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Tactical knife review: Check out this CRKT M16-13Z folding emergency/survival knife

600 220 Survival Common Sense Blog | Emergency Preparedness

Do you need a tactical folding knife? Maybe. This Columbia River Knife and Tool folder could prove to be a good choice.

by Leon Pantenburg

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I love folding knives, but am lukewarm about them for survival/emergency use.

CRKT m 16

Columbia River Knife and Tool M16-13Z

But that being said, a folder is sometimes the best choice. In an urban environment, a sheath knife might attract the attention of the local law enforcement folks. But for a knife to be useful, it must be handy, so you need a knife that is discrete and also easy to get to. So what is the best tactical knife for you?

In some instances, that might be a folder.

These are personal biases, but I like to think I’m pretty open-minded. That’s one reason  I bought a Columbia River Knife and Tool M16-13z. An Eagle Scout friend of mine (another cutlery enthusiast) got one, and uses it extensively teaching bushcraft skills to scouts. He loves his M16, and recommended I check one out.

According to the CRKT website, the M16® designs have been the most popular series, and the  Z version has built the largest user base of all. These knives are built for function, according to the website, not fad. The M16®-03Z and M16®-13Z are slim designs with spear point blades. They are adaptable for a variety of carry positions.

CRKT uses the very successful InterFrame construction, tough, textured glass filled nylon scales over a 420J2 stainless steel liner InterFrame. The handle is assembled with offset Torx® fasteners.

All models feature the Carson Flipper, which is an aid to opening the blade, especially when wearing gloves. It also acts as a blade guard when the knife is open.

The patented* AutoLAWKS automatic knife safety is incorporated into all models, and CRKT claims this converts the M16 Z series into virtual fixed blades when the blades are open and locked.

All styles have lubrous washers and a removable stainless steel clothing/gear clip.

Here are the CRKT M16-13z specifications:

Open Overall Length: 8.25 inches

Closed Length: 4.75 inches

Weight: 3.5 ounces


CRKT horizontal

The M16 is a sleek, trim handful of good steel.

Length: 3.5 inches

Thickness: 0.1 inches

Steel: AUS 8 with a HRC rating: 58-59

Finish: Bead-Blast

Grind: Hollow

Style: Spear Point

Edge: Plain or serrated


Material: Glass Filled Nylon

Liner: 420J2

Lock: Locking Liner Safety System AutoLAWKS

Carry System: One Position Clip

Flipper: Yes

The good stuff:

Lightweight: At 3.5 ounces, the CRKT is hardly noticeable when being carried. In most cases, the knife is so unobtrusive as to be unnoticeable. This is generally considered to be a good thing, but don’t forget and try to take one on an airplane or into a court room! At best, you’ll permanently lose the knife.

Ergonomic handle: Made of glass-filled nylon, the handle doesn’t look like it would be comfortable to use. But it is. The clip fits nicely in the hollow of my right palm, and normal day-to-day use didn’t reveal any hot spots. But a carver it isn’t. I am guessing that extended carving or bushcrafting use might, at some point, get to be uncomfortable.

For the minimal carving and tinder processing I used the M-16 for, it worked just fine.

Steel: The AUS stainless steel series is produced by Aichi Steel Corporation, Japan. Steel hardness is usually stated as a number on the Rockwell C scale (HRC).

The HRC is a hardness scale based on the resistance to indentation of a material. As hardness increases, the blade becomes capable of taking and holding a better edge, but is more difficult to sharpen and more brittle (commonly called less “tough”).

AUS-8  is comparable to 440B with a carbon content close to 0.75 percent, according to Knives, Knife Steel FAQ . AUS-8 is often used instead of 440C. SOG knives use AUS-8 extensively. (Information from Knives, Knife Steel FAQ)

The AUS-8 in the CRKT blade is rated 58-59, which makes it a hard blade. The knife came out of the box razor sharp, and normal use didn’t cause it to dull quickly.

Lock: The lock on the blade is well-designed, and snaps into place with a reassuring and solid click. All models feature the Carson Flipper, which is an aid to opening the blade and acts as a guard when the blade is open.

Spear point: For the most part, I prefer clip points on knives. But a spear point on a tactical knife is the best choice. It centers the point in the middle of the blade, making it best for drilling into wood. In a worst case scenario, a spear point is the best choice for a thrusting weapon.

Clip: This knife is too big to carry loose in my pocket. I found the one position clip just about perfect for carrying in my hip or right front jeans pocket. This is a large knife, so plan accordingly when you carry it.

Still not so hot on:

Serrated edge: The M16 comes with your choice of serrated or fine edge. After some input from first responders, the people who pull victims out of auto wrecks, I got the serrated edge. For cutting a seat belt, or plastic zip-ties, the serrations are an advantage, I’m told.

And maybe it would be for some uses. In my case, I cut plastic zip-ties around bundles of newspapers with the small blade on my Swiss Army Knife. In a side–by-side comparison, I couldn’t tell much difference in performance.

I also found the serrated edge right next to the handle guide eliminated the best carving/whittling area of the blade. For me, the serrated edge is not a good choice.

Overall, I like the M-16-13Z. It is light, handy and is a practical tactical knife. The price is nice, too – you can pick one up for about $50.00. That is costly enough to provide a certain level of quality, but you won’t be traumatized if you lose it.

If you’re considering adding a  tactical folder to your gear, take a look at the CRKT. It may be the best choice for what you need.


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