-carry pocket clip
Columbia River Knife & Tool
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