Sunday, September 16, 2012

CRKT M16-01 KZ

For you guys interested in something good looking, lightweight, durable, capable, and inexpensive, I have a knife for you to take a look at.  This is the CRKT M16-01 KZ.  CRKT calls this their Kit Carson M16 and the blade bears the designer's name proudly next to the model designation.  The M16 is a spear point folder designed with every day carry (EDC) in mind.  Columbia River created this blade with affordability and value in mind.  I think they have done a good job with this one.  It's a knife that I'm not afraid to thrash on.  I won't feel guilty if I chip the blade or scrape up the glass filled nylon handle.  It's not a blade I'd feel bad about handing to my buddy to use really quick.  I'm here to tell you, if my buddy needed to borrow my Spyderco Endura4 really quick, I'd just opt to do the task for him rather than risk him messing up my VG10 blade that I keep pretty sharp.  The M16 on the other hand, yeah go ahead and use it.

Before I jump into some of the specifications, I want to convey that I used this knife quite a bit lately.  I had a coupon from Knifecenter.com that I wanted to use, and set out to find a knife under $35 that I could buy without raising my wife's suspicions when she went to look at the bank account. Such small purchases are normal for me, and usually fly well under the radar with her.

As you may know from my more recent entries, I recently moved across 3 state lines, and have made my home in the West somewhere in the desert.  In August, I flew back home to Seattle to load the moving truck and move my family.  I couldn't take my knife on the plane, but I had it waiting for me when I returned.  For the next few weeks, this blade saw use in the EDC role, as well as a last minute camping trip, where it was the only knife I brought.  Okay, so it wasn't really "camping" per se; it was boating, and we just happened to stay at the KOA for a couple of nights.  Be that as it may, this knife saw some good action there as it got passed around from me to my wife to my father in law, and back again as we all used it to do small to medium sized tasks that you would put this knife up to.  In the utility role, it shined.  Of course, there were a few small gripes about it, which I'll get to as this entry evolves.

On September 1, we took delivery of the rental we intend to call home for the next few years until we are ready to buy again. Again, this knife came along for the ride because I knew we would be getting into boxes, cutting through sticky packing tape, and doing all kinds of stuff I just couldn't bring my Spyderco to do for fear I'd scratch the pretty blade.  For the next week or so, this knife got passed around the house, ending up getting lost a couple of times, dropped plenty, and used heavily.  I put this M16 through more action in a couple of weeks than most people do in a year.  We didn't do any hard use tasks with it, like baton through logs or whatnot - just extensive utility work.  Anyone who uses knives knows that cutting thick cardboard, blasting through twine, getting into those annoying plastic packages that require a jackhammer, etc is very tough on blades and will dull a cheap one really fast. 

Since I'm on the topic of blades, let's take a look at this one.  You can see from the picture that this still wears some of that sticky tape residue that sticks to everything.  You can also see some light scuffs on the finish, which is EDP, which my research turns up as Electrophoretically Deposited Paint.  The process of applying this finish means that you have uniform thickness on the paint, as well as corrosion resistance and durability.  Okay, fine.  It looks good, no?  The scuffs on the finish are very shallow, and would probably buff out if I cared to do so, but on a blade this inexpensive, who cares?  Besides, wear gives it character.  The blade material itself is 8CR15MOV, which is that Chinese steel that wears well, takes a fine edge, and resists corrosion acceptably.  Unlike 8CR13MOV, this material has 15% chromium, which ought to help with corrosion resistance.  This is stainless steel.  The cool looking spear point is what brought me to this blade.  I love that look.  It is simple, elegant, and purposeful.  The blade has a couple interesting machined surfaces to break up the profile.  The unsharpened swedge along the spine of the blade makes piercing cuts easy and safe.  The tip itself is pretty precise and I should add fragile.  I haven't busted mine, but if you drop it on the concrete, you will.  There is some meaningful gimping on the back of the blade near the pivot.

Moving rearward, lets discuss the pivot.  The pivot is ideal for this weight of knife, which comes in on my scale as 2 3/8 ounces.  There is a nylon and brass washer inside to make fast flipping easy - well sort of.  Perhaps mine needs to be broken in a little more because it doesn't flip fast at all.  It's rather sluggish and sometimes it won't fully open and engage the lock.  Now, if you give it a flick of your wrist, it'll come out lightening fast.  There is a flipper on the back of the blade, which acts as a finger stop when the blade it opened.  It's textured with something that resembles gimping, but I'm not so sure.  There are also two thumb studs, one on each side of the blade.  They are obnoxious to use and I think if you don't know what you are doing, they could actually be dangerous.  They do, however, serve a useful purpose.  Instead of employing a stop pin, the thumb studs sort of do it.  There is a little axial movement of the blade, as well as some radial play, but it doesn't amount to much.  For this kind of knife, I think it's probably normal.  It does not affect lock up in any way.

This knife employs a liner lock, which is constructed of 2CR13 stainless steel and you have nearly 100% liner engagement on the blade.  I'd say the liner takes up 80% of the blade itself.  The liner itself has not been machined in any way to reduce weight.  But I think what CRKT was going for here is ultimate strength in a small package.  I think they've achieved that.  Given that the overall weight is 2 3/8 ounces, I'm not so sure that drilling holes in the liner would accomplish much.  There is gimping on the bottom of the liner lock portion to provide traction for your index finger if you hold it in such a way that allows your finger to contact it. 

 This brings me to the only major gripe I have about the knife.  See that red stud in this picture?  That's a safety.  More specifically, it is a safety mechanism that CRKT calls AutoLAWKS.  Not only does it serve to make the blade stay open until it is disengaged by pulling it rearward, but CRKT claims that it virtually makes your M16 a fixed blade when the safety is engaged!  WHAT?!  That's a dangerous claim.  First, you make a safety mechanism that takes a bit of practice to make the knife fold back with only one hand, something my wife still can't do after many uses, but now CRKT alludes to the notion that you can abuse this knife more than a pivoting folder should by claiming it is a "virtual fixed blade."  Okay, that rant aside, I was trying to fold this with one hand while typing this entry.  Aside from the fact it takes about 6 fingers to do it, I'm now rocking an Angry Birds band-aid on my thumb because once the blade finally released, it came right down on my knuckle.  And this blade is still extremely sharp!  So for safety in mind, I'm recommending you use two hands to fold this knife.  But that sucks!  My wife tells me she hates that it is such a pain in the ass to close with that infernal safety mechanism.  She doesn't normally have an opinion about safeties on things like guns, so when she complains about a safety, I know it sucks.

 Okay, lastly, I'll talk about clip design and the handle scales.  The handle is constructed from glass filled nylon, which is durable.  The scales are milled with holes in them to reduce weight and give the handle dimension.  There are two little T6 torx screws on the rear on either side that hold the handle together.  The rear spacer is also glass.  If you're to look at the back, it actually looks really cool with the glass scales, stainless steel liner, and the glass spacer.  The blade in the middle tops off the look, and I think it's modern and classy. The whole knife is a good looking design.  The scales don't provide much in the way of traction, which is why the gimping is strategically placed where it is.  The smooth handles do make it seemless to ride with you in your pocket while not grabbing cloth or getting snagged on keys or money.  Because of it's overall size, it's very easy to rock this knife along with your tactical folder without really noticing. 

The clip is very simple and elegant.  My only gripe about it is that the end sticks out noticeably, and I've scraped it against a wall.  I wish CRKT flattened the end just a bit to make it not feel as sharp in pocket.  That being said, it will ride fairly deep in pocket, with only about 1/4" or less sticking out of the top.  For you lefties, there is no relief for you.  The clip is where it is, and you cannot switch sides, nor can you change the position for tip-up carry.  As I've said before, tip or tip down doesn't matter to me.  When I can do it, I'll carry tip up, but if I have carry tip down, I'm not offended.  Since I'm right handed, the clip position doesn't bother me, unless of course, I'm trying to carry it on my left side.  But even then, it's not much of a hassle.  Being on my support side, it's 99% not critical to deploy this knife lightening fast.  It's more important that I have it to back up my tactical folder in the first place. 

Lastly, I've saved all the critical dimensions for the end, so you don't have to hunt for them.  These are right from the CRKT website.

Overall length: 7.125"
Closed length: 4"
Blade length: 3"
Weight: 2.3 ounces

-James

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