Miscellany: CRKT Ringer 3 knife review
Like all hand tools, knives can be dropped or misplaced, especially in wet or harsh conditions. Unlike other hand tools, it's relatively easy for a knife to be damaged by a fall onto a hard surface (not to mention the danger of an errant blade). That's why there are a significant number of knife designs that aim to increase user retention.
The Ringer series, by A.G. Russell, is one of those designs. As the name implies, all the knives in the Ringer line use metal loops that slip around the fingers like rings - you can grasp other objects while keeping the knife completely under control. The Ringer knives were manufactured by CRKT; they've been discontinued, but they're still readily available online.
The Ringer 1 has a guthook for emergency cutting, and the Ringer 2 features a hawkbill for easier slashing cuts. I opted for the Ringer 3, a traditional clip point that I think offers the most day-to-day utility. The Ringer 3 features an upswept 1-3/4" hollow ground blade with a lot of belly, almost too much - the blade has a tendency to come away from whatever is being cut. Thankfully, the tip is sharp and strong, always a plus in a working knife:
All the Ringer knives use 3Cr13 steel. It's relatively soft compared to midrange cutlery steels, but it's easy to sharpen and holds an edge well enough for the sporadic use scenarios that the knife was designed for. Since the knife is imported and inexpensive (under $20), the fit and finish isn't anything to write home about, but it does the job.
Ergonomically, the knife is a mixed bag. The finger loops should be large enough for all but the most enormous hands. The thin stock, however, means that the knife can be a little unpleasant to hold during hard cutting; similarly, I wish there was jimping on the swedge side of the handle to help keep the knife under control.
On the plus side, the Ringer 3 has a neat little extension on the back end that functions as sort of a lever for your third finger. It's little more than a nub, but it does make the small knife much more usable than it would otherwise be. After awhile, the extension's sharp, unbeveled edges dig into your finger, so the Ringer 3 is a prime candidate for the paracord wrap treatment:
The sheath is fitted Kydex, and it does a good job of retaining the knife without rattling or movement. As with many Kydex sheaths, it's a little stiff out of the box, so you'll need to work the knife in and out a few dozen times (with the blade/Kydex interface thoroughly lubricated) in order to loosen it up.
The ball chain that comes with the sheath is a bit on the heavy side, especially if you wear it around your neck as the manufacturer intended. I replaced the chain with some 550 cord and the weight of the entire package (knife, sheath, and cord) came in at about 1.5 ounces. My personal limit for neck knife carry is 2 ounces (more on that in a future post), and, while the Ringer 3 isn't a knife that you forget you're wearing, it is light enough that it doesn't bug me.
All in all, the Ringer 3 is an interestingly little neck knife that posits one answer to an age-old problem - "if I'm not holding on to my knife, where is it?" It conceals well under a typical shirt and makes for an excellent backup knife, especially considering the price.