Review: The Hissatsu - Designed by James Williams

The Hissastu folder is a knife that I have owned for almost 10 years. It is a knife designed by James Williams and produced by Columbia River Knife & Tool, Inc., better known as CRKT. The knife designs of James Williams have continued to impress me throughout the years. His wealth of experience in the martial arts and his particular expertise in the samurai martial tradition is immediately evident when you pick up one of his knives. As a longtime instructor of military and law enforcement professionals, he received many requests for a concealable and yet dependable defensive tool. The Hissatsu Folder was his answer to these requests. Since then he has designed and released a number of different knives that offer the same defensive power.

I currently own both the Hissatsu and the smaller Heiho. In regard to the Hissastu, I have an original model that has been used and abused. The blade is 3.875 inches long and the the black teflon coating has been removed. Advertised at the same length, the newer model has a slightly shorter blade, with the black coating very well intact. I carry this knife strictly for defensive purposes, and do not use it otherwise. The knives have stainless steel liners (one locking), and black Zytel scales, which are textured to provide grip. Although I love the Hissatsu, I do wish better materials were used for the scales. Nevertheless, they get the job done and I’ve never had any slips. The Hissatsu also comes with a patented OutBurst assisted opening mechanism. I purchased the original model without this feature, the newer model arrived with it included. And, it works. The Hissatsu deploys with authority. Surprisingly, this mechanism can be disabled and removed via a single screw. Now, by far, the best feature of this knife is the patented Auto-LAWKS safety mechanism. This is a secondary lock that engages automatically when the blade is deployed. It prevents the liner lock from disengaging, essentially turning the Hissatsu into a fixed blade. I have put this knife through its paces, and I have never experienced a failure.

The Heiho is the younger sibling. Similarly designed, it also has the OutBurst and Auto-LAWKS mechanisms. The blade is much shorter at 3.125 inches, and arrives very sharp. The Heiho has G10 scales. However, I have heard complaints that the scales are too smooth and can result in slippage. This knife was gifted to me recently, so I haven’t used it nearly enough to have an opinion. But, I do find the scales unusually smooth. I feel this can be easily remedied with some grip tape. Properly placed, it may make the knife even more aesthetically pleasing. Unlike the Hissatsu, the Heiho comes with a deep pocket carry clip. Given its size and the more desirable clip, this knife is much easier to conceal than the Hissatsu.

I have used and carried the Hissatsu for many years and I recommend anyone looking for a defensive blade to consider the it. There are many knives out there of dubious value. The Hissatsu can be found online for under $60.00. This is a no-brainer. I guarantee this knife will equal or out perform other well known options, some coming with $300+ price tags. James Williams has managed to use centuries old Japanese blade design and enhance it with modern and simple features without compromising durability. In fact, with the Auto-LAWKS mechanism, he has actually improved the dependability of the folding knife. If you’re interested, I would also take a look at his more recent work, the Shizuka Noh Ken, the Otanashi Noh Ken, and Goken. Williams has also started a new venture called, Williams Blade Design, in which he partners with different makers to produce knives with higher grade materials. Honestly, I can’t wait to get my hands on the Osoraku Zukuri Folder.


Many of the great achievements in the world were accomplished by tired and discouraged men who kept on working.
— Oscar Wilde