CRKT Heiho and Hissatsu folders

   09.23.13

CRKT Heiho and Hissatsu folders

Previously, I reviewed the James Williams designed Shinbu and Hisshou short sword defensive knives and was so wowed by their cutting ability that I picked up both of James’ folding knife designs produced by CRKT as well.

James Williams, as you may remember, is a world renowned sword practitioner and sword cutting expert. He is also actively involved in teaching Military special operations and government security professionals how to handle an edged weapon in situations where firearms are not permitted. The request came back to James for smaller folding knives that still packed the powerful cutting characteristics of the larger fixed blade knives and short swords. The result was the Heiho and Hissatsu folding knives. These are two very serious defensive knives for their size.

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Fit & feel

CRKT Heiho Folder: I own more than a few CRKT knives and the Heiho is from my opinion the finest folding knife CRKT has produced. They have done an absolutely beautiful job with the G10 handle and blade finish of this knife. Generally CRKT has been known for making what would be termed as high quality working knives, but this beautifully elegant knife will look good in fatigues, jeans, or with a suit. The CRKT Heiho is a great size which also has a blade length legal to carry in the more restrictive cities. Despite the minimalistic design, the knife feels very comfortable in the hand in a variety of grips.

CRKT Hissatsu Folder: The Hissatsu Folder also has the same overall subdued design which does not scream “Look, I have a tactical knife clipped in my pocket”. When in the pocket it looks a lot less like a tactical knife and more like a tool than almost any other knife made. This is a good thing if you want to keep a low profile. The Hissatsu Folder’s glass filled nylon handles does have more of that high quality working knife look however the grip is very secure regardless of how wet the handle is.

Features

The Heiho and Hassatsu Folder both share the same overall design, with dual grind modified tanto points, AUS8 blade steels, thumb disks for easy ambidextrous opening, LAWS liner locking systems, and OutBurst assisted opening mechanisms.

James Williams designed the blade shape after a classical Samurai design, which gives outstanding penetrating power as well as exceptional slashing performance. There are a load of premium steels out there, but for me, AUS 8 stainless steel has been a favorite with great strength, edge-holding ability, and very good stain resistance. I also like it because it can be resharpened to a razor edge about twice as fast as the premium steels.

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Operation on both models is simple and easy with the ambidextrous thumb disk and CRKT’s OutBurst assisted opening mechanism, which springs the blade fully open after you have opened the it approximately 30 degrees. The OutBurst spring mechanism can be easily removed with just a set screw, and I found I prefered the CRKT Heiho without it. The CRKT Hassatsu Folder has an AutoLAWKS safety which instantly locks the liner lock in place creating in essence a fixed blade knife. The AutoLAWKS system assures the knife cannot be closed accidentally during use. The Heiho has a manual LAWKS safety which can be engaged as needed.

The Heiho features full stainless steel InterFrame liners and black G10 scales with Kanji characters engraved providing a secure grip. The Heiho’s ambidextrous stainless steel clip seats the knife very deep in the pocket and can be easily mounted for right or left-handed users with a single screw. Personally, I like a really deep carry depth because it conceals the knife much better. And with smaller lighter knives, such as the 3.125″-bladed, 3.6oz CRKT Heiho, I think a deep carry provides more retention and lessens the risk of loss on smaller knives.

The Hissatsu delivers full sized performance with a blade length of 3.875″ while still being safely under more typical 4” legal limits in most jurisdictions. Following the intent of the original Military request, the black finish is a non-reflective black coating and features a heavier-duty InterFrame with thicker 0.059″ 420J2 stainless steel liners. The pocket clip is still fully reversible, but it does position the knife a bit higher in the pocket. I’m sure this was done from an indexing perspective, to put the knife in the hand during the draw in order to facilitate a smooth and fast opening.

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Function and final thoughts

James Williams knows edge geometry, and these things are seriously aggressive cutting knives. Even the little Heiho surprises me with the tasks it can take on, and the Hassatsu is more than capable and durable for “Mission Type” operations where durability is critical. Resorting to my standard test of breaking down a whole chicken (they are about 50% cheaper to buy that way than in the unassembled version), the Heiho and Hissatsu are aggressive meat cutting knives which I am sure would provide the required defensive cut should the situation arise. Where the Shinbu was really single purpose, this modified tanto tips seem to provide all the versatility of a drop point design.

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I do swap out knives often, however for the last couple months the Heiho has been clipped into my pocket. Part of that reason is that in my real profession, I do not want look like I am carrying around a knife. The Heiho sits low in the pocket and looks tastefully less “tactical” when I do have to use it, but when back in jeans or shorts, the knife still provides plenty of cutting power all while being smooth to open and having the option the engage the LAWKS system. I actually used the knife to chip ice from an ice block for an evening of drinks for a party, and with the LAWKS system engaged I knew the blade would not accidentally close on my hand… a huge plus after having a few cold beverages myself.

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Having just recently spent some time with an old friend who happens to be DOD Special Operations, I heard cases over and over of how simple works, while complex usually does not. In this case the Hissatsu folder is a simple, reliable knife that packs a wallop for cutting power. From my perspective CRKT and James have done a great job optimizing these knives for concealment and utility. The Hissatsu is a tough folder I would definitely add to a 3-day or get home bag.

Heiho specs

  • Open Overall Length 7 inches
  • Closed Length 4 inches
  • Weight 3.6 ounces
  • Blade Length 3.125 inches
  • Blade Thickness 0.122 inches
  • Blade Material AUS 8
  • Blade-HRC 58-59
  • Blade Finish Satin
  • Blade Grind Hollow
  • Blade Style Dual Grind Modified Tanto
  • Blade Edge Plain
  • Handle Material Polished G10
  • Handle Liner 2CR13
  • Lock Type Locking Liner
  • Safety System LAWKS
  • Carry System 2 Position Clip
  • OutBurst Assisted Opening (Removable)
  • MSRP $69.99
  • Street $60.00

Hissatsu specs

  • Open Overall Length 8.75 inches
  • Closed Length 5 inches
  • Weight 5.8 ounces
  • Blade Length 3.875 inches
  • Blade Thickness 0.16 inches
  • Blade Material AUS 8
  • Blade-HRC 58-59
  • Blade Finish Tactical Black Matte
  • Blade Grind Dual
  • Blade Style Classic Samurai
  • Blade Edge Plain
  • Handle Material Glass Filled Nylon
  • Handle Liner 420J2
  • Lock Type Locking Liner
  • Safety System AutoLAWKS
  • Carry System 2 Position
  • OutBurst Assited Opening (Removable)
  • MSRP $99.99
  • Street $88.00
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