It’s enough to give hunters a bad attitude. With tactical knives garnering the overwhelming amount of attention in the cutlery market these days those who like a good old-fashioned “pure” fixed-bladehunting knife have had little to celebrate. The good news is there are several knife manufacturers who have never abandoned the hunting knife market and Columbia River Knife & Tool, known as simply “CRKT” to most, is one of them.
Hunting knives were one of the first additions to the CRKT line when the company started up just over 10 years ago and in the past few years their collaborations with custom knifemaker and professional hunting guide Russ Kommer have been stellar. Kommer’s designs are spin-offs of his own field-tested custom knives and while most are fixed blades he makes a pretty mean folder as well. Very few companies have the cahones to put out a real skinning knife these days, but CRKT has you covered in their Kommer line. Looking for real stag and stacked leather handles, just like the good old days? Like dropping point blades and gutting hooks? CRKT can help you there as well.
Brow Tine And Bez Tine
The most striking of CRKT’s hunters is the Brow Tine Hunter (Model 2860). It’s rare to see stag handles on a production knife these days and the scales of this knife are nice and thick. At 7 1/4″ overall, 3″ of that in the drop point blade, the Brow Tine model is not a large fixed blade for heavy-duty field chores, but it will handle dressing a wide range of game and can perform light duty around the camp. A mirror finish and the stainless steel blade and mosaic pins on the handle harkens back to the good old days. At a suggested retail of $99.99, complete with stitched leather sheath, the Brow Tine hunter is a steal.
The Bez Tine Hunter (Model 2850) is a rarity in that it is darn near impossible to find a full-size hunting knife with a skinner blade either custom or manufactured. Overall length is 7 3/8″ with 3 1/4″ made up by the Bez Tine’s slick upswept stainless steel skinning blade. There’s plenty of handle to get a grip on your work and finger grooves on the walnut handle and stainless steel bolsters make for excellent purchase. Mirror finished blade and bolsters and a stitched leather sheath complete the package. Suggested retail is $99.99.
CRKT’s Wrangell Range Pro Hunter (Model 2770) is a beefy drop point, fixed blade large enough–7 3/4″ overall–to handle a wide range of field chores, but light enough to carry on the belt without getting in the way. The curvaceous, ergonomically pleasing handle is made of stacked leather spacers sandwiched between satin finished bolsters and pommel. The 3 1/2″ stainless steel drop point blade is hollowground and satin-finished to match the bolsters and pommel. A sibling, dubbed the Chugash Pro Hunter, has a simpler handle design, but all the same handle and satin finishing found on the Wrangell model. Suggested retail for both is $149.99, leather sheath included.
The Kilbuck Signature Hunter (Model 2810) is the affordable workhorse of the bunch. Checking in at just less than 8″, the Kilbuck model is plenty big for most field and skinning chores. The 3.25″ mirror finish drop point blade has notching on the backside for added grip. The blade and tang are stainless steel and the handle scales are durable dark-stained bamboo. A rectangular lanyard hole in the base is fitted with a handy plaited leather fob.
The Kilbuck Signature Hunter also has a companion knife with a gut-hook to make skinning even easier. The Model 2820 has a deep-groove sharpened gut-hook on the backside of the blade perfect for slicing flesh and will handle para-cord with ease as well. Both Kilbuck’s retail for $59.99, a great price for a lot of knife. Stitched leather sheaths are included with both Signature models.
Kommer has also designed a hunter’s accessory called the PTS to make game preparation easier and can sharpen knives to boot. The PTS (Pelvic/Tool Sharpener), a wedge-shaped tool, can neatly split the cartilage at the pelvic bone seam using a tap from a hammering device as simple as a nearby rock, totally negating the need for a hatchet.
The wedge is sized to work well with game the size of White Tail Deer to Alaskan Moose. In addition, the PTS’ flat, grooved and rounded edges are coated with 400-diamond grit for sharpening blade edges, broadheads, fishhooks and serrations.
The CRKT catalog also contains Kommer’s Big Eddy Alaska Fillets, a pair of professional-grade fillet knives for the outdoorsman who wants something a cut above the standard off-the-rack fare.
Pure hunting knives are alive and well, you just have to know where to find them. CRKT has done a commendable job with their Russ Kommer series, and hopefully we’ll see more from this talented designer.