I remember my first knife my father gave me, a Buck lock blade just like his. Now I can’t remember a day that I have been without a knife. It’s a rite of passage for a boy to get his first knife and start carrying it. I’ve carried dozens of different knives over the years (decades). My current knife is a CRKT M16-14ZSF I picked up at the PX while I was in Iraq.
Mine has “Operation Iraqi Freedom Certified” written on it. I have no idea why, it just looked cool and I got it for really cheap. I’ve been carrying it now for about 10 months and have no plans to change it. The knife looks good, handles well, is useful day in and day out at work, and is really fast to open if I needed it for self defense.
The knife was designed by Kit Carson. Carson has been designing knives for the last 30 years and I really like the stuff he comes up with. Most of it is designed for soldiers as a tool and weapon.
My CRKT M16 knife is made in three parts. The blade is made of AUS 8 steel with a bead blast finish. I like the finish. It looks like stainless steel but doesn’t reflect light. This is one of the few “non-reflective” finishes I’ve seen that actually is non reflective. You can see in the picture how the sharpened part of the blade reflects light like a traditional stainless finish, but the rest of the blade is a matte looking finish.
The second part of the knife is an internal steel frame. I like the idea of a true steel chassis in my knife and a different handle material. Having everything mate to metal just makes the CRKT knife feel stronger and give it a better balance.
The handle material is listed as glass filled nylon. It looks and feels like a tough plastic. The desert camo finish on the handle gives the knife a unique look. The only problem I have with the handle is that the unique look of the camo is wearing off. The fit and finish of the handle to the metal frame of the knife is very good and almost looks like one piece. I’m not sure what the holes are for, they do help with holding onto the knife, but also collect dirt.
The knife has a listed weight of 6.3 oz. For me that is enough heft to be useful, but not heavy enough to be a burden to carry. Weight-wise it’s a jack-of-all-trades, master of none. I’d like the knife to be a little heavier to work with, but lighter when I carry it. Sometimes striking the happy medium just doesn’t work out. Anyways, it’s still useful and not overly burdensome to carry.
The double lock takes a while to get used to. It’s a good idea when you use the knife as a tool, but takes practice to close with one hand. The first lock is a traditional liner lock. You have to push it apart to get the knife blade to move. The second part of the lock is a bar under spring tension that moves forward when the blade is open.
It is located on the opposite side of the liner lock. In the forward (or up) position the bar prevents the liner lock from moving. So it takes a little dexterity to be able to pull the bar back and push the lock out of the way and fold the blade at the same time. The first couple of times it was hard, but after 20 or 30 times it become easy and now I can do it with either hand without thinking.
The blade has a tanto point and a small serration. I’ve always had drop point knives and was worried about using the tanto blade for normal work. It turns out that I can easily shove the tip inside what I want to cut and then push to cut off zip ties and ropes. Electrical cords are a little bit harder with the tanto blade, but the serration really helps out. CRKT is making a “Veff Serration” that looks almost like a fish scale serration. The serrations are at least twice as deep and look wicked. I wish they would put that serration on this knife design to give the blade more bite when trying to cut through rope or wire.
One of the features I like the most about this design is the clip. The knife comes with two clips and a tool to install a clip where you want it. The clip can be put in four different positions, two on each side, one at the top and one at the bottom. This allows you to put the clip in the way you want it. You can carry the knife tip up or tip down and right or left handed. This could be a great design for anyone left handed as you could carry it in your left pocket and open it without twisting or turning the knife like you would with a traditional design. Each clip is bent a little differently and when you hold them up to the knife in the place you want them, it’s easy to see which one you should use.
Currently CRKT has the M16-14ZSF listed with an MSRP of $74.99. As I write this Amazon has the knife listed at $41.48 (Nov 5, 2012). You can sometimes find better deals on the web or a place that has them on sale for less. I would appreciate if you are going to buy it from Amazon, please use one of the affiliate links on this page. For me $75 is about the top I will pay for a knife that I’m going to abuse. This way, if I break it, lose it, or wear it out, it isn’t as big a deal to replace. Losing this knife doesn’t seem possible unless I leave it somewhere because the clip is so strong. I have yet to drop it out of my pocket. Even when I take my jeans off and hang them up, the knife holds tight to my pocket when it is upside down. After 10 months, the handle is showing some wear, but nothing structural, just the cosmetic finish seems to be wearing off with use.
The best part of this particular design is what Carson calls a double flipper. This is really an unsharpened part of the blade that sticks out at the hinge that keeps your hands from moving off the handle onto the blade, creating a hilt. It gives me more confidence to push on the knife without it slipping in my hand. The flipper that sticks out the back of the blade allows you to open this blade by pushing on it.
It also makes it really fast to open coming out of a pocket. When I say really fast, I mean way faster than any other conventional design.
By carrying the knife tip up, the flipper side of the blade goes down into your pocket. If you (with a little practice) yank the knife violently out of your pocket and back a little, the flipper on the back of the blade gets caught briefly on your pocket and flips the blade open into the locked position as soon as it clears your pocket. So, with one motion, I can get my knife out of my pocket and open. Most other knife designs require two motions, one to get it out of the pocket and one to get it open. I’ve yet to find something faster.
I’ve found the blade holds an edge rather well and is easy to sharpen with my Spyderco Sharpening kit. It’s simply a block that the sharpening rods stick into at a given angle. To sharpen, you simply run the knife straight down them like you are going to cut down through the block. This allows the angle to stay the same since it’s easy to hold the knife straight up and down. Many companies make the same style sharpening kit, but this one has survived while the others have ended up in the trash.
What I really like:
- Auto Opening
- Guard or hilt the double flippers create
- The point for working into small areas to do small cuts
- The clip can be placed in four different places
- Nylon handle creates a good surface to grip
- Easy to sharpen
- Cool looking blade finish
- The price
Things that I don’t like so much:
- Weight is a little heavy to carry all the time, but not quite enough to help it as a working knife
- The giant hilt tears up clothing
- There is starting to be a weird discoloration on the visible parts of the frame
- The handle camo pattern is wearing off
- The double locks take some getting used to
- The double flipper design requires you to open the knife differently than most clip knives on the market
- The pocket clip is starting to come loose (after 10 months of wearing it) and I can’t find the wrench I got with the knife
- After 10 months, it needs to be cleaned because it’s starting to get harder to open (I’ll have to figure out how to do that)
Overall, this has been a great knife. I carry it everyday in my right front pocket and use it for everything. It works great. The blade and locking mechanism are in perfect working order even after 10 months of abuse (and I do abuse it). The only real draw back or concern is that it will wear a mark in your clothing after a couple months of wearing it in the same place. If you are looking for a medium size clip knife you can use for everyday use and have for self defense, check out the CRKT M16-14ZSF, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.