Monday, December 1, 2008

CRKT M21-14 Folding Knife

I was lucky enough the past few months to try out a couple of CRKT’s (Columbia River Knife & Tool) awesome folders (folding knife). One of the folders that I’ve been using is the M21-14 version. It is a full sized folder which has properties and features that make it not only a good utility knife but also a good fighting knife. I’ll get to those features in a bit.

I’ll talk about one of the more important parts of the knife first. The blade. The blade of this knife has a recurved blade with a spear-point shape and a deep belly, which promotes good cutting ability. It has a Triple-Point™ Serrated area back toward the handle. The blade features a non-reflective frosted finish and is made of AUS-8 stainless steel. The AUS-8 steel has excellent edge holding capabilities and is stronger than some other steels used in folding blades. There is a slight trade off in sharpening ability. With the AUS-8 steel field sharpening takes a little more effort due to the hardness of the steel. However, if you sharpen your blade before you go into the field, the AUS-8 steel should hold enough of an edge to get you by until you can spend more time on sharpening the blade.

One feature that makes this knife a good fighting knife as well as a safer utility knife is it’s unique locking mechanism. This knife along with many other CRKT folders uses the auto LAWKS locking mechanisms, which automatically engage upon opening the knife. This system is named after Knifemaker’s Guild members Ron Lake and Michael Walker (Lake And Walker Knife Safety - LAWKS). It uses a liner lock, which on it’s own is a reliable and strong lock that is easy to manipulate with one hand. The only problem with this locking mechanism is that it has the potential to be released when over gripping or twisting the knife in the hand. A second locking mechanism is added that prevents the liner lock from being unlocked without first disengaging the second lock. This dual locking system makes this knife a virtual fixed blade knife when opened. With just a little practice this locking system is extremely easy to unlock with one hand, just as easy as the liner only knives, but adds more safety to the knife. It’s so easy to unlock the knife one handed that I don’t have to think about it anymore…it comes as second nature once you get used to doing it. Just disengage the locking lever on the back of the knife and while that’s disengaged the liner lock can be disengaged. This locking system is really nice and gives you a good sense of safety.

Opening this knife is very quick and easy as well. There are two ways to open this knife one handed. The first is the ambidextrous thumb studs that utilize the thumb to “flick” the blade open. Being that this is a larger knife and my hands are not I like to use the Carson flipper to open the knife. The Carson flipper is an addition to the blade that sticks out the back of the handle when the knife is closed. By simply flicking this “knob” the knife blade pivots open. I’ve found this just as quick as my auto knives, yet more reliable and safe. This knife uses Teflon bearings to make for smooth opening.

The contoured handles are made of 6061 T6 aluminum and are hard anodized charcoal gray. The handle has holes in it (skeletonized) to reduce weight. This knife is very comfortable in the hand and has a pommel which can be used as a striking area for self defense or as a window break as well. I’m not sure if it was designed this way, but it would work well for this. On the handle is a sturdy, removable, Teflon coated pocket clip which is fastened on with Torx screws.
A couple other safety features are the Carson flipper, when open, helps as a blade guard. The spine of the blade and the bottom of the liner lock both have grooves to help prevent the hand from slipping toward the blade.

I’ve been using this knife for daily tasks both on and off duty and it’s been an excellent knife. At one point it got accidentally dropped from about chest height to the floor. It landed right on the tip on the cement floor. I winced when I saw this but was impressed when I picked the knife up and there was absolutely no damage. The knife has held a good edge and I was able to give it an even better edge with a decent knife sharpening kit and just a little bit of effort. You can definitely tell when you sharpen it that the blade material is much harder than something like a 440 SS blade.

The only problem I had with this knife was actually a very small problem and not any fault of the manufacturer really. I got a small amount of rust on the blade a couple times during the summer when it was very hot and humid. The knife was being carried in my pocket and the humidity along with sweat caused a small amount of surface rust. It was very little and in fact I was able to rub it off with my finger nail. I’ve been using Otis dry lubricant, which is also a rust inhibitor, on the knife and haven’t had any further problems.

I’ve been very impressed with this knife. It’s a larger knife which, along with the LAWKS system, makes it a good fighting knife. Yet, it’s small enough for daily carry as a utility knife. It makes a great knife for military, law enforcement, and outdoorsmen as well. One thing to note, however, is blade length. Some laws limit the length of blade that can be carried as a common pocket knife. If this is a problem, then there is a smaller version of this knife available as well.

Blade: Length: 3.875” (9.8 cm)
Thickness: 0.14” (0.35 cm)
Steel: AUS 8, 58-59 HRC
Closed: Handle length: 5.375” (13.7 cm)
Open: Overall length: 9.25” (23.5 cm)
Weight: 5.5 oz. (156 g)

Also available with a straight blade with no serrations.

MSRP: $89.99

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