Light Review: Olight H1 Nova Headlamp

Inspired by their excellent S1 Baton pocket light (previously reviewed), Olight wanted to bring the same concept of an ultra compact body with high performance output to a headlamp. As will become clear throughout this review they have managed to do just that with the H1 Nova which is a headlamp and pocket light all in one.

Taking a more detailed look:

The reason there are two boxes here is that this review is looking at the CW – Cool White, and NW – Neutral White versions of the H1.

Inside the outer box is a zip-up carry case.

In each of the cases is the H1 in its headband mount, a pocket clip stored on a foam holder, and the instructions held in a mesh pocket.

Laying out the contents of the case.

The main parts are the headband with rubber mount, the H1 Nova light, and a steel pocket clip.

Just like the S1, the H1 has the blue highlights surrounding the lens and switch.

A TIR optic is used, but this also has a hexagonal diffuser pattern to give a flood beam to the XM-L2 LED.

On the top of the H1 is its rubber power switch. This is an electronic click switch.

A plain tail-cap has a hidden magnet.

Though designed as a headlamp, the H1 also has a pocket clip that can be fitted either way up into one of the two grooves in the body.

It is a deep carry type of clip with a secondary ‘catch’ to help it hold onto a pocket edge.

When it arrives, the H1 has a CR123 fitted inside it, but there is also a plastic insulator to stop the H1 from coming on, or having any parasitic drain.

The threads are square cut. In this case there is some chipping to the anodised finish on one side of the thread.

Inside, the tail-cap looks very simple. This is actually the positive contact so doesn’t have a spring. Surrounding the aluminium terminal, there is a ring of the tail-cap magnet visible.

With the less conventional “negative into the tube” contact arrangement, there is a negative terminal spring contact inside the battery tube.

To remind you which way the battery goes in there is a guide marker inside the battery tube.

Refitting the cell after removing the transit insulator, the unconventional cell orientation has the positive terminal of the cell visible.

And we are ready to go.

With the NW and CW versions on test we can compare the beam tint in the next section.

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!

In this first beamshot we have the CW version. All beamshot photos are taken with daylight white balance set. Of particular note is how wide the beam is, an excellent flood beam which, although it has a hotspot, this hotspot is large and surrounded by a super wide spill.

Now the NW version and the tint is significantly warmer than the CW and gentler on the eye.

Taking them outdoors, and back to the CW.

I didn’t quite get the beam alignment the same for these comparison photos, but the NW version appears to have a better reach.

Modes and User Interface:

There are five constant modes, Moon, Low, Medium, High and Turbo, plus an SOS mode. Access to these is controlled via the single electronic click switch.

To turn the H1 ON to the last used output level, click the switch once. Click again to turn OFF.
Note: Turbo is only memorised for 10 minutes after which is changes to Medium, and SOS is not memorised.

To change the output level, when ON, press and hold the switch to cycle through Moon (or Turbo), Low, Medium, High, Low etc.
Note: ‘normal’ brightness levels are Low, Medium and High.

For Moon mode, from OFF, press and hold the switch for 1s and the H1 will turn ON to Moon mode. This level is memorised.

For Turbo, from ON or OFF, rapidly double tap the switch. Double tap the switch again to change to the memorised output level.

For SOS, from ON or OFF, rapidly triple tap the switch. To exit SOS carry out any action with the side switch.

The H1 also has an electronic lockout to protect against accidental activation. To LOCK the H1, from OFF, press and hold the switch for 2s. After 1s the H1 will enter Moon mode, but continuing to hold the switch and the moon mode goes off again. The H1 is now Locked Out.

While locked, pressing and holding the switch for less than 1s will activate Moon mode momentarily, going off as soon as the switch is released. Holding it for 2s or more will unlock the H1.

To UNLOCK the H1, press and hold the switch for 2s or more. The Moon mode output will blink briefly to indicate it is unlocked and the H1 will be on in Moon mode.

With the anodised tail-cap threads there is also the option of a mechanical lockout by unscrewing the tail-cap 1/4 to 1/2 turn.

Batteries and output:

The H1 Nova runs on CR123 or RCR123.

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.

___________________________________________ ________________________________ ________________________________
Olight H1 Nova Version using specified cell. I.S. measured ANSI output Lumens PWM frequency or Strobe frequency (Hz)
___________________________________________ ________________________________ ________________________________
Cool White Turbo – AW RCR123 575 0
Cool White Turbo – CR123 308 0
Cool White High – AW RCR123 193 0
Cool White Medium – AW RCR123 70 0
Cool White Low – AW RCR123 14 0
Cool White Moon – AW RCR123 2 0
Neutral White Turbo – AW RCR123 560 0
Neutral White High – AW RCR123 190 0
Neutral White Medium – AW RCR123 70 0
Neutral White Low – AW RCR123 14 0
Neutral White Moon – AW RCR123 2 0

There is parasitic drain but it is low. When using CR123, the drain was 19.6uA (8.15 years to drain the cell) and when using RCR123, the drain was 23.6uA (3.63 years to drain the cell).

Initially looking at just the first part of the three runtime traces shown in the graph, and the first observation is that the H1 does not achieve full output on CR123 instead requiring a RCR123 for the full 500+ lm. Also note that for the maximum Turbo output the H1 is quite sensitive to the cell condition with the CW run only managing about 45s on Turbo before dropping to High, but the NW taking this to the full 3 minutes of Turbo before ramping down to High. There is more to discuss on this in the full length runtime graph.

Picking up from the previous comment, where the CW only ran at Turbo for 45s (possibly indicating a cell that was not fully charged) it actually managed a slightly longer runtime than the NW (which had the full 3 minutes of Turbo), so in reality the cell had the same level of charge, but the CW terminated Turbo earlier.
Also note that the supplied CR123 has managed approximately the same overall output (though it does tail off and gives a longer total runtime). What is important to note is that when using the RCR123, it’s protection kicks in and the output of the H1 does cut out completely around 5 minutes after dropping down to Medium. If used on Medium for long periods, you won’t have any warning a RCR123 is running low, it will just cut out.

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 H1 Nova in use

Honestly, before trying out the H1 Nova, I was never a fan of 1xCR123 headlamps. The reasons for this were that many would only work with primary cells (I definitely want the option of rechargeable), and the interface/beam/runtime never seemed a good fit to my needs.

Personally, the critical aspects in a headlamp are no PWM, a flood beam, direct access to moon mode, plus a comfortable headband. Add to this easy conversion to a pocket lamp, and the ability to use rechargeable cells, and you have a winning formula.

Though I prefer rechargeable cells, you often have the issue that output can shut off completely if the protection circuit kicks in. Unfortunately the H1 does have this slight issue, and it can be very disorienting to suddenly lose all light. As the H1 will drop from High to Medium when a RCR123 is getting low, if you are already on Medium, then you don’t get that warning and it will just go off. Using a primary cell completely removes this problem, so depending on your type of use you can pick the cell to suit.

With the switch being very low profile, which helps avoid accidental activation, I have found it difficult to operate reliably. When you don’t hit the middle of the button, but are more to the side, the click is not clean, or might not click at all. As soon as you find the middle of the button, it has a very precise action and works perfectly. Mounted on your head, finding that sweet spot on the button is not always easy, and if wearing gloves, forget it, so the compact design can work against the H1 in this way.

The beamshots really do speak for themselves, and the H1 has a beam that is so easy to get on with. A headlamp is predominately a task light, and when you are carrying out a task you don’t want to have to ‘point’ the beam with your head. When using the H1 as a headlamp you can just focus on the task in hand, and the fact the H1 pretty much disappears from your awareness is the signal it is working really well.

It is great that the H1 is capable of the Turbo output, however, I find that this is rarely used, it is just too bright for anything within arms reach. Moon mode is an essential, and the Low and Medium levels are just right for the vast majority of my needs. If out walking with it, I will use High sometimes when I want that bit more range, but even then Medium is my go-to level.

There is one feature I hadn’t really noticed that much, the gradual brightness changes: When turned on/off on medium, high, and turbo modes, it will turn on or off gradually. This mimics the characteristics of incan bulbs that have to heat up and cool down, making it much kinder to the eyes; Thank you Olight. The reason I hadn’t noticed this much was due to mainly using Low and Medium where the effect is less noticeable. It is more significant with the High and Turbo modes, and does make a difference.

I wouldn’t normally bother to mention the magnetic tail-cap except in passing, but I would like to make a point with the H1, to say that the strength of the magnet is one of the best I’ve come across. Often a magnetic tail-cap can be too aggressive and end up sticking to everything, yet with the H1 it is sufficient to hold the light where you put it, without ‘grabbing’ everything incessantly.

Considering this is based on the excellent S1 Baton, my one slight disappointment is that the parasitic drain is much higher. OK, it is only 20uA, but the S1 is 1uA. Parasitic drain is pure waste, especially with primary cells, so I’d have hoped to see this at the same level as the S1 instead of 20x more.

This does lead me to prefer using the mechanical lockout as this does kill the drain completely, but also the electronic lockout is not ideal to prevent accidental activation as this is too easy to unlock, and if squashed in a bag or pocket, it is very likely the button will be pressed for 2s or more.

Converting the H1 between headlamp and pocket light is very easy, and getting the light out of the rubber mount is no struggle at all. Regular fitting and removal of the pocket clip will mar the anodised finish, but there is not much that could be done about that, so you decide if you want to convert it to and from. I find it most useful as a headlamp, and a bit on the small and lose-able size when taken out of the mount.

So, overall I’ve been won round by this CR123 headlamp, which has been helped by how easy it is to carry (living in my coat pocket), by its very usable interface, the excellent beam, and comfort. There have been far fewer battery changes than I expected, so its practicality has been proven.

Review Summary

_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Things I like What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Compact and easy to carry. Though low, the parasitic drain is much higher than the S1 Baton.
Excellent flood beam. Electronic lockout too easy to unlock.
Runs on CR123 and RCR123. When used on RCR123 the cell protection is ultimately triggered, cutting the output completely.
Direct access to Moon mode (and Turbo). Sometimes difficult to press the switch in the right spot.
Very functional UI.
Useful level selection.
Soft ON/OFF is easy on the eyes.

 

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.

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Knife Review: Extrema Ratio MAMBA

Extrema Ratio are well known for making knives that are built like a tank; heavy duty fixed blades and folders that will take everything you can throw at them in their stride.
When the new Mamba arrived for testing it was clear this was something quite different; I was struck by how slim this knife is, and by the special sheath with quick release lever locking system – a sheath so slim it is MOLLE compatible because slides directly into the loops of PALS webbing.

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 ACCIAIO BöHLER N690 (58HRC) steel.

A few more details:

The slimmest Extrema Ratio box I’ve come across.

Taking the lid off; this is how the Mamba arrives.

Included is the Mamba and sheath, with a quality control card and a couple of leaflets.

This really is something different from Extrema Ratio. Recognisable in styling, but definitely distinct.

One of the outstanding features of the Mamba is the quick release lever locking system. This is not a new system as it is used in many diving knife sheaths and a few specialist designs, but it is one I’m a real fan of. Easy and quick to use and very secure.

Simply press the lever inwards to release the knife. With the lever pressed in, its wire spring is pushed away from the sheath slightly.

The very unusual sheath has two adjustable plastic clips. They can also be reversed to make the sheath left or right handed. Of course these are used to secure the sheath in place when inserted into PALS webbing.

With the clip removed from the sheath you can see the internal locking lugs. One side is open and has finger tabs to allow you to open it further for adjustment or removal.

All along the sheath are holes for the adjustable clips to lock into. Should you just want a super low profile knife, you can take the clips off and use the sheath like this.

A distinctive design feature of Extrema Ratio knives is the finger grip recess in the Forprene handle.

There is a single bolt holding the Forprene handle in place. The screw is a tight fit, and even when fully loosened does not fall out; you will have to undo it and pry it out to take the handle off the full tang.

The full tang protrudes slightly from the end of the handle giving you a small striking surface.

On the spine, near the handle, the model is printed onto the black MIL-C-13924 burnished blade finish, and next to this is the notch that the locking lever fits into to hold the knife in the sheath.

The spine is flat for its entire length. This is an important detail in the operation of the lever lock.

On the right side of the blade it has ‘Extrema Ratio’ printed onto the black finish.

And on the left “58 HRC” is prominently printed with ” Stainless Cobalt Steel” printed underneath.

As a key design characteristic of the Mamba is that it fits into PALS webbing loops, the sheath is the starting point for this design. With the sheath fitted in PALS webbing, you want quick access to the blade and one-handed operation, both of which make the lever lock an ideal choice.

Taking a close look at the side of the lever that touches the knife, you can see several details. The lever has a pivot pin as well as a second pin to restrict the rotation of the lever. At the left end of the lever is the locking lug that fits into the notch in the blade spine. This lug is showing wear of the black coating where it rubs against the spine. Also showing wear is an area to the right of the lever where it gets pressed into the jimping when releasing the knife. Also note the shaping of the plastic sheath which supports and holds the blade end of the handle closely when the knife is locked in place.

When seen with the deep jimping on the spine, the locking notch doesn’t stand out at all as it is the same size and shape as the rest of the notches in the thumb grip.

Another view of that locking notch.

Though a relatively slim blade, there is a full length fuller cut into the full flat grind.

Having a strong Tanto tip, the edge bevel does widen towards the very tip.

Even in this slim blade there are refinements including a nicely angled plunge line and sharpening choil.

What it is like to use?

For a couple of main reasons, the Mamba has been a bit of a revelation. When I first saw it, I didn’t think all that much of it, but I was wrong, it really works.

The first of those reasons – the quick release lever lock. I’m so pleased to see this in a non-diving knife as it is one of those features I’ve been crying out for in ‘normal’ sheath knives.

A thumb release lever lock is so intuitive and easy to use as you basically free the blade just taking a normal hold on the handle. Your thumb sits onto the lever instead of the jimping and you squeeze to withdraw the blade.

The lever lock does require a slightly different technique when withdrawing or inserting the blade into the sheath. I mentioned this earlier in relation to the full flat spine. You need to keep the spine pressed into the locking lever as you withdraw or insert the blade. If you don’t, the sprung lever pushes the cutting edge into the opposite side of the sheath, both dragging on the blade, and cutting into the plastic. A slight pressure of the blade spine onto the lever and the blade glides in and out easily.

While mentioning ‘gliding’; actually the finish on the blade when new is so matt, it is slightly rough and in certain circumstances, this does actually cause some drag during a cut or when wiping clean. The surface finishing from Extrema Ratio is excellent, and hard wearing, so this ‘feature’ may simply be more noticeable on the finer blade of the Mamba than it is on larger, heavier knives.

There is one major disadvantage with the lever lock design; should you accidentally insert the blade into the sheath the wrong way round, the cutting edge runs directly onto and along the metal locking lever which will seriously damage the cutting edge.

Once in the hand, the Mamba is similar in size to flatware (a table knife) but is clearly something much more serious.

Though it has a slim grip, the finger grip in the handle, combined with the deep jimping under the thumb, give you a really secure hold on the knife.

Of course the main reason for the slim design of the Mamba is so that it, and its sheath, can fit into PALS webbing (so is MOLLE compatible) for ease of integration into your gear. Many people carry a knife in their PALs webbing, but either have a folder clipped onto it, a large knife with MOLLE compatible sheath, or (something that makes me cringe) in some cases an unsheathed knife slipped into the loops.
Here I’ve got it fitted to a MOAB 6 bag, but it works even better on the shoulder strap of a backpack.

Before fitting, take off the clips and try the sheath in the position you are considering, and check your thumb will land on the locking lever. Then refit the clip nearest to the handle and try once more to check it all works. There is a good reason for checking how well it works at this point.

When mounted, the adjustable clips are positioned so that they hold onto one line of webbing. The clips need to be opened on both sides of the sheath to be able to slide, so fitting can be a bit awkward. This is due to the clip near the tip of the sheath having very little room to move as it is pressed against the bag/load carrier on one side. You don’t want to have to do this many times, hence the earlier trial fitting I mentioned.

Although you have to fight with one of the clips to fit the Mamba into PALS webbing, the tapered tip of the sheath slides through the loops very easily.

So, being designed to fit into PALS webbing, compared to the Extrema Ratio ‘standard build’ for a knife, it is quite a bit smaller. To give an idea of this, here it is next to the Extrema Ratio TASK J.

And unsheathed as well.

Initially the Mamba is not a knife I would have been that excited about; a slim knife designed to fit into PALS webbing. Useful maybe, but not that exciting. This is certainly not how I feel about it now after spending time with it.

In many ways, Extrema Ratio got me hooked with this one by using the lever lock. I just hope they introduce this for a few other models, including the larger knives. On top of that is the fact that the more you use knives, the more you realise you don’t need as much knife as you thought you might. So, often people carry around seriously heavy duty tools that are never really put to use. In terms of cutting power, the Mamba is more than capable of most everyday jobs and its slimmer blade (though not weak at 3.8mm thick) makes many cutting jobs easier. It really is a multi-purpose ‘utility blade’, in all the best possible meanings of that term.

If only Extrema Ratio could include a belt loop fitting, perhaps sliding over the sheath like the MOLLE clips do, as I would like to be able to carry the Mamba securely without a load carrier or backpack. Light, slim, easy to work with and an excellent quick release lever lock for sheath retention, I’ll be carrying this whenever 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
_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Quick Release Lever Lock used to retain the knife. Can be very difficult to adjust the MOLLE clips when fitted into the PALS webbing.
Slim and Versatile Blade. Handles as easily as flatware. No Belt Loop.
The Sheath fits Directly into PALS webbing loops. Black Blade finish can ‘drag’ when cutting.
Secure Grip provided by the finger groove and heavy jimping. Inserting the blade the wrong way round can blunt the blade.
Ambidextrous.

 

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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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)

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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)

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

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)

Light Review: FOURSEVENS Preon P1 Copper Limited Edition

FOURSEVENS’ Preons have been very popular and well regarded AAA powered EDC lights. After their latest reboot (previously reviewed), this is the special edition solid copper version. Grab one while you can here and don’t miss out on the copper goodness.

Taking a more detailed look:

Unlike the standard edition Preons, the Copper version does not come in a clear plastic box, instead it comes in a presentation cardboard box.

The contents are nicely laid out.

Included are the Copper Preon P1 (in a protective plastic case), a Duracell AAA cell, and the instructions. That plastic protector is to ensure that the Copper P1 arrives while still a Copper colour. The patina and darkening can then develop over time as you use it.

The Copper Preon is exactly the same in design, dimensions and machining as the standard P1, just made of solid Copper instead of aluminium.

Every part that was aluminium in the standard version is Copper, including the switch button cap.

Taking a closer look at the bare Copper machined surface.

With the small reflector and XP-L LED, the Preon P1 is set for an excellent EDC beam.

The XP-L LED and textured reflector.

With the head removed (for inserting the battery) the contacts can be seen.

The threads are standard and cleanly cut.

Shining another Preon down the battery tube allows us to see the negative spring contact.

FOURSEVEN’s logo is engraved on the switch button cap.

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!

Starting indoors with the P1, it has plenty of power for your close range EDC needs, with a nice wide, soft, hotspot and wide spill.

At outdoor ranges the Preon struggles as it is only a single AAA powered light and has a flood orientated beam. These exposures are long to show anything. The P1 doesn’t have much impact.

Modes and User Interface:

Just as with both the standard Preon P1 and P2, the special edition Copper P1 operates in the same way with a forward-clicky switch.
In total, there are 7 output modes which can be used – Low, Medium, High, Strobe, SOS, Beacon (high), Beacon (low).

To fine tune the Preon to your needs, you can set one of 5 possible ‘Configurations’ which have only certain modes available:
Configuration 1: High
Configuration 2: Previous, High, Low
Configuration 3: Previous, High, Strobe
Configuration 4: Previous, Low, Medium, High, Strobe
Configuration 5: Previous, Low, Medium, High, Strobe, SOS, Beacon (high), Beacon (low)

By default, configuration 2 is set. To change configuration, rapidly press the switch 10 times within 2s, holding or clicking the tenth press.
At this point the Preon will flash 1 to 5 times to indicate the selected configuration.
Quickly turn the Preon OFF and ON again to move to the next configuration, and repeat until you have the desired configuration. To memorise the setting, turn the Preon OFF for 5 seconds.

The Preon has a memory of the last mode used. This is relevant only on Configurations 2, 3, 4 and 5.
To change to the next mode in the chosen configuration, turn the Preon OFF and ON again within one second.
As shown in the Configuration list above, when you first turn the Preon ON, you get the ‘previously used’ output mode. When you then change mode, you jump to the start of the set of modes for that Configuration.
For example, if you are set to Configuration 5 and previously used Strobe, when you first turn the Preon ON you get Strobe, and when changing modes the next mode becomes Low, Medium… (In this example you do not go to SOS as the next mode).

Batteries and output:

The Preon P1 runs on AAA Alkaline or NiMh.

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.

___________________________________________ ________________________________ ________________________________
Preon P1 Cu using specified cell I.S. measured ANSI output Lumens PWM frequency or Strobe frequency (Hz)
___________________________________________ ________________________________ ________________________________
High 97 1000
Medium 50 1000
Low 7 1000

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

Peak Beam intensity measured 200 lx @1m giving a beam range of 28 m.

There is no parasitic drain.

The Preon P1 Cu exhibits the FOURSEVENS ‘Burst Mode’ behaviour. When on maximum output the first three minutes are at a higher output before dropping to a slightly lower level for the remainder of the runtime.

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 FOURSEVENS Preon P1 Copper in use

If you have read my other Preon review, then this will be mostly the same as the light is the FOURSEVENS Preon, just in a lovely raw Copper. I’m including the impressions of the current Preon as they are just as relevant to this special edition as the standard ones.

When compared to the previous generation Preons, these new versions are slightly chunkier, and initially I was not entirely convinced, as the point of an AAA light is to be very small. But then I remembered that as much as I love the older Preons they were always a bit slippery. The smooth body wanting to slide around and not giving much of a grip.

With the new Preons having a grip pattern over the entire length of the light, no longer do you get this slippery feeling. One further observation though, is that these grooves tend to pick up pocket fluff nicely, which does somewhat spoil the look.

Personally I preferred the previous UI where it had no memory, but for some a memory is a requirement as you can pre-select the output you generally use. However, as the memory only affects the mode at switch-on, after which the mode selection goes to the first of the modes in the current Configuration, it only takes one mode change to return to Low.

Unfortunately another aspect has changed in the new version, PWM is rearing its head. The previous Preons had PWM but at 2500Hz and was not noticeable to the naked eye; the new version has PWM at 1000Hz. On High and Medium this has not really been visible, but on Low, I do catch the strobing effect out of the corner of my eye. A minor irritation and not what I would expect of FOURSEVENS. It slightly takes the edge off what could be a great update to this well loved series.

It used to be more common for smaller EDC lights to go with a reverse-clicky switch, but as in earlier versions, the Preon does use a forward-clicky and gives you that immediate response to pressure on the switch.

A great feature that has been added to the Preons is the user-changeable configuration that allows you to limit which output modes can be selected. You don’t get to choose which modes are included in a ‘configuration’ but you can choose one of the five available ‘configurations’ to best suit your needs. This user configuration has great potential and I hope FOURSEVENS expand the number of configurations that can be chosen from.

With the small power source of AAA, the added efficiency of the XP-L (though only around 9%) makes a difference. Thanks to the XP-L having an XM-L2 size die in a smaller package, it is compact enough to be fitted into the Preon’s head and provide a great EDC beam.

The new Preon doesn’t just have a new body design, it has user-configuration and an XP-L LED, and in this special edition version you have a solid Copper body that with age and develop it own unique and attractive patina.

Review Summary

_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Things I like What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
It’s Solid Copper. PWM at 1000Hz giving some strobe effects on low.
XP-L LED in a truly pocket-sized light. Copper marks easily and tarnishes.
User configurable. Copper is heavier.
Great EDC beam.

 

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: Morakniv Eldris with Fire Starter

In the third of a series of reviews looking at Morakniv’s latest models, we meet the Eldris, a fixed blade knife that is so easy to carry, Morakniv call it their ‘folding knife’.

 photo 11 Eldris full unsheathed P1240579.jpg

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.
 photo 23 Eldris grind P1250028.jpg

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).
 photo Knife measuring P1180483.jpg

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.
 photo 22 Eldris bevel P1250024.jpg

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.
 photo 21 Eldris balance P1250021.jpg

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

The blade is made from 12C27 Swedish 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.

This is an interview with ‘Head of Production’ at Morakniv, Thomas Eriksson, from IWA 2017 by Tactical Reviews.
The discussion includes how the factory edge is created, maintained and also includes micro-bevels and zero-grinds. It is 16 minutes long, so you might want to come back to this after reading the rest of the review.

Video Edited with – Cyberlink Director Suite 5 (PowerDirector 15 and AudioDirector 7)
Camera – Panasonic HC-V770    Microphone – Tonor TN120308BL and/or Takstar SGC-598

A name that tells a story – Eldris…

The traditional summer grazing land (‘fäbodar’) for the village on the opposite bank of the river from the Morakniv factory is named Eldris. During the summer time the people from the village lived on the ‘fäbod’ and used only what nature had to offer.

“To name our pocket size knife Eldris after the place and the people who lived there is our way of paying tribute to our roots. Our ancestors and the surroundings of Mora are all parts of who we at Morakniv are today. The Eldris knife – the flexible companion when doing everything from crafting to lighting the evening fire – is our interpretation of the life once lived at the ’fäbod’ of Eldris.”

“The Eldris knife has been in our minds for a long time, the small knife that fits easily in your pocket or hanging around your neck. Most times the modern outdoor life doesn’t need much more than this knife. You could say that this is our interpretation of the folding knives that are very popular today, but Eldris has the advantages of the rigid features of a fixed blade” – Arvid Larsson, Design Engineer.

 photo 18 Eldris fan P1250008.jpg

“The colours of Eldris are inspired by our surrounding region and our history. The black of coal is never far away if you go out in the forests around Mora. Suddenly you’ll happen upon an old charcoal pit or the remains of one. The well-known Dala red (or Falu red) colour gets its pigments from the Falu copper mines. Since as far back as the 1700s, the familiar red-painted houses with white frames have spread across the country and become an international symbol for Sweden and the county of Dalarna.
As well as the Dala red colour, we also have a Dala blue, which can be seen on everything from building details to clothes. It’s even in our regional coat of arms, together with the crossed arrows and the royal crown. The moss green colour is inspired by the nature and unique surroundings of the area around Lake Siljan. Deep in the forests we find the calm and inspiration for this green hue. Finally, we have the golden ocher colour, taken from the Dalarna paintings of the 1600’s, and also the folk costumes that people in Mora have worn since time immemorial.”

 photo 20 Eldris fan P1250014.jpg

A few more details:

The five different colours of the Eldris. The fire-starter optional kit is attached to the bottom of Eldris knife box.
 photo 01 Eldris boxed set P1240528.jpg

For the fire-starter kit version of the Eldris, this is the full set of components. The Eldris knife and sheath, security strap, length of cord and ferrocerium rod with leather tab and cord loop.
 photo 02 Eldris box contents P1240549.jpg

As the bare knife and sheath, the Eldris becomes a pocket knife, small and streamlined and easy to pop in a pocket.
 photo 03 Eldris basic P1240551.jpg

Moulded into the sheath are the Morakniv logo and crossed arrows of the Swedish province Dalarna.
 photo 04 Eldris logo P1240552.jpg

On the back of the sheath are the hollows for the security strap ring to clip into.
 photo 05 Eldris made in P1240556.jpg

The security strap consists of a plastic ring which clicks into place on the sheath with a leather strap that uses a press stud to secure the strap in place.
 photo 06 Eldris lock strap P1240557.jpg

Looking inside the security strap ring, you can se the lugs that click into place in the corresponding hollows on the sheath.
 photo 07 Eldris lock strap inside P1240560.jpg

Adding the security strap adds very little bulk to the Eldris.
 photo 08 Eldris lock strap fitted P1240568.jpg

At the tip of the sheath are two holes which can be used for fitting the neck lanyard and also act as drainage holes.
 photo 09 Eldris sheath holes P1240571.jpg

For use as a pendant knife you can also fit the fire-rod onto the neck cord.
 photo 10 Eldris full sheathed P1240577.jpg

The Eldris is a small knife and being a fixed blade is more reminiscent of a wood carver’s tool.
 photo 13 Eldris in hand P1240589.jpg

However, you can get a strong grip on it thanks to the handle still having enough bulk (unlike most pendant/neck knives).
 photo 14 Eldris in fist P1240594.jpg

Full Scandi-grind blades are often not so good for slicing due to the full blade thickness being maintained for the majority of the blade depth. In the Eldris, similar to Morakniv’s Kansbol, there is additional profiling for the front half of the blade which thins down the blade making it a better slicer. As a super compact all-rounder, it really helps that Morakniv have included this extra profiling.
 photo 16 Eldris blade P1240604.jpg

Also note, the factory edge micro-bevel which is described in the video.
 photo 15 Eldris blade P1240598.jpg

There is no choil or ricasso, with the blade edge going all the way into the handle.
 photo 17 Eldris handle blade P1240605.jpg

What it is like to use?

The principle that Morakniv have aimed for with the Eldris is to bring together the features and advantages of a pocket size knife but with a fixed blade instead of a folding one. A smaller knife is not only easier to carry, but gives you increased control when using it, and is safer to handle than a larger one.

By choosing a fixed blade, the design is more durable and better suited to rough use than a folding knife. Yet when the knife is sheathed, it is still small enough to be easily carried in a pocket.

It is no surprise that the Eldris features a Scandi-grind, and this makes it well suited to working with wood as well as making it easy to keep sharp. Having given the Eldris a good workout, here I’ve given it a quick touch up on a stone and then a strop.

 photo 25 Eldris sharpened.jpg

After the quick maintenance, it was falling through paper.
 photo 26 Eldris sharpness.jpg

In the case of the Eldris Fire Starter Kit, a fire-rod is included. Of course you can provide your own fire-rod and just make use of the ground spine which has sharp corners and is ideal for striking sparks from the ferro-rod. No need to carry a separate striker or (horror) use the edge to strike sparks.

There is one design aspect we must dwell on; the handle. The symmetrical handle makes this an ambidextrous knife as it allows a two-way fit into the sheath. The drop-shaped design is big enough to keep the knife securely in your hand yet allows you to move your hand around on the handle for many different kinds of grip. The outer part of the grip is TPE, a rubbery polymer that provides a secure grip, and the core of the handle is made of much tougher polypropylene. Morakniv are very proud of their heritage and express this in aspects of the design. In this case, the rhombus pattern is a traditional pattern used in Mora and the region of Dalarna, and as well as helping with grip, it also pays a tribute to Morakniv’s region and history.

Having seen very early versions of the Eldris where the click-lock had not been finalised, the final level of sheath retention Morakniv have built into the Eldris is excellent, and is very unlikely to come loose by accident. However, especially for when wearing inverted around your neck, the secondary locking strap absolutely prevents the knife from falling out of the sheath. When carrying in your pocket or a bag, you might not want the secondary lock and the plastic collar can be removed, making the Eldris even more compact.

Knives this compact and light are generally only suited to very light tasks with handles that can’t be used for long before they become fatiguing or painful. The Eldris has a big enough handle that you can get a strong grip, a grip which you can work with for longer periods. Combining this usable handle with a blade length that is sufficient for most typical cutting tasks, and it gives you a really easy to carry fixed-blade pocket knife.

 photo 24 Eldris bark P1250229.jpg

I would not go so far as to call it a folding knife, but it really is a pocket knife – with a fixed blade.

We can love blades of all sizes, and I can’t resist the biggest of blades, but taking into account your actual needs and the ‘cost’ of the weight you have to carry with larger blades, the Eldris makes a huge amount of sense.

Unless you are doing some heavy chopping or batoning, the part of the cutting edge you are likely to use the most, is that part you can apply maximum pressure to – the section of blade closest to the handle. This is exactly what the Eldris has.

Never a fan of the ‘neck knife’ (nor of the term), the Eldris has won me over and become a regular companion, frequently round my neck!

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
_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Pocket-sized fixed-blade knife. Relatively expensive compared to other Morakniv models.
Secondary locking strap. You will want more than one.
Can be worn round the neck or carried in a pocket.
Comfortable handle.
Ambidextrous.

 

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)

Knife Review: Morakniv Kansbol with Multi-Mount

Released along with Morakniv’s Garberg and Eldris models, this knife is actually an update of their classic and very popular ‘2000’ Hunting knife. Headlined as Morakniv’s “Primary All Round Knife” – meet Kansbol.

 photo 00 Kansbol Forest P1060917.jpg

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.
 photo 16 Kansbol grind P1250033.jpg

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).
 photo Knife measuring P1180483.jpg

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.
 photo 17 Kansbol angle P1250040.jpg

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.
 photo 15 Kansbol balance P1250032.jpg

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

 photo Kansbol parameters.jpg

The blade is made from 2.5mm Swedish stainless steel 12C27.

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.

This is an interview by Tactical Reviews with ‘Head of Production’ at Morakniv, Thomas Eriksson, from IWA 2017.
The discussion includes how the factory edge is created, maintained and also includes micro-bevels and zero-grinds. It is 16 minutes long, so you might want to come back to this after reading the rest of the review.

Video Edited with – Cyberlink Director Suite 5 (PowerDirector 15 and AudioDirector 7)
Camera – Panasonic HC-V770    Microphone – Tonor TN120308BL and/or Takstar SGC-598

A few more details:

As with the recently reviewed Garberg the Kansbol has a standard , and Multi-Mount version. As before, the standard version shows the knife on the front of the box, and the Mulit-Mount version, the knife in its sheath and mount.
 photo 01 Kansbol boxed P1240609.jpg

Starting with the standard version, out of the box, the belt loop is not locked into place.
 photo 02 Kansbol unboxed P1240612.jpg

You can see the proudly displayed ‘1891’ (the date when it all started for Morakniv).
 photo 03 Kansbol 1891 P1240613.jpg

The belt loop can easily be removed if you would like to use the click-lock sheath on its own. (Click-lock is a system where lugs in the sheath click into corresponding depressions in the middle of the handle to securely hold the knife in the sheath, even when worn round the neck.)
 photo 04 Kansbol belt loop P1240617.jpg

For normal belt mounting, just push the belt loop all the way to the top until it clicks into place. Once fitted to your belt, you can pop the sheath out of the belt-loop ring leaving the belt loop on your belt so you can stow the knife elsewhere.
 photo 05 Kansbol belt loop on P1240620.jpg

Immediately distinctive, even within the Morakniv range, the dual-grind all-round blade of the Kansbol.
 photo 06 Kansbol blade P1240637.jpg

The spine has been ground to have sharp corners for striking sparks from ferrocerium rods.
 photo 07 Kansbol blade spine P1240638.jpg

With its Scandi-grind, thanks to the additional profiling that thins the front section of blade, it gives the blade a very different appearance to the standard Scandi-grind blade we are used to.
 photo 08 Kansbol blade P1240641.jpg

Much like the Garberg, the Kansbol has the symmetrical handle that allows for forward or reverse grips, but the Kansbol also has a TPE (a rubbery polymer) coating over the polypropylene handle core.
 photo 09 Kansbol butt P1240642.jpg

Next up is the Multi-Mount version. In the box, all the components are slotted together.
 photo 10 Kansbol MM out of box P1240652.jpg

Included are the plastic holster, a belt loop, a locking strap, three hook and loop straps and the multi-mount itself.
 photo 11 Kansbol MM parts P1240657.jpg

The simplest configuration you can use the Multi-Mount, is to have the bare sheath held in the mount with a hook and loop strap. The click-lock of the sheath keeps the knife in place.
 photo 12 Kansbol MM basic P1240769.jpg

For total security, the locking strap can be added.
 photo 13 Kansbol MM locking P1240775.jpg

Turning the Multi-Mount over, you can see how the locking strap is fed through the mount and will keep everything in place even if the hook and loop strap failed.
 photo 14 Kansbol MM locking under P1240778.jpg

What it is like to use?

Morakniv are extremely good at making comfortable knives, and though the Kansbol’s handle is not shaped in the way the Companion and Bushcraft models are, you can work with it for hours on end. The handle is a size that will work well for almost anyone (I take XL size gloves), and in line with many of the other Morakniv knives, the blade length is easy to wield for all those every day tasks.
 photo 10 Kansbol in hand P1240645.jpg

As you would expect, the Scandi-grind of the Kansbol takes all things wood related in its stride. What is not shown here is the fact that the additional profiling of the forward section of the blade makes it well suited to many tasks a standard Scandi-grind blade is not. This includes food preparation, and game preparation where the slimmer blade cuts deeply much more easily.
 photo 18 Kansbol whittle P1250215.jpg

Before jumping to the Multi-Mount, something to mention about the belt loop, is that thanks to its click-fit to the sheath, you can easily remove the sheath from the loop, and stow the knife in you pack, leaving just the loop on your belt.
In the Garberg review, I showed the Multi-Mount fitted to the back of the rear seats of my car. As the Multi-Mount is so versatile and opens up so many options, there are far too many to show, but to illustrate just one, in this case I’ve used the hook and loop straps to fit it to a walking stick.
 photo 19 Kansbol MM stick P1260339.jpg

I’ve been appreciating how useful it is to have the knife to hand like this, but in the UK this is really only suitable in more rural areas where the sight of a working tool does not cause distress to anyone.
 photo 20 Kansbol MM stick P1260344.jpg

Although the Kansbol will work hard, I’d not choose to be batoning with it too much. Given its proper place as a general purpose knife, it does this job fantastically well. Hopefully by re-launching this knife blade (from the ‘2000’ model), Morakniv will bring the benefits of the profiled blade more into the limelight.
 photo 00 Kansbol shelter P1060926v6.jpg

Tactical Reviews – 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
_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Additional blade profiling makes this an excellent all-rounder. Considering the high value for money of this knife, adding anything in this column would be simply for the sake of it. In true terms there really isn’t anything to knock this down on.
Tough and lightweight.
Flexible mounting options.
Ambidextrous.
Comfortable for extended use.

 photo 00 Kansbol Forest P1060926v3.jpg

 

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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Knife Review: Ontario Knife Company – Black Bird SK-4

When Paul Scheiter was asked about the name of the Ontario Knife Company Black Bird SK-5, he joked that it was in the hope OKC would consider making different versions. Well here is the second Black Bird, the SK-4, a more compact version of Paul’s original design; is it only the first of many?

 photo 05 OKC SK-4 SK-5 P1230061.jpg

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.
 photo 28 OKC SK-4 grind P1250055.jpg

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).
 photo Knife measuring P1180483.jpg

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.

 photo SK-4 paramentersV2.jpg

The blade is made from 154CM 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.

The design principles of the SK-4 are generally the same as they were for the larger SK-5, so I shall refer readers to the SK-5 review for further information:
Ontario Knife Company Black Bird SK-5 Review

A few more details:

The Black Bird SK-4 arrives in a cardboard box with lift off lid.
 photo 01 OKC SK-4 Boxed P1230041.jpg

The knife and sheath are packed separately, with the knife wrapped in a plastic bag.
 photo 02 OKC SK-4 Box open P1230046.jpg

There is a thin cardboard sheath over the blade.
 photo 03 OKC SK-4 Box contents P1230049.jpg

With all packaging removed we get to see the SK-4 and its sheath.
 photo 04 OKC SK-4 P1230053.jpg

Bare-bones simplicity, the SK-4’s blade is a shorter version of the SK-5 blade.
 photo 06 OKC SK-4 blade P1230066.jpg

While we are looking at the blade, this is a close-up of the blade tip with factory edge.
 photo 07 OKC SK-4 blade tip P1230068.jpg

Though the design is simply, I’m glad to see it does have a choil.
 photo 08 OKC SK-4 choil P1230072.jpg

The G10 handle slabs are secured with three hex bolts.
 photo 09 OKC SK-4 bolts P1230076.jpg

A nicely formed lanyard hole is included.
 photo 10 OKC SK-4 lanyard P1230080.jpg

Incorporated into the beautifully simple design is a sharp edged spine for striking sparks from ferro-rods.
 photo 11 OKC SK-4 spine P1230087.jpg

A guard stands just proud of the handle to help protect your fingers from slipping forwards.
 photo 12 OKC SK-4 standing P1230090.jpg

That sharp spark-striking edge runs the entire length of the spine.
 photo 13 OKC SK-4 spine edge P1230094.jpg

In keeping with the design principles, the handle lines are very simple, but importantly all edges are nicely rounded.
 photo 14 OKC SK-4 handle P1230095.jpg

Taking a closer look at the rounding of the G10 handles.
 photo 17 OKC SK-4 handle finish P1230102.jpg

Just like the SK-4 is a reduced version of the SK-5, so is its sheath.
 photo 18 OKC SK-4 sheath P1230106.jpg

For the retaining strap, a single-direction press-stud is used, meaning it can only be opened by pulling in one direction.
 photo 19 OKC SK-4 sheath press stud P1230103.jpg

On the back is a PALS/MOLLE mounting system which can also be used for fitting to large belts.
 photo 20 OKC SK-4 sheath PALS P1230110.jpg

Effectively you have the choice of two different belt loops as you can use the PALS/MOLLE mount strap as well.
 photo 21 OKC SK-4 sheath PALS woven P1230113.jpg

It is possible to adjust the retaining strap (this turns out to be crucial) to get the fit just right.
 photo 22 OKC SK-4 sheath retainer adjustment P1230116.jpg

Inside, the sheath has a felt lining for the blade.
 photo 23 OKC SK-4 sheath felt P1230120.jpg

The sheath also incorporates a drainage hole.
 photo 25 OKC SK-4 sheath drainage P1230130.jpg

The SK-4 in its sheath.
 photo 24 OKC SK-4 sheathed P1230127.jpg

What it is like to use?

I have been looking forward to this since I heard the SK-4 was being made. For the sharp eyed amongst you, you may have noticed the blade has no markings on it at all, as this is a pre-production sample (but is exactly as the production version will be), so I’ve had it a little while to give it plenty of use.

The SK-5 has turned out to be one of my favourite trail knives. It is my go-to when it comes to grabbing a medium fixed blade, but not any longer. Now I might equally go for the SK-4.
The 1″ shorter blade and 1″ shorter handle gives you a saving of 2″. Doesn’t sound that much, but the effect is significant.
 photo 26 OKC SK-4 SK-5 sheathed P1230132.jpg

Where I couldn’t just throw the SK-5 into a pocket, the SK-4 is small enough to fit fully inside most coat pockets, making the choice between taking a folder or a fixed blade easier. Despite the smaller dimensions the SK-4 is a very capable knife, much more so than almost any folder. (For heavier work, I’d still go with the SK-5.)
 photo 27 OKC SK-4 SK-5 unsheathed P1230135.jpg

If you are used to large knives, the SK-4 can initially seem a bit too small for anything other than light tasks.
 photo 15 OKC SK-4 in hand P1230097.jpg

Take up a power grip on the SK-4 and you realise you can apply a lot of force into the cuts. Though the handle doesn’t protrude from your fist, the rounded butt of the handle allows it to press into you hand very comfortably and not give you any hotspots while you work with it. The amount of blade available is plenty, even for pretty heavy work, so all you lose with the shorter blade is the ability to chop, and a limitation on the size of wood you can split by batoning.
 photo 16 OKC SK-4 in hand P1230099.jpg

The only issue I have identified with the SK-4 is actually with the sheath. Due to the shaping of the handle, the position of the retaining strap falls onto the wide part of the handle. It means that even when adjusted to a tight fit, the knife can easily still be pulled part-way out exposing nearly an inch of cutting edge. If the strap is not really tight, you can pull the knife out completely without opening the strap. Unfortunately the press-stud also marks the handle. As delivered from OKC, I was able to pull the knife out of the sheath without releasing the retaining strap, so please ensure you check yours and adjust it to be as tight as you can (then check you can’t pull the knife out all the way).

Factory edges – instead of opening that can of worms, let’s just say that whatever the quality of the original factory edge, you will need to re-sharpen your knife (unless you are very wealthy).
So the SK-4 was set for a Wicked Edge. Starting off with the Advanced Alignment Guide to get the blade set up for consistent future sharpening, this first time needed a reprofile to bring the edge angle back to 40 degrees inclusive angle
 photo 31 OKC SK-4 wicked edge P1250143.jpg

Freshly re-edged, the eager Wicked Edge is ready to bite!
 photo 33 OKC SK-4 wicked edge P1250548.jpg

The combination of a great edge and the SK-4’s geometry had it breezing through smaller branches leaving very clean cuts.
 photo 29 OKC SK-4 clean cut P1250161.jpg

On this particular day I found myself with a rapidly approaching sunset as I’d lost track of time while working with the SK-4. It wasn’t fatigue that stopped me, just the failing light.
 photo 30 OKC SK-4 sunset P1250167.jpg

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
_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Compact and capable fixed blade. Sheath retaining strap not ideally placed, and marks the handle.
Edge geometry makes this a great slicer. Handle can feel a bit blocky.
Well rounded handle avoids hot-spots. 154CM can be hard work to sharpen.
Spine is great for striking sparks from ferro-rods.
Minimalist yet functional design.

Useful Links:

The Ontario Knife Company.
BA Blades – The UK’s official importer of OKC products.

 photo 00 OKC SK-4 feature P1230062.jpg

 

Discussing the Review:

Please feel free to add comments to the review, but the ideal place to freely discuss these 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)