2nd Amendment to the Constitution of The United States of America

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

"I ask sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people except for a few politicians."
- George Mason (father of the Bill of Rights and The Virginia Declaration of Rights)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Columbia River Knife & Tool M16-13ZM Knife

Wow! Nothing for a while and now 2 posts in one week! I started out just to blog about things that go boom, but I have been so pleased with this product that I felt the need to share.

When I was a (much) younger man I was a "blade junkie". Like a lot of young soldiers I was fascinated with knives and edged weapons and tools and incorporated them into every aspect of my burgeoning military career. Take for example my common field load of blades that would accompany me to the field.

1. A genuine GI stainless pocket knife (for opening MRE's and such)
2. A Spyderco folding serated knife (for tough MRE's I guess)
3. A folding saw for cutting down tree limbs for stakes and such for fighting positions

4. A Ka-Bar or other such fixed blade for "battle"
5. My issue E-Tool with the smooth side sharpened as to create a makeshift ax
6. An occasional hand ax so I wouldn't have to mess up my E-Tool (what was I thinking?)
7. Last, but certainly not least, a Machete (or Man-chete as we called it) for clearing brush.

Man, that's a lot of wasted weight there. When it came down to it, I really only ever needed the pocket knife, the folding knife and the machete, on occasion. The rest was just useless trinkets. As I grew older and wiser I realized that my needs for blades were overstated and that a simple folding knife or pocket knife would suffice for 98% of the required tasks I had to accomplish. Sure the other stuff was nice to have, but last time I checked I wasn't engaged in hand to hand combat. Now I know a good number of my fellow soldiers and those brave souls that call themselves Marines over in Iraq have engaged in HTH, but I went over there primarily to run a database so the immediated threat of needing a long fixed blade was minimal. The need to long blades are valid for front line individuals, but as I was in Kuwait the majority of time, a nice pocket knife was all I really needed. The advantage to this thinking was that a pocket knife or folder would always be on me and available, as it should be.

By the time I deployed in 2006 the old GI pocket knife had been replaced with a Leatherman multi-tool circa 1998. It was not as whiz-bang chocked full of stuff as some of the newer ones, but it folded smaller and slimmer than its contemporaries or Gerbers and it has a nice leather case with a brass snap which I like. I was carrying a Gerber 4" folding pocketknife that worked perfectly for me until it went AWOL in Afghanistan and I was left without (sniff sniff!). When I got back to Kuwait I went to the PX for a knife run and picked up the subject of this post, a CRKT M16-13ZM folder. Specs are as follows:

Build: InterFrame with Zytel® Scales
Color: Desert Tan with Bead Blast Blade
Blade: Combined Razor-Sharp & Triple-Point Serrated Cutting Edge
Length: 3.50” (8.9 cm)
Thickness: 0.10” (0.25 cm)
Steel: AUS 4 55-57 HRC
Closed: Handle length: 4.75” (12.1 cm)Open: Overall length: 8.25” (21.0 cm)
Weight: 3.5 oz. (99 g)
MSRP U.S. $56.99

I picked mine up for less than the $57 MSRP, about $25 at the PX. I like a couple of things about it at the start:

1. It looks cool
2. It looks cool

Did I mention that it looks cool? It even has "OIF Certified" on it to let you know that there isn't a MRE in theater that it isn't up the task of tearing into. The handles is a sand-tan color which again goes with the OIF theme of the knife. I had looked at the bigger CRKT offerings (the -14Z model with a larger tanto style blade) but I thought the smaller, sleeker spear point would work nicely for me and would not stand out if opened in public once I got back to the world.

One interesting feature of the knife is the LAWKS system it uses to lock the blade. Most folding knifes use a piece of spring metal in the handle of the knife (called a clevis) that blocks the movement of the blade once extended. This is secure enough for most makers, but CRKT has improved by adding an additional safety. Their LAWKS system (patented) uses an additional safety bar that blocks the clevis from being accidentally moved while in the locked position. To close the knife you must first deactive the system with a button latch on the handle, move the clevis as other knives and then fold the blade. CRKT claims that this system turns their folding knives into fixed blades once opened. I will agree 80% with them on this statement as I think this system will work when employed on about 80% of what a fixed blade would be called onto do. The other 20% of the time, heavy prying and pounding with the knife, I feel, would be too much for the system to handle. My opinion, yours may vary of course. I should point out that this does not in any way make me any less confident in the knife. If it only had the clevis I would still highly praise it, the LAWKS system pushes this knife into the realm of the best I ahve ever handled.

The knife sits beautifully in my hand. I have what I consider a normally large hand and the contours and finger indents in the handle feel like they are almost custom made for me. A raised spur on the blade doubles as both a one handed opening assist and a guard to keep your hand from slipping onto the blade. On the back of the blade a checkered section of the back of the blade provides extra grip and control for your thumb while manipulating the blade. Excellent overall feel. The blade itself is made of AUS 4 steel with a RHC factor of 55-57. This provides a low maintenance blade that is easy to sharpen, but must be monitored more closely for wear than a harder steel. A good tradeoff considering this particular model was developed for soldiers in the Iraq theater of operations. the 3.5 " blade is half a regualar blade and a triple point serated edge, for cutting 550 cord and the like. After carrying this knife for over a year, including the time since I have been home, I can honestly say it is one of the most useful knives I have ever owned. It feels perfect in my hand, the color and the style blend nicely in with my civilian wardrobe and the OIF markings make it not only a souvenier of my tour but also a conversation piece occasionally.

My only critique is with the pocket clip. The 3 small hex screws do not work for me. I have loosened the clip more than once by catching it on a seatbelt or other object brushed against it. The small screws just don't hold as tight as I would like. Possible replacing these 3 small screws with 2 larger screws by the manuafacturer would solve this. It is not a show stopper for this knife

If you happen to be looking for a well built, dependable and sturdy knife for EDC (every day carry) use, this is a great knife to have. If you happen to be in the PX at Camp Arifjan and see one, pick it up along with your NA Heinekin and pogy bait, you won't regret it!

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