5/2/12

Columbia River Knife and Tool M16-14SFG Knife Review

I received my Columbia River Knife and Tool M16-14SFG a few years ago as a gift from my girlfriend.  I’ve carried it extensively, used it a good amount, and thought it would be a good candidate for my first knife review.

I'm using the template I outlined here for this and all other knife reviews.

New edge, fresh oil, and a cup of tea; a delightful morning.



Blade Material: 1

The blade is manufactured from 8Cr14MoV steel.  From what I’ve read it’s a little harder than the widely-used AUS-8 steel.  While it doesn’t compare to the edge-retention of VG-10 or S30V it’s a bit easier to put and keep an edge on.

In my personal experience it's easy to sharpen and keeps its edge relatively well.

I did damage the blade early in my ownership.  I was making a feather stick and neglected to realize someone had driven a nail into the middle.  Needless to say, I caught it with the blade and it produced a sizable nick.  I took a coarse diamond stone to it and repaired it with relative ease. There's no doubt the ease of repair was facilitated by the slightly softer steel (whereas a harder steel, like S30V, would have been far more difficult to clean up).

Ultimately, it’s not a high-end steel, but it seems to be a good all-around performer.

Fit of Parts:  2


Everything fits together nicely on this knife.  I've owned and used this knife for quite a while and it hasn't loosened.  The action is as smooth as it was fresh out of the box (maybe even better now that it has been broken in a bit).

I initially had some concerns about the AutoLAWKS device, thinking that it might become damaged, loosen up, or otherwise lose functionality over time.  This has not been the case.

Blade Shape: 1

The M16-14SFG uses a tanto-style blade. It’s also partially serrated with CRKT's proprietary “veff” serrations.

In terms of an EDC knife, the tanto blade shape isn’t optimum.  It’s lacking in the slicing department and because of the serrations it’s not a great performer when it comes to detail work either.

That said, it’s still a pretty good blade.

The veff serrations are a nice design but leave a little bit to be desired.  They're super sharp and do seem to get through fibrous materials with ease.  The trouble is, they're VERY delicate.  The points are prone to bending even when cutting through relatively easy material (cardboard, for example, caused a couple tips to curve a bit).  Maybe a harder steel would be a better choice when executing this design.

I strongly believe that a plain edge would be a better overall performer.  Getting rid of the serrations entirely would almost indubitably yield a better knife.



Blade Grind: 2

The knife has what I believe to be a sabre grind.  The spine of the knife is large and extends straight down toward the cutting edge approximately ⅖ of the blade.  The blade then tapers to the edge.  CKRT states on the product page that the knife sports a hollow grind from the factory but I’m not convinced.  If there is a hollow grind it’s very conservative and practically imperceptible.  Even so, a hollow grind isn’t the best choice for an everyday carry knife; I’m more interested in something that’s going to hold up to the rigors of daily use.  The CRKT M16-14SFG’s grind does just that.

Mechanism: 2

The M16-14SFG utilizes a liner-lock made of 2CR12 steel.  I haven’t found much material regarding the properties of this steel but I haven’t encountered any problems with it.  The lock-bar itself is skeletonized.  It sets up nicely when the blade is opened and doesn't engage too far (which would mechanically limit its locking abilities).  When pressure is applied to the spine of the blade the lock bar does, of course, flex slightly but I haven't gotten it to shift along the bottom of the blade.

This knife also uses CRKT’s “AutoLAWKS” system.  Essentially, it’s a small lever system which springs into place when the blade is opened.   It functions to prevent the liner-lock from being disengaged inadvertently. CRKT considers this to mimic the functionality of a fixed-blade.  While it does make it more difficult for the lock to fail I’m not convinced that it’s as bomb-proof as a true fixed-blade.

The lock bar functions as it should and the AutoLAWKS system makes it more secure than “plain” liner-locks without making it more difficult to operate.  For those reason, I’m assessing a 2 for this category.


The red switch of CRKT's AutoLAWKS system.

Design Concept: 1

I’m relatively impressed by the design of many CRKT knives, the M16-14SFG isn’t an exception. Its form is dictated predominantly by function, a design philosophy I quite like. I can’t say that it’s the most attractive knife I’ve ever seen, though.

The large holes in the handle are there to reduce weight.  The smaller holes, those that aren't there for screwing down the pocket clip, are there for aesthetics, as far as I can tell.

Grip:  1

The grip on the M16-14SFG is well-designed.  It's a relatively large knife, so there's no problem with the grip being too small.  This is one of the few folders out there that features a hilt.  It's a convenient feature for some tasks but can also be a bother.  The hilt created by the flippers makes it difficult to choke up on the blade for detail work and forces distance between the grip and the blade.

I don't find myself in situations where I'm concerned that my hand will slip over the blade while I'm using the knife.

Deployment Method: 2

The knife does employ a thumb-stud but it’s practically useless. My preferred deployment method is the flipper. With a quick snap of the index finger the blade deploys.  Keep the joint well-oiled and the blade can deploy as fast or faster than any assisted opening knife I've ever used.

I had contemplated giving the deployment method a 1 simply because the thumb-stud isn’t useful for opening but the flipper is just so wonderful.  You can’t go wrong with it.

An added bonus (legally questionable here in MA) is the ability to use the flipper to deploy the knife as you're pulling it out of your pocket.  It is possible, if you're thinking about it, to catch the flipper on the back edge of your front pocket while removing the knife and cause the blade to open.  I'm not convinced it was designed to do this but it's possible.

Carry Method: 2

Front pocket carry.
Back pocket carry.
There is a four position pocket clip on the M16-14SFG. It can be carried tip-up or -down, left or right. I prefer to carry tip-up for reasons I won’t articulate here. If, however, I were to orient the clip to carry tip-down the flippers would sit at the top of the pocket and would, as far as I’m concerned, get in the way.

The clip itself is sturdy and affixed to the body of the knife by three screws.  It's at a height where it doesn't seem like too much of the handle is exposed.  It's not necessarily "discrete," but it's certainly slim enough to sit in a pocket without attracting too much attention.  I don't concern myself too much with the concealment of knives; not many people pay attention to what's in other people's pockets and, fortunately, the jurisdiction in which I live isn't as nutty about knives as others.

For tip-up carry, as I choose to carry it, this knife has to be a 2.  The clip is well-executed and the ability to universally orient it is convenient.  It carries with just enough handle outside the pocket; enough to get a decent purchase on it but not so much that it's too exposed or feels poorly secured.

Carry Comfort:  1

The knife is pretty slim which contributes greatly to its comfort.  It is a rather large knife, but it doesn't seem it when in my pocket.

The flippers are the biggest complaint I have when it comes to carry comfort.  Naturally, the flippers stick out well beyond the handle of the knife; they take up ample real estate in whatever pocket the knife is carried.  Also, they can damage other things in the pocket.  For example, I often carry the knife in my right front pocket along with my wallet.  The flipper rubs up against the side of the wallet and erodes the material.  While it hasn't caused catastrophic damage it's working its way in that direction.  Sure, I could move the knife, and I have (I carry it in my right back pocket now) but anything placed in the pocket with it will be affected.  The flippers really monopolize the whole pocket.

If the knife was carried tip-down with the flippers at the top the damage problem probably wouldn't exist but they would inhibit access to the pocket (the width of the hilt created by the flippers is approximately 2.25 inches; that's a lot of space).


TOTAL:  15/20

This is a great knife.  It's affordable and well-made.  Some might find it a bit too big for everyday carry, but that hasn't been a problem for me.  If I could change one thing it would be eliminating the serrations; I'm gradually discovering (as many have) that partially serrated blades are more irritating than useful and this knife is no exception.  If I sharpen the hell out of it they'll eventually disappear and, with the quality of the build on this knife, I imagine it will last long enough for my dreams to come to fruition.

The M16-14SFG is available online for just under $50.00.  At that price it's a steal.  It's a great addition to any pocket or bag.

1 comment:

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