Knife Review: CRKT Homefront and Homefront Tactical with ‘Field Strip’ Technology

CRKT are full of interesting and innovative ideas, and with the Homefront and Homefront Tactical bring us ‘Field Strip’ Technology, or in other words tool-less disassembly. The design comes from world renowned Ken Onion and has been a work in progress for many years. Now thanks to this technology you can clean out a build up of grit and dirt wherever you are without any tools. Take your Homefront folder anywhere knowing you don’t need anything else with you to carry out a full strip and clean.

The Blade and Handle Geometry:

Most knife specifications have a basic description of the blade geometry, but in this section I will be taking a more detailed look at geometry and balance.

Using a set of gauges and precision measuring equipment including a Vernier protractor, callipers, fixed radius gauges and the unique Arc Master adjustable radius gauge (the one that looks like a crossbow).

These measurements have been tabulated and are presented along with a few reference blades (8″ Chef’s Knife, 5.5″ Santoku and the popular Fällkniven F1).

Key aspects such as the primary bevel angle, grind type, blade depth, blade thickness, length, weight are detailed, along with balance information.

The ‘Balance relative to the front of the handle’ tells you if the knife will feel front heavy, or if the weight is in your hand (a positive value means the weight is forward of the front of the handle). The ‘Balance relative to the centre of the handle’ indicates how close to a ‘neutral balance’ the knife has in the hand.

In the case of full convex grinds the approximate centre of the grind is used for the primary bevel angle estimate.

The Homefront blade is made from AUS 8 steel and the Homefront Tactical from 1.4116 steel (also known as 420MoV or X50CrMoV15).

Explained by the Maker:

The reasons for certain design choices may not be clear when simply looking at an object, so this section is intended to give an insight into the thinking behind a design by speaking to the designer themselves.

Unfortunately I can’t always get time with the designer so will use this section to include relevant information about the knife and its designer.

A little description from CRKT’s of the Homefront:

“It might look like your grandpa’s classic WWII knife, but it’s got an impressive secret. The new Homefront™ knife is the first in our fleet to feature “Field Strip” technology. This in-field, no-tool take apart capability lets you purge your most reliable companion of a hard day’s grime right where you are, without ever returning to your workbench.

The breakthrough “Field Strip” innovation comes from the shop of world-renowned knife craftsman Ken Onion and has been over ten years in the making. To disassemble the Homefront™ when the knife is in the closed position, push the front release lever away from the blade, then spin the turn release wheel on the rear of the handle away from the pivot shaft. Once you feel the handle release, pull it up and away from the blade. Reassembly is as easy as reversing the procedure, al-lowing for practical, quick maintenance where you stand.

From his shop in Kaneohe, HI, Ken Onion designed the tactically inspired, everyday carry Homefront™ knife to stay true to its vintage roots. The bayonet lug-style flipper sets off the smooth open action of the 3.5” modified drop point blade, while tank jimping on the backstrap sits snugly against your palm.

It stands up to the looks of a WWI heirloom, and it sure as hell stands up to any job it encounters. The handles are made from 6061 aircraft-grade aluminium and house an impressively beefy AUS 8 stainless steel blade.”

A few more details of the Homefront:

This review covers the Homefront (green handle) and Homefront Tactical (black handle), but we are going to look at the original Homefront first. There are no boxes as these knives came straight from the CRKT IWA 2017 display stand at the end of the show. They have been handled and used.

The pivot has what appears to be the standard US aircraft star insignia (as used from 1942). The lever next to this is where the magic is hidden.

Apparently styled after a bayonet lug, the flipper tab has a hole in it. (Do not try to attach a lanyard here!)

Both handles have a subtle grip pattern. This appears to have been laser etched into the surface before anodising.

The other bit of magic, comes from the thumb-wheel screw that holds the butt of the knife together.

A steel pocket clip also gives you a hole for attaching a lanyard should you wish to.

Though not strictly a ‘liner-lock’, tucked neatly into the inner side of the Homefront’s aluminium handle is a sprung steel locking lever.

Blade centring is good, with the tip appearing slightly off due to the edge grind.

A Torx screw holds the jimped handle spacer in place on one side.

On the opposite side to the star insignia, the pivot has an adjustment screw that sets the height of the pivot bolt.

Right! Let’s take this knife apart. First loosen the thumb-wheel screw by pushing it away from the pivot. Keep going until the thread ‘clicks’ to indicate it is fully undone.

Flip the knife round and push the locking lever towards the flipper tab (with the knife folded).

Now, as you lift your thumb, the handles spring apart at the pivot.

As we had already loosened the thumb-wheel, the handle can now be lifted away, fully exposing the folded blade.

A closer look at the thumb-wheel while we can. Note the circlip; the wheel fits over the threaded bolt, and there is a little bit of play, with the wheel having some movement even when the connector is fully tightened.

And this is the magic pivot that lets it all happen. Note the hex-shaped head. The homefront also uses a concealed stop pin which limits the open and closed positions of the blade.

Look into the hole of the handle we removed first, and you can see the hex shaped hole that locks onto the top of the special pivot bolt.

If you forget how you took it apart, or somehow it just ‘came apart in your hands’, inside the handle is a set of instructions for putting it back together again.

When stripped you have the three main components, the master handle (with pivot, stop pin, lock bar and thumb wheel screw), the blade, and the second handle.

While it is fully stripped this is a closer look at the special pivot, stop pin and the detent ball on the end of the lock bar.

So, not a ‘liner’ , this lock bar is inset into the aluminium handle, but functions exactly as a liner lock.

The blade tang has the pivot hole and a semi-circular stop pin slot. The markings in the hole suggest this is a stamping and is not water jet cut.

A really good looking blade with swell near the tip and a fuller, giving it a classic look.

Ken Onion is credited on the blade. On this side of the blade you can see the detent hole.

A close-up of the blade tip, showing the contrast in surface finish and the edge bevel grind.

With one handle removed you get a cut-away view of the workings of this knife.

Lock engagement is good with the entire lock bar touching the blade tang with a firm snap-open.

And in no time at all it is all back together.

The Homefront achieves a real vintage look, despite not looking like any historical knife I’ve found.

A few more details of the Homefront Tactical:

Next we have one of the second wave of Homefront models where instead of the aluminium handles, these have Glass Reinforced Nylon handles and a different blade steel. This is the Homefront Tactical, with a part-serrated Tanto blade

The design and shape of the handle is the same as the original Homefront, including the pivot star insignia.

In terms of the function and design the GRP handled version is basically the same. Here we have the thumb wheel.

And the same steel clip.

That bayonet lug flipper. However note that this time the blade is black. It has an EDP finish (electronically deposited paint, which is baked on).

A hint of bare steel with the lock bar. We will see that this time it is actually a liner.

Although the same grip pattern is used, in this version the width of each line is wider than on the original Homefront. Of course, in this case it is moulded into the surface instead of being laser etched.

Going straight for a field strip, exactly as with the Homefront; here the handle is off.

The internal curve of the handle spacer is a match to the Homefront’s blade, but here we have a tanto. Clearance is still good. The spacer is also now GRP instead of metal.

As before, the pivot has a hex shaped head.

Now we see one of the major differences. With the handle being plastic, it cannot have the lock bar screwed to it. Instead there is a full metal liner moulded into the inside of the handle.

This full metal liner also has the stop pin fixed to it and supports the pivot. The dirt around the detent ball on the lock bar is worn off paint from the blade.

A Teflon bushing acts as the pivot washer. You can see the outline of a metal liner inside the moulded handle. Two screws hold the pivot locking mechanism together.

Apart from the cutting edge, the entire blade is EDP coated.

EDP is just paint, so where the detent ball rubs on the blade tang, the paint has been scratched off.

Looking at the finish on the edge bevel grind.

There are part serrations near the handle which are a chisel grind (single bevel) and have two sizes of scallop.

The all black Homefront Tactical.

And there is more when you put these two together…

What are they like to use?

Headlined as a ‘field strip’ technology, it could also be an ‘easy disassembly’ feature. You can take the Homefront apart anywhere, but you can also pop it apart any time for a quick service, not only when it needs a major overhaul. By making the deep-clean a super easy process, you are much more likely to keep these knives in top condition all the time.

The styling of these knives is mentioned prominently by CRKT. The Homefront is described as a remake of grandpa’s WWII, and the Tactical as a classic WWI knife and though there is a vintage look; firstly I suspect the WWI reference is a mistake as the US Airforce aircraft marking Star Insignia was a WWII design, and secondly I would disagree that it is like any WWII folder, certainly none I’ve ever seen.

Let me make it very clear that I really like the design and styling, which definitely has a vintage look, and incorporates design features that do give a modern interpretation of a WWII knife. My disagreement is with the statement that it looks like grandpa’s knife, show me a knife from WWII that looks like this and I’ll happily eat my words.

This is really not a negative as, in particular, I like the choice of colour for the handle of the Homefront along with the finish of the blade steel and the inclusion of a fuller. Overall a really stylish design that stands out from the crowd.

Moving on to how it is in the hand, that most crucial aspect, and this is a good sized folder with plenty of handle to give a stable grip. The handle has an area of grip positioned perfectly for the thumb to sit on when using a saber style grip. It is a relatively slim aluminium slab handle, yet its shaping allows it to fit into the hand very comfortably. Not so well that I’d want to do a lot of heavy cutting with it, but well enough to find it regularly in my pocket.

The Homefront Tactical has the same ergonomics, as the handle shape is exactly the same, but the nylon GRP material gives it a different feel, warmer, slightly lighter and a slightly different balance. It does not feel diminished compared to the original Homefront, just a different option. It may only be around 13g lighter, but does feel easier to carry.

Talking of options, should you have more than one of the Homefront models you can mix things up a bit and try a different blade or handle. Have a look at this short video to see this and the ‘field strip’ in action.

Video Edited with – Cyberlink Director Suite 5 (PowerDirector 16 and AudioDirector 7)
Camera – Panasonic HC-V770    Microphone – Tonor TN120308BL

Here the Homefront and Homefront Tactical have their original blades.

After a quick strip down and shuffle around, the blades are swapped over.

It is true that the fit and lock-up of the swapped blades are not perfect, with the GRP handle taking either blade with no issues, but the aluminium handle lacks the totally secure lock-up. Actually even with its original blade, the Homefront would benefit from a little adjustment of the end of the lock bar to increase lock engagement. This in turn would make the Tactical blade work better in this handle.

One potential weakness in the design is that the lever that is used to release the pivot could itself be fouled and prevented from operating. If this happens you might find you can’t field strip the knife after all; a consequence of having a ‘mechanism’ for releasing the pivot, as any mechanism can be fouled and jam.

With the popularity of the super slick flipper, the Homefront knives have a much more laid back action. With the (presumably) Teflon washers, the action is smooth but not super slick. The Homefront Tactical won’t lock without a flick of the wrist, and the Homefront needs a quick finger to get lock-up without a flick. Some might think this is a negative, but I like the relaxed feel, and a blade that doesn’t flop around easily when closing the blade.

Stylish, functional and so easy to maintain – I find myself taking it apart just because I can.

Review Summary

The views expressed in this summary table are from the point of view of the reviewer’s personal use. I am not a member of the armed forces and cannot comment on its use beyond a cutting tool or field/hunting knife.

Something that might be a ‘pro’ for one user can be a ‘con’ for another, so the comments are categorised based on my requirements. You should consider all points and if they could be beneficial to you.

_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Things I like What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Take apart with no tools (Field Strip). Potential for pivot release lever to be jammed with dirt.
Stylish, vintage design. Fixed pocket clip cannot be relocated.
Comfortable in the hand.
Smooth action.
Zero blade play (despite the Field Strip mechanism)

 

Discussing the Review:

The ideal place to discuss this reviews is on a forum. If you started reading the shorter forum version of the review, but followed the link this full exclusive review, please return to that forum to discuss the review there.
If you read the review entirely on Tactical Reviews, please consider one of the following to join in any discussion.

EdgeMatters – Sponsored Reviews (UK based Forum for Knife Makers and Collectors)

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CandlePowerForums – Knife Reviews Section (Largest and Friendliest Flashlight Community Forum)

Light Review: Olight Valkyrie PL-1 II Pistol Light

The PL-1 II is Olight’s refined and upgraded version of the original PL-1 weapon light. After a year of development Olight have dramatically increased the strength of the mounting mechanism which they claim will NEVER become loose or fall off of any firearm that has a rail.

Taking a more detailed look:

The PL-1 II Arrives in a cardboard box.

Inside the box is the PL-1 II, the instructions, a CR123 cell, a Torx wrench, and a 1913 rail key. The PL-1 II arrives with a Glock rail key already fitted.

Being a pistol/gun light, the PL-1 II is a (mostly) snag free shape with a rail mount on the top. This side has the rail lock lever.

On the other side the rail clamp jaw is fixed.

Rotating the lever 180 degrees to the front opens the rail clamp.

Already fitted is the GL (Glock) universal rail key. You can use this on just about any rail, but if you want the 1913 rail key for a more secure fit, this is supplied and is easily swapped out.

Rotate the locking lever 180 degrees to the rear to lock the clamp jaws in place.

Limited by the size of the light, the reflector needs to focus the beam sufficiently for the ranges you are likely to need.

A Cree XP-L LED is used.

To insert the CR123 cell, unscrew the lens bezel to remove the LED / reflector assembly.

The threads are a nice square cut, bare aluminium, thread.

Robust solid metal contacts are used to connect to the cell positive terminal and to the body contact. These will not scratch off or wear out due to recoil forces.

Inside the light the negative contact is a spring. Also note that surrounding the spring is a rubber buffer pad.

A cell is inserted with the head ready to screw back in.

Here the PL-1 II is mounted on a 1911 training gun (to most obviously show the PL-1 II).

The switches are positioned just in front of the trigger guard, one on each side.

The beam

Please be careful not to judge tint based on images you see on a computer screen. Unless properly calibrated, the screen itself will change the perceived tint.

The indoor beamshot is intended to give an idea of the beam shape/quality rather than tint. All beamshots are taken using daylight white balance. The woodwork (stairs and skirting) are painted Farrow & Ball “Off-White”, and the walls are a light sandy colour called ‘String’ again by Farrow & Ball. I don’t actually have a ‘white wall’ in the house to use for this, and the wife won’t have one!

There will be more beamshots in the ‘In Use’ section, but here we can see a nice wide and bright hotspot with good width spill.

Modes and User Interface:

Control of the PL-1 II is intentionally very simple. There are three ‘modes’, Constant ON, Momentary ON and Strobe. There are two switches, one on each side.

To turn the PL-1 II ON, briefly press either side switch. To turn OFF, briefly press either side switch.

To turn the PL-1 II ON Momentarily, press and hold either side switch. While you hold the switch the light will remain ON, and will switch off again when you release the switch (as long as the press is at least approx. 0.2s or longer).

For Strobe, press both side switches at the same time. To switch OFF briefly press either side switch.

Batteries and output:

The PL-1 II runs on one CR123.

To measure actual output, I built an integrating sphere. See here for more detail. The sensor registers visible light only (so Infra-Red and Ultra-Violet will not be measured).

Please note, all quoted lumen figures are from a DIY integrating sphere, and according to ANSI standards. Although every effort is made to give as accurate a result as possible, they should be taken as an estimate only. The results can be used to compare outputs in this review and others I have published.

___________________________________________ ________________________________ ________________________________
PL-1 II using specified cell I.S. measured ANSI output Lumens PWM frequency or Strobe frequency (Hz)
___________________________________________ ________________________________ ________________________________
High – CR123 387 0

* Beacon and Strobe output measurements are only estimates as the brief flashes make it difficult to capture the actual output value.

There is parasitic drain but is incredibly low. When using CR123, the drain was 0.2uA (798 years to drain the cells) making it negligible as the cell will degrade long before it is run down.

You get a solid 30 minutes of good runtime, and a further 15 minutes where the output is still strong, before the output starts to really decline. Considering you won’t be using this light as a general light (as you only want to point this at potential targets) and won’t have it on all the time, this balance of output and runtime is a good match for how it will be used.

Troubleshooting

This section is included to mention any minor niggles I come across during testing, in case the information helps anyone else.

No issues were encountered during testing.

As per the description of this section, this information is provided in case anyone else finds a similar ‘issue’ that might be fixed in the same way.

The PL-1 II in use

Crucial for any truly ‘tactical’ light (and a pistol light really is the definition of a tactical light) is that it is easy to use. In stressful situations you won’t be ‘thinking’ about how to use something, it must be instinctive.

Here the PL-1 II excels as the user interface is so simple you will be using it right out of the box. The only thing I found out from the instructions was how to activate the strobe. Regular readers will know I don’t have much time for strobe, so I wasn’t looking for it anyway.

It is important to stress that during testing, no part of the PL-1 II shook loose, but I must point out that compared to other similar products, the toolless mount, and screw-in head used in this light have the potential to work loose or be caught on something (in fact my laptop bears the scar of the PL-1 II coming off the gun due to the locking lever catching). This is a very small likelihood, but as other gun lights require tools to tighten the mounts, and won’t open the battery compartment unless removed from the rail, you need to consider both sides of the argument for quick release. Of course, with a toolless mount, you can easily take the PL-1 II on and off the gun (if your holster won’t accommodate a gun light) and you can change the battery while it is still mounted (though I would not recommend it, considering the easy of dismounting this).

The PL-1 II sits very naturally under the frame in front of the trigger guard.

If your hands are big enough, you can activate the switch with your trigger finger, so not requiring a two handed grip to switch the light on. (Clearly not how you would use it in momentary output).

Now, moving onto the sight picture you get with the PL-1 II. Nicely aligned, the sights fall centrally to the hotspot, making pointing extremely natural.

Maintaining your sight alignment and tracking for targets is easy, and at shorter ranges you can use the hotspot as a broad ‘laser sight’ so even if not fully behind your sights the hotspot provides a good guide to the shot placement. These images really speak for themselves.

There is no significant change in balance in the gun as the PL-1 II is light enough at 95g not to weigh down the muzzle.

Overall the PL-1 II gives you and affordable, simple and apparently robust option for a rail mounted pistol/gun light.

Review Summary

_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Things I like What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Simple to use. The mount’s locking lever could catching on something releasing the rail clamp.
Robust build.
Good beam profile.
Fully ambidextrous.
Inexpensive compared to other options.
Easily mounted and removed.
Runs on a CR123.

 

Discussing the Review:

The ideal place to discuss this reviews is on a forum. If you started reading the shorter forum version of the review, but followed the link this full exclusive review, please return to that forum to discuss the review there.
If you read the review entirely on Tactical Reviews, please consider one of the following to join in any discussion.

CandlePowerForums – Flashlight Reviews Section (Largest and Friendliest Flashlight Community Forum)

EdgeMatters – Sponsored Reviews (UK based Forum for Knife Makers and Collectors)

Knife Review: Zero Tolerance 0630 (Emerson Design)

The ZT (Zero Tolerance) 0630 is a collaboration between ZT and Ernest Emerson, and naturally features the patented Emerson “wave shaped feature” that makes it one of the fastest deploying folding knives in the world.

With a strong upswept S35VN tactical blade the 0630 is powerfully over-built for hard-use.

The Blade and Handle Geometry:

Most knife specifications have a basic description of the blade geometry, but in this section I will be taking a more detailed look at geometry and balance.

Using a set of gauges and precision measuring equipment including a Vernier protractor, callipers, fixed radius gauges and the unique Arc Master adjustable radius gauge (the one that looks like a crossbow).

These measurements have been tabulated and are presented along with a few reference blades (8″ Chef’s Knife, 5.5″ Santoku and the popular Fällkniven F1).

Key aspects such as the primary bevel angle, grind type, blade depth, blade thickness, length, weight are detailed, along with balance information.

The ‘Balance relative to the front of the handle’ tells you if the knife will feel front heavy, or if the weight is in your hand (a positive value means the weight is forward of the front of the handle). The ‘Balance relative to the centre of the handle’ indicates how close to a ‘neutral balance’ the knife has in the hand.

In the case of full convex grinds the approximate centre of the grind is used for the primary bevel angle estimate.

The blade is made from S35VN steel.

Explained by the Maker:

The reasons for certain design choices may not be clear when simply looking at an object, so this section is intended to give an insight into the thinking behind a design by speaking to the designer themselves.

Unfortunately I can’t always get time with the designer so will use this section to include relevant information about the knife and its designer.

I wanted to include a short extract from Emerson Knives about the ‘Wave’ feature.

“The remote pocket opener is the most dynamic and advanced feature ever designed for folding knives. Originally designed by Ernest Emerson as a request from the Navy Seals. They needed him to design a ‘blade catcher’ that would essentially stop a blade from sliding up the back of your knife and cutting your arm when in a one-on-one knife fight. By accident, Ernest Emerson inadvertently created the Emerson Wave Feature when he discovered that the knife would self deploy when being pulled from your pocket, given the right motion.

This device allows you to open the knife literally, as it is removed from the pocket. This makes any Emerson Knife with the remote pocket opening system the fastest deploying knife in the world. Faster than an automatic, your knife is open as it comes up into your hand-ready for use.”

A few more details:

The 0630 comes in a cardboard box.

Along with the knife are two leaflets, one with general information, and one about the Wave feature.

How to use the Wave Feature.

Tucked under the pocket clip is a silica gel packet.

On the other handle is a peeled G-10 scale with milled grip grooves.

Rather than a stud, the 0630 has a thumb-disc for manual opening of the blade.

Matching the heavy no-nonsense design of this knife, there is a substantial pivot nut which can be adjusted with a standard spanner; no special tools required).

By default, the pocket clip is fitted to the framelock side of the knife which suits a right-handed owner. However the 0630 comes drilled and tapped for the pocket clip to be moved to the G-10 side for a left-handed owner.

The titanium framelock has a pleasing stonewashed finish.

At the base of the lock-bar cutout is a rounded corner to reduce stresses.

All round the Titanium slab, the corners are nicely radiused ensuring there are no sharp edges to cut into your hand.

With its wide design, the pocket clip has a strong grip. This is important when used on the Titanium side as the smooth titanium does not grab the pocket fabric as much as the G-10 side.

Key areas of the handle have jimping to help with grip.

The cutout that forms the lock-bar spring is deep and well rounded at the corners.

Though it might look like the clip is pressing on the lock-bar, it actually sits onto the fixed part of the frame.

Where needed, stress reducing features are included, in this case at the end of the lock-bar slot.

Further jimping in the thumb ramp area of the grip. This actually extends up onto the ‘wave’ as we will see.

There is jimping on the top of the ‘wave’ which is a natural extension of the jimping on the frame.

With the blade open, you can now see that flow of the jimping from handle to wave.

The 0630 has an open frame with black spacers.

On this example the lock engagement was about a third out-of-the-box. Note the hardened steel lockbar insert for reliable solid lock-up. You can also see the phosphor-bronze washers making the bearing as simple and strong as it can be.

A close-up look at the blade tip, and edge bevel.

To make unlocking more comfortable the inside of the lock-bar has a bevelled corner.

A well rounded plunge line keeps maximum blade strength.

Love those grind lines.

Let’s put it to work…

What it is like to use?

ZT’s 0630 has pushed me in a direction I normally avoid, as I’m not keen on pocket clips. They work well for a lot of people, but I’ve had knives become unclipped, which makes them very likely to be lost. However, here we have an Emerson, and the Wave, so it means you really do need to go for the pocket clip carry or you just won’t get the experience you should be.

Very often I find pocket clips (or more accurately the handle scale under them) too abrasive, and end up with shredded pockets. With the 0630 having a smooth titanium handle under the strong pocket clip, despite the ‘hold’ the clip has, it has not chewed up my pockets, but has also not come free by itself. If I were left handed, it would be a different story, so for some this won’t work out as well.

What is very apparent when handling the 0630 is its super solid build. There is not one aspect of this knife that feels like a weak point. I’m still looking for one, but haven’t found it yet.

Thanks to getting lots of pocket carry, it has been getting a wide variety of uses.

With ZT featuring a lot models with flippers and wave opening, they have developed a very strong detent, perhaps one of the strongest of any production knife I’ve used. This strong detent means the opening action becomes very positive as a lot of force is built up pressing on the detent before it ‘breaks’ and the blade deploys. The downside to this is one-handed manual opening can be much harder work than on other knives and the thumb opening of the 0630 is certainly an example of this. Out of the box I struggled to open the blade using the thumb disc, and even now don’t consider this a reliable opening method. At the end of a day’s work, that disc can start to create a sore spot on the thumb thanks to the relentless detent. This short video talks a little about this as well as showing the wave opening in slow motion.

Video Edited with – Cyberlink Director Suite 5 (PowerDirector 16 and AudioDirector 7)
Camera – Panasonic HC-V770    Microphone – Tonor TN120308BL

The Wave feature just keeps giving, as it provides an extended thumb ramp for a great grip for pushing the tip forward.

Thanks to its size the length of the handle allows a comfortable grip for general slicing. (I take XL size gloves).

For a right-hander, the peeled G-10 scale falls under the fingers and has a lot of grip even with wet hands. The peeled G-10 is not overly aggressive or abrasive to your hand.

To give an idea of scale, here it is next to the Fällkniven F1 and a Spyderco UK Pen Knife.

Looking like a bit of a brute, I would not have said the 0630 was a particularly attractive knife (to my taste), but as I have found before, there is often a very good reason why the design looks the way it does, and the 0630 has proven without a doubt that it functions incredibly well, and those design aspects that I’m not so keen on the look of make it a really excellent tool.

I like a super slick ball bearing pivot as much as the next knife enthusiast, but when it comes to a hard-use knife I always prefer phosphor-bronze. Again I love a flipper, but for the utmost reliability I don’t want to rely on flipping a blade open, I want to be able to manually open it. The wave opening of the 0630 is a bonus, with the thumb disc giving that ultimate reliability (albeit with a very tough detent).

Based on looks alone I was initially a little underwhelmed by the 0630. As I got to know it, its capabilities just shone through along with a striking strength of build which means I will happily work this knife harder than I would most folders. If I could change one thing, it would be the severity of that detent, hopefully it will wear in more over time.

Review Summary

The views expressed in this summary table are from the point of view of the reviewer’s personal use. I am not a member of the armed forces and cannot comment on its use beyond a cutting tool or field/hunting knife.

Something that might be a ‘pro’ for one user can be a ‘con’ for another, so the comments are categorised based on my requirements. You should consider all points and if they could be beneficial to you.

_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Things I like What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Super strong build. Overly stiff detent.
Powerful and tough blade.
Emerson Wave Opening.
S35VN Steel.
Steel lock-bar insert in Titanium frame-lock.

 

Discussing the Review:

The ideal place to discuss this reviews is on a forum. If you started reading the shorter forum version of the review, but followed the link this full exclusive review, please return to that forum to discuss the review there.
If you read the review entirely on Tactical Reviews, please consider one of the following to join in any discussion.

EdgeMatters – Sponsored Reviews (UK based Forum for Knife Makers and Collectors)

BladeForums – Knife Reviews (US based Forum for Knife Discussion)

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Gear Review: Wiley X Protective Eyewear – Rogue and Valor

Wiley X is one of those brands that snuck up on me many years ago via one of their collaborations, however since then I’ve seen them as the go-to brand for functional, protective, active eyewear which happens to be very stylish as well. Being a shooter, I only settle for full protection when it comes to me eyes. This requires a good fit, a choice of lenses and of course the safety standards which Wiley X glasses easily surpass. In this review I’m taking a detailed look at two models, the Rogue, and Valor, but these are just part of a large range. With Wiley X, there are models to suit all face sizes (which is critical) so you might find you need to choose a different one to get the sizing right.

The models on test:

Both models come in the Wiley X standard black boxes.

These are very different glasses, let’s get on with the detailed examination.

A few more details of the Rogue (Including lens swapping):

You might recognise the multi-lens type of case the Rogue comes in. Many of the Wiley X models with interchangeable lenses come with this type of case.

Unzipping the case shows the glasses in the main compartment, but a set of pockets in front of the lens.

Each pocket is fleece lined.

The Rogue has two additional lenses which fit into the case so are easily carried with you.

Altogether, as well as the Rogue itself, you have an orange and clear lens, a cleaning cloth, neck lanyard, and instructions.

A removable sticker on the lens reminds you the Rogue has interchangeable lenses. This peels off easily and with no trace.

Aimed at shooting eye protection, the full wrap around style provides maximum coverage.

The front view shows how wide the field of vision is – no restriction or missed targets.

Looking from the side shows the lens is a compound curve (curved vertically and horizontally).

An inside view, note the arms are a little different to most (more on that later).

A fully adjustable nose piece is used which allows you to alter exactly where the frame and lens is positioned on your face.

Inside the arm near the hinge is hollowed out, keeping the weight to a minimum.

Appearing a bit grey here, there is a metallic silver WX logo on the arm.

Every part of the design of the Rogue wraps itself around you making for a very good and secure fit.

And now back to those unusual arms; they are thin. Designed to be ultra-low profile so that when wearing ear defenders the arms don’t deform the muffler pads.
As the Maître d’ said to Mr. Creosote “It’s only wafer thin.”

Included with the Rogue is a neck strap. Fitting is quick and easy thanks to the rubber tubes on the end of the strap.

Depending on the model of glasses, these tubes may be larger or smaller.

The rubber tube is simply pushed over the end of the arms and stays firmly in place.

The hinge pivot is a long screw that fits all the way through the end of the arm.

Detail of the hinge with the arm folded.

Being a wrap around design, even with the arms folded, the Rogue is relatively large, but this is unavoidable if you want that full protection.

Those wafer thin arms do help keep the folded size down a bit.

Using my polystyrene head, you can see how those low profile arms sit against the side of the head.

In this case, the polystyrene head is a medium size head, and the Rogue appears a little wide for it.

With the ear defenders fitted there is minimal muffler pad deformation thanks to the thin arms.

Running through the lens swapping. Here the Rogue has been broken down into its parts with the nosepiece, lens and frame laid out.

Reassembly is a reverse of the take-down. First fit the two ends of the lens into the frame.

Then squeeze the top of the frame down above the nose cutout….

…until it clicks into place.

Similarly, slide in the nosepiece and squeeze…

…until it clicks into place.

Lens Swapped!

A few more details of the Valor:

Without the need to store additional lenses, the Valor’s case is a smaller and simpler semi-rigid clam-shell design.

The inside is fleece lined, and a reminder that you should use the case is included.

Along with the Valor glasses (which have a plastic wrap on them) there is a cleaning cloth and neck strap.

As well as the outer plastic wrap, there is a plastic wrap on one arm to stop them rubbing in transit.

On this model the frame is sporting a Kryptek Typhon camouflage coating.

Due to the way the Kryptek Typhon camouflage is applied, each frame is unique.

A half frame is used, which does allow for lens swapping.

The Kryptek Typhon camouflage covers the entire frame apart from the rubber arm grips.

Fixed rounded rubber nose pads are used.

Taking a close look at the hinge.

A long screw forms the hinge pivot.

Inside one of the arms is the EN166 Personal Eye Protection standard mark.

The end of each arm has a rubber over-mould that provides extra grip.

Not quite as curved as a wrap around, the frame is still curved for an ergonomic fit.

Checking first the left hand side.

Then the right, you can see the pattern is different, and part of the character of this camouflage pattern.

There is an anti-reflective coating on the inside of the lenses.

One of my favourite features is a good polarised lens.

Just like the Rogue, included with the Valor is a neck strap. Fitting is quick and easy thanks to the rubber tubes on the end of the strap.

Depending on the model of glasses, these tubes may be larger or smaller.

The rubber tube is simply pushed over the end of the arms and stays firmly in place.

Overall the Valor are a smaller pair of glasses than the Rogue.

The size difference is clear if you look back at the same polystyrene head shot earlier in this review. Here the frame is a closer fit to the size of head.

More compact than the Rogue when folded, mainly due to the design having less wrap-around.

What are they like to use?

Readers of other reviews might already know that I have hypersensitive eyes, so have to wear sunglasses at all time when outdoors during daylight hours. Currently I don’t require corrective prescriptions lenses. The reason for mentioning this is that it means I’m wearing these a LOT, really a LOT. It really shows any weaknesses in field of vision, comfort and any lens distortion when you use them for hours and hours each day, every day. With so much time wearing sunglasses, I am very critical of lens quality, and Wiley X has never disappointed on this.

For about 9 months now, the Valor have been my main choice of eyewear for daily wear. With the polarised lens, they are slightly darker than the non-polarised lens in the Rogue (good for me), and for driving this is an ideal lens as well.

I had wondered how hard wearing the Kryptek camouflage would be, and in this time, there is not a single sign of wear yet. Yes, I am careful with my glasses (which I treat with the care I would give expensive prescription lenses), but even so, there is day to day wear, knocks and abrasions you can’t avoid. Standing up to intensive use very well.

Without any adjustment in the nose pads, it is crucial that the fit is good, and with the Valor, they were the right size to sit at the ideal position on my face. Although there is no actual benefit to the camouflage in every day urban life, the pattern softens the look of the frame compared to a solid colour of black frame.

As a nice lightweight design they are not at all fatiguing to wear for long periods, and the rubber nose pads and arm grips mean they stay put and don’t need to be pushed back into position.

In fact, having recently had nose surgery (a septoplasty and bilateral sinuplasty for those that are interested) I was able to wear these very shortly afterwards as they were light enough not to cause me any problems.

With the Valor being more suited to my every day needs, the Rogue were worn less, but in particular were used for all shooting or other activities needing wrap around eye protection.
Thanks to the adjustable nose pads, the Rogue’s fit can be tuned to put them in the ideal position. Like this I have nothing obstructing my peripheral vision so my ability to pick up targets is completely unaffected and as good as having no eyewear on at all.

The frame size of the Rogue is a tiny bit too big for me, so what becomes more obvious is that the thin arms are not thin enough (as they sit on my head) to not affect the muffler pads on the ear defenders. (I do wear a Large size motorcycle helmet) So it would need someone with a larger head to really benefit from this feature. Fortunately I tend to wear in-ear hearing protection rather than over ear so this is not an issue. A smaller frame version of the Rogue would be perfect for me.

Following those comments, what more can I say other than that the Valor is my daily wear of choice, and the Rogue comes out for any shooting day.

Review Summary

The views expressed in this summary table are from the point of view of the reviewer’s personal use. I am not a member of the armed forces and cannot comment on its use beyond a cutting tool or field/hunting knife.

Something that might be a ‘pro’ for one user can be a ‘con’ for another, so the comments are categorised based on my requirements. You should consider all points and if they could be beneficial to you.

_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Things I like What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Rogue and Valor – High optical quality lenses. Rogue – Slim Arms / Ear Defenders feature is only effective for larger heads.
Exceed EN166 Personal Eye Protection Safety Standards.
Interchangeable lenses.
Unique Kryptek pattern.
Lightweight.

There are genuinely a lack of things that don’t work. Assuming you pick a model with the right size frame for your face, then in terms of functionality and quality, the Wiley X range are excellent.

 

Discussing the Review:

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Showcase: BKS Gembloux 2017 Knife Show

The Belgian Knife Society Show in Gembloux is one of those exceptional events. Taking over the entire Gembloux Town Hall, this annual show attracts hundreds of knife makers from all over the world, and a flock of knife enthusiasts eager to see the amazing work on display (and buy a lot of it).

‘Showcase’ on Tactical Reviews:

The ‘Showcase’ is an opportunity for me to share some photographs, videos and thoughts about interesting or exceptional shows/exhibitions, knives, lights or other gear.

As well as all the exhibitors and demonstrations, the Belgian Knife Society (BKS) arranged for a couple of seminars. Tactical Reviews was there to record these excellent speakers and their words of wisdom.

The following videos are much longer than I would normally publish, but the information in them is very interesting and worth listening to. They are informal, so imagine you are really there in the room.

“The Complex Structure Of Viking Blades”

Owen Bush, (Bladesmith, Swordsmith and artist Blacksmith based in the London/Kent region of England – UK) explains the Viking forging techniques and using modelling clay Owen shows how the intricate pattern welded designs are formed in Damascus blades.

Video Edited with – Cyberlink Director Suite 5 (PowerDirector 16 and AudioDirector 7)
Camera – Panasonic HC-V770    Microphone – Tonor TN120308BL

The Viking Sword: What It Was And What It Was Not

Peter Johnsson (SWE) is a specialist in white weapons and takes you on a journey through time: the swords of the Roman era, continental blades, the Anglo-Saxon sword and the weapons of Eastern Europe and how sword design evoloved with changing requirements.

Video Edited with – Cyberlink Director Suite 5 (PowerDirector 16 and AudioDirector 7)
Camera – Panasonic HC-V770    Microphone – Tonor TN120308BL

Gallery:

This is a series of images from the show; enjoy!

 

Discussing a Showcase:

Please feel free to start a thread on any of the following forums as these are the ideal place to freely discuss it. If you started reading a forum thread that has brought you to this page, please return to that forum to discuss the Showcase there.

EdgeMatters – Sponsored Reviews (UK based Forum for Knife Makers and Collectors)

BladeForums – Knife Reviews (US based Forum for Knife Discussion)

CandlePowerForums – Knife Reviews Section (Largest and Friendliest Flashlight Community Forum)

The Showcase featured image is of a sword by Owen Bush.

Light Review: Fenix TK25 R&B – LED Swapping Design

Fenix have embraced multi-coloured, multi-functional lights with many models available in their range. Often these will feature additional LEDs shoehorned into the head with the reflector being compromised. The TK25 is the first to feature the ability to swap the primary LEDs, effectively making the TK25 a fusion of two completely different lights. Simply twist the head, and change to a second set of primary LEDs. The model on test is the (non-musical) R&B version with White, Red and Blue LEDs.

Taking a more detailed look:

Recognisably a Fenix box with Orange highlights.

As well as the TK25 there is a holster, instructions and a small bag with O-ring and wrist lanyard.

Due to the size of the head, the TK25 will only fit into the holster head-up.

On the back of the holster is a fixed and Velcro belt loop as well as a D-ring.

The holster is actually a universal holster with an adjustable flap. Here you can see the loop that keeps the flap from tearing away from the Velcro adjustment. The end of the flap passes under this loop and into the holster compartment, where its length is set using the Velcro adjustment.

Looking again from the side, you can see the additional ‘loop’ area on the flap which can set the flap to a much tighter/smaller position.

Incorporating two primary LEDs (at a time) the head of the TK25 is relatively large, and the two reflectors do intersect.

The model is laser engraved onto the side of the head.

And now let’s look at that head and what it does. On the battery tube is a dot to mark which set of LEDs are currently selected.

As you turn the head it lifts up, so it doesn’t hit the LEDs. As you continue to turn, it drops back down unto the next set of LEDs.

With the indicator set to ‘C’ the XP-E2 (red & blue) LEDs are active.

With the indicator set to ‘W’ the XP-G2 S3 (white) LEDs are active.

Looking at a slight angle as we swap LEDs, starting with the white XP-G2 S3.

The reflector has now lifted off the LEDS.

And now dropped back onto the XP-E2 LEDs.

Back to the some of the other details, and the tail-cap threads are bare aluminium.

As with Fenix’s TK32, the TK25 features a battery tube sleeve that provides another connection between the tail-cap and the head (and makes it difficult to try and measure any parasitic drain).

Inside the tail-cap there is the third contact surrounding the central spring that connects to that battery tube sleeve.

On the tail-cap is a set of two switches, the main tactical switch and a smaller click switch for mode changing.

Peering into the battery tube shows the positive contact is a spring and this allows for the use of flat-top cells.

A steel pocket clip is supplied fitted to the TK25.

With the dual-switch tail-cap and a lanyard hole on one side, the TK25 cannot tail-stand.

The beam

Please be careful not to judge tint based on images you see on a computer screen. Unless properly calibrated, the screen itself will change the perceived tint.

The indoor beamshot is intended to give an idea of the beam shape/quality rather than tint. All beamshots are taken using daylight white balance. The woodwork (stairs and skirting) are painted Farrow & Ball “Off-White”, and the walls are a light sandy colour called ‘String’ again by Farrow & Ball. I don’t actually have a ‘white wall’ in the house to use for this, and the wife won’t have one!

When running in white output, the TK25 has both LEDs lit. There is a dual compound reflector, so in the outer spill you can see some imperfections in the beam. However the main spill and hot-spot are well formed. With two LEDs running you will notice some double shadow effects such as that shown by the newel post shadow on the stairs.

Now with Red output, only one LED is running and the missing part of the reflector (due to the two reflector cones intersecting) shows as a bulge in the outer spill at around 4 O’clock in this picture.

Switching to Blue and the same bulge in the outer spill is present, this time in the opposite 10 O’clock position.

Moving outdoors (and excuse the murky weather causing the beam to show up more than it would normally) and the small reflectors are showing some limits in the brightness of the spill, but the centre of the beam still has good range.

With only a single LED, the Red beam appears more focused, and the spill is slightly wider.

The Blue output has a similar appearance to the red, but as I’m hand-holding the TK25 here the alignment is not quite the same.

Modes and User Interface:

The TK25 has a dual-switch tail-cap with the main power switch being a momentary tactical switch and the secondary oval click switch is for mode changing.

There are four constant white levels – Turbo, High, Med and Low, plus a Strobe mode. Changing LEDs to the coloured set and there is also a Red High, Red Low, and Blue output.

As a main feature, the TK 25 has the rotating head to change between sets of LEDs, so as a starting point the first thing to do is to rotate the head to the appropriate set of LEDs. This is assumed in the following description of the operation of the TK25.

To access the White constant modes, either half-press, or fully press and click the tactical switch. The TK25 will come ON to the last used constant output level. Press the mode/function switch to cycle through the levels Low, Medium, High, Turbo, Low etc. Release the tactical switch or click again to switch OFF.

For strobe, either, from OFF press (and hold) the mode switch (while doing this you can click on the tactical switch to lock the output on to strobe), or turn the TK25 onto a constant output mode by clicking on the tactical switch, then press and hold the mode switch for 2s. To stop strobe, depending on which method you used, either let go of the mode switch, or press the mode switch to return to constant output.

The coloured outputs operate differently. From OFF, the TK25 will always come onto Red High when pressing and holding the mode switch, or half-pressing or fully clicking the tactical switch. To access the Red Low and Blue modes, the TK25 must be ON (defaulting to Red High), then press the mode switch to cycle through Red Low, Blue, Red High etc. There is no coloured flashing mode.

Rotating the head while the TK25 is ON will swap you between the Last Used White mode, and Red High. Even if you were using the Blue output, swapping to White and back again will revert to the default colour output of Red High.

Batteries and output:

The TK25 runs on one 18650 (recommended) or 2x CR123.

To measure actual output, I built an integrating sphere. See here for more detail. The sensor registers visible light only (so Infra-Red and Ultra-Violet will not be measured).

Please note, all quoted lumen figures are from a DIY integrating sphere, and according to ANSI standards. Although every effort is made to give as accurate a result as possible, they should be taken as an estimate only. The results can be used to compare outputs in this review and others I have published.

___________________________________________ ________________________________ ________________________________
Fenix TK 25 R&B using 18650 I.S. measured ANSI output Lumens PWM frequency or Strobe frequency (Hz)
___________________________________________ ________________________________ ________________________________
Turbo 976 0
High 336 0
Medium 113 0
Low 14 0
Red High 288 0
Red Low 41 0
Blue 240 0

* Beacon and Strobe output measurements are only estimates as the brief flashes make it difficult to capture the actual output value.

It was not possible to measure any parasitic drain due to the contact design.

Typically Fenix lights display fully regulated output, but in this case the Turbo output on the TK25 is sagging over the first hour. This may well be due to running the test with a Fenix 2600mAh cell, and if run with a higher current cell, it might have appeared stronger than this. Once the output has sagged to around 300lm, the TK25 shifts down to the medium output level, continuing on this until it shifts down again and ends the ANSI runtime, however the TK25 was still running on low at this point.

Troubleshooting

This section is included to mention any minor niggles I come across during testing, in case the information helps anyone else.

No issues were encountered during testing.

As per the description of this section, this information is provided in case anyone else finds a similar ‘issue’ that might be fixed in the same way.

The TK25 R&B in use

The whole concept of swapping the primary LEDs is one I really like, and Fenix’s take on this makes a lot of sense as it allows for the LEDs to be permanently mounted onto the heat-sink, with the reflector assembly (which has no electrical or thermal connections to worry about) moving. However this does introduce two compromises in the reflectors as firstly each LED’s reflector is relatively small, and secondly the two reflectors intersect and so have a part that is missing. The only way to overcome this would be to make the head even larger than it is, or maybe even removing one reflector and making the TK25 into a four-in-one light with only one (rather than two) active primary LEDs.

With the moving parts, this is better shown with a short video:

One little annoyance, made very obvious due to the head needing to be rotated, is that the pocket clip keeps slipping round whenever you turn the head. Considering the requirement to turn the head, it would be better if the pocket clip was anchored in place so it could not turn. A minor point perhaps, but I don’t like parts moving that should not be.

The switch design does work nicely thanks to the second mode switch being placed onto a slightly lower angled area. It keeps it clear of the main switch, yet remains easily accessible.

Though the are some milled out areas around the head, these don’t really do much for anti-roll, but the pocket clip does, so it will stay put on gently sloping surfaces once it rolls round to the pocket clip.

With Fenix generally having such good mode sets and interfaces, I was slightly disappointed that the coloured output defaults to Red-High, instead of memorising the last used mode like the white output does. When a light includes a pure Red output this is more often than not used for preserving night vision – in which case it is vital to start on the Red Low output. I’d also like to be able to use the Blue output on momentary when I want to. Perhaps this is a restriction to stop users flashing the blue light (imposed by Law Enforcement Agencies), in which case that is understandable if a little frustrating.

The small reflectors do result in a narrower beam than I’d personally like, but they are the compromise for having two ‘proper’ sets of LEDs available in one light. Though not perfect, the beams of all the LEDs are significantly cleaner than typical multi-colour lights, giving the TK25 a significant advantage over the fixed designs with ‘secondary LEDs’.

Review Summary

_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Things I like What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Two sets of Primary LEDs. Swap with a twist of the head. Dual reflectors are a little small and intersect.
Switch between coloured and white output while ON. Pocket clip tends to slip round when turning the head.
1000lm white output. Coloured output lacks memory and defaults to Red High.
Functional Dual-Switch tail-cap.

 

Discussing the Review:

The ideal place to discuss this reviews is on a forum. If you started reading the shorter forum version of the review, but followed the link this full exclusive review, please return to that forum to discuss the review there.
If you read the review entirely on Tactical Reviews, please consider one of the following to join in any discussion.

CandlePowerForums – Flashlight Reviews Section (Largest and Friendliest Flashlight Community Forum)

EdgeMatters – Sponsored Reviews (UK based Forum for Knife Makers and Collectors)

Light Review: Nextorch P5x Series with ‘Dual-Light’ LED Swapping Mechanism

Multi-LED lights have always had to compromise the main beam by using multiple smaller reflectors or combined ‘compound’ reflectors, both of which affect the beam considerably and create many beam artifacts. With such powerful LEDs to choose from now, it has become more desirable to make the humble torch/flashlight more versatile by giving it more options. Nextorch have re-thought the concept of multi-LEDs, and designed a ‘Dual-Light’ system that allows the user to actually swap the primary LED that is positioned at the focal point of the reflector, so fully maintaining beam quality. The P5x series of lights (part of the ‘Police’ Series) use a special mechanism that changes the active LED and moves that LED to the centre of the reflector, ensuring the beam quality is uncompromised and giving you two beam options in one light.

Taking a more detailed look:

A few different versions of the P5x were provided, and they had slightly different packaging. The box at the front shows the six variants you can choose from; P5G, P5B, P5R, P5W, P5 UV and P5 IR.

For one of the box styles, this is the inside.

The other box style has a moulded plastic tray insert.

Either way, you get the P5x a Nextorch 18650, a USB charging cable, a lanyard and the instructions.

The LED changing mechanism and built-in USB charging blend into the simple, elegant design.

A flattened section of the grip texture provides a space for the engraving.

If you want to add a lanyard to the P5x, you need to snap on the lanyard ring.

The lanyard ring sits tightly into a groove near the tail-cap.

A sleek tail-cap design hides the USB charging very well.

The power switch protrudes slightly and is easily accessible, however no tail-standing is possible.

If it were not for the small engraving of the USB symbol and an arrow, you might miss the charging function.

Following the arrow, simply pull the tail-cap sleeve up and turn it sideways to lock it open.

A micro-USB socket is used for the charging.

USB charging cable connected.

Opposite the USB socket is a charging indicator light. Red while charging, Green when fully charged.

Taking off the tailcap, the negative contact is a sprung button instead of an exposed spring.

The threads are a standard trapezoidal thread and are bare aluminium.

Peering into the battery tube, the positive terminal is a spring.

Looking closely at the head of the P5x, there is an indicator arrow. Here the White LED is selected.

And now the Green LED is selected.

Our first close-up look at the textured reflector and dual LEDs. The white LED is in the central position.

Now the green LED is centred and active.

With the White LED on.

Then the Green LED on.

White LED centred in the reflector. (Note the yellow phosphor colour.)

Green LED centred in the reflector.

Going in even closer with the XP-L V5 LED in the central position and the green XP-E2 LED to the side.

The beam

Please be careful not to judge tint based on images you see on a computer screen. Unless properly calibrated, the screen itself will change the perceived tint.

The indoor beamshot is intended to give an idea of the beam shape/quality rather than tint. All beamshots are taken using daylight white balance. The woodwork (stairs and skirting) are painted Farrow & Ball “Off-White”, and the walls are a light sandy colour called ‘String’ again by Farrow & Ball. I don’t actually have a ‘white wall’ in the house to use for this, and the wife won’t have one!

Each P5 light features a white LED (XP-L V5), so I’m only showing one of these as they all look the same. With this being a dual-LED light, the beam is very clean without the artifacts you might expect from a multi-LED light. The spill is a medium width and the hotspot transitioning smoothly into the even spill.
All of the beamshots shown here have the same exposure for all beam variations.

Now onto the interesting secondary-LED options. The Warm LED is quite warm (XP-E2 Warm), in fact it is reminiscent of a good old incan but without the curly filament artifacts. The camera is set to daylight for all beamshots to show the relative colour shift. As with the white beam, the Warm beam is clean and free of artifacts.

Similarly with the green (XP-E2 Red), a nice clean beam.

Being UV (1000mW UV), this beamshot is not a very good representation as there is no fluorescent material in the beam; it makes it look very dark.

An lastly the Red LED (XP-E2 Red). The spill of this beam is slightly wider than the other colours.

Moving outdoors now. Again all exposures are the same. Starting with white.

Onto Warm White.

Green.

Clearly UV is not ideal for lighting up your garden, but that is not why you use it. You can see that there is a good throw, despite the lack of fluorescent materials.

And lastly Red. In this case it was a different evening and there was a light rain which is why the beam is showing up more strongly.

Modes and User Interface:

All of the P5x models have the same simple set of modes and user interface.

Control is via the forward clicky tail-cap switch, and there are two constant modes, High and Low as well as Strobe and SOS. Of course with the Dual-LED, this is the same for each LED.

To Switch ON to High, from OFF, half-press or fully press the switch. Momentary action is always on High.
To access the Low mode, from ON with the switch clicked fully on, half-press the switch briefly to access Low. Low can only be accessed from High with the switch clicked ON.

To switch OFF, either release the switch, if only half-pressing it, or press it fully to click it off.

For Strobe, rapidly double-tap the switch from OFF. This must be half-presses, and once Strobe is activated, you can fully click the switch to lock it on.

For SOS, first the P5x must be ON with the switch fully clicked. It can be in High or Low. Then half-press the switch for 3s and SOS will start.

LED swapping is via the control ring at the base of the head. Rotate this to select the LED. You can do this at any time, whatever mode is selected.

Batteries and output:

The P5x runs on a single 18650, which it can recharge, or two primary CR123s.

To measure actual output, I built an integrating sphere. See here for more detail. The sensor registers visible light only (so Infra-Red and Ultra-Violet will not be measured).

Please note, all quoted lumen figures are from a DIY integrating sphere, and according to ANSI standards. Although every effort is made to give as accurate a result as possible, they should be taken as an estimate only. The results can be used to compare outputs in this review and others I have published.

___________________________________________ ________________________________ ________________________________
Nextorch P5x using supplied cell I.S. measured ANSI output Lumens PWM frequency or Strobe frequency (Hz)
___________________________________________ ________________________________ ________________________________
P5W White High 722 0
P5W White Low 51 0
P5W Warm High 365 0
P5W Warm Low 41 0
P5G White High 710 0
P5G White Low 50 0
P5G Green High 163 0
P5G Green Low 31 0
P5UV White High 695 0
P5UV White Low 46 0
P5UV UV High 39 0
P5UV UV Low 5 0
P5R White High 707 0
P5R White Low 41 0
P5R Red High 257 0
P5R Red Low 38 0

* Beacon and Strobe output measurements are only estimates as the brief flashes make it difficult to capture the actual output value.

Peak Beam intensity of the measured 16400 lx @1m giving a beam range of 256 m.

There is parasitic drain at 11uA (27 years to drain the cells).

In this first runtime graph there is also a trace from the green output of the P5G. Compared to the white output, this is longer and lower so is included here to give an indication of the reduced efficiency of the coloured LED.

In the second graph the green output has been removed to better show the white outputs. Instead look at the White output from the P5UV and the Warm output from the P5W. Again the cool white LED is more efficient and provides a longer runtime. The Warm White keeps up with the Cool white up to about 2 hours, then drops off with the Cool white running for another couple of hours.

Troubleshooting

This section is included to mention any minor niggles I come across during testing, in case the information helps anyone else.

No issues were encountered during testing.

As per the description of this section, this information is provided in case anyone else finds a similar ‘issue’ that might be fixed in the same way.

The P5x series in use

I first saw the Nextorch Dual-Light mechanism at IWA 2016 and immediately loved the idea. I asked them if they could add a third LED – yet to be seen – and the reply was ‘maybe’; we can live in hope.

Having used many multi-LED lights with different colours in them, though useful, the beams of the secondary LEDs were always badly compromised, and even the main beam was compromised. The Dual-Light is a revelation with the main LED effectively being swapped with a twist of the selector ring – you don’t even need to turn it off.

A trio of dual-lights getting ready to go.

We have had a detailed look over the P5x lights already, but to really show the mechanism, this is a short video of the way it works.

Although it has the LED swapping function, Nextorch have made the P5x a simple and functional light without any external frills. The LED control ring has slightly raised grips which provide a degree of anti-roll, at least enough for relatively level surfaces. There may not be a ‘tactical grip ring’ but the slightly wider tail-cap is enough to let your grip the light securely, and the grip pattern works well (it is not knurling, as the pattern is cut, not rolled).

Fitting the lanyard ring also gives a little more grip (plus you can have a lanyard), but in doing so, I managed to scratch the anodising both fitting and removing the ring, so if you are going to use it, fit it once and leave it on.

Of course it is very convenient to have built-in USB charging, especially if you travel with the light. What would have been useful is to have some indication of the state of charge. There is none, so it is difficult to know if you need a charge or not. Unfortunately this leads to regular topping-up rather than a more planned approach to charging.

Though limited to two output levels (and I generally prefer a few more options including ultra-low) those levels are well chosen for most uses. The lower level at around 40lm is great for indoor use and is perfectly comfortable to use at close range, and the 700lm High level is a good powerful output which a single 18650 can power without being over-burdened.

In the case of Nextorch’s Dual-Light P5x models, the ‘secondary’ LED is actually not secondary at all, instead you have two ‘primary’ LEDs both of which have full and uncompromised use of the reflector, making them as good as dedicated lights using the same LEDs. Your only difficult choice now is which combination of LEDs to go for.

Check out the Nextorch P5x lights on the Nextorch Website here.

Review Summary

_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Things I like What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Two Primary LEDs with Dual-Light mechanism to swap between them. No charge level indication.
Uncompromised beam for both LEDs. Limited choice of levels.
Built-in USB charging. No direct access to Low level.
Simple interface. Lanyard ring causes scratches when fitted.
Full kit supplied – Light, battery, cable.
You can swap the LEDs while the P5x is ON.

 

Discussing the Review:

The ideal place to discuss this reviews is on a forum. If you started reading the shorter forum version of the review, but followed the link this full exclusive review, please return to that forum to discuss the review there.
If you read the review entirely on Tactical Reviews, please consider one of the following to join in any discussion.

CandlePowerForums – Flashlight Reviews Section (Largest and Friendliest Flashlight Community Forum)

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Light Preview-Review: Jetbeam TH20 Prototype

In this special preview review of Jetbeam’s new TH20 we take a look at a prototype of this super powered single 18650 Tactical Hit Series light. Featuring an extreme output XHP70.2 LED, over 3000lm peak output capability, a new triple-switch tail-cap, a dedicated high current ICR cell, but full compatibility with all standard 18650 cells (flat or button top) as well as CR123 cells, this light has a lot to be interested in.

UPDATE – New Tail-Cap and Reflector Swap – Included at the end of the review.

Taking a more detailed look:

Though it was supplied in a Jetbeam box, as this is a prototype, the TH20 packaging is not finalised, so I’m not showing it here. It may be a single 18650 light, but with such high output ratings, the light is somewhat chunkier than most lights in this class

In this case the TH20 was supplied with an open bottom holster, offering only head-up carry. The holster has a D-loop, and both fixed and Velcro closing belt loops.

The ‘TH’ model prefix comes from being part of the Jetbeam Tactical Hit series of lights.

On this prototype it also has the Niteye branding engraved. I don’t believe this will be included on the final production version.

Apart from the huge output, one of the TH20’s special design features is the triple switch tail-cap. Surrounding the central forward-clicky tactical switch is a rocking paddle-switch which activates when pressed on either side. This gives quick and immediate access to the secondary function whichever way round you are holding the TH20.

Two posts protect the main switch from accidental activation and to a degree protect the paddle-switch; they also hold the pivot pins for the paddle-switch. Note that as this is a prototype you can see the pivot pin protruding slightly which it would not on a production model.

A set of cooling find surround the base of the head where the LED mounting board is located.

Inside the tail-cap shows there are several things going on. The negative contact is a double spring with one sitting within the other. As well as the bare threads that make up a connection, there are a set of contacts around the circuit board. Since this prototype was made, the design has been updated.

Square threads are used which are bare aluminium as they form one of the electrical contacts.

To enable the triple-switch tail-cap design to work, there are extra contacts in the tail-cap, and in turn this needs there to be an additional tube fitted within the body of the TH20 allowing this extra connection to be made from the head to the tail-cap. This design feature is the reason I’ve not been able to measure operating current and parasitic drain for this light.

In this sample, the XHP70.2 LED sits in a textured reflector.

That XHP70.2 LED is a bit of a monster, and is classified by CREE as an ‘Extreme High Power LED’.

The beam

Please be careful not to judge tint based on images you see on a computer screen. Unless properly calibrated, the screen itself will change the perceived tint.

The indoor beamshot is intended to give an idea of the beam shape/quality rather than tint. All beamshots are taken using daylight white balance. The woodwork (stairs and skirting) are painted Farrow & Ball “Off-White”, and the walls are a light sandy colour called ‘String’ again by Farrow & Ball. I don’t actually have a ‘white wall’ in the house to use for this, and the wife won’t have one!

With such a large LED, and a relatively small head (being a single 18650 light) with textured reflector, the TH20 could have been all flood, which, though no bad thing, might be a waste of such a powerful output. However, the TH20 is not all flood, instead you have a well balanced beam with smoothly transitioning hotspot and uniform spill of a reasonable width.

Increase the range, and the hotspot blends even more and you have a super area-light with nothing given a chance to hide in the bright beam.

Modes and User Interface:

The Jetbeam TH20 has four fixed output modes (Turbo, High, Middle, Low) as well as Strobe, however, the output level of the Turbo and Strobe modes depends on if the TH20 is set to High-rate or Low-rate mode.

The TH20 has a special triple switch tail-cap with central forward-click button and a pivoting paddle-switch which provides a button either side of the main click-switch.

As the TH20 is able to work properly with either the special high-discharge cell it is supplied with, or any standard 18650 cell (or even 2xCR123), the design incorporates two output levels for Turbo and Strobe (High-rate or Low-rate). This is set after a new cell is inserted into the TH20.

By default, the action of removing and replacing the cell resets the TH20 to Low-rate mode (and Turbo output). To activate High-rate for Turbo and Strobe, switch ON the TH20 by fully clicking the main switch, then rapidly triple-click either side of the paddle-switch. The output will briefly turn off then on again to indicate it has changed to High-rate output. It will do this whatever output level you are currently using, even Low, but you have prepared the TH20 for High-rate output when using Turbo and Strobe.

To turn onto the last-used constant output mode, either half-press (for momentary use) or fully press-and-click the main switch. To cycle through the output levels Turbo -> High -> Medium -> Low -> Turbo etc, briefly press the paddle-switch.

To access Strobe from OFF, press and hold either side of the paddle-switch. If you hold for less than one second the output is momentary, but if you hold the paddle-switch for more than one second the Strobe will stay on. To turn OFF, either tap the paddle-switch again, or turn the main switch on to activate a constant mode.

To access Strobe from ON, press and hold the paddle-switch and after one second Strobe will start, and stay on for as long as you hold the paddle-switch.

Batteries and output:

The TH20 runs on the supplied specialised high current ICR 4.2V 18650 cell, and when using this cell can be set to run in High-rate output mode. Of course if it could only run on this special cell it would make it a bit limited, so Jetbeam have made the TH20 fully functional using any standard 18650 cell or 2x CR123 cells, but on a ‘low-rate’ Turbo/Strobe output.

The TH20 can use button-top or flat-top cells.

To measure actual output, I built an integrating sphere. See here for more detail. The sensor registers visible light only (so Infra-Red and Ultra-Violet will not be measured).

Please note, all quoted lumen figures are from a DIY integrating sphere, and according to ANSI standards. Although every effort is made to give as accurate a result as possible, they should be taken as an estimate only. The results can be used to compare outputs in this review and others I have published.

___________________________________________ ________________________________ ________________________________
Jetbeam TH20 using specified cell I.S. measured ANSI output Lumens PWM frequency or Strobe frequency (Hz)
___________________________________________ ________________________________ ________________________________
Turbo-High – Supplied HR Cell 2895 0
Turbo-High Steady state during runtime – Supplied HR Cell 1046 0
High – Supplied HR Cell 575 0
Medium – Supplied HR Cell 108 0
Low – Supplied HR Cell 14 0
Turbo-Low – AW 18650 or Supplied HR Cell 1561 0
Turbo-Low – CR123 1046 0

It was not possible to measure parasitic drain due to the double wall battery tube design.

There are several graphs to look at for the TH20 as it provides us with a lot of interesting information. In this first graph are four main power options and their output profiles. These are the High-Rate 18650 supplied with the TH20, a standard 18650 cell (an AW 3100mAh), a 20A IMR 18650 (Efest) and CR123. The CR123 is clearly a backup option only and struggles on the Turbo output. What is pleasing to see, and makes the TH20 very attractive, is that the 20A IMR is really not far behind the specialist cell Jetbeam provide. This means you can easily feed the TH20 with readily available cells.

Looking in at the first part of the graph you can see more easily how the HR and IMR cells run on the High-rate output, and the 18650 and CR123 run on the low-rate output. The CR123s don’t manage any form of ‘burst’ output for Turbo.

To really see what the TH20 can do, in the next test I pushed it to the max by switching it off and on again to reset the Turbo output every time it ramped down – this was to push it as hard as possible. The test was carried out with a strong cooling fan and during this test the highest recorded temperature anywhere on the TH20 was 47C.

Expanding the first part of the graph where the TH20 is working really hard, shows that with a fully charged cell the TH20 can manage three full output bursts, before the bursts start to reduce. After 8 full bursts, the output then drops to under 2000lm, but is still well over 1500lm.

In this last graph I’ve included a direct competitor for the TH20, the NITECORE TM03. The measurements were taken at the same time in the same conditions using the cells supplied by the manufacturers, so is the closest comparison I can make. It is however not the full story. The TM03 is much more dependant on the specialist cell whereas the TH20 is much more compatible and runs very well on an IMR. Also note that though the TM03’s initial burst is longer, the output drops much more, so the TH20 maintains a brighter running level.

Troubleshooting

This section is included to mention any minor niggles I come across during testing, in case the information helps anyone else.

Being a prototype troubleshooting is not that relevant, however just to mention that the original prototype tail-cap design shown has been changed and improved during this preview testing process.

As per the description of this section, this information is provided in case anyone else finds a similar ‘issue’ that might be fixed in the same way.

The TH20 in use

Extreme output lights have their limitations, and you need to understand these to get the most out of yours. One of those limitations is that you will only get those magical monster output figures from fully charged batteries. Once you get down to 80% cell charge or less and those outputs are drooping severely. So how practical are they?

There are several things about the TH20 that for me make it a great deal more practical than some of the other options. The first of these is its support of various power options, from the high-rate special 18650 cell shipped with it, to the ever reliable CR123 which you can use as a backup. Then, to accommodate this feature, Jetbeam have taken a very clever approach of having the TH20 run in two modes, either high-rate or low-rate, for the Turbo and Strobe outputs. If you know the battery you are using can take it, you can switch to high-rate and get that extreme output, but if not, you can leave it in low-rate and run the TH20 in a more typical (but still bright) single 18650 output.

To make this as simple to live with as possible, the TH20 defaults to the low-rate mode whenever the tail-cap is fully removed (as you do when chancing the cell), so you never need to worry about being in the wrong output mode. Should you want to use high-rate output, then turn it on, triple tap that paddle-switch and off you go. If you switch the TH20 into High-rate with a protected 18650 that cannot deal with the current, you will find a very effective way of testing the protection circuit (it will trip).

In true terms, for LEO and Military ‘tactical’ use, a switch needs to be as simple as is can be. In times of high stress you won’t be thinking about modes, or where your thumb is, or where a switch is; you want to hit a big button and have the light come on. Multi-switch, multi-mode lights will, I think, always be more appropriate for enthusiasts or home/self defence users than the professional, but I’ll let you make you own mind up on that.

Having said that, I do think this is one of the best multi-function tactical tail switches I’ve used. Starting with the relationship between the switch and the raised posts either side of it, there is a good amount of protection from accidental activation, yet still plenty of access to the switch, even if you have to go over the top of those posts to press the switch.

The secondary switches both perform the same function so it doesn’t matter which one you hit. Interestingly your thumb most naturally falls onto the main power switch without hitting these secondary switches and you need to positively move your thumb to press them, which is further helped by their rounded edges. To be clear, this is a good thing, as accidentally blasting yourself with over 3000lm of strobe is NOT a good thing, and changing modes when you didn’t want to is also bad. The combination of easy to reach, whichever way round you hold the TH20, and difficult to press by mistake, makes the TH20’s additional switches on the tail-cap a well implemented feature.

Beware that whenever you change the battery or remove the tail-cap, the TH20 will reset to Turbo output. I’ve found this a little frustrating as I’d definitely prefer to start on Low and work my way up, especially if trying to conserve power. However it could be argued that in a ‘tactical’ situation, that after changing the battery you might want to go straight to maximum output.

Another aspect I was not so keen on was the order of the modes. I prefer to change up through modes, starting low and working up in brightness. The TH20 starts high and works down, so taking the default of a new battery being fitted, you are on Turbo, and then have to go to High, Medium, then Low (and then back to Turbo). Again, as with the previous point, in a ‘tactical’ situation, it is preferable that if the mode switch is accidentally pressed, instead of going from Turbo to Low, you go from Turbo to High, still leaving you with lots of light; so being a ‘Tactical Hit Series’ light the design choice makes sense.

Of course, the TH20 is bigger and heavier than most single 18650 lights, but that is because it houses an extreme output LED and the circuitry needed to drive it, giving you the ability to output bursts of over 3000lm. The TH20 is a heavy-duty single 18650 light that, thanks to that extra mass and solid build, even during the stress test (where the it was run at a constant maximum output by resetting every 60s), did not heat up excessively, nor suffer from thermal output throttling.

By using the easily available 18650 for power but staying away from proprietary cells, Jetbeam have really done us a favour and made the light much more useful, versatile and future-proof.

Review Summary

_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Things I like What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Extreme brightness output from one 18650. Does not appear to quite reach specified output.
High and Low rate outputs to suit the cell being used. Resets to Turbo Output when changing the battery.
Monster XHP70.2 LED. Open bottom holster exposes the switches.
Functional Triple-switch tail-cap.
Compatible with any standard button-top or flat-top 18650 cell.
Can use CR123 cells.

UPDATE – New Tail-Cap and Reflector Swap:

This update includes a few details not available when the review was originally posted. The tail-cap design has been updated and there are two reflector options. With my preference for (OP) textured reflectors, I’ve swapped the reflector in the newer higher output sample.

Starting with the prototype, the bezel ring is unscrewed and the lens, o-ring and reflector are easily taken out. If you do this make sure you don’t touch the inside of the reflector.

The lens is a good thickness, being nearly 3mm thick.

There is a groove around the reflector for the o-ring to sit in.

Here are the OP and SMO reflectors.

Before putting things back together, a quick look at the brass pill with LED and mounting board.

Although the initial prototype will be shelved, it has the SMO reflector fitted to show both options.

Lastly, we have the updated contacts inside the tail-cap. To save lots of scrolling back up, first here is the prototype tail-cap.

Then we have the updated version.

 

Discussing the Review:

The ideal place to discuss this reviews is on a forum. If you started reading the shorter forum version of the review, but followed the link this full exclusive review, please return to that forum to discuss the review there.
If you read the review entirely on Tactical Reviews, please consider one of the following to join in any discussion.

CandlePowerForums – Flashlight Reviews Section (Largest and Friendliest Flashlight Community Forum)

EdgeMatters – Sponsored Reviews (UK based Forum for Knife Makers and Collectors)

Knife Review: Spyderco SpydieChef

Sometimes it’s all in a name… and ‘SpydieChef’ immediately lets you know this is a small (folding and EDC-able) Spyderco Chef’s knife. Of course it is a blend of exotic ingredients, made to that special Spyderco recipe, and is capable of so much more than just chopping a few vegetables. The SpydieChef is designed to deal with all-round EDC tasks as well as kitchen duties, is built using ultra-corrosion-resistant materials (it is a member of Spyderco’s Salt Series), and is finished to the high level of quality that we have come to expect in Spyderco products.

The Blade and Handle Geometry:

Most knife specifications have a basic description of the blade geometry, but in this section I will be taking a more detailed look at geometry and balance.

Using a set of gauges and precision measuring equipment including a Vernier protractor, callipers, fixed radius gauges and the unique Arc Master adjustable radius gauge (the one that looks like a crossbow).

These measurements have been tabulated and are presented along with a few reference blades (8″ Chef’s Knife, 5.5″ Santoku and the popular Fällkniven F1).

Key aspects such as the primary bevel angle, grind type, blade depth, blade thickness, length, weight are detailed, along with balance information.

The ‘Balance relative to the front of the handle’ tells you if the knife will feel front heavy, or if the weight is in your hand (a positive value means the weight is forward of the front of the handle). The ‘Balance relative to the centre of the handle’ indicates how close to a ‘neutral balance’ the knife has in the hand.

In the case of full convex grinds the approximate centre of the grind is used for the primary bevel angle estimate.

The blade is made from LC200N steel, a state-of-the-art nitrogen-based alloy, which is extremely corrosion resistant and is actually used by NASA for the ball bearings used in aerospace applications.

A few more details:

Spyderco’s standard sleeve box is used for the SpydieChef.

Inside the box the knife comes in a bubble wrap bag along with a product information leaflet.

Let’s just take a moment to appreciate those lines…

Using flat Titanium handles and a Reeve Integral Lock keeps the design streamlined and simple.

The gently curving and elegant design is by the Polish custom knifemaker Marcin Slysz.

Being a Spyderco, we have a Spyderco wire pocket clip. This can be fitted to either side of the knife for a tip-up carry.

The alternate clip position with blanking screw. If you swap the clip side, you need to swap the screws round as they are different lengths. The Lanyard hole is lined to make it easy to fit cord through both sides of the handle.

A 12mm opening hole is comfortable to use for right-handers and has a nice cut-out in the handle to give easy access, but as you can see, the reverse of the hole is partially blocked by the lock bar, so this is not ideal for left-handers.

Details ‘make’ designs, and in this example, the finger guard formed by the handle titanium, and the spine of the blade have been positioned such that they line up when the blade is closed, keeping the outline of the closed knife smooth and tidy.

To make the SpydieChef easy to clean, small spacers have been used to give as much access as possible into the handle.

Here I’m showing two specific details of the lock-bar spring, the first is the thinning of the handle scale to reduce the spring tension, and the second is the stress-reducer hole drilled at the end of the lock-bar slot.

Similarly there is a stress-reducer hole drilled at the corner of the lock-bar cut out in the titanium scale.

Here the blade is in the closed position sitting against the stop pin. There is also a hint of that phosphor-bronze washer.

Lock engagement is excellent, with room to move as the lock wears, but with a positive overlap which won’t slip out under pressure or if knocked.

The open blade sitting onto the stop pin.

Though compact enough to fit into a folding pocket knife the Marcin Slysz blade design is immediately reminiscent of a kitchen knife. Marcin Slysz’s logo is included on this side of the blade.

The other side of the blade has the Spyderco branding as well as the steel specification.

Flowing lines sweep the blade tip nicely into the handles in the folded position.

A closer look at the blade tip. Note that the entire blade spine has had the edges eased so they are very slightly radiused and smooth.

What it is like to use?

We’ve had a good look round this knife, but what really counts is how it is to use and cut with. Take a special purpose knife and make it into a folder and you immediately introduce compromises, so this was always going to be a challenging design to get right. Also considering that the chef’s knife, by the very nature of being taken out of the kitchen and put into your pocket as an EDC blade, will now be used for so much more than just kitchen duties, so some compromises have to be made.

I’ve used other folding kitchen knives, and after considerable use and comparison, I’ve found the only advantage they had over the SpydieChef was a thinner blade. A thinner blade which only gave a slight advantage on a chopping board in a kitchen, and in no other situation when carrying the knife as an EDC blade. The thinner blade always flexed far too much for EDC tasks and become more of a liability than an benefit.

Before we look further at the SpydieChef in use, to give an idea of scale, here it is next to the Fällkniven F1 and a Spyderco UK Pen Knife. It is a very pocketable size knife which is helped by the slim profile, but has enough blade to be useful. Clearly you will struggle to chop large vegetables with this knife, but it is an EDC folder and not a substitute for a full sized Chef’s knife.

Something I do want to mention is that Spyderco definitely get the blade retention detent resistance right. The reason for mentioning this is that I’ve come across certain knives with integral locks where the detent is far too stiff and should you touch the lock bar when trying to open the blade you have had it, the blade is virtually locked in place – not so with the SpydieChef. The blade is perfectly secure in the closed position, so let’s get that clear, but then regardless of how you hold it, fingers on the lock bar or not, the blade opens with a slight resistance that is easily overcome with the 12mm opening hole. I don’t want to be thinking about how I have to hold a folded knife to open it (beyond the basics of which way the blade swings open), so this is a major factor and over stiff detents on integral locks have ruined otherwise good knives. Spyderco have consistently got this right and in this case I nearly forgot to mention it as I hadn’t noticed any issues or hang-ups opening this knife, so it went out of my mind.

Slim, flat slab handles can often become uncomfortable in use quite quickly, but their low profile makes them easy to carry. However, the curving handle of the SpydieChef does a very good job of resting over your fingers and sitting into your hand in a perfectly comfortable way despite its slim flat profile.

The SpydieChef sitting comfortably in my hand (XL glove size) with my forefinger nestled up to the integral finger guard.

Absolutely crucial for a kitchen knife is it ability to be used cutting down onto a chopping board. This requires clearance for the fingers when the edge is in contact with the board. As well as the clearance, it helps cutting control enormously to have a curved edge that allows you to rock the blade for fine chopping or to apply controlled cutting force to harder foods like nuts while keeping the edge in contact with the board. The geometry of the SpydieChef has this absolutely nailed, and I’ve been chopping away without rapping my knuckles and no food pinging off the board.

I mentioned it earlier, compared to an actual kitchen knife, the blade is thicker (an EDC compromise) and this does mean that the knife does not fall through firmer and larger vegetables like a thinner blade does. Instead you can get that slight snapping action at the end of the cut, but the full flat grind does a good job of parting the cut, and these crisp chestnut mushrooms which can be quite fragile and break up with wider blades have stayed in nice slices without cracking or other signs of stress.

It might not really be much of a challenge for a knife, but the combination of a tough skin and the soft flesh means a less than capable knife can make a real mess of an avocado, but not in this case where the only limit was user skill.

Breakfast is served…

In terms of kitchen capabilities, the fact I can pull this from my pocket and work with it happily, and at the same time not worry about any residues making their way into the handle or pivot, makes this a huge winner for those days when food prep is a big priority; holidays, camping, picnics, workplaces and more.

With the ultra-corrosion-resistant nitrogen-based LC200N blade, phosphor bronze washers and titanium handle, the SpydieChef doesn’t mind getting dirty, being exposed to corrosive juices and otherwise being left to marinade with the rest of the cooking. You can even pop it in the dishwasher for cleanup afterwards.

Where the SpydieChef gives you extra, is that it is capable of so much more than the light cutting duties of just food prep. The blade is thick enough for you to really grab a handful of that handle and put it to some hard work on tougher materials (and the LC200N will keep its edge longer than an H1 blade will). Mixing it up between food and non-food use might mean a few washes or wipes in between, but this single knife can do it all.

I’ve always been a fan of the kitchen knife as a general purpose blade and have carried both modified and unmodified chef’s knives into the field, so personally I find the SpydieChef’s style and shape ideal as an EDC blade.

Review Summary

The views expressed in this summary table are from the point of view of the reviewer’s personal use. I am not a member of the armed forces and cannot comment on its use beyond a cutting tool or field/hunting knife.

Something that might be a ‘pro’ for one user can be a ‘con’ for another, so the comments are categorised based on my requirements. You should consider all points and if they could be beneficial to you.

_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Things I like What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Chef’s knife style blade. Blade is a little too thick for easy slicing of hard vegetables.
Ultra-corrosion-resistant materials. Cleanup can be a bit fiddly.
Good cutting clearance for chopping onto a board. Not so good for left-handers.
Slimline, lightweight and easy to carry.
Ergonomic curved handle.
Ideal detent resistance.

 

Discussing the Review:

The ideal place to discuss this reviews is on a forum. If you started reading the shorter forum version of the review, but followed the link this full exclusive review, please return to that forum to discuss the review there.
If you read the review entirely on Tactical Reviews, please consider one of the following to join in any discussion.

EdgeMatters – Sponsored Reviews (UK based Forum for Knife Makers and Collectors)

BladeForums – Knife Reviews (US based Forum for Knife Discussion)

CandlePowerForums – Knife Reviews Section (Largest and Friendliest Flashlight Community Forum)

Gear Review: Wicked Edge ‘Field and Sport’ Sharpener

Wicked Edge’s sharpening systems have proven themselves over and over to be the ultimate precision guided knife sharpeners on the market, so much so, many high-end knife makers use them for their knives’ first edge, rather than hand sharpening their blades. Wicked Edge sharpeners are solid, reliable and fast. If you want the most precise and repeatable edge possible, combined with the least blade wear, choosing one of these sharpeners is really the best possible choice you could make.

A little more Background:

In the world of knives, Wicked Edge is one of those aspirational products. Almost everyone wants one, but few people feel they can justify paying the relatively high cost of one. Much like any quality ‘professional tool’ that performs to a higher standard, most people simply do not NEED them. Simpler, cheaper options exist, and do a reasonable job.

Perhaps one of the other challenging aspects of making that leap into the realm of the Wicked Edge is that most often we see the famous mirror polished hair splitting Wicked Edge (which I too started this article with), and to achieve this you need the full set of stone grits and strops. But you don’t need to go that far, or spend that much, certainly not straight away.

The Field and Sport is one of those simpler systems on offer which includes four grits, 100, 200, 400 and 600, and is also designed to be portable and easy to set up. In real terms, the 600 grit will give you a better working edge than a finely polished mirror finish anyway.

For this review, Wicked Edge did send a few extras as well to allow me to show the finer finishes, but they are not needed for Wickedly sharp knives.

A few more details:

As the Field and Sport is a portable model, it comes in a carry case. This is useful for storage as well as taking it with you. Also shown here is a box of the optional glass platens for using the diamond polishing films.

Opening up the case everything is nicely laid out in a closed-cell foam liner.

Looking a little closer you can also see that in this case the optional extra fine 800/1000 stones have been included which are not part of the standard Field and Sport kit.

To be clear, this is the full set of part of the 2016 version of the Field and Sport kit. Included are the blade clamp, g-clamp, guide rods, 100/200 and 400/600 stones, Allen keys, blade stop and marker pen.

Adding in the optional 800/1000 stones that also fit into the case makes the kit look like this.

Although not clamped onto a working surface, this is the Wicked Edge fully assembled with the blade clamp, guides and stones ready to work.

With a knife fitted securely into the blade clamp this shows the arrangement of the stones as you work on the knife.

Most guided systems use just that, guides. I make that distinction as less robust guides can be bent and distorted. Not so with Wicked Edge. Take a look here at the guide rod ball-joints which have smooth but play-free movement.

The rods fit through the entire length of the stones providing a stable alignment.

You can go precision crazy with the adjustments on the guide rod mounts. There are two hand-wheels, the lower one does the main angle adjustment.

The upper hand-wheel locks the fine angle adjustment, and once released you can turn the ball joint bolt and move this out by any amount and lock it in place.

That lower hand-wheel locks into a series of precisely positioned angle holes cut into the guide rod arms.

As you can see, the hole’s spacing changes as you get further from the middle to keep the change in angle consistent for each graduation. If this was not done, when you get to wider angles each adjustment would become a smaller and smaller fraction of a degree.

This version is the 2016 version of the blade clamp, but the principles should be similar for the latest version. One part of the clamp is fixed to the base.

To allow you to fit each blade into the clamp in the same position each time (to reduce the amount of metal removed when you re-sharpen it) there is a folding ruler inside the clamp.

The ruler in the extended position.

You might have notice the set of four holes near the top of the blade clamp. These provide two blade heights that are set by a removable dual pin that you rest the spine of the blade on as you tighten the clamp.

Tightening the clamp is a two stage process where initially you tighten the top bolt.

Then move the Allen key down to the lower bolt and tighten this to bring the clamp plate back out to a parallel position (to stop the blade popping out). This is important or you will have blade instability when sharpening.

Once the clamp is properly tightened you need to remove the blade height stop pin.

With the stop pin removed you will have room to work on the blade.

Altogether the Field and Sport has four grits, 100, 200, 400 and 600, and here I also have the 800/1000 stones. The following series of photos is intended to show how those grits compare from most coarse to least.

100

200

400

600

800

1000

What it is like to use?

This review has taken a while as even a ‘normal’ reviewer doesn’t sharpen knives at the same rate as a professional knife maker, or knife sharpener. What you will also find is that the Wicked Edge takes time to wear in and actually improves over time. Wicked Edge even recommend you start using it on a few ‘inexpensive knives’ first.

During the coarse of this review testing I’ve used the Wicked Edge on all sorts of blades, and in this next sequence is actually a titanium diving knife. Titanium is notoriously difficult to get a good edge on, but you would never know it, I didn’t do anything different and it was a super slicer at the end of this re-profile.

This blunt tip diving knife has had the left edge re-profiled and the right has not yet been done. We will step though the process…

I’ve taken to putting masking tape onto the blade before fitting to the clamp to ensure there are no marks left. This can lead to some movement depending on how thick and soft the tape is, so be careful with the tape you choose and see if this works for you or not. For some blades I don’t do this.

There are plenty of videos showing the Wicked Edge sharpening action. It is a two handed process where you push the stones away from the edge and away from you stroking the entire edge, first one side, then the other. The speed you work will depend on how practiced you are, and how precisely you want to work (and how much material needs to be removed). I also worked the stones up and down when I had a lot of material to remove.

An interesting point to note is that unlike just about every other sharpening system, due to the ability to immediately alternate sides, when doing this, you won’t raise a wire edge. The only way to do this is to stop the alternating action and just work on one side at a time until you have achieved the burr/wire-edge, then swap to do the same for the other side before getting going with the alternating action and working through the grits.

The 100 grit leaves a very clear scratch pattern, and you can see I’ve worked it up and down here as the scratches are at two angles. This was a reprofile so needed a lot of work.

Starting to work out the 100grit scratches with the 200 grit, but some scratches are pretty deep. This is one of the ‘features’ of the new stones, they can have some hot spots which create deeper scratches. Only when really worn-in are these avoided.

Just keep refining through the grits. The precision of the guide system just makes a beautiful edge appear before your eyes. For this blade I did not want to polish the edge as I wanted some bite and micro-serrations, so stopped here at the 600 grit.

Now changing blades and onto a large CRKT folder which needed a re-profile. Here you can see how I’ve used the marker pen to blacken the original edge so I can see when I’ve completely removed it and achieved the angle I want.

In this case the intention was to get to a polished edge…. just because, OK. So here we have the glass platens onto which you stick the diamond films.

The platens have Fine and Coarse marked on them, but this is for your reference and to tell you which side to fit the different diamond grits, not because like this there is any difference.

The Diamond films are simply peeled off the sheets and stuck onto the platens ready to be used as the final stage. These films cut fast and will get dirty pretty quickly. Kyle of Wicked Edge showed me a nice trick for cleaning these up with a bit of alcohol hand rub on some tissue which brought them back to life and gave them a new lease of life, so don’t give up on them too quickly.
NOTE, unlike the diamond stones which can be used onto or off the edge, you MUST use the diamond films OFF the edge otherwise the edge can bite into the film and ruin it – just like any other strop.

What becomes really obvious at this point are two aspects. The first is that the brand new stones make it much more difficult to properly work through the grits and remove the scratches from the coarser grits, and the second is that this will really show you up if you haven’t worked through the grits well enough!! Lessons get learnt.

Ultimately we get there though, and the Wicked Edge precision mirror edge is mine – ALL MINE!

Review Summary

The views expressed in this summary table are from the point of view of the reviewer’s personal use. I am not a member of the armed forces and cannot comment on its use beyond a cutting tool or field/hunting knife.

Something that might be a ‘pro’ for one user can be a ‘con’ for another, so the comments are categorised based on my requirements. You should consider all points and if they could be beneficial to you.

_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Things I like What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Ultimate precision knife edge. Can get expensive depending on options.
Fully adjustable for any angle. Needs wearing-in for best results.
Completely repeatable (as long as you note down the settings). It can get time consuming chasing perfection.
Minimal metal removal on repeated sharpening. Addictive mirror edges.
Many options and kits available.

 

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