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CRKT Drifter Review

A solid, everyday carry knife that is ready to receive your logo or inscription
CRKT Drifter
Photo: Amazon
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Price:  $45 List | $30.42 at Amazon
Pros:  Logo-ready, excellent materials, sophisticated blade
Cons:  Blade concavity complicates sharpening, on the small end of optimum size
Manufacturer:   CRKT
By Jediah Porter ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 6, 2020
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58
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 17
  • Blade and Edge Integrity - 30% 6
  • Ergonomics - 20% 6
  • Portability - 20% 7
  • Construction Quality - 20% 7
  • Other Features - 10% 0

Our Verdict

On its own, the CRKT Drifter is a solid compact daily blade. When you discover that it is truly optimized for introduction of engraving or a logo badge, its value cements further. As a gift or promotional item, the Drifter is head-and-shoulders above the competition. Most knives built to receive customized messaging are far lower in quality. We like the blade, the construction, and the optimized ergonomics. It could be better in some ways, but then it would be more expensive and/or less optimized for logo display.

Compare to Similar Products

 
CRKT Drifter
This Product
CRKT Drifter
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award  
Price $30.42 at Amazon$165.00 at REI$124.98 at Amazon
Compare at 2 sellers
$73.14 at Amazon$84.00 at Amazon
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Pros Logo-ready, excellent materials, sophisticated bladeGreat blade, classy wooden handleIncredible blade quality, assisted open, perfect combination of compactness/functionalityBeautifully constructed, assisted open, good valueBig blade, excellent steel, four pocket clip positions
Cons Blade concavity complicates sharpening, on the small end of optimum sizeExpensive, no assisted opening functionPricey, blade lock mechanism not intuitiveSlender handle makes it hard to apply even pressure, thin blade is fragileBulky pocket carry, slim handle in use
Bottom Line CRKT designed this solid daily knife to be better than most in terms of accepting engraving or a badgeA compact yet "full size” pocket knife for day to day use and all but the heaviest of tasksA high end construction of a knife carefully tuned to optimize portability and functionThis thin knife disappears in your pocket, tackles most tasks, and is easy on your walletA long-time classic, enduring for its solid design, significant customization options, and continuous improvements
Rating Categories CRKT Drifter Benchmade 15031-2 North Fork Benchmade Mini-Barrage 585 Kershaw Leek Spyderco Delica 4
Blade And Edge Integrity (30%)
6
9
9
7
7
Ergonomics (20%)
6
8
8
6
7
Portability (20%)
7
7
7
8
8
Construction Quality (20%)
7
9
9
8
7
Other Features (10%)
0
0
0
0
0
Specs CRKT Drifter Benchmade 15031-2... Benchmade... Kershaw Leek Spyderco Delica 4
Weight (ounces) 2.3 oz 3.2 oz 3.4 oz 3.1 oz 2.3 oz
Blade Style Drop point, straight Drop point, straight Drop point, straight Drop point, straight Clip point, straight
Blade locks closed? No Yes Yes Yes No
Opening Style Ambidextrous Thumb stud Ambidextrous thumb-stud Assisted, ambidextrous thumb stud Assisted, ambidextrous thumb stud. And back-of-knife finger tab. Ambidextrous Thumb hole
Lock Mechanism Liner lock Proprietary (Axis) Proprietary (Axis) Frame lock Lock back
Carry Style, in addition to loose in pocket Pocket Clip and lanyard hole Pocket Clip Pocket Clip and lanyard hole Pocket Clip Pocket Clip and lanyard hole
Blade Material 8Cr14MoV stainless steel CPM-S30V stainless steel 154CM Steel Sandvik 14C28N VG-10 Stainless Steel
Handle Material Plastic Stabilized wood Plastic 410 stainless steel Plastic
Blade Length (inches) 2.8 in 2.9 in 2.9 in 2.9 in 2.5 in
Closed Length (inches) 3.5 in 3.9 in 4.0 in 4.0 in 4.1 in
Overall Length 6.4 in 6.9 in 6.9 in 7.0 in 7.0 in
Thickness (w/o pocket clip) (inches) .4 in .5 in .6 in .3 in .4 in
Other Features or Functions None None None None None

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Drifter is a high-quality, basic folding pocket knife. We found it to be excellent for everyday carry and basic utility use. CRKT markets it as a "good logo knife." Their intention is that you can have it imprinted or engraved with branding, monogram, or other personalized messaging. It is good for this because of relatively large and relatively flat areas on handle and blade. We did not personalize our test model but can vouch for the presence of areas suitable for marking up.

Performance Comparison


Simple, slim, and matte look of the CRKT Drifter. This is a solid...
Simple, slim, and matte look of the CRKT Drifter. This is a solid, small, affordable knife. If you want to put a logo on a knife, this is a good one to choose.
Photo: Jediah Porter

Blade and Edge Integrity


CRKT blades are well regarded. This particular one is 8Cr14MoV steel, coated with titanium nitride and shaped to a modified drop point and a narrow edge angle. The factory grind is razor sharp and readily retuned at home on all but flat stones. The main part of the blade is concave. Other online reviewers point out that this looks cool, but they and we found that the concavity complicates sharpening on a flat stone. The blade is relatively thin, overall, and the edge is cut at a low angle. It "feels" sharp, but could be a little fragile in heavier tasks. Understand this, adapt, and you shouldn't have a major problem.

Ergonomics


The Drifter is what we'd call a "compact full size" pocket knife. Yeah, that doesn't make a ton of sense on its own. A handle length of around 3.5 inches is just enough to fill most adult fists. A knife handle in a full fist gets all the fingers in on cutting tasks. This is good for heavy use. Up closer to 4 inches lends even more support. Longer than 4 inches is required to house a longer blade, but doesn't dramatically increase handle power.

The Drifter is just big enough for some effective whittling. It...
The Drifter is just big enough for some effective whittling. It could be a little bigger and rounder for optimum hard-task grip.
Photo: Jediah Porter

The Drifter opens with one thumb, locks with a tight liner lock, and pivots smoothly between all the potential positions. A little bit of jimping low on the back of the blade lends further traction for your thumb. Our only wish for the ergonomics of the Drifter is that the handle was a little more rounded. An oblong, rounded handle cross-section is what we've found to be the most comfortable for extended heavy use.

Portability


The Drifter weighs 2.3 ounces and is 3.5 inches when closed. These measurements are totally appropriate for everyday carry in almost any setting. The pocket clip closes a little low on the handle, leaving more of the knife exposed than other options. The pocket clip is fixed in place and optimized for only right pocket, tip-down carry.

The pocket clip of the Drifter is very secure, but leaves some of...
The pocket clip of the Drifter is very secure, but leaves some of the knife visible. In some cases this might tip the balance of dress code suitability.
Photo: Jediah Porter

Construction Quality


The materials are strong, the construction is tight, and all the parts are joined with user-serviceable hardware. This is good news for the construction quality of the CRKT. Compared to some, the blade hinges open easily. We never had any problems with it, but it isn't impossible to imagine the blade hinging open in your pocket. When clipped to a pocket rim, the tip-down arrangement leverages gravity to keep that blade closed.

This photo is an attempt to show that the main portion of the blade...
This photo is an attempt to show that the main portion of the blade is a little concave. This offers little to no performance advantage, but does hamper sharpening on a flat stone.
Photo: Jediah Porter

Other Features


There are no other features on the Drifter. It is a basic, single-blade pocket knife.

Value


The price is right. For what you get, this is a good value. If you are examining the Drifter for its intended "logo" purpose, you are on the right track. It is an excellent knife that can be customized with printing or logos. It is much more expensive than similarly customizable options available through certain channels, but the quality is infinitely better. If you want to really make a statement to discerning users, the Drifter is a top-notch customizable gift or promotional item. As a promotional tool, your intended audience will need to be discerning in order to justify the expense.

Any of these pictured Drifter surfaces can be customized with your...
Any of these pictured Drifter surfaces can be customized with your own imagery or text. The blade can be engraved or the handle can be fitted with a printed or molded plaque.
Photo: Jediah Porter

Conclusion


CRKT seeks a unique niche when the design and markets the Drifter as a sort of billboard for your message or brand. Even non-customized, it is a good deal. The logo-ready design sets it apart and really earns its position in our review.

Jediah Porter