Columbia River Knife & Tool M16-13Z

By Schuyler Barnum

Columbia River M16-13Z Knife
Columbia River M16-13Z.

This last summer I worked at Camp Pioneer, a Boy Scout camp in the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness area of Oregon. I worked at Scoutcraft, where kids learn things such as how to cook, proper ways to camp, as well as how to use a knife. At the time, I had two knives and I was proud of neither of them. One was a really cheap Coast knife I had bought at another Boy Scout camp 4 years earlier and was impossible to sharpen and a pain to open and the other a Brand-X Boy Scout version of a Swiss Army knife that I found on the Pacific Crest trail in 5th grade.

I felt that I needed a new knife, so on one of my weekend leaves I went to Excalibur, a knife store.

Columbia River Knife & Tool (CRKT) products caught my eye. They looked nice and sturdy, as well as reasonably priced. They also come with a lifetime warrantee that covers any manufacturing defect.

I purchased the M16-13Z model. Here are the specifications:

  • Blade: Length: 3.50� (8.9cm)
  • Thickness: 0.10� (0.25 cm)
  • Steel: AUS 4, 55-57 HRC
  • Handle material: Zytel
  • Closed: Handle length: 4.75� (12.1 cm)
  • Open: Overall length: 8.25� (21.0 cm)
  • Weight: 3.5 oz. (99 g)

It immediately impressed my fellow staffers. It is a fine looking knife that is also very good at what it�s designed to do, which is obviously cutting.

The "pros" of this knife are numerous. It is well balanced, fits well in the hand, sharp, easy to sharpen and the serrations are just the right length for cutting rope. (That�s the main thing I�ve used them for). It can be opened quickly. When the blade is closed, you use one of the dual, checkered thumb studs on the blade to pivot the blade open with your thumb. These also act as blade stops. The M16 incorporates a "Carson flipper" blade extension to aid opening; once opened, this serves as an additional blade guard. There are Teflon bearings at the blade pivot for extra smooth opening and closing.

It is good to note that this knife does not have a spring assist, which I prefer because I have control of the blade, not the spring. It has a positive liner lock mechanism that (in my model, I�ll explain the others below) is easy to release when you want to, but otherwise keeps the blade open.

The main "con" is that the grip holes in the sides collect dirt. I have to clean this knife more often than my previous ones, since it collects dirt in a hurry.

CRKT has added an extra device to their current lineup, the AutoLAWKS system. On my knife, the only automatic lock is a liner lock;simply press the liner lock sideways against the frame with the thumb and close the blade. There is also a little LAWKS stud located in the handle at the top right rear of the blade that you can rock forward, which rotates a little piece of metal into place to keep the liner lock from moving out of the way of the blade, essentially turning it into a fixed blade. However, on current production knives this mechanism is spring loaded for automatic operation, which means that you have to rock back the AutoLAWKS stud and simultaneously press the liner lock against the frame in order to close the knife. Supposedly, this makes the knife safer, preventing inadvertent closing if the blade is severely twisted or torqued. I feel that AutoLAWKS is a step backward, since there are more things you have to do to close the blade. My knife has never closed on me when I didn�t want it to, and I use it a lot.

AutoLAWKS was already in production when I bought my knife, but fortunately Excalibur had a few M16-13Zs without it, so I bought one without. I used the AutoLAWKS knives at the store and they were annoying and somewhat scary to close. If you want to buy this knife, I would suggest looking for one without the AutoLAWKS system. Anyway, safety with knives, like guns, is between your ears, not on the device, so be smart and you won�t get hurt.

In general, I would suggest the CRKT M16-13 as a general purpose carrying knife for cutting everyday things such as rope, food items (I cut oranges a lot with this knife), threads hanging off your clothes, opening cardboard shipping boxes, et cetera. I would not recommend it as a hunting knife, but that�s a given. I think it would work relatively well as a self defense knife. It�s not designed for the purpose, but it opens fast, is sharp and has a blade of reasonable length, so if you don�t want to carry a pistol, it should work. Overall a very good knife and well worth the reasonable price.


  • Make and Model: CRKT M16-13Z Knife
  • Type: Folding work knife
  • Best Features: Strong; sharp blade; easy to sharpen; good weight; fast to open; good looks; good price
  • Worst Features: Collects dirt; AutoLAWKS
  • Overall grade: M16-13Z = A; With AutoLAWKS = A-

Back to Cutlery

Copyright 2008, 2016 by Schuyler Barnum and/or All rights reserved.