Columbia River Knife and Tool: Reviewing the Kommer Free Range folding knives


by Product Review Editor – Jesse Mathewson

From the many manuals I have collected over the years, a truly solid hunting knife/ skinning knife is many things. Here are a few quotes from some of my favorites.

“Use a knife with at blade at least four inches long, a guard, and a large handle. A small knife can turn sideways in your hand when it hits bone. A butcher’s skinning knife is ideal.”

“A sharp knife will actually reduce bad cuts and will make the entire procedure easier. Take your time when dressing a buck, mistakes due to haste will often require you to make a trip to the hospital to get stitches.”

“A gut hook is a great way of opening the body cavity without cutting the intestines. If you do not have a gut hook, you can use one finger next to the knife to lift up skin giving you space between the knife blade and the intestines.”

Anyone who has dressed out a game mammal has learned valuable lessons in what works, and in my strict opinion, the following three rules apply.

Own a knife that will hold an edge, learn to sharpen your knives, carry a small set of stones or diamond hones and a strop, always. Learn what angles work best for which situations, shallow angles for flesh and light tasks, more intense angles for chopping and the like.

Know your knife, understand exactly how it will cut flesh before ever taking it into the woods, buy a steak or really BIG pork chop. And cut it, trim the fat, work it and use learn it.

Know your knife, understand exactly how it will cut flesh before ever taking it into the woods, buy a steak or really BIG pork chop. And cut it, trim the fat, work it and use learn it.

Stop thinking the only knife that will work is the one Bear Grylls or some other big time boob tube star owns will work. There are literally hundreds of knives, I own over a thousand different brands, types and sizes. Knives are purpose built, if I could get away with it, I would carry 4 or 5 knives all the time. A fighter, a hunter, a woodsman and two solid folders (and that’s in addition too a primary handgun, backup and carbine at a minimum.)…but, that would make me the crazy guy on the block…not that I don’t already have that title. For the time being, get a solid knife that will do the job needed. Grow from there.

This review is on the Kommer Folding series from CRKT, a series of knives designed specifically for hunters. Russ Kommer has been a hunting guide in Alaska and the great North. His designs are based entirely on his observations and needs inherent. An amazing lineup designed by an American hunter from an American company.

My versions of these are the Kommer Free Range Gut Hook folder and the Kommer Free Range Hunter, both blades are 3.75” in length, though the suggested length is 4” these have been used on big game by Kommer himself and several varieties of medium game by myself. The handles are a mixture of grippy double injection molded materials, one hard and the other where the palm of the hand and the fingers rest are softer and very grippy. These are designed for hunting, NOT every day carry or use, they do not have belt clips, and come in nicely molded nylon over hard plastic cases.
A quick list of pro’s for these knives follows.

  • A quick list of pro’s for these knives follows.
  • The steel is 8Cr13Mov, with an average hardness between 58-60.
  • They hold an edge very well, I have not seen one chip yet, however, given that bone is often apart of the cleaning process, I expect someday to see it happen.
  • They are moderately priced for such an amazing package, at $40-$50 apiece on Amazon.
  • After abusing one using the cold steel wack the back of the blade while it is locked in place method, I was unable to dislodge the locking mechanism, they are solid, three years of active use I have had the knives pictured, and there is NO blade play and I have not had too tighten anything.
  • They are relatively lightweight, at 3.5 to 4 ounces per knife.

Now for the con’s, and there are always con’s in honest reviews. If you can find them.

  • They are made of 8Cr13Mov steel, while a superb steel and one I own in many knife formations, I would have chosen VG10 or something similar because overall edge retention is paramount in hunting knifes.
  • The sheaths close and open with an audible SNAP, if you are good with leather or kydex I am sure you can find a way around this small issue.
    And last but not least, they are too expensive for me too own a dozen of each, like I do with my Opinels, Moraknivs and a few other fun blades. So for now I only have the three, well two, my daughter has one!
  • As always, comments welcomed and responded to as possible. I have enjoyed writing reviews and being able to share with you all and hope to continue doing so for the discernible future. Be safe, prep wisely and remember, always, be willing to change your mental approach to what you know now.



  1. My prefered knives are the Mora Companion HD fixed blade and a Browning. The Browning, unfortuntely, is no longer available. I has a 4+” blade, gut hook, and bone saw, looks like a fixed blade but swivels to a T-handle for using the saw – a feature that I really like.

    The Mora is inexpensive, currently under $15 at Amazon, sturdy, has a fairly thick blade and comfortable handle. These are versital enough for 95% of the chores you will need a knife for and it is cheap enough to have several.

    I have seen several of the new crop of “bush” or “survivalist recommended” knives. Not that I’m opposed to a high qualilty knife, but for most people the $200 they would save buying a Mora could be put to better use. IMO.

  2. I like the looks of that gut hook blade. Currently I do most of my skinning with a cheap made in China Buck with drop point blade. It does a good job, but doesn’t have a gut hook.

  3. j.r. guerra in south tx. says:

    I own a few knives myself (mumble mumble) lol, and am pretty impressed with some of CRKTs offerings. The only folding CRKT I have is a Surf ‘n Turf, a large folding fillet / boning knife. I think I have to look harder at one of these – thank you for your review.

    • Now I have to go check out the Surf n Turf, dangit, thats okay, its an obsession fully supported by my wife and children. They get the benefits of well made knives, I get to check out new ones and we are all happy! (except the bank account)

      • j.r. guerra in south tx. says:

        If you are in the market for a sheath knife for big game hunting, the CRKT Ken Onion Skinner is very nice. I bought one last year and used it to clean out a buck. Very happy with it. Shop around – I found one for $60 plus s&h at Ebay.

        Or just stick to the one you brought to the dance – but what fun is that ? :^)

  4. Anonamo Also says:

    Jesse, I appreciate your reviews, and posts… I am not a “knife” person, My DH loves the things and keeps a good supply and keeps them sharp for all our uses.. This might be a good surprise gift for him , maybe for christmas…

  5. I see CRKT and think China. Spend your money on products made in America. Especially at that price.

    • They are made in America and in China, like every major knife manufacture in America, except one…and only one, Ontario Knife Kitchen knives.

      Something to understand, the Kommer series is made in USA – using chinese steel, some brands use japanese steels, australian steels (aus8) and many other types.

      Knives are not bound to country, for quality. Especially these days.

      • There are some really good deals on knives that are made in China these days. My edc knife is a Boker Magnum copperhead. If I break a blade or lose it I’m out less than $10. I’ve carried this one for the last two years, and it has taken a bunch of abuse.

  6. Northernwolf says:

    I have 2 of the mora knives as well as a folding knife I got from another site that I like as it has on one end the built in punch that you can use to brake out your window if you get trapped in some water. We have a lot of lakes and inland salt water bays here and I wanted to have this knife for that reason,we get black ice at times during the winter and I have to drive near water at times
    Do want to pick up another mora knife or 2 later.

  7. I just bought a Alaskan made ulu knife. It is a pretty cool idea in knife design. It is a old design the real old ones where made from slate ,mine is stainless steel. I need to make a sheath for it though.

  8. All knives I’ve seen which were made of 8Cr13Mov steel were good. Thanks for this review. Maybe will purchase such knife.

  9. These knives are very handy and functional for both survival and self-defense purposes. Having a knife that serves different purposes really does make things a whole lot easier.

Before commenting, please read my Comments Policy - thanks!