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CRKT Summa Review

IMG_2736cWoods Monkey takes a look at the new CRKT Summa and see how it does out in the field with a little bushcraft work.




Summa: Custom Style Knife on a Budget

IMG_2684aColumbia River Knife and Tool and custom knife maker Gerry McGinnis have teamed up to create the Summa. The Summa is one of the most stylish and attractive knives made by CRKT.  In my opinion it is one of the most aesthetically pleasing knives they have ever offered. It looks and feels like a custom knife. The Summa is offered in two variations: “Satin Finished Blade with Razor Sharp Cutting Edge” and “Black Oxide Blade with Combined Razor Sharp Cutting Edge and Veff Serrated Cutting Edge.” This review focuses on the “Satin Finished Blade with Razor Sharp Cutting Edge.”  The Summa’s drop point, hollow ground blade measures 3.75 inches and is made from durable 8Cr14MoV stainless steel.  CRKT has moved to this type of steel, which is comparable to their AUS8 steel, on many of their products.

IMG_2688aThe handle uses an InterFrame design, measures 4.88 inches, and is made of black and blue layered Micarta with blue titanium nitride coated stainless steel liners and a Black Zytel back spacer.  The Summa’s handle is one of its most attractive and interesting design elements.  Its shape reminds me somewhat of French made Opinel and Laguiole knives.  The black and blue Micarta scales combined with the metallic blue liner and pocket clip makes this knife visually appealing.  Overall the appearance is stylish and classy. The knife’s open length comes in at 8.5 inches and weighs a mere 3.6 oz.  Opening the knife is achieved by using the flipper, which is smooth and quick, with either hand.  The blade locks in place with a standard liner lock mechanism which can be easily closed with one hand.

IMG_2723aFor the purposes of this review I carried this knife for three weeks and used it for a variety of outdoor and indoor tasks.  The first task I used the Summa for was making a tent stake out of a medium sized stick including cutting a notch, which was accomplished with ease.  It easily stripped the outer bark from the stick and after a few passes I had a decent point on the stake.  Next I cut a notch in the back of the stake which went quickly once I got the technique down.

The next test for the Summa was assembling a horde of lawn furniture packed in layers of cardboard, tape, plastic ties and assorted packing materials.  It made quick work of cardboard packaging and plastic ties.  The full size folder felt good in my hand for these tasks and it didn’t cause any discomfort over the course of an afternoon of heavy use, which can sometimes happen when using smaller knives.  For people with larger hands this knife will definitely be comfortable to use.  There are grooves cut into the back of the blade and on the inside of the flipper which prevents slipping when the knife is wet or covered in sweat.

IMG_2727aAdditionally, the Summa cut and chopped numerous vegetables, fruits, and meats in the kitchen.  It performed these duties adequately and without difficulty.  I haven’t been able to go hiking or camping this summer but in my opinion it would make a decent choice for your backpacking or camping kit.  If you are looking for a larger but lightweight knife this would be a good option.  As an added bonus, after all of this testing I was still able to shave the hair off my arm with the blade.

The only difficulty I had with the Summa was with the way I carry my knives.  I usually carry my pocket knives in my front left pocket where I also keep my wallet.  When reaching into my front pocket the flipper from the knife sticks out pretty far.  On several occasions the knife partially opened. I did cut myself once on the partially opened blade.  I wish there was a locking mechanism for the blade so that this problem could have been avoided.  On the other hand I think a locking mechanism would take away from the overall simple and beautiful design of the knife.  To remedy this I started to carry the Summa in the cargo pocket on my shorts. Other remedies could include a small belt sheath or by carrying it in back pants pocket.

IMG_2719aGerry McGinnis is relatively new to knife making having started his craft in 2004.  According to his website, Gerry started out making fixed blade knives but now focuses mostly on folders using a flipper as the opening mechanism.  His website has numerous pictures of his custom work which in my opinion is exceptional.  Gerry will have a long career in the knife making industry and he is an artisan at his craft.  Looking at the body of his work you can definitely see that the Summa design was based on his custom knife designs.  Gerry has designed one other knife for CRKT which is called the Tuition which shares some similarities with the Summa.  I would definitely like to see him develop more knives through CRKT.

IMG_2742aOverall, this is an exceptionally attractive and stylish knife.  It does remind me a great deal of a custom knife except that it is reasonably priced at $59.99.  Considering that McGinnis’s custom knives sell for a great deal more, this version is affordable for a knife collector on budget.  It is the closest I will ever get to one of his knives.  I would recommend this knife to someone who wants a knife designed by an up and coming custom knife maker but doesn’t necessarily want to spend big dollars on a custom knife.  CRKT is well known for collaborating with custom knife makers to produce innovative production knives that are well made and affordable.  That trend continues here with McGinnis’s Summa.  If you are looking for a practical and capable folder this is the knife is a good choice.  Given the Summa’s price in relation to the materials used in its construction and overall custom styling this knife is a bargain.  It is a knife that I would carry regularly for everyday purposes as well as for camping and backpacking.

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