CRKT Drifter review - an inexpensive yet well-made folding pocket knife
For people who are not accustomed to a pocket knife, carrying an EDC (everyday carry) knife might sound strange, unnecessary, and even scary. This fear is understandable because knives can escalate things out of control. However, if used properly, it's a multifaceted tool that makes our lives easier and safer.
But which pocket knife should you choose? You can hardly go wrong with a CRKT Drifter knife if you are looking for an affordable, yet sturdy option. This CRKT Drifter review will provide you with all of the nuts and bolts of this high-quality yet reasonably-priced folding pocket knife.
There are new knives that cost $150 or more entering the market every month. While some of these models have a superior fit-and-finish, I have asked myself why we have to spend that much on knives while there are similarly well-made models for less than $30?
The CRKT Drifter is an excellent choice for everyday carry, and I will explain how and why it is so. First, I will take you through an overview of this inexpensive yet sturdy and durable knife, then I will dive deeper into the in-depth review. I will also cover a buying guide, which would help both first-time buyers and experienced users.
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CRKT - an American knife company that puts confidence in your hands
CRKT (Columbia River Knife and Tool) is an Oregon-based company founded in 1994, and over the past three decades, CRKT has released renowned lines of blades for work, sport, cooking, travel, DIY tasks, survival, and more.
They collaborated with the best designers to make knives that endure and inspire users. Since its first days of establishment, the company has been committed to putting innovation and integrity first in their design and manufacturing processes.
CRKT engineers use reliable materials to ensure they provide customers the products that excel in performance and utility. This innovative knife manufacturer always makes sure their customers have confidence when using all CRKT blades.
CRKT Drifter knife - specifications
The CRKT Drifter G10 is not a fancy-looking knife but a sturdy one. It has a 3 inches long blade and can be easily opened and closed with one hand. Additionally, its G10 handle perfectly fits both big and small hands and the Drifter also has a light texturing that improves users' grip.
CRKT Drifter Via: Amazon
Together with a perfect fit and finish, these essential characteristics give this EDC knife a competitive edge compared to other blades in the same price range. Shoppers can hardly find any other knives that perform better than this one for just $30. Let’s take a look at its specifications:
- • Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.25 x 0.1 inches
- • Weight: 2.4oz
- • Style: a folding knife with locking liner
- • Blade material: stainless steel (8Cr14MoV)
- • Handle material: fiberglass
- • Blade edge: plain
- • Blade shape: drop point
- • Blade length: 2.875’’
- • Blade finish: titanium nitride
- • Blade thickness: 0.091.''
- • Closed length: 3.660’’
- • Open length: 6.500’’
CRKT Drifter review
The CRKT Drifter knife is well-built and performs reliably under different circumstances. More importantly, it costs only a little more than $20. This price range could leave you with concerns regarding its reliability and durability.
The thorough review below will help you decide whether you should add this pocket knife to your everyday tool list.
1. Construction quality
The CRKT Drifter stainless steel has a lightweight titanium frame-lock construction. You probably know that there are different types of stainless steel, and they are categorized based on their levels of hardness and crystalline structure.
The drop point blade of this Drifter is made of 8Cr14 Mobsteel, which is a high carbon stainless steel that has excellent hardness, wear, abrasion, and corrosion resistance. The 8Cr14Mov steel is believed to be better than the 8C413MoV since it contains more chromium.
The Drifter’s drop point blade Via: Amazon
I have used another knife made of 8C413MoV before but will not do any side by side comparisons between the two here. Instead, I will only share my personal experience after five weeks of using the Drifter.
Even though I appreciate the upgrade of stainless steel in the Drifter, I can tell that their difference is negligible. The 8C413MoV steel holds its edge well and is easy to resharpen. More importantly, it comes at a low price point, making it an excellent option for the money.
The Drifter has a grey titanium nitride coating, giving it the extra layer of rust and corrosion resistance. In terms of look and feel, this coating also perfectly matches the rest of the knife. I have come across a few comments about the dull look of this knife. Frankly, that is fine for me as its performance outweighs its appearance. Also, I do not expect a fancy-looking pocket knife at a price range of under $30.
2. Design and ergonomics
With the classic drop point shape, the Drifter gives its users a strong and controllable point and a large belly for slicing.
The Drifter’s blade also features a hollow grind that starts about three-fourths of the way up the blade. The knife's gentle recurve and the fine tip make it delicate enough for small tasks but still help with cutting performance.
With two pillars and a lanyard hole, the G10 handle has a minimalist and modern design. It has a length of around 3.5 inches, which is just right to fill most users' fists. I have used other models that have handles of 4 inches long, and they require more hand power from users.
The Drifter minimalist handle Via: Amazon
Also, in terms of proportionality, if the handle is 4 inches long, the blade needs to be longer. However, this increase in length does not necessarily mean an increase in cutting power. Given this, a handle of 3.5 inches in length is perfect, and I believe CRKT designers have invested a lot of time and gone through several rounds of tests to come up with a knife of such an ideal length.
The blade of this CRKT Drifter 6450K can keep the razor-sharp edge for a long time. Its main part is concave. While other reviews praised this concavity, I have personally had complicated sharpening experiences with this concave blade on a flat stone.
Also, the Drifter’s blade is relatively thin, making it fragile during heavier tasks. Still, this is not a big concern for me. I just think it is worth mentioning here so that you will use it with caution to avoid any unexpected problems.
One of the drawbacks of the CRKT Drifter is its unsightly pocket clip. To me, it is unnecessarily large as it is more than half the size of the knife. While I appreciate its function, its design is quite off-putting, especially when I notice that it sticks out half an inch out of my pocket, which can tip the balance of suitability in certain situations.
Again, like I briefly mentioned above, I do not expect much from an affordable pocket knife, so no complaints here.
3. Ease of use
The best pocket knife should be well-built and easy to use, like the CRKT Drifter knife. It is a nicely sized knife with a closed length of 3.6 inches, which means it fits perfectly in your hands. The blade’s thickness is 0.091 inches, and the tip of this Drifter has a lean point, making it good enough for almost any everyday task.
I used to have a few more expensive knives categorized in the premium range, but they either made me feel like I wished their handles were slightly smaller or the blades were somewhat longer. The CRKT Drifter is an exception, as its blade-to-blade ratio is perfectly built for comfortable use.
Besides, the knife's handle is also proportionally made, perfect for a comfortable full 4-finger grip, which is out of my expectations. From my personal experience of using pocket knives in both everyday tasks and outdoor adventures, I have to say that it is always a wise choice to go with a blade that allows you to get a nice grip. This feature ensures that you will still maintain a tight hold on it, even under pressure or danger.
Unlike other knives with sloppy grinds, this CRKT little knife’s recurve edge is perfectly ground. Also, there is a thumb stud on the blade, assisting in a quick opening. Additionally, the pocket clip on the handle is of good quality, secure, and low-profile.
Using the CRKT Drifter in a reserve grip or a pinch grip is just as comfortable as using it in the normal position. When you use it in the reverse grip, you will probably notice that its slower thumb stud deployment makes it a less desirable choice for defense.
However, if you use it in the pinch grip, simply hold the handle in your hand, grip it firmly but gently with the middle finger tucked against the finger guard, the index finger should be curled up on the other, then your job would be much more comfortable.
For many users, especially for the left-handed, the lack of carrying options is one of the cons of the Drifter. I am right-handed, so I do not have any problems with this. However, I know some lefties, like my older brother, who prefers carrying his knives right side, tip down. Given this, the only right-hand carry option of the Drifter should not be a deterrent for the left-handed, as it all comes down to how to actually hold your knife.
4. Simple and solid lockup mechanism
The CRKT Drifter comes with nested liners from both sides, which significantly adds to its overall balance and user convenience. Opening it with one hand is a breeze. Using a knife that is equipped with a strong and robust liner lock system also ensures your safety. Once it opens, it stays in that position. While other blades might buckle under pressure, you do not have to worry about this with the Drifter.
The Drifter is easy to open with one hand Via: Amazon
Also, because the nested liners add more to the manufacturing cost, I was surprised to learn that CRKT included this feature in their Drifter blades but still priced them reasonably.
Thanks to the Drifter’s solid lock, I have never experienced any slips, so I can assure you that lock failure has no chance to happen to you based on my personal experience with this knife and its well-made liner locks. Of course, I’m nowhere close to saying that the liner lock is the best, but it is the most appropriate for the size of Drifter and adequately tough for almost any everyday task.
A Liner lock is not too complicated to make, but it is easy to use and assemble. Thanks to the detent ball, it allows for a snappy opening action and adds safety for users by preventing the blade from accidentally opening. However, when closing, the users’ fingers are in the blade's path, which is one of the biggest cons of this lock type. This drawback also makes it not all that suitable for heavy-duty use, so be aware!
5. Ease of carrying
The CRKT Drifter knife weighs 2.3 oz and is 3.5 inches when closed, meaning that it is small and allows you to carry it loose in your pocket. So in terms of portability, it stays true to what a pocket knife is supposed to be because it is portable, compact, making it appropriate for EDC carry in almost any setting.
The sturdy and removable clip also contributes to the ease of carrying of the Drifter. There is also a lanyard hole, preventing you from losing or dropping your knife, as it is designed to go over your wrist. Alternatively, you can loop it over your thumb and wrap it around your hand or attach it to your belt.
This lanyard hole also lets you retrieve and deploy the knife more comfortably. Additionally, when the handle slips from the grip, you can retain the blade by the lanyard. It is extremely helpful when you use the Drifter in or around water, like on a fishing boat.
This small feature is often underestimated in other bigger knife models, but it is especially useful for a small-sized blade like the Drifter from my personal experience.
There are many models of pocket knives to choose from, so getting overwhelmed is inevitable. This buying guide will help you make a better purchase decision by providing you with three key considerations when buying a pocket knife.
A well-built pocket knife make even the simplest EDC tasks easier
1. Number of blades
A single-blade pocket knife like the CRKTDrifter 6450K is compact and straightforward. Since the design is focused solely on one large blade, it tends to be stronger and sturdier for most types of work, from cutting food to opening a variety of boxes.
A multiple-blade knife has two or three blades, and it allows you to handle multiple tasks with ease as they usually feature a combination of a drop point blade, spay blade, pen blade, or sheep-foot blade.
While the single-blade knives give you strength and durability, it lacks variety. On the contrary, the multi-blade knives give you the versatility and flexibility you need to handle multiple tasks. However, they do not offer the sturdiness that the single-blade models do.
2. Blade length
There is a wide range of blade lengths, ranging from 2 inches to 7.5 inches, making it a challenge to choose the most appropriate one. Many people tend to think that the larger the pocket knives, the better. However, small models have their specific benefits.
Pocket knives’ length varies
Small blades of 2.75 inches are super easy to carry with you, and they are usually legal everywhere. However, their obvious downside is that they are not strong enough for heavy-duty tasks or excessive use.
Medium-sized blades are those of 2.75 to 4 inches. These knives are probably the most popular pocket knives; they are ideal for almost any task, from small EDC to heavier duties. They are in the right size for ease of carrying and use.
Large blades are those over 4 inches. These are usually designed for self-defense. Because of their size, they are heavier and might not need certain legal requirements to carry on flights or to some public places.
3. Handle material
Blade handles made from reliable materials ensure your easy and secure grip. Aluminum is lightweight, provides excellent grip, so if you plan to use your pocket knife in harsh weather conditions, pick those with an aluminum handle. Titanium handles are rigid, highly durable, corrosion-resistant, and withstands extreme temperature.
The Drifter G10 is made of fiberglass, which is lightweight and robust. The G10 is also water-resistant and can be used in inclement weather. Stainless steel handle gives the knife a unifying look, but it can be heavier than other materials. Still, it has good resistance against corrosion.
The Drifter has 4.6-star ratings on Amazon, which is a solid proof of customers’ satisfaction. Users love this knife because of its affordability, sharp edge, and sturdy build. While there are different opinions regarding its weight, most people with medium-sized hands praised that the Drifter is light, thanks to its small size, the embedded liners, and the G10 handle.
There are several negative comments regarding its pocket clip, which is to be expected because I have also mentioned this drawback above in this CRKT Drifter review. The good news is that most customers do not consider this drawback a big concern and they generally think that Drifter is an excellent choice for its price range.
Are you looking for a more premium blade but do not want to break the bank? The Spyderco Delica would be a great alternative. This brief Spyderco Delica 4 review will quickly explain why it is so.
Spyderco Delica 4 Via: Amazon
The Delica 4 has a thin blade made of VG-10 steel - the Japanese high carbon steel used in high-end kitchen knives. Its tapered edge is perfect for delicate tasks while the blade's overall depth also gives you confidence for functions that require the blade’s strength.
The folded knife is 0.4 inches wide, taking little space in your pocket. Also, its pocket clip is tight and perfectly customized for different carrying options. The Delica 4 is not an inexpensive knife, but its blade material quality is unsurpassed, so it is worth your investment. If you are into a simple design with a sturdy build, the Delica 4 is undoubtedly your perfect pocket knife.
For those looking for an inexpensive pocket knife with an inspiring design, the Gerber Paraframe I Knife is worth your consideration.
Gerber Paraframe Via: Amazon
Its carbon stainless steel blade is 3 inches long, which is pretty standard for a medium-sized pocket knife. With a stainless steel handle, the knife has a unifying cool-looking appearance.
With a sturdy pocket clip and a frame lock design, the Gerber Paraframe is an ideal choice for your EDC tasks like opening boxes, trimming wood. As long as you sharpen it regularly, you can have a decent working edge for years to come.
I hope my CRKT Drifter review has equipped you with adequate information to decide whether the Drifter should be your next purchase. If you are interested in other options, there are two alternatives that I briefly discussed above. They are both of good quality and have good ratings on Amazon.