Light Review: Surefire E2D Defender and Stiletto

With Surefire, your main expectations might be high quality build and performance, so read on to see if these lights keep up with Surefire’s standards. In this review are two quite different models; the latest update of the classic Defender E2D (in this case the two-mode ‘Ultra’) and the EDC-optimised pocket-friendly USB-chargeable multi-mode, programmable Stiletto.

What are we looking at?:

Though this review is all about the two headline lights, as well as primary cells I’ve been able to test the Surefire rechargeable cells for the Defender.


Moving onto the main feature let’s get into the details of these two.


Taking a more detailed look at the Stiletto:

The Stiletto is a new style of light, taking on more of the form of a pocket knife and slipping into your pocket in the same way, and with a clip to hold it in place. To achieve this narrow profile it has a built-in battery and USB charging, allowing the shape to not be compromised by replaceable batteries.


Taking a more detailed look at the Defender E2D Ultra:

The Defender E2D is a classic Surefire model, bit it has moved with the times. Starting life as a incandescent bulb light with lens/reflector, it has grown to use LED and TIR optics. This latest version has raised the output to 1000lm+. It is mainly the head of the light that has changed in appearance compared to the earlier models you might know.


Surefire’s rechargeable CR123 option:

Surefire have been a little behind other manufacturers with regard to taking up rechargeable batteries. In years past, dedicated Surefire owners have had to find their own way, often going to the lengths of getting their battery tubes bored out to take 18650 cells plus a few other methods.
In this case, the cells themselves are not Surefire branded, instead Surefire have chosen K2 Energy’s Lithium Phosphate cells.


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 my wife won’t have one!

The character of each beam is really very different. Starting with the Defender and it’s mix of smooth hot-spot and spill beam giving a very useful all-round capability. The spill beam is surprisingly wide, so much so you can see the bezel crenellation shaping in the outer edge of the beam.

The Stiletto has a Surefire ‘MaxVision beam’; I’ve come across a few variations of this, but in essence they have all been quite wide and evenly lit to give you ease of vision at close to mid ranges. You will notice in the direct comparison that the Defender’s beam is actually wider than the Stiletto’s. This is even more noticeable in the outdoor beam-shots. The Stiletto however lacks the hot-spot and provides nicely even lighting.


Batteries and output:

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.

This is a table of measured results. PWM frequencies are recorded by an oscilloscope, and in some cases are clear and in others are more like superimposed noise. It only appeared that the Defender’s High beam when using the RCR123 cells showed any PWM. This is possibly due to power supply pulsing with the different voltage of the RCR123 cells which were able to produce a higher maximum output than on CR123.

In the runtime graphs, first check the start of the run and you can see how the RCR123 cells are capable of keeping that peak output from the Defender until the programmed slope-off of the output after 60s. However skip onto the full runtime and you can see the RCR123 cells run out after thirty minutes, but the CR123s go on a lot longer and with much more warning they are getting low. For ‘duty’ use you will still want to use CR123s, but the RCR123s give great guilt-free lumens.

Performance is solid from the Stiletto and output is more than good enough for EDC; 45 minutes of 500lm-plus output is impressive.


The Defender E2D Ultra and Stiletto in use

Though by no means a lesser light, there is perhaps slightly less to say about the Defender E2D, so I shall start with that. For me the ‘Ultra’ version is absolutely the one to have. The output levels are so opposite with a 9lm Low and a 1000lm+ High, these might seem too at odds to work well, but they do. If I could add one thing to the Defender E2D it would be a way to user program the Low to be the first mode, but without this the High-Low mode order ensures it lives up to its name.

Thanks to the beam shape and hot-spot, the 9lm mode does a great job for those daily needs of a bit of light. It hits the right balance of being low enough for complete darkness but not so low it is useless for anything but pitch black.

I have many 1000lm+ lights and many into the 5000lm+ level, yet the Defender seems to manage to appear brighter than similar output lights. I have never been left wanting by the Defender (running on the RCR123) with its solid performance and beam profile.

The slim body allows easy cigar gripping and general operation is what you expect from a tail-switch light.


And the Stiletto, this is a very different concept and is very different to use. It’s flat profile and large pocket clip make it one of the easiest lights I’ve used to pocket carry. Ergonomics are a really strong point with the Stiletto. In general use you will find the main side-switch falls nicely under your thumb. Side-switches are far superior to tail switches for EDC tasks, and make it more comfortable to hold the light for extended periods with a low arm position.

But of course, the Stiletto also has a tactical tail switch so you have the option of the high tactical grip with direct access to High. This leads me to the set of images in the gallery as I personally found the tail switch (which is quite stiff) gave me a few issues with grip and the Stiletto sliding forward. I had to use two methods to keep it stable; one was to hook my little finger just round the front of the aluminium head, and the other was to ensure I had the Stiletto rotated so I was gripping onto its width and not onto the flats. (check the gallery for examples) It has been fatiguing to use the tail-switch for longer periods, but with the streamlined shaping this is unavoidable.


The Stiletto’s main power switch is one of three areas on the rubber side panel; I am mentioning this to describe something else to be aware of. To the left of the main switch is a programming switch, this has not caused any issues in general use. However, the USB charging port cover is something to be aware of as I have often found myself trying to turn it on by pressing this part as it is quite ‘button-like’. It is very easy to do this, especially if wearing gloves, so just needs a little awareness and grip adjustment to correct.

‘Programming switch’ – yes the Stiletto can be programmed, with each switch independently programmed into one of two modes. I definitely prefer the default mode and I’d only change if I were mainly going to use the Stiletto in High. Programming is very easy – you hold the programming switch down until the indicator shows blue and then press either the main-switch or tail-switch to toggle it between modes. This programming switch also activates the emergency strobe.

Having three levels and the ability to swap the order from L-H or H-L is very useful. The most used mode for me was the Low, followed by Medium. High was too powerful for most of my EDC uses, but great to have for quick blasts.

The previous gallery has two in-use photos on a pathway to compare these two lights. In the earlier beam-shot gallery you could see the effect of the even circle of light the Stiletto emits. Once you get outdoors and don’t have light bouncing round to fill in the areas beyond the outer edge of the beam – the tunnel vision effect becomes more pronounced. You can see with both the Defender and Stiletto aimed in the same way, the Defender view is complete where the Stiletto’s beam leaves you blind beyond the narrower circle of the beam. Using the Stiletto in unlit areas required more beam movement and scanning to see where your feet are going.

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 that covered in the review.

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.

I’m trying something slightly different and starting with what doesn’t work so well, so I can finish on a more positive note

_______________________________________________
What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________

Defender E2D Ultra – no direct access to Low.
Stiletto – tail-switch a bit too stiff to hold-on in tactical mode.
Stiletto – beam profile can cause tunnel vision in unlit outdoor areas.

_______________________________________________
Things I like
_______________________________________________

Defender E2D Ultra – Powerful output (that seems more than it is).
Defender E2D Ultra – Great beam profile.
Defender E2D Ultra – Excellent neutral beam colour.
Defender E2D Ultra – High and Low level.
Defender E2D Ultra – Lockout.
Defender E2D Ultra – Slim and easy to carry.
Defender E2D Ultra – Super quality build.
Stiletto – Very ‘pocket friendly’ shape.
Stiletto – Choice of modes.
Stiletto – Two switches, side and tail.
Stiletto – Programmable modes for switches.
Stiletto – USB chargeable.
Stiletto – Fuel gauge indicator.
Backed by Surefire’s guarantee.

 

Discussing the Review:

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Knife Review: Kizlyar Supreme – Sturm and Survivalist X

This review features two knives from Kizlyar Supreme, the Sturm and Survivalist X. I have a soft spot for hollow handle knives, and am always on the lookout for a properly made one that can be used without worrying it will come apart; this is what drew me to the Survivalist X hollow handle knife. To partner this we have the Sturm, a smaller general purpose blade, and for this review in a high hardness steel, PGK from German steel makers Lohmann.

As soon as I came across knife makers Kizlyar Supreme I was impressed with the range of great designs and was very keen to try out some of their knives. Kizlyar Supreme launched as a company in 2011 thanks to the enthusiasm and dedication of its founders, with the intention to provide great designs using high grade materials yet remain affordable.

A few more details:

What’s in the box?:

The boxed Sturm and Survivalist X.


A good look round the Sturm’s sheath – Things to look out for here are:

I’d go so far as to call the Sturm’s sheath a ‘technical mounting platform’ due to its mass of design features and practicality. As you will see in the photos, the sheath is indexed so the blade will only fit into it one way. Though not initially appearing ambidextrous, if the four bolts holding the sheath to the mount are removed, you can flip the sheath over to make it left-handed. While doing this you can also swap from vertical to horizontal carry by turning the mount 90 degrees.


A good look round the Sturm – Things to look out for here are:

The Sturm uses a handle Kizlyar Supreme use for several other models. The blade is a convenient size for most tasks and keeps thing simple with a full flat grind.


A good look round the Survivalist X’s sheath – Things to look out for here are:

Well, in terms of preparedness, even the Survivalist X’s sheath is ready for anything. Packed with features and utility it is certainly comprehensively equipped.


A good look round the Survivalist X – Things to look out for here are:

The survivalist X is a substantial knife, there is no missing its presence, and the hollow handle gives it a particular look and feel.


The Survivalist X’s hollow handle and capsule:

I’m sure we have all had those cheap and cheerful versions and found them not to live up to expectation, but be prepared for something entirely different.
Kizlyar Supreme have ensured there is the maximum amount of metal in the handle tube and blade tang to keep the strength very high. The view into the end of the handle shows the blade tang which comes right up to the base of the capsule, absolutely as far as possible.
Also shown are the capsule contents; fishing kit, wire, sewing kit with safety pin, matches and striker and plasters.


The Blade and Handle – Detailed Measurements:

For full details of the tests and measurements carried out and an explanation of the results, see the page – Knife Technical Testing – How It’s Done.

The Sturm’s blade is made from Lohmann PGK steel, and the Survivalist X’s from D2.


On the day it was measured, the Sturm in PGK steel had the best SET test result I had yet measured. The lower the Series 2 degradation (S2) figure is, the more resistant the edge is to being rolled. The recovery strop process shows if the edge was permanently damaged or chipped, or can be fully recovered.
Here you can see the PGK outperforming the D2 steel by a good margin. This is not saying the D2 is bad, in fact the D2 is good, just that the PGK performs better in this test.

Being a new steel to me, I checked the composition which is listed as:
Name – Lohmann PGK
Base – Fe
C – 1.2
Cr – 8.5
Mo – 1.5
V – 2
W – 1.5
Si – 1


What is it like to use?

Picking up the Sturm was like finding an old pair of shoes that fit perfectly. No adjusting or finding my way with this knife, instead just getting on with whatever task. The size of the Sturm is ideal for most of the general cutting tasks you might want a fixed blade for.

The lips of the sheath had arrived with some rough edges from the moulding and these were becoming annoying. Once trimmed off, the feel was transformed as when unsheathing the knife you push onto the lips with your thumb. The retention is a bit strong to just pull the Sturm out without the thumb lever, but is possible when you really have to.

Hollow handles – are they a love or hate thing? If the knife is not well made and the blade comes off, then clearly hate, but if the handle and blade are well fixed and don’t come loose, what then? The Survivalist X has had a hard time from me, heavy chopping and into hard woods; I wanted to see if I could get the blade to shift in the handle – so far not a hint of movement.

So, the Survivalist X’s blade/handle construction is solid and doesn’t look like a weak point at all, then we have the fact it is a round handle. True, a round handle is not the best as it lacks indexing for the grip. You do have to keep an eye on the blade orientation, and in heavy chopping it can spin and twist a little. Nothing unexpected there. The knurling gives good grip without being too abrasive. It is actually not a bad thing that you have to pay attention to the knife and your grip, and I’ve not found this to be a problem.

The Survivalist X is a heavy hitter, and is heavy to carry, so take it when you want a big camp knife, or don’t want to carry a hatchet as well as a knife.


One questionable feature for me is the bone cracker wedge on the Survivalist X’s spine; it is like nothing I’ve seen before. A big knife like this is also good for batoning larger logs, but this wedge damages the baton more than a straight spine. How often do you need to crack bones instead of cutting at the joints? Not sure about that.

I must also mention that the factory edges on both knifes were superb, with good angles, and in hard steels – though not essential, it is very nice to have super sharp blades out of the box.

The Sturm has several different steel choices and the PGK steel has been a really interesting one. I thought I had an issue when cutting packing straps as the edge seemed to dull straight away when cutting some of these, yet as you have seen before, it’s structural edge testing results very very good. I decided to change the edge angle, and it was very slow to sharpen on a belt, showing how hard and wear resistant the PGK steel is. After this reprofile I haven’t had anything similar happen, so it appears to have been an anomaly.

I also can’t quite work it out as a steel, as when I examine the edge for defects, I see reflections that would normally indicate edge damage, yet the Sturm remains sharp and cuts well, defying the normal observations. The bottom line here is that despite what I think I see, the Sturm keeps cutting.

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.

I’m trying something slightly different and starting with what doesn’t work so well, so I can finish on a more positive note

_______________________________________________
What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________

Sturm – The sheath lips needed mould flashings to be trimmed.
Survivalist X – For a ‘Survival’ Knife I’d prefer a more stainless steel than D2.
Survivalist X – The exposed press-studs scratch the handle.

_______________________________________________
Things I like
_______________________________________________

Sturm – Excellent handle comfort and indexing.
Sturm – Blade geometry works well.
Sturm – Range of steels to choose from.
Sturm – Hugely versatile sheath and mounting options.
Sturm – Secure, strap-free knife retention.
Sturm – Great general purpose size.
Sturm – The PGK steel just seems to keep on cutting.
Survivalist X – Very strong construction.
Survivalist X – Big hollow-handled knife – what is not to like?
Survivalist X – Fantastic chopping performance.
Survivalist X – Feature-packed sheath with lots of options.
Both – Very good factory edges.

 

Discussing the Review:

The ideal place to discuss this review is on the Tactical Reviews Facebook Page
Please visit there and start/join the conversation.

As well as the Tactical Reviews Facebook Page, please consider visiting one of the following to start/join in any discussion.

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

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

The BESS Exchange – A forum discussing technical aspects of sharpness and truly understanding your sharpening process.

Knife Review: Oberland Arms Wuiderer Sepp

This review of the Oberland Arms Wuiderer Sepp knife is a natural follow-on from the previously published review of the Oberland Arms Jager Sepp knife, with both being designed by Tommaso Rumici to specifically meet requirements Matthias Hainich (Executive Director of OA) had for the knives. Though initially the Wuiderer Sepp was not the one I would have picked up first, its capabilities and versatility has made it my favourite little-big-knife.

A few more details:

What’s in the box?:

Actually this section is incorrectly named for the Oberland Arms knives, as they don’t have a box, but come in a zip-lock plastic bag; more like bulk supply standard issue kit than a retail product.


A good look round the Wuiderer Sepp’s Sheath – Things to look out for here are:

An interesting Kydex liner/fabric outer combination allowing for secure knife retention without additional straps, and the user can choose right or left handed configuration. The MOLLE strap fixture is unlike any other I have seen, only using a fabric tab to secure the strap.


A good look round the Wuiderer Sepp – Things to look out for here are:

This knife has inspired me to class it as a little-big-knife – the power and presence of a Big knife, but actually it is not that big. Come back to this gallery after reading the design insights in the ‘Explained by the Maker’ section.


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.

Tommaso Rumici has been kind enough to talk to me about this knife and the design process. This is part two of an interview first published in the review of the Oberland Arms Jager Sepp knife:

Still on the steel, are there any other factors or special processing/heat treatments to support the choice of D2 over other steels?

“In the past years, Viper has acquired a big know how about D2 heat treating. They usually do vacuum treatment, double tempering, and a final cryogenic phase. I can’t go more in details, but the final result is really interesting, on the field.
After 14 years in the knife industry, I’m convinced that a correct heat treatment is far more important than the alloy itself (obviously if we choose among good ones).
During my continuous studies and tests, several times I compared the same steel, treated by different manufacturers, with opposite results: one worked well, another seemed not even the same steel.”

Were the 3D milled handle scales something you had included in a design before? How was it working with this type of production? Did you do the 3D modelling?

“I wanted these knives to have a family feeling with the Oberland rifles, so I inspired to the texture applied to their AR15 handguards and magazines. In the past, David and Golia had milled scales, but this texture was developed for this project only.
The 3D was made directly by Viper. I usually prefer to do so, because every manufacturer uses different software and knows his machines, so the final result is far better.”

Can you talk me through the factors affecting the length and thickness of the blade, the choice of grind, the positioning of jimping, the sharpening choil and any other details you are particularly pleased with or think are absolutely essential?

“When I started working with Matthias, he was really clear about one point: his knives, like his rifles, are made for real operators, non for the tacticool audience, so he asked for performances above all. So we choose grind and thickness to achieve toughness and cutting ability.
The length of the blade, on the short one, follows German regulations. If I remember correctly blades under 12 cm are easier to carry, and they are enough for the fighter-utility role. The other one in an heavy camp knife, so the blade had to be bigger and longer.
The blade design was quite easy compared to the handle. Mr. Hainich asked for something extremely comfortable, with enough grip to work in every environment, and big enough to be used with every kind of military glove. that’s why this handle is so big, compared to civilian knives.”

How did the prototyping go (how many versions)?

“I always try to reach final design before the prototyping phase, and so we did during this project. After Viper made the first prototypes, Oberland checked and tested them, and needed only minimal modifications before the production.”

Thanks go to Tommaso for taking the time to share this.

The Blade and Handle – Detailed Measurements:

For full details of the tests and measurements carried out and an explanation of the results, see the page – Knife Technical Testing – How It’s Done.

The blade is made from D2 steel.


What is it like to use?

Again and again, due to its capabilities, the Wuiderer Sepp gives me the sense it is a much larger knife than it actually is. It is not a small knife, but neither is it a big camp blade, yet it has plenty of chopping/cutting power.
Viewed next to the Jager Sepp, which is a typical size for general purpose utility fixed blade, the Wuiderer Sepp is not that much larger, but has a wider blade and a more weight-forward configuration. By having the full-flat-grind blade, you gain significant slicing ability, helping it to slice as well as a much smaller blade would.

While writing this review my wife passed me a box of frutta di marzapane that needed opening. With the laptop on my lap, the knife I had to hand was the Wuiderer Sepp, so I popped it out of the sheath and my wife exclaimed, “What is that?! Where did that axe come from?!” as she hadn’t noticed the sheathed blade sitting next to me.

The reason for sharing this is that the Wuiderer Sepp is relatively unobtrusive, especially in the sheath. The wide blade definitely gives it more presence, as proven by my wife’s reaction to its appearance, but overall it is nothing like the size of many ‘camp’ style blades.

On the subject of the sheath, this is the only area I’m not so sure about, and only really due to the MOLLE straps. With only the fabric tabs posted through a slot in the strap to retain/hold the end, this does not provide much strength. Fully woven into the full set of PALS webbing, the loading is spread over several strips of webbing, so it should not pull on the strap fixing too much. But used as I showed in the sheath section, where the straps are used as a belt loop, this strap fixing is not very stable – ideally it should be properly fitted to webbing, or a separate belt MOLLE adapter.

Tommaso Rumici, the designer, has been impressed with the performance of Viper’s D2, achieved through their own heat treat recipe. I can only agree. The Structural Edge Testing results in the technical testing section are very impressive and equal performances from other manufacturers using M390 and PSF27, and the result is quite a bit better than Viper’s own N690 (confirming the choice of this D2/heat treat). The recovery result is also important as it shows that the edge stability has not been achieved at the cost of creating brittleness – the edge is rolling rather than chipping and can be stropped back. I have used the Wuiderer Sepp for very heavy chopping, carving and other tasks and the edge just keeps holding. When resharpening, I took the original 46 degree factory edge down to 40 degrees, and further heavy use has not caused any damage.

Using a full flat grind turns what could have been a less useful brute of a blade, into an excellent all-rounder. I’ve used this to chop through good sized branches, all the way to the other extreme of cutting soft sponge foam rubber to size, and it worked well for all jobs.

With its purposeful geometry the Wuiderer Sepp cuts above its weight with a big-knife feel for those heavier jobs. I’ve used the term earlier in the review, which comes from the fact it can cut like a BIG knife, without being big, so somehow ‘little-big-knife’ just seems appropriate; it makes me question the need for anything larger (or smaller).


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.

I’m trying something slightly different and starting with what doesn’t work so well, so I can finish on a more positive note

_______________________________________________
What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________

Concerned that the sheath MOLLE strap fixing (fabric tab) is not stable enough.
No specific belt carry option provided.
D2 is only a semi-stainless steel.

_______________________________________________
Things I like
_______________________________________________

Cuts well above its weight – a real ‘little-big-knife’.
Very comfortable hand-filling handle.
Very good blade indexing due to handle design.
Excellent edge retention and edge stability.
Sheath can easily be switched between right and left-handed.
Good at finer cutting tasks as well as chopping.
Stable sheath retention that will hold in tip-up carry.
Fantastic all-rounder.

 

Discussing the Review:

The ideal place to discuss this review is on the Tactical Reviews Facebook Page
Please visit there and start/join the conversation.

As well as the Tactical Reviews Facebook Page, please consider visiting one of the following to start/join in any discussion.

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

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

The BESS Exchange – A forum discussing technical aspects of sharpness and truly understanding your sharpening process.

Gear Review: Wiley X Mega-Review! – Detection, Aspect and Vallus.

In this Wiley X Mega Review, I’m testing three recent models, the Detection, Aspect and Vallus. Each of these provide different looks, fit, features and lens specifications, giving this group a nice balanced mix. Since first finding Wiley X many years ago, I’ve not looked back when it comes to eye protection, lens quality, fit and style.

A little more Background:

In this group we have a flagship model, the Detection, with its set of five lenses to suit all lighting conditions without any reduction in eye protection. Frameless and with large wrap-around lenses the Detection is intended to provide maximum visibility and coverage ideal for, but not limited to, shooting.
Adding in the Aspect with emerald polarized lenses fills in more of the Wiley X offering, and the Vallus taking a third spot in this line-up rounds off a nicely balanced group.
Another crucial factor in the selection are those models in a size suited to my face. Wiley X offer a wide range of sizing options with the specifications clearly shown so you can find the right fit for you – another reason I find Wiley X difficult to beat.

The Detection:

What’s in the box?:


A good look round the Detection – Things to look out for here are:

Starting this gallery is a quick spin round the front, side and rear views, before moving onto the smaller details. Unlike most lens swapping glasses, the Detection lenses keep their nosepieces.


Lens swap on the Detection:

Most lens swapping designs have a moment of ‘should I be pulling/pushing that hard?’, but not with the Detection’s arm lock making swapping easier than any other I’ve used to date.


The Aspect:

What’s in the box?:


A good look round the Aspect – Things to look out for here are:

Starting this gallery is a quick spin round the front, side and rear views, before moving onto the smaller details. The Aspect has sprung hinges that allow the arms to both open up wider than the normal open position, to conform to larger heads, and also protect the hinges from over extension. This pair of Aspect glasses has the Emerald, polarized lenses for all the bells and whistles.


The Vallus:

What’s in the box?:


A good look round the Vallus – Things to look out for here are:

Starting this gallery is a quick spin round the front, side and rear views, before moving onto the smaller details. The Vallus is the most conventional in terms of ‘features’, but keeps thing simple and solid.


Technical Testing:

With a wide range of lenses, one of the specifications that is important to me is the light transmission. (I also have a hyper-sensitivity to light) using a fixed and stable light source and a lux meter, the transmission was measured to compare it to the Wiley X specifications. The results are shown as comments in the raw photos included in this gallery.


What it is like to use?

Truly an EDC for me, the time so far (as it does not end with this review) has given me some interesting material for three specific sections.

Protection test:

I couldn’t quite bring myself to shoot the brand new Wiley X models, but had an old pair of Wiley X made 5.11 Cavu glasses which were past their best. Testing these three new models inspired me to take the older Wiley X lenses out for a shootout!
Needing to choose silenced guns, I had a .410 shotgun, using .410 Long plus the Chiappa Little Badger in .22LR using subsonic hollow-point. Clearly the impact energy of the projectiles is quite different, but gives a stepping up of hitting power.

For the test, the glasses were held loosely and shot from around 15m. In both cases the lenses did come out of the frames, but had they been on a face, they would have been supported. The .410 was stopped by the lenses, but the .22 was not – still a very impressive result for a direct shot.


Wiley X saved me from serious eye injury:

It only has to happen once, so never let your guard down. Never, never go without eye protection even for seemingly safe jobs – the Wiley X Vallus has saved me from serious eye injury.

Despite spending plenty of time on ranges and using power tools and machinery, I have actually never had anything significant hit my eye protection. The mark on the lens shown in the gallery came from the freshly cut end of some coiled steel fencing wire that slipped from my grip and sprung straight into my face, with force, literally scoring a bullseye. Were it not for the Wiley X Vallus lens, I’d have been pulling out this wire from deep inside my eye; it all happened so quickly.

Initially I was annoying that it happened with a two week old pair of glasses, but I’d rather that than the alternative. I’m always super paranoid about eye protection, and in this case I have no doubt it would have been very bad, so am extremely glad it was Wiley X I was wearing.


Every day with Wiley X:

Readers who know me might remember I have a condition giving me hyper-sensitivity to light, and that this means I wear sunglasses every day at all times I am outside during daylight hours, and frequently indoors as well.

So when I say I have lived with these sunglasses from Wiley X, I have lived with them and worn them for hours and hours every day for months.

Detection – For shooting or any action sport, the Detection is superb. Its large wrap-around frameless lenses give you uninterrupted vision covering all your peripheral vision as well (good for picking up moving objects). The level of cover also ensures the highest level of protection from flying fragments.

Aspect – With glare being one of the worst things for my light sensitivity, polarized lenses are a real eye-saver. Generally I prefer the neutral type of lens (smoke/grey) so the Emerald is not something I might have jumped at, but if I allow myself to consider looks, well, these got more compliments than any eyewear I’ve worn before.

Aspect – The sprung arms on the Aspect afford it a level of comfort and ease of putting them on, but there is a small ‘feature’ which becomes more obvious over time. When you put them on, compared to arms without the sprung hinges, the Aspect will stay where it was when you let go. So if it is slightly crooked, the arms are not strong enough to straighten them on your face. You do need to ensure you put them straight. If you are popping them on and off quite a bit, this becomes more noticeable, where the standard hinge glasses, just snap into place, these don’t. A trade-off for the comfort.

Vallus – I’d not normally go for the non-polarized lens for my main eyewear, but the Vallus has claimed its spot thanks to the great comfort and excellent side protection due to the wide arms. The neutral colour lens works well, and not being polarized also means there are absolutely no ‘screen viewing issues’ which are a common hazard of the polarized lens.

Vallus – As described earlier, the Vallus has also actually saved the sight in my right eye, so I do have an even greater affection for them.


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 that covered in the review.

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.

I’m trying something slightly different and starting with what doesn’t work so well, so I can finish on a more positive note

_______________________________________________
What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________

Detection – lens holder in case can leave a mark on the lens which can be cleaned off. (Wiley X are already fixing this)
Aspect – Arm sprung hinge prevents the glasses auto-centring on your face.

_______________________________________________
Things I like
_______________________________________________

Detection – full coverage without the loss of any peripheral vision.
Detection – super easy lens swapping.
Detection – lenses to suit all lighting conditions.
Aspect – great comfort due to sprung arm hinges.
Aspect – fantastic Emerald polarized lens.
Vallus – light and comfortable.
Vallus – good side protection from wide arms.

 

Discussing the Review:

The ideal place to discuss this review is on the Tactical Reviews Facebook Page
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Knife Review: Viper Tecnocut Dan 1 and Dan 2

Could the Dan (1 and 2) by Viper Tecnocut be the perfect EDC knife? It was during a meeting with Tommaso Rumici (the designer of the Dan) about a completely different fixed blade design of his, that Tommaso produced a Dan 2 from his pocket and handed it to me. We were still talking knives, but now onto something very different. Intended as an easy to carry, and as widely ‘EDC Legal’ as possible pocket knife (due to size and lack of a lock), the Dan gets so much right, it was an instant hit with me. Since then I’ve not been able to put it down. In this review of the Viper Dan 1 and 2, I take a very close look at this knife and why it works so well.

A few more details:

What’s in the box?:

The two knives in this review were provided without packaging or any accessories as they came directly from the Viper Tecnocut display stand at IWA 2019. This also means they have been handled and ‘played with’ by hundreds of people during the show, so might not be in perfect condition.

A good look round the Dan 1 in Zircote Wood – Things to look out for here are:

As you take in the details the quality of finish is clear, along with how sleek and efficient each of the design elements are.


A good look round the Dan 2 in Burgundy Canvas – Things to look out for here are:

Getting a sense for the different handle material, but the main difference is the wharncliffe blade of the Dan 2.


Explained by the Maker:

As I mentioned in the introduction, while at IWA 2019 I had the good fortune to both be introduced to this knife by, and able to talk about it with, its designer Tommaso Rumici.

Tommaso presenting the knife to me:

Rather than repeating the explanation, I’d recommend you visit Tommaso Rumici’s write up of the Dan here, where Tommaso gives you the background story of this excellent knife, including where the name came from.

With kind permission from Tommaso, here are a couple of his concept design sketches for the Dan.


The Blade and Handle – Detailed Measurements:

For full details of the tests and measurements carried out and an explanation of the results, see the page – Knife Technical Testing – How It’s Done.

Take note of some results, like the rolled cutting edge length, and thickness behind the edge, which are particularly relevant when comparing the Dan 1 and 2.

The blade is made from N690 steel.


What is it like to use?

It’s a really unusual design, being a cross between a friction-folder and a slip-joint. The Dan can be opened two-handed, or one-handed and although the opening/closing torque of the slip-joint mechanism is nothing to write home about, the protruding tang sits nicely under the thumb allowing you to hold the blade open.

This knife (either blade style) has actually converted me to pocket clip carry. Before ‘Dan’, I had not found a knife/clip design I felt comfortable with. It HAS to be deep carry, sticking up above the pocket edge is no good (for me). Then there is the clip and handle texture combination. My biggest complaint is how vicious most knife clips, particularly the underlying handle surface, are to the pocket material and edge; way beyond the need to hold it in place, and in some cases almost impossible to fit it onto the pocket or get it off again. If you like ripped pockets, great, but not me.

Instead the Dan (both handle materials on test), has the deep pocket carry clip with a clip spring strength that holds, and has not let it go astray, yet is easy to fit and remove. The handle material finish is smooth without being slippery, so provides some grip but is not overly abrasive to the pocket material.

I’ve been carrying this knife daily for 9 months now – pocket clip carry – totally unheard of for me.

Using the short tang (shorter than most friction folders) to open the knife one handed does require some care and concentration as it is very easy to turn the knife into your thumb pad (as ably demonstrated in the photos) and have it bite you. It does require a determined and positive approach to keep from cutting yourself.


Is it perfect? Clearly, as I’m about to show, for me it is not quite there, as I have made a couple of small modifications.

However the initial inspiration for this modification was entirely due to UK EDC carry law – a cutting edge less than 3″. Proven by many cases, this is typically a measurement of the cutting edge being rolled along a ruler, not the straight line measurement. With its sloping back handles, the Dan also has a longer cutting edge than blade length. Combining these factors, the Dan 1 falls foul, by 3mm, of the UK EDC legal carry requirement. I decided to rectify this with a Dremel and remove 3mm of cutting edge while at the same time creating a sharpening choil (which I prefer anyway).

With the success of the Dan 1 modification I decided I needed to do the same to the Dan 2 though this did not have the same EDC legal issue.

For me these are both now the closest I’ve yet found for a perfect EDC legal folding knife. OK, nothing is perfect, but these knives are superb!


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.

I’m trying something new this time and starting with what doesn’t work so well, so I can finish on a more positive note

_______________________________________________
What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________

The Dan 1 having a slightly over-long cutting edge for UK EDC Legal.
One-handed opening can be a little hazardous.

_______________________________________________
Things I like
_______________________________________________

Easy to carry streamlined design.
Deep-carry pocket friendly clip.
Ambidextrous pocket clip.
Non-locking friction-folder/slip-joint.
Widely Every-Day-Carry legal friendly (check local laws).
Choice of blade shape and handle material.
Blade tang can be gripped to prevent accidental closure.

 

Discussing the Review:

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If you read the review entirely on Tactical Reviews, please consider visiting one of the following to start/join in any discussion.

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The BESS Exchange – A forum discussing technical aspects of sharpness and truly understanding your sharpening process.

Knife Review: Spyderco Subvert

Spyderco’s Subvert is a knife I was drawn to straight away, but I did not expect it to make such an impression on me. Ok, it’s bright orange, so is going to get my attention; orange being one of my favoured colours for keeping track of things. But there is so much more – the flowing lines somehow disguise the presence of such a large blade, leading many to wonder how they managed to fit it into that handle. In this review of the Spyderco Subvert, I’ll give you a close-up of all the details and tell you why I’m not letting this one go any time soon.

A few more details:

What’s in the box?:


A good look round the Subvert – Things to look out for here are:

The choice of materials and how they come together has resulted in a lot of transitions, all of which are dealt with sympathetically and with great attention to detail. A very impressive build, that continues to impress.


The Blade and Handle – Detailed Measurements:

For full details of the tests and measurements carried out and an explanation of the results, see the page – Knife Technical Testing – How It’s Done.

The blade is made from CPM S30V steel.


What it is like to use?

That photo says something loud and clear, ‘drama’, and that is where I’ll start with the Subvert. Swinging open that lovely large blade is full of drama and feels like deploying something serious. Thanks to the super smooth bearings, once free of the detent, that blade swings completely free. Rolling it round to the solid clunk of the lock kicking in just feels so good. A generous size of opening hole ensures no trouble getting it moving and taking it to fully open without thinking.

I’ve heard a few comments questioning if that blade is actually practical to use. It is certainly a bit different than you might be used to, and can require you to adapt your approach to a cut, but it is always rewarding to use.

The blade stock is thick, and the tip has a wide angle, both of which make it less suited to piercing. However, this tip still works well enough, and adds a level of control, as it is often easy to go too deep with piercing cuts. At the widest part, the blade has been brought down to a nice slim angle making this the best place for deeper cuts; at this point on the blade it is an especially fierce cutter.

Though it is a big folder with a thick blade, that blade has a full flat grind, making the cutting efficiency very good. The overall size does make it a positive choice to carry, but why wouldn’t you?

There is a definite feeling that every part of the knife has been positively designed. What am I saying? When you design anything, some parts of it can end up ‘just being’, passively designing themselves or simply filling in a gap between two other parts. This is no bad thing, just an observation, and in the case of the Subvert, as you look closely at every part, there is a level of positive design and intended choices that fills it with purpose.

I have found myself questioning some of those choices, like a single position pocket clip. More and more frequently, folding knives are offered with multi-position pocket clips, and if you are left-handed or prefer tip up carry then you can change it around. That choice however does make a design messy with milled areas and holes cluttering the handle. Sticking to a single position keeps the rest of the design simpler and more elegant.

Have a flip through this gallery…


I take an XL glove, so you can see it is a good size. It doesn’t feel too large and the size of the blade always brings on a grin.

It is getting to a size that pocket carry might be pushing it, so I wanted to use a pouch. A happy coincidence meant I gave it a try in the Nitecore NCP30, and this almost felt made for it and meant I could go with horizontal or vertical belt carry. I also frequently had this on the strap of a shoulder bag (see gallery).

Is the Subvert the most practical knife you could carry? Not in my opinion. Is the Subvert great fun to use and carry, and does it make you grin when you swing open that blade? Yes, in spades.

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
_______________________________________________

Large dramatic blade.
Every detail carefully thought out.
Superb fit and finish.
Single position pocket clip. (yes it is in both lists)
Orange handles and contrast spacer.
Silky smooth bearing.
Strong thick blade.
Full Flat Grind (making that thick blade a good slicer).
Excellent factory edge.

_______________________________________________
What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________

Not the most practical blade shape.
Single position pocket clip. (yes it is in both lists)
Curvy edge will be a bit more challenging to maintain.

 

Discussing the Review:

The ideal place to discuss this review is on the Tactical Reviews Facebook Page
Please visit there and start/join the conversation.

If you read the review entirely on Tactical Reviews, please consider visiting one of the following to start/join in any discussion.

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

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

The BESS Exchange – A forum discussing technical aspects of sharpness and truly understanding your sharpening process.

Gear Review: Nordic Heat Handwarmer and USB Powerbank 10,000mAh

After just popping by for a chat with the nice folks of Nordic Heat at IWA, I found myself leaving with their Large Handwarmer / USB Powerbank. In this review of the Nordic Heat 10,000mAh Handwarmer and USB Powerbank, as well as getting a good feel for it, I have carried out some detailed measurements of output performance for both the heating and USB powerbank.


Thermal image taken with FLIR Scout TK

A few more details:

What’s in the box?:

This is how the Large Handwarmer / USB Powerbank arrives.


A good look round the Handwarmer / USB Powerbank:

It’s a simple concept really, it gets hot, and can charge your phone (or other USB device). Here are the details.


In The Laboratory:

For these tests, I wanted to measure the actual performance of the USB powerbank aspects and then move onto the heat output.
First are a couple of USB power traces for both charging using the supplier charger and cable and then with the powerbank discharging into a large load, again using the supplied cable.
Being a special triple connector cable, I suspect there is some intentional throttling as it only charges at 1A, and for the output it only manages around 1.3A with the supplied cable.


Now, putting aside the supplied charger and cable and recharging with a high power USB charger (6A) and high current cable, the powerbank charges at 2A.

Then seeing what output we get using a high current USB-A to USB-C cable into the large load. Now the powerbank outputs 2.4 – 2.5A. From the graph it does look like this is pushing the output to its limits as we see some power switching noise, but a very solid performance.


A measurement I was not able to make a graph of is the cumulative output measured charging phones. This came to 32.873Wh or 6913.2mAh.


To test the heating output of this handwarmer, a dual probe digital thermometer was used to measure the ambient and surface temperature of the handwarmer. This allows the ambient temperature to be taken away from the surface temperature to remove external temperature variations. The measurements were logged (by video) and used for this graph.

The temperature shown is Degrees C above ambient, and as you can see the output is fantastically stable.

What it is like to use?

Nordic Heat have two sizes of handwarmer/powerbank. As you can see, this larger version, is a good handful for a hand that takes an XL glove size. The smaller version might be a better fit for some, but this does compromise on heating time and USB output power, a compromise worth considering.

There is a built-in light which you access via the power button. It can make the handwarmer into a torch with a very long runtime. A useful and usable addition. Just remember that you are taking from the available power for hand warming or device charging.

Our growing reliability on mobile phones and tablets makes powerbanks almost a necessity, especially in remote areas. Performance as a powerbank is good (see the technical testing section), and you can power up devices with a solid 2A output.


Not quite qualifying as technical testing, I thought it was important to check the heat distribution of the handwarmer to ensure it didn’t have cold spots or problems with heat distribution. So for this I aimed a FLIR Scout TK at it. In this set of images, we start with a control shot with the handwarmer off and left to reach ambient temperature. There is little contrast in the image as there isn’t really any heat gradient apparent. After switching on the handwarmer and leaving it to get up to temperature the heated portion stands out clearly. The heat distribution is nice and even and extends fully over the body, with only the unheated plastic top remaining cooler. In the last image I put my warm, uncovered, hand into view to show how the handwarmer is properly above body temperature and will provide good heating.


Do you need one? Well, do you have a USB powered mobile device – then that is yes for its powerbank capability. Do you like cold hands and feet? No, then that is yes for the handwarmer / heating facility.

Why did I say feet? During testing I found that this wasn’t just something to take when venturing outdoors, but any time you want a heat pack. I’ve used it to warm up my feet in a cold bed, to apply heat to a pulled muscle, to preheat hands prior to putting non-heated gloves on, and generally provide comfort where a bit of warmth helps.

The on-demand heat is where this wins over every other heating option. No boiling water, microwaving gels, lighting a fuel catalyser, just switch on and off as required, anywhere.

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
_______________________________________________

Good battery capacity.
2A+ USB output.
Over 7.5h heating on a full charge.
Excellent heat distribution.
Useful to also have a light.
Comes with cable and charger.

_______________________________________________
What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________

Supplied USB cable seems to limit output to 1A.
Supplied charger only provides 1A.

Light Review: Rovyvon A5, A8 and Angel Eyes E300S

Quite literally a ‘highlight’ from IWA 2019 are these lights from Rovyvon, so I was excited to get these on test and see what they could really do. In this review I’ll be comparing the Rovyvon A5 keychain light with two of the same size A8 variants, plus the E300S ‘Angel Eyes’, a larger but still EDC sized right-angle light. There is lots to see, especially with all the extra functions crammed into the A5 and A8 models!

I got this test group from Heinnie Haynes – if you don’t know this online shop you should do.

Taking a look at the A5 and A8:

The A5, and A8 models are all presented in the same way, so this is a quick look at the first one I unpacked.


More of the details of the A5 and A8 models.


Taking a look at the E300S Angel Eyes:

Unpacking the Rovyvon Angel Eyes.


The details of the Rovyvon Angel Eyes.


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 my wife won’t have one!

Here they all are, the different models, and different modes. Check the image caption for the notes.


Batteries and output:

These lights run on built-in 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.

First up here are the A5 and A8 models and each measurable output. The value measured for UV will be a combination of visible blue light that is output or fluorescence of the test instrument and cannot be taken as a true UV measurement. ‘Max at Turn On’ is NOT an ANSI measurement, but a maximum value when switching on. (‘Below T’ means the output was below the threshold that could be measured.)

Then the E300S Angel Eyes. ‘Turn On’ is NOT an ANSI measurement, but a maximum value when switching on. Moon mode is not really 0lm, it is just below the threshold that could be measured.


Runtime and Charging Time:

In this gallery are charging traces recorded from a USB power monitor, plus the recorded output traces from an Integrating Sphere. Take your time here there is a lot of information.


The Rovyvon lights in use:

I’d had a good play with these lights at IWA, but there is still that frustration waiting for the first charge to complete – all blue – all good to go!

Before I go on, this photo summarises why these lights are so good, and that is their versatility. The A5 and A8 models are all multi colour, multi-function and super compact, and the E300S is very functional and powerful.

Staying on that line of thought, two of the models in this review have UV, and one is GITD. A small gallery to show these features in action.


The timing of this review means I have actually been carrying these daily for several months now. Electronic switches means there is always a chance that parasitic drain (standby circuit power) will deplete the battery, but there has been absolutely no sign of that.

One tiny light which has several functions, definitely makes itself very useful. UV is one of my favourite secondary functions for which I normally have to carry another light. Checking bank notes and looking for elusive little lost objects can be transformed with UV light. The extra colours of light available on the A5 and A8’s secondary side outputs all fit well with other needs; you being seen, marker lights, warnings, gentle night lighting or reading, the list goes on. What do you find most useful?

It is always challenging to design easy to use controls for multiple functions, especially with only a single button (or two with the E300S), and the Rovyvon lights use a variety of press-and-hold or multi-clicks. Depending on your current dexterity (which tends to vary when cold/tired/etc), you can easily get this wrong. The worst case result is getting maximum output when you didn’t want it. This is not a criticism of the Rovyvon lights, but only a consequence of the multi-function / single button interface.

However, with the A5/A8 and E300S there is a conflict in the user interface. To get the lowest level on the A5/A8 you double click, but the E300S requires a press-and-hold. So use the E300S, and when you pick up an A8, and press-and-hold expecting to moon mode, instead you get full blast. As these are both Rovyvon lights I would have hoped for some consistency in the UI across models to prevent this accidental blinding.

PWM (pulse width modulation – strobing the output to achieve lower levels) is a bugbear of mine. Any movement becomes flickery or stuttering. Unfortunately all the Rovyvon lights use this. The E300S uses a sufficiently high frequency that it does not present as a problem, but the A5 and A8, on all lower level outputs, have very obvious flickering whenever moving. If everything is static, then this isn’t visible, but if you are walking along or scanning a space you will see flickering. There are sometimes design limitations that force the use of PWM, as the circuitry needed for constant output tends to be larger, so the small size of these light might be the reason for this compromise. I hope Rovyvon find a way to get rid of the PWM (or at least increase the frequency) as these lights would be outstanding if they didn’t flicker.

Level spacing on the A5/A8 is good, but on the E300S there is much too large a step up from the lowest level to the next one, going from ~1lm to 70lm. It really needs a 5-10lm step.

With such high outputs available from a very small light, the overall runtime at these high levels is pretty low (A5/A8), so if you like using them on full blast, you’ll be recharging quite often, but if you mainly use the lower levels or side light functions, EDC use will be covered for a very reasonable time. USB recharging makes them very easy to top up.

The clear plastic bodies are light and strong with the added benefit of showing the neat internals. They have stood up to every day keychain use along with inevitable drops, bumps and rubbing against keys.

All the details are refined and functional with great clips, carry options and spares.

Review Summary

_______________________________________________
Things I like
_______________________________________________

Multiple LEDs and output options.
Compact and lightweight.
Robust construction.
USB charging.
Excellent fit and finish.
Fully fitted out with accessories.

_______________________________________________
What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________

PWM – flickering is always a problem.
IP65 rated, so not actually waterproof.
Level spacing on E300S has too large a jump between the lowest levels.

 

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, or start, a discussion.

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Gear/Gun Review: Chiappa Little Badger Pt.1 – Folding Survival Rifle

This is Part One of a two part review featuring the Chiappa Firearms Little Badger folding survival rifle. Ever since I first saw this rifle, it’s been in my sights for an in-depth test and review. The Little Badger has a charm and practicality in its simplicity and easy of carry, and I can’t help but be reminded of the classic 1973 film ‘The Day of the Jackal’.
In this, Part One, of the review we start with a good look round the Little Badger, then onto the official accessories from Chiappa, and finally a cracking little 1-4×20 scope from In Your Sights, that has been a great match for this excellent super-light rifle.

The details:

First view:

The folding rifle as it arrives.


A good look round the Little Badger – Things to look out for here are:

Taking in all the details and options for add-ons. Moderator threading, open sights, rails, action and initial adjustments.


Little Badger Accessories:

Chiappa offer several accessories for the Little Badger including a cleaning kit handle, hammer extension and pistol grip.


A suitable scope – In Your Sights ATOM 1-4×20:

Being a small and light rifle, it needed a suitable compact scope, and in my search for an ideal match I came across the IYS (In Your Sights) ATOM 1-4×20 compact zoom rifle scope. This gallery gives you a good look round, and through, the scope.


And there is more in Pt 2:

It’s not over yet! There has just been too much to look at all in one go.
Please see ‘Fully Loaded!’, Part 2 of this review for, Modifications, What it is like to use?, Test Results and the Review Summary.

 

Discussing the Review:

The ideal place to discuss this review is on the Tactical Reviews Facebook Page
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Knife Review: Oberland Arms Jager Sepp

Finding Oberland Arms’ knives was an outstanding highlight of IWA 2018, and it became a mission of mine to review them. A happy coincidence that one other IWA 2018 highlight happened to be another knife designed by Tommaso Rumici who is the designer of the Jager Sepp on review here.
Everything came together nicely at IWA 2019, meetings with Tommaso, Viper Tecnocut and Matthias Hainich of Oberland Arms, and here is the first of two reviews for Oberland Arms knives (the Wuiderer Sepp is currently in testing).

A few more details:

No unnecessary frills with packaging that will just be discarded, the Jager Sepp and Wuiderer Sepp arrive in a plastic bag.

Starting with the sheath:

This is the one part not designed by Tommaso Rumici, but instead by the team at Oberland Arms. It has a lot of interesting features shown in the gallery.


A good look round the Jager Sepp – Things to look out for here are:

Overall there is a real sense of purpose and lack of unnecessary frills on the Jager Sepp.


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.

Tommaso Rumici has been kind enough to talk to me about this knife and the design process. I am also reviewing the larger Oberland Arms ‘Wuiderer Sepp’. The interview with Tommaso is in two parts, with this review containing Part 1:

This image of the first sketch of the final design of the Jager Sepp has been kindly provided to me by Tommaso Rumici.

How did you get involved with Oberland Arms to design these knives?

“Me and Matthias Hainich, CEO of Oberland Arms, met during an IWA Show. I was helping at Viper’s booth, and he was looking for someone to produce knives for his brand. At the beginning, we started with a lightly modified version of the Viper David, then we continued with exclusive designs, made for Oberland following his specifications and requests.”

Can you talk me through the design brief, and how far developed it was when given to you?
“During September 2016, Mr. Hainich sent me a list of specifications for the new knife, with some indications about the tasks it would have been able to accomplish, and a few examples of existing knives with the same characteristics.
The new knife was going to be a fixed blade, with green or coyote G10 handle, 11,9cm blade with 5mm thickness, flat grind, with stonewashed finish, and a Kydex/Nylon sheath.
I started working, exchanging emails with Matthias, and before October we arrived to the final design of the smaller one.
Since Mr. Hainich is a fan of my Carnera, we also tried a bigger blade with a similar Bowie design (but smaller than Carnera’s one, which is too big for a military knife). This blade became the bigger one.
(The Wuiderer Sepp.)

At the end, we had a meeting with Mr. Miniutti (Viper), and checked everything before production. During that meeting, we decided for the Black Stonewashed PVD, and to work on three different handles: OD green, coyote and wolf grey G10.”

There was a repeated question I got when talking to others about these knives – why D2?
AISI D2 is a good steel for hard working tools. It holds a good edge, it’s tougher than a lot of “inox”, and more stainless than high carbon steels, like 1095. It isn’t the latest alloy invented but, in my opinion, it’s a great choice for a military knife, that can be abused or lost in the field, because it gives you great performances, it’s difficult to break, while keeping a great price/performances balance.
Speaking of the real life, I tested several D2 knives made by Viper, and I’m really satisfied about how they work. Especially the Viper Tank, designed to be an heavy outdoor tool.

Part 2 of this interview will be in the Oberland Arms Wuiderer Sepp Review.

In the Lab – Technical Testing!:

Now even more detailed!

Taking things far beyond most knife specifications, in this section I will be carrying out a detailed examination of geometry, balance, edge bevels, factory sharpness and structural edge testing using the industry leading measuring tools.

These measuring tools include a Vernier protractor, callipers, fixed radius gauges, the unique Arc Master adjustable radius gauge, Edge On Up’s BESS Certified PT50A and SET tester along with CATRA’s Hobbigoni LASER Edge Protractor.
The BESS ‘C’ scale of sharpness (Brubacher Edge Sharpness Scale) will be used to verify the sharpness of the factory edge and allow the knife to be brought to a minimum standard sharpness before testing a blade’s cutting performance.


The measurements have been tabulated and are presented along with a few reference blades. 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.

The first image in this gallery shows the standard review measurements, however, this is the first review on Tactical Reviews to feature a new measurement. Using the Edge On Up Structural Edge Tester (SET) to measure the resistance of a knife’s edge to rolling.

This is to be expanded upon in future articles, but for now, in the SET results the key factors are:
Series 1 Degradation – how much damage the edge suffers from one edge rolling cycle. The damage is represented by an increase in the BESS ‘C’ score. (Averages also shown for A and B)
Series 2 Degradation – how much damage the edge suffers from one further edge rolling cycle. (Averages also shown for A and B)
Degradation after strop – has the edge been permanently damaged/chipped or can it be recovered with stropping? A negative number means it actually improved from the starting figure, suggesting there may have already been some rolling of the edge before testing. (Averages also shown for A and B)


What it is like to use?

Of Oberland Arms’ three fixed blade knives (at the time of review), the Jager Sepp would be the all-rounder in terms of size (the main reason I’m testing it first). With a 12cm blade (just under 5″) it is in that ideal general-purpose-blade length. The high, almost full, flat grind gives the blade strength combined with powerful cutting ability.

Good handle design provides immediate indexing of the blade, comfort and grip options. On picking up the Jager Sepp, this is what strikes you straight away. It just sits in your hand, balanced nicely on your first finger, nimble and ready to work; a natural extension of your hand. The grip is a generous size without being overly large, and its size and shape have not presented me with any hotspots when working it hard. Grip indexing works almost as well in a reverse grip, considering the forward grip has that first finger groove, this is impressive.

For a working knife, three elements are as important as each other. The blade, the handle and the sheath. In some cases the sheath can become the most important element, as a knife is no good to you if it is lost, or you can’t get to it when you need to. The Oberland Arms sheath is a great mix of clever design ideas and hits a lot of sweet spots.

The nylon outer shell holds a kydex liner, meaning no additional knife retention is needed, the kydex lips hold the Jager Sepp firmly in place even when mounted handle-down. A thumb ramp is incorporated into the kydex so you can easily unsheathe the knife quietly and in full control.

Ambidextrous use is catered for in the simplest way; the kydex liner is held in the outer sheath with a single bolt. This allows you to remove the kydex liner and flip it round for left-handed use – an excellent solution. I’ll cover more on the sheath in a dedicated gallery following this one.

On its first venture into the outdoors, I went with the factory edge, but found this a little too steep an angle (52 degrees), so took this to a total inclusive of 35 degrees. I find this a good compromise when I don’t want to go all the way to 30 degrees, but want a finer edge than a typical 40 degree.

OK, perhaps the elephant in the room – D2 steel. Once the wonder steel of legend, then becoming more mainstream, before being mostly discarded in favour of steels designed specifically for the knife industry. Is it too hard to sharpen, does it chip, does it rust, does that edge last well?

The SET testing results, included for the first time ever in a knife review, have been shown in isolation, as at the time of writing this test is still not fully proven. What I can say is that the results were in line with what I expected of D2. Those figures are a strong performance and the ability to recover means that there was no chipping. I’d say the heat treat on this by Viper Tecnocut has got it just right.

D2 by its very nature is going to be a bit harder to sharpen. Although I use a belt grinder, it is easy to feel how hard the steel is to sharpen, and the Jager’s blade was firm but not excessive. The only chipping I have experienced was when I dropped the knife onto a stone!

I’ve given the blade no special treatment, but also no abuse, and I was keen to get a patina to add to the stonewashed PVD (being stonewashed a lot of the PVD has been polished off), but so far neither the bare edge bevel not any other part of the knife have shown any corrosion.


The Oberland Arms nylon sheath has MOLLE compatible straps that are unlike any others I’ve seen so warrant a more detailed look. In this gallery I’m fitting it to a drop leg platform.

Before getting onto this is does lead me to mention why I chose to fit it to a drop-leg. With MOLLE straps, I typically arrange them so as to form a belt loop for the majority of my testing. The strap fixing design on the Oberland Arms sheath is not strong enough to do this with confidence. Unlike a press-stud fixing the fabric tabs were becoming deformed when making a simple belt loop and I had to use some auxiliary MOLLE strap I have (for pouches without any straps).

Going onto PALS webbing, the strap design is perfectly strong enough, and the effect is for the cross webbing to take the load. For a full weave, you will need to remove the kydex liner. In this gallery I did not do that, so the last weave is left undone.


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
_______________________________________________

Superb ergonomics / indexing / comfort.
High flat grind.
D2 with very good heat treat.
Great all-rounder size.
Versatile, ambidextrous sheath.

_______________________________________________
What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________

Sheath MOLLE straps – question over durability.
Sheath MOLLE straps – not strong enough for a simple belt loop configuration.
D2 – some would question using this steel in a premium knife.

 

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.

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

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

The BESS Exchange – A forum discussing technical aspects of sharpness and truly understanding your sharpening process.