Hootenany, noun, a social gathering or informal concert featuring folk singing, and sometimes, dancing.
I don’t read too far into names, but I had to look Hootenanny up in an attempt to gain a little context. If you ever meet Ken Onion, the designer of the Hootenanny, you will quickly learn he is a fun and lighthearted guy. Perhaps the name offers more of a view into the designer himself, than the product at hand.
The Hootenanny is Ken’s take on a folding hunting knife crossed with a modern Every Day Carry (EDC) piece. So perhaps the name harks back to old timey days, when people might regularly use their folding knives to prepare meals and whittle sticks around the cracker barrel prior to a good ole fashioned hoe down.
Either way, this struck me as one of CRKT’s best offerings of 2015, and I wanted to give it a shot.
General Dimensions and Blade Steel
The Hootenanny has an overall length of 7.84″, a 3.34″ blade, weighs 4.8 ounces, and is made in China. Since partnering up with CRKT, Ken Onion has seemed to favor thinner, lighter knives. I think that is a good thing. The Hootenanny is still a big knife, so any attempts to pare it down to something manageable are welcome in my book.
This is a “fish and fowl” knife, so it’s primary application is for hunting and processing small game. Extra length to the blade and handle are important for being effective in that role.
With that said, most people who buy this will likely use it as a EDC piece, and that is the main perspective that I evaluated Hootenanny from.
The Hootenanny has a slender upswept blade with a long curving belly and high hollow grind. Perhaps the most distinctive feature of the blade is the run of jimping midway along the spine. All of these features were built into the knife with processing meat in mind. I’m not a hunter, and didn’t get a chance to take this one fishing, but I have used it in the kitchen. The knife slices well, and the upswept tip stayed out of the way when I broke down a chicken for dinner. I could see this having a place at a camp site, but did not test the knife in that capacity.
CRKT went with 8Cr13MoV steel. I’ve discussed this steel quite a bit (and you can always read further about knife steel on the knife steel page), but for the uninitiated 8Cr13MoV is a lower end Chinese stainless steel. It is easy to sharpen, but not particularly great in the edge retention department.
Given the ~$40.00 price point I think the choice of steel is appropriate here. You won’t find much else from a Chinese knife in this price range. I personally do not mind 8Cr13MoV at the right price. I was careless and my blade did develop a little corrosion during testing, so be sure to keep it cleaned and oiled like any other pocket knife.
Handle, Ergonomics, and Pocket Clip
The Hootenanny is a bolstered knife, with a stainless steel frame, FRN (reinforced plastic) handle scales, and a FRN backspacer. The handle has some nice details, with flush mount bolts holding the scales in place, curving lines cut into the gunmental gray bolsters, bolsters that are integrated into the liners, and an oversize decorative pivot. The construction is solid and the finish work is good. The pieces line up, the tolerances are tight, and the end result is a thoughtfully executed handle that makes the most of its humble materials.
The Hootenanny is a large folder and provides plenty of room for a variety of grips and hand sizes. The blade has a large foward finger choil, allowing you to move in close on the blade. The handle scales are lightly textured. The scales offer some traction, but aren’t as grippy as peel ply G10. There is jimping on the back of the handle, and also on the spine. All of these features are designed to hold your hand in place; presumably while gutting a trout or plucking bird shot from a dove. I used the knife in more pedestrian applications, and found the Hootenanny to be be comfortable and grippy. Ken knows ergonomics and that shows in the design and execution of the Hootenanny.
In the past, Ken Onion’s pocket clip designs have been criticized for being goofy. The clip on the Hootenanny is relatively subdued and discrete. It curves along the back side of the handle, and is really set for right side tip up carry only. Being a lefty, I prefer an ambidextrous option, but if you are only going to put the clip in one spot, this is the place to do it. The clip has good spring retention, and it buries the knife deeply in the pocket.
In practice the Hootenanny caries well for a larger knife. At nearly 5 ounces, you feel this knife in the pocket – especially with most of the mass being around the pivot. Still, the Hootenanny is a comfortable carry. The knife is thin and the pocket clip is strong, so you can clip the knife in place and then forget about it.
Deployment and Lockup
Like many of Ken’s designs, the Hootenanny is a flipper. The flipper is prominent, heavily textured, and easy to locate and flip. The detent is strong and the blade fires out with a loud metallic “thwack”. CRKT has done a good job with flippers in the past, and this Hootenanny is no exception. Inside there are what appears to be caged bearings, although CRKT has marketed this as an IKBS (Ikoma Korth Bearing System) knife. The action is smooth and the blade glides into the open or closed position.
CRKT and Ken decided to make the Hootenanny a bolster lock knife, which is basically a frame lock where scales run 3/4 the length of the handle. The bolsters are 2CR13 steel, and hold the blade securely in place. There is no lock rock or side to side blade play in my knife, which is what I would expect from a steel frame lock. My knife locks up around 70% – so it’s a later lockup, but it has stayed there since day one and there is no stickiness to the lock at all.
My blade favors the lock side by a millimeter, but does not rub.
CRKT Hootenanny Review – Final Thoughts
The Hootenanny is a successful knife, and is probably my favorite CRKT design for 2015. This is a more subdued design for Ken. There is no recurve in the blade, the pocket clip is normal looking, the overall look is handsome with the dark scales and gunmetal gray bolsters.
The fit and finish of CRKT’s stuff has always been nice, and the Hootenanny is no exception. And I think given the budget CRKT made some nice choices here with the satin finished blade, IKBS, strong flipper and oversize pivot. The use of FRN keeps the knife reasonably light (that is a big reason why I decided to not review the CRKT G.S.D. – a handsome knife by a popular designer, but just too heavy for my taste).
If I had to complain, I would complain about the knife begging for higher end materials. Better blade steel would be at the top of my list. People harped on Cold Steel for years about their use of AUS-8, and now that everything is being rolled out in CTS-XHP, I think we need a new company to “encourage”. And CRKT is actually heading in that direction. They have collaborated with LionSteel, TOPS, and Condor to venture in to higher end products like the Hi Jinx, Hoodwork, and Mah-Chete. While CRKT is a company whose bread and butter is value and volume, the enthusiast in me can’t help but ask for a higher end version of the Hootenanny.
For around $40, the Hootenanny delivers a lot of bang for your buck. If you are in the market for a sturdy 3.5″ folder, you will be hard pressed to find much better at this price point. Perhaps the Kershaw Blur is the closest competitor, but these days they retail for well over $50.
The Hootenanny is a thoughtfully designed and well made tool, that works as either a folding field knife or large EDC.