This is a guest post by my buddy Eric, aka “Ebbs” from HausofGuns.com. Eric is the founder, editor, and main contributor to HausofGuns.com, a Gun & Gear Review website for the Average Joe Shooter. After 12 months of rapid growth, the site just celebrated its one year anniversary by giving away a Henry Lever Action Carbine .22 rifle. Though Ebbs primarily writes gun reviews, early on knife reviews were a big part of his site, so it is great to see him back in the saddle! Enjoy the review guys, and thanks again Ebbs! -Dan
The CRKT Sampa designed by Brazilian knife maker Flavio Ikoma is dubbed a “gentleman’s tactical folder” by the fine folks over at CRKT. If I had to give this blade a one line review, I’d say CRKT pretty well summed it up themselves. The Sampa was primarily designed by Flavio Ikoma, although it picked up a little international flavor from long time friend and blade brother Ken Onion, who apparently provided some insights that Flavio incorporated into his final design.
General Dimensions & Blade Details
The Sampa is somewhere in between a compact and medium length folding pocket knife. With the overall length of 7-1/4″, a 3-1/8″ blade, and a weight of 2.7 ounces, the Sampa is super slim in hand, and has a featherweight feeling in pocket. I would call the blade a semi-drop point shape. The AUS 8 stainless steel blade features a slight recurve, and a very shallow hollow grind. The blade was razor sharp out of the box and my model 5335k is equipped with a short run of triple point serrations. I like how this combo edge isn’t taken up by tons of serrations. It is a nice balance offering serrations when you need them, and razor sharp goodness when you don’t.
Handle, Ergonomics & Pocket Clip
Something that really sets the Sampa apart is the unique handle design. CRKT started with two slabs of T6 aluminum, machined an intricate series of grooves and hashes, and then gave the handle both a blasted and polished finish, that kind of looks like titanium. Although there are many deep cuts made into the handles, I found there were no sharp edges or uncomfortable areas when gripping the knife. The handle is fairly smooth and offers generous finger grooves for positive traction when the blade is locked open and ease of handling while deploying the knife. Despite this being a thin handle, it is still easy to get a good grip on this knife, and I don’t feel like I’m going to fling the Sampa across the room when I flick the blade open.
The pocket clip is interesting. It is mounted for right side tip up carry and rides low in the pocket making it well concealed. The clip becomes wider near the opening and easily inserts into the pocket – no matter how flimsy the fabric is. The downside to this style of clip is that it easily gets caught up on stuff. In the few months I’ve carried this knife, I have managed to accidentally catch and bend the pocket clip outward at least a half dozen times. Fortunately the clip can easily be removed with a small torx head driver and the clip can be bent back to its original position.
Deployment & Lock Up
Deployment of this knife is my absolute favorite feature. While the Sampa is not spring loaded for an auto assist type release, the pivot on this blade features Flavio Ikoma’s own ball bearing pivot system, the Ikoma Korth Bearing System (“IKBS”). The way this system works is that channels have been machined into the blade and handle around the pivot area and a set of steel ball bearings have been inserted. What this does is create a silky smooth deployment and offers a VERY evident lockup once the knife is fully engaged.
The Sampa makes use of a liner lock and the lock up is one of the tightest I’ve found on an aluminum handled EDC blade (second only to my Kershaw R.A.M. 1910). The linerlock lock releases easily with the push of a thumb. Once closed, the blade is held in place by a spring loaded ball detent. This is the kind of knife that you can’t help but open and close repeatedly. The smooth action and crisp lockup makes for a knife that is a joy to use.
CRKT Ikoma Sampa 5335K – Final Thoughts
The Sampa is a lightweight and super smooth folding EDC knife. Operation, deployment, and lock-up all come easy with one hand, and the ergonomics are friendly enough to facilitate extensive use of the razor-sharp combo edge blade. Although the clip seems a little flimsy, and the polished handles panels pick up light scuffs in time, I hardly feel like these are deal breakers. This Ikoma Sampa has definitely earned the title of a “gentleman’s tactical folder” and represents another solid offering from CRKT.