In recent years I have noted some movement toward pocketknife “acceptability.” Instead of being referred to as a pocketknife, the term has mutated to become “pocket jewelry.” This is mirrored in the outward appearance of the knives themselves. They tend to be thinner, sleeker and more ornate. While a knife is still a knife, when the package looks nice, it has a tendency to soften the overall perception.
One of this modern era’s most innovative cutlery designers is Ken Onion. Two of his latest collaborations with Columbia River Knife & Tool (CRKT), The Ripple and the Eros, reflect the resurgence of what can be called “gentleman’s folders.” Furthermore, both knives utilize a new stainless blade steel bearing the designation, ACUTO+ (pronounced “a-coot-o-plus”), which is made in Japan.
According to Rod Bremmer, President of CRKT, “ACUTO+ compares favorably with 440C and 154CM. However, ACUTO+ has a touch of Vanadium in its formulation, which enhances hardness and strength. Furthermore, there’s also a significant increase in the amount of Chromium in the ACUTO+ chemical make-up, which aids corrosion and wear resistance.”
A closer examination of ACUTO+ reveals that it has a carbon content of 0.90-0.95%, a Chromium component of 17-19%, a goodly amount of Molybdenum at 1.30-1.50%, a little Manganese at 0.50%, a hint of Phosphorous at 0.04%, a slight amount of Silicon at 0.50% and the touch of Vanadium 0.10-0.25% that Rod Bremmer referenced above.
Even though it appears that ACUTO+ is a slight upgrade over 440C and 154CM, I was curious as to why CRKT would select that particular steel for their two new Ken Onion-designed folders. A telephone call to Pat Haudbine, CRKT’s National Sales Manager, provided the answer. “As you are aware, most of our knives are made off-shore. The new Ripple and Eros folders are made in Taiwan and importing either 440C or 154CM to that location presented many difficulties. Likewise, the same can be said for 9Cr18MoV stainless. We considered using it, but it’s produced in the People’s Republic of China and getting it to Taiwan would have been just as difficult,” Haubine said.