CRKT Lightfoot M1
(Review and photos by Switchblade)
About the Manufacturer:
The Columbia River Knife and Tool company is based in Wilsonville, Oregon,USA. But nowadays they go with the flow and manufacture knives in Taiwan. They work closely with the “Who is Who” of the knife design world. Just to name a few (randomly) Michael Walker, Kit Carson, Russ Kommer, Allen Elishewitz, Jim Hammond and of course Greg Lightfoot who is the designer of the M1. The CRKT company builds very good quality knives and stands behind their products with a limited lifetime warranty to the original owner.
About the designer:
Greg Lightfoot of Lloydminster, Alberta, Canada is one of the Top 10 Tactical Knife designers in the world (according to Blade Magazine). At one point he was the Vice President of the Canadian Knifemakers’ Guild. He has his own very successful business as well.
You can buy his original M1 for some $US 475-575.
But let’s see the object of this review – the CRKT production version.
The knife comes with 2 wider than average Teflon coated clips, fastener screws and fitting Torx/Allen key. These clips allow for the options of tip-up or tip-down carry, left or right. The handle is an open construction with stainless steel liners,spacers and honeycomb pattern textured Zytel scales. The blade comes with plain or partially serrated titanium nitride non-reflective coated edge in black or desert tan colors. The shape of the blade is a very appealing and usable refined tanto which was named “Millenium Tanto” by the designer himself. It has a false edge on the spine and a grooved thumb rest as well. The subject of my review is the black ,partially serrated version.
Blade: length – 3.125”
thickness – 0.13”
steel – AUS8, 56-58HRC
Handle: lenght – 4.5” (Zytel)
Weight: 5.8 oz.
Lock: Linerlok with LAWKS (Lake and Walker Knife Safety)
About the steel:
AUS8 is a well tried, tough stainless steel. Very popular with knife manufacturing companies (although it is not the latest in steel research…). It is Japanese made, very similar to the 440C stainless steel, but it surpasses that a touch in quality. Takes and holds an edge well and has good rust and stain resistance.
Alloy specs.: Carbon 0.70-0.75 %
Chromium 13-14.5 %
Manganese 0.5 %
Molybdenum 0.1-0.3 %
Nickel 0.49 %
Phosphorous 0.04 %
Silicon 1.0 %
Vanadium 0.10-0.25 %
When we hold the knife in hand the first time we can see, as well feel that, they did not cut corners and we are looking at a well built, good quality product. The blade opens and closes smoothly with a nice audible click. The fit and finish was good and tight throughout. No looseness, free-play,wiggling or gaps anywhere. The edge was sharp enough to shave some hair off my forearm, but was not “scary” sharp like a straight razor. Of course this can be fixed easy enough ,but I did not do that. I used the factory edge for my tests. I would like to quote Mr. Lightfoot about the outstanding handle: “Grab it and makes a fit. You instinctively know exactly where it is in your hand. And I believe that is a critical aspect in any successful knife design.” I have to agree with this 100%. This handle really is fantastic, all but grabs your hand back, not even the clip spoils the feel. The open construction makes easy to keep the folder clean and helps to avoid possible locking mechanism failure due to pocket lint or other debris. In my book this is a big plus for the M1. This folder is somewhat stronger and more robust than the similarly built M16 of the same size. Because of this, it needs a different approach for speedier one handed blade deployment. We start to open the blade utilizing the “Mako flipper” with our forefinger and after the initial blade movement we just flick it out from the wrist. After some practice it will go in one smooth move..This type of opening also has a very audible and authoritative sound, kind of like chambering a shell in a 12Ga. pump shotgun (it can have the same effect…). After the blade deployment the “Mako flipper” becomes a very effective finger-guard just like the “Carson flipper” on the closely related and above mentioned M16 folders.
I started my tests with some potato peeling. That is what my wife was doing in the kitchen, so I decided to kill two birds with one stone..Help her and test my folder (perhaps this will smoothen my next knife buy better…) The M1 had no problem. Holding the knife in the required position in my hand (which is also used for whittling) was comfortable and the blade ran under the potato skin easily, including the serrated portion. The tip of the blade cut out the bad, black parts easy enough, but obviously for this purpose let’s say… a clip or spear point would do better. After the potato peeling I cleaned and checked the blade . I did not see any discoloration or stain from the starch.
After this light warm up I cut up a 5′ long 1/4” rope to pieces by folding and pulling it over the serrated section of the blade. Piece of cake! The shortness of the serrated part did not pose a problem here. I got 32 pieces of rope with this method. Serrated blades excel in cutting ropes,webbing and other fibrous materials. That is why they were invented in the first place.
Next, I sliced the previously cut rope pieces in half using the plain edge portion and a cutting board.
The knife sliced easily, without much pressure. One slice – one piece. On the end I got 64 pieces.
The following day I brought a cardboard box home for my next experiment.
Utilizing the full length of the blade (plain and serrated) and using various cuts( eg. slicing, push cut)
I hacked up the whole box in seconds. This was nothing for the knife.
After this I tought I could use the cardboard pieces for a penetration test. So, I stacked them up nicely and then employing an icepick grip I stabbed my M1 into the pile. At first I was too careful and did not use full force. Even so, I have penetrated 9 layers. But because of my hand did not slip on the handle at all, I got bolder and used ever increasing power. The number of the penetrated cardboard layers grew accordingly, up to 16. I stabbed 5 times.
Just for comparison I repeated this test with my spear-point M16 folder – and I had the very same outcome! I think this is an excellent result. The false edge and the titanium nitride coating (which not only protects against corrosion but lessens the friction, as well) aided greatly in this outstanding performance. For my next trial I ended up at the kitchen counter. I took a look in the fridge, what is available for cutting? I cut a tomato to pieces and sliced up another one. No problem.
After that, I took some nice slices off a piece of Fruliano cheese. Here I could have used a touch longer blade (about an extra half inch would be nice..)
Next in line was some smoked sausage which I carved up very easily and for a better color effect I cut up some green pepper as well. So far, I did not observe any decrease in sharpness.
The fairly wide blade is very good for spreading butter, peanut butter and such. I can establish that, the “Tactical Folder” can be put in action in the kitchen, as well.
It is time for some woodwork. Luckily I could get three different kind of wood: pine, cedar and American poplar. I started my tests with making some “feather (or fuzzy) sticks out of the pine and the cedar. Also, I made a “tent peg” from the almost 1” diameter poplar. The blade separated the shavings nicely and very easily. I am not an experienced carver but I still could direct and control the knife easily. I think the next photo illustrates this well.
Next in my schedule was “drilling” a hole. For this purpose I utilized the cedar and made a pretty hole with the aid of the “Millenium Tanto” tip in seconds
After this, came a little wood splitting. I used a 3.5” long piece of pine and a baton to make some kindling/firewood. It was easy, no difficulty at all.
I split the firewood into even smaller pieces and got this nice looking pile of kindling for my efforts.
Next I stabbed my folder into my former baton with light force and with one move I pried/broke it out. The pine gave way with a crackling sound. I repeated this process a few times with increasing force and got similar results each time. In this picture you can see the little damage on the right, lower corner of the wood caused by the previous battoning.
I carried on my woodworking tests with twisting the knife tip out from a block of pine 2X4, after stabbing into it, to a depth of 3/16 of an inch. This did not pose a problem to the M1 either. Of course I repeated this tip twisting a couple of times with no change to the outcome. During my woodworking experiments I used the tip and the plain edge portion of the blade. Because of the location of the serrations I had to change my normal “whittling” grip. I had to grip further ahead of the handle on the back of the blade. This is executable easy enough on this handle, here the “Mako” flip guard aids greatly, preventing our fingers from sliding over the serrations. None of the three kind of wood I have used in these experiments is hardwood, but still we got a good idea of the knife woodworking abilities.
It is time for another edge holding check up. So, I carried out some paper tests. First a paper cylinder test. I do not think this edge dulled a lot so far…
And also I sliced up a couple of pages of some expired TV program for good measure. Here I have to mention that, the serrated portion tears the paper on the pull, but slices beautifully on downward push.
Writing about the serrations I decided to cut up some webbing with them, only. I used some 1” wide strap for this purpose and the serrated blade sailed through it, like if it was not even there…
Next I brought a piece of 5/8 of an inch diameter air hose (used for air tools). It is tough, flexible and not too hard, it is worth a try. Using the plain portion of the edge I sliced off a few pieces from this hose. It was not much more difficult than the smoked sausage slicing in the kitchen…
After this I had one more sharpness test. For this, I used a notepad page and the knife still sliced the paper beautifully.
I also gave one more try to shaving some hair off from my forearm. The edge sporadicly still took some hair off.(let’s not forget, the blade wasn’t razor sharp at the beginning)
Examining the knife up close I did not find any stains, wiggling, chipping or similar damages. The only thing I observed was some minor scratches on the blade coating. But even these scratches were visible only if the light hit them just right. I carried out my tests in a few days, not at once. During these tests I did not sharpen or fix the knife in any way. Based on my everyday use and my tests I can say, that the M1 stood up for itself well, passed everything I threw at it with flying colors.
For our money we get a robust, well built, reliable locking folder. The handle is outstanding, the steel is well tried and tough, the blade shape is very smart and useful. The wide clip provides good grip on a number of different places and materials (including pockets,webbing,backpack straps,belts,etc…).I would not recommend carrying it in tight jeans, because of the relative width of the knife (closed). Cleaning and maintenance do not demand anything special, the M1 is not particular. In my opinion there are only two things that could improve this folder. One is - an extra half inch of blade length (mind you, that would make it illegal for everyday carry in a number of countries, especially in Europe). The other is – some grooving on the edge of the liner lock for easier closing of the blade.
The knife has every capacity to be an excellent EDC knife or a compliment to a larger blade in the bush.