Long ago, in a PX far away in Camp Taji, Iraq, a small, scared private named Dennis was searching for a pocket knife for his kit when he came upon a Columbia Knife and Tool display. That display featured a large CRKT Tanto blade with a flipper tab designed by retired Army Green Beret Master Sgt. Kit Carson and a red ‘on sale’ sticker for $30. In the years since, the company has continued to upgrade its designs and test new innovations like their veff style serrations that are easier to sharpen and better at cutting, adding features like front and rear flipper tabs and a reversible pocket clip. Although I tend to swap out my pocket knife for a variety of different tools, a solid CRKT simply cannot be beaten
Today, while not searching for Iranian IEDs, I still use a smaller and more affordable version of my CRKT in my everyday carry. I discovered upon returning to civilian life that my CRKT was rather large and intimidating for any setting outside of an infantry patrol. I graduated from college in Connecticut, where large knives are frowned upon by the local government, and I’ve tried to de-green myself to the extent that I don’t need to carry a pistol and 6-inch blade everywhere I go. So I went out to find my old knife in a more subdued model and found something far more manageable in a civilian setting: the CRKT M16-10KSF.
The M16-10KSF offers a few new twists on an old classic with a smaller, more conspicuous size and shape. The new design offers a more manageable size with front and rear flipper tabs, a triple serrated edge, stainless steel handle, frame locking, and a totally blacked-out tanto-style blade. The blade itself features a unique single-angle bevel that, while not indestructible, will hold an edge for a considerable amount of time. Its dark black color makes it a classy look in both tactical and office settings — and, at less than $60, the M16-10KSF retails for a relatively fair price considering how much use you can get out of it.
The M16-10KSF has spent roughly three years riding around in my pocket. Here’s what you should know about it.
My M16-10KSF came in a plastic folding display case. It was likely packaged that way so retailers can display the blades in the aisles of stores and consumers can examine the blade and handle profile without actually touching the knife. I have no experience with CRKT’s more elaborate and expensive designs, which may come with more flashy packaging, but the M16-10KSF I purchased came right out of a bait and tackle shop in Connecticut. CRKT’s packaging isn’t designed to make a statement about the company, but to demonstrate consistency, dependability, and communicate the Columbia Knife and Tool brand.
I started to feel good about the purchase the minute the knife came out of the packaging and into my hands. The blade locks with a traditional frame lock and boasts dual flipper tabs that form a guard at the base of the cutting surfaces. The handle is made from old-school stainless steel finished in a classic black oxide and measuring 7 inches open and 4 inches closed. Weighing just under 3 ounces, the knife is barely noticeable when in your pocket or worn on a vest. The dark black oxide on the blade matches the handle and is nearly invisible at night. The edge does sport a mirror sheen that tends to shine at the pivot on the front of the tanto.
Folded, the knife fits neatly into your palm. The blade action itself doesn’t snap solidly into place without a little assist from a snap of the wrist. It also needs a little assistance when closing and is a little difficult to manipulate with one hand due to its small size. However, it’s not a dangerous action: it just needs a little extra help from the user. Some high-end knife buyers will not like this, but the knife is designed for rigorous use first and visually pleasing features second. What really saves this knife from mediocrity is the low price point and durable construction, which makes it perfect for people on a budget in need of a solid blade.
How we tested the CRKT M16-10KSF folding knife
The knife’s edge has four working points: the point, the front slope, the edge and the serrations. Each point of the knife serves a different purpose. Serration makes quick work of paracord and other lines that need to be cut quick for shelter. Typically, when I used the knife, I let the serration do all the work and use the rest of the edges to support that work.
Unfortunately, the knife just wasn’t very sharp fresh out of the box, and the steel that the blade is made out of makes it difficult to obtains a solid edge and keep it. To test the sharpness, I used a fresh piece of paper and tested all three sections of the blade on a taught piece of paper to see if it would slice. The front slope and middle edge had difficulty slicing through the paper without some assistance. However, the serration made quick work, as if using a razor blade. I retested the knife this week with the exact same results despite three years of abuse.
And reader, there was abuse. The heaviest use this blade saw from me was gutting a trout in West Virginia, and while I have also used this knife as a scrapper on a ferro rod in an emergency situation, I don’t recommend using any blade for that unless you don’t mind ruining it. Once, while driving around the backcountry roads of western Massachusetts, I sank my Nissan into a meadow of freshly melted ice. The SUV was hopelessly struggling on a private road where no tow truck would help us, and the only things I had in my vehicle to assist was a friction saw and my CRKT, which I used as a makeshift tiny log splitter to get more surface area on my traction bridge out of the mud. This little CRKT knife came in handy when I needed it and reminded me why it’s important to be prepared. My spouse and I slept in a dry bed that night thanks to this model.
When it’s not getting knocked around, the knife sits cleaned and oiled in my kitchen drawer. After three years of action, there is some oxidation on the CRKT logo on the blade, but nothing of note that would stop the knife from functioning.
What we like about the CRKT M16-10KSF folding knife
The bottom line about the M16-10KSF: It’s small, its cheap, and it works every single time. This general design is the pinnacle of military usefulness and captures how Kit Carson incorporated his decades of military experience into his work.
When I select a knife for a military or tactical purpose, I want it to do several things. First, it has to cut paracord; then, it needs a sharp tip stab through fabric in the event you need to provide first aid. The knife also needs to be deployable with one hand for first responders and military usage alike. The Kit Carson designs easily deploy in tight spaces and feels good to snap it open. It’s worth noting that the handles are generally stippled, which makes them easy to grasp. It also has a reversible pocket clip making the blade more versatile and friendlier to left-handed users.
While the M16-10KSF is simple, it also does many things a fixed blade simply cannot do. This knife is not designed for hard use, but you can make it work in a pinch. The large designs are even more useful in a military context and even the non-black blades have a coating to reduce reflection in a tactical setting. Personally, I think carrying a knife for self-defense is not a good idea, but these knives are designed so that you can fight with them too if the need arises. The tanto design and the original drop point blade profile are selected to pierce thick military vests in a force-on-force battle. I wouldn’t recommend rushing into a war zone with one, but it’ll do in a pinch.
While the knife is essentially an upgraded classic, it still holds its own among the many more expensive knife designers on the market. I like to consider this knife the ultimate military knife: It isn’t quite as iconic as other brands like KA-BAR, but it does everything that CRKT claims it can do and for cheaper. If I can buy a classic for $40 over a $300 knife with gaudy handle materials, I’m going to go with the classic every time.
What we don’t like about the CRKT M16-10KSF folding knife
Personally, I’m not a fan of the single bevel edges. It’s a cost-saving measure that affects the sharpness of the blade, and I’m not sure if it’s a good feature or not. I know how to sharpen a V-shaped edge, but a bevel edge requires some extra training to learn. The flipper tabs are useful and open the blade, but there is something slightly rough that makes it harder to manipulate. The small size makes it much more difficult to manipulate with large winter gloves, making the knife less useful in extreme cold conditions.
Overall, the knife has a few minor drawbacks that are mitigated by its price point. It’s not as fancy as some knives, but it will actually get the job done.
If you don’t already own one, you should. These knives are inexpensive and well-made, and despite my lack of sharpening, it still holds an edge after years of use. Furthermore, CRKT offers knife sharpeners and teaches you how to use them on their website. I’ve had three of these knives since 2007 and only replaced them when lost. Frankly, my CRKT knives have always been the most reliable piece of extra kit I ever had during my time in the U.S. military, and it’s the most reliable pocket knife in my house. I’d argue the CRKT holds the same spot in our tool box as the old Case XX knives and will only continue to solidify its spot in the knife market. While you can certainly spend five times this on a tactical folding knife, you won’t get the same value as a CRKT.
FAQs about the CRKT M16-10KSF folding knife
More questions? Here’s Task & Purpose’s additional brief.
Q. How much does the CRKT M16-10KSF folding knife cost?
A. The CRKT M16-10KSF normally retails for around $54.99 at the company store, but it’s currently on sale for $39.99 there and $44.99 at Amazon.
Q. What is a single-beveled edge?
A. Most European-style knives are dual bevel knives, meaning that there are two slopes that come to a point to form the cutting edge of the knife. A single bevel means there is only one slope on the knife. The Japanese-style single-bevel edge is often used in kitchens because you only need to hone one side of the blade which is hopefully sharper than a double-bevel edge. Less edge means less work to sharpen; however, the technique to sharpen a single bevel is difficult to learn.
Q. What is a tanto-style blade?
A. The tanto style is an ancient Japanese design that is angled sharply from the point to a flat cutting surface rather than a curve like on most other blades. These blade tips were designed to pierce armor on the ancient battlefields. Today, the tanto-style blade provides a useful tip to start cutting in the center of a piece of fabric, cardboard, or particle wood. Tanto style isn’t for everyone because it does look intense in some settings, but in my view, it’s a great blade profile for a utility knife.
Q. Is there a difference in the color schemes?
A. Most of the differences can be chalked up to user preference. My first CRKT had a brown handle with a clear-coated blade to reduce nighttime reflection. The knife’s color scheme matched the color scheme of our uniform, and this generally pleases U.S. military leadership. The black color of the model reviewed here fits different users: perhaps an EMT might select a black-handled version to comply with department standards. However, the CRKT M16-10KSF comes in multiple variations that meet different users’ purposes.
Q. What’s up with the flipper tabs?
A. Flipper tabs were invented by Kit Carson. The tabs work on the idea of kinetic energy: as you depress the flipper, you should feel the knife grab it gently forcing you to press harder. When the detent releases the knife, the kinetic energy slings the knife out into the open position. These were designed to improve spring assisted folders that can malfunction and be difficult to close. Furthermore, they are often illegal outside military settings. A knife with a flip tab should be good, but as always, check your local laws!
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Dennis White joined the Army in 2006 as an infantryman and served two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. He left the military in 2015 to pursue education and graduated with honors from Wesleyan University. He is currently a graduate student at the University of Massachusetts – Amherst and spends most of his free time hiking in the wilds of southern New Mexico.
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