Columbia River Knife and Tool M21-14
BY CONNOR PENROD
July 23, 2010
Oceanside, California, US
6' 5" (1.96 m)
188 lb (85.30 kg)
I've been hiking and camping on and off since my family and I started going to Yellowstone and Snowbird when I was a kid. I just recently started doing short excursions into the surrounding area, generally varying from trail runs of 1-3 miles (1.6-5 km) and hikes up to 6 miles (10 km). My pack weight is generally fairly light so that I can avoid grinding my knees to mush, around 10 lb (4.5 kg) at the most for runs, and up to double that for hikes. Hikes/runs are pretty arid in climate, with an occasional trip out of state to north-eastern Utah.
Manufacturer: Columbia River Knife and Tool
Manufacturer's Website: www.crkt.com
MSRP: $89.99 US
Listed Weight: 5.5 oz (156 g)
Measured Weight: accurate
Listed Length: 9.25 in (23.5 cm)
Measured Length: accurate
Blade Material: AUS8
Handle Material: Charcoal anodized aluminum
Length Closed: 5.25 in (13.34 cm)
Blade Length: 4 in (10.16 cm)
Blade Thickness: .14 in (.36 cm)
Blade Style: Spearpoint with recurve. Partially serrated.
Lock Style: Liner lock with CRKT's patented AutoLawks mechanism
Opening Method: Either traditional thumb studs, or Carson Flipper
The M21-14 features a spear point blade with a deep belly along the cutting edge, and a false edge on top. The blade is partially serrated, and the AUS 8 steel has a satin or frost finish. Despite the false edge on top it maintains its thickness along the spine for much of the blade, of course narrowing at the tip. At the base of the blade on the spine there is jimping to help my thumb stay in place while making cuts; on the edged side at the base is an extension that acts as an index flipper/guard. When the knife is closed I can press the extension instead of the dual thumb studs to open the knife. Once it is open this extension helps keep my hand from sliding up the blade on to the knife, the extension has a small amount of jimping on the tip to keep my finger from slipping when opening the blade. On one side of the blade is the company name (CRKT) and on the other is the designer name (Kit Carson), the knife number (M21-14), area of manufacture (Taiwan), and the patent number.
The Handle is made of aluminum that is charcoal gray, and has holes cut into the aluminum slabs, CRKT refers to this as "skeletonized"; the back of the M21-14 is also completely open. The handle features a single stainless steel liner-lock that has jimping at the top; this both aids in closing and gives additional traction during use. CRKT has put in its patented "AutoLAWKS" to bolster the liner-lock. Once the knife is open and the liner-lock has popped over to keep the knife from closing, the AutoLAWKS (which is spring driven) drops down to stop the liner-lock from being moved back out of the way. This makes all of CRKT's knives that have this feature basically a fixed blade. The "AutoLAWKS" can be lifted back up via a lever on the top right side of the handle, the liner-lock has to be manipulated back over simultaneously.
Just some other things I noticed are: Teflon bearings at the pivot point, and a Teflon coated non-multipositional pocket clip
What first attracted (yes I did use attracted in reference to a knife) me to this particular knife was the leaf-shaped, drop point blade, and the index flipper which I had yet to see on a knife
I work in a retail tactical store and use the knife for cutting boxes, tape, 550cord, and any other tasks that are necessary on an almost daily basis. It handled well enough in the shop that I decided to take it with me on one of my weekly hikes so that I could test how it would perform as a survival knife.
After finding some dead wood I put it through a variety of tests, from chopping, stabbing, cutting, etc.
To start off with, this knife is not a chopper, the five minutes and rapid accumulation of blisters attest to this. As a stabbing knife it works like a dream. In either orthodox or reverse grip my hand didn't slide a millimeter and it bit fairly deep. As a cutter is where it might excel, the serrations and deep recurve to the blade cut deep with each stroke. While it may have not been the best chopper it did a fairly decent job as at splitting wood, I placed the edge on one log, then hammered the spine with another log. There were no deformations of either the spine or edge.
In testing its safety I put on a thick leather glove and did three tests, over striking in a chopping motion, striking the back spine of the blade, and stabbing with a loose grip. In both the overstriking and striking the back of the blade I could easily feel the liner lock flexing quite significantly but the secondary lock kept it from closing on itself. We sell these exact knives at the store I work at, and quite a few people complain about the secondary lock, how it is cumbersome and harder to operate in one hand. To see how the knife functioned without it I removed the secondary lock and performed the same safety tests; it snapped onto the gloves in all three. Fortunately I thought to dull the blade beforehand. After that I concluded that it is worth the extra second for the gained safety, besides, if I am running a race to put away my knife I'm probably doing something I shouldn't be doing; upon returning home the safety was reattached and there it shall remain.
Another interesting fact about the M21-14 is that it has a skeleton-style handle. This reduces weight, makes it easier to clean, and can give my fingers a little more purchase on the handle if my hands get slick from sweat or water.
As far as temperature ranges, it has been with me on hikes up in the Anza Borrego desert in southern California, and the Uinta Mountains in northeastern Utah with no change in performance. I would estimate temperature range of 90 F (32 C) to 35 F (2 C). Total elevation change from sea level in Oceanside to 11,068 ft in the Uinta Mountains (0-3374 meters). I usually go on three or four hikes a month, and every time this knife is clipped to the front of my pack. Over the course of nearly a year I would say it's been with me on close to 20 trips, and goes with me nearly everywhere; of course excluding school.
Of note is that in both areas, I never experienced high levels of moisture, yet the steel still managed to accumulate a small amount of surface rust. It seems to have very little corrosion resistance, I have to keep a thin film of oil on it, or it will get surface rust within hours of sweat touching it. While the skeleton style handle is a benefit in most areas, the stainless steel liner-lock is further exposed because of it. Incidentally this is the hardest area to clean and has the most surface rust. So far there are no pits it the steel anywhere though. I have to remember oil, or at least some sandpaper to scrub it with!
Overall, with my testing I've concluded that the M21-14 is a jack of all trades, but a master of none. Most tasks it performs well to above average, but there was only one (safety) where I felt it excelled. My favorite aspect about this knife is how safe it is. The index flipper/index guard combined with the secondary locking mechanism mean I am never afraid of losing my fingers, and can focus on the task at hand. I know some people who have had the pleasure of having a knife close on their unprotected fingers. Quite a painful experience, and one I will continue to avoid.
I have many knives, but this is the one I'm most comfortable taking with me outdoors; both because of its many uses and its ease of cleaning.
The general versatility of the M21-14 means that it will definitely stay in my pocket for some time to come. However if I had the option of getting one with a different finish to put an extra layer between the steel surface and the eniviroment it would be a pronounced improvement. As my main survival knife it may not pass, but as a back-up it fits the bill.
|M21-14 (courtesy of CRKT)|
|The red dot you see is the secondary lever/lock|
THINGS I LIKE
Index flipper/finger guard
THINGS I DON'T LIKE
Not the best survival knife
Poor corrosion resistance
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
"There is pleasure in the pathless woods
there is rapture on the lonely shore
there is society where none intrudes
by the deep sea, and music in its roar
I love not man the less, but Nature more."
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