Two pocket knives that do much more than meets the eye, the CRKT PILAR and CRKT PILAR LARGE G10 are a real treasure find. When looking for an EDC knife, don’t let the CRKT Pilar diminutive size mislead you.
While surely having enough blade for the job at hand is important, we are usually prone to overestimate what is needed (or underestimate what a certain size of blade can achieve) and therefore we tend to “overblade” our knives.
Overblading results in poor leverage and more effort needed for the same task.
The CRKT Pilar and the Pilar Large knives are more than meets the eye, and their blade can tackle much bigger tasks than one would think looking at its diminutive size. Made of 8Cr13Mov steel, the blades have a sheepsfoot profile shaping an edge that is useable for its entire length.
The notch at its base can be used to allow a better purchase on the knife, particularly when performing heavy duty cuts on tough materials with the blade tip, which is a type of work where the sheepsfoot blade really shines, or where more accurate control of the tip for precision work is needed. Be careful though, as the edge is frighteningly sharp, right up to the notch. If you find yourself frequently using the notch, maybe dulling the last fraction of edge nearest to the notch is wiser.
Another useful function of the notch is allowing the full use of the edge without the grip interfering with the workpiece, again getting much more than one would expect out of the blade.
While piercing is not at first glance a job you would entrust to a sheepsfoot blade, in many cases it will perform just as fine as many many pointier blades and, where there’s accurate piercing of tough materials, probably will outperform them.
Think of it kinda like an uber-cutter on steroids, but much tougher and, above all, much safer than a cutter (I’ve seen really ugly accidents with cutters, and won’t use them for anything heavier than letter opening if I have a knife at hand).The blade can be opened one handed thanks to the slot milled in its spine.
A frame lock system will keep it solidly open. The knife features an all steel construction, with stainless steel grip panels that, given its small size, make it virtually indestructible.
I’m not saying you could use it as a prybar with impunity, but surely no matter how much force you can exert on the grip, even cutting the toughest materials with the very tip of the blade, you won’t come even close to its limit.
Speaking of which, grip and edge geometry make so that the CRKT Pilar is comfortable to use even for those like me whose upper extremities veer on the paws rather than the hands type. The downside of this sturdiness is that the pilar is quite heavy for its size, but given how small it is, it’s anyway a really ligh EDC knife.
A steel clip helps in the carry and can be reversed for tip up or tip down carry, while if you prefer to carry it down your pocket the lanyard hole in the grip begs for a length of paracord with a monkey fist knot, which left dangling from your pocket will mightily help putting the Pilar to work quickly.
I’ve never been a fan of sheepsfoot blades but, after briefly testing it, the Pilar has become my main EDC, and I’ve been using it for months before writing this article, for a load of different tasks, including cooking, cutting stuff you’d usually reach for a much larger blade for.
Kinda like a miniature santoku, only not so miniature after all, at least looking at the results. All with a blade shape that looks harmless enough and won’t rise eyebrows as much as many “tactical” knives or “self defense” blades with their stiletto like points, particularly where carrying a knife is frowned upon.
But again, don’t be fooled: as a defensive weapon the CRKT Pilar may seem pretty harmless, but it’s tip can slash really fearsome gashes in anyone unlucky enough to come into its reach.
Now, is there anything bad about this little critter? Not in so many words, but while the blade tip is one of its strongest points, it does have a drawback: exactly because it’s so effective, you’ll end up using the tip of the blade a lot… and I mean: A LOT. This means that each sharpening will tend to round it out if not done carefully.
Just sharpen all the blade for all its length when resharpening the knife. Resist the temptation to go for the tip alone just because the rest of the edge is still razor sharp, do not roll into the tip when reaching the end of the pass and you’ll be just fine.
The only thing I miss from the Pilar, present on its larger brother, the Pilar Large, is the flipper, but probably, with such a small grip and short blade, flipper opening was just not a reliable blade deployment option, and truth is I’m just a spoiled child and the thumb hole opening system works just fine.
CRKT PILAR and PILAR Large G10 - Specifications
Columbia River Knife & Tool (CRKT)
61 mm (2.4”) / 68 mm (2.67")
150.8 mm (5.94”) / 169.9 mm (6.69”)
3.8 mm (0.15”)
119.1 g (4.2 oz) / 107.7 g (3.8 oz)
Stainless steel / Stainless steel - G10