CRKT Ruger Go-N-Heavy Compact REVIEW
By Matt, 6/3/2017
It has been nearly a decade since a CRKT product graced my knife drawer. The fateful knife which ended my relationship with CRKT was a nice little M16 which I purchased for work because I thought the design was cool. Unfortunately, that knife could be best described as a piece of utter trash. The handle flexed when gripped hard, the blade barely held an edge and the lock somehow managed to fail despite the protection of the patented 'autolawks'.
Since then I have avoided CRKT products like the plague. It is a shame really as every year when Shot show rolls around I see them partnering with some top notch designers but no way in hell was I going to waste my dough on another CRKT. That changed this year when I saw Mr Bill Harsey Jr's name on a CRKT product and my fanboyism got the better of me and I decided to roll the dice on CRKT one more time.
Harsey has designed three folders in the new CRKT Ruger line up with the Go-N-Heavy Compact being the smallest most EDC friendly sized of the bunch (the bigger Go-N-Heavy is a real monster with a 5" blade). I purchased the knife for around $60 AUD from Outfitter Country on eBay who I find is typically one of the cheapest dealers for us Aussies because of their free/cheap shipping to Australia (but do be aware that the item/s will take forever to arrive!!).
- Overall Length: 19.8cm (7.83")
- Blade Length: 8.8cm (3.5")
- Closed Length: 11cm (4.33")
- Blade Thickness: 3mm
- Blade Steel: 8Cr13MoV
- Handle: 6061-T6 hard anodised aluminium
- Lock: Steel liner lock
- Pivot hardware: Teflon washers
- Weight: 106g (3 5/8 oz)
- Country of origin: China
On opening the white cardboard box emblazoned with the red Ruger logo, my first impression is the same as when I saw the knife online... damn it is a good looking knife! I love that signature Harsey blade profile.
The knife is notable for its lack of clip (which I realised only after I ordered it), but the belt sheath looks well made and practical.
The overall fit and finish seems to be half decent as well which is a nice surprise. The milled handle is super grippy and the inset liner lock looks great. It feels lighter than I expected it to, but I guess I shouldn't have been surprised given the aluminium handle.
Strangely, on opening and closing the Go-N-Heavy everything feels kinda 'gummy' devoid of that nice 'snap' you normally get from a new knife. The best I can describe it is it feels like the stop pin and lock are made out of a hard rubber... very weird.
As you might already expect from my earlier gushing, I am quite partial to the signature Harsey drop point blade profile. The version found on the Go-N-Heavy is ground from 3mm thick stock with a high hollow grind and topped with a neat swedge. Despite the blade being a bit thick behind the edge for my liking, it proved to be a capable slicer and I had no issues with binding when cutting thick sheets of cardboard. Thanks to the swedge, the tip is nice and thin making the blade a very good piercer. The blade to handle ratio is above average at 0.8 (the average for a modern folding knife typically seems to be around 0.75).
Now while the grinds are even, the finishing of the blade leaves something to be desired, with deep vertical grind lines showing through the stonewash at the plunge line and towards the tip of the blade. Other than that, the stonewash finish is nice enough and I was quite chuffed that it almost completely hides the scratches from when I twice nicked the side of a brick when working in the garden.
Now for some reason, getting the steel right has always been a bit of an Achilles heel for good old CRKT. I was lucky to get an edge on my old M16, despite it allegedly being a decent steel in AUS8. If I did manage to get a semblance of an edge on it, the blade would end up like a mangled train-wreck after some moderate use. Most recently has been the well publicised 'bait and switch' controversy around the KnifeCentre Hotenanny, where a low rent carbon steel was used in the place of the advertised S30V.
Well I'm pleased to report that the Chinese 8Cr13MoV isn't an absolute abortion. On paper the steel is meant to be roughly the equal of AUS8 and other companies like Spyderco seem to be able to get decent performance out of it. In the Go-N-Heavy it most certainly is on the softer side (I would question the advertised 58-59 RC), with hard woods leaving visible dents in the edge (even on the side of the edge bevel which I haven't seen before). That being said, I kind of like it (although I think most won't). Being a traditional guy, it reminds me of Case TruSharp 420HC in that it takes a very keen edge quickly and holds it good enough for a days usage. However, for the price they are charging, they should be giving us a better steel like an AUS8, BD1, 440C, VG10 etc.
The gnarled aluminium handle is certainly the most eye catching part of the Go-N-Heavy. Apparently it was designed to be reminiscent of the rails on a certain Ruger rifle (I'm not a big gun guy so maybe someone can chime in and tell me which one). All I know is that it is great, filling the hand, super grippy and relatively light.
The machining is excellent with the knobs and holes all neatly done and edges rounded. The balance point sits smack bang in the middle of the finger groove and the knife really feels like a natural extension of your hand in pretty much any grip. The texture of the handle locks the Go-N-Heavy in like almost no other knife I've used. Even when everything is dripping wet there is no way the knife is going anywhere. The jimping on the top of the blade is well done, not overly aggressive, but enough to lock your thumb in when pressing down.
I will note that in a sabre grip my pinky finger does fall right on the peak at the rear of the handle, however, in practice this has never been uncomfortable and to be honest I have had no major 'hotspots' when using the Go-N-Heavy.
The aluminium handles have a matte hard black anodised finish which looks great when new, but quickly starts to wear off. There is an inset steel liner on the lock side which is neatly done. Everything is held together via two T8 torx screws which screw into steel sleeves nestled in the plastic back spacer. The sleeves are D shaped to stop them turning, unfortunately, they still manage to spin freely. The oversized pivot screw is also tapped for T8 torx, with the female side slotting into a D shaped hole in the steel liner to prevent the pivot spinning.
Overall the construction feels solid and CRKT have done a great job with the machining of the handles.
Well this segment will be short... there isn't a pocket clip! A fact I realised only after I ordered the Go-N-Heavy Compact. In hindsight, I probably should have done my research more thoroughly before letting my itchy impulse buying trigger finger loose.
Now, I can understand leaving the clip off the 5" bladed full-size version as it would barely fit in the pocket, however, the compact is the perfect size for EDC'n and is just begging for a clip. Personally I think the lack of a clip is a major misstep on CRKT's part which will alienate buyers who would have otherwise purchased the knife.
Anyway, enough whinging, instead of the clip you get a nylon belt sheath which is well executed. While not being my preferred method of carry, I must admit it works well both horizontally and vertically, doesn't flop around to much, is easy to access and retains the knife well.
Nothing wrong with a good old liner lock and I am pleased to say that the Go-N-Heavy has a decently executed example. Out of the box lockup was solid at around 30% and without any stickiness.
After over a month or so of carry the lock has worn to around 50% and in practice lock-up has remained solid. However, when holding the blade firmly and wriggling it up and down there is the tiniest bit of movement now perceivable which wasn't there when new. Additionally, there is now also a bit of lock stick when the knife is flicked open, but nothing extreme.
The floating stop pin rotates freely and in theory prevents/ minimises excessive flat spotting of the stop pin to prolong the locks life span. I have no idea if it actually makes a difference, but hey I'll take it.
When closing the knife access to the lock is good as it juts out a few mm from the handle slabs.
As mentioned earlier, 'gummy' is the best way I can describe the out of the box action of the Go-N-Heavy. I've never had a knife like where it everything just felt and sounded soft. However, after a month or so of use I am pleased to report that the 'gummy' feel has gone, replaced with a pleasing snap on opening the blade.
On opening the knife, I found that the thumb studs hard to get a good purchase on due to the fact they lack contouring (I.e flat topped), level with the surface of, and quite close to the handle scale. All this means that when your thumb follows that natural arc to open the blade there is no room for the fat of your thumb to dig into the stud. That being said, while it might not feel as natural, pushing on the stud from 6 o'clock position works better and allows the blade to flick open with a nice hydraulic smoothness thanks to those Teflon washers.
While not dangerous, in the closed position the blade retention is quite sloppy, with the blade noticeably able to move backwards and forth a few mm. The cause of this seems to be that the detent hole is quite a bit larger than the detent ball.
Overall I liked the Go-N-Heavy Compact a lot more than I thought I would. The steel wasn't great and I think they should have included a pocket clip, but, overall the build quality was decent. CRKT have certainly picked up their game from where they were a decade ago.
However, if I'm honest, I won't be rushing out to buy any of their other products any time soon. I still feel they are over priced for what you get and I'd rather spend my dollars elsewhere.
One thing I will say is that the Go-N-Heavy has really got me hankering for a higher end Harsey. I might have to bite the bullet and get saving for one of the Spartan Harseys or otherwise hope that someone like ZT sees fit to throw some cash Bill's way soon.
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