There are less expensive knives in our test, but none of them are nearly as appropriate as an everyday carry and everyday use knife. The CRKT Squid is a full-function knife that is both compact and very affordable. The Best Buy Kershaw Chill is close in price, with a longer blade that is slightly more serviceable in day-to-day use. The Editors' Choice Benchmade Mini Barrage is just a little bigger, with associated performance benefits and portability compromises. The other Best Buy Kershaw Leek is longer than the Squid but not as big in girth. All have great blades, with a slight edge (pun intended) going to the more expensive pieces.
CRKT Squid Review
Cons: Short blade, heavy
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|Pros||Compact, burly, inexpensive||Incredible blade quality, assisted open, perfect combination of compactness/functionality||Proven and well-respected blade, smooth, comfortable ergonomics||Great blade, classy wooden handle||Immaculate materials, assisted opening, fully symmetrical performance|
|Cons||Short blade, heavy||Pricey, blade lock mechanism not intuitive||Large, no assisted opening||Expensive, no assisted opening function||Large in your pocket, expensive|
|Bottom Line||A compact, affordable blade for every day carry; it has excellent construction and a decent blade, especially for the price.||Immaculately constructed knife in a form-factor that is easy to carry and large enough for virtually every task.||Full-size, basic folding pocket knife with immaculate construction.||A solid little knife for all-around “every day carry”. With assisted opening, this model would be similar enough to our Editors' Choice to really complicate our assessment.||The full size version of our Editors' Choice is less portable with minimal but real gains in usability. If you know you need a full size pocket knife, the Barrage 580 is a great choice.|
|Rating Categories||CRKT Squid||Benchmade Mini-Barrage 585||Benchmade Griptilian 551||Benchmade 15031-2 North Fork||Benchmade Barrage 580|
|Blade And Edge Integrity (30%)|
|Construction Quality (20%)|
|Other Features (10%)|
|Specs||CRKT Squid||Benchmade...||Benchmade...||Benchmade 15031-2...||Benchmade Barrage...|
|Blade Style||Drop point, straight||Drop point, straight||Drop point, straight||Drop point, straight||Drop point, straight|
|Blade locks closed?||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||Yes|
|Opening Style||Ambidextrous Thumb stud||Assisted, ambidextrous thumb stud||Ambidextrous thumb stud||Ambidextrous thumb-stud||Assisted, ambidextrous thumb stud|
|Lock Mechanism||Frame lock||Proprietary (Axis)||Proprietary (Axis)||Proprietary (Axis)||Proprietary (Axis)|
|Carry Style, in addition to loose in pocket||Pocket Clip and lanyard hole||Pocket Clip and lanyard hole||Pocket Clip||Pocket Clip||Pocket Clip, lanyard hole|
|Blade Material||8Cr13MoV stainless steel||154CM Steel||154CM steel||CPM-S30V stainless steel||154 CM stainless steel|
|Handle Material||Stainless Steel w/Stonewash||Plastic||Plastic||Stabilized wood||Valox|
|Blade Length (inches)||2.1||2.9||3.5||2.9||3.8|
|Closed Length (inches)||3.1||4||4.6||3.9||4.8|
|Thickness (w/o pocket clip) (inches)||0.34||0.57||0.6||0.53||0.7|
|Other Features or Functions||None||None||None||None||None|
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.
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.
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 designs 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 the much more expensive Spyderco Tenacious. Each of these manufacturers then hardens the blade with their proprietary (but respectively admired) heat treating processes. The 8Cr13MoV steel is known to be an Asian interpretation of much more expensive AUS8 steel (AUS8 steel is used in our Top Pick SOG Trident Elite). 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 all the products.
The budget-friendly Squid receives the same heat treatment as CRKT's much more expensive knives. On the other hand, Buck and Gerber make 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 blade of the CRKT Squid is better than that on the Buck Knives Famous Folder and the Gerber STL 2.0. The Benchmade knives, including Editors' Choice Benchmade Mini Barrage, have better blades, and you pay for it.
The blade of the Squid is similar in materials and heat treatment as the Best Buy Opinel No. 8 but the Opinel blade is much narrower and longer. The shape of the Opinel blade is more suited to the light-duty tasks that fill the usage of most consumers. For this reason, the Opinel edges ahead of the Squid.
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. The full-size profile of the Benchmade Griptillian is far easier in the hand. Similarly, the Spyderco Tenacious and Buck Knives Famous Folder are full-size, hard-working machines. The rounded and long but narrow profile of the Opinel No 08 is also a little easier in the hand than the Squid.
That said, the Squid is undoubtedly ready for burlier tasks than the Top Pick Victorinox Classic or the tiny Old Timer 180T Mighty Mite. The blade of the Gerber STL 2.0 is similar in length to the Squid, but the Squid is more robust with a larger and rounder handle. Another close comparison is the Squid and the other Best Buy Kershaw Leek. The Leek is longer, but the Squid has more girth. For heavy cutting, they kind of even out. The Leek offers more leverage, but the Squid is bulkier in hand, in a good way.
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 only smaller knives in our review are the Victorinox Classic, Gerber STL 2.0, and Old Timer 180T Mighty Mite. Arguably, the Kershaw Leek is also small. The Leek is longer but thinner than the Squid. The three that are decidedly smaller do not have pocket clips. The Squid is more compact in one's pocket than the Editors Choice Benchmade Mini Barrage, not to mention the full-size products like the Top Pick SOG Trident Elite.
The Squid has no features besides the blade.
The Victorinox Classic is a pocket manicure tool, with file and scissors, among other things, in addition to the main blade. The SOG Trident Elite is tailored to rescue and escape situations, with a webbing/cord cutter and glass breaker cleverly integrated.
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. It is closest in weight to the mid-size knives like the Mini Barrage and Benchmade North Fork. This weight lends a feeling of sturdiness and quality that is undeniable. The other, lighter knives aren't necessarily less sturdy, but the CRKT is confidence inspiring.
This is an excellent knife for the shopper on a budget, looking for a knife to carry, daily, with limited pocket space.
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.
— Jediah Porter