The CRKT Folts Minimalist is an intriguing design from acclaimed custom knifemaker Allan Folts. I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Mr. Folts (there may be an Alan Folts interview in the mix – stay tuned) and one of the big topics of conversation was this little knife. Allan is a classically educated designer and artist, and he takes both form and function very seriously. Apparently, the Minimalist took over 2 year to design. It rode with him on trips around the country to various knife shows and exhibitions. He got feedback from hundreds of people and carefully tweaked the design before arriving at what you see here today. It may sound a little extreme, but I’ll tell you, pick this knife up. Hold it for a second and let me know what you think – the attention to detail should be obvious. This is a very small knife, but it fits the hand better than some knives I own that are three times the size.
Anyhow, I have a certain methodology to all the reviews, so I don’t want to too far ahead here. Suffice to say, this is an exceptional little knife from the mind of a great maker offered at a phenomenal price.
One of my favorite things about the Minimalist is the exceptional utility. It is a stout design that can also be a great option for EDC. Even if you you don’t normally carry a fixed blade knife, the Minimalist is discrete and can be easily slipped into a pocket.
I also think it’s a great knife for the truck, for your bug out bag, as an absolute last ditch tactical blade, as a backup backup survival blade, for camping trips, fishing, etc etc etc. I’m not saying you can baton logs with it, but at under 2 ounces it’s cheap insurance if your primary blade(s) fail. An all around workhorse, this little knife can pretty much do it all.
General Dimensions and Blade Specifics
The Minimalist is just over 5 inches long and sports a 2 1/8″ blade ground from 2.4 mm stock. The weight of this knife is 1.6 ounces.
As far as steel goes, the Minimalist is a full tang knife made of 5Cr13MoV. This steel is chemically very similar to 8Cr13Mov which personally, I do not mind. In my experience, 5Cr13Mov behaves a lot like 8Cr13Mov too. Both steels are a little softer than high end steels like VG10, S30V and the like, thus they tend to lose their edges faster, but I find it to be entirely adequate for my purposes. I will say, this steel can take an edge and the knife came surprisingly sharp. Out of the box I was able to shave hairs off my arm with no problem – not what I was expecting from a sub $20 blade!
The Minimalist is currently offered in 3 blade shapes. The original knife came with a wharncliffe blade. Shortly thereafter a tanto and bowie made there way on the scene. I love the shape of the bowie so I had to have that one. Folts took the classic bowie design and gave it a few tweaks to fit with the overall look of the knife. There is plenty of belly and the tip is reinforced thanks to a large swedge. The blade (and all of the metal) was given an attractive stonewashed finish. The kife has a shallow hollow grind that starts about 3/4 of the way up the blade.
Handle and Ergonomics
The handle, like most fixed blade knives, is pretty simple. CRKT actually sprung for some linen micarta scales here which is a material that you wouldn’t expect on such an inexpensive knife. The scales are actually a deep forest green, which is pretty cool color that I didn’t expect either (most pictures make the handle appear black). No complaints with the handle materials or the color. The scales are bolted on with torx screws so you can take the knife apart and remove the lanyard – another nice feature.
The ergonomics of this knife are outstanding. I pulled this blade out of the sheath and the knife literally fell right into place. It was like my hand was made for this knife. All it took was a second of contact and suddenly I “got” it. Allen told me about how this knife took 2 years to design, and that is something you can easily dismiss. I tell you, it now makes sense.
So as you can tell, this is a 3 finger style knife. A small lanyard is attached to the butt of the handle which provides a little extra grip (I think it’s a nice touch actually, works well). There is a nicely designed thumb ramp with some aggressive jimping. The micarta scales have also been very well finished. Everything is flush and the knife feels amazing in hand. The handle comes apart with 4 small torx screws, which is great if you want to swap out the lanyard or do your own custom scales.
The sheath is made of Zytel, a hard plastic similar to Kydex. The retention on this sheath is excellent and the blade locks into place with a soft “click.” I tried to shake the knife out, and that simply was not going to happen – it is very secure. There are 6 eyelets for various methods of attachment to stuff.
Billed as a neck knife, a few feet of cordage is included to wear the knife around your neck. I’ll be honest here, I’ve never had a neck knife before, and my lifestyle usually doesn’t permit me to wear one. This was a problem because I couldn’t put this knife down, so I took off the cordage and slipped the knife in my pocket. It actually carries really well this way. It’s a slim design that I didn’t notice as I went about my daily tasks. The lanyard on the handle gave me a little extra to grab onto when I needed to fish out the knife for a task. I carried the knife around my neck on the weekends, and well, it’s not really for me. Convenient enough I suppose, but I’m not accustomed a knife around my neck.
A detachable belt loop is also included. It attaches with two bolts (also included) and adds to the versatility of this simple yet entirely adequate sheath.
CRKT Minimalist – Final Thoughts
Lets be honest here, I fell in love with this knife the second I took it out of the box. The ergonomics are fantastic. It’s a compact blade that fits the hand like nothing else. I’d love to see this in a slightly better steel, like say some 440C, but the 5Cr13MoV is actually holding up really well and for less than $20 shipped to my door, this was really a no brainer. I think it is a very high value knife. There are a lot of details in this blade that make it special. In conclusion the Minimalist is aptly named: it’s a simple knife, done right.