Monday, September 27, 2010

Spyderco Persian, Red G10 Sprint Run Looks Good. (I think I want it.)

  • Blade Length: 3" (77 mm)
  • Overall Length: 8-1/4" (209 mm)
  • Blade Material: Hollow-Ground; VG-10 Stainless Steel
  • Handle Material: Red G-10
  • Made in Japan

The original Spyderco Persian (Ed Schempp design) is one of my favorite Japanese made Spydercos of all time.  I got mine years ago at the military surplus store on first Ave. in downtown Seattle, Federal Army & Navy Surplus/ this place should be a destination for all Seattle visitors, they have a ton of great clothing & knives & lights and good prices, with nice people who know their shit.  I'm living further South now, so I don't get up there as often as I'd like, but if you visit Seattle you should make the trek to First Avenue to check out the store.  

ANYWAY, I just had to say, the Spyderco Persian in red is hot, hot hot.
you can see it now on better knife sites.  Roger Claunch's has 'em for a fair price.  I've gotta decide if i can afford this or not...oh well, I'm content to know it's out there for now, and I can always look @ my original black micarta Perisan and pretend it's red...but the red Persian is a Sprint Run, and limited to 700 pieces, they'll go fast...I guess I'd better get some cash & get one while I can...too bad I don't have any contacts @ Spyderco, LoL.

Big NEW reviews coming SOON.  Keep your eyes peeled!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Waiting For the Esee DPx H•E•S•T /F (Hostile Environment Survival Tool / Folding) Knife

Why must we wait until December?!!!!!
It's so damn hot, I've got mine on reserve, and hopefully I'll have some dough to actually pay for it when they come into the site where I reserved it!
It's made by Italy's Lion Steel which has a history of making big brutal quality folders, not to mention a full range of classic designs for camping and sporting as well.

I'm guessing this decision was made because it's likely that Esee's American manufacturing partner Rowen Manufacturing is currently only set up to make fixed blades.  That's just an unfounded guess, but it makes sense.  Jeff Randall & Mike Perrin have learned their lesson dealing with alleged "questionable" manufacturing partners, there's a rumored nasty falling out with Ontario Knife Company of New York.  I don't know the details, I've just heard that some sort of legal battle ensued after Randall cut ties to Ontario.  I'm guessing the reason he renamed RAT Cutlery to Esee Knives has something to do with clearing the slate and refreshing the company's great history of well though out, and beautifully made knives.  RAT/Esee makes some of the most durable factory made stuff out there, it's American made, well designed, and meant to take beating after beating.  These are the type of knives you want with you when the shit hits the fan.  They are usually reasonably priced and pack a high quality-to-price ratio.  Everybody loves the now legendary Izula neck knife, and evidently an Izula folder is in the works for 2011.  I think the hype will be justified when the Esee/Lion Steel DPx H.E.S.T. Folder is released.  It can be had for about $175.00 USD, though MSRP is just a hair over $250.

This is the adjustment tool that will reportedly comes with the knife, and is a tool in its own right.
Special Mr DP Skull Tool adjustment wrench / multi-tool for adjusting RotoBlock pivot and glass breaker removal tool
Rope Cutter
Self Defense Tool
Wrench for Clip
PIvot Adjustment Tool
LIfetime Warranty

A limited edition with a special variation of the tool has already sold out:

As far as the knife is concerned, the specs are as follows:
>-Bead-blasted .187" thickness German D2 Tool Steel Blade.
>-Stone-washed Solid Titanium 6Al4v GR.5 alloy frame
>-Patented Lion Steel RotoBlock System
>-Bead blasted American-made Foliage Green G10 handle scale
>-Removable stainless steel glass breaker (comes with replacement smooth head screw) with Lanyard attachment.
>-1/4" Hex driver
>-Special Wire stripper jimping and lashing points
>-Thumb grip/bottle opener/ pot lifter blade notch
>-Available in right and left hand models

As far as manufactured (I mean not handmade in a tiny boutique custom shop) knives go, this is definitely highly anticipated, and will arrive just in time for Christmas.  I'm sure it'll be popular among deployed servicemen (and women) all over the world.  I'm looking forward to it more than any knife in recent history, and I'm getting antsy, but the holiday season is lurking just around the corner.  How time flies!

Here's a shot of Lion Steel's big, badass SR1 II RUN:
I'm anxious to see what the Lion Steel/Essee partnership yields in the coming year, and hopefully we'll see wider distribution (to America) of knives like the Lion Steel folders pictured above.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

New Budget Surefires; G2X & 6PX

I'm really hating the new blogger editing interface. Goddammit!  I'm thrown off my game.  Oh well, I guess I need to adapt & overcome in order to survive.  Change is good, right?  It's adapt or die out, which is certainly more true than ever at the rate we're seeing technology advance.  Though I'm not alone in being thrown off by change, I recently read that Digg has had a severe drop in use after a big redesign.  People didn't dig it at all.  However, as I write, I can feel myself settling into blogger's new editor, forced on us, as the comfortable old style editor will soon go bye-bye for good.  Adapt & Overcome I will!
Anyhow, this blog isn't about bitching about stuff, it's about GEAR & I love Surefire's products like most of us, but I typically stick with the polymer bodied G2 and G3 series, as they are great, and the G2 can be found under $40.00 USD on average, with the G3 (incandescent) can be found sometimes as low as $50-something.    
 The 6PX Tactical and 6PX PRO are spanking new, LED variations of the classic two cell, aluminum bodied 6P.  The Tactical is 200 lumens & has the classic press-momentary/twist-constant on tailcap.  The PRO has a clickity tailcap that gives the user a choice between a big bright 200 lumens or a weak, but battery-saving 15 lumens.
The G2X Tactical and the G2X PRO are essentially cousins of the new 6PX Tac and 6PX PRO but made of Nitrolon polymer (derp...plastic) which makes them lighter than their hard bodied buddies (4.4 ounces versus 5.2 ounces for the aluminum ones).

These should be available now @ some retailers, though Surefire hasn't updated their SITE to reflect the new products.  We're all struggling to cut back, save dough etc, but we don't want cheapshit gear.  These are Surefire in every way.

From an industry press release:
“In spite of the tough times, our mission is to keep quality products in the hands of our customers, and keep jobs in the U.S.A.,” said SureFire CEO/Founder Dr. John Matthews. He continued, “This was a big undertaking for SureFire, and I couldn’t be more pleased with our employees who worked so hard to make this happen.”

To keep costs down, the heads of all new models are fixed, not removable, and being that they all feature LEDs, there's no need to remove the head, as LEDs don't need changing.  They implemented slightly cheaper reflectors as well, but I have a feeling they'll all still be mega high performance.  The G2X can run from 2.5 up to 45 hours on its low 15 lumen setting.  I can speak from experience when I say there are times when you don't need your light blasting blinding light, it's nice to have just a few lumens to poke around the tent, or get up and pee when others are trying to sleep.  Surefire does it again, I hope to get my grubby hands on the cheapest model and do a review...I'll keep you posted.

ps:  The Facebook link box to the right is royally botched, I think it's a Facebook issue, not blogger, or me.  Facebook has been slow and wonky for 2 days for me.  If it persists, I'll fix it somehow.>>>

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Leatherman Style CS, stylish minimalism for your keyring

I feel like the Leatherman Tool Group deserves continued success. Their basic multi-tool concept is likely one of the most copied, faked and counterfeited objects in modern history. Tim Leatherman, the man, is still involved with the company that bears his name, and from both customer and dealer standpoints (having experienced both @ various times) I've never had a single problem with the company. Their stuff is still USA Made, which is refreshing, and fans of their products hail from all walks of life across the globe. There's a Leatherman model for everybody. I personally own four, in addition to my multi-tools made by other manufacturers. A couple of weeks ago I picked up Leatherman number five in my collection. The Leatherman Style CS keychain multi-tool is one of LM's newer products to appear, along with its sisters, the Style series, which boast colored handles, light weight and simple function. The pared down, simplified Style tools seem to be aimed at women in particular, along with anybody who might not normally carry a knife or multi-tool. Judging from Leatherman's site and advertising copy, if the style is geared toward more of a female demographic, then the Style CS is likely to be aimed squarely at those of us who have more experience with knives & tools, collectors, adventurers and professionals (& bloggers!) alike will be drawn to the good looks of the Style CS, and its lightness of weight. It's basically a micro-sized Leatherman Skeletool which also shares some visual DNA with LM's outstanding Freestyle tool.

---This photo is used by retailers of Leatherman's simplified, colored handle Style tools. The product's tagline is "CUTE AND CLEVER ARE NOT MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE", again seemingly marketed toward women, but they do make it in 4 colors including blue & black, and of course there's nothing inherently feminine about the design:---

So, as I was saying, first impressions lead me to believe that LMTG (Leatherman Tool Group) probably assumes that the slightly more hi-tech Style CS is going to appeal to (primarily) men, especially those of us who collect or use knives & tools regularly, just a guess. I fell for it!

Enough waxing thoughtful on intended demographics, I've gotta say, I'm really very happy with the little tool. Those looking for a full featured do-it-all daily carry tool would do better to check out some larger Leatherman models, or Victorinox Swiss Army's outstanding SwissTool series. Even for We Who Have One of Everything though, this tool is still a cool addition to the collection.

---The Style CS with my Fisher Military Space Pen for size reference; the Fisher is just a tad smaller than a generic, everyday ball point pen:---

A quick look @ the basics, straight from the horse's, I mean website:

Spring-action scissors
*420HC Knife
*Nail File
*Flat/Phillips Screwdriver
*Carabiner/Bottle Opener
*Tweezers (removable I should mention, unlike the awkward permanently attached tweezers on its predecessor the Micra)

*25-Year Warranty (duh, as good as lifetime in my book)
*Stainless Steel Body (bead blasted gray for looks)
*Glass-filled Nylon Handle Scale (think Zytel, we've gone over this)
*Outside-accessible Tools (yay!)
*Key Ring Attachment

1.6 in | 4.06 cm (blade length)
1.45 oz | 41.1 g
2.98 in | 7.58 cm (closed)

The added fiberglass plastic (OK, 'glass filled nylon) insert on the handle likely cuts weight a bit, instead of using more steel. I think all the little circular cutouts are aesthetically driven, but I'm sure that added up, they too cut a tiny bit of weight from the whole package. I love the fact that the tweezers, like those on Swiss Army knives, can be taken out for fine work. I love the old Micra tool, but those irritating tweezers are joined permanently to the tool. It was clever, but an outdated and awkward solution to the tweezer issue. I'm hoping Leatherman offers tweezer replacements, because although they click into the tool VERY solidly, I'm sure to lose the tweezer at some point.

It's one of my favorite features though, and shows that, as a group of people, engineers etc, Leatherman continues to evolve. Other than the tweezers, we've got a little blade, sufficiently sharp, right out of the package, made of 420 high carbon stainless, a relatively inexpensive and field proven knife steel. It too features the tiny-hole motif, and does its job admirably. Aside from the main-body scissor tool, there's also a screwdriver/file blade which works ok on flat and decently on some Phillips screws. I can't fault Leatherman for their flat "use for Phillips" labeled screwdrivers, we can't ask too much AND convenience, and if you really need a Phillips screwdriver that badly, you'll make it work, or magically pull a Phillips out of thin air (or your ass, or your car's trunk etc).

I told you this tool was sort of a minimalist! The last tool functions are a handy spring-gated carabiner which doubles as a decent bottle opener. If you need a dedicated bottle opener that could stop a fight based on looks alone, check out my review of the Meyerco Besh Wedge® Bottle Rocket, a Dirk Pinkerton/Brent Beshara bottle opener with a wicked knife lean. The Style CS's opener works decently to pry open a cold one, it's a nice feature, but hardly one that's going to make-or-break the tool's sales. But hey, as I mentioned in the Besh Bottle Rocket post, I personally only need a bottle opener when there's not one to be found for an inconvenient radius of several hundred feet, so it may come in handy yet!
I'll say it again, I'm not a cop or soldier or spy or ninja, so I evaluate knives and tools according to my personal blasé-blah daily sort of needs. That being said, I know a fair little bit about fighting, and a bit about knives as well (LOL), and there's no way I could possibly recommend the Style CS as a personal defense item (yes, I'm still chuckling at the unnecessary-ness of this paragraph). I mean, if it were a true, life or death emergency, you might be able to eke a few bloodletting strikes at your attacker from it, but this is a KEYCHAIN multi-tool and a very small one at that, the blade is miniscule and does not lock. Put the thought out of your paranoid head.

That's out of the way, as far as utility goes, the Style CS is like that littlest kid on the block that can kick the butts of the older kids out of sheer determination alone. The CS has the basics. I did open a beer or two with it, opened a couple of UPS boxes, used it to re-purpose a box to mail a knife to a friend, and of course, it's not a review unless I used said item to break down weekly recycling! I know, I'm boring, but I'm not gonna lie, my day to day life is just as boring as most peoples'. Maybe that's why we love things like knives, there's a mysterious fantasy aspect, even in the most practical, real world knife, we still sometimes see what it could be used for, not just what WE use it for.
If I gave "star" type ratings for gear I review based upon my personal uses for such things, I'd give the Style CS "4 green recycle dumpsters up", it works good around the "wheelie bin", as my UK friends might say. Cut tape, cut apart over-sized cardboard etc, for these types of chores, the Style CS is just as useful as an EDC folding knife, but it has the added benefits of being people-friendly (compared to your big black Emerson folder), and it offers you a very sharp little scissor as well that I've found handy for modifying packs and pouches, as well as in craft sort of applications. The dual function carabiner/bottle opener keeps it on a pack or belt loop and enables you quick access to a frosty beer after work or whatever.

I think one of the biggest things the Style CS has going for it, is the simple fact of its pedigree, it's the result of years and years of engineering, customer feedback and product development by the company that quite literally invented the modern multi tool. I like the light weight, I like the carabiner. Just a personal aside, I'd find the Style CS a bit more functional if it sported a small plier instead of the scissor, hopefully (and knowing Leatherman) we probably will see something similar from LM, with a plier option in 2011. I'm talking based on the Style CS platform in a similar price range, (the Squirt PS4 is considered a keychain tool, but has a significantly higher pricetag). If it doesn't happen, I'll eat my words then.

Leatherman's MSRP appears to be, oddly, just over $27 American dollars, and I paid close to that at a local Target store, though it appears, as usual you can get it cheaper online, at about $18.00 USD (before shipping) on better knife retail sites. I don't regret paying near full price, so far I've gotten a ton of use from it, subbing it for my daily folder whenever convenient, and I've gotta say, I find myself using and carrying it far more often than my recently purchased Leatherman Freestyle, which is a great tool in itself. is a nicely structured site which showcases the products and actually offers some helpful tips (like putting together a survival kit etc) all in an easy to navigate format. I don't know why I'm feeling so much Leatherman love right now, it's probably just that both the organization and their products have never done me wrong, and they continue to innovate in the category which they created almost 30 years ago.
I believe you can buy stuff through dealers on Leatherman's site, and of course good old standby web retailers like Knifecenter probably have it in stock as well. As I alluded, it looks as if Target stores (at least here in the Pac NW) are starting to carry the Style CS in place of the classic Micra, which I found on sale there for a minuscule $13.95 a few weeks back. The Style CS is a very good next step in the evolution of Micra-sized Leatherman tools, and I'll probably end up getting at least one more for gift giving season @ the end of the year.

Good stuff.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Meyerco Dirk Pinkerton Variable BroadHead

As you know, I've been on a roll with reviews of Meyerco's inexpensive foreign-made products lately. Until a few months ago, I was only familiar with Meyerco through knife magazines and websites. As I mentioned previously, I've never seen a Meyerco brand knife in a retail shop here in the Pacific Northwest. Meyerco is headquartered out of Dallas, TX, and it may simply be a distribution issue or something. Meyerco knives may very well be sold in my area, it's possible that in the past, I haven't looked in the right places. Meyerco has a long history of collaborating with custom makers like Bob Terzuola, Darrel Ralph, Blackie Collins and many more. If I'm not mistaken, Dirk Pinkerton, the North Carolina custom knifemaker is their newest collaborator on factory made designs. Pinkerton makes many nice looking, defensive minded fixed blades. Even his custom handmade knives are reasonably priced. You get a lot of knife for a fair price. For the knife collector on a budget, Meyerco's translations of Pinkerton's designs are even more affordable. Just recently I reviewed the Meyerco 'Thumb Drive' micro fixed blade, another Dirk Pinkerton design.
The Thumb Drive is a neat little knife with a definite lean toward last-ditch self defense. The BroadHead fills a similar niche, Pinkerton's own website says of the custom version:
"The Variable BroadHead is a small, truly ambidexterous self defense knife. It can be used in almost any grip you can imagine."

The BroadHead is indeed a bit more versatile (compared to the puncture-friendly design of the Thumb Drive) from my experience. It's essentially a push dagger-esque design that Dirk originally created for a friend in law enforcement.

This is a knife that's meant to fit any which way in the hand under duress. Realistically it can be held with virtually any finger through the hole, or held in a more traditional sabre grip. The Meyerco BroadHead is extremely light, again, from Pinkerton's site:
"The majority of my fixed blades are sized to make it easier to carry througout the day so, you will have it when you need it."

I've found that to be the case. I carried the Meyerco Broadhead as a neck knife, in the pocket with just its sheath, and tried various other options like in cargo shorts and hooded sweatshirt pockets. This design travels very well. Just like the Thumb Drive that Meyerco based on a Pinkerton original design, the BroadHead's sheath is fiberglass reinforced nylon (like Zytel), but Meyerco did a great job of making this material emulate genuine kydex in weight, look and feel. At first glance, if you didn't know these sheaths were FRN, you'd think they were Kydex.

At the heart of the Broadhead package is the one piece AUS-6 stainless knife with an integrated finger hole. It comes in at about 4" overall (only slightly longer when riding in the sheath). The double edge dagger blade is approximately 1 1/4" long. The handle came wrapped with blue paracord, though if you were so inclined, you could easily use almost any material like a tough boot lace, or any other paracord color to re-wrap the handle to your personal taste. I'll stick with the blue, it's a cool color, and sort of psychologically serves to make the knife appear less weaponized if you need to use it in a utility capacity, as opposed to saving it for a personal defense encounter that may never come. That being said though, it is one of those knives just like Pinkerton/Meyerco's Thumb Drive that gives you a bit of extra insurance in a small package. Since I don't make a habit of intentionally putting myself in harm's way, I evaluated the BroadHead from a utilitarian standpoint. I tested the penetration of the smaller Thumb Drive knife on aluminum cans, an old mattress, and waste cardboard. I did the same type of thing with the BroadHead. Being "broad", as the name implies, it's not going to sink hilt deep like other, thinner double edged daggers, but I have a feeling it'd poke just fine if you needed it to! It was surprisingly convenient to use in a daily utility capacity in lieu of a folder which I normally carry daily. The knife excelled at the usual mundane chores like opening mail and FedEx packages. I used it as an impromptu pasta spear to check the tenderness of some tortellini. It came in handy as a pill-splitter for a medication of which I only take half, that's particularly hard to snap in half bare handed. In other words, this inexpensive knife can be whatever you want it to be. The whole package is concealable enough for pretty much any carry style, and it excels as a neck knife. As regular readers know, I'm not a fan of gray bead blasted blade finishes. I sweat profusely and find that bead blasting tends to encourage pre-rust and staining by slightly texturing the blade's surface and sort of opening the steel's "pores". Basically, I have bad luck with bead blasted blades acquiring surface spots sometimes after just a few hours of carry while I'm doing something active. This time I took the precaution of giving the BroadHead a couple of coats of Sentry Solutions' Tuff-Glide, the lubricant/protectant which their famous Tuff-Cloth is soaked in. This time around I've had no trouble with the gray bead blasted blade acquiring little orange surface spots.

A word about the carry sheath; I mentioned it emulates Kydex, the preferred moldable material for modern pistol sheaths and very often custom and factory knives. Kydex is heated and formed to fit over any object to make a form-fitting snap-in style sheath. I don't know what process Meyerco's foreign factory uses to mold the FRN sheath, but there is a tiny amount of side to side play when the knife is snapped into the sheath. The knife fits in either way, and once it's secured by the sheath, it's definitely not going anywhere, but the knife does move back and forth a small amount. This isn't a huge deal, just something that I found noteworthy, that this movement could potentially make a small amount of audible noise when the user is wearing the knife around a neck. I don't think this would be of concern for anybody but trained special operations soldiers in an environment where stealth was a priority. I'm personally not worried about it, as I said, the knife is definitely very secure in its sheath, but there is a tiny amount of space for movement.

Overall, Meyerco's interpretation of the Dirk Pinkerton BroadHead seems fairly accurate to the original, materials aside, and is a solid performer, especially at an MSRP of only $18.00 USD or so. Gotta love those discount sites like, out of Louisiana who sell the knife for a few dollars less. There are tons of small, neck knife designs on the market, at fairly affordable prices. This one in particular is fun, unique and priced very low. If you'd rather have an American knife of this type, you can always contact Dirk Pinkerton and get on his waiting list for his $75.00 USD (not bad!) custom version of the Variable BroadHead knife. Dirk's handmade customs are also priced right, you seem to get a lot of knife for your hard earned dough. Due to the reported overall excellence of Pinkerton's custom jobs, there is a wait of about 3 months to be shipped one of his handmade knives. Again, that's the great thing about the time honored tradition of knife factories teaming up with custom makers, a process pioneered by well known companies like Benchmade and Spyderco. If you like the look and concept of a guy's custom piece, but are unwilling to shell out the cash, or if the knife is simply hard to find, you have an alternate option of picking up the factory made version which is mass produced and inexpensive.
Again, for a little necker that can be yours for less than the cost of a movie on dvd, this is a hell of a little defensive package, which can also handle basic utility chores and even fill the role of something like a folding knife you might carry daily. The double edge design packs a bit of versatility, and despite some very mild wobble in the sheath, the knife is held very securely. Once again, Meyerco impresses me with their direct translation of a custom knifemakers piece, at a very inexpensive price point.

Here's a shot of Pinkerton's handmade Variable Broadhead which inspired the Meyerco version:

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Spyderco Grasshopper SlipIt; slip-joint, non-locking folder

One of my first so-called "tactical folding knives", was an early incarnation of Spyderco's venerable Endura series of knives, followed shortly after by the long discontinued Terzuola Starmate folder. I own a fair number of Spyderco knives, and have owned many others in the past. Sal Glesser's company seems to be one of those brands that strikes a chord in people, whether they love them, or strongly dislike them (surely nobody HATES Spyderco!) there are very few of us indifferent to the company's unique wares. One of the reasons I haven't purchased a new Spyderco knife in some time, is the fact that they can get quite expensive, a trait often compensated for by their high performance and ease of carry. I had a Spyder-craving a few weeks ago, and decided to order their UK penknife and one of their little "Bug" knives, the Grasshopper, more specifically. I'll talk about the UK pen knife series next week.

Spyderco's SlipIt "bug" knives began with the original Bug, a tiny slipjoint folder made out of stainless steel (both handle & blade). The Bug comes in at 2 7/8" (73 mm) overall, quite tiny. Next the Honeybee was released, at 3 5/8" (92 mm) overall, the Honeybee looked to be slightly more usable in everyday life. I'd thought about getting one, but I'm glad I waited for the Grasshopper, the 3rd size in the Bug series. Full length is 5-1/32" (128 mm) and it too is constructed from stainless steel, with a Cr13 blade. As I've mentioned before, you'll see Chinese steels like Cr13 popping up frequently on knives made in Taiwan & China by well known American manufacturing companies. Benchmade used similar steels in their now discontinued Redbox line, and Spyderco uses it on knives like their Tenacious folders, that are made overseas, but still maintain a high standard of quality. I've long thought that an MSRP of nearly $45 USD was sort of ridiculous for Spyderco's famous LadyBug keychain knives. Granted, the long-running LadyBugs, with FRN handles, are Japan made, using VG10, a great steel for their little blades. I'm glad Glesser & Company got on board with the popular knife industry trend of creating a lower priced line of knives for those who appreciate quality, but may be on a budget. The little Grasshopper folder accurately mirrors full size Spyderco folders like the stainless-handled Enduras, and Delicas in many aspects, but instead of lockback construction, they sport a slip joint. Essentially, the concept is the same as nearly every other old-school, classic non-locking folder your Grandpa or uncle used to use, resistance pressure at the knife's pivot area holds the blade open and extended. All it takes to close the knife is to apply some pressure and fold the blade into the handle. They DO however stay open competently, regardless of their lack of actual lock mechanism. Explained slightly better, I found a site that explains slip joint construction as follows: "pressure is simply applied to the flat back of the tang by a leaf spring and it is basically held in place by tension". That's about as good an explanation as I can personally offer without humiliating myself by trying to draw a diagram attempting to explain it. Think traditional small Swiss Army knife blades, and you're close to the intended idea.

The Grasshopper's construction is almost startlingly well done for a Chinese-made knife. Not to say that many other companies don't have great knives made overseas, but for such a reasonable price, these little knives shine. Suggested retail is around $15 USD, I found mine for just a couple of dollars less, plus shipping. When it comes down to it, I DO like to stick with buying knives and tools made here, in the states, but it's obvious that Spyderco's Chinese affiliates are a quality factory. There's no way underfed people suffering in a sweatshop made this knife, the construction is too clean, this knife was made with care by somebody at a factory where they know what they're doing. Bottom line, I'm pretty impressed with the Grasshopper, and I know it would make a great gift for just about anybody. It was packaged in a nice little 2 piece box with a foil embossed Spyderco logo on black, it's practically ready to go as a gift right from the start, throw a bit of ribbon around it and feel the love!

My Grasshopper is still rather new, so I haven't had enough time to fully put it through its paces, but so far, the 2-5/16" blade excels at opening mail and packages. I've carried it around, right front pocket, and it's extremely light for an all-metal knife, just under 40 grams in fact, or about 1.4 ounces. These knives are appropriate keychain size as well, and include a lanyard hole for just that purpose. I'm impressed enough so far, that I'd definitely consider giving the Grasshopper, or one of its smaller cousins as a gift, since we'll be entering that season pretty quickly. The Grasshopper is a really nice little folder for a bargain price, now I'll have to pick up the original Bug and Honeybee to round out the trio!

You can see the Grasshopper and other Spyderco knives at Knifecenter. I know it must seem like I recommend them quite a bit, in fact, I do. I have nothing to do with KC, except for the fact that I've been ordering knives from them since they launched in 1996 or 1997, and they've never let me down. Prices are usually fair, and shipping is fairly quick. They are one of only a handful of sites I feel comfortable recommending to friends and readers for their knife needs, and we all know that there are some retail sites out there with less than acceptable shipping times and prices.

To see the entire knife line and to learn more about Spyderco, go to

I'll be back soon with my impressions of the lightweight, American made UK pen knife, also from Spyderco.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Defense on the Down-Low; Meyerco Dirk Pinkerton Thumb Drive Utility Keychain Knife

"Derp...why do they call it the Thumb Drive?":

In this business, there are times when a knife manufacturing company partners with a custom knifemaker to produce something so cool, and so inexpensive, that it just seems like an automatic no-brainer to get one. Personally, the items I'm referring to are usually under $20.00 USD, and made by a reputable manufacturer. Spyderco recently demonstrated this concept with authority and finesse with their foreign-made, but high quality mini-slipjoint "SlipIt" folder line. Spyderco's Bug, Honeybee and Grasshopper, are three knives with a tiny pricetag, that are big on practical performance.

You've likely noticed that the popularity of lightweight, keychain-size knives and tools has gone, and continues to go through the proverbial roof! There are times and places for our big folders and monster fixed blades, but in everyday life, light and small makes total sense. We live in a society where everybody carries so much gear, that man-bags, shoulder bags and the like ("man-purse" etc.) are gaining fast social acceptance. We've all got phones, mobile devices, headsets, car keys, wallets, multi-tools and much more. People are crazy for pocket size tools like those made by the mini-master Peter Atwood. Atwood makes pocket tools and small utility items in small batches that sell out in minutes after he announces them. They're very neat, highly collectible and can be quite expensive.

I'm willing to bet that this design was at least partially inspired by the OSS thumb daggers prevalent in the spy game of WWII:

This is where we all benefit from factory knife firms partnering with skilled knifemakers like Mr. Dirk Pinkerton. The Thumb Drive is a Pinkerton design produced by Meyerco at a very reasonable price. Meyerco, is a Dallas cutlery firm with a history of collaborating with well-known makers like Blackie Collins and the talented Darrel Ralph.

Pinkerton's custom pieces are usually light, tough, and priced fairly. It seems Mr. Pinkerton is finally getting the recognition he deserves for his simple, inspired designs. "Elegant Simplicity", is a phrase I tend to kick around all too often when a knife or tool really hits the spot with me. I acknowledge that I use some variation of those two words often, but in the case of Meyerco's aptly-named Pinkerton Thumb Drive, "elegant" and "simple" hit the nail of description squarely on its head! It should be noted that THIS Thumb Drive does not store data, nor is it usb compatible.

This little rascal starts as a small hunk of AUS6 stainless steel, the sheath is a glass-filled nylon (think "Zytel") type material that very closely mimics the look, feel and fit of Kydex. Get yourself a length of ball-chain, and the Thumb Drive will make a fine neck knife because of its light weight and small profile. Included though, is a key ring, instead of a ball chain, to fasten this knife pretty much anywhere you please. The sheath fit is good. I was expecting a "tick!" or "snap!" when the TD is inserted into its sheath, but it's silent. Regardless of not hearing and feeling an affirmative click upon insertion, the little sheath does its job admirably. It takes a bit of pressure to get the knife fully inserted, but once it is, no worries, the sheath grips it tight. The Thumb Drive is NOT going to slip from its home at inappropriate times. It comes out to play when YOU want it to.

I tried to replicate accidental circumstances which might cause the little shank to come free of the sheath. I attached it to my own keys, and chucked them around recklessly in the yard. I attached the sheath's key ring to a ball chain and spun it around like a bolo, to see if centrifugal force could unintentionally free the knife. No dice, this is a solid sheath that does its job of protecting you from the TD's sharp edge flawlessly. Drawing the knife is no big deal, despite the good fit in the sheath. For a tiny little guy, the grip is surprisingly adequate, multiple decorative holes are tapped through the polygonal handle piece, they serve to lighten the knife slightly, and they look damn cool!

The included "finger sling" is essentially a mini-lanyard that acts as an extension of the grip, and aids in overall retention of the Thumb Drive. It's handy to loop it around your ring finger, which creates tension when using your thumb to push against the sheath while drawing the Thumb Drive.

I should note, the Thumb Drive comes in at 3 3/8" overall, with a 1 5/8" blade. It's made from THICK stock. It's extremely hard to get a sharp edge on a thick knife that measures so narrow from the spine to the cutting edge. The TD came usably sharp, perfectly adequate, but not hair-shaving sharp. After all, this is the sort of knife that can indeed be used for general utility tasks, but really shines in the penetration/puncturing department. I spent a few minutes with a Smith's diamond rod and gave the edge more of a rough, grippy, almost "micro-serrated" edge, as I like to refer to it. I often prefer that type of edge that can be produced with a diamond hone in new condition, over the clean, refined edge that fine ceramic rods and stropping can offer. The TD is a great poker! I jabbed it into cardboard, thin aluminum (see below), clamshell packaging and even a mattress box spring. With its wicked needle-like point, Pinkerton's Thumb Drive design is the king of puncturing.

The Thumb Drive penetrated the stealthy matte-black hide of a soda can repeatedly, as if it was gliding into room temperature butter; this lil' blade is made to puncture:

I poked various materials to the point where the edge had dulled, but only slightly, it seemed to have zero effect on the Thumb Drive's sticking ability. This small knife is labeled as a "utility" knife, and indeed, it will do all of your basic knife utility chores, but this knife might well shine in a last-ditch defensive role. There are so-called "hideout knives" that are far less concealable, and far less pointy. The Thumb Drive's tip is impressively strong as well. As I mentioned, it's needle-sharp, but the blade is ground thick all the way to the tip, giving it backbone. I doubt it'd be easy to snap the very end point of this knife under normal use, and it's unlikely that under abnormal use, or even abuse, that the TD's tip is going anywhere.

So overall, we have a small, concealable package carrying a thick piece of cool looking steel with a sharp, tough point. The knife & sheath weigh barely anything, and would likely be a great option for joggers, dog walkers, or anybody who could benefit from a low profile knife for light utility and worst-case-scenario defensive use. Another fine aspect of this product is the price! I believe the Meyerco TD retails for roughly $17.00 USD, but as we know, can be found at various web retailers for less. As I mentioned initially, I love it when we see a simple concept well executed for daily use, that doesn't set us back a ton of money. Dirk Pinkerton once again puts his creative design foot forward and brings us something practical, highly portable, and fairly priced. The TD would make a great little gift to help keep somebody safe, and it's useful obviously in a non defensive capacity as well. Bravo Meyerco!

Aptly named; the Thumb Drive:

You can see, and buy the Thumb Drive at web shops like

Check out Mr. Pinkerton's awesome custom stuff at

You can visit Meyerco at

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Bad-Ass in Black; the Meyerco Darrel Ralph Maxx-Q folder

I've recently had a chance to play with some Meyerco designs, some newer ones, and some which have been out for awhile. The Darrel Ralph designed Maxx Q series is a good looking series of knives made by Meyerco and based on certain features of Darrel's mid-tech and custom knives. I was pleased to see that these knives have a very high quality look. When I opened the box my Maxx Q was mailed in, my first thought was that it looked very much like the DDR Gun Hammer which I reviewed recently.

My knife is fitted with a blade based upon Ralph's Radian Recurve blade design. It's a very unique looking modified tanto with serious curvature, and a combo edge with some very toothy serrations starting near the heel of the blade's sharpened edge. You can choose a bead blasted gray blade, or the black ti nitrate like the one I acquired.

I think the most surprising thing about these knives is the budget-oriented price point. MSRP is somewhere in the $70-$80 USD range, though of course the actual price on most discount web shops is going to be more in the $35.00 USD range.
I'm impressed by the CNC machined handles, which have a feel closer to that of custom shop knives. Instead of totally flat slabs, Meyerco made the Maxx-Q handles more comfortable by giving them a more rounded, three dimensional feel. I have to agree with Meyerco's statement about the handles providing "superior grip in all positions". The G10 has a nice texture that sort of grips you back.

These knives are all configured for tip-down carry in the pocket, which is sort of confusing to me. With a knife like this with an extended flipper mechanism, it makes more sense to me, personally, that the knife be carried tip-up in the pocket, with the blade's spine resting against your pocket seam. This way, in the unlikely event that the assisted blade were to be engaged, it would be stopped by the rear seam of your pants pocket, whereas if that somehow happened in the as-is tip down configuration, the blade has more room to open and cause injury. I'm assuming this is why the knife is manufactured to stay closed so well, you'll read about that in a moment.

On some of Ralph's customs, and his new HTM Brand mid-tech knives, holes are tapped for clip placement on both ends for the ability to personalize the carry clip better to your liking. Of course, with the Meyerco Maxx Q series, we're talking about knives that sell for under $50.00 USD (actual price), and even a process as seemingly small as tapping additional carry clip holes costs money, money that increases with every feature added to the knife's engineering and manufacture. That being said, the single-position clip is not a bad thing, and I certainly don't knock Meyerco for the decision, after all it's not totally standard that inexpensive factory-made knives sport a multi-position clip. You're more likely to find both-end carry clips on knives like Ralph's (and other makers') high end customs, and Darrel's superb HTM mid tech knives like the HTM Gun Hammer that I reviewed recently. The Maxx Q's other features more than make up for a single position clip, in other words, this is not a feature that will deter most of us from buying a knife like this. My favorite aspect I think, is the machined handle and its highly textured grip. I also love the general mean look of Darrel's Radian Recurve blades, and black coatings (in this case black ti-nitrate) always increases a knife's "cool factor" for me.

At a glance:
*CNC machined G-10 handle provides superior grip in all positions
*Thick front tip for penetration of tough materials
*Recurve mid-blade section accelerates cutting force for smooth, fast cuts
*Fast, smooth assisted opening
*Blade Material: 8CR13 stainless
*Blade Length: 3 1/4"
*Overall Length: 7 7/8"
*Handle Length: 4 1/2"
*Handle Material: G-10
*Locking Mechanism: Liner Lock
*Tip-Down Pocket Clip
*Limited Forever Warranty
*Made in China

The assist mechanism contained within the Maxx-Q's handle is based on Darrel Ralph's own patented assist mechanism, a spring which stretches under the tension of the blade closing into the handle. Also like many of Darrel Ralph's custom pieces, there's a textured flipper attached to the blade tang which sticks out of the backside of the knife. It takes a really good push with the index finger to get the blade going, and then BAM! the knife is open and locked solidly with a fairly standard locking liner. The ball bearing detent that keeps the blade in the handle is very effective. When closing the knife, you hear an audible click as the ball bearing in the liner meets with its detent in the blade's pivot area. This is definitely a knife that will stay closed until you want it open. Some people who've reviewed the knife on various retail websites have complained that it's too hard to open. Wah! Big deal, I'd rather have an assisted knife that stays closed until I want it open, than have one that just takes a tiny tap to throw the blade into action. If you have weak little fingers, stay away from the Maxx Q. Seriously though, it's NOT hard to open, it just takes a bit of getting used to.

As far as the generously sized recurved blade goes, these guys are made of 8CR13, a variant of a series of Chinese steels used by tons of knife factories who do some manufacturing overseas. In my experience it'll hold an edge in a similar manner to 440C or a similar steel, and resharpening should be fairly quick & easy. I always remind people to get a good little ceramic or diamond rod sharpener and give your blade a light touchup every few weeks. I rarely have to fully resharpen my knives because I'm diligent about regular edge maintenance. You basically have to find something that works for you. I like Lansky's and also Gatco's ceramic "dogbone" style sharpeners. Lansky makes one of these for "Spyderco style" serrations, but I've found it to be good on all manner of knife and pocket tool. These are inexpensive and widely available.

Overall, I'm actually rather impressed with Meyerco's translation of a Darrel Ralph design. For one thing, it's easy to churn out assisted openers in a foreign factory, but difficult to do it right. Meyerco succeeds with the Maxx Q knives on many levels. Primarily the fact that they managed to mass produce a complex assisted opening mechanism that works consistently well. I'm also impressed by the little extra touch of the more contoured G10 handles and the blade coating, features that are usually seen on more expensive knives.

There are even a couple variations of the Maxx-Q series which sport Brent Beshara's revolutionary BESH Wedge® blade configuration for outstanding tip strength. These look extra cool, I think I'm going to have to order the BESH tanto version for myself next!

I know lots of guys who love knives, but they're not quite as passionate as I am, they're not willing to spend more than $75 or $100 on a knife, but they want something really cool that performs well. Meyerco's Darrel Ralph-inspired Maxx Q would be a good place for such guys to start when looking for a reasonably priced folder with some better features. In fact, with the average "actual" price of these knives under $50, these would make a great gift for pretty much anybody who has expressed interest in a cool hi-tech folder, but doesn't need a full-on custom folder made with exotic materials. Pretty impressive overall!

Check out for more info on Darrel's superbly crafted customs, and his new HTM line of mid-tech folders. carries most of Meyerco's Maxx Q knives, along with other Meyerco products.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Meyerco Besh Wedge® Bottle Rocket; a Brent Beshara/Dirk Pinkerton design

The Bottle Rocket and its perfectly fitted snap-in sheath:

I mentioned this knife back in mid August, as I was interested in checking it out. Bottle openers are among those tools that are simple and ubiquitous, though often when you need one, you can't find one quickly. I've always carried some type of tool on my keychain to pop a bottle top, though I'm not a huge drinker, and the Western world in general doesn't seem to drink a whole lot of soft drinks or sodas with crimped caps that need an opener anymore. I do love a brew now and again though, and most of my buddies tend to drink smaller batch beers & micro-brews, which usually require an opener. In spite of not necessarily needing a bottle cap lifter on a daily basis, I acknowledge that it's handy to have one for those occasions where it'd be nice to have quick access. Right now my bottle opener tool is the ever useful Leatherman Micra, which is fine & dandy, but it weighs down my keys a bit and I honestly don't usually need the other tools contained within it. That being said, I'm obviously one of those people who carry redundant gear upon redundant gear! Better safe than sorry, right? I have a big place in my heart (and knife & tool collection) for Leatherman products in general, and I usually have a larger multi-tool in the car, in my bag, or less frequently on my belt, making the Micra a moot point. I've often wished for a simple, lightweight tool with a bottle opener that could be slung around my neck while fishing or hanging out with my dad on his boat out here in the Puget Sound.

Well... it looks like I've found an ideal beer-drinking companion. The Bottle Rocket is manufactured by Meyerco, the result of design input from custom knifemakers Brent Beshara (of BESH Wedge® fame) and Dirk Pinkerton. Meyerco, as I've said before, has a long and solid history of producing top quality factory-made collaborations with other well known makers like Darrel Ralph & Blackie Collins.

Brent Beshara is a Canadian knifemaker with an amazing lifetime of military special operations experience contributing to his combat-minded knife designs. Dirk Pinkerton is a knifemaker out of Wilson, North Carolina, who has come to be recognized in a relatively short amount of time as a master of lightweight utility and self defense fixed blade knives.

I learned that in slight contrast to the way that a couple of web knife shops market the Bottle Rocket, that it was really designed as a single idea. It's more of a bottle opener with knife-like qualities, than a knife with bottle opener-like qualities.

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to connect with Brent Beshara via email, and he filled me in on the elegant simplicity of this design:
"The concept is that the Bottle Rocket is just a bottle opener, nothing more. It does have the BESH Wedge® on it, yet it’s not sharpened. The ball bearing is to be used as a balance point to “spin the bottle” and see who will buy the next round. An old sailor’s game I picked up along the way."

So, the primary function is the top popper, but the unique blade design features Brent's BESH Wedge® grind which uses diagonally opposed bevels which converge, forming a third cutting edge. The wedge is an ideal grind for a dagger, making the tip stronger than usual and providing deep penetrating power. Like Besh says, placed on a flat surface, Meyerco logo side down, the tiny ball bearing allows the BR to be spun like an arrow on a boardgame, and when it's done moving, the guy it's pointing nearest is the one to buy the next round of beers. Pretty sweet!

Despite being a simple bottle opener, the Bottle Rocket feels like a very capable defensive tool when grasped much like a push dagger.
The BR with an Alpha Innovations flat-end kubotan and a Nite-Ize plastic #4 S-Biner:

It's very comfortable in the hand, and I feel it'd likely give me a quiet boost of confidence if I were walking home late through certain parts of Seattle or Tacoma, after a night out with friends. First and foremost though, the Bottle Rocket does its primary job of opening bottles just beautifully! As Brent mentioned to me, the BR "blade" itself is not meant to be razor sharp, but the edge is beveled very cleanly, so I recommend keeping the BR sheathed when its butt-end is tending to cap lifting duties. It works like a charm, the geometry is correct, leverage is nice, and the opening process is clean, quick and simple. Again, it's amazing that a manufactured design, made with the input of two very different men, is such a simple and elegant tool meant for a very basic task.
Mr. Beshara says; "Cheers! -Besh" on the non-ball bearing side of the handle:

-Quick specs at a glance:
*Blade Length: 2-1/2"
*Overall Length: 5"
*7CR17 Stainless Steel Knife
*Glass Filled Nylon Sheath Can Be Carried in Pocket or as Neck Knife (No clip though)
*Made in China

Firstly, there's a blackened ball/bead chain included, which makes it comfortable & secure around the neck. If you're gathering on a beach with friends, having a beer, you want quick access to it, the molded snap-fit sheath retains the knife perfectly, and an audible click is heard when the knife is properly inserted. Hooking an index finger inside the middle of the blade and giving a push with a thumb removes the knife quickly and safely from the sheath. I've found also, that the featherlight package is rather forgettable in cargo shorts or a light jacket pocket, you hardly know it's there.

Meyerco makes its products in a variety of place, including the US and China. Its place of manufacture is unimportant (to me) when a knife like this is so cleanly executed. It does what it's supposed to, exactly as it's supposed to. It's mega-light and carries nicely, the sheath fits precisely and holds the Bottle Rocket snugly. This is a really fun design that brings something new to the table as far as knife concepts go. As I said, it's a bottle opener with knife-like qualities, and don't forget you can give your pals a hard time by giving the knife a quick rotation, forcing the guy whom the "arrow" points closest, to buy the next round.
Meyerco backs up their stuff with their forever warranty. Basically you're covered as long as you own your Meyerco product, excluding blatant abuse, misuse, or lack of maintenance. I don't know why, but Meyerco products don't seem too terribly widely distributed up here in the Pacific NW, it's rare to see them in brick & mortar retail shops, though they're widely available online at places like Knifecenter. They have the full range of Meyerco items, including designs by Dirk Pinkerton and Darrel Ralph. You can also see the Meyerco website for more info, limited as it may be. Their website doesn't seem to be updated all that often, so you may be better off hitting up Knifecenter to see Meyerco's full line.

It's worth mentioning, just on a curiosity note, that for quite awhile in advance of the Bottle Rocket becoming officially available to the public, a couple of web retailers had this picture shown under their listings for the Bottle Rocket. It must be an early prototype design from Meyerco that ended up getting scrapped and redesigned. I found another post on a site reporting from the famous SHOT (Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade) show early this year (2010) that also displayed this knife under the name "Bottle Rocket", so it makes sense that it was likely an early incarnation to demonstrate the idea to their industry peers @ the SHOT show:

For more info on Brent Beshara and his BESH Wedge® knives, visit

To see Dirk Pinkerton's excellent self defense and utility knives, check out