CRKT M21-04G, M21-02G, M16-13LE review / comparison

My Columbia River Knife & Tool (CRKT) folding knifes would have to be my favourite and most used knifes. I got the M16-13LE first. I then got an M21-02G as i liked the look of the blade shape. Initially I thought it was a bit small, so then ordered an M21-04G. Having used the 02 for a month or so, I actually now quite like the size. When the 04 arrived I was actually a bit shocked – it is quite large for a folder.

I originally bought the M16 on the recommendation of a friend. At the time, I only knew of the M16’s, and the available range in Australia was fairly limited. I settled for a M16-13LE – AUS-8, spear point, partially serrated. I didn’t want the serrations, however all the plain edge M16’s I could find were AUS-4 steel, which I didn’t like the sound of. I’ve had it for over a year now and it has been great – very sturdy, opens easily. Serrations I’m not a fan of – i find that for whittling and fine cutting tasks the base of the blade is the most used section – right where the serrations are. I am slowly grinding these back and will eventually have it converted to a plain edge. The black blade coating has held up to a lot of abuse.

While I had set out to convert the M16 to a plain edge, I decided that that would take a while, and I still didn’t like the spear point – I prefer a deeper curve on the blade for slicing. So I decided to buy an M21. I searched ebay and got the cheapest one I could – an M21-02G. AUS-8 blade, G10 scales, plain edge. When it arrived I was a bit disappointed – it is noticeably smaller than the M16, and just felt like it was a bit small (I do have largish hands, and the M16 fits perfectly). The blade shape is great, and the knife just as sturdy as the M16, however I have noticed that the linerlock is a bit harder to close than on the M16. I did notice that the blade coating on the 02 (Titanium nitride) wore in spots pretty quickly. Not that big a deal since I prefer the used look on all my things.

After a few week I decided to just order a bigger 04 too. The fact that customs is getting crazy with knives and who knows how much longer we’ll be able to get them in from other countries also helped the decision. It took a few weeks to arrive, in which I actually grew to really like the compact size of the 02. ¬†When the 04 did arrive, I was actually quite shocked – the 04 is actually quite a bit bigger than the M16 – actually too large for a “pocket knife”. I haven’t actually used this one much, however it seems just as good as the others – sturdy hinge, solid locking mechanism, easy to open with the carson flipper.

Overall, the M16s and M21s are great knives – solid pivots, reliable locks, easy opening, all for a pretty low price (US$40 for an M21-02G shipped to au). I would have to say that the M21-02G is my favourite – nice blade shape and very good size for a pocket knife, and very cheap. The M16’s come second, although it seems very hard to get a plain edge blade in AUS-8 steel. The M21-04G is just a bit too big – might be good as a camp knife, but not good for my use as an everyday pocket knife.


  1. CRKT best value for what you get. Waiting for M21 – O2 non serrated blade as well as the special forces M21. Take care!

  2. It’s funny cause I was searching for XT 600 parts (mine is a 2KF model 1987), and it happens that I own too a CRKT M16-13SF knife, an awesome knife it’s like multi-tool! as you said solid and reliable, still opens nicely and so on.

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