Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Jeff Crowner Mini-Korambit
Being both a Silat player, and having a great appreciation for nice edged tools, I am always on the lookout for good, new blades. Particularly ones that are an intrinsic piece of the silat arts. One of the most available Indonesian style blades are kerambits, also spelled korambit, kerumpit, et. al.
Quite frankly, most kerambits offered up for sale today have missed the mark. It takes more than a finger ring to make a kerambit. Kerambits made or designed by actual silat practitioners are even harder to find, and ones that really speak to me are one in a million. Luckily, through some networking, I was able to receive a kerambit designed and handmade by someone who understands what makes a kerambit unique. We can speak all day of the angle of the curve, "rear brakes", ripper teeth, etc, but when all is said and done, what counts is very few, but all important.
Does the kerambit move, does it fit your hand, so when you pass and hook, you instinctively know where the point, hook, or ring are? Does the handle fill your hand, without being to thick and unwieldy? Does it have an edge that will cut, yet with enough tooth to allow hooking, guiding, or shielding?
The kerambit I received was from Mr Jeff Crowner, from the Northwest US. After some emails and conversation, he was kind enough to send me one, and I have been running it for several months. Every time I thought I had enough to write this review, I would discover more about it, and think I would be short selling this wonderful piece of equipment. So, I decided I needed to write this now, even though I doubt I can do it justice. I have some pictures that Mr. Crowner had sent me, of his kerambits, and some of his other work, and I will include some of them here. In a future article, I will have pictures of the one he sent me, and some sequences, showing how well it works, and moves as you are doing silat. Unfortunately, with this new computer, I cannot figure out how to load my own pictures into it yet.
First, what to me is a very important consideration. With the way the world is going, and how tight money is, I believe in doing as much business with people who have morals and heart as much as possible. Mr. Crowner is a man like this. I have rarely talked with someone with as much care for his craft, and concern for others as he. If you are going to spend some of your hard earned cash on a great piece of steel, he most assuredly deserves your business.
Okay, on to the kerambit. It is on the small side, as the name mini-korambit implies. It is very close to the size of the authentic Indonesian kerambits I have been able to see and play with. Where this one parts company with the native versions is in it's stoutness. This thing is a mini-monster. It is one piece construction, with black micarta scales, and no rough edges anywhere. I love the thickness of it, it is 1/4" thick through the spine, with the ring at slightly over 1 1/2" inner diameter.
This gives it an astounding amount of strength. This thing will not break on you, no matter what you do with it. As a fist load, it packs sufficient strength to do what it needs to do. The blade is double edged, which I love, with a subtle curve that is enough for hooking, but remains a very efficient cutter when you need it to be. Both edes come in at 2", and the blade itself is chisel ground, with the grinds on the outside or obverse side of the blade. Mr. Crowner also provides a nice Kydex sheath with the kerambit, and it works well for on the belt carry, which is good for most of his customers, who are mostly servicemen. For me, being a civilian in the urban area, and the way I was taught to use a kerambit, which is as a stealth weapon, I made a nice little leather slip sheath that fits in the pocket. Witht his set up, this kerambit comes into play very fast. One of the most important considerations on the angle of the blade on a kerambit is will it hinder the draw by being too hooked. This one is just right, it hooks enough to scoop, trap, and rip, but is not so extreme that it catches on the draw. This is just another example of the attention to detail that went into the design, and the construction of this piece. Overall length is about 6", from ring to tip, trying to account for the curve.
All in all, I cannot recommend this kerambit enough. Handmade, with care, and built for silat, and to be used, not collected, or spun for fun, this is one of the best knives I have had the pleasure of owning using, and training with in a long time.
Thanks for reading.
A post script; I just received this from Mr. Crowner, and thought it should be posted witht he review:
...I tried my best to over design the Mini Korambit for the Military and Silat person in mind...Many people that train with blades have never tried to test them with their Silat movement while cutting targets like flesh and bone...To go further many have never tried to cut something while the target is moving...My mentor Wayne Goddard taught me one thing...Test and retest the blades you make like the fashion you are to use them....I took time and bought meat with bones, Chicken...etc...I tested blades on materials like this...The last thing a blade maker wants is to make something, send it to a customer and then it break on the first use...I am a firm believer is heat treat as the spirit of the steel...I would personally favor a so called inferior steel with a superior heat treat then a superior steel with and inferior heat treat. I take a really long time in my testing and retesting...For example, the heat treat I did on the Korambit you have used for testing has the following heat treat sequence with L-6:
Hand forged, normalized, ground to flat, profiled and blade grind, normalized after heavy material removal with the bevel grind, edge quench, 2x2hours at 375 temper, blue back draw on spine in blade area...Then finally a soft ble draw on the tip. What this does for the tip is keep it from cracking or beaking...It might bent a little but never break...A superior heat treated blade...God Bless....Jeff Crowner