TRIPLE SET, TRIPLE THREAT
THE CRKT BLACK FORK HUNTING KNIFE SET PUTS YOUR FIELD DRESSING SOLUTION IN YOUR POCKET
If you want something done right, use the right tool. The new Black Fork Hunting Knife Set from CRKT puts those tools in your pocket. BY EJ SNYDER
Knives play an important role when hunting season rolls around. Once your game hits the ground, the clock is already ticking against you as you race against time trying to beat the afternoon sun— even in the cold of winter it can be detrimental to your meat. The ease and speed with which you can dress down your game is super important, so when Tom Krein saw this need, he decided to design this triple-threat set, with CRKT, to tackle the problem and get you back to camp for some well-deserved rest.
“I AM A FIRM BELIEVER THAT EVERY TASK HAS JUST THE RIGHT TOOL FOR THE JOB, AND THE BLACK FORK HUNTING KNIFE SET BACKS UP THAT IDEA.” – EJ SNYDER
With their Black Fork Hunting Knife Set, CRKT is making sure that you get your game dressed and to the freezer in no time this season. When you are up early in the morning and patiently waiting for that prize game to enter your kill zone, you may spend many hours quietly biding your time in the brisk weather. The last thing you want is to spend unnecessary time shivering away, using shaky hands with a bulky knife to dress down your game.
Once I pulled this knife set out, I almost felt like a surgeon getting ready to enter the operating room. The set comes in a wonderful black, compact rollup, woven polyester sheath, and once you roll it out and open it up, it reveals three knives, each in its own pocket. Krein was an ER Nurse and I’m sure that had some influence on this set up. The knives are made of a strong stainless steel, which also gave it that surgical feel. When it comes to dressing down game, a surgeon’s touch might not be a bad thing—especially when speed and efficiency are what you are after. The set rolls up to fit nicely into your pack or slip easily into your pocket. Every knife in the set fulfills a specific need when processing your game, each dedicated to its function with focused attention. With the European-style gut hook, caping knife and skinning knife, this set is ready to deconstruct any size game.
“Making the Cut” Test
When I first pulled each knife out, I immediately noticed its size. I found them a bit small, but in fairness I have extremely large hands, so I was definitely anxious to see how they operated within my grip.
They come with nice thumb jimping in two sections on the spine of each
blade for various grip control. They actually feel great on the thumbs and provide grip, even if the knife gets covered in the slickness that results from skinning game. I really liked their light weight provided by the skeleton handle design, as it was clear that this will aid in preventing hand fatigue—as well as how nicely they felt in terms of control. My first impressions were correct, you truly do feel almost like a surgeon holding a scalpel.
When it comes to dressing out game, sharpness, edge durability, and hand fatigue are some of the key factors that I like to observe. I decided to put this knife set through some unique and extreme cutting challenges first, as I often do.
I always say cardboard is the enemy to a knife’s edge, being made of pressed and various materials, it’s known for quickly dulling knives. After a good half-hour of cutting, I did not notice any change in the edge or sharpness of the knives at all. I then moved to leather straps to see how they would perform, and each cut through the straps as if through butter. I found the same results in cutting through a thick piece of hard rubber tire. At this point, I was really impressed with how these knives were designed and how well they cut. I liked how sharp they were and the grinds on these blades seemed perfect for each of their assigned uses, but I wouldn’t know for sure until I got them into the field for testing.
When I tested the Black Fork Hunting Knife Set, it was not hunting season in NC, so I decided to conduct field tests on a variety of animals. I wanted to get a broad perspective on the set’s intended uses, but also expand it in some ways so that it could be viewed as a multi-use item. I used it on several different fish, birds and mammals. Each knife worked very well for its intended purpose. I really liked how easy it was to handle the knives and use them for an extended period of time— as suspected the lighter weight helped alleviate my concern. The knives could easily be transitioned to a reverse grip for added torque, if needed. I did try them with the lanyard, attaching all three together, and was surprised that while using one of the knives, the other two stayed out of the way fairly easily.
I could see where a little more weight could aid in butchering tasks, but the surgical movement and similar effect in cutting made up for it. The caping knife did remove the head from the torso without too much trouble. It separated the skin, tendons, and muscles with no major issues. Prying the skull from the neck bone took some work, aided by some good old elbow grease and a twist.
The rounded tip on the European-style
gut hook really helped prevent spilling the guts into the game and ruining your meat. I found this to be a very nice, helpful feature for someone like me, who can be a bit of a brute, lacking some coordination and grace.
The skinning knife made fast work of separating the hide from the carcass, with the advantage of its light weight and finesse, aiding the task. The sharpness and surgical precision separated the membrane very easily, leaving less of a mess to clean off the hide—which is great if you intend to keep it for other uses.
The butchering task went well, easily cutting fillets and strip meat, or cubing your game. On smaller to medium-size
animals, I did not find it difficult to get through bones and/or separate them, but it was definitely a little more work with the larger animals, due to the basic size of the blades. I was not a big fan of the overall length of all three knives—i would have preferred at least another inch to inch-and-a-half on the blade length and the same on the handle lengths, but again, that’s mainly because I have larger hands.
The knives are all made from a high-quality, stainless-steel material, which made cleaning them a cinch. By the end of the field tests, I was good and hungry, which was great, because I had quite a lunch in front of me and was glad my cameraman was there to feast alongside me.
“THE EASE AND SPEED WITH WHICH YOU CAN DRESS DOWN YOUR GAME IS SUPER IMPORTANT.” – EJ SNYDER
Above: From top to bottom, the European-style gut hook, skinning knife and caper make a great team for all of your field dressing chores.
01. The compact rollup sheath will slip right into your pocket so it is available any time you need it. 01
03 03. The knives are a bit small in my hands, but the small size and skeletonized handles make them light and easy to use for long periods.
02. The edge showed no serious wear after cutting up a lot of cardboard. 02
Left: The gut hook was perfect for opening a fish to be cleaned.
Above: Front and back view of the CRKT case.