CRKT Squid Review
Cons: Short blade, heavy
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Squid from the Columbia River Knife and Tool company (widely abbreviated, even in their branding, as CRKT) is a compact, price-point pocket knife for every day carry. It is sturdy with a blade that belies its price point. For this cost, it brings better materials and construction than many other products we have used.
Blade and Edge Integrity
Price-wise, the Squid is best compared to toy knives or gas station sold, mass-produced knockoffs. Concerning blade integrity, however, the CRKT is almost in the same league as the much spendier products. We select our tested products for performance, not for price. When a product with this price has a carefully tailored blade, we are impressed. Because of the variables and trade-offs that dictate a blade's performance (steel type, hardening process, blade geometry, mainly), a formulaic, business-informed decision-making process doesn't do well. Great blades are the result of a human touch.
Optimizing for blade performance requires the craftsmanship of an experienced and trained human. When that optimized blade can be made for a low price, that is amazing. Because of the human touch and its benefits in optimizing blade performance, blade and knife designs are often branded in conjunction with their designer's pedigree. Known knife sensei Lucas Burnley designed the CRKT Squid. That a budget product like this is marketed with its designer's name speaks to the intricacies of design. The result is a blade that works well, at an affordable price.
The blade of the Squid is made of the same Chinese 8Cr13MoV steel as some much more expensive knives. The 8Cr13MoV steel is known to be an Asian interpretation of much more expensive AUS8 steel. Performance attributes, prior to heat treatment, of these two steels are about the same. CRKT is a company that makes high-end knives, and this price point product. Their heat treatment process and equipment is shared by nearly all the products.
The budget-friendly Squid receives the same great heat treatment as CRKT's much more expensive knives. On the other hand, Buck makes discount products and occasional higher-end products. Their higher end products are subject to the same heat treatment designed for the high volume budget products. All else equal regarding materials and construction and design, it is worth considering the sophistication of the heat treatment of the blades on knives from the boutique manufacturers. Heat treatment is that important.
The Squid is a large compact knife or a small regular knife. In some ways, it is an awkward size for usage. It is too large and heavy to be a keychain tool, but it doesn't fill the hand like proper full-size tools. Other online reviews have suggested that a beaded or knotted lanyard can make the knife larger in hand without making it carry any larger. In our experience, this works, but not perfectly. For routine and heavy use, a larger knife is more appropriate.
Portability is a function of size, weight, and carry options. The Squid is mid-sized, as compared to the rest of our test roster. It is considerably smaller than ideal for most usage. However, it is smaller in your pocket than all but the micro knives we tested. It is the shortest knife we tested that also has a pocket clip. For valuable pocket space, the Squid is a worthy consideration.
Portability is directly at odds with ergonomics, for the most part. The primary determinant of portability is size, as a small knife is easier to carry around.
The Squid has no features besides the blade.
Construction quality is the scoring metric in which we see the least variation among the tested knives. In short, by the time we make our initial diligent product selection, we are left with great products. This isn't the case across the board. Not all knives are well made. Buyer beware. This also means that we have little to discuss in this section. The CRKT Squid has smooth hinges, burly side plates, and a great blade.
Each manufacturer and product has its own way of instilling confidence in the user. The CRKT Squid is, in a word, beefy. While it is smaller than most others, it is among the heaviest we reviewed. There are no knives smaller than this that weigh more.
The only knives in our test that are less expensive are also far less robust in construction. These less expensive knives also have smaller, less sturdy blades.
The Squid is a rock-bottom budget option that performs like something much more expensive. For the cost of a "gas station" knife with performance imbued by careful design, the CRKT Squid is an easy consideration for the budget shopper. Overall, in our best-of-the-best review selection, the Squid comes out near the bottom. Now, this is a bit misleading, as the price of the Squid is just so much less than the other top scorers. The only other less expensive knives mainly score lower than the Squid. The less expensive knives are also compromised in size or function or both.
— Jediah Porter