Matthew Lerch is well known to all knife enthusiasts and connoisseurs both in the United States and abroad.
A skilled knifemaker, Lerch lives in Sussex (Wisconsin) and operates his own lab along with his wife, Mary Jo Lerch; his extraordinary hand-made knives are extremely sought after by collectors, but he also works as a designer and consultants for some of the world's most important industrial knifemakers; so to speak, he is the mind behind the Optimiser user-toggled, spring-assisted opening system found on many Benchmade knives.
This year, Matthew Lerch worked with Columbia River Knife and Tool − out of Tualatin (Oregon) − on a project tied to the celebrations for the Company's 20 years of activity. CRKT wanted to add new, stylish excellence models to its catalog, and Matthew Lerch answered the call with the new CRKT Argus and CRKT Cobia models.
Matthew Lerch's two creations for CRKT have a few points in common, particularly an intriguing design and their intended use.
The CRKT Argus and Cobia are both folding pocket knives, featuring CRKT's own OutBurst spring-assisted opening system, which allows the blade to flick open upon a slight but firm push of the user's finger on the ambidextrous opening notch on the blade. It's no longer necessary to manually flick the blade all the way open, and thus deployment results dramatically faster − which could make quite a difference in case of emergency, eg. to cut your own seat belt and exit your car after a collision.
Similarities between the two models finish here, though. The CRKT Argus and Cobia are in fact meant to be each an alternative to the other for everyday pocket utility carry, and differ both in style and in manufacturing materials and details. Even more importantly, their locking systems are different: while the CRKT Argus sports a liner lock design, the CRKT Cobia is a frame lock knife.
The CRKT Argus is 8.13"/20,65 cm long when open and 4.56"/11,58 cm long when folded; its plain-edged, satin-finished blade is 3.55"/9 cm long and 0.120"/3 mm thick, it's manufactured in AUS-8 stainless steel tempered to 57-58 HRC.
The handle of the CRKT Argus is cold-forged out of grey 6061 aluminium alloy; a non-reversible, chrome-finished steel belt clip is on the right side of the grip. The overall weight of the CRKT Argus knife tops 4.2 oz/119 grams.
CRKT Cobia knife is definitely shorter and lighter than the Argus, standing at 6.56"/16,66 cm open and 3.66"/9,29 cm folded, for a mere 2.5 oz/70,9 gr overall weight. The plain-edged, satin-finished blade is 2,94"/7,46 cm long and 0.100"/2,5 mm thick, and is manufactured out of 1.4116 stainless steel tempered to 55-57 HRC. Handle of CRKT Cobia knife is manufactured out of 420J2 stainless steel, featuring an attractive fish scale checkering texture.
Both knives offer the solidity, the durability and the versatility that all CRKT knives are well known and appreciated for, and also stand among competitors for their appealing, modern and streamlined design, which for once wasn't exclusively, or even primarily, meant to make them more ergonomic and user-friendly, and thus more practical to use − although it definitely succeeds in that.
Aesthetics have always been a prime feature of Matthew Lerch's designs, and the Argus and Cobra models are both extremely elegant creations, perfectly up to his name and to the name of the Columbia River Knife and Tool company.
Both models are currently sold on the United States market at a manufacturer's suggested retail price of $130.00 (that translates to around 99€ at the current change rate). Prospective non-US buyers may want to check with their national authorized importers of CRKT products for local availability and pricing: the company maintains a comprehensive list of its international distributors HERE. Alternatively, both knives can be purchased through the CRKT e-commerce website; in this case, additional shipping costs will be calculated and charged upon checkout.