One to Watch: Caswell Morphing Karambit
Tony Sculimbrene 05.11.18
The knife business, it is a-changin’. It used to be there was a very simple setup — custom makers would make knives and sell them directly to the public in incredibly small numbers, and production companies would make knives and sell them to distributors who would then sell them to retailers, and retailers would sell them to the public. That bifurcated model is going away. Powered by increasingly-sophisticated machining technology and direct-to-consumer platforms, custom makers can now make knives in relatively large runs and sell them to consumers quickly and easily.
Because of powerful new Internet-based product development sites like Kickstarter and Mass Drop, distribution, which used to be impossible without specialized wholesale channels, is now comparatively easy. Without that barrier to entry, creativity and specialization can thrive and knifemakers can release truly unusual designs which, because of their odd nature, would have never been made by production companies.
Such is the case with the Caswell Morphing Karambit, which met its funding goal within a few days after bring launched on Kickstarter. The Morphing Karambit is an unusual design from the mind of one of the knife industry’s leading designers, Joe Caswell. Caswell first made a name for himself in the custom world by making relatively traditional knives with spine-riding pocket clips that could retract into the handle. It was a small touch, but one that made his knives superior to regular clipped folders during use. Then Caswell came out with his first truly new product: the EDX. This was a stunningly-complex folder in which the clip retracted automatically as the knife was deployed. It also used an entirely-new locking mechanism of Caswell’s own design.
The EDX won an award at Blade Show for custom knives, and was released over a period of years in vanishingly small numbers. Even now, it is a highly-sought-after knife with a four-figure price tag when you can find one. Innovation is Caswell’s calling card.
As unusual as the EDX was, the Morphing Karambit is even stranger. This knife has a series of linkages that, when pushed forward, reveal a cutting edge. When fully deployed, the knife resembles a traditional karambit. It also has a unique inset clip that curls around the finger hole at the rear of the knife. By pressing the middle of the clip, the clip tip lifts up to allow the user to open the clip for easy clipping on the fabric of a pocket. When not in use, the clip retreats into a channel around the finger hole and is completely out of the way.
Teaming up with Millit Knives, an Idaho-based small-batch high-end machine shop, Caswell is offering the Morphing Karambit through a Kickstarter campaign. The design will eventually be sold through more traditional retail channels for $650, but is being sold on Kickstarter for $450. The knife itself has a 2.5-inch blade of coated 3V steel.
There is nothing else like the Morphing Karambit, and its complexity and specialized design would have never been possible in the old retail model. But with Kickstarter and the like, we now can get innovative and unique designs relatively easily.
- What: Caswell Morphing Karambit on Kickstarter
- When: Campaign ended April 18, 2018
- Where: Kickstarter, where 706 backers have pledged $357,787 of the $23,000 goal
- Made in the USA: Yes
- Highlights: Unique design, high-end materials and fit and finish, first-of-its-kind pocket clip