Founded in 1994 Columbia River Knife & Tool was founded by Paul Gillespi and Rod Bremner, both former employees of Kershaw Knives. Their breakthrough as knife makers came in 1997 when their K.I.S.S (Keep It Super Simple) knife sold an entire years’ worth of stock in the first few days of Shot Show. The principle of the ultra-lightweight skeletonised knife has been copied by many since but CRKT is where it began.
- Figure 1; CRKT K.I.S.S
The company often works with established custom knife makers to assist them in designing the wide range of fixed and folding knives that they produce. The M16 knife that we are reviewing today was designed by Harold ‘Kit’ Carson and actually includes several of CRKT’s patented features, while patents in the knife making world are not unique to CRKT they do hold a rather high number for some of their particularly innovative features.
Some of their patents include the ‘veff’ serrations which feature on a lot of their knives, various locking mechanisms which include the AutoLAWKS mechanism which features on this M16 knife. CRKT hold fifteen patents and patents pending at the moment and can rightly claim to be at the forefront of folding knife technology;
“All CRKT knives and tools are built incorporating the most advanced equipment and production systems available. Our purpose is to provide useful improvements, and entirely new product concepts, that embrace our historic core company values of quality, innovation, and value.”
One of their particularly popular recent innovations is the field-strip technology integral to several of CRKT’s flagship folding knives.
- Figure 2; CRKT Homefront field stripable folding knife
CRKT do make fixed blade knives such as the CRKT Saker, designed by Abe Elias for bushcrafters and outdoorsmen, shown below, but they are particularly well known for their rugged tactical and workman like folders.
The M16 10KZ is one of these rugged folding knives on which CRKT’s reputation as a manufacturer of rugged but affordable knives. They may not use the same premium steels as some other manufacturers like Spyderco or Zero Tolerance and some CRKT knives have suffered edge retention issues in the past but they also don’t command the same high prices and losing one isn’t a financial disaster. In fact one of the design criteria for this knife was based on some customer feedback;
“We want an affordable work knife that we can give hard use without feeling guilty, and one that won’t break us up if we leave it on a job site or drop it in the river.”
So with that criteria in mind the M16 10KZ is CRKT’s answer to the age old hunt for an affordable and rugged every day carry knife. With a 3 inch cutting edge it is the perfect size for everyday use whether you will use it for opening boxes, cutting cable ties and packaging or more robust tasks and with no superfluous auto opening features or excessive size it will be legal to carry almost everywhere and isn’t so ‘tactical’ and aggressive looking that it will cause too many raised eyebrows.
It is the one of the smaller knives in the M16 family and some have an obvious lean towards tactical, law enforcement or emergency use in their design;
- Figure 3; This is the CRKT M16-14DSFG with finger guard, aggressive serrations and drop point tanto blade and clearly designed for tactical and military use. They also produce a similar ‘Big Dog’ model which is visual almost identical to this model but features a 3.87 inch blade.
- Figure 4 CRKT M16-14ZER designed specifically for emergency personnel with an integral seatbelt cutter as well as standard features.
Most of the M16 family of knives including the main feature of this review the 10KZ model feature a tanto style point, some do come with more typical western style drop point blades but as far as an edc blade for rough use goes a tanto blade is a perfect choice. It provides a very strong tip portion of the blade which can be used for prying and pressed to uses that a drop point blade simply wouldn’t be up to.
As with any well designed working knife the 10KZ is designed to be opened with one hand, this allows you to fish it out of your pocket and deploy it even if you are having to hold onto something or do something with your other hand. To aid this the Carson designed flipper features on this blade and can be used to deploy the blade in a fraction of a second. This flipper also features as a finger guard to prevent your finger slipping onto the blade and also to help you index the knife in your hand even if you are using it in the dark or having to reach somewhere out of sight and use you knife.
Part serrated blades aren’t perfect for slicing tasks but as the design rationale for this knife is a rugged working knife the serrations only add to the design and make cutting rope, cord and packaging much easier.
The handles are made of zytel and textured for grip even in wet conditions but to ad rigidity to the design they also feature steel liners making the handle practically indestructible. The choice of handle material might not be as aesthetically pleasing or quite as rugged as G10 or other popular handle materials but it is very light weight which is important in an everyday carry knife that will be clipped into your pocket all the time.
A locking mechanism is essential in any working knife and the AutoLawk system patented by CRKT and featured in this knife keeps you safe from the blade accidentally collapsing and locks up very firmly and securely to minimise blade play and wobble and give you confidence as you work.
An excellent affordable choice for a folding knife that you can confidently use every day, from a very innovative manufacturer. The M16-10KZ won’t let you down.