For a couple of years now, Columbia River Knife & Tool has been producing a special line of knives for law enforcement officers, military personnel, and EMS workers. Called "For Those Who Serve," the knives are all aesthetically pleasing, hard-use tools with price tags that aren't out of reach for soldiers, paramedics, and cops.
The latest knife in the For Those Who Serve catalog is the Desert Cruiser, and I have to admit that when I first saw this folder what drew me to it was its looks. With its dimpled and checkered desert tan Zytel handle and a gold-colored blade, the Desert Cruiser is just, well...cool.
But it's more than a pretty blade. The Desert Cruiser was designed by noted knife maker Jim Hammond, and it incorporates such high-tech features as a wear-resistant titanium nitride-coated blade and Teflon-coated blade bearings for smooth operation.
Hammond's goal for the Desert Cruiser was to create a hard-use knife that's both beautiful and functional. For example, finger grooves are machined into the frame and grips to ensure a solid gripping surface. In addition, all of the scales and sharp edges and corners are radiused, which not only gives the knife a distinctive look, it also prevents excessive wear and tear on the user's clothing.
Another great feature on the Desert Cruiser is the multi-position clip. This allows the knife to be carried blade up or down, forward or backward, however the owner wants. This might sound like a minor thing, but many left-handed folks find that clip-it knives don't function well for them; most knives are really right-hand friendly. Personally, I prefer to carry my clip-it knives pivot point down so that as I draw the knife my thumb or index finger is in position to open the blade. Carrying the knife blade up means I have to switch the knife position, forcing me to use a fine motor skill under stress, and as we all know, fine skills generally go in the crapper under stress.
OK, so the knife is cool and can be carried any way you like, but what about the blade? The Desert Cruiser boasts a combination, triple-point (three beveled edges for strength) drop-point blade. That's a lot of words to say its blade is really strong and really sharp.
Several innovative features on the Desert Cruiser make it very easy to employ the blade when you need it. First, it has a serrated finger flipper for a presentation of the blade that is dare I say as fast as many auto openers. Second, a tapered blade lock lets it lock just as fast as you can open it. If you are a traditionalist, the Desert Cruiser also has ambi-thumb studs.
A really nice feature on many CRKT folders, including the Desert Cruiser, is the Lake and Walker Knife Safety (LAWKS). The LAWKS is really nothing more than a lever that blocks the liner lock and keeps it from being released during extreme use. But that's a really great thing, since it keeps the blade from closing on your fingers and cutting or, worse, severing your favorite digits.
Overall, the Desert Cruiser is one really outstanding folding knife. It may look like it is too large for daily carry, but I found that the Desert Cruiser sat in the hip pocket of my 5.11 Tactical pants or my favorite pair of Wranglers comfortably.
The Desert Cruiser is easily manipulated even with wet gloves, stays sharp even during hard use, deploys easily and quickly, and sports advanced safety features. Best of all, it won't set you back next month's mortgage payment. If you are in the market for a good knife at a good price, check it out.
Blade Length: 3.75 inches
Handle Length: 5.25 inches
Weight: 6.1 ounces
Handle Material: Injected Zytel
Blade Material: AUS8 stainless steel
Scott Smith is a disabled veteran who served as an active duty Army MP and in the U.S. Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard as a security policeman.