Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Check out ceramicknife.org!

A full review of their Rigger's knife, a very nice folding ceramic knife, is on the way. I've actually been busy, if you can believe it, but I'm using this ceramic blade regularly, and gathering more test info, so, a review is on its way.

This gentleman has a really cool array of high quality, yet inexpensive ceramic bladed knives for various purposes.
Ceramicknife.org is where Phil Cressman markets the ceramic knives he designs, then has manufactured by another company. After playing with the Rigger's knife, I must say I'm impressed so far, and I'd like to eventually play around with some of Phil's other designs to compare/contrast performance against steel blades. Very cool stuff. Look for my review soon, and check out Mr. Cressman's wares on his site

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

India's military experimenting with mega-hot jolokia pepper grenades.

A friend sent me this article, Indian military weapons labs are toying around with the hottest pepper. At 1,000,000 Scoville units, it's said to be the hottest chili on the planet. To give an idea of the "hotness" of these 'Ghost Peppers', Tabasco sauce ranges from 2,500 to 5,000 Scoville units, I would NOT want to be sprayed or gassed with jolokia spray or grenades!! I think it's cool that more international research is being done on less-than-lethal or non-lethal weapons. A mega-hot pepper grenade might be just what the doctor ordered for hostage-takers, or even crowd control.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Gerber Mini-Remix, dual thumbstuds my ass!

I picked this one up today...more impressions to come soon. For now I'm in awe of Gerber's misinformation regarding their own product on their own boxes and website. This design, at least, the way it folds, is sort of like CRKT's classic K.I.S.S. knife. It's more-or-less a framelock, just like the Descent, which I talked about the other day (see below). On Gerber's website, this Mini-Remix knife is listed as having "thumb studs", yeah, plural. Even weirder, on the Mini-Remix box, there's a simple description of the knife and its key features. it actually says "dual thumbstuds". The way this knife is built, dual thumbstuds are an impossibility, no way around it. If Gerber wanted this folder to be ambidextrous, they'd have had to use a horizontally mounted thumb disc, like the kind we see on many Emerson knives and some older, time tested Benchmade designs like the original Stryker.

Just by looking at these pictures, without handling the knife in person, you can tell that an opposite-side thumbstud (to open the knife in the left hand), simply would not work. The knife only comes with one thumbstud, suitable for opening with your right hand. There's no room for an opposite-sided stud, the knife would not be able to open or close if it really had "dual thumbstuds". I don't think this is any type of sneakiness or misrepresentation on Gerber's part. I think it's simple laziness, and a lack of attention to detail. Maybe that's what happens when a once truly great cutlery factory makes more and more of its products in Chinese and Taiwanese factories? Could that be it? Could it be that some previous drawing-board-incarnation of the Mini-Remix actually DID have dual thumb studs? Maybe it's a simple misprint.

Either way, it's not a big deal, more amusing than anything else. Of course, if I was a lefty and had looked at the specs, say, online and ordered the knife sight-unseen. I'd be a little turned-off upon receiving my new knife and realizing it's only truly usable to those who use their right hand dominantly!

Written-spec errors aside, it's a nice little folder. Again, just like the Descent folder I bought the other day, it's VERY stiff to open, even though it appears to ride on dual (yes two) teflon washers. It is a "mini", so it's light, and like the similar Descent, the pocket clip is mounted high and folded over for deep pocket carry, maybe one of its best features. The large open pivot hole that the blade tang actually pivots around, is neat, because if you want to clip it onto maybe, a Nite-Ize S-Biner or other, even thicker carabiner, it works just fine. The ring-like pivot area just simply expands your carrying options a bit. If you have small enough hands and fingers (I don't), it allows you to grasp the knife and slip your index finger through the hole, allowing for better control. My fingers/knuckles are simply too thick, my index finger goes barely past the knuckle closest to my fingertip. I might like this design better overall if it was twice the size of the Mini. The sheepsfoot blade (again, much like Gerber's Descent) is cool-looking, and the aluminum frame seems durable. The knife, as a whole is pretty roughly finished, the blade's edge came razor sharp, but there are many sports on parts of the frame, lock and handle that appear rough, not quite unfinished, but simply unpolished, with a few small burrs here and there. I believe this factor to be a part of foreign manufacture, we even see some things like that on American made knives. I have two newer Buck Knives which are USA made, and both of them had a few fine scratches on the blade right out of the box, brand new. Little things like that don't bother me, an $18.00 USD knife is meant to be used, thrown in a pocket with change, and sharpened frequently, so tiny fit and finish problems aren't a huge deal for me. For that matter, I'm not even really bothered by the Mini Remix's "dual thumb studs" claim, it just seems like a simple, silly and avoidable mistake. So far, my impression of the Mini Remix from Gerber, is terribly mediocre. I like the razor edge, and the way the clip is mounted, but so far, that's about all.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

New Gerber Descent Carabiner Framelock

Oh jeez...where do i begin? Another cool-looking 2010 Gerber design, made in China and sold at a reasonable price. It retails for about $38.00 USD, but can easily be found for about $20.00 USD on better knife retail sites, or in my case, warehouse membership sporting goods stores. Right off the bat, I have to say, this is one of the most difficult opening knives I've ever bought! It has dual thumb-studs, but the action is terribly stiff. Not to mention the fact that the pivot tension adjustment screw (torx) is under the clip, what's more, under the section of the clip that doesn't have any cutouts. In other words, to adjust the pivot action, you'd have to remove the clip screws, take the clip off, adjust it to your liking, then re-attach and tighten the clip screws! Ridiculous! It's either an incredible design flaw, or it's intentional. If this knife is being marketed toward rock climbers and other folks for general highly active outdoor sporting purposes, maybe Gerber's design team intended this to be a folder that was incapable of accidental opening. It's almost like the CRKT/Halligan KISS knife in principle, what with the frame-lock design, however, the sharp edge of the blade is always protected by the back spacer (in blue) piece that connects to the spring loaded carabiner.
In fact, the longer I play with my new purchase, the more I'm beginning to think that the stiff action is intentional, especially if, as Gerber mentions in their literature, the knife is to be attached via the built in carabiner to backpacks, pants etc. I know I wouldn't want a super touchy knife to drop into the open position while attached to my pack strap, running the risk of cutting me or my other gear. The front pivot area is capped with a stepped disc that matches the look of the thumbstuds.

Gripe aside, it can definitely be opened one-handed, it just takes a little extra push and effort. The dual thumbstuds are typical and have that sort of stepped-down machining for a better grip. The lockup is rock solid, and while the liner/frame lock must be depressed flat into the handle, it takes some getting used to, but is fairly convenient. I like the open construction, as knives built like this are very easy to clean, rinse and maintain, especially when used outdoors, where your only option might be running your folder under water, or swishing it in a riverbed or something to get some of the grime off of it.

I like the fact that the traditional pocket clip was included as well as the springy carabiner. The clip is mounted high and folded over, so it sinks deeply and discreetly into your pocket. Because the knife rides so deeply, the textured front pivot disc aids in getting a solid grip as the knife is drawn. The whole package is very light, @ 2.7 oz. The frame, clip and housing are aluminum, while the blade material ins't specified, it's probably in the CroMoV family of Chinese steels that are so popular with American manufacturers who manufacture some products in Taiwan and China. From my understanding, these CroMo V type steels are essentially Chinese equivalents of 420 and 440 type steels.

The Descent's blade shape is what I would describe as an upswept sheep's foot. It almost reminds me of a platypus' beak or something. Mine is plain-edged and dangerously sharp, right off the shelf. In my opinion, this is one of those knives that's so odd looking, it's attractive. I mean, it's nothing special, and certainly nothing we haven't seen in various combinations on other knives, or at least bits of its aesthetics, but the longer I handle it, the more I like it. Again, this was another Aaron-impulse-buy. I'd actually gone to the store to get some wadcutter lead pellets for a new air rifle, and pick up a pack of hi-vis targets, as the weather was decent, and I felt like getting fresh air. I'd noted that this establishment just started carrying 5 or 6 new Gerber items last week, and though the Descent was in their display case last week, it was without a price tag, and I was in a hurry, so I figured I'd look at it later. I paid about $20 bucks, and so far, despite slightly difficult opening, I'm not regretting my purchase.

EDIT 3/15/10:
I AM indeed regretting buying a Gerber Descent. I've only had the knife a week or so, I haven't really used it too much, I've just been carrying it in my pocket. Today I noticed that the pivot is loose and the blade is being pushed forward to the point that the knife will not close without excessive inward force in order for the blade to clear the frame upon closing. There's at least 2mm of vertical and horizontal play in the blade. As I stated, I haven't used this knife very much yet, and I certainly haven't had any chance to be rough with it. I plan on returning it to the store I bought it from this week, and if they won't exchange my defective product, I'm going to send it back to Gerber for replacement, though it would suck to have to pay shipping on a knife that is inherently unadjustable, by design. The way this folder has degenerated, poor manufacturing is the only explanation that makes sense. Gerber seems to have had lots of recalls in the past few years, their original EAB razor blade folder, and now on their site, looks like they're recalling the original Gator Machetes because they lacked a safety ramp, and that a user's hand could slip upward onto the saw edge of the blade during heavy use. I wonder if it's only a matter of time before the Descent series of knives are recalled too? Either way, I'll let readers know if Sportco takes my exchange, or if I have to go through Gerber to get a replacement. Good thing I kept the box and receipt!

I do like too, that the Gerber Descent is very thin, even with its full-size pocket clip. A combo edge version is available as well, and I would not be surprised if we see some different color schemes on the Descent, in addition to the bead blast gray and light blue that's currently available.

Gerber is offering the Crevice series for 2010 as well, the Crevice features a similar style carabiner clip and is slightly larger than the Descent. These should be available right now also:

And it appears that Gerber has revived one of their classic designs, I can't remember what they called their folder that pivoted around a giant index finger hole (it may have been called the Remix originally too), but it's been out of production for several years now, it wasn't a bad knife, but I do like the looks of the 2010 mini-Remix much better. The Remix series now is offered with sheepsfoot blades and should be available now at most reputable online knife dealers, and probably stores like REI.

It seems like several years back, Gerber, as a company, realized they had to do something to compete with the fair prices and innovative ideas of (at the time) newer rivals like CRKT. They seem to have been doing a majority of their manufacture overseas since the mid-late 1990's, and depending on where you shop, Gerber prices can be very inexpensive. I just wish they'd follow Buck's lead and continue to move back toward their American manufactured roots. Either way, the venerable company, originally founded by an advertising exec 100 years ago, continues to move forward and keep on trying new ideas, in 2010, and probably beyond.

Check out Gerber's official site to see the 2010 lineup and more.

EDIT 3/18/2010:
So, I returned the defective Descent to Sportco, in Fife today. Dan @ the knife counter was very helpful, and just as bothered as I was by the loosed blade which would no longer close without extreme lateral pressure. He was more than happy to exchange it for a brand-new Descent from their back stock. So, time will tell, if Gerber just made a few sketchy knives, or if this is a whole "bad batch" problem. I plan of carrying and using the Descent in the coming weeks, and if the same problem occurs, I'm sending it back to Gerber with a harshly worded note. There's no excuse for a Gerber knife, foreign made or not, to have catastrophic lock failure, by simply being played with and carried, before any real use has occurred. The thing that bothers me most about that defect, is that, in the store, the knife looked ok, it wasn't until several hundred open/close cycles that the defect presented itself. I would encourage readers to stay away from the Descent, at least for a few months, until it becomes clear whether the knife has inherent manufacturing defects, or if mine was just a fluke.

Monday, March 1, 2010

RAT Cutlery name change and micarta handle slabs available for RAT Izula

Jeff Randall's RAT Cutlery announced on 2/1/2010, that RAT Cutlery is getting a name change. RAT Knives will now be called Esee Knives. From their SITE:
-"The new name has been used by Randall's Adventure & Training since 1997 while under contract with the Peruvian Air Force School of Survival.
ESEE stands for Escuela de Supervivencia (School of Survival) Escape, Evasion . The acronym also represents Education of
Survival, Escape and Evasion - A domestic and international training class taught by Randall's Adventure & Training."-

Anyhow, the RAT Cutlery/Esee Knives Izula is one of my all-time favorite small fixed blades that fits into the "neck knife" category. Mine is the tan version, and currently sports a safety orange glow-tip lanyard made by Scott at Canada's The Lanyard Zone.
Many knife sites are now selling add-yourself micarta handle slabs for the Izula knife series, for about $15.00 USD. They should fill out the handle better, therefore filling your hand better and making extended work more comfortable.

See the RAT/Esee SITE for details on the knives and the name change.

3/2/10 update:
Thanks to the reader who commented on this entry!! I forgot to include a link to a site which sells the aftermarket (made by RAT) slabs for the Izula series!! I am in no way affiliated with Knifecenter, but I have been buying knives from them since 1999 and I have found their customer service and selection second-to-none. I trust them without fail. Knifeworks.com is also a great site, and what they sometimes lack in selection, they make up for with mega-fast shipping and great service.

Hot Gold Class Benchmade Griptilian.

One of Benchmade's newest 'Gold Class' knives is a real beauty. It's based on the Griptilian pattern, but it's the most dressy version I've ever seen! It boasts a textured carbon fiber handle with a G-10 backspacer, and blackened CPM-M4 tool steel on the blade! Just wicked. This is the knife that graces the cover of Benchmade's 2010 print catalog. If you want to mail-order a free Benchmade catalog, or download one, click HERE.
2010 is shaping up to be an awesome year for new Benchmade knife releases.