Story by Christopher DonerPhotos by Christopher Doner, Joshua Swanagon and Manufacturer
My earliest memories of Columbia River Knife & Tool date back to 1999 when I picked up one of their K.I.S.S. knives, designed by Ed Halligan.
The simple design and unique features always made this knife memorable. When I was given the opportunity to examine and review one of CRKT’s brand-new models for 2020, the Xolotl, I jumped at the chance.
CRKT never disappoints and the Xolotl was no exception.
The Xolotl is CRKT’s latest entry in their Forged By War program.
The Xolotl design, created by Special Forces veteran and knife maker, Michael Rodriguez, was inspired by the Aztec deity of the same name. In Aztec mythology Xolotl was often associated with lightning and death. The dog-headed god was said to have been responsible for leading the souls of the dead into the underworld.
I immediately took a liking to the Xolotl, based on its sleek lines. The slim handle, dual flipper cross guard and spear-point blade immediately reminded me of the M. Italy stiletto switchblade knives of the 1950’s. At the same time, the Xolotl had a look that was reminiscent of the popular Applegate Fairbairn fighting knife.
The manually operated Xolotl features a 3.64-inch long plain edge, satin finished blade –sharpened on only one side – and made from CRKT’s 1.4116 stainless steel. The 1.4116 stainless steel has an HRC rating of 55-57.
The Xolotl’s 5.26-inch long, open style, G10 handle is slender but feels good in the hand. The handle has a couple of design details inspired by its Aztec namesake. Rodriguez himself has stated that murals of the Xolotl in Mexico are often depicted as a skeleton, so he incorporated several textured “ribs” into the handle.
The knife’s pocket clip can be mounted for either left- or right-hand, tip-down, carry and sits centered in the middle of the handle.
Commenting on the design of the handle Rodriguez said, “The clip itself is the sternum, bringing the ribs together.”
Additionally, the Xolotl has a very robust, pointed pommel that protrudes nicely from the bottom of a closed hand – making it ideal for hammer fist style strikes, if pressed into service as an impact weapon.
The overall length of the Xolotl opened is 8.94-inches.
I wanted to get a feel for the Xolotl so I added it to my every day carry; tucked neatly away in an extra utility pocket on my uniform pantleg. Weighing in at only 4.00 ounces, the Xolotl’s slim, coffin-style handle could easily be tucked into any pocket, waistline or web gear for ease of carry.
Admittedly, I am not accustomed to carrying or using knives that employ a flipper to open. As I began to access and draw the Xolotl, I quickly learned how to position the folder in my hand so that my index finger could press on the textured flipper and deploy the blade. The action on the Xolotl is buttery smooth and the blade locks open into position with authority.
As I continued to get used to opening the Xolotl, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the film, Westside Story. After several minutes, I was easily accessing and opening the Xolotl with ease and enjoying the satisfying snap of the liner lock engaging.
Over the course of a couple of months I carried and used the Xolotl for common, everyday cutting tasks. I was opening mail, breaking down boxes, and slicing apples for my kids. I also made short work of some scraps of paracord, cutting through multiple pieces at once with ease. The spearpoint blade of this liner lock folder was easily thrust into cardboard, closed cell foam and other scraps of material I had lying around the garage.
The Xolotl performed well, so I decided to try something I hadn’t done before. My good friend, professional combat knife thrower Jason Willard Johnson, let me borrow an old ballistic vest he had in his shop. Anyone familiar with Jason knows that he is always experimenting on different test medium. I thought the vest would make a unique cut test medium as well.
With the Xolotl in a firm reverse grip, I thrust the blade into the bulletproof vest, penetrating all the layers of Kevlar. Upon inspection, about a quarter inch of the blade tip made it through to the inside of the vest.
It was a sobering reminder that safety equipment has limits and was in no way meant to be representative of anything other than an unusual test of the knife’s penetration capabilities.
I made one other final test cut on the vest. This one was a controlled cut across the surface of the vest. The Xolotl performed as expected, cutting through several layers of the Kevlar material, but it did not penetrate the vest.
During all phases of testing I was impressed with the way the Xolotl felt in my hand. The smooth, beveled edges of the handle made the knife comfortable, with no noticeable “hot spots” when in use.
The Xolotl design pays homage to Michael Rodriguez’s heritage, while also honoring the classic look of some historic blade designs.
Anyone looking for an everyday carry knife that evokes images of WWII commando daggers, or perhaps an older style switchblade, will appreciate the Xolotl. It will also appeal to anyone who favors a lightweight, flipper style folder with a dressier look and feel. The Xolotl’s sleek, sophisticated lines, satin finish and muted black handle seem somewhat formal to me in appearance.
When it comes to performance, the Xolotl proved reliable and ready for action. It would make a great addition to any collection without breaking the bank. The Xolotl retails for an MSRP of $99.99 and is available now from www.CRKT.com. K&G
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Blade Material: 1.4116 stainless steelBlade Length: 3.64 inchesHandle Length: 5.26 inchesOverall Length: 8.94 inchesClosed Length: 5.26 inchesBlade Thickness: 0.13 inchesBlade Finish: SatinWeight: 4.00 ouncesHandle Material: G-10MSRP: $99.99
Columbia River Knife & Tool(503) 685-5015www.CRKT.com
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I have always appreciated Columbia River’s desire to work with custom knife makers and knife designers. Their collaborations have allowed knife collectors and enthusiasts around the world the chance to own designs that may have otherwise been out of reach. Michael Rodriguez has now added another of his designs to their collection.
Rodriguez is a combat veteran who served honorably in the United States Special Forces. During a recovery period he met Ryan Johnson of RMJ Tactical who introduced Rodriguez to forging and custom knife making. Be sure and check out Rodriguez’s other design, the Tecpatl, also available from Columbia River Knife & Tool.
Fayetteville, North Carolina Michael R. Rodriguez was one of only two Americans to ever graduate the Irish Army Ranger Wing Sniper Course which he did at the top of his class and he’s one of President George W. Bush’s advisors. Truly, if we attempted to list the rest of his accolades, we’d run out of ink. His experience as a combat veteran pivoted when he met Ryan Johnson of RMJ Tactical during a recovery period. Then, forging knives and tools became a passion project for him—one that is starkly reflected in his products that we are proud to represent in our Forged By War™ program.
Learn more about the outstanding Forged By War program here. >>
Want to win a brand new CRKT Xolotl, along with a Knife & Gear Society patch and sticker, WorkSharp Micro Sharpener & Knife tool and WorkSharp Pocket Knife Sharpener? This is your chance. And it’s easy too.
All you have to do is go to our Instagram page (@knifeandgearsociety) and follow us, go to CRKT Knives’ Instagram page (@crkt_knives) and follow them and then comment on the story below, letting us know what you like about this knife – based on the story above. Please make sure to include your Instagram User Name, so we can contact you on Instagram if you win.
That is it. It really is that simple. Once we have verified that you have done all three, we will add your name to the drawing, which will take place on Friday, July 3rd. The winner will be notified via PM on Instagram and will have 24 hours to respond.
Shipping and handling will be covered by Knife & Gear Society and will be taken care of as soon as a winner is established – Continental United States only. There will be no substitution prizes. Knife & Gear Society is not responsible for lost or stolen prizes.
Doner is an experienced security professional with nearly twenty-five years of service in commercial, industrial and corporate settings. He served twelve years as an armed officer of a nuclear site protection team trained in various small arms techniques, tactics and procedures before returning to the corporate sector. Today, Doner is a Senior Specialist, Corporate Security & Safety for First National Bank of Omaha. In addition to his regular duties, he serves as a defensive-tactics instructor for the bank. He is also an accomplished martial artist and martial arts/combatives instructor, of many disciplines.
He is a freelance writer and photographer with work published in Knives Illustrated, Black Belt, Ninja Magazine and Fighting Stars.
Please visit our Team page (link in the top menu) for full bio.
Badass knife! Would love to have it. @backupjustincase_
I like the sleek design of the xolotl and would love to win one so that I have a cool knife to show around to people
Ig: michael_cole_jr I like the sleek design and the fact that it is thin enough to put in pocket or gear and not take up to much room
Love the sleek design of this knife and how unique the double sided blade is
The profile reminds me of the switchblades of my 70’s NYC youth. The fact that it is a flipper makes it all the better. Great job!
First off I am drawn to the Xolotl because it’s namesake is also seen as the god of death.
One of my favorite quotes is “As I lay sleeping Death tweaks my ear and says live for I am coming”
I am a Veteran of both the USMC as well as the Army as an Infantryman. I have served multiple tours in both Afghanistan and Iraq including the Korengal Valley at the height of hostilities.
Tattooed on my right forearm is “live for I” on my left forearm “am coming” and on my trigger finger “Death”
So that when my M4 is in the firing position. Facing the enemy is Live for I am coming DEATH!
Also the design is classic military as the stiletto design is reminiscent of a WWII Paratroopers blade.
I would love to own this bade and believe it would not only serve me for years but would also be a valued piece of heritage to pass down to my son someday.
That is kick ass. Thank you for your service.
Very clean lines. To the point edc.
I love the sleek design with its classic origin. The xolotl would excel as an edc knife and would fit my pocket perfectly . Thank you for the opportunity .
What I Love about the Xolotl, is that is looks like an old school switch blade. Sleek, thin, and very pokie!
I like the style of the knife.
Love that it lightweight and with a dressier look and feel. My Instagram name is jimmyleejoslin.
That it looks like a old school switchblade . I love switchblade . I even named my tattoo shop Switchblade 347 tattoo , that knife is very Sweet
Man I’m just going to say it , Everyone in the world needs this knife! It’s something to be proud of in your collection of knives with a kick ass story behind it to tell your friends about. And my poor ass to win if is the only way I’m going to get to own one too @clifford.baron on Instagram
Man I’m just going to say it , Everyone in the world needs this knife! It’s something to be proud of in your collection of knives with a kick ass story behind it to tell your friends about. And my poor ass to win if is the only way I’m going to get to own one too
I love how the deep carry pocket clip is the “sternum” of the knife! Also, that stiletto style is awesome
@knifelover88 on IG
I really like the whole Aztec Diety story behind the name. I also love the shaping of the handle and the milled details innthe G-10. I’d like to win this knife cause i like knives that have a tale to tell weather it be because of use of because of their origin. Also cause i have a pretty small collection currently sitting at 6, thus i would naturally like to have a larger variety of carry options. (IG Name: @zarek_fett)
I think it’s awesome that the knife is inspired by am Aztec deity, mythological inspirations translate so well to knives. I love that the mythology of Xolotl went into the smaller details too, not just the name. I’m also a huge fan of that style of spear point. Great review!
@mickknife on IG
I love the Styling of the Xolotl and the fact that one of our cherished Special Forces Veterans designed it!! Thanks to the designer, all Veterans and all involved in this GAW!! Happy 4th of July Everyone and God Bless America! @jeremyelliott1. on IG.
It’s sleek and sexy. Looks amazing, the design is fantastic. @sjpfeifer
i like the tactical and robust built of Xolotl. also it’s design is not intimidating to pull-out in public.
a very nice folder perfect for everyday carry for my hubby.
Super clean looking and it just looks dangerous!
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