CRKT Linchpin, by Pat Cascio

As I’ve mentioned many times before in my review articles, I’ve been packing some kind of folding knife since I was about five years old, so did most of my friends I grew up with, back in Chicago in the mid-1950s. My wife and I watched a movie a few weeks ago, called “Mr. Scout Master” and without going into the details, it was about a grumpy old gent, who decided to take on the task of being a Boy Scout Leader. At some point in the movie, this fellow actually needed to be rescued by an 8-year old, and as luck would have it, this little guy had a Boy Scout folding knife – as all good Boy Scouts did – back then. And, they were never without that multi-bladed folding knife. Today, they would be expelled from school if they were caught carrying a “weapon” like that. My, how times have changed. Many big cities will even prosecute you if you carry a small knife “concealed” in your pocket. Insane!

I’ve been around knives all my life, and when I was younger, I owned more than my share of cheap, poorly made folding knives – we all used to buy them from the local hardware store, and they didn’t think anything of selling us knives – even big fixed blade knives. You see, back then, everyone in the neighborhood knew everyone else. And, one of the guys who worked at this hardware store, went to school with my parents, so he didn’t have a problem selling me knives at all…and know one went around the neighborhood killing anyone with their knife. A prized possession was a genuine Boy Scout knife, and I owned several of them over the years. When I worked full-time for the Illinois National Guard back in Chicago, we sponsored a boy scout troop – myself and two other full-time workers worked with the kids back then – all inner-city most poor kids, but we had a good ol’ time just the same.

Today’s Boy Scouts of America does NOT resemble the Boy Scout troops we had back then. We had the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts. However, today, girls are allowed to join the Boy Scouts – and many do – instead of joining the Girl Scouts. And, needless to say, the Scouts were forced to accept leaders recently, that were prohibited from working with kids back in the day. And, if I have to explain it to you, then you haven’t been paying attention…there are numerous lawsuits that have come about because young boys were sexually molested by those leaders. ‘Nuff said!

Even today, a good folding knife is a highly prized possession by many boys and men today. I love a well-made folder. I’m something of an amateur knife designer myself – have several of my designs on the market today. However, I’m not very good at designing folding knives – fixed blades, oh yeah, I can do those. But it takes a real talent and mechanical skill to design a folding knife. Back in the day, most folding knives didn’t really have any sort of lock to keep the blade locked open. Today, most folding knives have some type of lock, to keep the blade from closing on your fingers. And, it never ceases to amaze me, of the number of new locks that have come along. Just when you think “nothing new here in the way of a lock” – then someone comes up with one – and a strong one, too.

Custom knifemaker and designer, Flavio Ikoma, has come up with one of the strongest locks I’ve seen on folding knives, and it could well be, “the” strongest, to date. The latest design from Flavio, is his Linchpin folder, and I really like this one – a lot. It just seems to fit my hand perfectly, and many people who handled my sample said the same thing. The Linchpin has Flavio’s Deadbolt lock on it, and it is not only super strong, but soooo easy to operate one-handed. And, I just don’t know how you’d break this lock, in order to have it fail and close on your fingers, it is “that” strong. It just provide incredible strength.

A flipper is used to open the blade, and the blade rides on the IKBS ball bearing system – one of the smoothest of its type to come along – we are talking very little effort to press on the flipper, and the blade comes out of the handle smooth as butter. The handle scales are glass reinforced Nylon that affords some light-weight in the knife, and provides an excellent grip under all weather conditions as well.

The blade is right there where I want it to be, with it being 3.73-inches in length and made out of 1.4116 stainless steel, and I’m not familiar with this steel. However, in my testing, the blade never dulled, but I did touch-up the edge just a little bit…I don’t like to allow my knives to get dull if at all possible.

Flavio Ikoma, received some of his training as a knife maker, from Ken Onion, one of the best of the best knife makers in the world…Ken lives in Hawaii, and Ikoma lives in Brazil  – I’m assuming Flavio, made several trips to Hawaii to get some help from Onion. In any event, I’ve tested a couple of folders from the mind of Ikoma, that are being produced by Columbia River Knife & Tool and they are sheer perfection – they are made in Taiwan (Free China). To repeat: CRKT products made overseas are not produced in slave labor factories, far from it.

When it came time to test the Linchpin, I actually hated to do any destructive testing, the knife is beautifully made, with a nice finish on the blade…it appears to be more a work of art, rather than a working or everyday carry folder. The knife was used around the kitchen and the old BBQ grill, and it easily sliced right through raw as well as cooked meat without any problems. The extremely tough test of slicing through a blackberry vine – is always a good test of a knife’s edge…and I found some of the biggest and thickest blackberry vines I could find, and the Linchpin easily, with any effort clean sliced through those vines, free-hanging with one single slice of the blade.

Another extremely tough material to cut through is thick poly rope, and if a knife doesn’t have a super-keen edge on it, the blade will slip right off of this material, no problems encountered in this part of the test. Cotton rope – zero problems getting through it…I also cut up a lot of cardboard boxes that I receive almost daily from USPS, UPS or FedEx – and cardboard is one of the toughest materials on a knife’s edge, it will quickly dull even the best of blades…as I already mentioned, I never had to touch-up the edge, and some of the cardboard boxes was thick and heavy, but the blade easily sliced through it…and shaving on the edge of a piece of newsprint was no problem, either.

I carried the Linchpin for more than two weeks, in my right front pocket, and didn’t even know it was there, it only weighs a little over 6-oz and my wife washed a pair of my cargo pants, with the knife still attached in the right front pocket with the pocket clip, and there was no damage to the knife at all.

I’m really impressed, and I mean REALLY impressed with the Linchpin, and it has a full retail price of only $119.99. However, shop on the ‘net and you’ll find it quite a bit cheaper than that…it’s one heck of a dandy every day carry folder for the money, and it is classy as well. Once you pick one up, you’ll have a difficult time putting it down again. It’s a lot of knife for the money, and that Deadbolt safety. Wow, is all I can say.

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