The nice folks at Columbia River Knife and Tool (CRKT) sent me their Maven folder for testing. That is a strange name for a folding knife, “Maven”. It means someone who is an expert in their field, or who has acquired expert knowledge. The Maven folder was designed by Richard Rogers.
Richard Rogers is a working cattle rancher in Magdalena, New Mexico. His toughest critic is probably himself, and when he set out to design a no-frills folding knife, he kept this in mind – keep it simple, yet functional. Simple is always better if you ask me – less to go wrong.
Let’s take a look at the specs on this folder, before we get into the meat of things. For the Maven CRKT used the IKBA ball bearing pivot system, so this knife opens smooth as smooth can be. It does not have a thumb stud, instead it uses the proven flipper opening – very fast. I absolutely love the contoured G10 handle scales, G10 used to be used almost exclusively by custom knife makers – it was expensive material – still is, for the most part. The 3.684-inch blade is made out of 8Cr13MoV stainless steel – a material that holds an edge fairly decently, and helps keep the cost of the knife down quite a bit. The blade is also bead blasted for a subdued look – very attractive. The knife weighs in at 4.8 ounces, but feels lighter than that. When closed it has an overall length of a little over 4.5-inches. Locking mechanism is accomplished by a locking liner.
A lot, and I mean, a lot of knives pass through my hands each year, for testing. Some I don’t bother testing or reporting on – because it is very obvious they are junk – I won’t waste my time, or our readers’ time, reporting on junk products, simple as that. Over the past 27 years, I must have had several thousand knives pass through my hands, so I have a fairly good idea of a quality knife and a good design. I’m not bragging in the least, but you get the feel for what is good and what is junk. I’m also a part-time knife designer myself, so I know the effort that goes into designing a knife.
The first thing that caught my attention about the Maven is that the G10 contoured handle scales just seem to fit my hand perfectly. They aren’t some crazy design, matter of fact, it is a very simple contour, that keeps the knife firmly in your hand. I showed the Maven to a good number of folks, and every last one of them, said the same thing – the handle scales were just perfect for their hands. G10 is some super tough stuff, too – no worries about it breaking, like Micarta handle scales tend to do. Besides, CRKT offers a lifetime warranty of all their products against defects in materials.
The blade design is very simple, as you can see from the photos, not quite a drop point, but a very functional blade for all your daily chores. The bead blasted finish on the blade just makes it all that more attractive if you ask me. The liner lock is stainless steel, too. No worries about it rusting.
Now, as to the flipper opening mechanism, there are some flippers that are a real bear to operate and get the blade out. Not so with the IKBS ball bearing pivot system – it flicks the blade out without any effort at all – however, the blade stays firmly in the handle scales until you actually flip it out. And, you’ll be surprised at how butter-smooth the blade opens. Who needs an automatic folder, when you have a blade that comes into action just “that” fast?
The Maven came hair-poppin’ sharp out of the box, and I would have been disappointed in CRKT if it wasn’t sharp. I carried the Maven for a month before reporting on it – the darn thing just slipped in my cargo pants pocket with ease, with the pocket clip, and it rode at just the right height in my pocket – not too high and not too low. I also love the open design of this folder – it helps keep gunk out of the knife, believe it or not, and it is easily cleaned by running it under some running water if it does get dirty.
Some Real World Tests
Over the course of my testing, I managed to find some long lost polymer rope, and this stuff is tough to cut with even the sharpest knives – the blades just tend to slip off this stuff. I did manage to cleanly cut through this rope, when folded in half. I also had some hemp rope, half inch thick and I managed to cleanly slice through it with one good swipe. Then, there is the always and forever blackberry vines – dead or alive, or dormant – they are tough, really tough to cut through with one clean slice. I found one huge vine, right next to where I park my pickup truck, and it was close to touching the truck – didn’t want any scratches on the paint job – especially after I just washed and waxed it for the winter months. So, with one mighty swipe, I attacked this vine. Hmm…didn’t quite cut the vine down, then again, this was a monster blackberry vine – a second attempt, and the vine was on the ground. Most other folders in this size range wouldn’t have fared any better with this cutting test. The Maven just about sliced it in half, though – an outstanding job.
Of course, the usual UPS/FedEx boxes were easy to cut open with the Maven, and some of these boxes are thick. The Maven was used around the kitchen – I know, I know – I hear it all the time, “it’s a folding knife, not a kitchen knife” but I used folders around the kitchen and at the kitchen table for cutting meat and veggies – the Maven worked great.
I was totally impressed with the CRKT Maven. It is everything you could ask for in a medium-sized folder, and then some. Best part of this is that, this top-notch folder, made in Taiwan to keep costs down, and has a retail of only $69.99 – and if you shop the ‘net, you can find CRKT deeply discounted. However, if you had to pay full-retail for this folder, it would be worth every dollar.
This knife gets 5 stars our of 5, in my book. Check one out soon, I think you’ll be as impressed as I am with it.