This post contains affiliate links. We may get paid an affiliate commission if you buy something or take an action after clicking one of the links on this web page.
Long time readers know that I have always had a soft spot for pocketable fixed blade knives, and CRKT has proven on a number of occasions that they know how to make them. So the announcement of the Obake, a compact fixed blade collaboration with CRKT and custom knifemaker Lucas Burnley, definitely caught my attention.
[easyazon_cta add_to_cart=”default” align=”center” asin=”B00I04SZMI” cloaking=”default” height=”42″ key=”tall-orange” localization=”default” locale=”US” nofollow=”default” new_window=”default” tag=”brdfkdfk-20″ width=”120″]
Lucas is best known for his Kwaiken Flipper, an elegant Japanese inspired design. CRKT’s decision to pick up Burnley’s fixed blade variant of the Kwaiken strikes me as a smart decision given the immense popularity of his Kwaiken series of knives.
The result is a mash-up of traditional and tactical that marries a classic Asian aesthetic with contemporary materials all wrapped up at a sub $40 price point.
General Dimensions and Blade Details
The Obake has an overall length of 7.63″, a 3.64″ blade, and weighs 2.4 ounces. While some of my other favorite CRKT fixies; the Minimalist and SPEW, are firmly in the EDC knife camp, I think that the Obake is more of a “tactical” (self defense geared) offering. This is due to the relatively large size of the knife and its shank-like construction. The full tang knife is ground from .13″ thick steel and has a thick grind emphasizing strength over slicing performance.
This isn’t a knife that I like to peel apples with, but it definitely could blow through one if you felt so inclined. While I consider this larger than an EDC knife, it is still slim and streamlined, and tucks away discretely in your waistband or pocket (more on that below).
The Obake sports a slender drop point blade. The tip is fine but it has enough meat behind it to work into wood and get some work done. The spine has been gently rounded which is a nice detail that CRKT has integrated into more and more of their offerings. Perhaps the most striking aspect of the blade is the aggressive acid-etched finish. When I took this knife to my monthly knife collector’s club meeting, I had a couple people ask me if the blade was made of damascus. Nope, it’s just good ole fashioned 8Cr14MoV given a deep acid etched finish.
8Cr14MoV is a budget friendly Chinese stainless steel. I like it for its ease of sharpening and toughness, and the price is tough to beat. Here the knife has been heat treated to between 56 and 58 HRc. It has held up well against the mild chores I have put the knife to; mostly cardboard and some food prep. The knife is not an incredible slicer due to the thick blade stock, narrow profile, mid height hollow grind, and textured blade finish, but you can certainly open mail and break down boxes with it if you need to. My guess is that the Obake is best suited in a self defense type role, which is a role that I know very little about. That said, it doesn’t take a PhD in material science to realize that this design can stab very efficiently. So if a stabbing implement is what you need the Obake could be a good option.
Handle and Ergonomics
One of my favorite parts about the Obake is how they approached the handle. In paying homage to the Japanese roots of the Obake’s design, Lucas Burnley originally offered the knife with a traditional wrapped handle over rayskin. CRKT followed suit with a cordwrap over a synthetic ray skin. I wasn’t sure what to expect from a sub $40 knife, but they actually did a really nice job with this. The cord wrap is tight and well done, and the rayskin looks pretty legit. I really don’t know how well this will hold up under hard use, but in my daily carry the handle has worn well and still looks pretty good. Then again I didn’t roll it around in the dirt or go scuba diving with it, but if you are reasonably careful with it I see no reason why it won’t hold up for a good long time. Underneath the wrap and ray skin is a full tang blade.
From an ergonomic standpoint, the handle is generous enough to support a full 4-finger grip and the knife is as comfortable as you would expect. The cord wrap provides a lot of traction and the simple design fills the hand and works in both forward and reverse grips. I’m no martial artist so I really have no idea how this would stack up compared to other offerings, but I found it comfortable.
The sheath for the Obake is a nice low profile molded plastic sheath. The sheath is almost always the Achilles heel on a budget fixed blade, so I’m pleased to report that CRKT has done this one right. Retention is very firm. At first I really needed to jerk the knife out, and to this day it requires a strong pull to break the knife free from the sheath. CRKT has also offered several eye holes and slots for various mounting options.
Lucas Burnely has an interesting suggestion for carrying the Obake. He has designed the knife for in the waist band (IWB) carry. Lucas suggests that you secure the paracord lanyard to your belt, stuff the sheathed knife blade first into the waist band, and then when you need to use the knife, grab the handle and pull it hard away from your body. The blade will pop out of the sheath, and the sheath will stay tethered to your belt. I’m probably not doing a great job explaining this, but the idea is that you can quickly and safely access the knife without losing the sheath.
In practice I have found this method of carry to work well. I’ve been a fan of using a lanyard with a small fixed blade, attaching the lanyard to my belt, and carrying the knife in pocket, but the Obake is a little longer than say, the Folts Minimalist. The knife is slim and light and disappears on your belt line if you leave your shirt untucked.
CRKT does supply a 550 cord lanyard and skull lanyard bead. I’m not big on skulls (I guess I’m not that hard), but I am sure this will appeal to a number of folks, and must admit that a bead of some sort rounds out the package nicely.
CRKT Obake – Final Thoughts
For those seeking a slim “tactical” fixed blade knife, the Obake is well done and priced to sell. I think that the juxtaposition of modern and traditional combined with a high level of fit and finish lend it broad appeal. I also found the selection of materials and finishes very interesting. Although I am not a martial artist by any stretch of the imagination, this is still a fun knife to have in the collection and it is easy to carry. Mechanically speaking, the 8Cr13Mov steel is adequate and while the sheath is excellent. I really enjoy the details like the faux ray skin and rounded spine.
One other thing I find worth noting about the Obake is that there is nothing else like this on the market at this price. CRKT has been hitting their stride lately with some bold collaborations with hot makers. While some companies have seemed to stagnate over the past couple years, CRKT is gaining ground as they straddle the crossroads of high value and high design. That kind of approach doesn’t always pan out, but knives like this and the Swindle strike me as great examples of when this strategy really pays off.
This is is something of a specialized tool, so I won’t give it a blanket recommendation to anyone browsing the site, but if you are interested in the Obake I would definitely recommend it. It is a complete package at a sub $40 price point, and they are going to have a hard time keeping up with the demand.
[easyazon_block add_to_cart=”default” align=”center” asin=”B00I04SZMI” cloaking=”default” layout=”top” localization=”default” locale=”US” nofollow=”default” new_window=”default” tag=”brdfkdfk-20″]
CRKT Obake – From $37.95
I recommend purchasing the Obake at BladeHQ or [easyazon-link asin=”B00I04SZMI” locale=”us”]Amazon[/easyazon-link]. Please consider that purchasing anything through any of the links on this website helps support BladeReviews.com, and keeps the site going. As always, any and all support is greatly appreciated. Thank you very much.
I just don’t know about this one. I’m drawn to it, I’d like to have one, but I’m not in a position to drop 40 dollars on a knife unless I can give myself a practical reason to. And I just don’t see any practical reason to buy this knife. It is a stabbing blade with no guard, and the problem with a shiv is that it isn’t a defensive weapon. In prisons it is most commonly used for a flurry of stabbing into a victim, preferably held by one or more accomplices. In self defense I believe it is better to have a tool capable of snap cuts, point raking, and slashes, since these can be used to discourage or slow an attack and give you the means to escape. A stab is a serious escalation of force, it is meant to kill and does so about as well as a handgun. That may be necessary to survive an attack, but I’d like to have other options that could facilitate my escape.
I like the size and weight as a daily utility blade as well, but the hollow grind is a turnoff for me. And seriously- aren’t those attachment holes on the kydex sheath on the opposite side of the knife that they should be? There is no guard here and the only shoulder on the kydex from which to push the blade free with your thumb is on the edge side.
I might grab one because it’s definitely interesting and looks fun to fondle, but it’s hard to justify it to the old lady when even I don’t really see any particular use for it.
I tend to agree with you. The sheath was designed to break away, although I agree a thumb ramp to pop it off would be nice if you don’t want to use it as a break away. It’s an interesting knife and it’s welcome in my collection, but I don’t have much of a use for it given my day to day needs. Still, for those interested in the knife I can at least say it’s well made.
Have you handled his folders from Boker? They look really nice.
Not yet. I have some major concerns about the original version (namely, the blade poking out of the back of the handle). I will be obtaining the updated flipper model for review in the not-so-distant future.
Respectfully, the traction, gripn on this blade surpasses the excellent customs I’ve owned from Josh Mason and Jason Aube, two brilliant, affordable knife makers. You don’t need as guard on this knife.
Thank you, Sifter. I appreciate the feedback. I am not versed in martial arts so feedback like this is great for myself and anyone else reading the review.
Brushy Bill says
The sheath also comes with a belt loop that attaches to the holes/slots in
the sheath. It is made from the same material as the sheath.
it only allows horizontal carry. (outside the waistband)
On the belt, it barely extends above the top of the belt about 3/8 of
an inch. So far it has not been uncomfortable for me wearing it on the front left
side using a right hand cross-draw while sitting or driving.
You can reverse the side of the sheath the belt loop is fastened on for
in the small of the back carry both right hand and left hand draw.
With the same comfort level. I did use some blue locktite on the hardware.
I purchased this knife at a local big box store for $28 and change + tax.
I own a traditional tanto blade made by Adam Vigil from California that has
the same wrapping with real ray-skin underneath, although he added a Turks Head
knot where a guard would be. The Obake is comfortable, and secure in the hand without the guard.
He uses west systems epoxy to impregnate the wrapping.
The Obake wrapping has the same feel as Adam’s knife, it has been sealed also,
but not sure with what.
Should the wrap start to soften up where it is retained in the sheath. A simple
brushing in of a two part epoxy with an old toothbrush should bring it back
to it’s “as new” hardness. Blotting it before it sets up with a piece of terry cloth
will maintain it’s original matte finish.
I sharpened my Obake as soon as I bought it on my DMT fine diamond bench stone
and a leather strop. It took a great edge, the hairs on my arm would flip over in the air
After using it for a couple of weeks in everyday cutting at work
and play, it has held up well. While I would prefer more of a 59-60rc,
It is a very fair deal for the price paid.
Thanks for the hugely insightful analysis. I appreciate you taking the time to type that up. I am glad that you ultimately enjoy the Obake. I agree, a nicer steel is almost never a bad idea.
Brushy Bill says
You are welcome, I am a knife hound, I may own more than a human
probably should. I enjoyed reading your review on the Obake. However, seeing the link you posted above for the Minimalist. It looks like I will be getting a couple more. I always liked a Wharncliffe pattern blade, and who doesn’t like a Bowie.
Great video on the Minimalist btw. The fit and finish on that knife
looked amazing for the price point.
Like you mentioned, I have no need for a neck knife.
But if they make it so it can be held on a belt also, it will probably be
mine at some point in time.
Being a Journeyman Toolmaker, I appreciate a well made
folder as much as anyone. But I have always preferred a fixed blade.
This Obake is at the maximum blade length I like for an EDC
Thanks for the kind words, the Obake review is the first I have seen or read from you. I look forward to looking over your site at the previous reviews and future reviews as well.
You are among good company, my friend. I am surrounded by knives and also have them in my car, office, all over my house, etc.
Thank you, the Minimalist is an interesting piece. There is really nothing like it on the market. Would love to see a more premium steel, but there is always Alan’s reasonably priced custom version (I think he sells them for under $150).
I hope you enjoy the site.
Cathi Wickham says
I am new to the knife scene, forum scene, review scene, and business scene. However, my son started Allegheny Knifeworks last year and now that I am getting my feet wet, I get excited when I read something (no matter how long ago) that I think my son has cracked the code on! The pocketable fixed blade knife, his M-25. He has made this sweet little knife that I love using and when I’m done with it, I put it in its sheath and then my back pocket! I just thought I’d share with you…Regards, Cathi
Thanks for stopping by and leaving the nice comment. Looks like your son really has a good thing going with that M-25. I wish you both good luck with the business venture.
I just bought it. We’ll see how it goes.
Is it possible to remove the etching on the blade with stripper? I find it cheesy. Thanks!
Hi, The steel is etched heavily and I think the only way to really remove it would be to grind / sand it all down, or perhaps you could bead blast it off. It’s not painted on, so paint stripper or something like that would have no effect.
There is a sterile version at bladehq
Thanks, No. Glad they released a sterile version of this knife.
Agreed. It is cheesy looking, IMO.
I sanded it mostly off with just some 1200 grit paper, then followed up with a polish via my Dremel. It looks /so/ much better. You can still see the ‘Jackson Pollock’ pattern, but barely. It also cuts through fruit and veggies more cleanly now. The etching is deep enough to feel with your fingertips; even though in pictures it looks like paint.
for about 30 bucks, I can’t think of a cooler looking (now modified) fixed blade. It’s useful enough, comfortable to use and carry, and has a wow factor that really cannot be beat for the money.