How true it is that great things take time. I can remember the first baseball mitt I received as a kid. It was stiff, clumsy and frustrating. Every time I tried to catch the dumb ball, it popped out because I didn’t have the gorilla-like strength needed to squeeze the painfully stiff leather. After weeks of using it and oiling it and bending it, though, my new baseball glove became my best friend on the field. The CRKT Ikoma Carajas knife reminded me of that experience in some ways. Those who might be used to an easy flipper mechanism may grab the Carajas and think, “This is way too stiff of a flipper!” Before you jump to conclusions, I’d remind you that great things do take time. If you give the CRKT Ikoma Carajas some of yours, this knife will likely become like that most prized baseball glove—at least, that was my experience.
The Brazilian knife designer Flavio Ikoma has added a new line of folding knives to the CRKT family, and the Ikoma Carajas is the latest among his most recent handiwork. Flavio is no rookie to the knife world. For nearly 20 years, Ikoma has used his skills as a mechanical technician to design beautiful custom knives. So what does Mr. Ikoma have to offer with his CRKT Carajas? First, the Ikoma Carajas features the ultra-smooth Ikoma Korth Bearing System (IKBS). This system all but eliminates any play in the blade. It’s not a spring-loaded system; rather, it relies on finger-applied force to hurl the blade into open position.
The Ikoma Korth Bearing System
The IKBS was originally created for “butterfly” style (balisong) knives and uses a simple bearing-based system that eliminates the races and cages often found with conventional systems. In an IKBS system, the pivot pin itself is the internal race for the bearings and the external is facilitated through recesses in the titanium liners. The result is a very inexpensive, smooth and easily-maintainable pivot system. You can even replace the bearings over time if needed, and the design can vary based on the number, style and size of bearings used.
CRKT Ikoma Carajas Knife Features
The Carajas has a narrow handle with a big, powerful hollow grind blade. This makes for a unique look, but it also enables the Carajas to have a distinct advantage—it is very lightweight. The smaller handle is not a sign of weakness because it is made of the incredibly strong G-10 scales. What the smaller handle does provide is a reduction in mass and weight. The result is a compact folder with an overall length of 7.38 inches and a total weight of only 3.0 ounces! Talk about broad shoulders and a thin waist line—the CRKT Ikoma Carajas knife is no slouch when it comes to well-built knives. The handle also has a calculated curve, which is nice because it’s comfortable to wear. On a lot of knives, the top part of the handle can be abrasive when reaching into your pocket, but with the Carajas you can just slip it right in.
The hollow grind blade is a drop point style, made of 12C27 Sandvik steel that is razor sharp and ready for work. (Why can’t all knife makers send them like this?) You can also see the blade design has four carved out holes located above the “tang stamp” (which is a fancy term for the manufacturer’s name). The elegant curves add stunning appeal to the blade, but you can be sure that the Carajas is also strong enough for daily use. Finally, the right handed tip-up pocket clip is the only option for this knife, which is a word of warning for all those left-handers out there (including myself).
By now you might be asking the question, “What about the baseball mitt analogy, and why did it take a while for you to get used to it?” The answer to this two-fold question is simple. First, the G-10 scales have a great deal of design markings (as seen in the photos), which provide significant grip. As a result, when you first hold the knife, you’ll think it was made for those guys whose palms feel like sandpaper when you go to shake their hand. But give it some time. After a while the G-10 will soften up a bit and present a very satisfying grip and feel.
The flipper may also take some getting used to. Many popular knives feature a spring-loaded flipper which is easy to press and open. If you are accustomed to using a knife like this, the CRKT Ikoma Carajas knife may catch you off guard. But the IKBS, and the stability it provides, is something that is worth the time you’ll spend with it. It’s safe to say that if you approach this knife like a man and apply some aggression when using the flipper, you’ll enjoy the results! Once you break the appropriate amount of force required to free it, the resulting action of the blade smoothly flips it into place. Some spring-assisted knives have the tendency to open like a firecracker in your hand, causing you to hold on to the handle the knife for fear it will fly out of your hand. Not the CRKT Ikoma Carajas knife. With its IKBS pivot system, a little pressure shoots the blade out in a way that sets it gently in place. After a while, you will really love how the blade opens with so much control—it really is quite remarkable and elegant.
So what’s my overall opinion of the CRKT Ikoma Carajas knife? I love this knife. It is the first knife I’ve owned that got better with time. The handle is small, it’s very lightweight, and you hardly realize it’s in your pocket. The blade is unique and a manly fit for everyday use—and its lines are second to none! Lastly, the IKBS system is impressive to say the least. Apply as much pressure as you want on the flipper and the blade never feels like it leaves your control. This knife really is just like that old ball glove I owned. Over time it becomes something you not only appreciate, but come to enjoy and rely on more and more.
- Open length: 7.38 in.
- Closed length: 4.3 in.
- Blade length: 3.12 in.
- Blade thickness: 0.1 in.
- Blade: 12C27 Sandvik, Satin drop point
- Blade-HRC: 59-61
- Blade grind: Hollow
- Handle: G-10
- Lock: Liner
- Carry: 1 position clip
- Weight: 3 oz.
- Price: $69.99