I am an unabashed enthusiast of WWII history. I can thank my grandfather for that. He was an airplane mechanic for the Army Air Corps in the Pacific and I was a kid fascinated with flight. I’d check out a WWII aircraft book from the library before going up for a visit and he would regale me with stories of the battles, pilots, and planes he knew. That familiar glint came back to my eye the moment I saw the new CRKT Homefront.
There are really two stories to tell with this model. The Homefront is throwback to a simpler time and place with a nod to our military roots. It’s also using never before seen technology that makes maintaining the knife easier than it’s every been. Which am I more excited about? Please don’t make me choose! Let’s just dig in so I can show you why I’m so excited about the CRKT Homefront.
A Simpler Time – A Simpler Design
I have no doubt that my reflections of the WWI and WWII generations are more romanticized than the memory of those who lived through those years. Still, I long for the days when life wasn’t so complicated and freedom could be found in the cockpit of a P-51 Mustang. The CRKT Homefront has been developed as a throwback to that simpler life by designer Ken Onion.
Ken is probably most well-known for the beautiful yet functional curves that define his designs, like that of the Outrage. The curves here are more subtle and subdued, keeping to that simpler look. This is augmented by the brushed steel blade finish and green-ish brown handle. The look is solidified with black hardware.
The blade steel is formed into a drop point style with a plain edge. Ken brings one of his subtle curves in here by increasing the belly slightly as it moves away from the handle. Not to be missed is the fuller near the top of the blade. While it’s actual function is to increase stiffness yet reduce weight (it’s not a blood gullet as many assume), it gives the knife additional credibility to its military inspiration.
If you’re picky, you might not appreciate that the clip has only one position. It’s an ultra deep, tip up carry optimized for right handers.
On the opposite side, you’ll see your first hint of CRKT’s new Field Strip Technology next to the Army star pivot cover. Even the flipper takes its cue from classic military design with bayonet lug styling.
Modern Times – Modern Materials
While I love the era the CRKT Homefront takes me back to, we live in a time that gives us access to the best materials the world has ever known. That includes the ability to carefully develop steel blends to specific qualities – and price points. CRKT went away from their normal 8Cr13MoV blade steel and moved to a higher end AUS 8 for the Homefront. This blend offers a hardness of 57 – 58 HRC. Most significantly, AUS 8 offers much greater nickle (increases hardness and corrosion resistance) and silicon (increases tensile strength) content.
The handle is is made from 6061 aluminum. I’m really grateful that CRKT stayed away from G10 on this one. Don’t get me wrong, I love the G10 handles on knives like the Fossil, but the metal finish contributes to the classic look of an early to mid 1900’s folder.
The trade-off with a metal handle is that it tends to slip in a bare hand. Jimping along the top for both your thumb and palm do a great job of securing the grip.
Hiding in plain sight among the simple design is a technological breakthrough that’s taken more than 10 years to develop – CRKT Field Strip technology. This is game changing for anyone who uses their knife in less than ideal conditions. That would be pretty much everyone who steps outside their front door while carrying a knife.
Field Strip gives you the ability to strip the CRKT Homefront down into two handle parts and the blade, making cleaning a pleasure compared to every other folder on the planet. Not only does it break down, it does it without the use of any tools.
How does it work?
Glad you asked! First, flip the lever next to the Army star. This releases a hex bolt that holds it together. Hiding in the jimping toward the back of the handle is a thumb wheel. Turn it away from the front until it’s completely loose. Viola – the Homefront is now apart! Reverse the process to put it back together after cleaning (or just playing – I know you will try it a bunch of times just because you can!).
Even though there are only two steps, it’s important to do them in the right order. That lever can actually work against the hex bolt pivot and torque it out of alignment. If you do, the Field Strip won’t function properly. Also, you’ll need to pinch the front together as you lock it back in place. The lever should operate smoothly. If it doesn’t, release the handle and pinch it together right on the pivot, again, to avoid torquing the hex bolt out of alignment.
CRKT Homefront Specifications
- Blade Material: AUS 8 steel
- Hardness: 57-58 HRC
- Blade Length: 3.502 inches
- Closed Length: 4.728 inches
- Open Length: 8.313 inches
- Finish: Brushed steel
- Blade Style: Drop point
- Handle Material: 6061 aluminum
- Lock: Liner lock
- Weight: 4.8 ounces
- MSRP: $150
- Online Price: $77.76 (Amazon)
The CRKT Homefront isn’t the prettiest knife you’ll ever see – unless the classic military throwback design sparks the kind of great memories that it does for me. This is one of those tools that offers a connection to the past. I hope to use that connection to tell my son about the legacy my grandfather left me as it becomes part of his collection down the road.
If you’re a military enthusiast, you’ll appreciate the little details Ken Onion put in to make it a unique modern classic. Regardless of where you stand on military history, excellent material selection adds to the quality of the Homefront. CRKT’s Field Strip technology absolutely pushes it over the edge to make this folder the easiest to clean in your collection.
The Field Strip technology seems to eliminate the possibility of using a bearing system – at east for now. While you’ll notice the lack of smooth deployment a bearing offers, it’s not cumbersome or sticky.
If the CRKT Homefront isn’t quite your style, but Field Strip technology is really appealing (and if it’s not, check your pulse), this is just the first in a line of Field Strip folders that will be coming to market.
I’m holding out hope that the new technology will lead to a customizable series of knives where we’ll be able to choose blade styles and steel qualities to fit the handle design most appealing.