The Cutting Edge

The official blog of Knife Depot

10 Best CRKT Knives


This post was originally posted in August 2018 and is updated every year.

Formally known as Columbia River Knife & Tool, CRKT is a relatively new company in terms of big knife brands, having only been established in 1994.

However, over the nearly three decades the company has been around, it’s put out hundreds of different models. There’s a lot to love about CRKT, from its truly innovative designs to its collaborations with some of the top knifemakers. Unfortunately, the use of inexpensive materials leaves a lot to be desired by the knife community. In the last few years, CRKT has tried to remedy these failings.

Picking the 10 best CRKT knives was easy at first until I realized all the knives I was forgetting. The company puts out dozens of new models every year and discontinues a ton. Unlike many of the other brands, this list is a mixture of new and old.

Let us know if you think we missed any.


We’ll start with the flagship series from CRKT: the M16. The late great Kit Carson, who pioneered the flipper tab, helped propel CRKT to where it is today, thanks to his M16 series. His knife was named one of the 10 best tactical knives of the decade by Blade Magazine, and the CRKT interpretation is nothing to scoff at.

These days, there are dozens of variations on the M16, so much so that it’s hard to sort out all the models available and the confusing numbering system. The M16-14SF is a crowd favorite.

CRKT Drifter

The Drifter is an unlikely addition to this list. In many ways, the Drifter is an unspectacular folding knife, but it is exactly the knife that anyone can use and enjoy. In fact, the knife was named the best folding knife for the masses by The Wirecutter. It’s dirt cheap, features a reasonable sub 3-inch blade length, and uses a no-nonsense liner lock.

The blade steel is 8Cr14MoV and there are fancier knives you can get, but this is one of the best values for a workhorse folder.

CRKT Razel

CRKT has frequently collaborated with the now late Jon Graham. Some of those earlier collaborations were hit-or-miss, but the CRKT Razel is a truly remarkable knife.

This fixed blade boasts Graham’s famous chisel-like blade profile with a resin-infused handle. Sure, it may look pretty strange, but the knife is functional and original.

You can’t ask for much more in a knife.


When we first made this list, the Pilar was in this spot. Then we picked the better Pilar III as a replacement last year. Finally, we had to put the Pilar IV on here.

It’s not often a knife gets better and better as it gets more iterations, but the Pilar IV managed to accomplish this feat.

The original Pilar, designed by Jesper Voxnaes, quickly became one of the most respected user-friendly knives out there. While still a best-seller and beloved knife, there were a few issues. The Pilar IV addresses them all.

The Pilar IV stretches the original 2.4-inch blade to a 3.09-inch blade. The heavy, smooth steel handles are replaced with a G-10 front scale. Even though the Pilar IV is larger the original, it actually weighs less.

This version also has D2 steel, which is an upgrade to the old 8Cr13MoV steel. While the original Pilar remains an excellent budget knife at a compact size, the Pilar IV is just better in every way.

CRKT Minimalist

The Minimalist series is unusual.

The knives almost look incomplete and the blade shapes are not your typical fare. However, Alan Folts was able to create a knife design that works well on so many levels. Despite being almost nonexistent, the handle fills out the hand nicely. The small blade is roughly two inches and comes in different styles.

Most of the knives in the series come in at a weight under 2 ounce (or about 2.4 ounces for the larger katana version). When accompanied by the sheath, the Minimalist can be carried around the neck without much notice.

The one we’re highlighting here is the katana version, but at this point there are more than a dozen including the newer CRKT Minimalist Wharncliffe, CRKT Minimalist Drop Point Black Out, and more.


With Ken Onion’s CRKT Ripple getting a bit long in the tooth and so many new knives coming out, we unfortunately had to push the Ripple off this list. The knife that dethroned the Ripple is none other than the CRKT LCK.

The LCK was actually a Ruger by CRKT model a few years back and was a companion of the Lightweight Compact Pistol. Despite being a hit, the LCK (which is one of the only CRKT knives to get gem status from Nick Shabazz) disappeared with the Ruger line. But, the knife came back with a vengeance under the CRKT brand.

The LCK + is as lightweight, inexpensive, and easy to carry as ever. It has a 3.31-inch assisted blade with a black glass-reinforced nylon handle.

The LCK now comes in three design: the LCK+, LCK+ Large, and LCK+ Tanto Blackout. All are excellent knives.

CRKT Shrill

It was a tough decision, but we decided to boot the iconic boot knife CRKT Sting from this spot. The design was simply getting long in the tooth and the Shrill has been gaining ground in terms of sales and reviews.

That’s why we’ve officially put the Matthew Lerch-designed boot knife — the CRKT Shrill — on this list.

This is a larger boot knife with a 4.7-inch dual-edged blade and Micarta handle. It’s not super practical for EDC, but you can comfortably carry it in your boot or even pocket.

CRKT CEO Flipper

CEO Flipper

The hardest part of narrowing down the best CRKT knives is that there are so many perfect knives in its back catalog and then new great knives are added every year. In the first iteration of this list, we had to give the Lucas Burnley Obake fixed blade the boot to replace with the CEO.

However, in 2021, CRKT put out a flipper version, which somehow managed to improve upon the design. It’s a slim and specialized folder made primarily for office workers because of its low profile and unassuming design when closed.

Sales on the CEO continue to climb, and so does the positive reception.

People were initially nervous about the flipper mechanism added to the knife, but it works flawlessly with the design. But you can still grab the original if you prefer.

There’s even the CEO Compact now for those who want a smaller knife.

CRKT M4-02

In the first few iterations of this list, we had the Homefront and then the Provoke. While these two knives were good, they were a little gimmicky and not necessarily CRKT’s best.

So, we decided to eschew the specialty knives and go back to the basics with the M4-02 series. These three folders from Kit Carson have been mainstays of the CRKT lineup and for good reason: they are modern classics that look and feel timeless.

The M4-02 with white bone handle is a particularly good-looking knife that’s among our best-selling CRKT knives.

It is also available in burl wood and red stag.


The Squid is another Lucas Burnley designed knife that’s earned a reputation as a solid knife for the price. The knife is compact with a small 2.14-inch blade made from 8Cr13MoV steel. It has stainless steel handle scales with a frame lock to keep the manual folding blade open.  In 2015, guest reviewer Beau Shelton gushed over the knife and how it evoked feelings of nostalgia and understanding in him.

However, just like how the Pilar got better and better as time went on, the same thing happened to the Squid. The culmination of the Squid design is the Squid XM.

This model fixes all the flaws of the original. It is longer but almost as light, it uses D2 steel, it has a G-10 scale to decrease its slickness, and it has an assisted opener with flipper.

For the price, it’s one of the best EDC knives you can buy.

Honorable Mentions

Out of all the major brands, CRKT has one of the most diverse catalogs that range from user-friendly pieces to absurd designs to all-time classics.

A few honorable mentions that deserve a shoutout here are the CRKT Ritual, CRKT Provoke EDC, CRKT Stickler, CRKT Ignitor, and more.


  1. I have an M-16, but it’s the spearpoint one, I also have a Sting, but it’s an A.G,Russell from about 35 years ago.

  2. Robert LaRouche

    August 21, 2018 at 2:26 pm

    Great knives. I cherish my CRKT M4 02S. Spear point, hollow ground blade,
    steel backstrap and liners like my favorite Italian knives, stag handle and burnished steel bolsters — it fits the hand and deploys with a burst with
    speed assist. It is a modern knife that has the feel and look of the best traditional folder. Your selection of the 10 best is a fine argument — I particularly agree on CRKT version of Sting – but my EDC is worth at least an honorable mention,

  3. I recently got an auto-converted, vintage-ly CRKT E-lock in the spear point conf.
    Such instant fav.! So many intricate prod. steps, and the brutalist Elishewitz design is tanky, yet not too so.

    • Tim

      August 21, 2018 at 9:04 pm

      To be honest, I wasn’t too familiar with the E-lock. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. It looks like a really interesting design.

  4. I’ve had the m16 14sfg for a few years now, as a bonus, it came with the drifter as a combo set. Nice to see both kniveson this list. Deservingly so. Both blades are badass.

  5. I have the Squid and love it. I also have a non listed knife, the Hollow Point +P and really like this knnife too. CRKT your the best.

  6. Renán Tinajero

    April 1, 2020 at 5:18 pm

    I have two CRKT folding knives a friend of mine sent me from the USA, vecause I live in Quito, Ecuador.
    I think the CRKT knives are excellent, I have used them even in the mountain forest and in the jungle and they are still like new ones.

  7. You forgot the Fossil

  8. Great knives . CRKT Drifter is best on my opinion .I have one folding knives(CRKT Drifter).I feel very easy to use this knives.and This knives is also very save to use. Folding knives is like a pocket knives.This knives is best. Just love with this knives.

  9. I just got the M16 and pretty cool looking and it s awesome

  10. My favorite CRKT blade is my Crawford Design Point Guard. It is a good EDC and all around design.

  11. awesome article. it’s a good guide for us to buy a folded knife. thank you for sharing this article.

  12. I gotta tell ya, I have a mint CRKT ABC fixed blade TINI coated, and this knife is the most unique knife that I own. It’s been out of production, but I’m glad I got one when I did. Haven’t ever seen a knife that is of this design…..

    • Tim

      September 21, 2022 at 3:04 pm

      Yup. You have to hand it to CRKT for taking risks. The knives might be hit or miss, but sometimes they are really good.

  13. tom campobasso

    July 18, 2023 at 11:10 pm

    otanashi hoh ken by far the best knife for pesonal defence or any james willimas knife

  14. I love my CRKT Dually. I would love to see it get a big brother.

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