Gear Review: Wiley X Ozone

The Ozone is a new model which introduces yet another innovation from Wiley X, the Click Air Gasket.

In this review, the version of the Ozone on test also features the Wiley X CAPTIVATE lens which I previously covered as a separate in-depth review – Wiley X Captivate Lenses (Models shown – Contend, Peak and Breach).

As someone who relies daily on the best quality sunglasses, but that also needs EN. 166 & ANSI Z87.1 safety standards, Wiley X has been my go-to brand and has never let me down.

Since first finding Wiley X many years ago, I’ve not looked back when it comes to eye protection, lens quality, fit and style.

Review Videos

Starting with a short format sixty second review:


Onto a full video review covering many more details:


What’s in the box?:
As a model that uses the facial cavity seal (in this case the click air gasket), as well as the normal neck strap, it also includes a headband retaining strap, so the Ozone can be worn just like goggles
There is a zip up storage case, and a dual-purpose cloth bag that can also be used to protect the glasses and as a cleaning cloth.


A good look round the Ozone – Things to look out for here are:
Being absolutely fresh out of the box, here you can see the retail tag with the model details still on the arm. Scrolling through the gallery you are taken round the Ozone to get a feel for the characteristics of this model including details like the hinges and logo on the arms.


Click Air Gasket Details:
Now to focus onto the click air gasket itself; the gallery starts with an overall view of the foam border of the facial cavity seal. Then we move onto a series of photos with the click air ventilation open and closed (including looking from inside). Lastly showing the gasket removed.


Goggle style head strap:
A brief section to look at the goggle style head strap and how this fits to the end of the Ozone’s arms.


The Click Air Gasket removed:
You might not want to use the Ozone with the facial cavity seal all the time. This excellent feature can, in some cases, lead to steaming up of the lenses, even with increased ventilation, so you can just pop the click air gasket out and use the Ozone as the bare frame.
This also gives us an opportunity to look over the gasket separately.


Measuring Light Transmission:
Wiley X are great at providing all the specifications for all their different lens variations. I wanted to just take my own measurement to compare.

Using a lux meter, and taking a control measurement, then a measurement with the lens in place over the light sensor, you can see here that the Blue Mirror Polarised CAPTIVATE lens has a 10.62% transmission (for the frequencies this light source / lux meter respond to).

This lens version is one of the lowest transmissions and perfect for my requirements.


What it is like to use?

Readers who follow me might remember I have a condition making me hyper-sensitivity to light, and that this means I wear sunglasses every day at all times that 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.

In most cases I prefer polarized lenses for glare reduction and enhancing colour depth and am very familiar already with this CAPTIVATE lens.

If you have not yet tried a Wiley X model with facial cavity seal, I thoroughly recommend you do, they are something quite different, providing you with a close fit and unmatched level of protection and coverage. You really feel protected in the way you would normally need to be using goggles to achieve. They are not a complete seal, so are not appropriate if you need complete protection from dust, but instead give you much better protection from wind and grit than normal sunglasses can provide.

‘Active wear’ is a good term for the models with facial cavity seals, as they often need you to be active and moving for the ventilation to keep the lenses from steaming up, especially if you are hot, or if the air is very cold.

Knowing the reality of near-goggle like eyewear, the Click Air system then improves the situation. With a simple click of the gasket above your nose, you open up an extra vent to allow more air flow and ventilation. Then just as easily, once the extra ventilation is no longer wanted, another click to close off the extra vent.

The position of the Click mechanism means it sits against your face, so it is not possible to operate this while wearing the Ozone and also wearing gloves. If you are wearing gloves, you’ll need to quickly take the Ozone off, to open or close the vent. If you have bare hands, you can carefully squeeze the Click mechanism while wearing the glasses. So depending on what you are doing this may or may not be practical to open/close on the move.

Taking the gasket off completely, initially makes the Ozone feel a whole size larger, and takes a bit of getting used to after feeling the warmth and protective effect of the facial cavity seal. I do go between using the gasket and not depending on the activity, and/or my temperature and the outside temperature. Also, for the thorough cleaning I give them, the gasket always comes off to give full access to the lenses and frame. I also wash the foam seal gently with a gentle ecological washing up liquid to keep this clean.

Until you get used to it, there is another feeling you might get with the facial cavity seal. Due to the seal being in direct contact with your face and round your eyes, it can feel as if the seal itself is pushing the glasses slightly off your face. The head strap provided will completely resolve this and give you a sense of security that nothing is going to shake them loose. Similarly, the standard neck lanyard strap with its sliding toggle can give you a very similar result.

With many different ways to wear the Ozone you, are getting a brilliantly flexible pair of sunglasses that will protect you from much more than sunlight.

Remember 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.


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.

_______________________________________________
What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________

Nothing comes to mind.

_______________________________________________
Things I like
_______________________________________________

Click Air Gasket – allows ventilation to be increased.
Ozone can be used without the Click Air Gasket as it can be removed.
Goggle style head strap included.
Superb visual clarity with CAPTIVATE lens.
Very resilient frame.
Shell case and cloth case both included.
Safety rated eyewear.
Wrap around protection.
Comfortable and secure.

Mega Review: Silky Outback – Nata, BigBoy and PocketBoy

Silky’s New Outback range has recently added the Nata Outback edition to compliment the BigBoy, GomBoy and PocketBoy Saws. All of the Outback range feature a black blade coating and are built for outdoor and survival use. The Outback saws have thick and rigid saw blades making them 100% outdoor proof. For the Outback range Silky applied a black coating of a unique nickel and tin blend to the entire blade, including the teeth. This provides a long blade life and an incredible cutting performance.
This Silky Outback review features the latest addition, the Nata Outback Edition, along with the largest and smallest saws in the range, the BigBoy and PocketBoy.
If you are in the UK you can find these at Woodlore (no affiliation, just where to find them – search for ‘Silky’ once there).

Review Videos

A trio of videos you can come back to, or find directly on the Tactical Reviews YouTube Channel.

Starting with a short format sixty second review:


Onto a full video review covering many more details of the BigBoy Saw:


The last of this trio is a full video review covering many more details of the Nata:


All the details:

Unpacking the BigBoy Saw:


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

On the Outback edition, the pivot/lock is painted black and has an adjustable pivot screw. You can see the two blade stop groove positions in the blade. Due to its curved shape, the teeth of the BigBoy are not fully enclosed when folded, but you can keep it in the included nylon carrying case. The blade can be locked in two positions (more on that in ‘The Big Cut’).
The teeth have four cutting angles to leave a smooth surface after cutting.
The BigBoy is the largest folding saw in the Outback range, and is also shown here next to a Bahco Laplander for scale.


Unpacking the PocketBoy Saw:
Both saws include a case, the PocketBoy has a clear plastic case.


A good look round the PocketBoy – Things to look out for here are:
Exactly as with the BigBoy, the PocketBoy pivot/lock is painted black and has an adjustable pivot screw. You can see the two blade stop groove positions in the blade. The smaller saw has finer teeth which is shown in a side by side comparison. The blade can be locked in two positions and the teeth of the PocketBoy are fully enclosed when folded.
The PocketBoy is the smallest folding saw in the Outback range, and is also shown here next to BigBoy for scale.


The Nata’s sheath:
Packed with practicality, yet simple in design, the Nata’s sheath has a dangler belt loop with retaining strap that can be removed from the sheath. The thinking behind this is not to use the Nata’s sheath without the belt loop and retaining strap, but instead that while you are carrying it belt mounted, if you then want to sit or get into a vehicle, you can remove the sheath from the belt hanger without taking off your belt.
The sheath itself is mainly a gravity sheath that you drop the Nata into and lift out as needed. It has two metal edges that provide rigidity and prevent the Nata cutting through it over time. Large drainage holes ensure the sheath stays clear of rain water and can easily be flushed clean if it accumulates dirt/dust.


A good look round the Nata – Things to look out for here are:
Note: this is a used demo blade so will be showing signs of use.
A very utilitarian blocky blade shape gives you the weight and strength needed for effective chopping. This Outback edition is the first Nata to feature a new black oxide coating.
The rubber handle is removable, not as I originally thought, to replace the handle, but in fact to allow you to replace the blade and keep the handle, as Silky sell a replacement blade for the Nata.


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 Silky’s Japanese Carbon steel.


The Factory edge up close:

Followers of Tactical Reviews will know my views on factory edges, but to recap:

Anyone using a knife will need to sharpen it. That first factory edge is just like the first tank of fuel that a new car comes with (or first charge of the battery).
A good factory edge is a ‘nice to have’ but not a ‘make or break’ for a good knife, as you will be putting your own edge onto it soon enough.
The factory edge does however indicate the care a knife maker has put into the final finish.
It is for this reason Tactical Reviews measures factory edge sharpness and specifications, and includes this information in the detailed technical testing.

As a further look at the factory edge, this section has been added to include some high magnification photos of the factory edges.

In the following gallery are close up images of the BigBoy and Pocket saw teeth (they are used so show some saw dust), and the Nata in a section or unused edge and at the point of maximum wear from the demo use. The worn section shows the black coating is gone and the edge has damage.


What is it like to use? – Part 1 – The Big Cut
The question is, how large a log can you cut with the Silky Outback BiGBOY saw? Silky suggest the biggest size of log you should cut is half the length of the saw blade. Pffff! I’m not listening – La La La La La…….

So the Silky Outback BigBoy Big Cut Challenge was born.

The gallery in this Big Cut challenge shows the result of two visits to the log. The first visit was about 1 hour long, and the second 2.5 hours, and finally a third visit with a crowbar.

The log was not ‘green’ having been cut an unknown time before I got access to it, so the end I was cutting had dried. This caused significantly more effort. The Silky saws are so effective on green wood, but less so on dried timber.

During this cut, the two blade positions proved their worth and made angling the cut much easier, so, yes, you will be glad of them.

At the end of the first hour of cutting, progress felt good and I’d got a channel cut round the entire log but had to stop.

Visit two was a couple of weeks later, so the wood was drier and the cut had exposed the inner wood allowing it to dry more. After an hour and a half, progress slowed to a point I decided to stop as I’d reached an impasse.
Having checked the depth of cut all round I have an estimate of what is left uncut (the green circle).

I had really hit the limit of sensible progress for a few reasons:

The timber was not green wood, so much harder to cut.
Access was limited especially on the left side preventing free movement of the saw.
The depth of cut meant the sawdust did not clear, instead clogging the cut.
At the extreme depth of cut, only a few saw teeth were cutting. This was the biggest factor.

Wanting to confirm the actual cut I decided to use a crowbar to break away all the wood that was cut to leave only the last uncut part.

The conclusion of this test is that with enough time and full, clear, access to the log I think it would just be possible – if you really had to. I would definitely not choose to do this again!


What is it like to use? – Part 2 – all the rest
So back to the bread and butter use of the Silky Outback tools. Woodland, green wood, and camp tasks.

Using a long heavy blade for chopping instead of an axe head gives you quite a few advantages. You do not need to be so accurate with each strike, you can use the Nata for brush clearance as well (which you could not with an axe), and you can also use it for batoning and splitting large logs safely. A very effective tool.

It isn’t new as the Nata has been in Silky’s range for some time, but this version with coated blade and using the double bevelled edge version for the hard-use Outback range takes it to another level. (there is a chisel grind version of the standard Nata)

I’ve pushed the Silky saws to their limits for the size of cut you can make, but when you work within the limits Silky recommend you have an easy time. Green wood is devoured by the BigBoy, and for the smaller tree limbs the PocketBoy is very effective. Just keep to that rule of the diameter of log being half the length of the blade (not nearly twice like in the Big Cut). All of these types of saw cut on the pull stroke, which prevents blade bends, and gives excellent control of the cut.

For logs of the correct size, sawing is faster than more efficient and cleaner than chopping, so if you can carry a saw and chopping tool you make life a lot easier. Saw the logs, then split them with the Nata.


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.

_______________________________________________
What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________

(very little to say here)
BigBoy – the saw teeth are still partly exposed when folded.
Nata – the blade rattles in the sheath and can be a bit noisy when carrying.
(yup, really not much to say)

_______________________________________________
Things I like
_______________________________________________

BigBoy Outback Edition – devastatingly effective saw teeth.
BigBoy Outback Edition – two locked blade positions.
BigBoy Outback Edition – Comfortable and grippy wood/plastic composite handle.
BigBoy Outback Edition – zip up case included.
BigBoy Outback Edition – adjustable pivot tension.
BigBoy Outback Edition – black coated blade.
PocketBoy Outback Edition – effective saw teeth.
PocketBoy Outback Edition – two locked blade positions.
PocketBoy Outback Edition – Comfortable and grippy wood/plastic composite handle.
PocketBoy Outback Edition – plastic case included.
PocketBoy Outback Edition – adjustable pivot tension.
PocketBoy Outback Edition – black coated blade.
Nata Outback Edition – black oxide protective blade coating.
Nata Outback Edition – sheath can be unclipped from belt hanger.
Nata Outback Edition – long heavy chopping blade.
Nata Outback Edition – removable cushioning rubber handle.
Nata Outback Edition – suitable for chopping and brush clearing use.
Nata Outback Edition – Stable and strong double bevelled edge version.

 
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.

Gear Review: Nitecore EMR10 EMR20

In this review of the Nitecore EMR10 and EMR20 portable mosquito repellers / powerbanks, we take a detailed look at all aspects of their performance and function.

The EMR10 and EMR20 are two new devices from Nitecore combining portable insect repellers with a powerbank. The EMR10 has ultrasonic repellent, a repellent mat heater and a 10,000mAh powerbank, and the EMR20 is slightly smaller and simpler but without the ultrasonic function.

If, like me, you protect everyone else from mosquito bites, by being the one the mosquitoes make a beeline for, then you may be as pleased as I am to find the new Nitecore EMR10 and EMR20 portable insect repeller devices.

The thermal runtime graphs for these units are a first for Tactical reviews with the final graphs having 3500 manually entered data points!

Making his first appearance below is “Stoppo”, Tactical Reviews’ “don’t do that” guardian. Mosquitos beware, armed with the EMR units Stoppo says NO!

Review Videos

Starting with a short format sixty second review:


Onto a full video review covering many more details:


Looking closer at the EMR devices:

Both units boxed and unboxed, before we go into the finer detail.

What’s in the box – EMR10:
Along with the main unit are a charging cable, instructions and 10 of the double-size repellent mats.


A good look round the EMR10 – Things to look out for here are:
Of the two, it is a bigger and more feature packed unit, with the EMR10 there is a lot to see.
The OLED screen has a protector you need to take off. Notice the slider on the bottom, we’ll come back to that. Molded into the rubber section on the sides are some grip grooves. On each side are small ultrasonic speakers that emit a dual frequency repelling sound. On the back is a metal wire clip that is designed to work with MOLLE / PALS, pocket or belt use. The top has a USB-C port for charging and for use as a powerbank.
The repellent mat heater/holder has a retaining spring wire to keep the mat from falling out.
Then onto the EMR10’s biggest trick, the removable twin 21700 cells.


What’s in the box – EMR20:
Along with the main unit are a charging cable, instructions and 10 of the double-size repellent mats.


A good look round the EMR20 – Things to look out for here are:
The EMR20 is a smaller and simpler unit which has no grip texturing or screen. Instead it has a set of four indicator lights plus the power switch has dual coloured illumination. On the back is the same metal wire clip used by the EMR10 that is designed to work with MOLLE / PALS, pocket or belt use. The top has a USB-C port for charging and for use as a powerbank.
The repellent mat heater/holder has a retaining wire spring to keep the mat from falling out.


Batteries and output:

The following section is all the technical testing for both units. This includes temperature measurements for the repellent mat heater, plus power curves for charging each unit, and the powerbank output for each unit.

First up is the repellent mat heater output for both units. The test was carried out on the highest, ‘outdoor’ mode which takes the heater to the highest temperature.
The temperature measurement was taken by inserting a K-type thermocouple under a used mat to keep it pressed tightly against the heating plate and insulate it. Another ambient temperature thermometer was also recorded, making it three temperature measurements being monitored.
For this dual run I had to set a camera on time lapse photo to take a photo measurement every 30s. Unfortunately I had no computer logging so had to manually type each measurement – over 3500 of them!
The resulting graphs are very interesting. They show the temperature varying between an upper and lower limit. The EMR10 keeps the lower limit higher than the EMR20 and as a result uses more power and has a lower runtime. The graphs do speak for themselves, so take a bit of time to read these.
Also included are some thermal images of the EMRs during this test taken with a FLIR thermal camera.


The next gallery shows the USB input and output graphs for each unit. Charging graphs are from empty to full. The powerbank graphs show each unit charging a Oneplus phone on fast charging (9V output); they are not the full capacity of the powerbank, just to show the output characteristics which are excellent.

What it is like to use?

I want to start this section by introducing my very helpful assistant, Klaus. One of the things I was worried about with the EMR10’s ultrasonic repeller is if it would distress animals. Dog whistles are also ultrasonic (above human hearing range) so I needed to use the EMR10 around a dog to see what would happen. Not once did Klaus seem to react at all to the EMR10 negatively, or even pay any attention to it, so assuming he could hear it, it didn’t bother him. A good start.

Nitecore make and supply double size repellent mats. This is clearly the easiest way to load up the EMR10 and EMR20. It is possible to use two standard size mats instead giving you more flexibility.

You can see in one of the photos how the mats go almost white when the active ingredient has evaporated. The photo shows areas on the mat around the heat shielding that have gone white on this part used mat.

An observation relating to the EMR10’s display and capacity indication is that I’ve found the percentage show to not be accurate at all times. You can use the EMR10 while it is on charge. While doing this, the battery percentage always stays lower than it really is. You can see the input power as well on the screen and as this gets closer to being fully charged, the input watts gets lower and lower (the example here shows 10W input) but the percentage charge indicates it is much lower than it really is. Once you turn off the EMR10 it recovers and corrects itself. Just something to be aware of and I suspect relates to the charge percentage being based on the cell voltage which will of course be lower while the repeller is turned on.

I’ve been using both the EMR10 and EMR20 in a variety of indoor and outdoor locations carried separately or clipped onto a bag.


So how did they do?

Firstly, with me being apparently the finest of dining for mosquitos, if they are determined enough, you will still get bitten; I did. I’ve been bitten when covered in deet, so using repellent mats outdoors might deter some, but is not absolute protection.

It is not at all possible to properly measure the effectiveness of these repellers as the number of bites will also depend on the time, temperature, and hatching of the insects, so this can be impressions only.

Assuming the mats themselves are effective, I have been aware of the aroma coming from the mats. Considering this is outdoors, that is reassuring. Effectiveness is so subject to wind direction and strength, so you might not actually have any cover of the repellent and insects might reach you undeterred. Where the EMR10 has another string to its bow, is the ultrasonic repeller. The ultrasonic won’t be affected by wind, but having no active ingredient, it again relies on the mosquitos not being determined to bite.

NOTES on the repellent mats:

There are a few different active ingredients used in repellent mats, and these are also frequently in combination with Piperonyl butoxide. Prallethrin, Transfluthrin and D-Allethrin are the most common with Nitecore’s MRM10 Mosquito Repellent Mats using Prallethrin.

Piperonyl butoxide (PBO) is a man-made pesticide synergist. By itself, PBO is not designed to harm insects. Instead, it works with bug killers to increase their effectiveness. PBO is often combined with natural pyrethrins or man-made pyrethroids. It has been used in pesticide products since the 1950s, when it was first registered in the United States.

A repellent mat needs to be changed when it turns white. You can use Repellent Mats for a shorter period of time than the manufacture specifies and they will still be just as effective. However, if there is going to be several days between usages, you might want to keep the mats in their foil packaging or in a sealed plastic bag between uses.

Having used them a lot, the one feature I wish they had was an auto-off timer. Once you turn on either one of them, they will run until the battery is flat or you turn it off. I found that treating at critical times was more important than all night and I would have preferred to be able to fall sleep with the repeller turning itself off after an hour or two and leaving power to run on another night. On this subject, the EMR10 allows you to either only run on one of the 21700 cells, or carry spares.

The clip has a one-way design where it fits on much more easily than taking it off. Good for not losing it, but on occasion puts up a bit of a fight to take it off, especially from MOLLE more than from a pocket.

Initially I was dubious about how much I would want to use the powerbank function when I want the power for insect repelling. But, after travelling by air a few times with these devices, the use comes from having a powerbank to use on the plane, and once getting to where I really need the repeller, then recharge and only use it for the repellent. So like this, the two functions allow for infrequent use as a powerbank while travelling, but then change to only using them as repellers when not travelling.

While using the EMR10 and EMR20 I have been bitten. I am convinced I would have been bitten more without them. The most difficult aspect of their use is the protection zone they can provide. If you are walking, then the repellent vapour is trailing after you and not surrounding you. If there is wind, the repellent is blown away. In instances where you are not moving and there is wind, you need to put the device a few meters away from you and up-wind.

Some of the better results are for smaller or enclosed areas. Treating a tent, or a hammock net are idea uses. While on holiday, using it in a hotel or guest room works well.

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
_______________________________________________

No auto-off timer.
Clip can be awkward to remove.
USB-C port cover needs a firm hand to get it out of the way.

_______________________________________________
Things I like
_______________________________________________

Portable outdoor insect repellent device!!!
Double size repellent mats (and able to take two standard mats).
Powerbank function with rapid charge 9V output supported.
Up to 18W input power when charging.
Indoor and Outdoor modes.
Secure one-way clip.
EMR10 has replaceable cells.
EMR10 can run on one 21700 cell.
EMR10 OLED display is informative.
EMR10 also has an ultrasonic repellent.
Removable secondary heat shield.

 
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.

Gear Review: EDS II Screwdriver and EDC Wrench from BIGiDESIGN

BIGiDESIGN is producing so many awesome EDC tools, and in this review we are taking a detailed look at the BIGiDESIGN EDS II, the second, updated version of their unique Everyday Screwdriver, along with the BIGiDESIGN EDC Wrench a reimagining of an antique Swedish adjustable wrench.

Their original EDS, Everyday Screwdriver, was probably the first BIGiDESIGN product that I saw, and since then I bought their bolt action pen, a design that ingeniously adjusts to take most ballpoint refills on the market. Now I’ve been able to partner up the Bolt Action pen with the EDS II and EDC wrench making for an incredible EDC setup.

Video Overview

In this video we take a good look at a couple of lovely EDC gear designs from BIGiDESIGN. The EDS II, the second, updated version of their unique Everyday Screwdriver, along with the EDC Wrench, a small unique pocket friendly adjustable wrench.


What’s in the box; Part 1 the EDS II?:
For the three BIGiDESIGN products I have, the packaging follows the same layout. A slide out tray which has a compartment at one end that contains spares.


A good look round the EDS II – Things to look out for here are:
Overall layout of the EDS II is of an integral lock folding knife, but with a bit holder instead of a blade. A single thumb stud means this easier for a right-handed user. Explained in more detail in the video, there is a stop pin that both stops the bit holder arm in the right position when open, and also stops the spare bits sliding out of the front of the storage slot. The other end of the spare bit storage slot has a sprung ball to keep the bits in place. The integral lock action is easy to see as the bit holder is unfolded. Several magnets are used for keeping the spare bits in place and the main bit holder folded. In the EDS II an additional spare bit holder has been integrated into the lower section of bit holder arm. A total of four bits can be carried within the EDS II.


What’s in the box; Part 2 the EDC Wrench?:
Again, following the format of the other BIGiDESIGN products I have, the box has a slide out tray which includes a compartment at one end that contains spares.


A good look round the EDC Wrench – Things to look out for here are:
A reimagining of an old Swedish design, there is a sliding adjuster moved by a worm screw. BIGiDESIGN have added both a metric and imperial scale for setting the wrench ready to use. A low profile clip is fitted to the back and the EDC Wrench also includes a Ti bead on the lanyard. You can just see the slider retainer under the clip.


What it is like to use?

BIGiDESIGN have done something really special with the EDS, and now this updated EDS II, and given you not only a new experience of using and carrying a screwdriver, but one that is very practical as well.
It is not the smallest EDC bit holder available, nor does it include a ratchet, but instead it gives you a highly usable screwdriver with integrated bit storage for a total of four bits without needing anything else.
Having a swing-out bit holder extension arm, the EDS unfolds to a very practical conventional structure of handle, shank, and bit, so compared to many other small EDC screwdrivers it gives you a more usable tool.

That genius part of the design is mimicking an integral lock folding knife, having a thumb stud to swing the bit holder arm out of the folded position for one-handed operation. So satisfying to use!

However there is a little observation to note about how easy or difficult it is to open the EDS II. The arm’s retention in the folded position is due to a magnet in the body grabbing the bit that is in the bit holder. As you use the EDS II and swap bits around, you will find that a bigger bit, like the full size flat bit, is held by the magnet more firmly, so firmly it becomes very difficult to open using the thumb stud. Put a smaller bit into the holder and it becomes much easier to open again. So the bit you leave in the main bit holder arm changes the ease of opening the EDS II. I would have preferred that the arm retention was a detent (like a knife would use) or that the thumb stud had a bigger cut-out round it allowing more contact and an easier open.


Onto the partner tool here and the EDC Wrench, an infinitely more pocket friendly design than a standard adjustable wrench, there was one big flip for me, literally, in how I envisaged using it before actually getting my hands on one. That is the fact that with the adjustable slider being very much on one side of the tool, to use it and make contact with the nut, you have to flip it over so the ‘front’ of the tool is away from you (pocket clip towards you). Like this you can’t see the scale, and initially it just felt a bit odd, but is just how it works. Even with larger nuts, all except the very largest, you need to use it this way round.

Being a ring spanner, you do have to be able to pass the ring over the end of the job onto the nut, so can’t be used for certain jobs. If you hit those limits though, it is less likely an EDC type of job, so then you bring out the full size tools. Know the limits of your tools and don’t abuse them and you’ll get along just fine.


Talking of limits, and pushing them, the EDS II and EDC Wrench can nicely partner up for a bit more screw driving torque. There is just enough of the 1/4″ hexagonal bit showing to use the EDC Wrench to grip this and boost the turning force for stubborn screws. Not always possible, but if you have the space, this can save you having to go for bigger tools. In this case the EDC Wrench is used with the slider facing you as it needs to be this way round to grip that small section of the hex bit.

Both of these beautiful EDC tools are made from grade 5 titanium alloy and punch well above their weight, even more so together.


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.

_______________________________________________
What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________

EDS II – Difficult to open with larger bits installed.
EDS II – Thumb stud a bit too recessed.
EDC Wrench – Ring spanner design slightly restrictive.
EDC Wrench – Need to use with the slider away from you.

_______________________________________________
Things I like
_______________________________________________

EDS II – One-Handed Operation.
EDS II – Integral Frame-Lock Mechanism.
EDS II – Deep carry Pocket Clip.
EDS II – Uses any 1/4″ hex bit.
EDS II – Integral storage for four bits.
EDS II – 100% metal construction.
EDC Wrench – Infinitely adjustable.
EDC Wrench – SAE 3/16 – 3/4 in.
EDC Wrench – Metric 5 – 19 mm.
EDC Wrench – Solid Titanium Construction.
EDC Wrench – Removable Pocket Clip.

 
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.

Gear Review: Mjolnir III by Ostap Hel Knives

When it comes to EDC pocket jewellery, nothing beats a hand-made custom piece, and I’ve had my eye on the Mjolnir from Ostap Hel Knives for some time. Yes, Mjolnir is Thor’s hammer, and being capable of a knockout blow is very appropriate association, but of course the shape of Ostap’s Mjolnir is also like the old Norse symbols.
Join me in this review of the Mjolnir III from Ostap Hel Knives, the featured version is in carbon fibre.

Video Overview

This video is a detailed look at the Mjolnir III, and hopefully you can get a good feel for the quality of finish.


What it is like to use?
Without saying exactly how you might use the Mjolnir III (due to some more negative connotations), it is both EDC pocket jewellery and a self-defence aid.

The intended configuration for carrying the Mjolnir III is on its own with a lanyard, added for ease of getting it into your hand when needed. Shown here, it has the matching lanyard from Ostap Hel Knives which has a CF bead on the cord. With the CF version being so light, it has minimal pocket presence so can also feel a little difficult to home in on. So…

…picking up on the fact it has felt a little ‘detached’ from easily finding the CF Mjolnir III in my pocket, I wanted to try something a bit different and out there, and fit it as a lanyard stopper on another EDC item. In this case a slip-joint knife which already had a longish lanyard on it.
In this way, the knife provides the weight for easily finding it, and the Mjolnir III makes a fantastic ‘puller’ for getting the knife to hand, but also for then ease of getting the Mjolnir III into your hand.
Reversing the sense that the Mjolnir III is the lanyard stopper round to the knife being the lanyard stopper, and you can either allow the knife to hang out to the side, or take it into you palm while gripping the Mjolnir III between your fingers.
You can experiment with the lanyard length to see how it might work for you if you try this approach. Here the loose ends of the paracord are not yet woven into the lanyard to more easily allow adjustments before making the final configuration.
It has worked for me, it might work for you; try it before completely dismissing the idea.

Regardless of how you choose to carry it, the Mjolnir III is a pleasure to handle and carry. Despite there being no moving parts, it can be a worry-stone or fidget toy, as well as having an actual serious purpose – definitely worth the investment in a quality piece.


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
_______________________________________________

What is not to like?

_______________________________________________
Things I like
_______________________________________________

Beautifully crafted.
Choice of materials.
Easy to carry.
Might make all the difference in a tight situation.
Low profile.
Thor’s hammer in your pocket.

 
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.

Gear Review: TCH Handcuffs Twinlock Special – Part 3

This is Part 3 of a TCH (Total Control Handcuffs) Handcuffs Special three part review series featuring the TCH Twinlock cuffs. In Part 3 we will be looking at the 842 Rigid Twinlock cuffs with RCP5 Handcuff Pouch, NCG Neoprene Cuff Guard, plus an overview of handcuffing techniques. As a bonus, Part 3 also includes Tactical Reviews’ interpretation of the TOOOL universal handcuff key and ‘alternative’ prepping uses for handcuffs.
TCH Handcuffs Twinlock Special – Part 1 covered the 932 and 822 Twinlock cuffs, SK5 and SK6 keys, plus the 9201 belt pouch. TCH Handcuffs Twinlock Special – Part 2 included the 852 Folding Rigid Twinlock, 832 Superior Hinge Twinlock, TCH HR Handcuff Reducer plus the 9200 and 9215 Handcuff Pouches.
Join me here for Part 3 of the TCH Handcuffs Special review as we continue our look over these excellent cuffs and the Twinlock dual keyway design.

First look round the model 842 Rigid Twinlock cuffs:
These 842 cuffs are currently the go-to standard issue for the UK Police force, although not all issue cuffs will be the Twinlock option, but more likely the single lock version.
Rigid cuffs and their handling makes speedcuffing the norm, at least for the first wrist. From the first photo in this gallery the rotating arm of the cuffs are ‘back loaded’ ready for rapid cuffing.


The RCP5 Handcuff Pouch:
Being fully rigid, the 842s need a different approach for belt carry to all other folding cuffs. The RCP5 pouch has to hold these cuffs differently to any of the folding versions, and because of this the retaining strap has to use the military style press stud with a ‘dot’ that only opens from one side. The RCP5 comes with a warning label to inform you how to use this type of press-stud if you haven’t come across them before. The press-stud directly next to the cuffs is fitted so that the side against the cuffs cannot be pulled open from the cuff side, instead it can only be lifted open from the side away from the cuffs. Like this any pressure on the cuffs while carrying them can’t cause the retaining strap to open unintentionally.


NCG Neoprene Cuff Guard:
Provided for comfort during training only, this is not for use when restraining a suspect. During training all personnel will be cuffed and un-cuffed repeatedly, not always gently, and the NCG means the trainees need not suffer too much with speedcuffing and reverse stack practice.


Standard cuffing techniques:
Here we have a demonstration of the main cuffing methods using traditional chain cuffs and rigid cuffs with two TCH models. All methods are shown full body and zoomed in on the hands.
With chain models like the 822 you can only use ‘palm to palm’ (to the front), or ‘back to back’ (behind the back).
A fixed or hinge model now allows for the ‘stack’ where the hands face different directions through the cuffs.
So with the folding fixed 852 model here, we have ‘palm to palm’ (to the front), then ‘front stack’. Now moving to ‘back to back’ (behind the back), and then the ‘rear stack’. Rear stack is the most uncomfortable for the restrained person and should only be used if absolutely necessary.


Tactical Reviews’ interpretation of the TOOOL universal handcuff key:
Taking a slight aside during this review I came across the TOOOL (The Open Organisation Of Lockpickers) Universal handcuff key with information posted by ‘Deviant Ollam’. Taking this as inspiration I brought together ideas from other universal handcuff keys, and produced a few Tactical Reviews Universal handcuff keys. The TOOOL version was based on the Smith & Wesson Handcuff key, but as I was not able to source one at a sensible price, I decided to use the TCH key. In fact the key flag on the Smith & Wesson key is too long to fit into TCH cuffs, so for that key you have to file the key flag down. By starting with the TCH key, it already fits TCH cuffs perfectly. The width of the key flag slot is governed by the width of the junior hacksaw blade used to cut it.
Building on the TOOOL key, I also added a back-cut at 22 degrees. This allows for the key to be rocked back and forward in case the key flag is too long or short. It also gives more allowance for the key post size otherwise being too large. In short to give wiggle room to help open different cuffs.
In this gallery, the first image is of the first version I made. Next up is a second key but this time with the back-cut added, with the last image just showing the dimensions that were altered to make the key. there is no height shown for the key flag, as this was not modified from the original TCH key.


‘Alternative’ uses for handcuffs:
In terms of ‘Prepping’, handcuffs can actually be a very useful bit of kit to carry for several reasons. Here I am showing just three uses, as a bike lock, to secure a bag or other item you might want to leave for a few moments (in which time someone might take it). With the bag, clearly it doesn’t stop someone going through it, but is stops a quick snatch and run. And in the last photo, when you are resting, again to protect some possessions by preventing an easy theft.
Beyond these starter ideas, it can be used to hang items up, if required to secure someone that may be acting against you, as a rope weight if trying to throw a line to someone, to ‘hold’ a button down with the ratchet allowing adjustment as required. The list goes on for when you might need a second pair of hands.


TCH and the Twinlock:
A lot has been covered in this three part review, and hopefully you can see the quality, strength and reliability of TCH (chosen by the UK Police as the standard handcuff). The Twinlock concept makes for easier unlocking especially if the person is not cooperative so is well worth considering as when you want it, it will make a big difference.


Going back to Parts 1 and 2:

TCH Handcuffs Twinlock Special – Part 1 covered the 932 and 822 Twinlock cuffs, SK5 and SK6 keys, plus the 9201 belt pouch. TCH Handcuffs Twinlock Special – Part 2 included the 852 Folding Rigid Twinlock, 832 Superior Hinge Twinlock, TCH HR Handcuff Reducer plus the 9200 and 9215 Handcuff Pouches.

Video Review

This video covers all the TCH models that appear in the special three part review series, and will be included in all three parts of the review for ease of access. It might be worth taking a look over the image galleries before diving into the video.


Full list of TCH products featured in the three part special series:

832 Superior Hinge Twinlock
932 Lightweight Superior Hinge Twinlock
852 Folding Rigid Twinlock – Red grip
842 Rigid Twinlock
822 Superior Chain Twinlock – Black finish

Accessories –
SK5 Flat Swivel key
SK6 Tubular Swivel key
NCG Neoprene Cuff Guard
TCH HR Handcuff Reducer
TCH 9200 Handcuff Pouch (for 822)
TCH 9201 Handcuff Pouch (for 832/932)
TCH 9215 Handcuff Pouch (for 852)
TCH RCP5 Handcuff Pouch (for 842)

 
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.

Gear Review: TCH Handcuffs Twinlock Special – Part 2

This is Part 2 of a TCH (Total Control Handcuffs) Handcuffs Special three part review series featuring the TCH Twinlock cuffs. In Part 2 we will be looking at the 852 Folding Rigid Twinlock, 832 Superior Hinge Twinlock, TCH HR Handcuff Reducer plus the 9200 and 9215 Handcuff Pouches.
TCH Handcuffs Twinlock Special – Part 1 covered the 932 and 822 Twinlock cuffs, SK5 and SK6 keys, plus the 9201 belt pouch, and Part three will include the 842 Rigid Twinlock with RCP5 Handcuff Pouch, NCG Neoprene Cuff Guard along with handcuffing techniques, the TOOOL customised universal handcuff key and ‘alternative’ uses for handcuffs.
Join me here for Part 2 of the TCH Handcuffs Special review as we continue our look over these excellent cuffs and the Twinlock dual keyway design.

First look round the model 852 folding rigid handcuffs:
These 852 cuffs are in the ‘training colour’ of red, although there is no reason not to use red for restraint, the only difference is the colour of the plastic, and nothing else.
With the 852 folding rigid, although the first impression is ‘chunky’, but when you put them next to a pair of rigid cuffs, the space saving is clear. The folding mechanism makes them so much easier to carry but still gives you fully rigid cuffs.


The 852’s special hinge – Things to look out for here are:
The 852 takes the power and control of the rigid handcuff and adds a locking hinge to allow then to be folded for easier carry. As the cuffs are opened, a wide latch engages on each side of the hinge. The centre of the hinge has another keyway for a standard TCH handcuff key to unlock the hinge and allow the 852 to fold.


Twinlock security features:
As with the other Twinlock models, in this gallery I’m showing close-ups of the triple pawl locking mechanism, the double-lock pin mechanism, and a key fitted into the primary and secondary keyways. There is a difference in the key hole position and rotation for the primary and secondary keyways. Being a rigid model (folding but also rigid) the back-loading preparation of the rotating arm is relevant and one of these photos shows the 852 back-loaded.


Looking round the 9215 leather belt pouch:
A quick aside to look at the 9215 leather belt pouch made for the 852 cuffs. Constructed from heavy duty leather, it will stand up to hard use.


Looking round the 9200 leather belt pouch:
And the second pouch in this review is the 9200 leather belt pouch made for the hinged or chain cuff models. Here it is shown with the 832.


Model 832 – Superior hinged cuffs with Twinlock:
In part 1 we looked at the 932 which is the lightweight version of the all steel 832. Showing the main design features, this gallery looks more at the twinlock design with keys fitted to show the positions.


TCH HR Handcuff Reducer:
To allow for smaller wrists than average, TCH makes an insert for the cuffs that reduces the minimum size the cuff can hold securely. The insert slips in between the two halves of the double strand (the fixed part of the cuff), pushed up against the single strand rivet (Single strand being another term for the rotating arm). In this position the rotating arm can move past it and lock into place. With the reducer in place it is not possible to push the rotating arm all the way through the cuff, so it prevents speedcuffing.


Part 1 and coming up in Part 3:

TCH Handcuffs Twinlock Special – Part 1 covered the 932 and 822 Twinlock cuffs, SK5 and SK6 keys, plus the 9201 belt pouch.

Part three will include the 842 Rigid Twinlock with RCP5 Handcuff Pouch, NCG Neoprene Cuff Guard along with handcuffing techniques, the TOOOL customised universal handcuff key and ‘alternative’ uses for handcuffs.

Video Review

This video covers all the TCH models that appear in the special three part review series, and will be included in all three parts of the review for ease of access. It might be worth taking a look over the image galleries before diving into the video.


Full list of TCH products featured in the three part special series:

832 Superior Hinge Twinlock
932 Lightweight Superior Hinge Twinlock
852 Folding Rigid Twinlock – Red grip
842 Rigid Twinlock
822 Superior Chain Twinlock – Black finish

Accessories –
SK5 Flat Swivel key
SK6 Tubular Swivel key
NCG Neoprene Cuff Guard
TCH HR Handcuff Reducer
TCH 9200 Handcuff Pouch (for 822)
TCH 9201 Handcuff Pouch (for 832/932)
TCH 9215 Handcuff Pouch (for 852)
TCH RCP5 Handcuff Pouch (for 842)

 
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.

Gear Review: TCH Handcuffs Twinlock Special – Part 1

This is Part 1 of a TCH (Total Control Handcuffs) Handcuffs Special three part review series featuring the TCH Twinlock cuffs. After growing in size far beyond my originally intended group review, in this first part of the series we will be covering the 932 and 822 Twinlock cuffs, SK5 and SK6 keys, plus the 9201 belt pouch. The TCH Twinlock mechanism makes it much easier to unlock with a keyway on both sides of each cuff.
Parts 2 and 3 will include the 832, 852 and 842 cuffs, NCG Neoprene Cuff Guard, TCH HR Handcuff Reducer and the 9200, 9215 and RCP5 Handcuff Pouches, plus information on cuffing techniques and the TOOOL Universal Handcuff Key.
Join me here for Part 1 of the TCH Handcuffs Special review to start our look over these excellent cuffs and the Twinlock dual keyway design.

Video Review

This video covers all the TCH models that appear in the special three part review series, and will be included in all three parts of the review for ease of access. It might be worth taking a look over the image galleries before diving into the video.


Unpacking the model 932 handcuffs:


A good look round the 932 – Things to look out for here are:
The 932 is the lightweight Superior Hinge Twinlock model. The hinge means it folds, but prevents the cuffs twisting. With twisting prevented, ‘stacked’ cuffing techniques can be used (See part three for more details).
In this gallery you can also see the Twinlock feature with photos of each side of the cuffs in the fully open position. There is a difference in the key hole position and rotation for the primary and secondary keyways.


Twinlock security features:
With this first detailed look at a Twinlock model, in this gallery I’m showing close-ups of the ratchet teeth on the rotating arm, the triple pawl locking mechanism, the double-lock pin mechanism, and a key fitted into the primary and secondary keyways.


Looking round the 9201 leather belt pouch:
A quick aside to look at the 9201 leather belt pouch. Constructed from heavy duty leather, this pouch will take all the knocks you might give it.
Just about taking the 932 cuffs, but there is a version of this pouch with longer strap to better fit the hinged models.


Optional SK5 and SK6 duty keys:
For frequent use, and to improve handling of the standard handcuff key, TCH offer two optional bigger duty keys, the SK5 and SK6 both of which give you more leverage and are easier to use than the basic key.


Model 822 – traditional chain cuffs with Twinlock:
The most traditional cuff to be shown in this series of reviews is a chain cuff model, the 822. In this case it is in the black finish. Traditional this may be, but it also has the TCH Twinlock mechanism, so making it much easier to unlock with a keyway on both sides of each cuff. Also shown fitted in the 9201 belt pouch.


Coming up in Parts 2 and 3:

Next up in Part 2 will be the 852 Folding Rigid Twinlock, 832 Superior Hinge Twinlock, TCH HR Handcuff Reducer plus the 9200 and 9215 Handcuff Pouches.

Part three will include the 842 Rigid Twinlock with RCP5 Handcuff Pouch, NCG Neoprene Cuff Guard along with handcuffing techniques , the TOOOL customised universal handcuff key and ‘alternative’ uses for handcuffs.

Full list of TCH products featured in the three part special series:

832 Superior Hinge Twinlock
932 Lightweight Superior Hinge Twinlock
852 Folding Rigid Twinlock – Red grip
842 Rigid Twinlock
822 Superior Chain Twinlock – Black finish

Accessories –
SK5 Flat Swivel key
SK6 Tubular Swivel key
NCG Neoprene Cuff Guard
TCH HR Handcuff Reducer
TCH 9200 Handcuff Pouch (for 822)
TCH 9201 Handcuff Pouch (for 832/932)
TCH 9215 Handcuff Pouch (for 852)
TCH RCP5 Handcuff Pouch (for 842)

 
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.

Gear Review: HORL 2 Knife Sharpener

HORL 1993 are creating a revolution in sharpening with their innovative line of rolling knife sharpeners. Many of you will likely have seen their system popping up in various social media feeds, especially if you have any interests involving knives. Though primarily aimed at sharpening kitchen knives, having given the system a quick try out at IWA 2022, I was intrigued to test it in more depth and with other types of knives. Join me in this HORL 2 knife sharpener review for a closer look at this new approach to guided sharpening.

What is on test?:

For this review, on test are the HORL 2 sharpener with add-on Premium Sharpening kit plus the storage block. HORL also sent the tea towel and branded plasters.


A good look round the HORL 2 – Things to look out for here are:
In this first part which includes the HORL 2 sharpener plus the optional storage block, I’m breaking it into three sections. First the HORL 2 box and first look over the knife holder / angle guide, then views all round the storage block, and finally the rolling sharpening stone itself.

Inside the box are a couple of printed guides, and the two main components, the rolling sharpener and the magnetic guide block. The precisely finished wooden guide block has two angled ends, 15 degrees and 20 degrees. The ends are marked with their angle and have a rubber surface to cushion and hold the knife.


An optional extra that goes with the sharpener so well you really should get it, is the storage block. Available in either of the two woods used for the sharpeners themselves you can match the sharpener or go with a wood contrast. The block has two cut-outs, one is an angled pocket to sit the rolling sharpener in, and the other is a slot that has a couple of bolt heads which the magnetic guide block grabs on to. The quality of finish is very high.


Lastly in this detailed look at the components is the rolling sharpener itself. A cylinder with a round sharpening stone at each end.
The wooden centre grip section of the rolling sharpener is in the matching wood to the guide block, and rotates freely. At each end are rubber rings to act as wheels, and the sharpening disks. As it comes this includes a diamond disk and a grooved ceramic coated disk.
Also shown here is how the HORL 2 neatly sits on the storage block.


The Premium Sharpening Kit add-on:
Though you can produce a good edge with the standard HOLR 2, the premium sharpening kit is designed to further refine that edge and take it to another level.
The kit includes two extra sharpening disks of 3000 and 6000 grit. These are found inside matching storage tins, wrapped in a cloth square. As well as these two fine stones, you also have a thick leather strop for cleaning and deburring the edge.
The 3000 grit stone is blue and the finest 6000 grit stone is white. Both are marked on the back of the disk with the grit.


Changing the Stone:
Changing stones on the HORL 2 is simple. Grip the rubber wheel firmly and simply unscrew the stone you want to change; then screw in the replacement. My own preference was the diamond and 3000 grit as a pair.


Video overview and sharpening test.

This video takes detailed look at the HORL 2 being used for the first time on a Santoku kitchen knife and an outdoor / hunting knife. It is quite long but also uncovers a few tips and tricks you might be interested in as well as showing a reprofile of the edge angle. It is worth watching for the insights into how the sharpener interacts with parts of the knife and possible precautions you might want to take.


What it is like to use?

If you have watched the whole video you will have seen what I’m going to describe in this section for real. For this review I’m using the HORL 2 along with two optional extras, the storage block, and the premium sharpening kit with its finer grit stones and leather strop.

As the simplest and most basic look at using the HORL 2, these photos show how you set up the knife on the magnetic angle block with the roller sharpener against the knife edge. You can see how the edge-to-stone angle is maintained and allows sharpening by rolling the sharpener backwards and forwards.
Of note is that your kitchen work surface (or table) is used as part of the sharpening system because you need a large surface to working the rolling sharpener along the blade. Typically a sharpening system will contain the dust and metal filings produced to the sharpener, but the HORL 2 drops the filings that don’t stick to the magnetized blade all over the work surface. It is a bit of a messy eater when it comes to sharpening systems.


Beyond the basic operation of the HORL 2 here are a few general observations:

  • Operation is incredibly simple for use with most kitchen knives.
  • If the depth of the blade is more than the diameter of the sharpening disk you have to use ‘riser blocks’ (like a chopping board) to be able to sharpen the edge.
  • It is very easy to bump the sharpening stone into the knife bolster or handle. I use masking tape to protect these areas from damage.
  • You will magnetise the blade by using the magnetic angle guide block.
  • The sharpening dust collects on the magnetised blade and edge during use.
  • Shorter / narrower blades (paring knives or pocket knives) need very careful positioning on the angle block.
  • As your worktop is part of the sharpening system, this will be covered in metal filings

When swapping from a kitchen knife to an outdoor / hunting knife, it became apparent of an issue you need to work round regarding the tip of the knife.
With many hunting knives, the blade edge curves upward to meet the spine of the blade at the tip. This introduces challenges of maintaining the edge angle all through the sweep of the edge on any sharpening system. On the HORL 2 it requires the user to no longer rely on the angle block to provide the correct angle, instead the user has to twist the rolling sharpener to the correct angle at the tip.
Illustrated below is the angle the roller needs to be moved to sharpen this knife all the way to the tip. It is actually 20 degrees, the same angle as is used on the magnetic angle block. With the rubber wheels on the roller gripping the work surface, this does need the user to force the roller to twist round and get the hang of following the angle near the tip.
Another feature of a hunting knife verses a kitchen knife it that typically there is a ‘plunge line’ where the blade profile and ricasso meet. Also shown below are photos of how the corners of the HORL 2 stones hit the plunge line and might not quite reach the very end of the cutting edge. You will also likely mark the ricasso with the stone.
Finally with the grooved ceramic stone of the HORL 2 and the tip of a knife with a curve there is a possibility of the edge catching into the groove. This happened a couple of times in the video when turning the sharpener to work the tip of the blade, and prompted me to abandon the ceramic stone for a blade with curved tip like this. For kitchen knives this was not an issue.


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 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
_______________________________________________

  • Needs ‘riser blocks’ for blades wider than the sharpening disk.
  • Magnetises the blade and this collects metal filings on the blade and angle block.
  • Covers the kitchen work surface in metal filings.
  • Still requires the user to control the angle of the stone at the blade tip.
  • Easy to hit and mark the handle or other parts of the knife with the rolling stone.

_______________________________________________
Things I like
_______________________________________________

  • For most typical straight-edge kitchen knives it makes sharpening super simple and easy.
  • Elegant and attractive solution that looks good in any kitchen.
  • Choice of stone types and grits.
  • Easy touch ups.
  • Very quick to set up and use.
  • Choice of 15 DPS or 20 DPS sharpening angles.

 
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)

Gear Review: Wisport Sparrow 16 and 20 Rucksacks

Inspired by a project to assemble an urban emergency grab-bag / evac-bag / bug-out-bag / go-kit using a maximum 20l rucksack, I chose the Wisport (from Military 1st) Sparrow 16 and 20 rucksacks. This review is to take a detailed look at these bags and their features. As well as the photo galleries there is also a video showing the features of each bag. (Keep an eye out for the emergency bag article, or subscribe for updates to make sure you get notified.)

Diving into the details:
Starting with the smaller Sparrow 16 and the images are split into three galleries to cover the main external features, carry strap details, and the bag’s compartments.

External features:
The Sparrow 16 shows how even a small bag, with a few extras on it, can have a pretty impressive carrying ability. Each side of the Sparrow 16 has a set of two compression straps with quick release buckles (as well as MOLLE panels). These make it easy to adapt the bag, stabilise the load or even strap on additional equipment or clothing.
Even though it is a small bag, it has a good comfortable strong top strap. Under this strap is the hydration pouch tube port.


The carry straps:
Despite being a small 16l bag, the Sparrow 16 has a lot of details in its design – the carry straps are no exception. Both shoulder straps are fully removable, not just one end of the strap, but both, can be unclipped. You can use remove one strap to make it a neat single shoulder bag (in the way many people carry a rucksack), or both and have a large organiser that you carry with the handle.
Even on this smaller bag there is a chest strap, and the hydration tube clips.


Compartments in the Sparrow 16:
On the very front panel of the bag is a side zip accessed compartment, the same size as the whole front panel. Moving onto the main compartment, which has a full clamshell opening (once you undo the side straps). At the front of the main compartment is a zip up compartment, and below this is an elastic strap with loops for organising items. The back of the main compartment has a pocket with elastic edge, to hold a hydration pouch, or any other flat items.


Moving onto the Sparrow 20.

External features:
The Sparrow 20 steps up the ‘strappage’ to another level. Like the 16, each side has a set of two compression straps with quick release buckles (as well as MOLLE panels). The front panel has a further two compression straps with quick release buckles, and the base of the bag has both MOLLE webbing and a set of four attachment points for webbing of your own configuration. The front panel also has a top opening zip up compartment. It’s all topped off with a sturdy carry strap.


The carry straps:
In the case of the sparrow 20, the shoulder straps are much more substantial, wider, and padded. The tops of the straps are fixed, but the bottom have quick release buckles to give you a quick exit from the straps when needed. Under the straps at the top of the back panel is the hydration tube port. The back panel has large padded contours and space for air to flow. At the bottom end of the shoulder straps there is an angled load spreader where it is fixed to the bag. Next to this, on either side, is a webbing attachment point that could be used for fitting a waist strap.
Hydration tube clips sit in the same place on the shoulder straps as the chest strap.


Compartments in the Sparrow 20:
With the extra 4l in space comes a jump in equipment and more organisation. Starting on the front panel is a pocket for very quick and easy access. For the full clamshell opening of the front panel compartment you need to unclip the four side straps. Inside the front compartment is a clip hanger strap and a D-loop hanger strap (for keys and the like), a small organiser panel with pen pockets and elastic strap, a mesh zip up pocket, and an open pouch pocket.
Moving into the main compartment, again with full clamshell opening, and the back has an elasticated pocket for a hydration pouch. Around this are four webbing attachment points so you can add further restraints. Covering the front of the main compartment are two zip-up mesh pockets.


What it is like to use?
To add more of the impression of these bags, this video takes a tour round both the Sparrow 16 and 20.

As the more ‘equipped’ of the two bags, the Sparrow 20 has stepped into my EDC while I develop the bug-out-bag system, so here is a quick look round the way I’m using it.
On the front panel I’ve added a MOLLE fixing patch panel to give me more room for velcro patches. There is a torch / flashlight slipped into the webbing to be immediately to hand, but with the top put under the strap above to hopefully stop it falling out by itself.
To keep the compression straps that I’m not currently using out of the way (so the compartments can be unzipped easily), I have actually laid these across each other and used the elastic loops on each strap to hold the other one in place. (Each strap was threaded into the elastic strap loop of the opposite strap.)
On one side panel is a MOLLE glasses case, and on the other are a further two MOLLE pouches. One of these takes my phone and the other has various small items I want within easy reach.
For my EDC use, I only use one of the shoulder straps to quickly pick it up and put it down. The other strap is held neatly out of the way by tucking it into the lower side compression strap.
In the front compartment I have medication pouches, two more lights and a pen, plus many ‘useful’ items tucked into the mesh pouch and pocket.
Not being a fan of chest straps I removed this from the bag, however, inside the main compartment are some webbing attachment points, and here I have re-purposed the chest strap inside the main compartment to hold tall items in place. You can see a tablet case, large and small organiser pouches plus an action camera with mini tripod.


My initial temptation was to cut off a few of the Sparrow 20’s numerous straps to tidy it up. Unused straps can become more of a hindrance than a help. However, I stopped myself; currently the work-arounds I found for the various straps I wanted out of the way are working nicely.
The way I am EDCing the Sparrow 20 should show any potential shoulder strap issues quickly enough, especially considering I’ve made it quite heavy already. No signs of strain or overloading as yet.
So far these bags appear well made, strong and packed full of features.

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.

_______________________________________________
What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________

Almost too many straps.
Side straps can prevent easy opening of clamshell compartments.
Main zips a little ‘sticky’ (this may improve with use).

_______________________________________________
Things I like
_______________________________________________

Plenty of Webbing and Straps.
Good ‘organiser’ design features.
Break-out shoulder straps.
Strong top carry handle.
Hydration pouch compatible.
Main compartments have full clamshell opening.
Padded back.

 
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.