Friday, December 31, 2010

Review - Buck Vantage Select

A nicer everyday carry (EDC) knife, that perhaps you may not have heard about, the Vantage Select by Buck is a great EDC choice if you want a blade that is a little larger, but still very comfortable.

The Vantage Select, by Buck, is a great EDC folding knife.
The Vantage Select is part of the Vantage series of folding knives. The knives is this series vary in their blade steel and handle material. At the less expensive end is the Vantage Select, which has a 420 HC Stainless Steel blade and glass reinforced nylon scales. Then, you have the Vantage Avid, which uses 13C26 Sandvik Stainless Steel and Charcoal Dymondwood handles. To top it off in price and in the quality of the materials is the Vantage Pro, which has a S30V Stainless Steel blade and glass reinforced nylon scales.

All of the Vantage series of knives have the same appearance and dimensions and they only differ by their constructed materials. While I do not have experience with the Vantage Avid and the Vantage Pro, my experience with the Vantage Select should reflect on the rest of the knives in the Vantage series, since they all share the same design and dimensions.

The Vantage knives have stainless steel liners.
Speaking of dimensions, the Vantage Select is a large folding knife, like I mentioned earlier. It's drop point blade is 3.3" long, with a 4.4" handle. The blade grind starts very near to the spine, which make the knife great for slicing through materials. I particularly like the blade shape on all of the Vantage knives.

Moving on to weight, the Vantage Select weighs 3.9 oz, which is not very heavy to for a knife of this size. Some of the weight is due to the stainless steel liners that reinforce the scales on the knife. These steel liners add rigidity and strength to the knife handle.

The blade locks open solidly with a liner lock. Opening the blade is also very simple. There is a flipper on the blade of the blade, reminiscent of the flippers that Kershaw and CRKT has on many of their knives. For those who prefer using their thumbs to open their knives, there is also a thumb hole in the blade, very similar to what Spyderco has. In this way, the Buck borrowed great ideas from many knife companies when designing the Vantage.

The Vantage knives are usually carried using the removable/reversible pocket clip. This pocket clip enables tip up carry and can be switched for both right and left handed users. The pocket clip holds the knife very securely in the pocket. The clip also attaches at the very back of the handle, allowing the knife to disappear when carried in a pocket. When someone is carrying a Buck Vantage, it literally looks no different than carrying a pen, which can be a good thing depending on your situation. I must say that I really like the pocket clip on the Vantage.

The pocket clip allows the Vantage to ride low in the pocket.
The handle design feels very good when gripping the knife. The ergonomic contours in the handle make the blade easy to hold and to use. The scales on the Vantage Select, however, could have offered more traction. Overall, the scales are fairly smooth, with little other than the contours in the handle to help you have a firm grip. This shouldn't be a major issue, however, to most users. This is a folding knife after all, and it wasn't meant to handle the type of heavy use that would require high traction in the hand.

I must also say that due to the sleekness of the scales, this knife is very elegant and professional-looking. It would be a great choice for someone who wants to dress well and have a nice knife to match.

In case the Vantage Select gets dirty, the screws that hold the knife together use standard Torx bits, making the knife easily taken apart. This is very important, since a dirty folding knife will be difficult to open and close, due to added friction between in the pivot area of the blade/lock mechanism.

So, overall, the Vantage Select by Buck is a great folding knife. It's elegant curves and sleek appearance make it a great looking knife, while the size and design make it very functional. It's a blade definitely worth checking out.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Review - 4Sevens MiNi CR2

A great everyday carry (EDC) flashlight, the Quark MiNi CR2 by 4Sevens is surprising in many ways. It is surprising in both it's brightness and it's size. Who thought a flashlight that weighs only 1.6 oz (w/ battery) could output 180 lumens of light? I sure didn't. Want to find out more about this light? Just continue reading.

The Quark MiNi series of lights by 4Sevens.
The MiNi CR2 is on the left.
At 2.0" long and 0.75" in diameter, the MiNi CR2 is the smallest, yet one of the brightest in the 4Sevens MiNi line of flashlights. It has ample knurling on all sides, giving a an adequate grip despite the small size. The body is made out of aircraft-grade aluminum and is Type III hard anodized in black for a very durable, yet elegant finish.

At the heart of the flashlight, is a CREE XP-G R5 LED emitter. This bright LED is capable of producting 180 lumens of light, as I mentioned earlier. Powering this LED is a single CR2 battery. This battery is what allows the flashlight to shine so brightly. It is a lithium cell which outputs 3.0V but because of the 900 mAh rating, only gives 40 minutes of light on high mode. I guess that's just the price that you pay for having a tiny flashlight. Conveniently, however, the MiNi CR2 comes with 2 CR2 batteries included, which can be difficult to find if you don't know where to look.

The LED is protected by an optical-grade glass lens with an anti-reflective coating on both sides. There is also a textured reflector behind the LED, which gives a soft beam pattern that is free from visible artifacts.

Did I mention that this flashlight is waterproof to 10 meters? There is an o-ring seal around the head, which keeps water out, allowing you to use this light underwater.

The MiNi CR2 has a textured reflector which gives a nice beam.
How to operate:
I already explained how to operate a Quark MiNi on the MiNi AA² review that I made last month. To save time, I will just copy that section, since operating the MiNi CR2 is identical to the MiNi AA².

The MiNi CR2 is turned on by twisting the head of the light. Turning it on will put you in Low mode. To get the other modes turn the light off and on quickly. This will put you in Medium mode. Doing that again will put you in High mode.

To get to Strobe, Beacon (High), Beacon (Low) and S.O.S. modes, which are consider "Special" modes, you have to cycle through the Low, Medium and High twice within 3 seconds.

This is the sequence of modes to get you a better picture of how it all works:
Low » Medium » High » Low » Medium » High » Strobe » S.O.S. » Beacon (High) » Beacon (Low)

With the MiNi CR2, you get 2 CR2 Batteries,
a spare o-ring, a split keyring and a lanyard.
Now that you know about the output modes, you probably would like to know their brightnesses and runtimes. I will list these below:
Low (3 lumens, 1.2 days)
Medium (40 lumens, 4.4 hours)
High (180 lumens, 40 min.)
Strobe (1.4 hours)
Beacon (High) (7.2 hours)
Beacon (Low) (36 hours)
S.O.S. (4.3 hours)

What's Included:
When you get the MiNi CR2, you don't just get a flashlight. You get two spare batteries, a spare o-ring and a lanyard that can be used to carry the flashlight. The lanyard has a split keyring that can be attached to a small hole in the MiNi CR2, allowing it to even be used as a keychain light.

Conclusion:
So, what's there to say other than you should check one out. It's hard to believe that a light this small is so bright. No doubt as technology advances, lights will keep on getting smaller and smaller while getting brighter and brighter. As of today, I do not know of a brighter flashlight of this size. That should say a lot about the 4Sevens Quark MiNi CR2.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Review - Boker Plus KeyCom

Today, I wanted to look at a tiny little everyday carry (EDC) option for a backup knife, or even a primary knife if you are unable to carry anything else. I wanted to look at the KeyCom, by Boker Plus.

The Boker Plus KeyCom fulfills a role as a keychain knife.
Boker Plus is a line of knives by Boker, which is a German knife manufacturer. The Boker Plus line isn't German made, however, which adds a significant savings in the price of the knives. The Boker Plus knives are made in Asia (China, Taiwan, etc.) but are still high quality and durable.

With that said, the KeyCom is one Boker Plus' smallest knives. Designed by Chad Los Banos, the one who is famous for designing the Subcom series of knives, this knife definitely shares a style with the Subcom's. This knife is small enough to be carried on a keychain, but comes with a removable pocket clip, which also gives you the option of clipping it onto a pocket or pouch to carry it very much like a standard pocket knife. The pocket clip only allow for tip down, right handed carry only, unfortunately, but what would you expect out of a knife this small?

Boker was able to make the KeyCom
a frame locking knife.
The KeyCom only weighs 1.1 oz, making it extremely light. The open length is 3.8" and the closed length is 2.3". The clip point blade is 1.6" long and is made of high quality AUS-8 stainless steel. The blade comes razor sharp and has a very fine tip, great for precise cutting tasks.

The construction of the KeyCom is very much like the SubCom. Half of the handle is made of polymer while the other half is made of steel. The steel half of the handle contains the framelock mechanism, which locks the blade open solidly. At the end of the handle, there is a small hole for a split keyring. The keyring can also be substituted for a lanyard.

One of the drawbacks of the KeyCom is that there is only a single thumbstud on the left side of the blade. This allows for right-handed opening only. The thumbstud is very small, making it a little difficult to open single handedly without some practice.

There is a deep finger choil near the base of the blade, which allows for adequate grip of the knife. Despite only being able to hold the knife with 2 fingers and your thumb, it is pretty comfortable to hold. The heavy jimping at the top of the handle definitely aids in gripping the knife.

The KeyCom in black looks very attractive.
The KeyCom comes in two color variation. There is the standard version with a silver blade with the handle composed of a black polymer half and a silver steel half. Then, there is the all black version. Personally, I prefer the all black one, but the standard silver version reminds me of the classic Subcom coloration, which a lot of you guys may like.

So, that's my take on the Boker Plus Keycom. It fulfills a role as a keychain knife and definitely does a good job at it. At an affordable price point, it looks very attractive and to top it off, is very functional. It is definitely nicer than even some of the more expensive small knife options on the market.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Review - Keychain Oil Lighter

While not required daily for most people, a fire source can be a good thing to have with you for daily carry. The size of many lighters can be cumbersome, though, especially if you carry a wallet, cell phone, knife, keychain, etc. The infrequent use of a lighter discourages many people from carrying one every day, unless of course, you use it daily.

There is a solution to this problem, however. Today, I will be writing about a very small and functional lighter, one small enough to put on your keys. In the rare instance that you might need to start a fire.
The Keychain Oil Lighter is amazingly portable and functional.

While this Keychain Oil Lighter doesn't have a specific brand name, it is high quality. With the main body made of aluminum, this lighter should give you many years of good use.

The keychain oil lighter is only 2" long, with a diameter barely larger than 0.5". When closed, its silver pill-like shape doesn't even look like a lighter, which can be a good thing. It has a screw-on cap with a split keyring on top for attaching to a keychain. The lighter also comes with a small bead chain that is attached to the keyring.

This is an oil lighter, meaning that you will have to fill it with lighter fluid for it to work. If you are familiar with these types of lighters, you will know that the fluid in these lighters evaporates after some time. What's neat about the keychain oil lighter is that it has an o-ring that keeps a seal when the cap is closed, keeping the fluid from evaporating. This o-ring also makes this lighter waterproof.

To refill the lighter, you have to take out the lighter element out of the body. It comes out easily by pulling up on the flint wheel. Then, you carefully pour fluid onto the cotton on the bottom of the lighter element until you see that the cotton is saturated. Then, put the lighter element back into the body of the lighter. After waiting about 30 seconds for the wick to soak up the fluid, spark the wheel and the lighter should light.

When closed the lighter has a pill-like shape.
I should also say that this lighter will accept standard replacement flints and wicks, although a standard size wick will have to be cut down and made shorter in order to fit into this lighter.

From my experimentation with this fun little lighter, you get about 10 minutes of burn-time from a full refuel, which is more than adequate for daily use. What makes this lighter more valuable than perhaps a fire steel, is that with this lighter you have a source of flame, rather than a tool that just gives you sparks. This waterproof lighter would even work great for emergencies. Due to its small size, you can fit it practically anywhere.

The only downside that I can find with this lighter is that it does not have a wind protector, making it simple to put out. This is more of a constraint due to size, since a wind protector would take up too much room, so it's understandable why it isn't included.

Other than that, I love this lighter. With such small lighters on the market today, there's no reason to be caught without a source of fire.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Review - Taurus 738 TCP

Last time, we talked about Pepper Spray for self defense. I mentioned that it is important to have the ability to defend yourself. Often self-defense is overlooked, leading to tragedy. Going along that same topic, I wanted to write about a favorite defensive firearm of mine, a firearm being one of the most effective defensive tools available. I'm actually very excited to do this review.

This firearm takes up no more room in the pocket than a standard-sized wallet. Its size and weight allow you to carry it comfortably in all conditions. The firearm is none other than the Taurus 738 TCP.

The Taurus TCP is a truly palm-sized pistol.
The Taurus TCP is called a pocket pistol. This means that it can easily and unobtrusively be carried in the pocket. The fact that it can be carried so discretely should give you some idea of how small this firearm actually is.

Size & Weight

The Taurus TCP weighs 10.1 oz with an empty magazine and just 12.5 oz with seven rounds of 95gr, JHP (Jacketed Hollow Point) Winchester PDX1 ammunition, seven being the maximum amount of rounds that the TCP can hold with a full magazine and one in the chamber.

The barrel length is 2.8" long, the slide length is 5.3". The height of the pistol is 3.7" and the thickness is 0.78". If you can visualize that, the Taurus TCP is palm-sized. The size is amazingly small, if you haven't seen other pocket pistols such as the Kel-Tec P3AT or the Ruger LCP.

To keep weight down, the frame is made of polymer with adequate texturing on the grip. The steel slide rides on steel rails that are held onto the frame by two metal pins. The slide has serrations at the back which provide adequate traction to cycle the slide fairly easily. The recoil spring is actually has two integrated springs that are kept in place by a steel guide rod.

The Taurus TCP comes with 2, 6-round magazines, a PDA-style carry pouch
and 2 keys for the built-in hammer lock, which disables the pistol.
In terms of fit and finish, I have no complaints on the Taurus TCP. It looks very nice, with attractive machining that flows from the slide, throughout the frame. From a company that is often known for poor quality, the TCP really sets that bar high. I would not call this a poor quality firearm in any way.

Sights & Fire Controls

The sights are small and definitely designed not to snag on clothes when the firearm is drawn from concealment. They are non-adjustable milled out of the slide but, surprisingly enough, they are adequate. With some practice, I was able to have acceptable groups at realistic self-defense distances (10-20 feet).

I must say that I am very pleased with the TCP's trigger. It has a long, smooth, double action only trigger. When I say smooth, I mean smooth. The trigger has no staging or noticeable increase in the weight of the trigger pull throughout the movement. After some practice, you will remember where the breaking point of the trigger is, and be able to more or less know where it goes off. The nice trigger definitely helps shoot the pistol more accurately. I should also mention that there is no second strike capability on this pistol, so every time you want the hammer to hit, the slide has to cycle.

Rapid Fire: 5 shots at 10 feet within 2 seconds
out of the Taurus TCP, shows good "real-world" accuracy,
which is accuracy you would need in a defensive situation.
This firearm is somewhat unique when compared to other pocket pistols by the fact that it has a slide stop. The TCP's slide is held back on the last round, giving you a clear indication that the pistol is out of ammunition. This is a major plus in my book. In a self-defense scenario where you might be using a pistol, it is absolutely critical to know if you are out of ammo. With a firearm like the Kel-Tec P3AT or the Ruger LCP, you do not know you are out unless you count your shots, or hear a "click" when you should have heard a "bang". While I do not know how likely it is that you would be requiring more than 6 or 7 shots in a defensive scenario, it provides piece of mind to know that the TCP gives a signal when it is out of rounds.

The slide stop on the TCP is Glock-like in that it protrudes very little from the side of the pistol. When I reload after slide lock, I like to rack the slide manually rather than push the slide lock down with my thumb, since the slide stop does not offer very much traction, making it difficult to actuate manually.

Slow Fire: These 5 shots at 21 feet show that
the Taurus TCP is capable of accurate fire.
The last fire control, the magazine release, is also very trim. At first, it is hard to get used to, since it is so small, but with practice, it is more than adequate and ejects the magazines consistently.

The single-stack magazines on the TCP hold 6 rounds of .380 ACP ammunition. The TCP comes with two of them. The magazines have red followers and witness holes to see exactly how many rounds are in the magazine. The base plate on the magazines is extended about 1/2" to allow for a fuller grip on the pistol. I would have rather had a slightly longer grip and magazines without the extended base plate, since the extension makes reloading a little more difficult. When you hold the pistol, your fingers are holding onto what little grip there is, holding onto the extended floor plate of the magazine in the process. Then, we pulling the magazine out, you have to loosen your grip to make sure that you're not holding on to the magazine. That being said, the magazines have worked flawlessly for me and are of high quality.

Shooting

Slow Fire: At 50 feet, the group sizes of the Taurus TCP
open up to nearly that of the whole sheet of paper due to
difficulty in using the small sights. 
You might think that such a small pistol must be incredibly difficult to shoot. I have large hands, and even so, shooting the Taurus TCP is not too difficult, definitely more enjoyable than I thought it would be. With an inserted magazine, I can grip the pistol comfortably, with only my pinky finger hanging off. Of course I prefer a full length grip, but with portability of the TCP come some compromises. Overall, it's a good compromise and I'll accept a slightly less comfortable grip for the ability to carry my pistol comfortably anywhere.

Those that have never shot a .380 ACP pocket pistol before might be surprised by the snap of the recoil. Recoil is less than that of a 9mm pistol, but due to the small frame of the gun and the fact that you cannot have a full grip, the pistol wants to snap up with every shot. This takes a little time to get use to, but once you do, follow-up shots are very manageable.

Reliablity

I have fired about 300 or so rounds through the TCP thus far and have had no failures at all. I have shot both Full Metal Jacket rounds and Jacketed Hollow Point rounds, with no issues. It's just a very dependable pistol. I have read about some people having issues with it, but I have had absolutely none.

Conclusion

Overall, I really like the Taurus TCP pistol. It is small enough to carry comfortably in almost all situations, but still shoots well. The trigger pull is great, with a very functional slide stop. If any of you are looking for a defensive pistol, maybe you are looking for the Taurus TCP. Check one out at your local gun shop and see if it fits you.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Pepper Spray - Less Lethal Defensive Alternative

A lot of thought, by a lot of people, has been put into answering the question, "What defensive tool should I carry with me?" I think that this is an important question. I believe that if more people gave self-defense more serious thought, many of the muggings and shootings that you hear about on the news would be avoided. The truth is, many people assume that: either an attack will not happen to them or that the police will be there to rescue them.

Both assumptions stem from a very naive mindset, a mindset that is very dangerous and can get the person killed if he/she is faced with a life or death defensive situation.

While I've written about self defense previously, and I promise to write about it again, today I wanted to look at a very unique defensive tool. I wanted to help you understand the benefits and drawbacks of this tool and how it can fit into your use of force continuum. The tool that I will analyze is Pepper Spray.

Cold Steel makes a powerful
Pepper Spray called Inferno
Pepper spray is a chemical agent whose active ingredient is Oleoresin Capsicum. This is the same chemical found in chili peppers and it gives a sensation of heat and burning when it comes into contact with the skin or mucous membranes. It hurts, a lot, however there is no permanent damage done after contact with it. The painful effects are only superficial, which makes pepper spray very unique when compared with other pain compliance devices such as a kubotan, a baton, or even a sjambok, whose pain can be damaging.

It is important to know where pepper spray fits in the use of force continuum. What is a use of force continuum? I wanted to briefly touch upon this before going further, since I believe that it is important. In a defensive situation, it is your obligation to de-escalate the situation wherever possible, with the least destructive effects. If a simple walking away will de-escalated a situation, it is much better to do so. This often means swallowing your pride, but, in the end, you are a winner if you take the higher ground, avoiding a greater conflict.

There are varying threatening levels of force that should be met with a similar level of force on your part as the defender. Meeting a lower level of force with a higher level of force can escalate a situation and can turn you into an aggressor. Good luck defending yourself in court if you pull a gun on someone because they shouted a derogatory remark at you.

You can even get Pepper Spray in a
lipstick case like this spray from Mace.
Understanding where pepper spray fits into the use of force continuum is important. Pepper spray belongs in the middle of the use of force continuum, underneath a firearm and other more damaging defensive options. Knowing that certain situations do not require the use of firearms or other such tools, carrying a can of pepper spray may be a good thing for those who want to have many defensive options depending on the situation at hand.

Pepper spray has some benefits and drawbacks that I would like to go into now. These need to be understood if you are looking into using it for your own, personal protection

Benefits

I'll first say that having a defensive tool is always better than not having one, since it gives you options in situations where you would have to defend yourself. So, having pepper spray is better than not having anything.

Unlike a firearm, purchasing pepper spray is easy to do in most locations and does not require a background check. It is also inexpensive. The legal ramifications of using a spray are also usually less than using a more deadly defensive option. To top it off, using pepper spray is easier than using a firearm and requires less training. Pepper spray has many things going for it. Don't get carried away, though. There are some drawbacks.

Possible Drawbacks

Pepper spray is a less-lethal (as opposed to non-lethal) defensive option, since it can, on rare occasions kill (if the person has asthma or other breathing conditions). Still, it is much safer to the target than most other defensive options. This is both a good and a bad thing. Situations where this would be a bad thing would be if the attacker has a very strong will, or is high on drugs and the effects of pepper spray do not stop him/her. In these situations only a serious impairment would stop the attacker, saving you from harm. It is important to understand this, since pepper spray is not a magic tool that will diffuse any and all situations.

Pepper spray also takes a couple of seconds to take effect. If you need to immediately stop an attacker, then pepper spray is probably not the best choice for a defensive tool. For example, if an attacker has a gun aimed at you, and you spray him/her in the eyes, there is little stopping him/her from pulling the trigger. In fact, after being sprayed in the eyes, they have more of a reason to pull the trigger.

As a rule of thumb, if there is an immediate threat of serious injury or death (the attacker has a gun or a knife drawn), then a more powerful defensive tool than pepper spray should be used; something along the lines of an impact device, edged weapon or a firearm.

That just scratches the surface of all there is to know about less lethal defensive options and pepper spray. I hope that reading this got you thinking, a little bit at least, about the importance of self-defense and about how to be prepared for it. Pepper spray is good for some situations, but it's not perfect for all situations. If you can carry it, however, I'd recommend it.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Review - CRKT Drifter

One of the most impressive folding knives for the price that I have come across have been the Drifter series of knives by Columbia River Knife and Tool (CRKT). It offers a medium-sized, high quality knife that's razor sharp out of the box and super fast to open; the CRKT Drifter is a very good every day carry (EDC) choice.

The Drifter comes in two flavors, both excellent with their respective advantages. There is the light-weight Drifter G10, which is liner-locking and has G10 side scales. Then there is the Drifter Stainless, which is a frame-locking design with a stainless steel frame. It is heavier, but feels more solid in the hand.

(For those who do not know what G10 is, it is a material made of fiberglass impregnated with epoxy resin, a very good knife handle material.)

First, I'll cover things that the two have in common before I get into specifics for each model.

The CRKT Drifter comes in G10 and Stainless models.
The Drifter is adequately sized, 3.6" long when closed, with a 2.9" blade. The drop point blade is made out of 8Cr14MoV stainless steel. The blade holds an edge well and comes hair-shaving sharp out of the box. The lockup on both models is solid with no movement at all.

Opening the Drifter is easy, utilizing the ambidextrous thumbstuds. This knife opens very fast, surprisingly fast. The pocket clip enables the knife to be carried tip-down, right handed only. The pocket clip is removable but only has one mounting point. At the end of the handle, there is a lanyard hole for those who like lanyards on their pocket knives.

That pretty much covers the commonalities between the two models. Now I'll delve into the specifics between the Drifter G10 and the Drifter Stainless.

Drifter G10

The Drifter G10 the lighter of the two models. Weighing in at 2.4 oz, it is light enough to forget that you have it on you. The knife has stainless steel liners strengthening the frame, with G10 scales that go over the liners. The G10 offers a good amount of traction in the hand, not too much and not too little. The blade on the Drifter G10 has a gray titanium nitride coating, which matches the black G10 scales well, making the knife look very elegant.

One critique I would have is that the liner lock seems thin, however the blade locks open solidly. From my experience the lock has never failed. The jimping on the top of the blade is more or less non-functional, since it offer very little purchase for the thumb. The handle, however, still offers enough grip to make the knife very functional.

The Drifter Stainless is heavier but feels solid in the hand.
Drifter Stainless

The Drifter Stainless is the heavier, more solid-feeling version of the Drifter. It weighs 3.3 oz and has a stainless steel frame. This knife is a frame-locking design, with a very solid lockup. The blade has no coating, making it reflective and also elegant. It matches the stainless frame of the knife.

A critique against the Drifter Stainless is that the frame is smoother than the G10 version, making it a little harder to hold on to. However, the jimping seems to be sharper on the Stainless version than on the Drifter G10. The contours in the handle, combined with the jimping, still give you adequate traction in the hand for anything that you would realistically use this knife for.

Disadvantages to the Drifter

The pocket clip enables tip-up, right handed carry only.
I thought that it would be fair to list things that I do not like about the Drifter. While there isn't much, one thing that I do not like is that Drifter does not enable tip up carry. I prefer tip up carry on my blades, since from my experience it enables a faster knife opening.

Other than that, I do not have any criticisms on the design. I think it's excellent and I feel like any knife collector should own at least one CRKT Drifter. For those looking for an EDC knife, the Drifter may be just what you have been looking for. While there are a few criticism to the Drifter, as there are to all designs, it is still one of my favorites.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Review - 4Sevens Quark MiNi AA²

Understanding that a flashlight is an important piece of every day carry (EDC) gear, today I wanted to shed some light on one of my favorites. (See what I did there?) I wanted to go over a relatively inexpensive, but very bright light from 4Sevens. It is the newest release in the Quark MiNi line of lights; a products line know for its compact brightness.
4Sevens Quark MiNi AA² is an excellent EDC flashlight.
The flashlight that I will be reviewing is the Quark MiNi AA². After using this light, the first thing that I thought about was how great of an EDC flashlight it would be. This light has a maximum brightness of 180 lumens, all out of two AA batteries.

The Quark MiNi AA²'s slender size and integrated, but removable, pocket clip allows for the light to be easily carried. It is slim enough, at 0.69" thick, to put into a pouch or pack, without taking up much room at all. The length is 5.1" which is long enough to comfortably hold in the hand, but not too long to be cumbersome.

The light is made out out lightweight aluminum, with ample knurling, helping provide a solid grip. It weighs only 1 oz without batteries. With two alkaline AA batteries, it weighs 2.7 oz. With lithium batteries, however, it would weigh even less since lithium batteries are generally lighter than alkaline batteries.

So how does the Quark MiNi AA² achieve a brightness of 180 lumens?

For those who do not know much about flashlights, 180 lumens is really bright. Your average flashlight of this size/weight will output about 40 lumens or so. The secret to the Quark MiNi AA²'s brightness lies in it's emitter. The Quark MiNi AA² uses a CREE XP-G R5 LED emitter. This is a single LED (Light Emitting Diode) which utilizes the latest LED technology to produce a shockingly bright beam of light. This light can also vary in intensity, allowing the Quark MiNi AA² to have many brightness levels. We'll delve into that shortly, after I go over this next part.

Protecting the LED emitter is an aluminum head with an optical-grade glass lens. The flashlight head rotates, allowing you to turn the flashlight on and to change the output modes.

The textured reflector gives you great up-close lighting.
Behind the LED is a textured reflector. It is textured to give you a soft beam, a beam that evenly illuminates the area in front of you. This is perfect for illuminating close objects since there are no bright spots, only even illumination. What the textured reflector does however, is limit the distances that you can shine the light. Because the beam spread is wider, I would consider this a medium-range flashlight, excellent for distances up to 50 yards or so. Further out, however, you might have a hard time clearly seeing what you are trying to light up.

Getting back to the brightness levels and output modes (told you we'd get to them shortly), Quark MiNi AA² has seven output modes. The modes, along with their brightnesses and runtimes are listed below:
- Low (3.0 lumens, 3.4 days)
- Medium (36 lumens, 8.8 hours)
- High (180 lumens, 1.7 hours)
- Strobe (3.3 hours)
- Beacon (High) (17 hours)
- Beacon (Low) (88 hours)
- S.O.S. (10 hours)

How to operate:
The Quark MiNi AA² operates identically to the other Quark MiNi flashlights. If you are familiar with the way that they operate, then you already know how to use the Quark MiNi AA².

The pocket clip makes the Quark MiNi AA² simple to carry.
To turn the Quark MiNi AA² on, just tighten the head. To turn it off, loosen the head. Turning it on will put you in Low mode. If Low mode is all you care about, then stop reading right now.

Just kidding, of course you want to use the other modes. To get the other modes turn the light off and on quickly. This will put you in Medium mode. Doing that again will put you in High mode.

To get to Strobe, Beacon (High), Beacon (Low) and S.O.S. modes, which are consider "Special" modes, you have to cycle through the Low, Medium and High twice within 3 seconds.

This is the sequence of modes to get you a better picture of how it all works:
Low » Medium » High » Low » Medium » High » Strobe » S.O.S. » Beacon (High) » Beacon (Low)

The Quark MiNi AA² includes batteries, spare o-rings and a lanyard.
The variety of output modes really makes the Quark MiNi AA² a very useful flashlight. For close-in situations, where you would want to conserve battery life, Low mode is excellent. For situations that require more light, High mode works great.

For those in the market for a quality, but inexpensive EDC flashlight, the Quark MiNi AA² is definitely one to consider. It's advantages are that it uses AA batteries, which are easy to find and purchase. It is small, although there are smaller and brighter flashlights out there (Quark MiNi 123), but the larger size can be an advantage, giving you more of the flashlight to hold in your hand. The pocket clip is also a great advantage, especially for those used to carrying a pocket knife.

So, yeah, I recommend it. I actually highly recommend it. I'm sorry if it sounds weird that I'm constantly recommending things, but I do not like to review things that I don't like. It makes writing much harder. If you see me writing about a knife, flashlight, tool, etc. it's probably because I like it. If not, I'll be sure to make that clear in the post.

Give the Quark MiNi AA² a second look if you've glanced over it before. If you haven't, then give it a first look and be impressed by what this light has to offer.

Monday, October 25, 2010

EDC Medical Equipment - Adventure Medical Kits First Aid Kits

Quite often, when thinking about different gear for every day carry (EDC), it is easy to get caught up in different tools and gadgets. Things such as knives, flashlights, handguns, defensive items, can be fun to think about, collect and train with. However, a most basic aspect of emergency preparation is often overlooked. A very important part of EDC that we all should think about is First Aid.
The Travel Medic is for those who require have no room to spare.

Carrying a first aid kit can be something very important, as many emergency situations involve treating wounded people, either others or yourself. A detailed first aid kit may even save someone's life.

I admit that I have not been carrying a first aid kit as part of my EDC gear until recently. They can be intimidating, since so many people are not trained in first aid. I recently found out about a great company called Adventure Medical Kits, that tries to make first aid as simple as possible.

The great thing about them is that most of their first aid kits come with detailed instruction on how to treat injuries. They also come in fabric cases, which are easily stuffed into a backpack or bag, making carrying one so much easier. Their kits are also organized by treatment, so that you know which supplies to use when the time comes.

A small and affordable option, the First Aid 1.0 kit.
This organization is a huge benefit. Let me explain. Emergency situations are usually highly stressful. They are situations where a person usually loses his/her presence of mind and resorts to his/her training. For someone not familiar with first aid, they would be fumbling around, probably throwing all of the contents of the kit on the ground, trying to find what they need. This could possibly damage and contaminate the supplies and prevent a quick emergency response.

The kits are also very detailed, meaning that they have lots of useful supplies. Depending on which kit you have, it can be used from anything to small cuts and scrapes to gunshot wounds and sutures.

The kit that I carry with me the Sportsman First Aid Kit. It is larger (more supplies), so it needs to be carried in either a bag (fanny pack, messenger bag, backpack, etc.). I found this first aid kit to be detailed enough, but yet not prohibitively large, making it a great choice for EDC. Since carrying it, though, I have had to use it on a few occasions, and not just for first aid.

I chose to carry the detailed yet not overly large Sportsman First Aid Kit.
The non-first aid situation that I was referring to was during a recent weekend adventure. I realized that one of my cargo pockets was coming undone along the bottom. I needed to use this pocket, so I took out one of the safety pins in the kit and used it to close up the hole. The fix worked for the rest of the weekend, all thanks to my first aid kit.

There were also other occasions where I had to use the kit to clean and bandage up some wounds, but none of them were very serious. This kit, however, would work for more serious injuries as well, as it includes large bandages, sponges and wrappings.

I should also go into the contents of this kit, so I will list them below:
Bandages
5 Bandage, Adhesive, Fabric, 1" x 3"
5 Bandage, Adhesive, Fabric, Knuckle
3 Bandage, Butterfly Closure; 1 Bandage, Conforming Gauze, 3"
1 Bandage, Elastic, Self Adhering, 2"
 2 Dressing, Gauze, Sterile, 2" x 2", Pkg./2
2 Dressing, Gauze, Sterile, 4" x 4", Pkg./2
2 Dressing, Non-Adherent, Sterile, 3" x 4"
Bleeding
2 Gloves, Nitrile (Pair), Hand Wipe; 1 Instructions, Easy Care Bleeding
1 Trauma Pad, 5" x 9"
Blister/Burn
11 Moleskin, Pre-Cut & Shaped
Instrument
3 Safety Pins
1 Scissors, Bandage with Blunt Tip
1 Splinter Picker/Tick Remover Forceps
Medical Information
1 Comprehensive Guide to Wilderness & Travel Medicine
Medication
2 After Bite Wipe; 2 Antihistamine (Diphenhydramine 25 mg)
2 Ibuprofen (200 mg), Pkg./2
1 Instructions, Easy Care Medications
Wound Care
5 After Cuts & Scrapes Anethestic/Antiseptic Wipe
1 Cotton Tip Applicator, Pkg./2
1 Dressing, Petrolatum, 3" x 3"
1 Instructions, Easy Care Wound
1 Tape, 1/2" x 10 Yards
1 Tincture of Benzoin Topical Adhesive
3 Triple Antibiotic Ointment, Single Use

As you can see, this kit is fairly detailed, and it fits into a small package. Take a look at some of the first aid kits offered by Adventure Medical Kits. Make one part of your EDC and be prepared for medical emergencies as well.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Review - Gerber Artifact Keychain Multi-Tool

People usually put trinkets or knick-knacks on their keychains for sentimental value. Personally, I do not understand that. I mean, if you are going to carry something around with you everywhere, why not carry something useful? All those trinkets add up and can end up being pretty heavy. I've seen people's keychains be so big and bulky that it becomes hard to carry them.

For a person with a preparedness mindset, the objects carried on one's person should be carefully chosen, since we, as human beings, can only comfortably carry a limited weight. We ought to make the most of the weight that we choose to carry.

Today, I'd like to review a tool that would actually be useful hanging off of your keychain. It's multi-tool but unlike most multi-tools, it's very small and light.

The Gerber Artifact is seven tools in one.
I'll be reviewing the Gerber Artifact. Somehow, Gerber was able to fit seven different tools into one small tool that can be easily carried on a keychain.

With the Artifact on your keychain, you have a:
- Liner Locking EAB #11 Hobby Blade
- Philips Driver
- Small Flat Driver
- Medium Flat Driver
- Bottle Opener
- Wire Stripper
- Pry Bar

The Artifact weighs in at 1.4 oz, is 3.5" long and only 1/4" thick. To me, that's just amazing.

While I personally have only handled the Artifact, I can say that it's a very solid feeling tool, and would not take up much space on a keychain. I've seen a pry bar keychain tool take up almost as much room. For near the same weight as a small pry bar, which in itself is a very useful item, you get a lot more with the Artifact.

The Gerber Artifact comes with a liner-locking blade.
It's also amazing that the blade on the Artifact is liner-locking. I wasn't expect that when I first saw the Artifact. This would make cutting much safer. I should also mention that the Artifact comes with three, razor-sharp replacement blades in case the main blade breaks or becomes too dull to use.

So for any of you looking for a small, keychain tool that would increase your capabilities, the Gerber Artifact might be something to consider.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

To Carry or Not To Carry? - Part 2

Today, we'll get back to where we left off in the story from yesterday. If you are finding this post randomly among others, here is your one chance to not spoil the story.
Click here to be redirected to the beginning of the story: To Carry or Not to Carry?
Otherwise, things won't make much sense and you won't get the full effect.

To recap where we left off, here are the last two paragraphs from the previous post.

You quickly take your kids out of the cart and cover their mouths again. You crouch behind an aisle, catching a glimpse of a man walking towards you and your children. He has a crazed look in his eye, and is holding what looks like a large rifle. He pumps the action, and a large red casing falls to the floor... you instantly recall your grandpa's old shotgun. "He must have a 12 gauge", you think to yourself.

The figure stops as he notices you. You freeze, petrified with fear. He points the gun at you and...*click* He's out of shells. He quickly puts his hand into his pocket, with a frustrated look in his eyes. He pulls his hand out, you see a red shell in it.

You realize that he has to reload... You only have a few seconds to act.

Now here is the question, what is the one thing that you wish you had with you right now?

I'll let you think about this one for a moment. It is good to always think about your options, when faced with a difficult situation, and this situation is about as difficult as they come. Here are a few of your options, along with the specific scenarios surrounding them.

Scenario #1:
You have your kids crouch behind you as you peek halfway into the aisle. Realizing that you have to act, you consider your options. The only items you have on you are your wallet, keys and cell phone. You can try and run, and it might work, if only you were by yourself. But your children are with you, and your obligation as a parent is to protect them, first and foremost. The only remaining option that you can think of is to charge the attacker and attempt to wrestle the gun out of his hands.

You decide to charge him, closing the 10 yard gap at what seemed to take half a minute. With about 2 yards left, you leap towards him, trying to take him down. The attacker, however, saw your move. He braced himself, using his shotgun as a shield, and deflected your body with a sidestep, causing you to fall to the ground. You are now looking up at him. He looks down at you with a sinister grin and quickly inserts the shell into the chamber. Racking the action forward, he chambers the shell. "Boom!"

After the shot, the last sound you hear is that of your crying children. You say goodbye to this world, wishing you could have done more.

Scenario #2:
You have your kids crouch behind you as you peek halfway into the aisle. Realizing that you have to act, you thank God that you had the sense of mind to grab your CZ P-01 handgun on the way out of the house. You consider your options. You can try and run, but having two young children to defend rules that out. The only option that remains is to shoot the attacker.

Using the precious seconds that you have left, you quickly draw the handgun from its holster concealed under your shirt, while he tries to reload. It's a race to the death. Luckily your firearm is already loaded...

CZ P-01 - The handgun that you chose to take - Review Coming!
As you grab the gun and bring it up to fire, you remember your training. "Front sight, front sight, front sight", you repeat to yourself. As soon as you see his blurry form covered by the front sight of the pistol, you squeeze the trigger, taking a shot. "Bang!" 

Your kids begin to scream and cry, but you don't even hear them. All of your concentration is on the front sight. Nothing else matters at this moment.

The attacker is shot in the left arm. He stumbles back, shocked that you have a gun. Seemingly undeterred, he continues trying to load his shotgun.

Seeing this, you take another three shots. "Bang! Bang! Bang!" Two of the shots hit him in the chest, and one flies just past his right shoulder, getting lodged in a case of water bottles on the shelf behind him. The second round of shots has a heavier impact upon him than the first, and he stumbles back, falling to the ground. It doesn't look like he can fight any longer.

Realizing that the threat has probably been diminished, you slowly back up, while having your handgun still aimed at the attacker's body.

Not turning your back to him, you move your kids to the next aisle with your offhand, still maintaining a firm grip on the handgun. You grab your kids and rush toward the front of the store, leaving the milk, which is now the last thing on your mind. You move to check on the body of the attacker. He's still laying there, motionless. You then holster your handgun and leave the store, finding a safe location to call the police.

The whole ordeal only lasts about two minutes, but those were the longest two minutes of your life.

As the police arrive five minutes later, you count your blessings. You will never go anywhere without legally carrying a firearm again.

So, which do you choose? The obvious choice is Scenario #2. In that scenario, there really was only one option for you in that situation if you wanted to survive. Actually, in this situation the only tool that could have saved you was a firearm. Through previous training, awareness, concentration, and action, you were able to save your life and the lives of your children.

As I continue to write about self defense in this blog, remember that self defense is not about taking lives, it is about protecting the innocent. It is about protecting your life and the lives that you are responsible for. It is a sacred right and one that should never be taken away, or given away freely.

Self defense can only be truly actualized through the use of effective tools. Today, the most effective defensive tool is a firearm. Just like computers and the media are critical to the right to free speech, the right to own firearms is critical to the right to self defense. Without them, you are at a severe disadvantage against someone who has one.

The right to self defense follows very closely after the right to life.

Never forget that.

Monday, October 11, 2010

To Carry or Not To Carry?

Today, I wanted to write about different kinds of concealed carry pistols, but before I write about that, I should backtrack a little bit and ask you this:
"To carry or not to carry?"

Taurus TCP - Great Carry Choice - Review Coming Soon!
It's a very important question to ask oneself, whether you are a die-hard self-defense supporter, or a person on the other end of the spectrum. Hopefully, reading this post will get you thinking.

Now close your eyes and imagine this situation, because similar situations have happened.

You are in a grocery store, with your two young children, Johnny aged 5, and Suzy aged 2. You really didn't feel like coming into the store at 9:30 pm, especially after a long day at work, but little Johnny really wanted some milk and, after checking the fridge, you saw that there was none left. Your spouse is out with some friends, leaving you with the kids.

 As usual, the milk is in the very back of the store, forcing you to go all the way to the back with your two fidgety kids. Luckily, the store has those two-seater carts, so your kids are sitting. Still, with every colorful object that they see on the shelf, they try and jump out. You are really losing your patience.

 You finally find the milk, and put two gallons into your cart. "Alright, time to check out," you say to yourself, heading towards the front of the store.

 Then you hear it. At first, you don't really know what's going on. Wow, that was loud. You hear another gunshot. "Bang!" Followed by screaming. Then another "Bang! Bang!" Then silence...

 Your kids begin to cry, but you quickly cover their mouths, panicking. Something serious is happening. "This can't be happening to me...", you say to yourself.

You release your hands from your children's mouth to try to see what is going on. As they being to whimper again, you catch a glimpse down an aisle towards the front of the store. The cashier and a shopper are laying down motionless. Surrounding them is a pool of blood, slowly getting larger. Presumably, they have been killed. You think to yourself, "Maybe, if I stay here and keep quiet, then whoever did this will just take the money behind the register and leave."

He doesn't leave. He doesn't want to leave. He is there for one purpose only:
To Kill Everyone In The Store

12 Gauge Shotgun Shells - 00 Buckshot
You quickly take your kids out of the cart and cover their mouths again. You crouch behind an aisle, catching a glimpse of a man walking towards you and your children. He has a crazed look in his eye, and is holding what looks like a large rifle. He pumps the action, and a large red casing falls to the floor... you instantly recall your grandpa's old shotgun. "He must have a 12 gauge", you think to yourself.


The figure stops as he notices you. You freeze, petrified with fear. He points the gun at you and...*click* He's out of shells. He quickly puts his hand into his pocket, with a frustrated look in his eyes. He pulls his hand out, you see a red shell in it.

You realize that he has to reload... You only have a few seconds to act.

Now here is the question, what is the one thing that you wish you had with you right now?

Continued tomorrow...

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Choosing an EDC Knife

Today, I'm going to be writing about an important and relevant topic, the topic being Choosing a knife for every day carry (EDC).

An EDC knife should be light, easy to carry and functional for the broadest possible kinds of situations that you may encounter throughout the day. Let's list some of the possible situations that you may encounter; situations that would benefit from the use of a knife.

Some things you may use an EDC knife for: 
A larger EDC knife, such as this CRKT M16 SFG has a lot of capabilities.
- Cutting/Opening Packages
  and Envelopes
- Cutting Rope
- Food Preparation
- Cutting soft plant material
- Chopping through wood
- Picking out splinters/
  Emergency Medical Use
- Self-Defense

One type of knife could not possible be the best in all of these jobs. One knife may be perfect at one kind of job but be horrible at another. Again, like with all EDC gear, the proper balance has to be considered. The item must be practical, useful and of appropriate size and weight.

Recommended EDC knife Qualities: 

After years of carrying a knife daily, I will give you my recommendations for an EDC knife. Take this information as my opinion, since the best knife for me might not be the best knife for you. Hopefully, you can use my suggestions to form a system that will work the best for you.

An EDC knife should be a folding knife with a solid lockup.
A knife that is meant to be carried should be as small as possible for the length and capabilities of the blade that you are getting. The best designs that I have found to be as size/weight efficient as possible have been folding knife designs.

A solid lockup when opened is a very important safety feature on a knife. It prevents the blade from accidentally closing during use, making it similar to a fixed blade in functionality. I advise against carrying a blade that does not come equipped with a lock (slip joints). Those might have worked well for grandpa, but there are better designs out there and they should be utilized. The lockup on a good folding knife should be solid, with no side to side or foward/back movement. Popular lock designs are liner/frame locks and lock backs, although there are others. The designs vary in strength and in cost. I do not really have a favorite lock design, as they all can be good and strong enough for daily cutting tasks.


The Cold Steel Super Edge is a good EDC fixed blade choice.
Now, you can tell that I like folding knives for EDC. There are reasons to carry a fixed blade, however. Fixed blades are intrinsically stronger than folding knives due to them usually being made out of a solid piece of steel. There is no pivot point, which is normally the weakest point on a folding knife. While the sort of strength that would require a fixed blade isn't usually necessary for an EDC knife, I am sure that, for some, it is.

An EDC knife should be around 2 - 4 ounces in weight.
Lets face it, steel is heavy while other materials such as plastics, are light. The more steel you have on your knife, the stronger it will be, but it will also weigh more. A strong knife has a steel blade, a steel locking mechanism, steel liners or handles and a steel pocket clip. The balance of not too little and not too much steel, from my experience, falls somewhere between 2 to 4 ounces. This should give you adequate strength while not weighing you down too much.

An EDC knife should have a  2.5 - 4 inch blade with a sharp tip.
Granted some blade lengths are not legal to carry in certain areas of the world, a nice, useful blade length for an EDC knife falls somewhere between 2.5 - 4 inches, with a preference toward longer-bladed knives. This length enables the knife to be most easily used for the greatest variety of tasks, from cutting open packages and envelopes, to cutting food, to defending your life. A tiny knife is impractical for some of these tasks, while a larger knife is harder to carry.

The importance of a sharp tip should also not be forgotten. A sharp tip is extremely useful for certain tasks which require precise cutting. One example would be the removal of a wooden splinter from your hand. A sharp tip makes this task possible, whereas a blunt tipped knife wouldn't get the job done, and you would be stuck with a splinter still in your hand.

An EDC knife should have handles that allow for a firm, comfortable grip.
The handles on the Kershaw Blitz / Nerve are excellent.
The handle is the contact between you and the knife. It is an important feature of your knife that should not be overlooked. An uncomfortable handle, or a handle that slides around in your hand can be dangerous and inhibit your ability to use the knife to its fullest potential. A handle should be contoured to fit the hand. It should be textured but not overly so. It should match the length of the blade that you are using. For example, you wouldn't want a knife with a tiny blade and a huge handle, or a huge blade and a small handle. Most knife designs have adequate handles, but it is still a feature that should be analyzed before settling upon and EDC knife choice.

An EDC knife should have a pocket clip which enables tip up carry and rides low in the pocket.
Now this recommendation mainly has to do with personal preference and it is not a deal breaker if the knife does not have this ability. From personal experience and experimentation, I have found that carrying a knife tip up enables the fastest possible draw, from the time you decide to pull out your knife, to the time that it's deployed.

Let me explain why. Imagine a folded knife with the tip facing down. When you draw it out of your pocket, with your hand facing down, you have to rotate the knife so that the tip faces up to deploy it. When the knife has the tip facing up in the pocket, this rotation is not necessary, which makes the deployment faster.

The pocket clip should enable the knife to ride low in the pocket so that it has less of a tendency to fall out, is less likely to bump into and scratch things and draws less attention to itself.

Note that this is just what works best for me. What works best for you may be different.

An EDC knife should cost no less than $20.
I was trying to see how I could incorporate a quality component into my EDC knife requirements. While it isn't an end-all requirement, from my experience, an EDC knife should cost at least $20. Knowing that quality comes at a cost, you usually get what you pay for. Of course, you can always find things on sale, so take this suggestion with a grain or two of salt. Stay clear of those "bargain knives" from Chinese knockoff or no-name companies that cost $1-$10. The steel and edge geometry is usually inferior. In the end, if you buy a Chinese knockoff, you will most likely end up throwing it away, and then buying a higher quality knife. You actually save money by buying a slightly more expensive EDC knife.

What are my recommendations?
Now, there are many great EDC knife choices available; too many to list. I'll list only a few of my favorites.

Smaller Size:
Don't be fooled by the price. The CRKT Drifter rocks!
For a knife with a 2.5-3" blade, I recommend the excellent CRKT Drifter. It is a less expensive knife due to being produced overseas, but do not let this fool you. The reputable knife manufacturer, Columbia River Knife and Tool (CRKT), has good quality control on their products. This is shown on the Drifter. There are two versions, G-10 and Stainless. Both are good and have all of the qualities that I look for in an EDC knife, except for being tip down carry only. This can be overlooked because of the excellent price and quality.

Larger Size:
Elegant and functional describe the Buck Vantage.
For a knife with a 3-4" blade, I recommend something like the Buck Vantage Select or the Kershaw Blitz/Nerve. These knives are larger, but provide more utility than that smaller knives. They both have solid lockups on their blades, have comfortable grips, are of high quality and do not cost very much.

Summary:

An EDC knife is a knife of compromises. You want a knife that is not too large, not too small, not too heavy while still being strong. You want it to be useful in the broadest amount of jobs that you might use a knife for. Choosing an EDC knife might be a daunting tasks, but don't forget, that your choice is not eternal. As you learn, and new knife designs come out, your EDC choice will no doubt change and become more specialized to the tasks that you come across. Do not be afraid to experiment.

Well, I've written a pretty long post on the topic of Choosing a knife for every day carry (EDC). However, this is still only scratching the surface when it comes to the topic of knives and their utility. As I continue using knives and learning more about them, my views will undoubtedly change. If any of you have any criticisms or differences in opinion, feel free to share a comment below.

Remember, we are here to help and learn from each other.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Importance of a Flashlight

A flashlight is an important piece of every day carry (EDC) gear that many people often overlook. According to some people, a flashlight is only useful at night while camping or going somewhere without electricity. I remember a time when I thought that way too.

A flashlight, to me, the younger me, was something big and clunky. If you wanted a bright flashlight, you had to purchase one with one of those HUGE 9V brick-type batteries, or at least 3 or 4 D cells. Don't forget, that it has to weigh at least 5 pounds or it can't possibly be bright. You guys remember those Maglites that you could use to pound tent stakes into the ground with? Well, that's what I thought a decent flashlight was, and 15 years ago, that was the best technology, as far as I knew.

Fast forward to today. If you still think that Mag-Lites are good for anything other than for use as a mallet, welcome to the 21st century. Today, we have flashlight companies such as Surefire, Streamlight, Fenix, 4Sevens, just to name a few, that offer much brighter lights than any Maglite in a much smaller size. It really is amazing.

For example, take the Preon 1 by 4Sevens. It's a flashlight that you literally can forget about when it's on your person. Weighing in at 0.9 oz with a battery, and outputting a maximum of 70 lumens, this is one of the smallest and brightest flashlights that I have come across.

Ok, you've shown me that bright flashlights can be small, but why is a flashlight so useful?

The Preon 1 by 4Sevens packs 70 lumens into 0.9 oz (w/ battery)!
Now, I'm all sure that we've experienced situations where we drop something in a dark movie theater, or are looking for something behind a cabinet that's against the wall. In those situations, we use our cell phones or just try and make due with what we have, not realizing that there is a better option out there. You really don't notice how useful a flashlight can be until you make it part of your EDC gear. With a flashlight, you no longer have to fumble around the floor for something that you dropped, or look for a light when you're trying to plug cables into the back of your computer. There are countless situations where having a flashlight, even during the day, can be very beneficial.

Flashlight for Self-Defense

Now, I'd like to mention a very important topic, one that we all should consider when choosing items for our EDC. I'll start by saying that, when we choose our EDC gear, it is always a good idea to choose items that have multiple uses. For example, some cell phones can be used as a music player, a stopwatch, a camera, etc. along with making phone calls. We must realize that some items that we carry with us can also be used defensively without being carried exclusively for self-defense. Items like firearms and pepper spray, are very appropriate and functional for defensive situations, but are mainly carried exclusively for defense and practically fulfill no other role. Items that can be used for daily tasks along with defensive tasks are, but are not limited to, knives and flashlights. While I plan on discussing defensive knife uses in the future, in this post, I will stick to flashlights.

How can a flashlight be used for Self-Defense?

One way that a flashlight can be used for self-defense is as an impact device. The flashlight doesn't even have to be functional for this method to work. Heck, Maglite's were great for that. There is another method that a flashlight can be used for defense and it doesn't involve getting down and dirty with the attacker. Just flash it in their eyes. Granted it has to be dark, but this method can be very useful for getting out of a dangerous situation.

Imagine a Maelstrom G5 shining 350 lumens of light into your eyes.
If you've ever been flashed in the eyes at night, you'll know what I'm referring to. Imagine walking at night and being blasted by 350 lumens from a Maelstrom G5. The person getting lit up would be blinded for a couple of seconds, enough time for you to quickly run away. This works especially well if the person getting flashed isn't expecting it. If you need to, you can always finish it off with a bonk to the cranium, but you might not have to in order to get away.

Now, I personally have not had to do this but I have heard of stories from people who have. While a flashlight does not beat a firearm or other tool specifically designed for self-defense, it can get you out of harms way without hurting anyone. It is also is legal to carry everywhere that I know of and you won't have people freaking out if they happen to see one on your person.

So take that all into consideration when choosing your EDC gear. A flashlight is something that you might want to incorporate into your system. Analyze the benefits/drawbacks and, most importantly, choose a system that works best for you!