The karambit (pronounced kah-rahm-bit) has become a very popular backup knife. Although it could be argued that it’s less instinctive than a straight blade knife, the unique features of the karambit make it a more than viable choice for last-ditch self-defense at extreme close quarters, especially for those that are willing to train with it.
The forbearer of the modern karambit can be traced to the Indonesian archipelago as far back as the early 11th century AD as a farming and utility tool. It quickly spread throughout Southeast Asia. It’s believed to have originally been weaponized among the Miangkabau people of West Sumatra. The modern karambit is far removed from the ancestral agricultural tool and is available in both fixed blade and folder versions.
According to tradition, the karambit was inspired by the tiger’s claw. It functions in much the same manner. It’s one of the traditional weapons commonly associated with the Indonesian martial art of Pencak Silat and Filipino Arnis (Kali), along with several other Southeast Asian martial arts.
The blade of a karambit is primarily used in a slashing or hooking motion. The technique of the karambit is heavily focused on targeting the weaker points of the body. It’s very effective due to the curved blade that allows for powerful cutting and ripping wounds, as well as for use with hooking and control techniques.
The safety ring of a modern karambit provides retention and also makes the karambit extremely difficult to disarm. The safety ring also offers quick access for blade deployment and can be employed as an impact weapon.
One of the coolest karambits has to definitely be the Provoke™ from Columbia River Knife and Tool (CRKT®). The brainchild of Newbury Park, California custom knife designer Joe Caswell, It features a revolutionary patent-pending design that offers unique functional and safety benefits. It’s the large-production imported version of the custom Caswell “Morphing Karambit” (MKV2). Frist introduced at the 2019 SHOT Show, the Provoke line has been expanded in 2020 to include five new models, in addition to the original Provoke. I received the original Provoke for evaluation.
CRKT refers to the Provoke as a Kinematic® manual knife. The mechanism is really genius. In the closed position, the blade is nestled alongside the handle. You simply apply gentle thumb pressure to upper crossbar of the blade and nudge it forward to deploy the blade while the rest of your fingers grasp the handle. It can also be employed as a pocket opener much in the manner of the Emerson Wave by catching the upper crossbar on the edge of the pocket.
The Kinematic mechanism represents a total rethink of folding knives. A key feature is that it keeps your fingers out of the rotational path of the blade. There’s no need to change your grip or remove your fingers from the handle to deploy the blade. It’s simple and requires only gross motor skills.
The Kinematic technology enhances the Provoke’s utility as an non-bladed impact weapon and allows you to change to a blade deployed condition without compromising control or requiring a second hand. It also enhances safety since the blade’s conveyance path does not cross any part of your hand with typical use. On the downside, the Kinematic technology on the Provoke is designed for a right-hand reverse grip, thus limiting one’s options.
The Provoke is compact and lightweight to carry. It measures 4.96 inches (12.65 cm) closed and weighs in at 6.1 ounces (172.93 g) . It has a 2.4-inch (6.1 cm) hawkbill blade that is 0.21-inch (0.53 cm) thick. The blade has a dual-bevel flat grind. The sub 2.5-inch (6.35 cm) blade and the fact that it’s a 100% manual folder makes the Provoke legal to carry in most areas. Due to the design, the Provoke is by necessity, considerably wider than conventional folders.
The Provoke has only five principle parts, plus the pocket clip, springs and fasteners. The handle and deployment arms are made of tempered 6061-T6 aluminum alloy with a black mil-spec Type III hard-anodized finish. Four black-oxide coated stainless steel chain ring bolts attach the swing arms, which connect the ring-end handle to the blade. The retention ring has a one-inch (2.54 cm) inside diameter, sized for use with or without duty gloves.
The blade is forged from D2 tool steel (60-62 HRC). D2 is a versatile high-carbon, high-chromium, air-hardened semi-stainless tool steel. It has high wear- and abrasion-resistant properties due to numerous chromium-rich carbides in the micro-structure. The blade has a black titanium nitride (TiN) coating. TiN is an extremely hard and wear-resistant wear-resistant coating that enhances lubricity and corrosion resistance and provides a discreet non-reflective finish.
A sturdy, discrete lever at the base of the finger loop serves as the locking mechanism. The locking mechanism is constructed of stainless steel with a black-oxide finish. To retract the blade, you simply push the lever to the side and then grasp the back of the blade and return it into the closed position. This is best accomplished with two hands. One handed closing is possible with a bit of practice.
There’s a small gap between the blade and the back-plate of the handle when the knife is in the closed position which does expose the sharpened edge a bit. Not a deal killer, but it’s an issue to be aware of.
The Provoke carries via a unique zero-profile deep-carry stainless steel pocket clip mounted for tip-down carry. It allows you to discretely carry the knife without the inconveniences of a traditional pocket clip.
The pocket clip lays flush with the handle when not in use, providing improved ergonomics and minimizing hot spots when the handle is gripped. If you didn’t know it was a clip, you would assume it was some sort of ornamental design.
To use the clip, you simply press down on the push grooves on rear of the clip to open it up so you can slide it right into your pocket or clip to PALS webbing. By virtue of the Kinematic mechanism, the clip isn’t reversible.
CRKT offers a Boltaron® Gear Compatible Sheath for the Provoke. It comes standard with the Provoke First Responder model, which has a glass breaker. It’s an optional accessory with the other Provoke Models.
The workmanship is excellent on the sample provided to me. The Kinematic mechanism operates very smoothly and requires only minimal pressure to deploy the blade. Lockup is solid. There was very slight side-to-side blade wobble on the sample (which was eliminated by a simple adjustment of a ring bolt) but no vertical blade blade play. The blade was razor sharp out of the box.
Although it has some negatives that need to be taken into consideration (as well as some unique pluses), the Provoke is definitely one of the coolest knives on the market. It’s certainly the most unique. Is it practical? You’ll have to be the judge. Suggested retail for the original model is $199.99. The Provoke has a limited lifetime warranty.
Manufacturer: Columbia River Knife and Tool (CRKT)
Designer: Joe Caswell
Model Number: 4040
Style: Folding Karambit Knife w/Kinematic
Blade Length: 2.41 in. (6.1 cm)
Blade Thickness: 0.21-in. (0.53 cm)
Blade Profile: Hawkbill
Blade Grind: Dual bevel flat ground
Blade Steel: D2 Tool Steel (60-62 HRC)
Blade Finish: Black Titanium Nitride
Closed Length: 4.96 inches (12.85 cm)
Open Length: 7.36 in. (18.42 cm)
Max Thickness: 0.59-in. (1.5 cm)
Weight: 6.1 oz. (172.93 g)
Handle: 6061-T6 Aluminum, Type III Hard Anodized
Pocket Clip: Zero-Profile, Right-hand Tip-Down Deep Carry
Best Use: Tactical, EDC
Country of Origin: Taiwan
Warranty: Limited Lifetime
Suggested Retail: $199.99
I received this product as a courtesy from the manufacturer so I could test it and give my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal or implied contract to give this product a good review. All opinions are my own and are based off my personal experience with the product.
*The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the original authors and contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Spotter Up Magazine, the administrative staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.