One of the most innovative and interesting takes on a folding karambit to come along is the CRKT Provoke. When I first handled one, I was taken back to my childhood and the old transformers cartoon and toys. For this reason, I couldn’t stop playing with it. It was like a deadly adult fidget spinner. Now, CRKT takes the innovative Provoke and scales it down to a more carry-friendly Compact model.
The CRKT Provoke Compact
Like the original, the Provoke Compact utilizes the patented Kinematic opening mechanism. To open it, place your finger into the ring, in either a forward or reverse grip. This places your thumb in line with the upper crossbar, which has some light jimping for enhanced traction. Apply pressure to the crossbar and the mechanism lunges forward in a catapult type fashion, launching the blade into the open position.
Once open, the blade is held in lockup via a discreet slide locking mechanism, just forward of the ring. Closing it takes both hands, one to hold the handle and one to disengage the lock. I did notice that the lock is a little stiffer on the Compact than it is on the full size. As a result, it takes a little more work to disengage.
When open, the Compact comes to a full 6.63-inches overall. This is notably smaller than the 7.25-inches of the original. Like the original, the blade is constructed of D2 tool steel and at 2.26 inches, has a legal blade length in almost any jurisdiction. However, it’s still a good idea to check your local laws and ordinances, especially in regard to carrying a karambit.
Also, like the original, the Compact features a hawkbill blade profile with a full flat chisel grind. However, where most chisel grinds only have a slight bevel on the obverse side, to knock off the grind rolls, the Provoke has a full edge bevel.
One big improvement for me is the shorter handle. The 4.96-inch handle of the original was a little big and placed my hand away from the blade. However, the 4.54-inch handle of the Compact is perfect in my hand and places my hand closer to the blade. Thus, providing better control.
Carrying the Provoke Compact
In an effort to lighten the Compact for a more carry-friendly weight, both the grip and blade are thinner. The original has a .416-inch handle thickness, whereas the Compact is .351-inch. Likewise, the original had .209-inch-thick blade stock, while the Compact is .15-inch. As a result, the Compact weighs only 4.40-ounces, while the original is 6.1-ounces. This is a big difference in the pocket or around the neck.
The Compact utilizes the same innovative pocket clip as the original. Following around the ring, the pocket clip nestles inside a channel around the flat of the ring. When you are ready to place the Provoke back in the pocket, press down on the jimped portion at the end of the clip. As a result, the clip raises up out of the channel and you can place it on the lip of your pant pocket.
However, when I was covering the original Provoke, in 2019, I had an issue when drawing it from the pocket. The upper crossbar would catch the lip of my pocket and the blade would stay in my pocket while the handle came out. This left the blade exposed in my pocket and I actually cut a pair of pants.
But, CRKT has since remedied this issue by offering an optional Kydex sheath for each model. The heavy-duty sheaths hold the knife tightly and have eyelets to accept different attachment options, like a Tek-Lok. But the Compact is also light enough to wear comfortably in neck carry.
The Provoke Compact currently comes with a greyish blue handle and stonewash blade and crossbars. However, the original is available in many different colors and finishes, so I expect to see the same with the Compact in the coming months/years.
Slashing As a Karambit Does
Although I am a fan of the karambit, they are not much of a utility knife. Especially in this case with the chisel grind. So, I opted more for slashing tests with the Provoke Compact and it’s every bit as effective as I expected.
I started my testing with a testing/training device my friend Michael Janich developed called Porkman. It consists of a pork roast, wooden dowel, plastic wrap, twine, and denim and resembles a dressed human limb. After constructing Porkman I took a quick slash with the Provoke Compact and it sliced so deep and so easily it was almost scary. I easily reached all the way to the wooden dowel (bone).
Following this, I wanted to run the D2 tool steel through its paces and cut up some corrugated cardboard. I made some regular cuts and then made some slashing cuts. Although the chisel grind pulled the cut off center, it cut very cleanly and easily. The edge was still very sharp afterward.
Next, to make sure that the edge was still as sharp as it came, I took some half-inch climbing rope and secured the two ends. With the rope tight, I took a slash at it and the Compact went right through. There was some fraying of the rope, but I expected that from a slashing cut. I then cut it into smaller pieces, with no effort.
Finally, I doubled up an old bike inner tube to see if it would still cut cleanly with a slashing cut. I secured both ends, ensuring that the tube was tight, and took a slash. The cuts were clean and effortless. I finished by slicing up the remaining part into a bunch of other small pieces.
It is a slashing beast.
The Cool Factor
The original CRKT Provoke was seriously high on cool factor, but the Compact made improvements that I am on board with. From the lighter weight to the smaller grip and tighter control, it just gets it right. And lowering the price by $50 from the original doesn’t hurt either. Kind of like OTF knives, the Provoke is one of those knives you just can’t help opening and closing.
If you have large hands or plan to use it while wearing gloves, the original Provoke might be the better choice for you. But if you have average size hands, the Compact really dialed in the performance and handling.
For more information, please visit CRKT.com.
CRKT Provoke Compact Specs
Blade Material: D2
Blade Length: 2.26 inches
Closed Length: 4.54 inches
Overall Length: 6.63 inches
Blade Thickness: 0.15 inch
Blade Finish: Stonewash
Handle Material: 6061 T6 Aluminum
Weight: 4.40 ounces