Recently I purchased a CRKT M16-14ZSF knife. I happened to be on a military base (no tax) and the price was great (just under $30). I was looking for a nice field and duty knife and I really appreciated what this knife had to offer.
This knife from Columbia River Knife and Tool (CRKT) is designed by Kit Carson. Kit Carson is famous in the knife building community for the quality of his knife designs. Carson retired as a Sergeant Major from the Army, and has been designing knives for over 30 years. He has been full-time in knife designing since 1993.
The M16-14ZSF is a progression of the CRKT M16 series of knives. There are several design features that stand out on this knife, but CRKT fans will see some similarities with other M16 knives as well. CRKT advertises this knife as Kit Carson’s “folding fixed blade”. This has a Desert Camo handle, but a similar knife (the M21-14ZSF) comes with a black handle. The overall weight of this knife is 6.4 oz. (6.3 oz. on the CRKT website). This knife really feels good in my hands, especially considering its size.
As you read you will find several differences in specifications for this knife. The reason for this is I’m comparing the CRKT packaging of this knife with information from the CRKT website. It is possible that since I purchased this knife on a military base that there are slight differences in the military version and the civilian model, though that is speculation on my part.
According to the packaging the knife blade is made of AUS 8 stainless steel that has a non-reflective “bead blast” finish. The CRKT website says AUS 4 stainless steel. This is a sand blasted finish that makes the blade’s appearance unique, with a battleship gray appearance instead of shiny steel. The blade is a dual edge Tanto-style knife that also has the “Triple-Point” (TM) combination blade serrations at the base of the blade that are razor sharp. Although the blade is sharpened on both sides, there is a clearly heavier sharpening on the left side (inside for right-handed carry). This causes the blade to be mostly straight on the right side (outside for right-handed carry), with the blade tapering to that side.
According to the packaging the blade is 3.99” (101mm) in overall length, with one inch of serrations. The CRKT website says the blade is 3.875”. I measured mine with a paper-thin plastic ruler and found it to be 3 15/16” from the edge of the hilt to the tip of the tanto edge. Whatever the length, this makes the blade less than the 4” maximum legal length for pocket carry in most areas. Be sure to check the law in your local jurisdictions before you take the M16 out. The blade is 0.138” wide, or about 3.5 mm, and a 58-59 HRC (55-57 HRC on the website).
THE BLADE CATCHES
The blade also has two 0.25” cylindrical catches on the spine of the blade near the hilt, one on each side of the blade. Many knives have similar features that are used to assist in opening the blade. Although these catches have a criss-cross textured pattern, they really are not meant to assist in opening the blade. Although I was able to open the blade with these catches, the quick-assist levers are much easier to manipulate, and I would not recommend a user trying to use the catches to open the blade. These catches are there to stop the blade in the fully open position, as there are bilateral notches in the handle where the notches fit in to provide a strong block.
THE CARSON FLIPPERS
The blade also has two quick-assist levers at the base, for opening and closing the blade. The quick-assist levers, called “Carson Flippers” by CRKT, are about 0.5” long, and have a rough (gear teeth) texture at the tip for easy manipulation. These levers also have a 2mm hole drilled in the end should the owner want to attach a lanyard. When the blade is locked out these levers create a true hilt. CRKT advertises this knife for its “tactical” applications, so having a true hilt is a great benefit when the “dirty” work needs to be done. However, any thrusting type use of this knife will be greatly benefited as the true hilt made by the Carson Flippers will protect the user’s hands from slippage or accidental cutting.
The handle is 5.25” long and comes with the Desert Camo Zytel (R) scales. The handle has four large holes drilled in the center of the handle on the left side and three on the right side. In addition to providing a nice look, the holes provide a little extra grip when handling the knife. The M16-14ZSF comes with a stainless steel clip that has the same finish as the blade. The knife is designed for four different carry positions using the clip – blade down, blade up, right and left. CRKT does caution that this particular knife is not designed for tip up carry inside a pocket. That carry position should be done on exterior belts or other gear.
The holes are pre-drilled and the clip is attached with three small star-bit screws. To change positions the owner simply needs to take out the screws, move the clip to the new desired carry position holes, and re-screw the clip to the handle. My M16-14ZSF only had one clip, which was already attached when I bought the knife. The CRKT website advertises that the civilian models should come with two clips.
The interior of the handle is lined with 420J2 stainless steel and maintains the same sand-blasted finish as the rest of the metal on the knife. The pommel of the handle is slightly pointed and takes the shape of a short “J”. Though not specifically mentioned as a use, it appears sturdy enough that the pommel end could be used to break out windows or punch out other items in an emergency use.
The CRKT M16-14ZSF knife comes with Teflon blade pivot bearings. The teflon coated bearings, when used in conjunction with the Carson Flippers, makes the opening of the blade so smooth that its almost like having a quick-assist opening mechanism on
the knife. There is also a very reassuring sound as the blade is being opened and locked into position that leaves no doubt about the knife’s readiness. These same bearings make closing the blade just as smooth. There is a slight catch to the blade at about 30 degrees of movement from locked out position. This is the final movement of the locking bar out of place, and also provides one last sensory warning to the user that the blade is closing. Once the stop lever is completely out of the way the blade closes with the slightest of effort.
The M16-14ZSF has two safeties built into the knife’s mechanism. A feature that has become almost synonymous with folding knives, the M16-14ZSF has a tension locking bar on the inside of the handle. When the blade is fully extended the tension handle slides behind the blade preventing the blade from closing in most circumstances. This tension bar as gear teeth type serrations for sure manipulation. The M16-14ZSF goes further in safety design, however, by adding the patented “AutoLAWKS” safety to the knife. The AutoLAWKS is one of two patents that this knife holds, and provides one more assurance that in the locked out position the folding knife will perform as a fixed- blade knife. What the AutoLAWKS does is slide a blocking lever behind the tension lever lock when the blade is in the fully extended position. Now there is no chance that something might get caught on the tension lever and accidentally cause the knife to close.
To disable the AutoLAWKS safety there is a small lever on the right side of the knife that extends outward upon fully extending the blade. The lever is marked with a red dot. This lever will sit just behind the top Carson Flipper when the blade is fully open, to provide safety from the lever accidentally being engaged. To deactivate the AutoLAWKS the user pushes the small lever back, which removes the blocking lever from behind the tension lever inside the handle. While holding this small lever down, the user than can manipulate the sliding of the tension locking lever out of the way, making room for the blade to fold back into the closed position.
I have found that the easiest way for me to close the blade is to hold the M16-14ZSF in my right hand with the bottom facing up (so you can see inside the handle). I then extend my right pointer finger to the AutoLAWKS lever and pull it down. Now I can take my right thumb and push the tension lever out of the way of the blade at the same time as holding down the AutoLAWKS lever. Once this is accomplished I use my left hand to gently begin closing the blade, ensuring that my right thumb gets out of the way for final closing.
The added AutoLAWKS safety is a reassurance that the knife is truly locked open and I can be as tough as this knife was designed to be without worrying about accidental closure.
CRKT offers a limited lifetime warranty on this knife that covers defects in materials or workmanship. That said, if the knife ever breaks or fails due to materials or
manufacturing defect, CRKT will replace the knife. This warranty if for life as long as you own the knife, but it will end if you sell or give away the knife, or if you modify the knife in some way. You are also responsible for maintaining your knife and failure to do so will void the warranty. CRKT stands behind their products and anyone who has investigated their selections knows that they make quality knives. As such, blade tip breakage or damage is not covered in the warranty, as the company has found that most breaks occur from using the knife for purposes other than what the knife was designed for – cutting.
As I said, I “stole” a deal on a military base and got my knife for under $30. The CRKT website lists the MSRP for the M16-14ZSF at $69.99, but I’ve seen the knife advertised for as little at $40 on ebay.com. At either price you are getting an incredible knife with a full range of uses. I would highly recommend this knife for serious knife users, whether you’re in the field to hunt or play, or you are in the field “hunting” for terrorists in far away sand boxes. With its rather large size (9.25” long fully extended) I would think this might be a little much for a simple pocket knife’s normal uses, but having it in your vehicle for roadside assistance (know your laws for this type of carry) be a nice addition to your other tools on hand.
Aaron is a sergeant with a midwestern police department, where he serves as a trainer, supervisor and SWAT sniper. In addition to his broad tactical knowledge, Aaron has experience in DUI, DRE and undercover narcotics investigations.