The CRKT Ripple, by Ken Onion

Posted on August 20, 2011 by


I have a lot of knives. In fact, I’ve got a box full of them. With a couple of notable exceptions, though most of them don’t ever make it past my front door. Why? Most of them are cheap, or just plain unreliable. So up till now the two knives that I have actually used (and I have gotten several years use out of both of them) are a Smith & Wesson Homeland Security folder, and an SOG SEAL Pup.

The Homeland Security folder is big, clunky, and feels like a boat anchor in your pocket, but it gets the job done and occasionally doubles as a hammer. The SOG SEAL Pup is a very well-executed design, but since I spend most of my work days in an office building, it doesn’t make for a very practical EDC (every-day-carry) knife. That to say, for a while now I’ve been looking around for a good, reliable folder to replace the Smith & Wesson and bring some elegance to my EDC routine.

Enter the Ripple by Ken Onion.

If you’re not familiar with Ken Onion knife designs, suffice it to say that the difference between the S&W folders and one of his knives is a little like the difference between a Ford Pinto and a new Mustang GT. Or maybe more accurately, an Acer laptop vs. the iPad 2. His designs are always unique, aesthetically pleasing, and practical.

The Ripple is the first in a series of knives by Ken Onion that embody the principle he calls the “gentleman’s tactical folder.” The idea is a knife which fits in your pocket and is handy enough for everyday cutting tasks, but can also function in the role of a tactical folder as well.  On top of all this, the knife should have a certain level of elegance.

The Ken Onion Ripple, along with the Author's S&W M642, another essential part of his EDC routine

The Ken Onion Ripple, along with the Author's S&W M642, another essential part of his EDC routine

Onion accomplishes all of the above in the Ripple. The Ripple is fantastically light. The model I reviewed, which in this case happens to be the aluminum-steel frame version, weighs in at a mere 2.5 ounces. This is a big deal when you already have a pistol or two plus a reload tugging your pants down. With its sleek form factor and closed length of just over 4 inches, the Ripple makes a very unobtrusive addition to your EDC loadout. The 3-inch blade is a perfect compromise between the tactical and the practical.

When I first took the Ripple out of its packaging I was impressed by its quality. The knife is very well put together and the lockup is remarkably tight. The Ripple uses a Ken Onion designed IKBS system, essentially a ball-bearing pivot that gives this knife the smoothest opening of any knife I have ever experienced. In fact, the Ripple flips open so quickly that it feels like it is spring-assisted. A ball-detent holds the blade in place when closed, keeping it from opening without the use of the blade flipper.

The blade and the frame of the Ripple are both made of high-carbon stainless steel, with the outside of the frames being made either of aluminum or titanium, depending on the model. A “scale” pattern appears to have been machined into the sides of the frame. The pattern looks nice, and doubles as a positive grip surface.

All in all, the Ripple is a well-designed, well-executed tool as well as a work of art. This concept of the “gentleman’s tactical folder” is something I’ve been looking for for a very long time. I’m definitely adding the Ripple to my EDC lineup, and being that it’s a “gentleman’s” knife, I may even decide to make it the official folder of the Gentleman Adventurer.

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