CRKT M16-03KS Knife Review


Columbia River Knife and Tool, Inc. or CRKT is an American knife company established in 1994, and currently based in Tualatin, Oregon. This company was founded by Paul Gillespi and Rod Bremer. Both individuals were formerly employed with Kershaw Knives. The company did not truly take off until the 1997 Shot Show when the K.I.S.S. (Keep It Super Simple) knife was introduced. The small folder, which was designed by Ed Halligan, was a success. Within the opening days of the show, the years’ worth of the product was sold out. They sold at 4-5 times original production numbers resulting in a tripling of production efforts.

The company produces 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, Harold “Kit” Carson, Allen Elishewitz, Pat Crawford, Liong Mah, Steven James, Greg Lightfoot, Michael Walker, Ron Lake, Tom Veff, Steve Ryan, and the Graham Brothers.

CRKT owns fifteen patents and patents pending. These include the Outburst assist opening mechanism, Lock Back Safety mechanism, and Veff-Serrated edges.

CRKT says, “CRKT was founded in 1994. 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 whit 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.”

Today, we will be discussing CRKT’s brand new knife, their M16-03KS.


The Designer:

This knife was designed by Kit Carson, who is from Vine Grove, Kentucky. CRKT says about him, “Kit retired as a ranking Master Sergeant and ultimately became a high profile member of the Knife Makers’ Guild. Kit designed the successful M16 knife series named one of the Top 10 Tactual 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. He even mentored such greats as Ken Onion. Kit passed in 2014. The Carson family requests that donations be made to the National Parkinson Foundation at”


The Blade:

The blade on this knife is made out of 12C27 Sandvik steel. Sandvik says, “Sandvik 12C27 is Sandvik’s most well-rounded knife steel with excellent edge performance allowing razor sharpness, high hardness, exceptional toughness, and good corrosion resistance.” This steel is made specially for hand-held knives and has continuous improvement over a period for 45 years. This period of time has evolved this steel into the high performing steel grade that it is today. The composition is going to be tighter, the purity level is much higher and the fine carbide microstructure of the steel today is far from how the same steel looked and felt in the sixties. This steel has a hardness range of 54-61 HRC, high toughness, crazy intense sharpness and it still can resistance corrosion well. Sandvik feels that this formula of steel is the best one that you can get for knives that range from hunting knives to pocket knives, to camping knives, and of course, high-end chef’s knives.

The blade has been finished with a black oxide finish. This finish provides a very sleek and smooth finish to the knife. Like all finishes, it is going to prolong the life of the blade because it does form a protective layer in between the steel and the environment. This means that the environment is going to hit the coating before it can get to the steel, cutting down on wear and corrosion. The coating also cuts down on all glares and reflections, which is ideal if you are in the field and need to remain hidden. However, all coatings can and will scratch off after time and heavy use. The black oxide coating is one of the lesser quality coatings, so it is going to scratch off much before a coating such as the DLC would. If you wish to keep the same good qualities that come from a coated blade, the blade is going to need to be recoated, which is just a plain old hassle.

The blade on this knife has been carved into a spear point, which is very similar to the needle point blade style. However, unlike the needle point, the spear point is a little bit stronger and does have a slight belly that helps in some situations. A spear point has a symmetrically pointed blade with a point that is in line with the center line of the blade’s long axis. Both edges of the knife rise and fall equally to create a point that is exactly in the middle of the equator of the blade. Like mentioned, the spear point blade is different than the needle point blade because the needle point blade is very sharp but does have a weak point, while the spear point has a very strong point hat is going to be sharp enough for most piercing. Plus, spear point blades contain a small belly that can be used for some cutting and slicing. But if you were to compare the belly of the spear point with that of either a drop point or a clip point, the belly would look incredibly small. All in all, the spear point is a great hybrid design because it has a good balance between piercing and slicing ability, like the clip point. But the spear point also combines the sharp point of a dagger with the strength of a drop point blade, while still holding onto some of the belly that allows you to slice with this knife. This knife is going to be extremely functional because of the blade shape and style.


The Handle:

The handle on this knife is made out of 2Cr13 stainless steel. This steel is known to have groundbreaking properties because it can take on tasks that go from domestic knives to heavy duty knives such as military blades. 2Cr13 steel has crazy strength to it, which allows the handle to be durable and tough. The user will never have to worry about the handle breaking, because it is going to be near impossible to break this handle.

The handle is one of the most unique features of this knife, giving it the key characteristics and personality. For starters, there have been four round holes carved out of the handle going down the length. These holes are there to cut down on weight so that this knife isn’t too heavy, as well as adding a little bit of texture that will allow you to more easily hold this knife. The knife does have a flipper, so that flips forward and acts as a finger guard when the knife is opened. The spine of the handle is mostly straight, although it does curve towards the butt at the very end. The belly of the handle bulges out in the center, which create two indents for your fingers to rest in. This bulge makes this handle very comfortable to hold, even if you are going to be using this knife for extended periods of time. The tip of the handle is circular, so when the knife is closed, the handle will look rounded at the time. The butt of the handle is flat.


The Pocket Clip:

The pocket clip on this knife is not a deep carry clip, but it is arrow shaped. The arrow shape helps the clip to attach more securely onto your pocket, so you don’t have to worry about the knife slipping out. One of the best parts about this pocket clip is that it is four ways reversible. This means that the handle has been drilled so that you can attach the clip for either tip up or tip down carry and either left or right handed carry. This helps to make the knife more ambidextrous while also guaranteeing that you will have the most comfortable grip for yourself. The pocket clip is unique, matching the handle. It has been skeletonized, with three round holes carved out to keep down on weight and add a unique aesthetic to the knife. The clip is rounded at the top, with the three black screws keeping it in place following the curve. The screws match the rest of the hardware, making this an all-black knife.


The Mechanism:

This knife is a manual folding knife that has been equipped with a frame lock as well as a flipper and a thumb stud.

Because this is a manual knife, you don’t need to be too worried about the strict laws that surround automatic knives.

The thumb stud and the flipper mechanisms allow the knife to open in the same ways—it’s just all about preference. The thumb stud replaces the nail nick that is found on more traditional knives and is very easy to use—even with just one hand. You put your thumb on the stud and add some pressure, which will swing the knife open and lock it into place. The thumb stud is easy to use, which is one of the reasons people love it. However, some people complain that the stud gets in the way because it does extend out of the blade of the knife. The stud also puts your fingers in the blade’s path when you are opening the knife, so out of the two mechanisms, it is going to be the more dangerous one.

The flipper is a circular piece of metal that extends off of the blade. This piece of metal juts out of the handle when the knife is closed. The opening mechanism is similar to the thumb stud; you put your finger on the flipper and push it forward. This swings the blade open and locks it into place. This opening style also allows one handed opening, but it is also ambidextrous in its design. The flipper will not put your fingers in harm’s way and as a bonus, it acts as a finger guard when the knife is opened.

The frame lock is very similar to the liner lock except that the frame lock uses the handle to from the frame and thus the lock. The handle is usually cut from thicker steel than you are going to find with a liner lock. The frame lock is known for its strength and thickness, which means that this locking mechanism is more durable and reliable than other locking mechanisms.


The Specs:

The blade on this knife measures in at 3.552 inches long, with a blade thickness of 0.118 inches. The handle on this CRKT knife measures in at 4.658 inches long. The overall length measures in at 8.25 inches long. The knife weighs in at 3.8 ounces.



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 eon a classic. It’s a true tribute to one of the greats. The late Kit Carson designed this and many of this 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. Beyond that, he’s also remembered for his esteemed ranking as a Master Sergeant and his high-profile membership in the Cutlery Hall of Fame. The M16-03KS keeps all we love of Kit’s original tactically inspired everyday carry folding knife and adds a spear point 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 five holes keeps clean and light. With the M16 reissue, we’re an honoring a legend the best way we know how.” You can pick up this new knife today at BladeOps.


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