What can we say; sometimes you need to blur the lines a bit. Here at Knife Informer we tend to focus specifically on production knives, but today we will deviate from that trend and present to you a full-on custom knife in the Grimsmo Rask, the second offering from the brothers Grimsmo.
Check out Grimsmo knives at BladeHQ
It is important to recognize John Grimsmo as a machinist first, and knife maker second. This is not meant to belittle the knife making prowess of the Grimsmo’s, but rather to help accentuate the type of skills needed to create machined parts with levels of quality that can meet or likely best the top echelon of pure production knives, as well as many handmade custom knives.
When you get into a Grimsmo Rask, you can expect to receive a knife that is truly custom made. All parts, even down to the screws and ball bearings are custom made and designed specifically for the knife it is intended to fit into. This level of customization puts you firmly into a realm of exclusivity and refinement that is quite literally unparalleled in the production knife industry to date.
It is our privilege to have received our Grimsmo Rask pretty early in the final production cycle. Though we had pre-paid for the Rask knife and placed our order about a year (or more) before we actually got our hands on it. We will talk briefly about the Rask development process later on in this review.
To help set the stage, we have been using this knife on and off for about 3 months now. With our position on the Rask firmly in place, we are now prepared to share our opinion and review of the Grimsmo Rask.
Key Specs: Grimsmo Rask
RWL34 (Damasteel optional)
The Rask is the second folding knife offering from Grimsmo Knives, and departs from its Norseman stablemate by offering a smaller 3.4” traditional style drop-point blade. The devil is in the details, and this is one devilishly sweet knife. Complete specifications from the Grimsmo ordering page is provided for all the fastidious folk out there.
Additional features include ceramic Grimsmo bearings as standard, LBS overtravel and titanium screws as standard. Further customizations and configurations can be made to modify the anodized color of the titanium handles, along with texture options, and optional Damasteel blade, or blade other finishes. Price for the base model with no additional options begins at 675 dollars.
Grimsmo knives is a private custom knife making company created by John and Erik Grimsmo. Per the Grimsmo knives website, they “manufacture extremely high quality custom pocket knives using the best materials available.” I can attest to the fact that they pour love and dedication into each and every aspect of what they do, and seem to have a blast doing it (most of the time)! They also have leveraged the power of YouTube to produce and publish over 360 videos that show how they manufacture knives, and also wonderful tips any machinist (in any type of business) can learn from. Though expansion is likely, at the moment John and Erik are the sole workers at Grimsmo knives, and have been since the beginning of the company.
After an introduction into the knife world by modifying existing production knives (such as the Spyderco Paramilitary), they became full custom knife makers. Grimsmo knives created a fixed blade model, and the extremely popular folder called the ‘Norseman’. With customizable options available, the Norseman quickly became a huge hit to knife enthusiasts. To this day, our now 3 year old Norseman is the smoothest all titanium flipper knife we have ever used. Let us repeat, it is the smoothest flipper we have ever had our hands on.
However, the Norseman had a polarizing aesthetic, designed for precision and usability over pure appearance (though we find it uniquely attractive). It was the amazing flipping action and build quality of the Grimsmo Norseman convinced us to shell out full-price for our custom Rask model pre-order before we knew anything definitive about it. All we were aware of about the Rask was that it was to be a diminutive folder with a frame-lock titanium handled scale design.
In retrospect, it was a long time to pre-pay (in full) for a knife, and the wait was quite a bummer. However, in the custom knife world, waiting years on wait lists, or even years just to score a chance to buy a knife from a website that has been pre-made is common. Thankfully our mother’s favorite adage ‘All good things come to those who wait’ rang true yet again. It was indeed worth the wait, we can promise you that.
After a difficult one year plus wait time, our beloved Grimsmo Rask had arrived at our door. Configured to our selected customizations, the Rask was finally home. As the Grimsmo brothers are not in the USA, the Canadian dynamic duo well packaged the knife, and provided a nice case with complementary oil to use for when the custom bearings needed some lube lovin’.
Our selection of options for the Rask included a Damasteel blade, Sunburst style machining on both sides of the handle scales, along with 3D sculpted sunburst style pocket clip, all clad in a blue anodized finish, and with the raised parts of the handle silvered. When we first opened the package and viewed the Rask for the first time, it was exactly as we thought it would be visually – A very nice looking knife.
So, was the first impression of the Grimsmo Rask true love at first site? Answer: No! It was more like lust at first site. Finally the knife was here, and it looked and felt amazing, but it was time to test it out for the real purpose that it existed. It was time to see how it performed as a tool and EDC.
We picked up the Rask and immediately recognized how light it was. At 3.0 oz this is not a heavy knife by anyone’s stretch of the imagination. Further, it packs a serious size blade of 3.4 inches into the party. It was obvious to us that the long runway time of design, refinement, and production had been intrinsically required to produce this end result. The feel of the knife is perfect. Smooth with no edges or harsh spots, yet still tactile and easy to hold onto. Sadly Lefties, I am not so sure this would be the best fit for the southpaws out there. But for all you right handed folk out there, this knife is crazy comfortable, with great ergonomics.
Our first flip of the Grimsmo Rask using the well-shaped flipper tab was great. It smoothly flew out, and firmly locked into place with a lock bar on the frame lock at about 30%. Lockup was extremely solid as well. With that first flip revealed the beautifully etched Damasteel blade which we paid an extra 300 dollar coin for. Was it worth it? Yes… to us it definitely was! The stock RWL-34 steel is some good stainless, but boy let me tell you how freakin’ amazing the Damasteel looks, and (as we will later find out) performs.
The pocket clip, a common sticking point with us on countless production knives was proudly 3D sculpted with a hidden screw. The look and feel to this clip is slim and just spot on great. In a way it reminds us of the Shirogorov clips, but by no means a rip-off. It has its own style and design, and follows the design of the Rask well. It is rather similar to the clip found on the Norseman as well. The clip allows the knife to sit pretty deep in the pocket, though it is not a complete deep carry, for better or worse. The Grimsmo Rask is both easy to take out of pocket, as well as rather convenient to place back into the pocket comfortably.
As for the overall size of the knife when closed, we can attest that this meets the market need to have a smaller knife that is not needlessly overbuilt, and more is instead very carry friendly. This size immediately sets it apart from its big brother Norseman. It also once again makes us think of some similarities with the Shirogorov Neon (production / mid-tech version) that we have previously reviewed with positive acclaim.
Unlike some large production houses pumping out knives, the Grimsmo Rask provides a hand ground edge with every single knife. In fact the hands-on elements and features of a custom knife come across in the details, though some of the ultra-high end production folders are beginning to rival custom makers’ in overall fit and finish. But we digress. The blade is crazy sharp. Erik Grimsmo is responsible for the ever important details and finish of each knife. This most certainly includes the blade.
He created a wonderful finished edge that’s quite literally hair popping. How do we know? We tested it as a first course of action, that’s how we know. It is a great looking blade that Erik etched to perfection, bringing the Damasteel highs, lows, dark and lighter areas out with perfect contrasting coloration and feel.
Real World Testing
True disclosure time folks, we did perform any crazy cool tests on the Grimsmo Rask. Our Rask all in cost us about 1075 dollars. If you think we would perform crazy tests on this knife you have another thing coming. And yet, we did purchase this knife to carry. So yes, we intended to carry it on and off as a secondary carry, and have already done so for about 3 months. To that end it has been a wonderful little companion. Sure, we would love to be able to say with a straight face that we would use this knife for absolutely any task, but that would not be true. This is a special knife to us, and as such we carry the knife and use it for smaller tasks.
Regardless of how we have chosen to carry this knife, it seems up to the challenge of just about any normal cutting chore. This far, we have used the knife for cutting boxes, breaking down some small packages, and opening the seemingly constant stream of Amazon packages we receive. On several occasions, we have worn this knife as our primary carry, often when wearing lighter pants, or even the few times we had the chance to wear shorts. It is a pleasure to carry since it is so light at only about 3.0 ounces. We intend on using it more in this capacity as the weather warms up.
For now though, we have really only scratched the surface of what the Rask might actually be capable of doing. Is it a tactical knife? No. For those looking to get a really tactical or defensive carry option, I would advise against the Rask for such specific purposes. However, for utilitarian tasks and standard EDC this is a very attractive folder in every respect of the word.
We did have some fun in the kitchen with the Grimsmo Rask. Mostly minor cutting of vegetables but it was enough to determine that the Rask would make a respectable multi-purpose food prep camping knife. The knife was very sharp when cutting and seemed to slice through all the potatoes, celery, carrots, and onions without issue at all.
As for edge retention and sharping I can happily say that Damasteel make some efficient and robust stuff. The blade was still rather sharp after the 3 months of on and off use. We did touch it before we started to test the knife in the kitchen, but aside from that one sharpening (which was barely needed), the knife maintained a very sharp edge with a great angle to cut things quite well.
Well since we are playing with the big boys now, it is only fair to compare this knife with the best of what we have to offer. In truth, the comparisons are not really apples-to-apples, since we will only be comparing with production knives. But nevertheless it may be worth checking out some of these alternative items if you are not sure you have the time, or money to invest in your own custom Grimsmo Rask.
Shirogorov Neon – Already mentioned a few times in this review, the Neon straddles the line between production knife and something more. To us, it is certainly a mid-tech tier item that has all but the actual pure custom elements one might find in the Rask. It is a very capable little knife, and is lightly smaller when compared to the Rask. The Neon can be had with either M390 or S90V blade steel but is otherwise not customizable. We strongly endorse the Neon as a small EDC, and think it is a formidable competitor to the Grimsmo Rask. With all that in mind, the Rask is the custom knife. At about 675 bucks to start, the Rask is quite a deal. For comparison, at about 750 bucks the mid-tech version of the Neon is more expensive, and this if you can even get your hands on one. Secondary market pricing is actually higher, and can sell well over 800 bucks.
SharpByDesign Custom Mini Typhoon – Custom USA knife Maker Brian Nadeau has made a splash into the custom knife world over the last few years. His knives are custom made, and has gained a strong following. Like the Grimsmo brothers, Brian is not a very big company (yet), and strives to produce unique, and precision crafted products. The Mini Typhoon is Brian’s first example of a smaller style folding flipper. Based off the full-sized Typhoon model, the Mini Typhoon is a 3.5-inch flipper with CPM-S90V steel, and titanium handles. It is a very attractive package and offers several customizable configurations, and options to choose from. The style of this knife is altogether more tactical, though we would not suggest using it in that manner. Review here.
Standard configuration for a Mini Typhoon starts at around 550 dollars, but requires that you sign up on his website if you want to get your name on the list to have one made. (As of this writing, his books are still open for a second run of this model.) Which is better, the Rask or the Mini Typhoon? Sorry, we can’t say yet… Our Mini Typhoon is slated to arrive in the next few weeks. Either way, they are both sweet looking knives with different styling and options available.
Todd Begg Steelcraft Series Mini Bodega – Manufactured by Reate Knives in China, this miniaturized interpretation of the custom Bodega made famous by Todd Begg of custom knife lore is one of the best true production knives we have seen. If you are looking for a smaller blade because of taste, or perhaps state or local restrictions, the 3.0 inch S35VN drop point style blade on the Steelcraft mini Bodega will not disappoint. This knife is the smallest of the bunch, and is a legitimate “mini” flipper folder. Interestingly, at 3.7 oz, this knife comes in heavier than the Rask which is 3.0oz. Either way, this is one of our favorite production knives at about 445 smackers. Just keep in mind that the Mini Bodega offers the personality of a custom knife, but it is not one. The Rask is indeed a full-on custom knife, (as is the SharpByDesign Mini Typhoon) and as such comes with a higher level of finishing, as well as exclusivity.
The Grimsmo Rask is not a particularly flashy knife. It does nothing to stand out or draw attention to itself visually based on its pure design. As a custom knife, it is up to the buyer to determine the colors and details that can allow the knife to be what you want it to become aesthetically. Selecting your color options, and finishing’s, blade steels, and pocket clip materials might seem peculiar to the custom knife novice, but it is all part of the process. Guys like John and Erik can help along the way and offer suggestions. We have reached out to John Grimsmo on several occasions, and they always got back to us quickly with great ideas. That is part of the difference between buying something from a catalog, or working with a custom maker to get a finished product made just for you.
In our case, the Grimsmo Rask came to us exactly as we had requested, and that was the point. It was built for us, to our taste. We think this is one of the best examples of a small to medium sized knife we have. The way it functions, and the way it feels is almost incomparable. At the sub 700 dollar price of admission, many may see the cost to be a deterrent, and others might actually find it a bargain. Regardless of which side your opinion falls, it is clear that many people feel the Grimsmo Rask is the knife to have. The initial order has already sold out, so congrats to them. The Grimsmo’s are now accepting a second wave of orders – just know it might take a while, as you will be put on the books where generally that means first come first served.
We admit that we are dabbling in rather new waters with this custom Grimsmo Rask knife. In fact, the Grimsmo Norseman was one of the first custom knives we ever owned, and it has been a pleasure to mate it with the new Rask model. Think on this, perhaps if you are the type of person willing to hunk down 200 bucks for a new knife several times in a year, an alternative might be to hold your pesos and spring for a true custom such as the Rask.
Consider this food for thought… Has buying custom knives such as the wonderful Grimsmo Rask sullied our opinion of production grade knives? The answer is ‘no’. We appreciate production knives more now, because we can formulate our opinions based on a wider range of comparisons. In fact, we look forward to the day when a production knife can truly match the best of custom knives. We think that day may be sooner than you might think – However in this case it does not matter at all. The Grimsmo Rask is in such a high league in the custom knife world that it punches above its weight already. It can easily be compared to custom knives costing three times the asking price of our Rask.
We love our Rask knife, and hope you enjoyed our review, and a brief taste of a truly modern and unique custom knife that the Grimsmo Rask represents. We thank Grimsmo knives for taking the time and care to make a product worthy of the money we have spent on it.
- It’s beautiful, exclusive and oh so smooth
- Long wait list, expensive