On its own, the CRKT Drifter is a solid compact blade, perfect for daily use or any outdoor adventures. When you discover that it is optimized for engraving or a logo badge, its value cements further. The Drifter is head-and-shoulders above the competition between others in our best pocket knife review, is great as a gift or promotional item. 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.Editor's Note: We updated this review for CRKT Drifter on August 25, 2022, with an unbiased assessment of value and suggestions for other directly comparable products that may better suit your needs.
CRKT Drifter Review
Cons: Blade concavity complicates sharpening, on the small end of optimum size
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|Pros||Logo-ready, excellent materials, sophisticated blade||Beautifully constructed, assisted open, good value||Serrated blade portion, carabiner carry option, lightweight, good blade steel||Small, portable, well-constructed||Inexpensive, functional, heavily featured|
|Cons||Blade concavity complicates sharpening, on the small end of optimum size||Slender handle makes it hard to apply even pressure, thin blade is fragile||Rudimentary construction, primitive lockback||Not made for heavy-duty use||Unremarkable construction, low quality steel, bulky|
|Bottom Line||A solid, everyday carry knife that is ready to receive your logo or inscription||A slender, svelte pocket knife with great materials and a reasonable value||The best knife we have tested for rock, ice, and alpine climbing||A tiny, multi-function pocket knife||A fully-featured tactical pocket knife at an unbeatable price, but it lacks high quality construction|
|Rating Categories||CRKT Drifter||Kershaw Leek||Petzl Spatha||Victorinox Classic...||Albatross EDC Tactical|
|Blade and Edge Integrity (30%)|
|Construction Quality (20%)|
|Other Features (10%)|
|Specs||CRKT Drifter||Kershaw Leek||Petzl Spatha||Victorinox Classic...||Albatross EDC Tactical|
|Weight||2.3 oz||3.1 oz||1.5 oz||0.8 oz||3.8 oz|
|Blade Length||2.8 in||2.9 in||2.7 in||1.4 in||2.5 in|
|Blade Material||8Cr13MoV stainless steel||Sandvik 14C28N stainless steel||Sandvik 12C27 stainless steel||Proprietary Stainless (between 440A and 420)||440 stainless steel|
|Handle Material||Plastic||410 stainless steel||Nylon||Plastic||Stainless steel|
|Blade Style||Drop point, straight||Drop point, straight||Drop Point, hybrid straight/serrated||Drop point, straight||Drop point, straight|
|Blade locks closed?||No||Yes||No||No||No|
|Opening Style||Ambidextrous thumb stud||Assisted, ambidextrous thumb stud; back-of-knife finger tab||Ambidextrous thumb hole; ridged traction ring||Fingernail||Assisted, flipper|
|Lock Mechanism||Liner lock||Frame lock||Lock back||None||Liner lock|
|Carry Style||Pocket clip and lanyard hole||Pocket clip and lanyard hole||Carabiner hole||Keyring||Pocket clip|
|Closed Length||3.5 in||4.0 in||4.2 in||2.3 in||3.9 in|
|Overall Length||6.4 in||7.0 in||7.0 in||3.8 in||6.5 in|
|Thickness (w/o pocket clip)||0.4 in||0.3 in||0.5 in||0.4 in||0.4 in|
|Other Features or Functions||None||None||None||Scissors, nail file, small screwdriver, tweezers, toothpick, key ring||Seatbelt cutter, glass breaker|
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." You can have it imprinted or engraved with branding, monogram, or other personalized messaging. It is good for this because of the relatively large and relatively flat areas on the handle and blade. We did not personalize our test model but can vouch for the presence of areas suitable for marking up.
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 re-tuned 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 fragile in heavier tasks. Understand this, adapt, and you shouldn't have a major problem.
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 opens with one thumb, locks with a tight liner lock, and pivots smoothly between all the potential positions. A 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.
The Drifter weighs 2.3 ounces and is 3.5 inches when closed. These measurements are 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 and optimized for only right-pocket, tip-down carry.
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. The tip-down arrangement leverages gravity to keep that blade closed when clipped to a pocket rim.
There are no other features on the Drifter. It is a basic, single-blade pocket knife.
Should You Buy the CRKT Drifter?
CRKT seeks a unique market niche and advertises the Drifter as a billboard for your message or brand. Although it is an excellent knife, it is much more expensive than similarly customizable options available through certain channels. But the quality is infinitely better, and for what you get, this is a good value. If you want to make a statement to discerning users, the Drifter is a top-notch customizable gift or promotional item.
What Other Pocket Knives Should You Consider?
If you are considering the Drifter for its intended "logo" purpose, you are on the right track. Otherwise, there are better options, even at this price point. The Ontario Knife Company RAT II] includes a higher quality blade on an otherwise similarly designed knife. But if you're seeking an outstanding value, it is well worth investing in a knife like the Kershaw Leek.
— Jediah Porter
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