Let’s get the acronyms out of the way first. CRKT is Columbia River Knife and Tool. For the last 20 years or so, CRKT has been producing high quality blades at affordable prices. This particular knife is called the S.P.E.W., which stands for Small Pocket Everyday Wharncliffe.
For the uninitiated, Wharncliffe refers to the shape of the blade. You’ve no doubt heard of a Bowie blade, a Tanto blade, and possibly even the Spear Point blade, right? The Wharncliffe blade is sort of the opposite of a standard knife blade. Where many knives have a straight spine and a curve to the sharpened edge, the Wharncliffe has the straight side sharp. As with any blade shape, it has strengths and weaknesses. The Wharncliffe blade lends itself to utility work, such as opening packages and cutting cordage. However, it would not do well with skinning game or cutting meat because it lacks a “belly” to rise the edge up from the work surface. It does have a needle point, which makes it fairly handy for self-defense purposes.
The S.P.E.W. runs 6.25” long overall, with a 3” blade. It is made from the Chinese 5CR15MoV5 steel. This steel has pros and cons. It is a softer steel, which means it won’t hold an edge quite as well as, say, 1095 carbon steel. On the other hand, it will also sharpen fairly easily, which could be quite an asset out in the field in rough conditions where you don’t have access to your Lansky Sharpening System.
The handle scales on the S.P.E.W. are made from G10, which is a glass woven fabric that is impregnated with a resin. For us normal folks, all it means is that the handles are both indestructible as well as wonderfully grippy under a wide range of conditions. Once you pick it up, you have little worry that the S.P.E.W. is going to slip through your fingers. The handle is only about 3” long but the attached lanyard adds a bit more than an inch, giving you plenty to hold when you’re working.
The sheath is molded kydex, which many of you know isn’t high on my list of preferred sheath materials. With rare exception, I like a leather sheath. That said, the kydex sheath for the S.P.E.W. is wonderfully designed.
It has several attachment points, making it quite easy to lash the S.P.E.W. to a pack. Of course, with the included cordage the S.P.E.W. works great as a neck knife. All told, the knife and sheath weigh in at a whopping 3 ounces. It also comes with an adapter you can attach to the sheath for belt carry.
The knife is held very securely in the sheath. It “clicks” into place and it takes just a bit of tugging to get it to come free. That’s not a bad thing at all. I’d have no concerns about carrying this knife upside down on a pack strap.
The S.P.E.W. has a little bit of jimping along the spine. This provides excellent traction for your finger or thumb while you’re using the knife.
All in all, I like the S.P.E.W. quite a bit. It is very comfortable to hold and use. It would be an excellent option for EDC (Every Day Carry) and even for self-defense. It wouldn’t be my first choice for a battle blade, due to the small size, but it could do quite a bit of damage in a pinch.
I see the S.P.E.W. as performing very well for a wide range of utilitarian tasks, in and out of camp. It wouldn’t be the best option for some jobs, but few if any blades are well suited for everything. You can find it here on the CRKT website for well under $50.
The S.P.E.W. is one of those really handy tools that, once you have it, you’ll wonder how you did without it for so long.