Squid XM Review: CRKT’s Best Pocket Knife – And It’s Under $50
From the first moment I held CRKT’s new Squid XM, I knew it was going to be special.
Even before pressing the pinball tab and sending the blade flying open with satisfaction snapping, something with this knife felt, well, okay. The weight was perfect, the materials were good, and the black G-10 and stonewashed steel blended together to make a really cohesive whole.
Still, I had to put CRKT’s latest folding blade – the Squid XM – through its paces. For almost 2 weeks I used the XM for everything from dismantling boxes to cutting sticks and cooking dinner. The review sample, provided by Columbia River Knife and Tool (CRKT), surpassed any task I gave it.
And while I encourage you to read the rest of this review, I’ll cut to the chase here: XM Squid is the best pocket knife CRKT has ever made. And it’s not a close race.
In short: An efficient and precise blade, combined with a balanced, thoughtful construction that is neither too sophisticated nor too basic, results in an extremely efficient and affordable pocket knife. The Squid XM easily takes the lead in the CRKT’s stable of folding knives. And at $45, it should find its way into many pockets.
Review: CRKT Squid XM Pocket Knife
Surprised? I know I was. When the original Squid debuted in 2016, I was lukewarm on it. The shape was blobby, and the all-metal construction and 8Cr13MoV blade were quite pocket-heavy. It was fine as far as budget knives under $20 go, but it was nowhere near as good as the hype would have you believe.
Since then, designer Lucas Burnley has spent a lot of time revising the model. Let’s take a look at some of the details that elevate the XM from its rather humble beginnings.
The length of the XM Blade is perfect. At 2.95 inches, it has plenty of reach to tackle moderate cutting tasks while squeezing just under length restrictions imposed by some municipalities and states.
And at just 0.1 inches wide, it’s narrow enough to easily squeeze through anything you cut, instead of splitting it like a wedge. Combine that with its relatively high blade height, and you have the makings of an incredible slicer.
But not all of the stats prepared me for the XM’s ability. His first test was simple: help me prepare a bunch of vegetables for dinner. After the first two hits, I really laughed out loud. Onions, carrots, garlic, peppers and tomatoes – the squid cut them all as if born for life in the kitchen.
This prowess continued in other tasks, both at home and away. And see how its teardrop-shaped tip lines up almost perfectly with the centerline of the knife? This is useful for detail work and general edge control.
And although the D2 steel used here is known to discolor in the face of humidity, I didn’t encounter any stains on my tester.
The thumb buttons, which can also be used to open the knife, do indeed hover above the slicing path. But maybe because of the overall height of the blade, I didn’t find that to be a problem. It slices, it dices, it’s a spring-loaded paring knife for your pocket. And that, of course, brings us to the next topic.
Generally, I’m not a fan of power knives. Beyond their various legal complications, these mechanisms are often used to hide a poor distribution of masses and manufacturing tolerances. But on a working blade like the XM Squidit suits the philosophy of a T.
Best of all, assisted opening here doesn’t feel cheap. Thanks to the IKBS ball bearings in its pivot, the whole deployment process is as simple as it is authoritative. Hit the pinball tab, get the blade – it really is that simple.
In tough or dirty conditions, you can be sure the XM will fire properly.
Clip and frame
As mentioned, the rest of the Squid XM is made of stainless steel and G-10. Both of these surfaces are well sculpted and fit my medium/large hand perfectly. I particularly like the texture of the G-10, which has enough teeth to be grippy without becoming abrasive. The stone wash on the remaining metal and the frame lock is also well done.
All in all, the XM spans 4.11 inches closed (7.03 inches open) and weighs just 3.6 ounces. This is a significant increase in size over the original while adding only a tenth of an ounce.
If I have a small complaint, it lies in the clip. The problem lies rather in its screws, which are not embedded in the steel. This creates a bit of an obstacle for the edge of your pocket and will surely contribute to wear and tear on your jeans. But apart from this small defect, the conduct of the knife is superb.
Thinking back to the rather turbulent history of CRKT, the M16 it may be its most “iconic” design, but it’s by no means the brand’s best. This honor belongs only to XM Squid.
From its quality build to its friendly carry and ready attitude, it’s been a long time since I’ve been this impressed with a pocket knife. The Squid XM is the cutting edge form of an interesting idea, the best evolution of Lucas Burnley’s original.
Casual users, enthusiasts, and people who just want something that will last for days – all will find something to enjoy here. And at just $45, I can’t think of anything I’d recommend more readily.
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