Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Eton Microlink FR160 Solar Weatherband Radio; (Jack of many trades.)

I'm not going to go into extreme detail here. Various incarnations of this radio have been available for years, by Eton and other knockoff companies. I just wanted to touch on the fact that about a month ago I picked one of these gadgets up @ my local REI store. I got it for just under $20.00 USD, though last time I was there just a few days ago, the Microlink FR160 in all colors, was priced @ $30.00 USD even. Either way, $30.00 USD is still a fair price for this device. This is a really fun, and potentially useful emergency tool.

It's a 3 LED flashlight, AM/FM radio, 7 channel weatherband radio, and a cellphone charger that uses a usb to mini B cable. All this is powered by solar energy, or a hand crank dynamo which generates energy more fast & furious than the power of light. A few days after I picked my FR160 up, I brought it, along with a digital drum machine, to a friend's house to make music with some of the guys I used to play punkrock with. We played with synths, digital effects, and a bunch of other eclectic gear and recorded some tracks. I made great use of the little Eton radio, running the robotic weatherband recorded voice through a vocoder and other effects, and using the hand crank mechanism to create chaotic static and noise, as well as partially lighting our workspace for that particular jam session. It was a fun way to use a non-instrument in the creation of music, and the tracks it was used on turned out really funny and cool. What was edited down into our first official "song", was eventually titled "Weatherband", in honor of the bizarre little Eton's contribution to our new sound.

I really like the lime green color, it'll be helpful in locating it at a glance in the tent, or in camp. Eton does a number of Red Cross editions of their radios in red, obviously, and they usually offer some shade of blue or black on many of their products too.

AM (520-1710 KHz) & FM (87-108MHz)
NOAA weatherband – all 7 channels
Built-in 3 white LED light source
Powered by solar or dynamo both of which charge internal Ni-MH battery
USB cell phone charger (USB cable not included)
(The usb out is a standard usb, so to use it to charge your model phone, all you need to do is go buy the right cable, be it usb to mini-b, or what have you. The cable for my phone is the same type that comes with many portable hard drives, so I was all set to go out of the box for phone charging.)

So, all in all, for an inexpensive non-KNIFE purchase, I think the little FR160 was well worth it, and I know I'll get some outdoor use out of it this summer. The LEDs are really pretty bright, and the lack of need for batteries is really neat.
Check out Eton's range of products at

Esee Knives (formerly R.A.T. Cutlery) DPX H•E•S•T / F

Esee knives, Jeff Randall's company, formerly known as R.A.T. Cutlery, indicates that their folding DPX HEST knife will finally be available shortly. The original fixed blade HEST, and the new folder, are both designed in collaboration with extreme journalist Robert Young Pelton, author of "Licensed to Kill", and The World's Most Dangerous places.

Pelton is a great writer, and frequently bears witness to violent world conflicts like civil wars, riots and governmental transitions, all while remaining objective and reporting the facts without bias. Robert Young Pelton has spent his adult life traveling the globe in the most violent and hostile areas worldwide. Needless to say, the man knows a thing or two about basic survival tools, and the features that make up a useful knife, built for the real world. The fixed HEST has gotten very positive reviews all across knife communities online, and I hope to get ahold of one soon for a full review. Esee Knives changed their name from R.A.T. (Randall's Adventure Training) in order to better reflect their South American survival training school programs.

From their site:

"Jeff Randall and Mike Perrin of Randall’s Adventure & Training announced Monday, February 1st that they would officially be changing the name of their cutlery division from RAT Cutlery Company to ESEE KNIVES. Randall and Perrin made this decision due to confusion in the industry with other companies who market knives under similar names.
The new name (ESEE) comes from Randall and Perrin’s vast experience teaching survival courses to military, law enforcement and civilians in the jungles of South America. ESEE is an acronym for Escuela de Supervivencia (School of Survival), Escape and Evasion."

Esee's Knives are designed based on real world survival use, and they are used & tested extensively in the rugged jungles of South America.

Here's the lowdown on the HEST Folder, straight from their site:

"Introducing the ESEE DPx H•E•S•T /F (Hostile Environment Survival Tool / Folding)

For the first time the brutal, rugged feel and performance of the DPx H•E•S•T fixed blade has been engineered into a hard use frame lock folder. The D2 Tool Steel folder comes with a Titanium alloy frame, patented RotoBlock adjustment, removable glass breaker (with replacement smooth-head screw), hex-bit driver in handle/frame, and collectible stainless steel “Mr. DP” adjustment/multi tool. After a global search the firm of Lion Steel was selected to manufacture this knife based on their long heritage of quality, award winning folders. The DPx H•E•S•T folder is the collaboration of Robert Young Pelton (World’s Most Dangerous Places fame) and ESEE Knives. The DPx H•E•S•T Folder is based on Pelton's hard time in dangerous places, ESEE's commitment to customer satisfaction and Lion Steel's mastery of manufacturing quality and tolerances. The DPx H•E•S•T Folder is designed and made for hard use in hostile conditions with the ESEE lifetime warranty.

MSRP: $ 252.31



Right-hand and left-hand models
D2 Tool Steel Blade
Titanium alloy frame lock
Patented Lion Steel Rotoblock
G10 handle scale
Removable glass breaker (comes with replacement smooth head screw)
Hex-bit driver in handle
Stainless steel “Mr. DP” Skull Tool adjustment wrench / multi-tool for adjusting RotoBlock, pivot and glass breaker removal
Standard Paper Boxing with DPx Graphics


Handle thickness (without clip): .541”
Blade thickness (Max): .187”
Overall length (opened / without glass breaker): 7.625”
Closed length (without glass breaker): 4.38”
Handle Grip Area: 3.80”
Cutting Edge length: 3.10”
Titanium frame thickness: .140”
G10 thickness: .140”
Weight: not determined at this time"

I'm pretty excited, Esee/RAT have a long history of brutally capable knives ready for anything. They're built by a small operation called Rowen Manufacturing, in the USA. I own the original RAT Izula neck survival knife, and it's one of my favorite pieces of gear...ever. The upcoming HEST Folder is an exception to Esee's long history with manufacturing partner Rowen Mfg. It will be made in Italy by Lion Steel, a company that also has a reputation for manufacturing hard use, high quality folding knives for other brands. I'm assuming the decision was based on Rowen having limited capabilities, after all RAT/Esee have always done fixed blade knives until recently. A folding version of the venerable Izula knife is forthcoming as well, probably in the 1st quarter of next year. It's safe to say that Esee's fixed blades will continue to be made by Rowen, while any future folding knives will be produced by Lion Steel.
The Izula in various colors:

Looks like the HEST folder is a Ti framelock with a G10 slab on the front, and D2 tool steel for the blade, popularized by veteran custom maker Bob Dozier over the years. D2 is hard as hell (can't remember the Rockwell rating) and takes a beating. I own a ltd. ed. Benchmade AFCK Axis lock, in D2 bladesteel, and I used it hard, with rarely a need for even a touchup sharpening. I'm guessing this new Dpx HEST folder will be pretty much bomb-proof, as RAT/Esee don't release their products for sale until they're certain of the quality and durability gleaned from hard use testing. I'm of the opinion that Esee Knives are dollar for dollar probably the best American Made hard use tools around today. They've gained a huge following without advertising to the tactical "me too" 'Mall Ninja' crowd, based simply on making reasonably priced knives which have proven time and again that they can take whatever abuse your adventure can dish out.

I would LOVE to get my hands on one of these for T & E, and to give you guys a full review, and more info on what the folding HEST is all about. We may just have to wait a few months to handle one in person. Maybe I'll contact Jeff Randall himself and see if he'd be willing to loan us an early incarnation, simply for publicity purposes, and to help further get the world out when the knife is released.

A shot of the original fixed blade HEST knife, from Esee/RAT's website:

The HEST Folder promises to be rugged and adventure-worthy, I'm sure:

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Spyderco Matriarch is back, Ltd. Ed. Sprint Run

You may remember the Matriarch, a slightly smaller version of Spyderco's big intimidating "Civilian" folder with the wicked recurved blade. It's been out of production for years, but it looks like Spyderco did a "Sprint Run", where it's available in limited quantities for a short time. This time around, the Matriarch is sporting a brown handle, made of FRN (fiberglass reinforced nylon, like Zytel).

Spyderco says:
"The female leader of a herd of elephants is called a Matriarch. The Spyderco Matriarch came about in the 1990s after a South African distributor requested a lightweight folder similar to the Spyderco Civilian.

He wanted the attributes of the Civilian with its tremendous cutting effort but in a smaller size and thicker at the tip of the blade for general use. We made him the Matriarch which eventually was discontinued but is being revived for a limited time during the summer of 2010 as a Sprint Run.

The Matriarch handle in coco-brown features the Volcano Grip FRN handle to ensure solid grip performance while cutting.

Shaped like a backward “S” and full at the belly, the VG-10 blade is available with a SpyderEdge or PlainEdge. With the curving thick tip, both edge configurations are highly effective when cutting using just the tip or when using a full arm motion. A left/right hand clip affixes the folder to carry tip-up in a pocket.

The Matriarch is a highly refined and coveted design we believe will offer years of serviceable use."

Indeed. This would make a fantastic urban carry knife, as just the looks alone would be enough to make a mugger think twice, and if one had to use it, you'd be shredding flesh like a lemon zester.

So far, these are available for a short time @

At discount sites, they should be just under $70.00 USD, which is not a bad deal at all, considering a standard Spyderco Endura will set you back about $60.00 USD.
I have found Spyderco's Japanese output to be of very high quality, at least as good, if not sometimes better than their American knives. I own the Ed Schempp-designed Persian, and it is a tight, clean piece of work, which also came out of their Seki City factory, where I believe Moki knives are also made.

Specs are as follows:
Blade Length: 3-5/8" (92 mm)
Cutting Edge: 3-1/4" (83 mm)
Blade Thickness: 1/8" (3 mm)
Closed Length: 8-15/16" (211 mm)
Overall Length: 4-7/8" (124 mm)
Hole Diameter: 15/32" (12 mm)
Blade Steel: VG-10
Weight: 2.6 oz. (74 g)
Handle Material: Brown FRN
Made in Seki-City, Japan

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Cas Hanwei Tactical Wakizashi

I don't know how viable, or realistic a short sword is for tactical use by real-world military folks. Canadian custom maker Wally Hayes has been handcrafting tactical Japanese style swords for years, so there must be a market for them.
Spain's CAS Iberia has been working in conjunction with Paul Chen's Hanwei forge for many years, in order to create functional, and often reasonably priced swords based on historical models. Some of the highest quality swords I've ever held were manufactured by Chen's Hanwei forge, and marketed and distributed by CAS Iberia. That being said, I'm a knife guy, not a sword guy, so aside from a few practice swords like my Cold Steel O Tanto Bokken, which carry over into my Filipino stickfighting experience, I've never owned, nor have I had the desire to own, an actual sword. With pieces like this available though, I could be convinced to change my mind, if I had the money to afford a sword. I just don't know what I'd do with it, as I have so many redundant cutting tools already, and for general practical camp use, in my opinion, nothing beats the trifecta of a machete, a stout fixed blade with a 4 to 6 inch blade, and any one of a number of folders.

Full Tang Contruction
5160 Steel
Fiberglass Scabbard

Overall length: 31"
Blade length: 20"
Handle length: 8 1/2"
Weight: 1 lb 14 oz.

With specs like that, it's safe to say that this puppy would likely take lots of abuse, and probably comes quite sharp. Maintenance would likely be a bit of a bear, just based on size, and the carbon steel blade, but I suppose if you wanted a fully functional wakizashi, and didn't care about traditional trappings, this might be one to get. I can't argue with the price, retail is about $170 USD, but sites like Knifecenter will be selling them for just a hair above a hundred bucks, at about $114.95 USD when these are available in the coming months.

At any rate, I know CAS/Hanwei to make quality items, and I've handled lots of their stuff. At the very least, it's fun to know that if the zombie apocalypse hits, ownership of one of these would be a hell of a lot of fun to run around with!

See CAS/Hanwei to check out their range of functional swords based on designs from all around the globe.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Idaho's TOPS Knives has a long history of big, thick quality outdoor & tactical knives made to take a beating. They frequently work with real-world professionals to design effective bladed solutions for the field. They've previously scored hits with knives like the Smokejumper, the CAT (Covert Action Tanto) series, and the Tom Brown Tracker knife, featured in the action film; The Hunted.
Available soon, the HAKET is a convertible tomahawk with a hollow handle. The blade can be removed and replaced for different applications, and the handle can hold small survival items. Pretty neat design. I have an old military surplus kit based on a similar idea. It's an aluminum handle that can accomodate a hatchet head, saw blade, or small shovel/trowel. I've always loved the ingenious design, and it's nice to see an American knife company like TOPS doing something similar, with quality materials.

TOPS is always doing something new, they've literally offered hundreds of different designs over the years, and the HAKET promises to be unique, useful and fun, all at once. This looks like the type of tool that could sustain a small group over a weekend camping trip all by itself. I look forward to hearing more about the HAKET, and hopefully being able to handle one in the future.
Be sure to check out TOPS on a semi-regular basis for new designs, including the OSS thumb dagger inspired Knox-Knife:

10 Reasons I Love the Victorinox Swiss Classic, plus a longwinded, wandering anecdote.

For some reason when the idea for this post materialized, I felt I needed to post about the fact that it was going to be a post, maybe more as a public reminder to myself to confess my love for the little Swiss toolbox. I said:
"I used to resent all of the old men who'd come into the shop I used to co-run, looking for toothpicks for their damn beloved Swiss Classics. Well, maybe I'm more mature now, but I finally understand the indelible love for the tiny red folder."

Yep, a couple weeks has passed and that still sums it up succinctly. Long ago, as a younger man...(cue misty-eyed daydream music)

In spring, 1999, I left my beloved job among friends at the world's best independent video store (Seattle-ites, you ALL know the best feature of Roosevelt Way, no, not the abandoned Tubs building), only to be working a stressful, temporary agency customer service position in Bellevue, WA, for a company that rhymes with, "Spicro-Loft". This was before the behemoth moved all of their CS call center jobs to India, f***ers...Anyway, my girlfriend worked there and had some senority, and the money was good. But I hated it. I hated the smell, I hated my coworkers (most of them) and the management were all despicable. On top of all that, I'm not a mega-tecchy guy. I mean, obviously I get around the web without a training mouse, but technical stuff, nuh-uh, not me. So, after a couple months, I got up, stretched, farted loudly and put my keycard badge on my desk, and left. I later came back to pick up my girlfriend, who was starting to wonder where rent was gonna come from.
So, the next day I went to the mall, a pile of resumes in hand, on expensive paper. I needed to blow off steam, I needed to spend that last $80 in my pocket...I needed a knife. Another. Knife.
Well, I left with my money in tact and a slightly hopeful twinkle in my eye. I'd spoken with a man who was to be my mentor and friend at times, and the bane of my existence at others. I started working at the cutlery shop full time, for peanuts, but the pace was nice, the mall-girls cute, and I was surrounded by blessed steel. I eventually took over assistant manager duties until leaving in 2003. Now, an every day occurrence was older gentlemen coming in, first thing after opening, setting their coffee on the counter and launching into Grandpa Simpson style stories of the olden golden days. I loved many of those old guys who became regulars, I found in that job that I had patience, and a knack for conversation I'd previously been unaware of. It all came down to the camaraderie offered between dudes who love knives. It didn't matter if the customer was 8, or 87, we all love sharp awesome stuff.
Now, inevitably, and with little variation, these elderly gentlemen would request one of three things; a Swiss Classic knife ("ya know the little bastard that goes on yer keys!?), a toothpick replacement for said knife, or, less frequently, a spring for the scissors housed in such a knife. Hell, sometimes all 3. Now, I had no reason for bitterness against these old fellas who were willing to share their hazily remembered boyhood exploits with me...but I was into (cue echo) TACTICAAALLLL - KNIIIVVVVESSSS!. So, in my early 20's surrounded by cool shit, the Swiss Classic was the furthest thing from useful in my slightly warped mind.
Fast forward to a few days ago, going through my various knife stashes and hidey holes, I counted NO FEWER than SEVEN variations of Victorinox's venerable classic knife. This got me thinking, would I be soon needing a hearing aid and telling stories of cooking raccoons in hollandaise at BoyScout Camp? No, I love the Swiss Classic for many reasons. Here are a few.

1) They're socially acceptable. Unless you were traumatized as a child by Uncle "off his meds" Wilbur threatening your half-naked mom with a tiny red Victorinox, you're probably not going to gasp or make a snide remark if one is withdrawn for a legitimate utilitarian purpose.

2) They're inexpensive...Ok, it's 2010, and the MSRP is likely around $20-some-odd USD for the regular Classic SD, but shoot, Target sells them for eleven, I even lucked out at Radio Shack of all places, and found the genuine article for under seven bucks.

3) Variety of colors etc...Make mine green, or black, or StayGlow yellow, whatever, they even frequently do limited editions, like the all-over shield pattern pictured below for Vicnox's hundred and something anniversary (I scored that edition version of the's awesome). This summer, 2010 they launched 3 limited summer editions, including a classy white, with a handsome little red lobster on the logo side.

4) Toothpick. No brainer, do you ever eat jerky, or nuts in the car? Are your teeth perfectly aligned and airtight? Yeah, me too, and me neither. Toothpick=essential. It's way better than using the cover of a matchbook or trying to stretch a piece of plastic grocery bag into a strand of floss, believe me.

5) Lightweight. 0.7 oz. are you KIDDING?! I have to put a lanyard or something on mine so they weigh MORE and I don't lose them. 58 mm | 2 1/4 inch. PERFECT pocket size...seriously.

6) Swiss, not Chinese etc, but Swiss. 'Nuff said.

7) Reliable warranty, conscientious company. I'm not 100% sure about 2010 and beyond, but I can attest that from 1999-2004, these guys were SO easy to deal with regarding warranty repairs. 9 times out of 10, they'd send us a replacement, brand new knife for our customer, even if the knife had slight signs of misuse.

8) Widely available. Specialty shops, gift boutiques, websites, Target, Radio Shack, drug stores and on and on and on and on.

9) Good bladesteel. I don't remember what their actual designation is, but it always comes sharp, and if you have a decent head for hand sharpening, you can make them WAY sharper in short order. The steel is a bit softer, so the edge may not hold up razor sharp through extreme use, but the payoff is 6-10 whacks on a ceramic rod or diamond hone, and you're back in business.

10) Range of uses. Keychain friendly. Classic indeed, 1000 uses for the flat tipped file sided screwdriver blade alone. I KNOW that I'm not the only one who has felt relief because they've packed a Classic, whether to adjust something like a fishing reel, change a battery quickly in a guitar pedal (me, frequently) or use its valuable asset, the toothpick to scrape some chive out of your teeth before a date. Need I say more? No.

Basically, it's that adage of, "what's the best tool?", well, it's the one you have with you, and because the little buggers are small and light, there's no excuse not to have one on or near your person, even when sleeping (haha).

Victorinox Swiss Army

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Spyderco Bi-Fold AUTO Folding Knife

I guess we'll have to handle this one in person to fully grasp the concept...
That said, a Spyderco USA Made auto for around $90.00 USD (retail is $135) sounds good to me!

Quick & dirty, here's Spyderco's marketing copy on this spring-loaded monstrosity:

""Spyderco’s Bi-Fold folder opens and closes just like a book. While it may not be traditional, it is undeniably usable and innovative. The knife centers around a Fred Perrin inspired index finger hole. Located inside the hole is a trigger which unlocks the blade using a spring. The position of the trigger’s release cleverly situates the index finger though the hole. With the index finger in the hole the knife is retained in your hand in a ready-to-cut position. This also frees up your fingertips for grasping other items while still holding the knife. Although the blade is only 1.25 inches long, due to the ‘spring action’ the Bi-Fold is considered a ‘Restricted Item’ under the wording and definition of The Federal Switchblade Law. It is subject to individual state and federal laws applied to both buyers and sellers purchasing restricted items. In plainspeak, check before buying. To close the blade, press in the trigger and swing the blade into the handle. A separate locking mechanism inside keeps it closed, and for added peace of mind manually operated backup lock doubly insures it remains closed. Jimping on the blade’s spine and behind the cutting edge provide tactile resistance to slipping. The 440C, metal injection molded, flat-saber ground blade has weight reducing cutouts and is available with a full PlainEdge cutting edge. It attaches inside a pocket with a right hand tip-down clip. Spyderco’s Bi-Fold is interesting, innovative and functional and nothing else in the knife industry is quite like it.""

Hmmm...440c? Okay, could be worse, it keeps the price down and 440c has a long history of tried and true cutlery performance. I dunno, it just looks fragile to me, with that mechanism exposed like that. I can never fault Sal Glesser and company for their creativity, and their willingness to push the boundaries of the definition of the word "knife". Seems like they'd be able to sell a lot more of these if they'd simply managed to make the knife an everywhere-legal "assisted" opener, instead of calling it an auto. Regardless, an interesting piece of engineering. If anybody wants to send us one (Mr. Glesser, hint hint), Eric B. and myself will be happy to put it through its paces. If anybody has firsthand experience and can tell us more, feel free to comment, or email me.

Oh yeah, the Bi Fold was designed in conjunction, at least stylistically, with everybody's favorite Frenchman, Fred Perrin. I'm stoked on Perrin and Spydie's limited edition Swick knife as well. I wonder if the UFC's Mike 'Quick' Swick will take legal action in regards to the name?!

the Perrin/Spyderco Swick:

Monday, July 19, 2010

Food for Thought; Knife disarms

Lots of people would have you believe that attempting to "de-fang the snake" (disarm a knife), is too dangerous, and that you should just comply with your attacker. I call Bullshit on that, if you have some basic boxing or self defense skills, there's no reason why you shouldn't be able to quickly and fairly easily disarm an attacker with a knife. Proper training is key, as is repetition of that training, but his video nicely illustrates some disarm techniques that can get you thinking about what it is you would do if you were faced by an untrained attacker on the street. If you couple your basic defensive training with a kubotan, knife or pocket stick, your chances of success and your options both skyrocket. Stay safe, be logical, and seek real-life combatives training. Most metropolitan areas have some sort of urban safety seminar available if you're not into the idea of joining a school. Heck most fitness gyms offer seminars on basic defense, even basic kickboxing classes will give you a leg up over an attacker in a real world conflict. Check it out.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Coming Soon: Benchmade Bone Collector Skinner 15000-1, and why I'm not terribly impressed. Fit & finish is not up to par with Benchmade's USA Made products. D2 steel is great, but sheath is too big, knife moves around inside sheath. Not a big deal for me, but it could blow your hunt if your knife is rattling and making noise. I'll have pix and more details up soon. I bought it for my summer fishing trip, but I'm considering returning it.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Alpha Innovations Single Finger Nuck and Letter Opener. (or "A fistful of plastic dynamite!")

I've been familiar with Alpha Innovations for awhile now. They are generally regarded as the best makers of polymer kubatons in the USA. They've only been around since 2006, but have quickly built a reputation for innovation. They really do innovate, and have a large number of inexpensive and tough self defense items available on

I recently ordered a couple of things from them just for fun. Their stuff is USA Made and very inexpensive, I would recommend products like their kubatons for people who don't feel comfortable packing heat, or are nervous about knives. The original KuBOTAN, was designed by Tak Kubota, in Japan as a moderate force equalizer for cops. Since then, the name has been adopted and spelled "kubaton", "kubiton" or other ways. It makes sense because they really are keychain sized batons.

The Knuck is 1/4" thick x 2" wide x 2-3/4" long and weighs in at a light 3/10ths of an ounce. It's a cool olive drab color, and can easily be put on a keychain or worn in the coin pocket of your jeans. You could even walk around with it on your middle finger in high risk areas, and it would be pretty much invisible until you had to throw down. The slightly pointed tip concentrates the force of your punch into that one little spot, and would be devastating to the temple or used in conjunction with a checking or blocking hand on your assailants weapon hand or arm. Most of Alpha's products are "sterile", meaning they don't have any markings tying them to a specific country of origin or manufacturer. Items considered sterile are valued in the Special operations community for the fact that if they get left behind, it doesn't implicate anybody directly.

The Letter Opener is even lighter than the Nuck, @ 1/8" thick x 1-3/4" wide x 3" long. It weighs 2/10ths of an ounce. It's a mega-light push dagger/letter opener, which is almost priced so that it's disposable if need be, at an incredibly reasonable $5 USD. You can afford to order them for buddies, wives, grandmas, whatever!

Alpha offers some awesome stuff, taking lightweight defense tools in a new direction from aluminum made in Taiwan kubatons. There really aren't many companies out there that manufacture in-house and sell their wares so affordably, even their shipping is reasonable through the Postal Service, since their items tend to be light and small.

Jeff Farrand, the owner of Alpha Innovations seems like a good guy, I emailed them to apologize for picking the wrong shipping option. I wasn't paying attention, and selected International Shipping, making my order a few dollars more. Jeff offered to send me their safety whistle to compensate for my blunder. Pretty cool indeed!
Anyhow, you should go to Alpha Innovations right now....go. Go buy some cool non-metallic personal defense items for those you care about. They even have a pink kubaton for the ladies, or guys who are comfortable in their masculinity.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Triple Eight Professional's WrightKnife

We knife users, collectors and enthusiasts have so much to choose from, that when something truly innovative comes down the line, it has the ability to stop us in our tracks. I know that's the way I am, and I've seen every knife pattern, combination of ideas, gimmicks and tricks, sometimes it seems there's nothing new under the sun. On those rare chances that something is truly innovative, it's often gimmicky, and turns into an industry fad, making the company responsible for it lots of money, without truly offering the knife carrying public anything in return.

I can tell you right (Wright?) off the bat that Triple Eight Professional's WrightKnife is truly innovative, it's practical, and don't even think about using the word "gimmick" until you've handled one in person!

The WrightKnife takes its name from Wright Wyoming, home of its designer, Kirk Rexroat. If you've read a knife magazine in the past decade, you probably know who Kirk is. If you don't feel free to click that link and learn more. Kirk is a veteran respected bladesmith who works with beautiful materials like damascus and mammoth ivory. Rexroat's creations and beautiful, tough and functional all at once.

Triple Eight is a young company that's making waves in the industry. They count Rexroat and Canada's tactical master Greg Lightfoot among their design collaborators. Check out Lightfoot's customs here @ Lightfoot Knives. The people of Triple Eight Professional have tons of combined experience having worked in the knife, tool, flashlight and outdoor gear industries. We've already seen Triple Eight add on to its initial 3 knife offerings with another new wave of 3 more knives very recently.

I'll get back to the other offerings later...
All of 888 Professional's designs work the same way. They call them "folding fixed blades", which confused me at first until I thought about it. When you understand the strength of these little designs, from their oversize, donut style pivots, to the stout blades and overall construction quality, "folding fixed blade" no longer feels like much of a stretch.
Triple Eight calls their opening action T8P Spinner Action, it's patent pending and pretty basically genius in its simplicity. I don't even need to really explain much more than these photos show. Both handle sides and the blade all spin around the same oversized pivot. It clicks locked open and shut with a ball bearing and detent, and all you need to do to start the opening sequence is hold the knife tip-down in your hand and apply pressure to the front scale. This disengages the 3 pieces for rotation. It sounds tricky but it's very simple, addictive and safe. I actually tried to blunder my way through opening it several times. Emulating a clumsy handed person with no dexterity, I still could not force the knife to scrape or cut me when opening.
I put a lanyard on mine, which helps in drawing the knife from the pocket. The clip sits all 888 knives tip up in the pocket, the way most preferred by those using knives drawn quickly for emergency use. Draw is fast and easy because of the little lanyard slab, and even easier with a lanyard attached.
All of the 888 Knives have the same basic dimensions, in @ least the handle size and style, while blades vary only a bit. They just released a damascus kiridashi blade model which promises to be awesome. A perfect combination of old world and hi-tech.

The WrightKnife's specs are as follows:
Material: Heat treated 440 Stainless Steel
Scales 420 Stainless Steel
Clip: 420 Stainless Steel
Action: T8P Spinner Action
Weight: 2 oz. (56.7 grams)
Length/Closed: 3” (76.2 mm)
Length/Opened: 4.25” (107.95 mm)
Length of Blade: 1.25” (31.75 mm)

I REALLY love the size of these knives, and I look forward to obtaining the S.O.L., another Rexroat design based on the famous OSS Thumb Daggers of WWII. It's double edged, black and serrated! Badass!

888 also offers the Japanese style kiridashi blade, in Damascus stainless, the Rhino guthook knife, the Lightfoot Talon, and an awesome folding version of Roy Huntington's CopTool, called the SurvivIt Tool, which features a scraper/prybar blade, serrations and a webbing/cord cutting hook.

I have large hands, and I can still open this knife quickly. It's small, but in my mind that's advantageous, as you can use it anywhere without any big looks or freakouts from NKPs (non knife people). I've even shown a few female friends the knife who claim it's "cute". I hate to say it, but they are sorta cute, but I wouldn't hesitate to use this if the chips were down. It's primarily sized for tool use, but it's sharp as hell, with a stout, thick blade riding between two Teflon washers. A 1.25" blade of this sharpness and quality is sure to mess up somebody's day if need be. I'm experienced enough to know that this is a quality item. Don't balk at the Chinese manufacture, this is up there in quality with some of the better American factory knife companies USA made wares, including Spyderco and Benchmade. Remember, I get excited easily, but it takes quite a bit to impress me. Triple Eight Professional gets a huge pat on the back for impressing me with concept, quality, and affordability. These knives retail in the $35 USD range, and can be had just a bit cheaper from better retailers like Knifeworks and Knifecenter, though all 6 designs are available at

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Quick Look: Spyderco Jason Breeden Designed Rescue

Jason Breeden is the guy who designed Spyderco's 'Captain' model, that's all I know, but this bad boy looks pretty darn interesting, and should be out some time this year.

Gorgeous Gold Class Benchmade 690

The original Allen Elishewitz designed Benchmade 690:

I was lucky enough to be co-managing a knife shop when the original Benchmade 690 came out. Mine is a numbered first production run, and I got the employee discount back so many years ago. This was around the time (2000-2003?) when Benchmade really stepped up their game as far as designs and looks. It was unlike anything we'd seen before from a factory knife company. Stabilized rosewood and carbon fiber on the handles, beautiful blue titanium liners, and a really nice looking blade as well. Mine is in great condition, but needs a bit of sharpening, and it's so beautiful that I rarely carry it, as they've long been out of production.

Enter this summer 2010 Gold Class limited edition of the venerable 690. Benchmade says:

*Mike Norris Hornets Nest Damascus
*Hand finished and blended light mammoth ivory
and mokume bolster
*Anodized and polished gold titanium liners
*Red topaz thumb-stud
*Limited run of 100 pieces

And what a beauty! I love damascus on Benchmade knives. Mammoth Ivory is both tough and beautiful, not to mention that it's a trip to have a knife handle made with an extinct animal's tusk!

The basic specs are the same as the original 690, in regards to size etc:

Blade Length: 3.26" (8.29 cm)
Blade Thickness: 0.137" (3.48 mm)
Open: 7.34" (18.77 cm)
Closed: 4.08" (10.36 mm)
Weight: 4.20 oz. (119.06 g)
Handle Thickness: 0.56" (15.09 mm)

And of course, it's made in the USA. 100 pieces is extremely limited, so if you have the cash, you should hop on this while you can! is selling them for $1400 USD even, and they're the only place online I've seen these so far.

Pretty sweet. Things like this (quality and limited editions) are the reason Benchmade knives are so popular (I'm definitely a fan, with @ least 30 BM knives in my collection).
This baby is way, way far out of my price range, but I know that despite the shitty economy, there are still folks who can spend over a grand on a semi-custom beauty like this. Oh, if anybody loves reading this blog so much that they want to thank me, I wouldn't turn one of these down! ;)

Friday, July 2, 2010

Coming soon, crazy 8's and Timeless Swissness

BOOM!! Happy Independence weekend!!

This is really the first 4th in awhile that I haven't made an Indian Reservation run for some flammable fun. I've actually got lots of other stuff going on; planning for surgery next week, working all weekend, and conjuring up more leisure-time reading for you, the loyal reader, stopping in for a quick fix of news and pix.

Coming down the pipe, I'll give you ten reasons why Victorinox's Swiss Classic is a true classic. I used to resent all of the old men who'd come into the shop I used to co-run, looking for toothpicks for their damn beloved Swiss Classics. Well, maybe I'm more mature now, but I finally understand the indelible love for the tiny red folder.

First and foremost, I've got a Triple Eight Professional knife in my hand, and it is SO VERY SWEET. If the Swiss Classic SD knife is a classic, then 888 Professional's knives are destined to be classics in their own time. I'm hooked, and you will be too. I'll be offering my thoughts on their Rexroat-designed Wright Knife. Don't simply take my word for it, hit that big red link in the upper right, and see for yourself. I'm off to work, but I'll be back soon with more good reading, and eye candy.

Have a safe and fun 4th, designate a driver, and if you're drinking, put down the lighter, back away from the mortar tube, and go drink some coffee.