Welcome to Bargain or Just Cheap? This series will review budget friendly knives for a variety of uses in a short format. All of the knives will cost less than $50 (in most cases, much less) and will be purchased out of my own pocket. I’ll buy them, carry them, and use them in an attempt to determine if the knife is a bargain or just cheap.
I carry a fixed blade knife every day and there are times when unsheathing it just to trim a loose string or cut open a box feels more than a little conspicuous. So, I typically also carry some kind of small folding knife as a companian. The Jesper Voxnaes designed CRKT Pilar is excellent in this role.
Jesper Voxnaes has a real knack for designing small knives that still manage to fill the hand – “little big knives”, so to speak. The Pilar is both large enough to get a four-fingered grip and small enough to fit easily in the coin pocket of your jeans. This is thanks to a generous finger choil that helps complete the grip when the knife is opened.
The 2.4″ blade lends itself perfectly to utility cuts and offers excellent control of the surprisingly useable tip. The tall flat grind leaves plenty of meat behind the edge while still offering reasonable slicing performance. The 8Cr13MoV steel on my example sharpens easily but can’t compete with some of the more premium steels offered on some models but I like it for how inexpensive it is.
The Pilar offers right-side tip-up or tip-down clip positions. The clip is relatively low profile. It also doesn’t get in the way much when the knife is being used.
If the Pilar has a glaring flaw, it’s weight. The regular, plain-jane Pilar comes with stainless steel scales on both the show and the frame-lock side of the knife. This compact, svelte, sleek little knife is surprisingly a bit of a porker at 4.2 ounces! That said, I like the knife so much I invested in a micarta scale for mine which greatly reduced the weight.
That micarta scale brings up another great thing about the Pilar. It is so darn popular that it is available in several special versions with different materials and there is a ton of aftermarket support. The basic Pilar can be a cheap canvas that you can customize to your heart’s content.
Finally, I want to mention that I think this makes a good first folding knife. In fact, that is exactly what I bought for my oldest daughter. The frame lock is secure and easy to operate. It is compact enough for kid pockets. The choil offers a safe, tactile, and secure grip. It also doesn’t break the bank so you don’t sweat it when your kid leaves it in the woods, never to be seen again.
Bargain or Just Cheap?
This one is definitely a bargain. It is an ergonomic wonder, a design that oozes style, and a functional EDC knife. It is small enough to be inconspicuous and large enough to do real work. At less than $40 shipped, it’s a bargain all day long.
I am using Amazon as the price baseline for this series. All knives were purchased by me from Amazon: CRKT Pilar
For those who want a slightly larger option, I also own and like the Pilar II though not quite as much as the original.
Our goal is to represent knives for a variety of uses from EDC, to outdoor, to tactical knives. Do you have a favorite affordable knife? Let us know about it in the comments!
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I have a couple of crickets. Both are spring-assisted MJ Lerch designs and I’ve carried one or the other in my EDC for (I’m thinking) at least 10 years. Both were inexpensive but I don’t count either of them cheap, a belief backed up by the abuse I’ve subjected them to but that they’ve shrugged off.
I bought the second one used but not yet re-sharpened and it was still razor-sharp. It had come to me without a pocket clip so I emailed CRKT about buying one. They sent me one (and the screws, including a spare) at no charge. So I emailed them again, explaining I’d bought the knife used and expected to pay for the parts but they had neglected to bill me. Their reply was, “No charge.”