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)

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

Knife Review: Zero Tolerance 0630 (Emerson Design)

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

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

The Blade and Handle Geometry:

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

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

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

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

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

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

The blade is made from S35VN steel.

Explained by the Maker:

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

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

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

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

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

A few more details:

The 0630 comes in a cardboard box.

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

How to use the Wave Feature.

Tucked under the pocket clip is a silica gel packet.

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

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

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

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

The titanium framelock has a pleasing stonewashed finish.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The 0630 has an open frame with black spacers.

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

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

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

A well rounded plunge line keeps maximum blade strength.

Love those grind lines.

Let’s put it to work…

What it is like to use?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Review Summary

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

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

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

 

Discussing the Review:

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

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

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

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

Light Review: FOURSEVENS Quark Click QK2A-X (2xAA)

The original Quark models from FOURSEVENS redefined what a light could be, but with redesign forced upon them, FOURSEVENS had to re-imagine the Quark, and the Quark Click was born. This review is of the QK2A-X model (2AA)

 photo 05 Quark Click engraving P1240116.jpg

Taking a more detailed look:

FOURSEVENS packaging presents the Quark Click so you can get an all round view.
 photo 01 Quark Click boxed P1240094.jpg

Supplied with the QK2A-X is a holster, hand-grip, lanyard, spare O-rings and 2x AA Alkaline cells.
 photo 02 Quark Click unboxed P1240099.jpg

If you already know the Quark holsters, this is the same as all the others I have. The front/back are semi rigid with elasticated sides.
 photo 03 Quark Click holstered P1240107.jpg

On the back is a D-loop and fixed webbing loop.
 photo 04 Quark Click holstered P1240110.jpg

The Quark range have removable steel pocket clips.
 photo 06 Quark Click clip P1240122.jpg

As standard, the Quark Click comes with the ‘Tactical’ forward-clicky switch.
 photo 07 Quark Click rear P1240125.jpg

Being a ‘Tactical’ switch the button protrudes for easy access, so no tail-standing for this one.
 photo 08 Quark Click button P1240128.jpg

The FOURSEVENS logo is laser engraved on the head.
 photo 09 Quark Click engraving logo P1240129.jpg

At the base of the compact textured reflector is a XM-L2 LED.
 photo 10 Quark Click reflector P1240138.jpg

Thanks to the design including a location guide surrounding the LED, the LED is very well aligned with the reflector.
 photo 12 Quark Click LED P1240135.jpg

Taking the head off, and you can see the contacts inside it. These include physical reverse polarity protection.
 photo 11 Quark Click contacts P1240141.jpg

The threads are square and bare metal. They arrive well lubricated.
 photo 13 Quark Click threads P1240146.jpg

Inside the tailcap is a strong spring contact for the negative connection. Due to the use of bare metal threads, the Quark Click cannot be locked-out by unscrewing the tail-cap slightly – instead you must unscrew the head of the Quark Click half a turn.
 photo 14 Quark Click tail contacts P1240150.jpg

And here we have one of the Quarks’ historical features, its lego-ability (change the head, or battery tube, or switch). In this case, simply use a 1xAA long battery tube and this Quark can now use 1xAA or 1×14500 as well as the original 2xAA.
 photo 15 Quark Click 1AA P1240154.jpg

So this is the Quark Click QK2A-X next to 2xAA cells for size reference.
 photo 16 Quark Click size 2AA P1240161.jpg

The same head and switch now on a 1xAA battery tube next to1xAA for size reference.
 photo 17 Quark Click size 1AA P1240162.jpg

Another feature of FOURSEVENS lights is the inclusion of the hand-grip. Not frequently talked about, this is a very useful accessory. Here it is fitted to the QK2A-X.
 photo 18 Quark Click strap P1240168.jpg

Slipping the hand-grip over your fingers positions the Quark like this.
 photo 19 Quark Click strap in hand P1240176.jpg

You position the hand-grip to wherever it is most comfortable for you. This is where I like it, not quite onto my knuckles.
 photo 20 Quark Click strap in hand P1240174.jpg

No need to hold onto the light as the hand-grip does this for you. You hand is free for other tasks (as long as they fit in with keeping the light where you need it).
 photo 21 Quark Click strap in hand P1240171.jpg

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!

I’ve always like the Quark beam profile, and the latest Quark Click doesn’t disappoint. Good wide spill, and a hotspot giving good reach make this a great all rounder. If you study the beam close-up on a white wall, it can seem a bit unrefined, but step back and the beam is well diffused and very nice to use.
 photo 22 Quark Click indoor P1240746.jpg

Outdoors and the ultimate brightness of the Quark starts to show its limitations, but that hotspot does give you a reasonable range and the broad spill gives you a wide field of view, even if not the brightest. This is a 2xAA after all.
 photo 23 Quark Click outdoor P1240699.jpg

Modes and User Interface:

In its default configuration the Quark Click has two output modes Low and Max, but the model on test has been reprogrammed to include Moon, Low, Mid and Max/Burst (this customisation was requested as it is offered by FOURSEVENS as standard customisation).

For the default configuration (according to the manual):
To turn ON, either half-press the switch, or fully press it so it clicks.
To toggle between output modes turn the light ON, OFF, then ON again.
The last used mode is memorised if the Quark remains OFF for at least 5 seconds and is used next time you turn it ON.
To turn OFF, release the switch (if half-pressing it), or press it so it clicks and release.

For the customised Quark Click with Moon, Low, Mid, and Max:
To turn on, either half-press the switch, or fully press it so it clicks.
To toggle between output modes turn the light ON, OFF, then ON again – However, you have to cycle through Max, Low three to four times to access the additional modes, so Max, Low, Max, Low, Max, Low, Max, Moon, Low, Mid, Max, Moon……
Now we have another deviation from the standard interface when it comes to memory.
When using the Quark Click in the Max, Low mode selection (before reaching the additional modes) it does not memorise Low, it always starts on Max.
Only if you have selected a mode from the additional mode selection (Moon, Low, Mid, Max) is it memorised. Also it is only memorised if the Quark has been ON that mode for 5s and remains OFF for at least 5 seconds. Then once memorised, as long as there is not a full ON/OFF/ON cycle within 5s, it will remain on that mode.
If you memorise Max mode, the Quark Click returns to the Low/Max mode, and always gives you Max until you carry out the memorisation steps described above.
To turn OFF, release the switch (if half-pressing it), or press it so it clicks and release.

Batteries and output:

The Quark Click QK2A-X in its default configuration runs on 2x AA (Lithium, Alkaline or NiMh). With the additional 1xAA battery tube it will run on 1xAA (Lithium, Alkaline or NiMh) or 1x 14500.

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.

___________________________________________ ________________________________ ________________________________
Quark Click QK2A-X using specified cell I.S. measured ANSI output Lumens PWM frequency or Strobe frequency (Hz)
___________________________________________ ________________________________ ________________________________
Max/Burst – 2x AA Eneloop 296 0
Medium – 2x AA Eneloop 26 0
Low – 2x AA Eneloop 3 0
Moon – 2x AA Eneloop Below Threshold 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 measured 2500 lx @1m giving a beam range of 100 m.

There is no parasitic drain.

In this runtime graph are the output traces from using 2xAA Eneloop, and an AW protected 14500. Running the QK2A-X head on 3V or 4.2V doesn’t increase the maximum output. Both traces show the Burst mode where the first 30s of output are maximum, before dropping to approximately 50% of this. The output is then very well regulated right up to the point the cells become fully depleted.
With the 14500, there is an absolute cut-off when the protection kicks in (it goes OFF), but the 2xAA trace drops sharply, but doesn’t fully cut out.
 photo FOURSEVENS QK2A-X runtime.jpg

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 Quark Click QK2A-X in use

Anyone following my reviews will know that I consider the 2xAA form-factor one of the best. The QK2A-X has a slim battery tube with slightly larger head and tail-cap. making it very secure in the hand.

Even if you don’t really use pocket clips, it provides a very useful anti-roll function, so I’d rather leave it in place. As pocket clips go, it also has a generous capacity so is easy to use on thicker pocket edges like on some heavy cargo-pants.

With this one being a customised version, I was scratching my head a little when it wouldn’t memorise the low mode, but as explained in the UI section, you need to get to the additional modes before the memory function kicks in. It can seem a little fiddly as to memorise Moon mode you need to turn the Quark Click on and off 5 or 6 times watching the output to catch the Moon mode (miss it and you have to turn it on and off a further 4 times to get back to Moon). It works, but is not the slickest interface.

In most lights, lock-out is provided by undoing the tail-cap half a turn. It is slightly counter intuitive that the Quark uses the head to lock-out the Quark Click, but then again, this also means you can leave the tail-cap clicked on and then use the head to give you a twisty interface. Great for silent use, and twisting the head is very intuitive. Suddenly I’m liking that design feature much more.

With the interface being an ON/OFF/ON to switch modes, you can’t really use the momentary action for signaling. I’ve always preferred the immediacy of the forward-clicky tail-cap switch, so definitely prefer this to a reverse-clicky.

A little comment about the available levels and the Burst mode – Effectively, you have a combined Burst/High output as a single mode. After the initial 30s of Burst, the output drops to a very useful 150lm which is then maintained. Unfortunately it is not possible to directly enter the 150lm mode as it is always proceeded by the 300lm burst mode. When you look at the ANSI output levels this leaves a ‘hole’ in the available output levels as you have 296lm, then down to 26lm, then 3lm then Moon. Really that 150lm level is needed to fill the hole, and it is there, but you have to get through burst mode first.

Having Moon mode memorised, you will notice the FOURSEVENS pre-flash is present for this mode. This is a very quick flash of a level slightly brighter than Moon mode before it settles into the constant output. It has never caused me a problem and is more a characteristic than anything wrong. With the Moon mode being a true Current Controlled output it is far preferable to some PWM control of this level.

PWM – well I might have just mentioned it, but I’m happy to say there is none present in the Quark Click. None of the modes available in this sample exhibited PWM at any frequency.

A classic, game-changing, lego-able design, rebooted with a simple interface and one that can be operated as a clicky or a twisty.

Review Summary

_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Things I like What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Excellent All-Rounder beam. Mode memorisation a little laborious in this customised Quark.
Current Controlled output (no PWM). Tail-standing not possible with standard tail-cap.
Lego-able design compatible with all previous Quark models. 150lm output only available after 30s by first using the Burst Mode.
Optional AA and CR123 battery tubes.
Spacious/removable pocket clip provides anti-roll.
Wide input voltage range 0.9-4.2v.
Can be used as a Twisty or Clicky.

 photo 00 Quark Click feature P1240113.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.

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Light Review: Fenix TK15UE (Ultimate Edition)

Fenix have been taking classic lights from their range and creating ‘Ultimate Edition’ versions, pushing their performance to the maximum. The TK15 has now been ‘UE’ed to make the TK15UE with uprated output, throw and a new stainless steel bezel.

 photo 16 TK15UE trailer P1230848.jpg

Taking a more detailed look:

The TK15UE comes in Fenix’s standard packaging.
 photo 01 TK15UE Boxed P1230641.jpg

Included with the TK15UE are the instructions, a holster, a lanyard, a couple of O-rings and a spare switch boot.
 photo 02 TK15UE Box contents P1230650.jpg

Before we move on, the holster is worth lingering on a little longer.
 photo 03 TK15UE holster P1230657.jpg

On the back there is a choice of a D-ring, fixed loop, and Velcro closing loop.
 photo 04 TK15UE holster loops P1230656.jpg

There is something a little different here. The holster flap has a retaining strap over it and inside the holster it is fixed with Velcro.
 photo 05 TK15UE holster flap P1230667.jpg

You can just see inside that the flap extends most of the way down the inside of the holster.
 photo 07 TK15UE holster flap adjust inside P1230678.jpg

The entire flap can be undone and either removed or adjusted to loosen or tighten the fit, or even accommodate a different length light.
 photo 06 TK15UE holster flap adjust P1230675.jpg

As supplied, the holster is correctly configured for the TK15UE.
 photo 08 TK15UE in holster P1230680.jpg

The most obvious sign that this is something a bit different to the previous TK15s is the Stainless Steel bezel.
 photo 09 TK15UE angle P1230689.jpg

Let’s have a look at how the TK15UE and an older TK15 compare. This is the TK15C. So the holster is more than the basic one the TK15C comes with.
 photo 10 TK15UE compare P1230827.jpg

Dimensions are all very similar. The TK15C I’m comparing with here has had the clip removed as well as the tactical grip ring because it has been used gun-mounted.
 photo 12 TK15UE compare P1230832.jpg

Going in close to the engraving of the model, the knurling and mode switch.
 photo 13 TK15UE switch detail P1230837.jpg

All the edges of the clip are nicely rounded, and there are no sharp corners to eat away at your pockets (just the knurling under the clip).
 photo 14 TK15UE clip detail P1230839.jpg

The switch button does protrude, so no tail-standing, and it has two raised areas to provide the switch with some protection from accidental activation.
 photo 15 TK15UE tail detail P1230844.jpg

As with the stainless bezels on other Fenix lights, the edges have been bevelled to make them kind to the holster and your pockets.
 photo 17 TK15UE bezel P1230849.jpg

The inner edges of the bezel are crisp without being sharp.
 photo 18 TK15UE bezel P1230852.jpg

Fenix’s preferred trapezoid threads are used.
 photo 19 TK15UE threads P1230857.jpg

The end of the battery tube is the electrical contact that connects to the tail-cap contact.
 photo 20 TK15UE tube P1230863.jpg

Inside the tail-cap are the battery tube contact and the negative terminal sprung contact.
 photo 21 TK15UE tailcap contacts P1230866.jpg

With the TK15UE, the head will unscrew.
 photo 22 TK15UE head off P1230884.jpg

As the battery tube can be removed we can get a good look at those contacts in the head.
 photo 23 TK15UE head contacts P1230885.jpg

Just like previous TK15 models, the TK15UE has a smooth reflector.
 photo 24 TK15UE reflector P1230888.jpg

In the centre of that reflector is the CREE XP-L HI V3 LED.
 photo 25 TK15UE LED P1230897.jpg

Looking straight into the TK15UE’s reflector.
 photo 26 TK15UE LED P1230901.jpg

The TK15UE is one of the more compact single 18650 lights. Not as compact as the small-head types such as the PD32, but it does have a big enough reflector to give it some punch.
 photo 27 TK15UE with cell P1230904.jpg

You can take off the tactical grip ring by unscrewing it.
 photo 28 TK15UE ring off P1230910.jpg

Unless you buy the optional thread protector you will see the grip ring threads.
 photo 29 TK15UE ring threads P1230914.jpg

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!

Indoors the TK15UE is not at its best, as it is quite a throw orientated beam. The hotspot is bright and well formed. Spill is relatively dim and narrow but usable. There is enough balance in the beam to make it OK indoors.
 photo 32 TK15UE indoor P1240716.jpg

But it is when you get a bit more range that the TK15UE really starts to shows what it is made of. The throw belies its compact size, and with the ‘UE’ upgrade it is a really punchy little light.
 photo 31 TK15UE outdoor P1240668.jpg

Modes and User Interface:

To control the TK15 UE there is the forward-clicky tail switch, and the mode selection switch just behind the head.

Click ON (or half press for momentary action) the tail switch to access the last used constant mode. With the tail switch on, press the mode button to cycle though the modes.

The standard modes are Low, Medium, High and Turbo.

There is a hidden Strobe mode accessed by holding the modes selection switch in for 1s. Strobe is not memorised as a last used mode.

Batteries and output:

The TK15UE runs on 18650 or 2xCR123.

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

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

___________________________________________ ________________________________ ________________________________
Fenix TK15UE using specified cell I.S. measured ANSI output Lumens PWM frequency or Strobe frequency (Hz)
___________________________________________ ________________________________ ________________________________
Turbo – Fenix ARB-L18-3500 776 0
High – Fenix ARB-L18-3500 377 0
Medium – Fenix ARB-L18-3500 164 0
Low – Fenix ARB-L18-3500 14 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 measured 31100 lx @1m giving a beam range of 353m.

There is no parasitic drain.

I was slightly surprised by the Turbo output runtime trace as unlike most Fenix lights the TK15UE does not appear to run with a regulated output. The trace was recorded using cooling, so it is unlikely that this is due to overheat protection, instead the TK15UE seems to run at maximum output with that output sagging as the cell becomes depleted. However saying that, you do get a full hour of runtime at more than 600lm, so overall the performance is still good. (This was run using Fenix’s latest ARB-L18 3500mAh cell.)
 photo Fenix TK15 UE runtime.jpg

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 TK15UE in use

By separating the mode selection to a side-switch Fenix have allowed proper momentary use of that forward-clicky tail switch. This makes for a really easy and intuitive interface and keeps things simple for any user.
Fortunately the strobe mode is reasonably well hidden and is not memorised; I’m surprised anyone still includes strobe. As those that follow me will know, I’m certainly no fan of strobe and most true tactical users I know are aware that if you strobe another person, you strobe yourself as well, so your are better off not using it at all. Thankfully with the TK15UE you need never come across strobe and can use the four constant output modes without tripping over strobe.
The TK15UE manages a balance between hotspot and spill that, although it is more oriented towards throw, is still usable at indoor distances.
When using the holster with the TK15UE inserted bezel-down, the bezel does catch in the holster before getting all the way in. Used bezel-up, this does not happen. It seems to be due to the adjustable flap taking up more space inside so the bezel catches on the inside of the holster. To get it all the way into the holster bezel-down you need to twist the TK15UE as you insert it.
There are smaller single 18650 lights, but the TK15UE is still compact enough to make it easy to carry, yet that slightly larger head is enough to give it a nice strong beam. Even with the upgrades to the head and LED, Fenix have kept the character of the TK15 but made it significantly brighter.
I’ve always felt the TK15 was an unsung hero in the Fenix line-up, quietly getting on with the job while others took the glory. In the Ultimate Edition, the TK15UE can now take some of the limelight and hopefully get a bit more recognition.

Review Summary

_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Things I like What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Significantly boosted output compared to previous TK15 models. Turbo output not regulated.
Excellent throw from a compact head. Bezel catches in holster when used bezel down.
Simple user interface. Can accidentally hit the mode switch especially if wearing gloves.
Stainless Steel Bezel.

 photo 30 TK15UE angle on P1230918.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.

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

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

Sunglasses Review: Wiley X MEGA Test – Saber, Twisted and Knife

I first came across Wiley X due to the fact they manufacture 5.11 Tactical’s range of sunglasses. It is a real compliment that 5.11 chose Wiley X, and when you see more of what Wiley X make you will understand why they are a brand you can trust if you want protection as well as style.

In this group review I’m looking at three very different pairs of glasses showing some of the key benefits Wiley X offer. On test we have the Sabre – wrap around ultra-protective shooting glasses, Twisted – the simplest glasses but in a special Stealth Grey frame, and Knife – using Wiley X’s Facial Cavity Seal making them as close fitting as goggles.
All three are in a non-polarized grey lens aimed at tactical use. For tactical use you want to avoid polarized lenses due to their tendency to cause issues with various device displays – it is just not worth the risk.
There is a lot to show as each of these models have features specific to Wiley X. Many of these features are repeated across the Wiley X range. The models in this MEGA review will help you understand what options you have.

Taking a more detailed look at the Saber:

There are several options for the Saber, from individual lenses to a full set, and this is the full triple lens set.

Everything is supplied in a Wiley X multi-lens case.

The case has two Velcro loops on the back for mounting to a belt/strap/etc.

Each component arrives wrapped in a protective plastic bag so it is in perfect condition when you first unpack it. After that, well, it is up to you.

In the case is the Saber with grey lens, a clear lens, orange lens, strap, cleaning cloth and instructions.

The set of lenses fresh out of its wrapping.

Each lens is a compound curve to fully wrap the eyes.

Taking a closer look round the Saber here it is from the front with arms folded.

And arms unfolded.

From the side.

Then from the inside.

The nose piece has fully adjustable rubber covered pads. You simply bend them to fit.

On the inside of the arm, the model name is printed on the ‘active’ section of the arm.

The first ‘active’ feature of the arm is that you can remove the rigid arm and replace it with a goggle style strap. First pull out the arm.

Plug in the first end of the strap.

Repeat with the other arm and strap end.

Instead of just pulling the arm out entirely, each arm has length adjustment to enable the best possible fit for each person.

The arm has four ‘stops’.

Being a frameless interchangeable lens system, you need to remove the arms and nose part and transfer these over to the lens you want to use. The fit of these parts is really quite firm.

Here we are 2/3 transferred over to the orange lens, just the second arm to move.

I found the easiest process was to pull the arm outward and then lift the hinge upward ensuring you don’t try to lever with the whole arm, instead applying pressure as close to the lens as possible. The arm then pops up.

Fitting the arm was easiest doing this the other way round, first seating the hinge side of the mount, pressing the arm inwards and then pushing down on the mount.

The clear lens almost disappears in the photo despite one of the Saber’s special features. The Sabre has the thickest lens, at 3mm thick, I’ve ever come across. This gives it probably the highest protection rating for any glasses of this type. With the bare lens you can see this thickness at the nose cut out.

Looking closer to where the brow foam padding is attached you can see the machining marks in the lens edge.

And next to a ruler with mm graduations.

Taking a more detailed look at the Twisted Stealth Grey:

The Twisted model originally came in a black frame, but with more demand for grey, Wiley X have released a special ‘Stealth Grey’ version.

With no additional lenses to carry, the case for the Twisted is the Wiley X standard case. You also get a sticker in the box.

Inside the case are the plastic wrapped glasses, a cleaning cloth, information leaflet and a neck strap.

Getting rid of some of the plastic wrap for a better look.

Taking a closer look round the Twisted here it is from the front with arms folded.

And arms unfolded.

From the side.

Then from the inside.

The arm is wide at the hinge which helps shade the wearer from light and debris coming from the side.

A detail of the hinge.

On the Twisted, the nose bridge is a fixed, moulded design. The surfaces are all rounded with no corners to dig in.

Taking a more detailed look at the Knife:

The last in this set is the Knife which features Wiley X’s facial cavity seal.

As well as the cased glasses and sticker, the Knife comes with an instruction leaflet for the facial cavity seal.

With the Knife you get a cleaning cloth, neck strap, and T-bar ‘goggle’ strap (more on that later).

Everything unwrapped.

Taking a closer look round the Knife here it is from the front with arms folded.

And arms unfolded.

From the side.

Then an inside view to show the facial cavity seal insert.

The Knife’s hinge.

Each arm has a mounting hole for the T-bar strap system. This is a strap to hold the glasses firmly onto the face. With the facial cavity seal, these glasses become almost goggles, so this system makes perfect sense as it keeps the seal good.

The T-bar strap fits in pointing downwards.

Then rotates back to lock in place. You can only release the strap by rotating the mount back down to the previous position.

Inside the arm you can see the T-bar in the locked position.

Here the knife has the goggle strap fully fitted.

It is possible to remove the facial cavity seal for cleaning or to use the glasses without the seal. There are times when the extra ventilation is needed.

The seal is specific to the model and is labelled for the Knife.

Here is the Knife without the seal.

The facial cavity seal has a soft foam edge to fit closely to the face.

Comparing the three:

We’ve spent some time looking at each one in detail, now a first quick comparison series.

And now with each one on a display head:

Troubleshooting

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

The standard neck straps that were supplied with the Twisted and Knife both failed with the rubber tubing splitting.
From the moment they were fitted there appeared to be stress lines in the rubber.

This line turned into a split.

Altogether I’ve had three of these straps, and all three have split.
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.

In use

Each of these Wiley X models was chosen to represent a different use or requirement, and provide an excellent representation of what Wiley X offer.
For the utmost in protection you need to choose a wrap-around lens as this does not reply on the frame, or how well individual lenses fit in the frame, for protection. You have a one-piece protector positioned over your eyes.
The Saber is exceptional in its lens thickness at 3mm and exceeds all the safety standards, military and civilian, for protective eyewear. It does this without any distortion to your vision. I am very sensitive to poor lens design and have used compound curvature lenses that distort the wearer’s view. The Saber has not caused any visual distortions or strange sensations at all.
The full wrap gives excellent all round vision well around your peripheral vision giving uninterrupted views, just like your uncovered eyes, but protected from bright conditions and flying objects. What this does mean is that you are not protected from glaring light such as low sun to your side which the arms of certain glasses would shade you from.
For use as shooting glasses or to guard against flying objects (not dust) the Saber will give you exceptional protection.
Adjustable arms allow the maximum comfort for most users. You also have a great deal of fit adjustment with the nose piece which can be bent to raise or lower the Saber and bring it closer or further from the face. Do not neglect this, you can get a fantastic fit and comfort by taking the time to adjust the nose piece, and don’t be afraid to experiment to find the optimum fit.

Of the three, the Twisted is the most conventional ‘fit’ with no actual adjustment. On this point, of course, unlike the Saber, the Twisted will not fit everyone, but Wiley X give you excellent size information for every model so you can look for those suitable for small, medium and large heads and also at the detailed specifications of lens width, arm length and bridge width to find your best fitting model.
The arms of the Twisted curve inwards to wrap around the head and provide a good level of grip to keep them in place. The entire frame flexes as you put them on, and acts like a spring to prevent sliding. Coupled with their light weight, this makes them some of the most securely fitting glasses I’ve used without creating hotspots and discomfort when wearing for extended periods.
With the lenses curving round, there is minimal frame visible in my peripheral vision, yet the wide arms protect from low-angle light coming in from the side. An excellent compromise, and one reason the Twisted has become my most worn of the three and great for driving as well as outdoor activities.
The Stealth Grey frame is also a bit different and it is good to have a break from the normal black.

Last up in this group is the Knife. Its key feature to look at is the FACIAL CAVITY SEAL which also appears on several other models, but provides a very specific function.
When you first put on a model with the FACIAL CAVITY SEAL they feel more like goggles than glasses and it can take a little while to get used to. However as you get used to it, the feeling becomes more comforting and the benefits can be very obvious.
The FACIAL CAVITY SEAL is designed to protect you from wind, fine dust and pollen as well as blocking light that normally leaks in around the edges of sunglasses.
I’ve found that in situations where I would want to wear a peaked hat, the FACIAL CAVITY SEAL provides sufficient protection from the light that would normally leak in around the frame that I didn’t need the hat.
Where the FACIAL CAVITY SEAL really shines is in wind and dust protection. Though normal sunglasses provide a degree of protection from wind, once it is coming from the side this is far less effective. Add in dust and your normal sunglasses are not much use. The FACIAL CAVITY SEAL immediately shields you from this and stops the blinking and squinting. You could use actual goggles, but Wiley X’s FACIAL CAVITY SEAL gives you the protection of goggles in a pair of sunglasses.
You also have the option of removing the seal and using the sunglasses as normal sunglasses. This is crucial as they do also come with some of the issues of goggles.
Although the FACIAL CAVITY SEAL has some venting built in, yes, just like goggles you do get fogging. I found that this was particularly bad when driving (due to the lack of airflow), and other situations where I was hot and there was little or no airflow.
When it is windy, the small vents seem to cope with preventing fogging very well, but once conditions are calm, you are at the mercy of the temperature of the sunglasses and your immediate humidity (a nice way of describing the body’s output of moisture).
Knowing that when using the FACIAL CAVITY SEAL you can get fogging is just something you need to work with. When the situation demands the extra protection, the Knife delivers exactly that.
Remember though, that unlike goggles, you can remove the seal and they become normal sunglasses.
Due to hyper sensitivity to light, I wear sunglasses 100% of the time during daylight hours when I’m outside, so get a lot of wearing time. I would never consider having only one pair of sunglasses and have many different types and styles. Just as most people have many shoes and jackets to suit different situations, I consider sunglasses the same in that you benefit from a choice of different features. (I’m also a lens quality perfectionist)

The reason for explaining that is that now I’ve experienced it, Wiley X’s FACIAL CAVITY SEAL has become an essential part of my eyewear options.

Sunglasses are not just sunglasses and are not just eye protection. These three different models give three very different experiences and features while ensuring your eyes are protected to standards above and beyond most requirements

Review Summary

_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Things I like What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Saber – 3mm thick super tough wrap-around lens
Saber – interchangeable lenses
Saber – adjustable nose bridge and arms
Twisted – Lightweight, comfortable and secure Twisted – supplied neck strap failed
Twisted – Stealth Grey frame option
Knife – FACIAL CAVITY SEAL technology Knife – fogging in still conditions
Knife – T-bar retention system Knife – supplied neck strap failed