Monday, July 30, 2007

Timberline Lightfoot Design Mini-Pitbull Review

I've been very fortunate to have won several giveaways from other folks on the USN and I'm quite happy with everything they've sent me. One of these prizes was a Timberline Knives Lightfoot Design Mini-Pitbull. It's an excellent example of a high-quality, super-beefy production fixed blade. This knife is one of the best (probably THE best) production-grade fixed blade knife that I've ever owned. And now I do, thanks to my friends on the USN.
Here's my review of it!

PROS:
  • Compact.
  • Lightweight.
  • BEEFY. Everything about this knife shouts "Quality."
  • Utilitarian.
  • Inexpensive (for a knife this good).

CONS:
  • Bead-Blasted finish is, once again, a rust-magnet.
  • Although the ads claim it comes with a kydex sheath, the sheath material isn't really kydex. It's just molded ABS plastic. I've heard of retention issues some people experienced with this knife, but I haven't had a problem. The sheath I have holds it nice and tightly.

Some pics....


Note the strip of duct tape I wrapped around the sheath where the pocket clip slides in (for comfort).......


Cutting through a doubled up cardboard box proved effortless....


Saber grip......


Showing the awesomely done contours......


A small amount of pressure drove this knife right into the wallboards....

From another angle.....


SPECS:
OAL: 6.6"
BL: 3.0"
Materials: AUS-6 SS blade, "G10-textured" Zytel handle scales, Torx screws (to hold it together). Full-tang construction.
Price: 39.99 MSRP.
Manufacturer's Product Page: http://www.gatcosharpeners.com/product/fixedblades/pitbull.mgi?mgiToken=26F8F203995178444B
Berserker's Overall Rating: 4.5 Stars out of Five.

This product is Most Definitely Berserker-Endorsed.
PMZ

Camillus Quickdraw Boot Knife Review......

Here's another pointy, sharp object that I adore (and carry daily!).
It's a Camillus Quickdraw boot knife. Camillus just closed down its operations and is liquidating its stock since last year, I believe. Therefore, I decided to grab one of these while I still had a chance.
This knife comes with a Kydex sheath, but, being a factory-molded sheath the retention was terrible. So I have to warn you--if you buy this knife, you're probably going to want to have a custom sheath made for it like I did. Try Philthy on the USN. He's great. Or Lifter, if you prefer a leather product. (www.liftersleather.com). But in any case, make sure that you're comfortable with the sheath features and retention.

This knife is rather thin-bladed and very lightweight. It is nothing compared to a custom job, but I do not have the money for a custom knife at the moment and wanted a knife that I could use for SD if I had to, without fearing to lose it forever to the forensics guys at the local police station. (People who kill or even maim an attacker in self defense rarely get their weapons back from their local PD). It comes in two sizes, medium and large (I have the medium-sized model) and is coated in a matte-black non-glare finish.

PROS:
  • It's lightweight.
  • It's made of Stainless steel.
  • It's double edged (in some states this is not legal, check your local laws before buying).
  • It's compact, but with enough gusto to gut a garrulous, garbage-picking crackhead.
  • It's CHEAP. I may have paid 30 or 40 dollars for this, tops. Add in 30.00 for the custom sheath and it comes out to 70.00 max. Not something you'd cry over losing (well, I would but most wouldn't).
CONS:
  • The blade is thin--very thin. Don't attempt to throw this knife at a tree or stab through a 50-gallon drum. You'll snap it in two, full-tang though it is. It won't survive.
  • It's non-Sheeple friendly, (non-PC). It's a weapon--nothing more, nothing less. There's nothing "pretty" about it; this is a mean-looking knife. It's made for tasting flesh--nothing else. If you live in a state where double-edgers are illegal, there's nothing stopping a police officer from citing you for having it or simply confiscating it. And you won't convince him that it's a utility knife--he will know better. A knife that you no longer own will do you no good in a mugging or raping. You've been warned.
  • The sheath is crap--no lie. The boot/belt clip is a good thick hunk of steel and the Kydex is pretty thick, but otherwise it just sucks. It's not a sheath that I'd rely on to stay where I put it. Plus, it has only one grommet/eyelet for lashing/rigging with a Mercharness.
  • Repeat number two.
  • Repeat number three.
Here's some fotos:


Here it is sheathed, with my homemade adaptation of the Mercleash (for IWB carry).

The blade is bared!

The edge is scary-sharp, especially after I honed it recently. I never use it for utility purposes, so it never dulls. It'll be there when I need it. See how it pushed through the foam? I only used light finger pressure and it sank right in.


And with a bit more pressure, into the corner wallboards.

Icepick grip,

And Reverse grip.


SPECS:
OAL: 7.0"
BL: 3.125"
Materials: SS matte-coated blade, Valox handle scales, Full-Tang construction. Comes with multi-position Kydex sheath with removeable belt/boot clip.
Price: Anywhere from 25.00 to 45.00 USD, depending on seller.
Berserker's Overall Rating: 4.0 Stars out of Five.

I endorse this product as an affordable, yet efficient edged SD tool, when accompanied by a custom-molded Kydex sheath to fit.
PMZ

Sunday, July 29, 2007

CRKT M16-13Z Review

Well, I noticed when I looked at my blog today that it seems devoid of pointy, edgy things. So I've decided to give a review of my most commonly used and carried knives, starting with the CRKT M16.
I bought this knife about six months ago, in the dead of the winter while living in Western NY State. I've carried no other folder since then. It has become my favorite EDC folder--of all time. Here's a few reasons why, with photos to accompany them.

PROS:
  • Solid lockup. And I mean SOLID. When it becomes loose or wobbly, just tighten the pivot screw with a flat tip screwdriver.
  • BEEFY build. BEEFY. This thing is not your everyday "Wallyworld special" cheapo plastic and aluminum job, this is a great knife for the price. The liners are quality steel, cut thick and flush with the handles, and the scales themselves are of a nice texture that aids in retention. And though some complain that the Zytel handles on the model I own are too thick and bulky for their pockets (usually the people who prefer the thinner profile of aluminum handle scales), all I have to say to them is "well, it fits my hand better, it's grippier, and it's cheaper. Did you ever try to hold onto an aluminum-handled knife when it's slick with water, sweat, or blood, or when it's negative 10 degrees outside?" Most people don't argue that point.
  • It has AUS series steel for the blade material. Most knives in this price range are either 420 stainless or carbon steel, not AUS. And though CRKT recently dropped their production standards a hair by producing this (and other) knives in AUS-4 rather than AUS-6 or AUS-8, I don't care. It's better than the alternative, and it's easy to sharpen. If you do it right, you don't have to worry about the edge not lasting long enough for you to have a chance to hone it again before you next need it.
  • Spearpoint blade--I love spearpointers. Tanto blades that can "stab through a car hood" or "pierce body armor" are not something I really need or care for. They're attractive (I won't dispute that) and although I've owned one or two in the past I don't really like them. The grinds are easier to bugger up with a careless swipe of the whetstone, and most don't have enough "belly" to the blade shape to accomplish everyday cutting tasks quickly and efficiently. At least, that's MY take on it, for what it's worth.
  • Heavy-duty pocket clip--I've not yet been able to accidentally bend this clip--it just doesn't happen. Other knives I've damaged in this way by catching the clip on a door, couch, etc., but not this one. It's as indestructible a clip as you're going to find on any other low-cost production folder.

CONS:
  • The bead blasted finish on this knife is a certifiable rust magnet. There's nothing I can do to prevent this except to clean and coat it once in a while with some WD-40 or other type of rust preventative. Silicone would probably work, too. On most of my knives and other tools I use what's called "White Lightning." It's a dry wax lube that repels, rather than attracts dirt. But when I put it on this knife, it gunked up (I think because of the LAWKS supplemental safety feature). All I have to say is that if you buy this knife, you're going to want to keep it dry. And I mean BONE-dry. Don't, for instance, dump it into the pocket of a sopping wet pair of pants and leave it till the next morning. This, like all other knives of this type of finish, needs periodical maintenance and attention. Expect to see a few light spots here and there, but don't fret--they're the beauty spots of cutlery. Give it love, and it will love you. "Have you loved your knife today?"
  • This knife is almost impossible for me to open safely using the thumbstud. If I use the thumbstud, my thumb almost invariably ends up on the serrations (NOT a good thing). This is due to the fact that there isn't much of a "cutout" or "choil" where your thumb is able to rest behind the stud before flipping it open. To circumvent this, I have taken to using the flipper. This is a faster method anyway, so it doesn't bother me. In fact, I'd rather use the flipper than the stud. It's pretty neat looking and inspires looks of awe and "ooohs" from bystanders when I whip it out to cut tape or cord. (Either oohs or expressions of horror, depending on the audience).
  • This doesn't apply to my knife, but since last year the new model of this knife includes the new LAWKS (Lake and Walker Knife Safety)--AutoLAWKS. Some people really hate this feature on the new M16s, and would rather go with another manufacturer than carry a knife that locks in two different ways the moment the blade is deployed. Some say it's nearly impossible to learn to safely close the new models one-handedly (and that's pretty sad, considering the fact that it's a one-hand opening knife). So if you're thinking of buying this knife and think that would bother you, try to find the old model (the one I have in the photos). It'll be pretty hard to find one now--but look for the plain LAWKS switch with no red plastic insert in the knob. If you find one online that has a photo of the LAWKS mechanism and it has the red knob, call the retailer and ask about it. If it has the red knob, it's AutoLAWKS. If it's plain, it's the original LAWKS mechanism.
All right, here's the photos......

Showing how thick and beefy each and every part of the knife is......



Reverse grip......


I sliced through this clamshell packaging material in no time at all!


A view of the clip-side.......

And of the other......


Cutting through double layers of a cardboard box with ease.....


And sticking into the corner boards.........

Materials: 420J2 SS Interframe liners, AUS-6M SS blade, Zytel handle scales, Teflon washer at pivot point, Adjustable pivot screw, Torx fasteners (to hold it all together).
OAL: 8.25"
BL: 3.5"
Price: 30.00 at Wal-Mart on up to 50.00 from online retailers.
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.crkt.com/
Berserker's Overall Rating: Five Stars.

For an unbeatable knife at an unbeatable price, buy from the CRKT-M16Z series!
PMZ

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Rayovac Goodness (at last)......

I also picked up a Rayovac brand flashlight from Kmart/Sears within the past month or two and was pleasantly surprised. I don't know what exactly has happened to the folks up at the R+D Dept. in the Rayovac Corporation, but whatever it is is good for us gearhounds!

It's a 1-watt High Beam model (it also comes in 3-watt, but I had no idea at the time). It utilizes Luxeon LEDs, which are some of the best (they rank right in there with Cree LEDs). The body of this flashlight is made of milled aluminum, (not cast alum) and is coated in a nice, Hard-Anodized finish.
The beam is white and clear, and has plenty of throw. It's a 2AA cell light. Below are some pics.....


This one is more suitable for accompaniment with a handgun, for tactical use due to its longer length and single-clickie button (however, to fully engage the beam you must twist the tailcap to the right. Otherwise you have to keep pressure on the tailbutton. So really I suppose it's not a true single-clickie).


And here's a photo of the beam produced by the Rayovac High Beam in a darkened room. Pretty nice, eh?


All in all, I'd give this one a 4.0, mainly for the weird required illumination method.
Otherwise, this one is good to go!

Manufacturer: Rayovac. Follow this link to the product description: http://www.rayovac.com/flashlight/lux2aa1w-b.shtml
Price: 19.00 at Kmart/Sears stores near you.
Berserker's Overall Rating: 4.0 Stars out of 5.

Go get one!
PMZ

Jetbeam MKII-X (outperforms the rest)......

In the last post I mentioned a "rather expensive tactical flashlight" (the reason for me buying a discount MOLLE pack). Here's a review of the Jetbeam MKII-X, or Cree edition (with Cree High-Intensity LEDs).

I bought it from TADgear (I had bought from them before and had heard only good things about them and their customer service, so I decided to do so again). I was pleasantly surprised, along with the light itself and the TIC (tactical impact crown) came a HEAVY duty nylon horizontal belt sheath, which the TAD guys sent me for only five bucks extra.

There's an old adage that states "A picture is worth a thousand words." I'm going to follow that advice and drop a few photos of my Jetbeam.


Here's a shot for size comparison......

And a metric conversion for my European gear-whore brethren......




And a desk shot........



Here's a shot of the beam straight on (although that doesn't prove anything really).



And here's a close-up. Note the TIC (impact bezel) and TAD belt sheath with velcro belt-attachment loops. (Works great on MOLLE, too:).





Here you can see a shot of the beam, from a crouch in a darkened room. There's a center spot, and then a flower petal shaped outer ring (which results from the TIC attachment).



PROS:
  • EXTREMELY high output-to-battery ratio. See Manufacturer's Specs below.
  • Small and lightweight (especially with lithium AA cell, which also increases output and runtime).
  • Nearly indestructible.
  • More modes than anybody would know what to do with, including variable percentage outputs and even two or three strobe modes and an SOS mode.
  • Comes with several accessories (such as small, sturdy keychain/belt sheath, lanyard, O-rings, and two or three different colored tailswitch covers).
  • You can buy and attach a TIC (tactical impact crown) from TADgear to use it as a last-resort eye-socket installer. (For self-defense, in other words).

CONS:
  • VERY SHORT. NOT suitable for a weapons light to accompany a handgun, due to its short length.
  • Double-Clickie--some people really hate this feature. Rather than a simple on-off single-clickie function tailswitch, this one comes with a double-clickie type switch--to accommodate the advanced mode (not really necessary for most people). Would make it hard for most people to use as a weapons light due to the fact that you'd have to click it on, then off. There's no in-between setting. (You couldn't, for instance, press down on the tailswitch with your thumb and produce a blinding beam, without clicking it all the way in and then having to click it off). Some lights you can do this with (my Dorcy Kmart special does this very well) but the single-clickie feature is not really necessary for most folks, at least, only if you're planning on using it for clearing buildings with a SWAT team or something. Just a thought.
  • Repeat number 1.
SPECS (Pulled from Manufacturer's website):

Jet-I AA MK IIx NAT

So Light . So Bright . Clear Sight

  • Model: JET-I MK.II X Ver 1.2
    Spring attached at the bezel side, just like the MKII, bezel sealed
    Lamp Type: CREE 7090 XR-E
    Maximum Output: 150 Lumens
    Reflector: Textured aluminum reflector
    Lens: Sapphire crystal
    Material: T6061 aircraft grade aluminum
    Finish: HA III NAT or HA III BLACK [TESTED: 55μM

    (+-5%) Hardness 450HV]
    Battery Type: AA or any AA-size battery
    Circuit: 0.7V-4.2V

    Circuit Function:

    General Mode: Medium brightness – Lowest brightness
    – Maximum brightness – Strobe (12Hz)
    – standby

    Advanced Mode: 10 levers of output & 6 special functions
    Switch: On/Off Tail cap Switch
    Water Resistance: 30 ft.
    Dimension: Bezel diameter 19.5mm, Tail diameter
    18mm, Long 90mm
    Weight: 40g (excluding batteries)
    Optional Accessories: 2AA extension tube

    Brightness/Functions Switching

    The preset initial status of the flashlight is general mode of medium brightness. Soft press onto the switch at the tail cap allows alternation of brightness/functions according to the sequence of “medium brightness → lowest brightness → maximum brightness → strobe → standby”; and the whole sequence recurs in cycles. After switched off the flashlight for 2 seconds, the default settings resume, and the flashlight will enter general mode of medium brightness when being switched on again.

    More Functions (Advanced Mode)

    With simple operations of circuit switch between general mode and advanced mode, JET-I MK.II X exhibits a variety of specialized functions.

    Initiating the Advanced Mode

    When the flashlight is being operated in general mode, switch it to “lowest brightness” condition and turn off the flashlight. Wait for 2 seconds, then turn on the flashlight again, that activates the advanced mode. The advanced mode comprises 10 brightness levels and 5 special functions, with details shown in the following diagram.

    The operation of brightness/functions alternation is the same as that in general mode.

    100% > Strobe(15hz) > 5% > 20% > 30% >40% >50% > 60% >70% >80% >90% > Strobe(5hz) > SOS (100%) > SOS(5%) > standby
Please refer to our product description and specification for details.

I'm going to give this light a 4.5 star Overall rating. It's a great light (especially considering it only costs 70.00/give or take a bit). It's pretty miniscule (which is the first reason I'm taking away .5 stars. The other reason is the double-clickie (it doesn't really bother me, but it would bother some folks so that's why I'm taking it into account).

This and all other Jetbeam and Fenix products are Berserker-Endorsed and will be for as long as the manufacturer maintains its standards.
For a solid little super-bright LED flashlight that's cheaper than a Surefire, buy Jetbeam!

Price (with TIC and belt sheath): 102.00
Price (without TIC and belt sheath): 70.95
Sold Exclusively by: www.tadgear.com

PMZ

Cheap (but quality) MOLLE gear........

I know there's other folks out there that enjoy using MOLLE packs for EDC and camping/hiking. For those not in the know, it stands for MOdular Lightweight Load-bearing Equipment (pronounced Molly). As you may have guessed, it was designed by the US military and now it's used by other LE agencies to replace the old load bearing systems (read: ALICE packs and vests). It is great for hauling all sorts of gear, clothing, water, food, ammo, etc. around and looks good too.
So here's an honest review of my recent MOLLE purchase:

About a month ago I was emailed an electronic gift card totaling 25.00, for use on Amazon.com for any purchase I may wish to make. This email was sent to the four or five of us from our floor who won the college "Spy Game." (People are starting to get sick of us winning all the games, let me tell you).

Anyhow, I decided to spend it blindly on a new daypack, which I didn't know a whole lot about. I'd been reading about all sorts of cool things on the USN, but figured I wouldn't be purchasing anything for a while (I'd recently bought a sweet but rather expensive tactical flashlight--more on that in the next post).

The pack in question was listed as costing around 50.00, for the size I wanted. I ordered it, using the full gift card amount plus some more from my account....and waited.....and waited....and waited....and waited.....and finally here arrives a package via Fedex, containing---the WRONG pack. I broke open the box and tore off the plastic covering, only to find that the company who had sold me this pack was either (a) Guilty of false advertising, or (b). Simply guilty of an honest mistake in the shipping dept. (Lord knows I understand that). So I shot them an email and they told me to send it back and they would give me the right one.

So I waited....and waited....and waited.....and FINALLY there came a package in the mail, this time a bigger box. I opened this one and was stunned--THIS was the pack I had been waiting so long for!

Here's a few pics.....

This is a view of my new pack, all togged up and ready for an outing!



Even the bottom of this pack is covered in MOLLE webbing. I can foresee this being useful for attaching tents/tarps/mummy bags for ultralighter weekend outings.......




Here's a view of the front with a pair of cheapie aluminum keyring carabiners that I've attached to some lashing loops.....LOOK at all that MOLLE!:)



Here's a pic of the compression-molded back panel and padded shoulder straps--which, by the way, include heavy steel D-ring attachment points, load lifter straps, and a sternum strap.


A view of the bottom front outside pocket, which is lined with heavy, wide webbing and TONS of velcro for sticking little pouches and velcro-equipped gear to the inside........




A close up of the stitching (pretty heavy-duty for a 50.00 pack).



A radio antenna slot; there's three of these .




And there's this sweet "slot" secured with velcro that runs the whole length and width of the pack (I guess for a framesheet or something).




An angled aerial view.....


Bottom line? I love this pack--for a 50.00 pack, you can't beat it. The nylon is super heavy duty, and so is the webbing. The only thing I don't like about this pack is the relative lack of organizational pockets. For it to be a GREAT daypack (as in, favorite college EDC-type pack) I'd want it to have pen slots, more pockets and dividers, etc). But for such a cheap price I will NOT complain. This is THE pack that I will choose to take on vacations, camping trips, even to college! I may even purchase another for use as a BOB (bug-out-bag).

SPECS:
Total Cubic Inches: 2280
Total price (with shipping): 60.00-65.00
Hydration Compatible?: YES.
Total rating (overall): Four and a Half Stars.
Available From: Pro-Line Trading Corporation, on Amazon.com (among other sites).

I, Berserker, recommend this pack for everyday use!

PMZ

This will be a gearpage to remember........

OK, I just decided to scrap everything I had written on my other blogs and start anew.
This will be a Gearpage to remember!
On this blog I will write reviews/rants regarding pieces of outdoor/tactical gear that I have purchased/been given. I will be completely honest and will not take bribes to write good reviews of gear that sucks.
There you have it; Berserker's Gearpage.
Enjoy.
PMZ