I wrote my last article about a knife with a Japanese-influenced design. Let’s do another. Columbia River Knife and Tool has produced a line of knives, envisioned by noted martial arts instructor James Williams, that deeply bow to the Land of the Rising Sun and distill the essence of the samurai.
CRKT’s Heiho and Hissatsu 2 are the same basic gentleman’s folding knives separated only in moniker. Heiho translates as “method of the warrior,” while hissatsu means “to kill with one strike.” Either way, this diminutive knife exudes a combative lineage.
With a 3.125″ satin-finished AUS-8 modified tanto blade, Heiho is at the minimum length for a defensive knife. But it’s not about the size, it’s about what you can do with it. Yeah, I said it. The blade, 58-59 HRC, sports two hollow ground edge sections with a very slight swedge on the spine. It results in the thick thrusting point for which a tanto is coveted.
CRKT’s Outburst assisted opening system flings the blade to its destination when brought out to 30 degrees with the thumb disk. A Walker liner lock mechanism smartly seals the deal. CRKT’s manual LAWKS safety can be used to snug the knife into a virtual fixed blade. My knife exhibited good lock-up and held closed well by the detent ball. I prefer the manual LAWKS to the Auto LAWKs simply because I want the autonomy to determine when it is needed. Call me a control freak.
Stainless steel liners support smooth-finished black/gray G10 Fiberglas scales, which have Japanese characters engraved. It is said they proclaim “sure kill.” Only in trained hands…
A black tip up reversible pocket clip is bent for deep carry. At 4″ closed and 3.6 ounces, the Heiho will not drag down your kimono. It has a slim, squared up profile that is an easy tote.
To find a single bitch, I am not fond of the slickness of the G10 slabs. They are somewhat slippery and don’t inspire a confident grip, especially with the Outburst’s authoritative snap. This knife would benefit from the canvas Micarta furniture on the Boker I last reviewed or from a good rubdown with 120 grit wet/dry silicon carbide sandpaper.
I tried to dull the AUS-8 while breaking down some boxes at work. I then played sous chef with the Heiho in my kitchen. Neither activity challenged the steel. A few passes on the Spyderco Triangle Sharpmaker solved any edgy problems.
I bought my knife as a Hissatsu 2 for $39.95 from Grand Prairie Knives (gpknives.com). Its blade is marked Heiho. Knives sold as Heiho are also found bearing CRKT’s uniquely angled Tom Veff serrations. These seem to pull material into the scalloped sections for fibrous cutting potential.
Whether in Heiho or Hissatsu 2 guise, this little knife is a solid, upscale piece that comes at a laughably low price. I’m buying another one.
It’s a toss-up between the Heiho and the Boker Kwaiken for edc. They are both excellent…
I recently had reason to carry a CRKT Heiho as a somewhat more (potentially) lethal sidekick to a telescopic baton, cuffs and OC spray in a non-US jurisdiction taking a positively draconian view towards mere civilians (or private security staff for that matter) carrying any kind of concealed firearms for self-defense, but (somewhat surprisingly) freely allows said civilians (given they are above 21 years of age and law abiding citizens or legal aliens) to carry knifes or a range of broadly specified impact weapons and aerosols for self-defense. The knife part of it all has some caveats, in that the maximum permitted blade length is 4″, folder or fixed blade, and expressly forbids the use of automatic/switchblade mechanisms. Manually assisted-opening knifes are allowed and I managed to get hold of a pair of CRKT Heihos at a local shop, albeit at an overprice to say the least. Still, given the pressing need for defensive options, and an expense account, I made a deal.
And the CRKT´s delivered! Smooth and solid function, opened in a flash, great ambidextrous ergonomics in my medium size hands, entirely usable for a range of basic defensive or offensive moves despite the fact that the blade is on the shorter end of the scale IMHO. Both my samples where absolutely hair flinging razor sharp from the box. No, I didn´t carry them both at the same time, one resided in a hidden pocket on my go-bag the other clipped handily into a pant pocket. Which also proved to me that the tension of the pocket clips was pretty much perfect, not to tight but not so loose as to invite a loss.
Happy to say I never needed to use them on the sharp end of things, pardon the pun, but they did provide a minimum feeling of peace of mind given the circumstances. Sadly, my somewhat convoluted travel arrangements precluded me from bringing them back home, but I´m ordering a new one for my private collection anyways. My tastes in a blade doesn´t normally run to smallish folding tantos, but this one is too good to pass up.
You’re a control freak. (Well, you did say to call you that.)
That I did, Red! Thanks for reading.
On a more serious note, did you purchase a second Heiho? I got one and I kinda liked it/kinda didn’t. I kept it, but don’t carry it much. Still, I wanted something similar in size. My procrastination paid off in the form of the CRKT Shizuka Noh Ken, of which I’m sure you’re well aware since you know about the Otanashi Noh Ken. I have the Otanashi Noh Ken and like it very much, so the smaller version was an obvious choice.
What sells me on the Shizuka over the Heiho is the frame lock and the G-10 scales. It just feel more solid. If you’ve handled either you’ll see the difference.
Also, I have no use for the “assisted opening” feature on such knives as the Hissatsu series. In my knives the force necessary to deploy the blade was ridiculous. Removal of the torsion bar (spring) resulted in a knife that was fast and easy to open. My larger Hissatsu folders (yes, I have two of them) open easily via thumb or inertia. The Otanashi Noh Ken is deadly fast, mostly due to the mass of the blade. The Heiho and Shizuka are thumb only, but still quick.
We must be “brothers of another mother” as I, too,, have an old Seiko fetish, plus your affinity for blades is in keeping with my own. Keep up the great work.
I did purchase a second Heiho, Red. That one has the pocket clip in the left scale for support side carry when toting a handgun.
I like all of the Williams-designed CRKT offerings. But I also disable the assist leaf springs. I was afraid that I had to push so hard to open, my thumb would continue on to the blade.
I have handled both the “Noh Kens” and I like them very much. Slightly different takes on the same good design.
As for ‘nuther muther, hey, it’s just one big happy world!