CRKT, or Columbia River Knife and tool was founded in 1994. The company says, “From day one, we put innovation and integrity first. We made a commitment to build knives and tools that would inspire and endure. We collaborate with the best designers in the world and operate on a simple principle: that the greatest thing we can give our customers is Confidence in Hand.”
CRKT was founded by Paul Gillespi and Rod Bremer. Both of these men had previously worked for Kershaw Knives. This new company struggled to take off for the first four three years, but that all changed at the 1997 Shot Show. Ed Halligan had designed a small folder called the K.I.S.S or Keep It Super Simple. Within the opening days of the show, the entire years’ worth of the product was sold out. In fact, they sold at 4-5 times original production numbers resulting in a tripling of production efforts.
The company is known for producing a wide range of fixed blades and folding knives, multi-tools, sharpeners, and carrying systems. CRKT has collaborated with custom knife makers such as Ken Onion, Liong Mah, Greg Lightfoot, and even the Graham Brothers.
Through these collaborations as well as their own work, they have reached a point where they own fifteen patents and patents pending. Some of the more well-known patents include the Outburst Assist Opening Mechanism, the Lock Back Safety mechanism, and Veff-Serrated edges.
Today we will be going over one of CRKT’s most recent knives, the M16-02KS.
Kit Carson is the man behind this knife. He is from Vine, Grove Kentucky. CRKT says, “Kit retired as a ranking Master Sergeant and ultimately became a high profile member of the Knifemakers’ Guild. Kit designed the successful M16 knife series named one of the Top 10 Tactical Folders of the Decade by Blade Magazine. Inducted into the Cutlery Hall of Fame in 2012, Kit’s industry influence was felt far and wide. Eh even mentored such greats as Ken Onion. Kit passed in 2014.” Kit is renowned as one of the best knife makers and designers in his time, so you can be sure that this knife will be quality and up-to-par.
The blade on this knife is made out of 12C27 Sandvik steel. This is a martensitic stainless chromium steel that has been optimized for high quality professional knives. The steel has extremely high hardness, good corrosion resistance, and great wear resistance. Often times, you will find this steel on hunting and fishing knives as well as regular pocket knives and even tactical knives. This steel has the capability of being heated to an RC59 that will give you superior edge holding. This is a very clean steel, which means that it can be taken to a mirror polish. Sandvik says that continuous improvement for the last 45 years is what has taken this steel into the high performing steel grade that it is today.
The blade has been finished with a black oxide coating. Black oxide which is also known as blackening is a conversion coating for steels. This coating is applied to add a small amount of corrosion resistance as well as to reduce light reflection and to create a sleek look. One of the advantages of a black oxide coating over other types of coatings is that it does have minimal buildup. This steel is not the highest quality coating, so while it will do its job, it is also going to be prone to scratching off over time or with heavy use.
The blade on this knife has been carved into a tanto blade shape. The tanto style blade is not known for being versatile. In fact, it is known for being the exact opposite: it does one thing and it does that one thing better than any other blade shape. The tanto blade style excels at piercing through tough materials. This blade style was originally designed for armor piercing and the modern shape is still similar to Japanese swords. In the early 1980s, the modern tanto blade shape was made popular by Cold Steel. The shape of the tanto has a high point with a flat grind, which is where you get the extremely strong point for. The point is also pretty thick and does contain a lot of metal near the tip, which is what allows the blade to absorb the impact from repeated piercing that causes the other blade styles to snap. One of the other unique characteristics about the tanto blade shape is that it meets the spine of the knife at an angle, rather than your typical curve. Because of the harsh angle, you do get even more strength, but you also lose out on a belly. The lack of belly is what makes this blade shape not a good all-purpose blade shape. While this knife won’t allow you to take on any task that happens to come your way, it will always stand up to the challenge if you do come across a hard material that you need to pierce through. This blade shape helps to make the M16-02KS a great tactical knife.
The handle is made out of 2Cr13 steel. This steel has extreme strength that allows it to be used in things from regular pocket knives to heavy duty military knives. This steel is also very corrosion resistant and durable.
The handle has also been coated to extend the life of the knife. The handle gets the same benefits that the blade gets—it’s durable, more corrosion resistant, and more wear resistant. However, the same thing goes for the coating on the handle—as soon as it scratches off, you will begin to lose out on all of the benefits that you could have. Fortunately, the coating on the handle is harder to scratch off than the coating on the blade because the handle is not performing as heavy of tasks.
To keep the handle more lightweight, there have been four large circularly holes drilled into it. These holes not only cut down on the overall weight, but also add a little bit of texture—which is crucial when it comes to a stainless steel knife handle. Stainless steel handles to have the tendency to be slippery, but these holes will give you plenty of grip to hold onto the knife when you need it most.
The handle shape is pretty basic. The spine of the handle is straight until the butt of the handle where it curves down to form the butt. The belly of the handle bulges out significantly in the middle to fit better in your hand and create a more comfortable grip on the handle. There is a slight finger guard, but when the knife is opened, the flipper creates a big enough finger guard that you don’t have to worry about your fingers.
The Pocket Clip:
The pocket is a four-way reversible clip that matches the handle. The clip tapers towards the bottom before having the end bend upwards. While this is not a deep carry clip, the bend at the end helps the clip attach better to your pocket and keep it secure. The top of the clip is rounded, with three black screws keeping it in place. The black screws match the rest of the hardware on this knife, which means that the knife is a fully-black knife. Just like the handle, the clip has three round holes cut out. This is both for aesthetic and to keep the weight of the knife down.
This knife is a manual folding knife that has been equipped with both a thumb stud as well as a flipper. This knife also has a frame lock to lock the blade securely into place when you are using it, and securely closed when you are not using it.
Because it is a manual knife, you don’t have to worry about the strict laws that surround automatic knives. This knife should be legal in most areas where pocket knives are legal, but like always, make sure that you know your local knife laws before purchasing.
The thumb stud is what it sounds like—a small stud in place of the more traditional nail nick. This will make for an easy and comfortable one-handed opening. The stud does extend out of both sides of the blade which makes it ambidextrous. One of the disadvantages is that some people do feel like the stud gets in the way because it does extend out of the blade. Another disadvantage is that when you are opening this knife, it puts your hand extremely close to the blade. If you choose to use the stud, be cautious while you first get used to using it.
The flipper is a rounded piece of metal that extends off the blade and out of the spine of the handle when the knife is closed. The user deploys the blade by using the index finger to pull back on the flipper. The flipper also allows for one handed opening and in its very design, it is ambidextrous. One of the biggest benefits is that the flipper keeps your fingers at a safe distance while you are opening the knife, so it is safer to use. However, the flipper is also a little bit harder to get the hang of. The last benefit is that when the knife is opened, the flipper does act like an extended finger guard.
The frame lock is very similar to the liner lock except that the frame lock uses the handle to form the frame and the lock. The handle is usually cut from steel, like in this knife, so it is also thicker than most liner locks. Just like the liner lock the frame lock is situated with the liner inward and the tip engaging the bottom of the blade. To release the lock, apply pressure to the frame to move it away from the blade. When the knife is opened, the pressure on the lock will force it to cross the blade, engaging it at its furthers point. Frame locks are known for their strength and thickness, so you know you can rely on this lock to keep you safe while you are using the M16-02KS.
The blade on this knife measures in at 3.057 inches long with a blade thickness of 0.117 inches. The handle on this knife measures in at 4.299 inches long. The overall length of the M16-02KS knife measures in at 7.313 inches long. Weighing in at only 3.7 ounces, this is a very lightweight knife, that also has enough weight to back you up when it comes to tactical situations.
When CRKT is talking about this knife, they say, “Homage: Paid. The M16® is the most popular series that CRKT has ever seen. We’re humbled to do right by the revered Kit Carson with this new iteration of a legendary tactically-inspired everyday carry folding knife. This one is more than just a fresh take on a classic. It’s a true tribute to one of the greats.
The late Kit Carson designed this and many of his other groundbreaking knives in his shop in Vine Grove, Kentucky. Kit’s lasting legacy comes from his influence on the knife industry—he’s known for popularizing the flipper which is now a household component. In addition, he’s also remembered for his esteemed ranking as a Master Sergeant and his high-profile membership in the Cutlery Hall of Fame. The M16®-02KS keeps all we love of Kit’s original tactically-inspired everyday carry folding knife and adds a Tanto blade complete with a durable black oxide finish. With its hardy frame lock, it’s securely held in place in the midst of whatever job you put in front of it while the stainless steel handle bored with four holes keeps clean and light.
With the M16® reissue, we’re honoring a legend the best way we know how.”
You can pick up this brand new CRKT knife today at BladeOps.