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I’ve listened to Gear Geeks Live practically since its inception. My commute is around 4 hours round trip, so that’s a lot of time spent in cars trying not to look at my smartphone, and podcasts help with that. One particular episode is always easy to recall, and that’s the episode where Thomas W. (of KAI USA) drops in for an interview/argument. While most of that episode was spent arguing over whether the Cryo 1.0 is a good knife, one of the tidbits teased was that Kershaw was going to dive into the sub-$20 waters with a new product line.
One could argue that this line was doomed to failure because of its dedicated use of 4Cr14, that they looked like the gas station knives Nick Shabazz has so much fun with, or because they all weighed more than a brick shithouse with a full septic tank, but I think the real reason they flopped was different. That reason, you ask? Simple. There’s already an apex predator in these waters, and that’s CRKT.
Before anyone cries Gerber, they don’t count. I’d sooner go near a blender in a Gremlins remake. No, the real top dog in the world of truly budget blades is Columbia River Knife and Tool. They’ve had their problems, sure, but on the whole their budget knives have been quietly successful among enthusiasts and big box shoppers alike. The CRKT M16 is the gateway drug for many a poor knife nut’s wallet.
Enter the CRKT Squid. Designed by Lucas Burnley, the Squid is based off the custom offering of the same name. Burnley is better known for the now ubiquitous Boker Kwaiken, but the Squid has a surprising following. Not only is there enough interest to warrant several special editions, but there’s enough demand that a small market for custom scales has popped up. How could a $15 knife be compelling enough to warrant this attention?
General Dimensions and Blade Details
This knife is portly. It’s an all steel 3.5 oz sandwich, and there is no getting around that. The 2.25” blade is housed in a 3.5” long handle. I won’t sit here and try to convince you that the weight is a practical issue: it isn’t. The balance isn’t great, but other than that, the Squid’s weight won’t come up in use. I’m still not a fan. There’s an argument to be made that more weight is a selling point for big box consumers, as they equate weight and quality. I won’t denigrate people who feel that way, but I know better than them and they’re wrong I respectfully disagree.
Overall the Squid is well made, especially considering the price point. Centering is good, the grinds are even and clean, and there aren’t any stray machining marks. The one complaint I can register is the aluminum backspacer. First of all – and I know this is subjective – it’s ugly. The off-silver/greyish color doesn’t look right alongside the stonewashed steel scales. Just anodize it. Black, green, blue, whatever. It’d fit the ‘cute’ aesthetic the Squid already has. Second, the backspacer is ground unevenly. It’s not a practical concern, but I’ve whined about lesser sins.
This knife cost me just north of $15.00. It has 8Cr13MoV. What else did you expect? It’s a budget steel, but a fine one, all things considered. I haven’t experienced any rust, and the microchipping I did run into vanished after a few passes on the Sharpmaker. Regular stropping is recommended. It’s listed as a hollow grind, and the stock isn’t very thick; only .11”. Unfortunately it’s not a particularly thin hollow grind, nor is it very high, which makes it somewhat thick behind the edge. For cardboard, paper, or packages, you’d never notice an issue. I did during food prep, but how often will you use a 2” knife in the kitchen? I’m guessing somewhere between ‘never’ and ‘when it’s the only knife that can cut.’ Is it a big deal? No, but it caught me off guard.
Handle, Ergonomics, and Carry
Normally, I open up this section with a bit on the visual appeal of the handle. I try to answer questions like: is it attractive?, was it difficult to produce?, etc. For whatever reason, I can’t do that with the Squid. I’m not saying that the Squid is unattractive, but I think I’d be blowing smoke up the readerships’ collective asses if I tried to praise it effusively. The stonewash is nice, I suppose; but nothing that gets me out of my seat.
The ergonomics are okay. I haven’t noticed any hotspots, but the stainless steel handles are pretty slick. It’s a slim knife and doesn’t fill the palm very well. The custom versions appear to have thicker, contoured handles which would alleviate the aforementioned problems. Without a lanyard, the Squid is definitely a three finger knife, but on a knife this small you can’t exactly expect more.
Given its weight, I was surprised to find that the Squid was a pretty quiet companion. For the most part I carried it at work, which means thick pants and a good, sturdy belt to support those extra 3.5 oz. The clip allows for discreet carry, and everything about the Squid that makes the grip questionable makes it carry like a dream.
Deployment and Lock-up
Deployment on the Squid is a fairly simple affair. The thumb studs are well placed and not pokey enough to snag on pockets or split your finger. Sure, the detent is a bit weak for my taste, but you can slow roll or coin flip the Squid open, and that’s what counts. Teflon washers give the action a bit of a hydraulic feel. Not so nice that I develop carpal tunnel from flicking it, but on par with much more expensive offerings.
Regarding the lock, there really isn’t much to say. It’s a stainless steel framelock. I haven’t experienced any lock rock or blade play, and due to the absence of titanium there’s certainly no lock stick. However, I’ve experienced all three of those issues on framelocks that cost ten times what the Squid does, so maybe this is more of a feat than I’m giving CRKT credit for.
CRKT Squid Review – Final Thoughts
Ultimately, I don’t think I’ve bought into the Squid’s popularity. Don’t get me wrong, I understand why it’s as popular as it is. The Squid hits most of the ‘hype’ buttons the Cryo did at a lower price point, has (in my experience) better F&F, and in my opinion features a more attractive design. That said, it’s quite heavy for its size, the ergonomics are wanting, and it’s called a squid when that is clearly the body of a cuttlefish.
Furthermore, reviewing this knife has given me some perspective on the cottage industry surrounding the Squid. Most of my quibbles could be solved by a replacement scale: the weight would be cut by a third, the slick handle could be replaced by a more tactile material, and while I’m at it I could get that backspacer replaced. Will I order one? It isn’t likely, but hand me enough bottles of porter and you never know what might happen.
How does the Squid stack up to the competition? Well, that’s tough to answer. I’ll stand by my claim that CRKT is the boss hog of budget blades, but once you get up into the middle tier value knives it’s a different situation. As much as I put down Kershaw’s sub-$20 products, anything they produce around the $50 mark is pure gold. If you can save up it’s probably worth your time to do so.
Still, it can’t be overstated that $15 is a far cry from $50. For the money it’s tough to beat out the Squid. The design is friendly enough that your co-workers won’t be wigged out, useful enough that you’ll always be glad to have it on you, and cheap enough that you won’t regret buying it if you do purchase more expensive knives down the line. If that sounds appealing, give the Squid a shot. I’m glad I did.
- Enhanced Protection: Black stonewash is durable and ages well
- Maximum Control: On blade friction grooves for grip
- Low Profile: Pocket clip provides secure carry
- Designed by Lucas Burnley in Bend, Oregon
- Limited Lifetime Warranty covers any defects in materials or workmanship, see company site for details
I recommend purchasing the CRKT Squid at Amazon or BladeHQ. Please consider that purchasing anything through any of the links on this website helps support BladeReviews.com, and keeps the site going. As always, any and all support is greatly appreciated. Thank you very much.
What is the watch with the brown band? It looks like a Skagen model? thank you.
The watch is a Timex Weekender Chronograph XL. It goes for around $50 and is the next review coming from me.
Very nice read. Thanks!
Thanks for the kind words and for dropping by!
This is about the ugliest knife I have ever seen…and I love CRKT knives!
I’m just being honest is all.
Thanks for dropping by.
Regarding the Squid: if that’s the ugliest knife you’ve seen, you clearly haven’t been to many swap meets! I can understand if it’s not to your taste, however.
Patrick LaFollette says
This knife always makes me think “budget Techno”.
I agree; the Squid seems to be a nice entry point into ‘little big knives’.
Thanks for dropping by!
James Mackintosh says
I think it’s important to keep perspective when talking about the Squid. This knife costs slightly more than an unsatisfying meal at Five Guys Burgers & Fries and has actual design chops and good fit and finish. I’m a knife snob and even I have the Squid on my short list of to-buy’s. Whereas the Cryo is a hateful pile of @)(&*%@3 that’s better off melted down and turned into a transmission casing for a Chinese made Getrag MT82.
Grayson Parker says
Thanks for taking the time to comment. I agree with you that the Squid represents a fantastic value proposition, but I’m less certain about the Cryo. I -emphasis on the singular- think it’s a hideous design. However, you have to keep in mind that at the time, the gear community’s taste was quite different. Hinderer designs were all the rage, and the idea of a sub-$30 Hinderer was alluring to say the least.
That’s part of my concern with the Squid: yes, it’s almost embarrassingly affordable, but it’s also eminently bland in performance. It’s heavy for the size and a middling cutter. Because it’s so bland – albeit very cheap – I think it depends on taste. For all we know, the community as a whole could think the Squid is ugly as hell in a year or two.
I’m not saying that’s the case here, just that a few years back, a lot of people really thought the Cryo was a great looking knife.
Thanks for dropping by.
jason taylor says
I have carried the Squid for 3 years or so now, it carries well, it holds an edge, easy to sharpen, etc. etc.
I work for a living in HVAC and use my knives as tools, when I broke my 3rd Cold Steel Mini AK47 knife I saw the Squid and it’s affordable price and thought well at least I won’t be sad when it breaks but in reality the Squid has held up better than any knife I have carried and worked.
Bottom line- buy it you won’t be disappointed
I just bought a Squid “first production” with stonewashed blade and G-10 scales from BladeHQ. Their description was misleading; it said “G-10 scales” plural but the knife only has G-10 on one side! Haha I got fooled there. For some reason the knife is very tight and difficult to open. Maybe this is because of the stonewash finish not being very smooth? Anyway, it is a totally disappointing little knife and I plan on selling it immediately. Even with one side in lightweight G-10 the rest of the knife is super heavy.
By the way, may I ask about your cool constellation bandana and where you got it?
Richard Hockett says
I work in a federal building – no blades over 2.5″. I carried a small Boker for awhile, but when I saw the Squid I immediately bought it. Its as good as I’ve found for work. Outside of work I’m an M-21 or M-16 guy, so I like larger knives. But when I can’t have a larger knife, this is a good choice for me – I can hang on to it better than any other <2.5" folder, and I like the weight in my pocket, makes me feel I have a real knife. No complaints (except with stupid knife regulations….).
Edward Dixon says
What does it mean to coin flip a knife open?
Patrick L says
Think of the location and motion of your fingers if you were flipping a coin. Your thumb is under your index finger and flips straight up, with your fingernail being the part of your thumb that contacts your index finger. With a knife, you’re doing the same thing, but instead of an index finger, it’s a thumb hole/stud/disk/whatever, and the motion is a “flick”. Contrast with using the pad of your thumb to “push” the hole/stud/etc. instead. Usually, in my experience, the coin flip motion imparts more force on the blade which allows it to open a bit more forcefully. In this case, with a weak detent on the Squid, the coin flip is more successful than, say, a push, which generally relies more on the detent and less on the actual force that you’re imparting.
Edward Dixon says
The bulk of this article seems to be plagiarized here: [url removed] Thought you might want to know.
Thanks for the heads up. Looks like a cheap copy. I sent their host a DMCA take down notice and appreciate your bringing this to my attention.
Grayson R Parker says
Thanks for the heads up. Not gonna lie, I got a chuckle.
Jeff Mathews says
I got a squid a few weeks ago. It’s not bad. I am in and out of trucks and tractors all day. It doesn’t pinch and bind sitting or moving around. Holds an edge all day feeding livestock. I wanted something usable that’s not big and bulky. The clip holds well, it stays put. If I loose it or break it, I am out 20 bucks.
If you are looking for self defense, probably not what you want.