Friday, April 26, 2013

CRKT Enticer Review

SHOT Show 2013 was great for CRKT and its fans. Two or three years ago there was a noticeable improvement in their quality and innovation. They started using different steels like Acuto+ and invested in the IKBS bearing pivot system. Those improvements bore fruit immediately, but SHOT Show 2013 was the first show where EVERY SINGLE PRODUCT was affected. This is a different CRKT. The Swindle looked interesting, the tomahawks looked bad ass, and one knife that was shown but didn't get a lot of press caught my eye--the Enticer. The shape wasn't too radical and the materials weren't insane, but the ratios looked great. This is a 3.125 inch blade that weighs 2 ounces. Slim, lightweight, with plenty of blade. That is a pretty simple formula for garnering interest.

The Enticer is the first production knife, to my knowledge, to be designed by a woman, Mary Jo Lerch (MJ Lerch). I believe she is the wife of famed knife maker and designer Michael Lerch (who came up with the Optimiser assisted opening). The overall package the Enticer represents is a very appealing knife for everyday carry. There is one large flaw, but given the knife's size, weight, and performance, the flaw is something worth working around. Think of this knife as the beautiful car with a hideous spoiler or the gorgeous woman with bad teeth. If you obsess over the flaw you will never be happy. If you look at the knife as a complete package, it will be just one part of an otherwise promising design.

Here is the product page (with specs). There are no video or written reviews yet.  Here is a video interview with Mary Jo Lerch.  Here is a link to Blade HQ, where you can find the CRKT Enticer, and all proceeds benefit the site when you purchase things through this link:

Blade HQ

Finally here is my review sample generously provided by CRKT:


Design: 1

With a faint persian feel to the handle and an excellent blade shape, just on looks alone the Enticer seems like a winner. But then you pick it up and notice that it is only slightly heavier than a nice pen (the Enticer hits the scales at 2.0 ounces and the Ultimate Clicky comes in at 1.7 ounces). Great. There is also the fact that this knife, even with its incredibly light form factor, has metal liners. You read that right, metal liners that don't make this thing a pocket anchor. However CRKT did this, everyone else should take notice. I am not normally a fan of liners, but since they seem to add virtually nothing to the blade's weight and they did increase its stability in very tough cuts (see more on this below). On these points alone this blade is a winner, even with the flaw it is still a very good blade.

The flaw, however, is an unavoidable one. CRKT calls it the FireSafe, while the idea is admirable one--safe, fast deployment, as the design works in this case, I just don't like it. The system works by having a rotating thumb disk disengaging a part of the liner lock which holds the knife in a closed position. The system is not only finnicky, it is also very noisy as the disk is loose and rattles quite a bit. Kudos to CRKT for pushing the envelope, but it just didn't work here.

The ratios are amazing, of course, and this is why, despite a major flaw, the knife gets a one. Here is the Enticer next to the Zippo.


The blade:handle is .82. The blade:weight is 1.62. Both are quite good. The blade:weight is second only to the what seems to be unbeatable Al Mar Hawk (.84 and 2.81 respectively). Note that the Enticer bumps out the recent second place finisher, the Chill. Companies have apparently heard us on the forums talking about getting something for nothing.

Fit and Finish: 1

Overall, the fit and finish is better than a 1, but the rattling thumb disk drove me bonkers during the testing period. Everything else is fine if not better. The lock is nice and tight. The blade has a nice satin finish. The handle is well made. This is a good knife with a bad part. I tried fidgeting with the thumb disk to no avail. If it was tight enough not to rattle it was very difficult to deploy the blade. If it was loose enough to deploy the blade it would rattle. Ugh.

Grip: 2

There is a reason why the persian-style knife shows up time and again. There the aptly named Spyderco Persian and the Benchmade Bedlam as well as the Cold Steel Espada. The Enticer's gently curved handle puts it squarely in the persian knife heritage and the grip the form affords is amazing and versatile. The Enticer allows for three different grips, a pair of forward grips and a comfortable reverse grip. Additionally, the blade's thin profile makes the handle really nice in the hand. The minimal jimping is blah, but it is the handle shape that is the star here.

Carry: 2

A relentless focus on weight saving and a slim profile make this a good knife in the pocket. An elegant clip, more on that later, makes this a great knife in the pocket. When you add in all of the gentle curves and nicely finished edges and surfaces, this knife becomes a true all star in the pocket. What did you expect? It is 2 ounces. Wonderful.

Steel: 1

The steel is 1.4034, a European designation for a steel that is roughly equivalent to 420 or 420HC. It has a low carbon count and a low chromium count, but hardens to roughly 56-58 HRc. The blade is thin ground, the stock itself is slim, with a max thickness of .09 inches. In my cut tests (paper, then cardboard, then paper again finally hitting up the forearm) the steel was decent, very similar to the steel on a SAK. This is understandable because they are very similar in origin, both were European steels originally, and very similar in chemistry.

I was really surprised, however, when I took the knife out into the field, literally, the field behind my house (insert gear geek joke about some moron hacking down a tree on accident that destroys his car).  My son and I spend a lot of time out there, hiding, looking at rocks, smashing stuff, and chopping things down.  One particular day, my son wanted a stick to play with and asked for a small woody weed. I took out the Enticer and using a series of alternating chops, cut it down. It was very fibrous, sappy, and about an inch and a quarter in diameter.


This is not green white oak, but it is much more than I thought the steel could handle. After taking the sap off with some Goo Gone (a favorite blade cleaner of mine), I was still able to shave arm hair with it.   It did dull eventually, but it was easily touched up on my Sharpmaker.  Overall the steel performed much, much better than I thought it would. In the right application, these low carbon steels can be good.  I liked them in SAKs and I really liked one in the Enticer.  They aren't great, but they are good compromise, especially for the cost.

Blade Shape: 2

The Enticer's blade shape is about as conventional as they come and the knife is all the better for it.


There is a pronounced swedge and that makes the knife great in penetrating cuts. The drop point has plenty of belly and a good straight portion. The 3.125 inch blade is simple and simply well done.

Grind: 2

This is a nice flat grind, something that combined with the thin blade stock makes this knife an amazing slicer. The swedge is also nice in that it lightens the overall blade and gives the entire knife an excellent cutting and piercing capacity. The cutting bevel is wide and even. The entire knife's grind is very well done.

Deployment Method: 0

Here is where the rubber meets the road. The FireSafe method might work in another knife, but with the rotating thumb disk, I just don't like it. I can get it to work on a regular basis, but it has a learning curve. As a test I gave the Enticer to my Dad. He is a tool guy and an engineer, so he knows his way around gear. It took him quite a few attempts to get the knife to open and even then it did not deploy quickly. For whatever reason, when he hit the thumb disk the Optimiser bar didn't kick in. He tried over again and again, but it never worked. When I was learning how to use it, it would just not deploy. With lots of work the combination of the thumb disk and the Optimiser can send the blade out fast, but you have to hit it just right. This is a problem, not something that bars me from recommending the knife, but it is something you should consider.

Retention Method: 2

The slim gracile clip is both unobtrusive and effective.


It is virtually snag proof and an excellent design. Hopefully, CKRT will use it again in the future. It is an excellent clip on par with the classic Spyderco spoon-style clip.

Lock: 2

This is a thin liner lock. It works. During the chopping incident, the liner lock floated all the way over to the far side of the blade tang, but it did not fail. Future use showed that the liner lock actually held up well as there is still no blade play in any direction. The lock float is a bit of concern, but I was really surprised how well it held up.

Overall Score: 15 out of 20

It was the best of times--incredible lightweight and good blade shape with surprising performance--and the worst of times--a finnicky deployment method and a rattle prone thumb disk.  But unlike the excruciating experience of reading the dreadful Tale of Two Cities (or at least the my high school experience of reading that novel), the Enticer is probably worth the time and hassle.   Once you get the hang of the FireSafe and thumb disk this is an impressively fast opening knife.  The Optimiser is my favorite assist mechanism and having had previous experience with it on the Benchmade Aphid I can confirm that it works well.  If they dropped the Firesafe opener this would be one of the best values in the EDC market.  As it is, it is a knife with a flaw, albeit a non-critical one. 


  1. I played around with one at the going gear store and I could get it to deploy fairly easily. That rattling disk tho, I just could not get past it. Otherwise it was a pretty impressive little knife.

  2. Yep, nice blade but sounds like the hinky opening mechanism is a total turnoff.

    CRKT is experimenting with a variety of ways to screw up their assisted opening knives with gratuitous and sometimes infantilizing safety mechanisms. The answer is just to ditch the stupid safeties -- no rattling wheel, no annoying slider safety like the SOG Twitch. Have a good detent and a good design and you don't need a mechanical safety on an AO. Design the knives for adults, please, CRKT.

    CRKT is like Ruger in the handgun industtry -- good designs that they consistently reduce in user appeal by over-safetying.

    The closest they've come to a non-irritating approach to an AO knife is the Ignitor, with that button in the thumbstud. I feel like you could get the hang of that. However -- it is another fine mechanism to go wrong, e.g., if a piece of dirt gets in the button mechanism, which is the problem with all gratuitous mechanical safeties.

  3. I used to own a CRKT Delegate with the "Speed Safe" button and I really disliked it. Great knife, good blade, great size in your pocket, opened really fast *when I could open it*. Problem was, I couldn't guarantee that I'd be able to open it immediately any given time I pulled it from my pocket. Also, the button was secured by a screw. The same screw was the point of pressure on the safety. That had to press on the safety and be pushed in a rotating motion to open the blade. Long story short, that tiny screw came loose and fell out multiple times and without it you CAN'T OPEN THE KNIFE. I'm exceptionally lucky i never actually lost it but it was close a few times. Horrible design, I've since moved to flippers and never looked back.