July 08, 2019
By James Tarr
Gun guys are, almost without exception, knife guys as well. It’s rare to find a man these days who has heard the word tactical who isn’t wearing a knife clipped to his pocket. I am one of those guys, and while I cycle through knives, one of my favorite knives to wear has been the Ruger Follow-Through Compact (www.shopruger.com).
Lots of gun companies enter licensing agreements to get their names put on knives, but many of the resulting products are, shall we say, subpar. I’ve been given several of those knives, which are usually manufactured out of Dumpster-grade Chinesium, and promptly gave them away or just thrown them out (and kudos to Shooting Illustrated’s Tamara Keel for that perfectly apt sciency term).
The knives Ruger offers, on the other hand, are all manufactured by CRKT—Columbia River Knife and Tool. I remember when the first CRKT knives hit the market in the mid-‘90s. I was impressed by their solid designs and good quality, and even more impressed by their prices, which were roughly half of what other competing brands were going for. That trend has continued to this day, and CRKT is one of the biggest success stories in the modern knife world.
CRKT makes 17 different knife models exclusively for Ruger, from fixed hunting knives to tactical folders, and many of their models are offered in several different styles. The Follow-Through Compact is a “tactical” folding knife with a 3.25-inch blade. You’ll see RUGER marked on the left side of the blade, and CRKT on the right.
Open, the knife is 7.5 inches long, and closed, it is 4.25. To me, this is the Goldilocks size for pocket knives—big enough to do everything a folding knife can do, while not being so big as to impede everyday carry. The pocket clip is reversible. There is a full-size Follow-Through with a 3.75-inch blade, but to me that’s pushing the envelope for a “pocket” knife.
The Follow-Through Compact is a flipper, which means when closed there is a metal tab that protrudes from the spine of the knife. Flip that tab and the knife opens quickly and almost effortlessly. This is a liner lock knife, which means it is slim, and the checkered glass-reinforced nylon handles mean it is relatively light as well—3.4 ounces.
CRKT has a history of working with custom knife makers, and the Follow-Through Compact was designed by Matthew Lerch, a custom knife maker in Wisconsin. The .125"-thick blade is made of 8Cr13MoV Hardness 58-59 steel. While considered a “budget” type of knife steel, 8Cr13MoV is very much like the Japanese (Aichi) AUS-8 steel which is very well regarded and offers a good balance between performance and price. Which pretty much defines the CRKT catalog.
Three different blade styles are offered in this model—a “stonewashed” drop point with a plain edge, the same drop point partially serrated, and what CRKT is calling a modified drop point with a black finish, which to me looks like a reverse tanto point.
I carried a modified drop point Follow-Through Compact for more than six months before it mysteriously vanished, probably into the pocket of one of my teenage sons. Currently I’m carrying the standard drop-point.
Like most guys who carry tactical knives, I have no plans ever to get into a knife fight, but it’s nice to know the knife I carry is up to that task. As for what it’s used for, I pull my knife nearly every day for mundane tasks such as cutting open boxes.