Blades and Knives

The CRKT M16 Becomes a Classic

Silver CRKT M16 blade against a silver gun in the background.

After many years on the top of the charts in sales, the Columbia River Knife and Tool M16 folder qualifies as a modern classic. Although CRKT has several different designs, and an extensive line up of quality knives, the M16 folding knife is far and away the most popular among the many offered. It seems as if all my close friends and acquaintances own one or more of the affordable M16 knives.

Silver CRKT M16 blade against a silver gun in the background.
Like its namesake, the M16 is becoming a classic.

Kit Carson, the designer, designs his gear for function not fad. With this goal foremost, Carson succeeded with the design of the M16 series. Best of all, the wonders of mass production mean the CRKT knife is offered at an exceptional value. I obtained one of the first M16 knives and continue to use mine often. I liked the M16 from the first because it is slim enough to be carried in practically any position, without the danger of rebound from the weight causing the knife to be lost. The knife isn’t likely to be snagging on anything.

The M16 is Extremely Functional

The M16 is slim, trim, handy and full of features consumers have come to appreciate.

It is AUS 4 stainless steel and may be ordered with either a straight or serrated edge. A hollow grind and a spear point are all-around useful for everyday use. The serrations are particularly welcome when you are working with rope and other material.

All M16 knives feature the Carson Flipper. The Flipper is simply an extension of the blade that protrudes from the top of the blade when the knife is closed. This stud allows for easy opening when wearing gloves or by simply brushing the knife and the Flipper against clothing or a hard object. For those who actually use the knife in a workday environment, the Carson Flipper is a good addition.

The M16 also features the AutoLAWKS automatic blade-securing mechanism. This is a handy combination of features, increasing the functionality for an already lightweight, useful folding knife.

That’s a combination that is hard to beat.

The price point is always important: the M16 is usually available for around $30, which means a lot for those looking for an affordable workday knife. The knife is available with Desert Camo or black handles.

After using the knife for a while, it is obvious it is sharpened a bit more on the left side for right handed use—makes sense to me.

Light but workday effective, the M16 is a formidable force in the market.
Light but workday effective, the M16 is a formidable force in the market.

The CRKT M16 features two ‘flippers’ or rapid-assist design opening features. You can open it quickly with one hand by swiping the flipper against your pants leg or anything else available. When the knife is open, these flippers form a kind of hilt. A hilt is a good idea to prevent stubbing or allowing the hand to run forward on the blade you encounter a hard object.

Another design feature I approve of is the use of Teflon-coated blade pivot bearings. Coupled with excellent geometry and hand reach, the Teflon-coated bearings add up to a smooth operation when you use the flippers to open the M16. As for the AutoLAWKS lock mentioned, it is not complicated, but serves to turn the folding knife into a fixed blade for most purposes.

The AutoLAWKS basically backs up the liner lock—greatly reducing the risk of a knife closing under pressure. The AutoLAWKS is marked with a red dot for rapid visual acquisition. It only takes a little practice to manipulate the two locks at once. With the knife oriented with the open bottom upward, simply use the thumb to unlock the liner lock and the forefinger to simultaneously disengage the AutoLAWKS.

The Columbia River Knife and Tool M16 is overall among the most attractive inexpensive folding knives on the planet. Affordable, well designed and well executed, it is easy to understand why the M16’s is so successful.

Specifications and Features CRKT M16

  • Overall Length: 8.25 inches
  • Closed Length: 4.75 inches
  • Blade Length: 3.5 inches
  • Weight: 3.5 ounces
  • Blade Material: AUS 4 with serrations

How do you use your M16? Share your story in the comment section.


About the Author:

Bob Campbell

Bob Campbell’s primary qualification is a lifelong love of firearms, writing, and scholarship. He holds a degree in Criminal Justice but is an autodidact in matters important to his readers. Campbell considers unarmed skills the first line of defense and the handgun the last resort. (He gets it honest- his uncle Jerry Campbell is in the Boxer’s Hall of Fame.)

Campbell has authored well over 6,000 articles columns and reviews and fourteen books for major publishers including Gun Digest, Skyhorse and Paladin Press. Campbell served as a peace officer and security professional and has made hundreds of arrests and been injured on the job more than once.

He has written curriculum on the university level, served as a lead missionary, and is desperately in love with Joyce. He is training his grandchildren not to be snowflakes. At an age when many are thinking of retirement, Bob is working a 60-hour week and awaits being taken up in a whirlwind many years in the future.

Published in
Black Belt Magazine
Combat Handguns
Rifle Magazine
Gun Digest
Gun World
Tactical World
SWAT Magazine
American Gunsmith
Gun Tests Magazine
Women and Guns
The Journal Voice of American Law Enforcement
Police Magazine
Law Enforcement Technology
The Firearms Instructor
Tactical World
Concealed Carry Magazine
Concealed Carry Handguns

Books published

Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry
The 1911 Automatic Pistol
The Handgun in Personal Defense
The Illustrated Guide to Handgun Skills
The Hunter and the Hunted
The Gun Digest Book of Personal Defense
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911 second edition
Dealing with the Great Ammunition Shortage
Commando Gunsmithing
The Ultimate Book of Gunfighting
Preppers Guide to Rifles
Preppers Guide to Shotguns
The Accurate Handgun
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (5)

  1. I have owned one of these knives since 1998 and it is my second favorite knife after my Gerber Fairbanks-Applegate combat knife. (Longer blade and drop point, but, unfortunately, only one sided.)

    I love both the serrated edge and the ease of deployment. In the off season, it opens 30lbs dog food bag very easily; but I usually do that with my CRKT K.I.S.S. designed by Ed Halligan…

    I would recommend this knife to anyone who needs a versatile blade…

  2. The M16-10KZ has been my EDC knife for over a year now. I love it and have no complaints. By far my favorite pocketknife so far.

  3. I own the CRKT 5 1/4″ M21 Special Forces. It’s bigger and better than the M16. I love it. It’s truly a finely crafted knife. When it unfolds it has steel blockers to stop your hand from sliding into the knife, just like many non-folding knives have.

    Although I really enjoy and appreciate this service that CTD provides with these articles, I gotta agree with Avtomatik that sometimes I have been left hanging in suspense when an article stops short of providing complete information for people who like to know more details. I have felt this frustration with some gun articles, and I thank Avtomatik for bringing it up 🙂

  4. By this article one would think this is the only model they make. The M16 is not a single knife, its a full line of many different sizes and styles under the M16 design; some with two flippers some with one, large handles and small; nylon, aluminum and titanium handles. Sure they can start at $30 they can also go into $100s. You left out a bunch of info dude. Oh yeah, its called the ‘Carson Flipper’ not “Ripper”, LMFAO! But I guess the point of these articles are just to steer people towards what your trying to sell. Im not questioning your experience or knowledge, Im questioning the amount of effort you and others put into these articles/write-ups/advertisements, many seem very lazy with facts.
    I love this part “The mission of… “The Shooter’s Log,” is to provide information—not opinions… to be able to make informed decisions.” LMFAO!!!!!!!

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