Product Spotlight: CRKT Swindle Knife by Ken Onion

The new Swindle knife from Columbia River Knife & Tool is a slight departure from the typical everyday carry, but we expect nothing less from the creative designs by custom-knife maker Ken Onion.

CRKT Swindle everyday carry knife by Ken Onion

The CRKT Ken Onion Swindle knife comes in two versions: one with a flat handle, the other fluted.


“Though I’ve been a devout knife collector since childhood, collecting mostly production knives and anything else I could find, I was unaware of the custom knife industry until 1989 when I saw an issue of Knives Illustrated at a local drugstore,” Onion says of his entry into knifemaking. “From there, I found a local knifemaker named Stan Fujisaka and begged him to teach me.”

While recovering from back surgery in 1996, Onion decided to design a folder that was easier to manipulate than what was available, and not a switchblade. The result was the first assisted opening knife, which he called (and patented) “Speed Safe.”

In doing so, Onion created one of the most significant advances in knife design in the last 100 years—and a design that eventually required an act of the U.S. Congress and the signature of the president of the United States to clearly make legal.


The Swindle design flows from tip to tail with the slightest of an uphill curve. The functional subtleties of the Swindle become apparent when in hand. Let’s look at it closer.

The frame lock mechanics and flipper-style opener are tucked into a stainless steel handle shape in either a smooth or ribbed pattern. The hollow-ground, modified Wharncliffe blade moves with ease on the smooth IKBS pivot system.

Onion created a unique “side” clip, which is tensioned for secure carry that functions like a typical pocket clip, but when not in use, it nests against the knife for more discreet, deep in the pocket carry. The blade locks with a frame lock, and is lightweight at only 3.3 ounces.

The flat-handle model has a blade of 8Cr14Mov, while the fluted-handle version uses 12C27 Sandvik steel.

Suggested retail for the K240XXP Swindle is $59.99, with the K241XXP going for $79.99.

The Swindle in either handle makes a nice flat discreet carry knife with enough blade length to do the job of much bigger knives.

—Story by KI staff, photo courtesy of CRKT