My EDC vs. Camillus' EDC. (CRKT M16-03 vs. EDC)

Jun 9, 1999
I just recieved my Camillus 154 CM EDC yesterday and I thought I would compare it to my current EDC, a CRKT M16-03. I plan to do a more in depth review within a few days, including an edge-holding test and a handle comfort test, as well as any others I come up with between now and then. I'm going to limit this post to basic first impressions, some comments on fit and finish, and comments on sharpening both knives.


The M16 is a knife that's been around for a while, so I feel it's a good knife to compare the EDC to since many forumites probably have experience with the M16. I bought my M16 last July after reading many, many positive reviews of it. I have been very happy with it since then, happy enough that it's been my EDC for nearly 10 months now (For those who are wondering, EDC stands for Every Day Carry). I decided to get a Camillus EDC because I thought it might be good enough to replace the M16 as my daily carry, and the price is low enough that I can afford to do that.

Fit and Finish

To tell you the truth, I'm slightly dissapointed with the fit and finish of my EDC. I had expected more after reading so many thrilled comments by other forumites. Some may consider my opinion nitpicking, and that's fine. These are just my thoughts on how the knife should be finished.

The machining of the handle appears to be very precise. Each of the cutouts in the handle scales and the clip are perfectly in line with each other. However, when I took the knife out of the box, the cutouts in the clip weren't in line with those in the handle. I figured that wasn't right, so I loosened the clip screws and adjusted the clip and voila, they were in perfect alignment! It was a two minute fix, true, but the reason I mention it is that the screws used to secure the clip are torx screws, and not many people have those. What was a two minute fix for me could be a 2 hour fix for someone who had to go and find a store with a torx driver of the correct size. I had mine already for a different knife that uses the same size head, but I got that driver at a store that's nearly an hour one way from here. That could be a real nagging flaw for someone who didn't have to tools to fix it so easily, and it's entirely avoidable by taking more care when screwing the clip on in the first place. Basically, Camillus produced a quality product and then put it together a little sloppily. That's unfortunate, since it's one of those small things that mean so much.

Another problem I have with the knife is the finish of the blade. The ad I saw in Tactical Knives for the EDC says it has a satin finished blade. I suppose that it qualifies as a satin finish, but it appears that the scratches from the coarser finishing grits weren't totally eliminated before the next finer grit was used. The overall surface is shiny, but there are obvious flaws underneath the shininess. It looks a lot worse than a coarser but more consistent finish would, at least to my eyes. Again, it isn't something awful, but it is noticeable and avoidable.

The last thing I noticed about the finish on this knife is inside the handle. The inside edges of the long cutouts running lengthwise down the handle are very rough. This isn't something you'll notice unless you look for it, but once you do look it's glaringly obvious. It almost looks like the inside edges were gouged with something. I would expect a little more out of a knife of this caliber, especially considering how great the basic design is. A knife this good deserves to have the details looked after.

Now on to the good things. All of the parts are fitted together precisely, with the exception of the clip. The grind lines on the blade are reasonably consistent. The visible edges are very smooth and nicely radiused. The blade is reasonably well centered between the scales when closed, and the action is beautifully smooth. The thumb stud is nice, although I'd like to see it positioned a little closer to the handle. That's probably more personal preference than anything else though.

Summary I feel this knife has tremendous, unrealized finish potential. With just a little more care in the final stages it would be perfect. The machinists gave the knife an excellent base for the finishers to build on, but apparently those finishers are paid per knife and hurry too much. Every flaw I see on this knife could have been prevented with just a little bit of time, a negligible amount of time really. I mean, how long does it take to line up the holes in the handle and the clip before tightening the screws!? I fixed the problem in literally less than two minutes, and half of that time was spent loosening the screws. So while I'm not completely put off by it, I am disapointed with the final finish of this knife.

Rating: 7/10


For the price, this knife has a very impressive attention to detail. The action is silky smooth and lighter than that of the EDC. Many people seem to dislike CRKT's bead blast finish, but I feel that it aesthetically complements this knife's handle quite well. All of the parts are precisely fitted together, the grind lines are very consistent, and all of the edges are nicely radiused and smooth. The clip is pretty simple, but it's finish is really tough. Until recently I worked as a cashier at Wal-Mart, and I carried this knife practically every day I worked. Working behind the register, I scraped that clip across the register's metal counter more times than I can count. Except for a few light scratches, the clip looks fine. I consider this to be quite impressive with any knife, let alone one that cost me less than $50! The handles are equally tough. After ten months of almost daily use I can't find any scratches on them, anywhere, not even on the upper part of the handle that rides above my pocket.

Summary It's proven to have a very tough finish, as well as a fairly good looking one. I can't find any real glaring flaws with the fit or finish of this knife.

Rating: 9/10

The Lock

This is my first integral lock and I have to say I'm pretty impressed. It locks up tight as a bank vault, and it doesn't stick even when I white knuckle it. It's a little tougher to disengage than the M16's liner lock, but it's also much more confidence inspiring. Needless to say it passed the obligatory spine whack test. The ball detent is also very, very secure, but it doesn't hold the blade too tightly. I can still snap it open with a wrist flick without too much effort, which I like to do once in a while. It's also a good test for over-retention of the blade, and this knife passes.

Summary: Both the choice of lock and the execution seem to be great for this knife. Only time will tell if it will hold up, but I don't see much of a possibility for wear in the design. I'm definitely sold on integrals.

Rating: 10/10


The lock on this knife has been a little goofy for me. When I got the knife, the lock would stick open pretty badly. I smoothed out the tang with 1000 grit sandpaper and the sticking went away. Now it's nearly perfect, at least in regards to sticking. At that time it also passed repeated spine whack tests with absolutely no problem. Then after a few months it failed when I pressed on the spine with my palm. I found that by cleaning the tang with a paper towel the lock was as reliable as ever. The only problem is that if it is dirty, I can close it nearly as easily as a slipjoint. Then, a few weeks ago, it started to fail again, even when the tang was clean. I wasn't spine whacking it now; I could just push on the spine and it would close. I took it to the garage and spine whacked it a few times and after failing twice, it started to lock up true again. Apparently spine whacking is good for it. I've learned not to trust it 100% from these experiences.

One thing I can say in favor of the lock is that it's durable. I play with this knife quite a bit, just opening and closing it over and over. After 10 months I figure it's been opened and closed nearly 1000 times or so, maybe more. The liner still slides right over to the middle of the tang and stays there. It hasn't migrated a bit in 10 months. The reliability is still an issue though.

Summary: The lock seems to be durable but not 100% reliable. It's also seems to go in streaks, making it even more difficult to judge. It can be fairly reliable but it's also high maintenence. For me, it's fine for light use, but I certainly don't trust it.

Rating: 5/10

I'm too tired to finish up this part of the review, but I'll try to get to it tomorrow. I'd also appreciate any suggestions for realistic tests that I could perform with both blades. My plan now is to test edge-holding with cardboard and handle comfort by whittling hardwood for an hour. I'm looking for simple tests that will reveal which knife is better for everyday tasks, since both are oriented toward daily carry rather than survival or defense. Thanks for reading and feel free to give any feedback, constructive criticism is welcome!

[This message has been edited by Roadrunner (edited 04-30-2001).]


knife law moderator
Dec 25, 1998
Thanks for an excelent review. I am really pleased with the EDC. So much in fact that I ordered one from Mr. Ralph. Now all I have to do is wait for it to get here.

My understanding is that the regular EDC's have a satin finish, but the 154CM versions are stonewashed. Stonewash finish is my favorite on an EDC knife. It really hides scratches well because they blend right in. I like satin finishes, but prefer stonewash on a knife that I am going to use.

The EDC is very comfortable to me and I generally dont like smaller knives.

Lockup on mine is excellent as well as fit and finish. Quite a bargain.

I look forward to reading the rest of your thoughts on this knife.

Dennis Bible

....Almost here, The Leading Edge....
Feb 21, 2001
Great partial review, Roadrunner. Enjoyed it a lot. Am planning to get the 154CM version, and since the M16-14 is my most used EDC, was very interested.

Am beginning to think that CRKT can't win for losing. The quality of their build is consistently very good. So, then people take off on the steel. Then they put out a knife like the KFF and suddenly all of CRKT's locks are suspect. They put out a new lock, and the few reveiws I've seen of it are fairly negative. Maybe deserved, but I'm suspicious.

By the by, am not close to resembling an expert, but would think that the last thing one would want to do would be to smooth the tang where it meets the liner. A couple of my CRKT's stick a bit there, but frankly it makes me happy rather than aggravated. My only worry with the liner locks is slippage. I'm sure most are strong enough. When I know that the liner is staying put, whether because of the LAWKS or it's a fraction too tight, I'm just as pleased as I can be. Don't mind one bit doing what is needed to get the lock unstuck.

My $.02.

Asi es la vida

Jul 2, 2000
I too have a CRKT M16-03 and feel that for the money it is hard to beat. The AUS-8 steel hold an edge for an incredibly long time.
The only thing I don't like about the M16-03 and the M16-13 is that the slabs feel very slick in my hands. I think I would have preferred an Craton insert or some other kind of stickerier material for the slabs.
But all-in-all the CRKT's are great knives for the prices.

Jun 9, 1999
Thanks for all of the replies everyone, I'm sorry it took me so long to get back to this. A lot of unexpected stuff cropped up and I haven't had the chance to finish this up. Shootist16, thanks for the heads up on the finish. I've changed my rating to reflect the difference. I'm still not wild about the finish, but at least now I know that's how it's supposed to look.

Bugs3x, I know what you mean about all of the negative comments on CRKT. I heard lots of people complaining about the thin liner lock on the M16's. I wonder what they're doing with it that makes the thickness of the liner an issue. I suppose you're probably right about my fix with the sandpaper, apparently I went a little too far. Something needed to be done though, because it stuck so bad it was a two hand knife rather than a one hand knife. I was breaking my fingernails trying to release that lock, and that wasn't even when I snapped it open. I'm thinking about getting a new one in CF to see if the lock will smooth out on it's own.

muzzleup, I've had pretty good experiences with it's edge-holding too. I've cut through lots of cardboard with it at work and it'll still shave hair when I'm done. The edge pops right back with just a little work too. I've never had any complaints about the handle being slick though, but I don't use it too hard. Kraton in the handle probably wouldn't hurt it any, but the problem with that is durability. Even when it's done right Kraton inserts have a tendency to come loose.

Thanks again for all of the replies, I'll be sure to finish up ASAP.
Jun 13, 2000
I have both knives. I have a M16-03 W/O the flipper and an EDC 154 CM, recently acquired.

Both knives came to me in excellent condition and I like both of them. I would give them both a 9/10 in the fit and finish area, at least for production knives.

Aesthetically, the EDC is kinda cool looking, the M16 looks like a tool. I don't mind either.
Both are well designed.

I can sharpen the AUS-8 faster (and perhaps sharper) than the 154 CM, but I am wary of the corrosion resistance. My M16 has tiny pits on it from a wet 10 day camping trip, maybe because it never was used, maybe because of the bead blasting. I will subject the EDC to the same this summer.

As to the locks, both lock up well, but I prefer the frame lock. It just seems safer, more solid.

Summation - Though I prefer the spear point blade and the anodized handle of the M16, I have to give the EDC a slight nod for the better steel and locking system.

Although I still love CRKT and think they have the best entry level knives at the moment, I think that the Camillus EDC 154 CM definatly cuts deeply into that level.

muzzleup - I agree with RR, that stuff never lasts..

RR - Great review so far! Keep it up!