I have owned quite a few CRKT (Columbia River Knife and Tool) knives in my life and I really enjoy some of their innovative designs. The Bear Claw and K.I.S.S. models are notable winners in my book. However, if you were to do a random search for CRKT knives or go looking for the brand in a store, you will certainly see the CRKT M-16 line everywhere. I am guessing it is one of CRKT’s highest selling model of knives every year. I seriously see them all over the place – both in stores and in pockets.
I have broken 3 different M16 model knives, two of them while I was an Airborne soldier. I’m hard on knives, but this model of knife has some problems. That said, I obviously kept buying these knives after I broke them for a reason.
First off, let’s talk about what the CRKT flipper actually is. The M16 in all its various sizes and configurations is a flip folder, in fact CRKT was one of the first companies to heavily invest in flip folder technology; now flippers are the norm for “tactical” folding knives. Flip folding knives all have some sort of extension to the back of the blade that allows the blade to be flipped open with a finger. This offers the user a quick, safe, manual opening mechanism.
The reason I bought my original CRKT M-16 is the same reason I bought two replacements when I broke them; there wasn’t much else like them on the market and they’re very well priced for what they are, giving a lot of bang for the buck. This fact is especially true for people who are hard on their knives. Full disclosure: I didn’t try to contact CRKT customer service when I had these problems with my knives in the past. For all I know, customer service may have been able to work with me. I have to make this disclaimer.
Now for my critiques on the M-16 line. For people who have read other reviews of these knives on other blogs etc, I’m not going to call my fellow bloggers fibbers, but positive opinions could very well be due to a cherry picked sample that CRKT sent. This type of selection for a product to send to reviewers is pretty standard in every industry and I do not hold it against a company to do so. In fact, it’s kind of foolish for them not to do it.
I want to be clear: I think the M-16 series of knife is a decent buy for the price, but overall is not that great of a knife. It’ll get the job done but if you’re looking for a family heirloom or a super reliable blade, this is not the one for you.
First off, I’m not a huge fan of the blade profile for most of the line, but this quibble can just be taste-related so I will skip it. However, the model’s folding action is usually poor. I have discovered without fail on every M-16 model I’ve owned including the M16-10z I now have that the blade is either too loose or over tightened. What I mean by this is that there is a screw on the side of the knife (visible in the picture above) that allows the user to tighten or loosen the pivot point. This screw affects how easy or how difficult it is to open the knife. The problem is that making the blade tight in the handle without wobble results in a knife that cannot be easily opened, and an easily opened knife has a noticeable side to side movement in the blade.
In the past I could put up with this design flaw because most of what I cut did not require precision. However, this behavior is not ideal in any knife, much less a “tactical” folder. The pivot point breaking or the liner lock warping were always the fail points on my M-16 knives that broke. Like I mentioned before, I have a hunch that CRKT customer service probably could have fixed my problem, but at the time I had broken knives laying around I didn’t have much of a permanent address so I didn’t bother. Plus, my higher quality/more expensive knives like the MOD CQD never had any problems like this so I didn’t want to deal with it.
Now for the M16-10z model specifically:
This knife is a pretty typical M-16 offering. It does the job, but I’m not a huge fan.
- Overall Length:7.125″
- Blade Length:3“
- Blade Style:Tanto
- Blade Grind:Hollow
- Blade HRC:58-59
- Blade Material:8Cr15MoV
- Edge Type:Triple Point Serrations
- Closed Length:4“
- Handle Material:Glass Filled Nylon
- Weight:2.3 oz.
First, I really don’t care for the blade’s steel. CRKT isn’t really a brand known for ritzy, super-duper heirloom quality knives in the first place. Even “premier” knives by CRKT usually use AUS8 steel, which isn’t bad but knife snobs like me usually prefer 154CM or even more rare designer steels like those used by the Extrema Ratio brand (a review is coming soon). My experience with 8Cr15MoV is that it gets super, super sharp without a lot of effort but goes dull relatively fast. It’s also not very rust resistant. In fact, all my 8Cr15MoV knives I’ve ever owned have developed spots of rust with regular pocket carry and use. My carbon steel knives with a basic forced patina (a light layer of chemically induced oxidization) aren’t even this finicky.
Second, I have medium sized hands and this knife is still not comfortable to use. It has no choil for the index finger and the flipper peg is in a terrible place from an ergonomics perspective. Regardless of how I hold the knife, my pinky has nowhere to go and this is unforgivable in my book when the much smaller Spyderco Dragonfly allows a full hand grip with average sized hands. To put this in perspective, the Spyderco is 2/3 the length of the CRKT M-16 10z and fits the hand more comfortably. Granted the Spyderco is not a flipper, but I will be reviewing several superior flippers to the M-16 10z in the near future that all run around the same price point.
Speaking of price, this is the M-16-10z’s only strength. I just checked Amazon and these knives can be picked up new for 25 dollars. This is a very competitive price in today’s knife market. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that for people who want a cool looking knife they aren’t going to use too often, an M-16 model will work. However, I’d recommend one of the larger models so one can actually fit one’s whole hand on the handle. Of course, getting a larger model will raise the price.
Last but not least is the terrible, terrible secondary lock system (visible in picture below). In every other review I’ve seen of this knife, even the positive ones seem to mention the secondary lock as an unnecessary, awkward addition. However, at least those reviewers had one that works. My M-16 10z’s main lock is typical for the M-16 line; a somewhat flimsy liner lock that does the job as long as you don’t put too much stress on the blade. However, the small, secondary lock on the back (mine is red) that is meant to lock the blade in place once it’s open simply does not work. I have opened and closed my M-16 10z with the secondary lock in both positions.
I have an Extrema Ratio knife with a secondary lock that works. I still don’t care for the secondary lock on that knife, but at least it functions properly. I can’t say so for my M-16 10z.
I give this knife 2.8 out of 5 stars. I have a certain amount of nostalgia for this model since it was one of the first mainstream tactical flippers on the market. My past M-16s that I owned I carried with me in some pretty inhospitable places too. However, neither nostalgia nor the low price point can overcome the design flaws in what is effectively around a 15 year old model of knife. There are knives on the market inhabiting the same space with the same target demographic for around the same price point (30ish USD) with better ergonomics and better blades.
My review was pretty harsh so I want to reiterate that I like the CRKT brand – I hope to do a positive review for one of the company’s other model knives soon. I am just not a fan of the CRKT M-16 model knife. I feel like the M-16 is venerable and worthy of respect but it either needs a design overhaul or should to be put to rest, just like its rifle namesake.