Knife Review: CRKT M16-01KZ

Image: Chris Dumm for TTAK

My first preview of the Columbia River M16-01KZ speculated that it might be a decent low-cost EDC for CCW knife. After carrying it around for a few weeks, I don’t think you should plan on swapping out your Griptilian or even your Tenacious for one.

I’m not saying it’s a bad knife, but it’s not a very good EDC for CCW.

 The Good

The basics of the M16-01KZ are that it’s a very trim pocketknife, four inches long and barely 1″ by 1/2″ wide and thick. The blade is slim and pointy and it takes a wonderfully keen edge. It doesn’t hold that edge terribly long, but resharpening it is so easy you probably won’t mind much.

The grip is comfortable if a bit small; the shape of the grip makes up for the mediocre grip of the glass-filled nylon scales. The jimped flipper becomes a blade guard to keep your hand from slipping up onto the blade.

It weighs a feathery 2.3 ounces. No Aramid-fiber reinforced tactical belts needed here.

Image courtesy CRKTCRKT’s ‘Auto-LAWKS’ prevents the liner lock from releasing the blade until you activate this small lever near the pivot. It adds one step to the blade-closing process but I liked the added security, particularly considering the soft, thin 2Cr13 steel which the liners are made of.

And pay no attention to the jimping on the spine of the blade; it’s too small and in the wrong place for it to aid your grip. The grip is fine without it.

The So-So

Image: Chris Dumm for TTAK

The Pivot

The M16-01KZ has a thumb-adjustable pivot screw, which is a feature I’d like a lot more if this knife didn’t need adjustment quite so frequently. I found myself constantly fiddling with the pivot tightness, trying to find the right balance between blade tightness and ease of opening. I never quite found it.

The pivot can be tightened to completely eliminate blade wobble, which was a pleasant surprise in a very small $20 pocketknife. Unfortunately doing so makes the flipper mechanism sluggish, requiring a truly energetic wrist flick to open the blade fully.

Flipper designs are prone to some degree of tradeoff like this (unless they’ve got pricey caged ball-bearing pivots) but most of them have a sweet spot where the blade flips open easily but doesn’t have a bothersome wobble. The M16-01KZ’s lightweight blade works against it here, because it’s got almost no inertia to swing it open as you flick it. Heavier flipper blades (cough Benchmade cough) get a big helping hand from Sir Isaac Newton here, but this tiny blade doesn’t.

There are nominal opening studs on the shoulder of the blade, but they’re designed to function primarily as blade stops when open. They stand so close to the scales when closed that they don’t give your opening thumb very much to grip. They work reasonably well, if you’re not in a hurry, with the benefit that they don’t require any exaggerated flipping motions.

Carry Options

The M16-01KZ offers precisely one carry option: on your right side with the tip down. Southpaws and weak-side carry advocates need not apply. Given this knife’s slim dimensions and modest (at best) defensive utility, it might make as much sense to just remove the pocket clip and carry it loose in your pocket.

The Bad?

If by ‘bad’ you mean useless, unsafe or defective, there’s absolutely nothing bad about the M16-01KZ at all. It’s a perfectly decent pocketknife, as long as you don’t require more than it can deliver.

Cutting Tests

Image: Chris Dumm for TTAK

We’ll start with the box cardboard. The knife was reasonably sharp from the box, and its slender blade cut cardboard very cleanly and extremely efficiently for the first few dozen feet.

The very sharp edge (which I’d touched up to 40 degrees on the Sharpmaker) was gone after the first twenty or thirty feet, and by fifty or sixty it was taking a lot of effort to pull it through the cardboard. It didn’t get hopelessly dull until more than 80 feet of cutting, which is fairly impressive for an unexciting steel like 8Cr15MoV.

The grip is surprisingly well-shaped for this hard knife work, and this was a pleasant surprise for such a small knife. Cutting comfort is usually directly proportional to the size of the knife’s handle, and this one was a lot better than I’d expected.

This knife was fantastic on newsprint. A few dozen swipes on the Sharpmaker’s 40-degree sticks gave it an exceptional edge, which sliced hanging newsprint with ease and precision. It wasn’t quite up to the ultimate Shotgun Newsprint test, but very few knives are.

I expected the M16-01KZ to be absolutely hopeless at cutting 3/4″ manila rope, but the little knife surprised me a bit. The blade has a surprising bite for such a small plain edge, and it could almost pull through a loop of rope in one stroke. It still three or four strokes to saw through the cordage on a cutting board, mostly because the blade has relatively little belly for slicing.

Image: Chris Dumm for TTAK

The EDP coating on the blade was pretty well trashed after cutting a substantial pile of rope and cardboard. It still looks like this, but it’s sharper now than when it was brand-new.

It earns a B+ for cardboard cutting, A for newsprint, and B- for rope cutting. In the category of ‘Ease of Sharpening’ it earns an easy A.

Conclusions

There are several factors which put this M16 model pretty much out of the running as a potential defensive/tactical knife. It doesn’t open easily enough, the single-sided pocket clip doesn’t give enough carry options, and I’m not sure that the .08″ blade will hold up to violent use.

But…if you’re interested in this knife and you can find it for $20 like I did, there are plenty of reasons to like it. It’s so small and light that you forget it’s in your pocket, and it’s sturdy enough for routine pocketknife chores. It excels at opening boxes and letters and even diabolical ‘blister packs.’

It’s not an EDC for CCW, but it’s a pretty good pocketknife for the money.

Specifications:
Type: Flipper-opening folding knife.
Lock: Liner lock with ‘Auto-LAWKS’ safety lock.
Length: 7.125″ open, 4.0″ closed.
Weight: 2.3 oz.
Blade Type: Plain-edge spear point with false reverse edge.
Blade Length: 3.0″
Blade Thickness: .08″
Steel: 8Cr15MoV stainless, 58-59 HRC.
Scales: Glass-filled nylon.
Origin: China.

Manufacturer’s link here.

 

 

comments

  1. Aharon says:

    Moral of the story: avoid knives that have a marketing model number or name chosen to mimic assault rifles names or numbers ie M16. Ironic that it is made in China. It should have been called the People’s AK47 Knife.

    1. Terry Warlock says:

      Continuing on with this train of thought….it would be a fun comparison test to put this up against the Boker AK-47 knife and have a lighthearted, fun gimmick post that crosses over with TTAG. Which is better…in knife form?!?!

      1. Nater says:

        IMO:

        For Defense/CCW: Boker AK47 hands down. Automatic opening, finger grooves for a sure grip, full flat ground and pretty sharps.

        For utility and abuse: CRKT M16 – Cheaper, less delicate blade with a much sturdier tip.

        Which is funny as the knives almost flip flop their firearm counterparts features.

      2. Terry Warlock says:

        just occurred to me…is it possible to have a caliber war or the perennial “best gun” debate in knife form?

  2. Daniel says:

    I actually do EDC two knives on CRKT’s M16 line, my favorite being the M16-10KZ. I do agree with several points made here. I recognize that my flipper will be a poor choice if I ever have need of it as a weapon, but then again, I have as much confidence in it as any other flipper with an under 4 inch blade.

    1. Bryan P says:

      I EDC the M16-10KZ for everyday utility purposes which it performs fantastically at. For defense/CCW though, my Spyderco Tenacious steps in.

  3. JaredFromTampa says:

    I tend to like CRKT’s products, they’re usually pretty decent for the money. For the same price as this knife, I would actually recommend going with one of the Hammond Cruisers though.

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Knife Review: CRKT M16-01KZ

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