For $40, you can’t beat this knife. The CRKT M21-02GL-Kit Carson Design is a tactical, plain-edge, folding knife for left-handers that features the company’s AutoLAWKS technology and G10 handle. This is not a blade-assisted knife but with the flipper, there is really no need for one. With the G10 handle, the knife is built like a tank. It is heavy for a small knife, but it fits perfectly in your pocket. It also offers a perfect balance between the blade and the handle, which makes the M21-02GL feel stable and strong. There are no wobbles on this knife and the flipper acts as a blade guard when opened, which is an absolute necessity on a tactical knife. There are plenty of expensive tactical knives on the market, but the CRKT M21-02GL Kit Carson Folding Knife offers more an uncanny amount of quality for the price.
CRKT M21-02GL Kit Carson Folding Knife Build Quality
The first thing that stands out on the CRKT M21-02GL Kit Carson folding knife is the G10 handle. Are you kidding? The handle alone on the CRKT M21-02GL makes this knife a great deal. Added to this, the skeletal structure of the handle creates a splendid blade-to-handle weight ratio. Balancing this blade on one finger at the center of the knife is no problem. I am 5’11, 160 lbs., with average size hands, and this handle fits perfectly in my hand. The M21-02 is the little brother of the larger M21-04, but the overall length of 7.4 inches is perfect. For me, the M21-02GL (GL is for the lefties) creates a feel that is comfortable, maneuverable, and secure. There are plenty of more expensive knives on the market that don’t offer G10, which makes the CRKT M21-02GL an excellent buy. For those not familiar with G10 material, you can check out the CRKT website for details; but for this review, all you need to know is that it is a rough, nearly unbreakable exterior, which enables the hand to firmly grip the knife. In a tactical situation, the hand becomes sweaty, the adrenaline spikes, and the hand will begin to shake. In this situation, you need a knife that is ready to compensate for this inevitable reality. The CRKT M21-02GL embraces this physiological condition and gives the handler added grip and stability with G10.
The second thing you need to know is that the blade is razor sharp out of the box. The steel of the blade is 8Cr14MoV, which is Chinese steel that is known to offer excellent resistance to rust and good edge retention at an affordable manufacturing cost. We performed several blade quality tests and this knife passed with flying colors. The M21-02GL handled being thrust into heavy cardboard with little resistance. It also cut two, 1/4-inch nylon ropes with ease. And, after much use, the blade was still extremely sharp. One thing is for sure, in a tactical situation, this drop-point 3-1/8 inch blade will handle itself with no problem.
Tech Note: In the case of 8Cr14MoV, what you get is .80 Carbon (C) content, .16 Manganese (Mn), 14.07 Chromium (Cr), .22 Nickel (Ni), .14 Vanadium (V), .22 Molybdenum (Mo), and a typical hardness of 58-59. Compared to the popular AUS-8 steel, 8Cr14MoV has a bit more Carbon & Manganese and about half the amount of Nickel.
Our third favorite feature on the CRKT M21-02GL Kit Carson folding knife is that the flipper, located on the back of the handle, offers speed and safety. This knife doesn’t have a blade-assisted open, but with the flipper, it eliminates the need for one. And, because the hand is placed on the handle, it is away from the blade, and away from danger when the knife opens. To open the blade, simply point the knife at the ground, apply force to the flipper, and the blade will open smoothly into the open position. Note: we have seen negative reviews that critique the opening ability of the knife. In these reviews, they are treating the knife as if it were a switchblade. It’s not a switchblade!!! Don’t treat it like one!! By pointing the knife at the ground and hitting the flipper, this knife opens with a CRACK – the sound we know and love. As a result, we found absolutely no problem with the flipper – it’s safe and reliable.
Another positive aspect of the flipper is that, when the blade is opened, the flipper is locked into position and becomes a blade guard. This aspect of the knife is not to be taken lightly. Swords and tactical knives alike are given blade guards for a reason! The M21-02GL keeps the hand from slipping forward when the flipper is engaged. In this way, when the knife is in open position, the flipper keeps your hand from becoming a casualty of the sharp edge of the knife. It’s a brilliant feature of this knife.
Now let’s talk about AutoLAWKS, and why it’s a positive feature. When we first received the CRKT M21-02GL Kit Carson folding knife, we weren’t sold on the AutoLAWKS system. However, the system is not the problem – it works extremely well. The issue for us was that we thought it was a bit excessive. After handling the knife for days and hours, we have found that it is actually one of the positive features of this knife for a couple reasons. One, AutoLAWKS is safe. Very safe. It’s a locking mechanism that: (1) locks the knife in place, and (2) keeps the liner lock in place, preventing it from moving, which if it did would allow the blade to close on the hand. How does AutoLAWKS work? There is a circular lever that rotates as the blade is released open. The lever has a notch that catches the blade and locks it into position. At the same time, the liner lock moves into position and is kept there by the AutoLAWKS system. The result is two safety features, which most knives don’t have.
The only con to a knife this good is a small one, but still important. Simply put, the M21-02GL is difficult to close. The instruction manual gives instructions that imply it can be done with one hand but we found this to be impractical and difficult. Because AutoLAWKS carries two safety features, there are two things that must be done to unlock the knife. You must press down on the AutoLAWKS lever (often times it is indicated by a red dot) and then you must move the safety bar to enable the blade to close. With two hands, it can be done with no problem. With one hand however, this can be somewhat difficult.
The CRKT M21-02GL is a left-handed beauty – a must-have for southpaws! I must say that when I first heard that Columbia River Knife & Tool came out with this left-handed knife, I thought is was a gimmick. I have been proven wrong – I love this knife! The CRKT M21-02GL is a powerful little knife that has everything you could ever need in a tactical knife. It is fast, it is sharp, it is safe, and it fits my hand perfectly. The G10 handle and steel blade is so well-balanced and user friendly. The blade is razor sharp and the flipper makes it simple, and safe to wield. We can confidently recommend this CRKT knife because they have committed themselves to producing a great quality product. I am a left-hander, and I approve of this knife.