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:
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Knife Review: lionSTEEL Thrill

I could not wait to get hold of a lionSTEEL Thrill when I saw it. It’s a slip-joint, and that is part of the attraction, as in the UK, for EDC-legal carry, it has to be non-locking – but there is so much more. The handle and spring are machined from a single solid piece of titanium, it has IKBS pivot bearings, a M390 blade and the stealth ‘hideaway’ pocket clip, making it a fully loaded package. Join me in this review of the lionSTEEL Thrill, a slip-joint pocket knife.

What’s in the box?:
Very well presented packaging.


A good look round the lionSTEEL Thrill – Things to look out for here are:
This gallery has a lot to look at (and we take a closer look at the pocket clip separately): the quality of machining and detailing of the solid handle, the steel ‘spring liner’ protecting the titanium spring from the blade tang, fit and finish of the fixings, and machining of the blade.


H.WAYL pocket clip:
The Thrill uses lionSTEEL’s ‘Hide What Annoys You’ H.WAYL clip system that allows the pocket clip to sit flush with the rest of the handle, instead of sticking out and sticking into your hand when using the knife. When hidden, you press the button to open the clip and allow it to slip over your pocket.


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.

Torque testing:


What is it like to use?
There was one thing I just had to include here, which is the sound of the Thrill opening and closing. The combination of the titanium body and steel spring liner gives it a kind of ‘sheeesh sheeesh’ sound I’ve not heard on any other knife. Well here it is, I love it…

That action feels great with the pivot bearings making the motion super slick, yet the spring strength makes the blade feels secure. A half-stop lets you change grip as you open it all the way, keeping control of the blade.

With the H.WAYL clip system, you can completely forget this knife has a pocket clip. Personally I would not want to trust this clip for two reasons; firstly, the clip’s ‘spring’ pressure is provided by the button spring, and this is not very strong (or you would struggle to open it), and secondly, the underside of the clip is straight and smooth, so has no ‘bump’ or texture to resist sliding off a pocket edge (in fact it gets easier to pull off the further up it moves, without that final clinch).

Because of this, and the lack of lanyard attachment, I have taken to carrying this in a belt pouch (as in the gallery below) which has proven to work very well.

My nails are not very strong, so I don’t like to open stiff blades using a nail-nick; there is, however, enough blade accessible when the Thrill is closed to allow me to pinch grip the blade to open it, so it has been completely comfortable to use.

Blade shape and geometry has proven itself time and again. A full flat grind combined with a blade that is not too thick and not too thin, means it cuts really well. The point of the blade punctures eagerly, helped by the narrow point-angle and swedge. (Of course you must always be careful and utilise correct technique when using the point of a slip-joint, as if you get it wrong you can make the blade close on your fingers.)

Being a slip-joint provides you with a freedom to carry the knife that far outweighs any limitations of not having a locking blade.

The Thrill has been my EDC for a good time now and takes all those daily duties in its stride while leaving you with the feeling it IS something special.


Review Summary

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

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

I’m 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
_______________________________________________

Weak pocket clip.
No Lanyard hole.

_______________________________________________
Things I like
_______________________________________________

Lovely action.
Slip-Joint (UK EDC legal).
Firm back-spring pressure.
Versatile blade shape.
Possible to pinch grip the blade to open.
M390 blade steel.
Superb fit and finish.
Single-piece solid handle.
Hideaway pocket clip.

 
Discussing the Review:
Please visit the Tactical Reviews Facebook Page to discuss this review and start/join the conversation.

Gear Review: Wiley X Captivate Lenses (Models shown – Contend, Peak and Breach)

In this review, it’s all about a lens; a new Wiley X lens. 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. I also, in most cases, prefer polarized lenses for glare reduction and enhancing colour depth. Wiley X have now produced a further enhancement to the polarized lens by increasing colour contrast with the CAPTIVATE lens. In this review the focus is primarily on this new lens itself, but can be seen in three of the first models to feature the lens; Contend, Peak and Breach (which also has the gasket technology).

What’s in the box?:


Here is what is included for all three models.


A look round the Contend:
This ‘Contend’ has the Blue mirror version of the CAPTIVATE lens.


A look round the Peak:
For the ‘Peak’ it is the Copper CAPTIVATE lens.


A look round the Breach:
Lastly the ‘Breach’ has the Bronze Mirror CAPTIVATE lens. Also look out for the gasket, and in this model, the side vents that can be opened and closed as required.


What is the CAPTIVATE lens like to use?

First impressions? That is actually very difficult to describe when you go from one of Wiley X’s already superb polarized lenses to the new enhanced CAPTIVATE polarized lens. Between one Wiley X polarized lens and the CAPTIVATE lens, is there a marked difference? It is simply not possible for there to be a massive difference. Instead it has taken a longer period of use to really appreciate the improvement, as I have now experienced a wide range or lighting conditions and locations with differing colour ranges.

None of the lens versions on test are completely neutral, so all give a slight colour cast to the overall rendition of what you see. This is one aspect of the eyewear we choose that adds an extra dimension and allows us to see more and differently than without any lens.

Since getting to know the new CAPTIVATE lens, I’ve been trying to work out how to best show what this lens does, and am still no satisfied, but here goes with my attempt.

Bear in mind, that like all of our senses, we have our own built in ‘automatic balance’, so like a camera has a White Balance setting, and this can be set to Auto White Balance, our eyes also do this to some degree, and after wearing a lens for a period of time our eyes adjust to them.

Coming from daily use of Wiley X lenses already, first impressions were of an excellent lens, but could I see what made them different? Over time, and with swapping back to the standard polarized lens, the answer was yes. What I was seeing through the CAPTIVATE lens was clearer and more defined. It was subtle, but the impression was of sharper edges, and a higher clarity. As we are seeing objects which don’t typically have a ‘border’ or ‘outline’ in a different colour, we are seeing the edge of an object as its colour meets the next background or object colour.

The intent of the CAPTIVATE lens is for it to reduce light in the parts of the light spectrum where Blue merges with Green, and where Green merges with Red so that you see a more significant difference between blue/green and green/red boundaries.

This is not done to such an extent that you can’t see certain shades, but so that you have an impression of higher contrast between colours. As I said before, this is not so marked you put them on and see something so unreal, but rather that with more use you can appreciate how clearly you are seeing your surroundings.

In an attempt to show the effect of these lenses, I am including two galleries with photographs taken through the different lenses. In the first set, the camera is set to a fixed Daylight White Balance (so is not adjusting the colour balance), and in the second set the camera is set to Auto White Balance to try to introduce some of the acclimatisation our eyes have.

There is a control shot first with no lens in front of the camera, then the three different models.

Daylight White Balance set


Auto White Balance set
This is the set I feel, more closely represents what your eyes see (but not exactly) for each lens type. The stand-out photo is probably the one of the metal cover in a pavement which has weeds growing round it and when you go from the control shot to the Contend lens. The green really stands out.
Another characteristic I like about the Bronze Mirror lens in the Breach was how it gave a pleasing deep bronze cast to the rusted metal surfaces in road furniture (manhole covers etc).


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
_______________________________________________

Sorry, not being biased, but really nothing.

_______________________________________________
Things I like
_______________________________________________

Lens quality.
The clarity of vision.
Subtle effect of the enhanced colour contrast.
Strong and comfortable frames.
More innovation from Wiley X.

CLASSIC Gear Review: Leatherman TREAD

Another in the Classic Review series, this one is from February 2016 – The idea for the TREAD came about following Leatherman’s CEO Ben Rivera being stopped by Disneyland’s security for carrying a Skeletool. This started the design process which resulted in the first usable wearable multi-tool which should also be ‘security friendly’.

When he returned from his trip, Rivera started wearing a bike chain bracelet to see how it would feel. As the idea took shape, he brought his idea to the engineers at Leatherman who helped make it a reality.

Taking a more detailed look:

For what will become obvious reasons, the presentation of the TREAD is very much like a watch.

No bits and pieces in the box, simply the TREAD and a leaflet.

The packaging keeps the links from rubbing against each other as the TREAD comes on a foam mount.

Fresh out of the box.

The clasp is an ingenious combination of a sprung ball detent retainer and a tool.

A closer look at the clasp fastener on which there is a small version of the Leatherman logo.

Jumping straight to what the TREAD is all about with one tool deployed and ready to drive a Philips screw.

Out of the box the TREAD includes all the tools and links. Like this it is a little on the large side.

You can adjust the size of the TREAD by removing links. There are only two sizes of link which change the size by either 3/4″ or 1” (including the link bars). Most of the links are 1”, with only the one smaller size link.

Looking at the TREAD, adjusting it might seem slightly ironic as you need a screwdriver to undo the link screws. However, cunningly, Leatherman have made the slot in the screw the right size for a small coin such as a 1 cent coin. This has the added advantage of using a copper screwdriver so making it impossible to mar the screw head.

Let’s run through the adjustment process…

To start with take out two screws to open up the bracelet. Then start to remove the screws for the link you are removing.

What you need to do when resizing is to pick the link you are going to do without. For me I started with the largest flat screwdrivers, which is why I opened up the bracelet at this point.

While we are on this subject, we had better have a look at the links. Link #1 is the small sized link and has the two small slot screwdrivers and has ‘Leatherman’ on the outside.

Link #2 has a 3/16 slot screwdriver, Philips PH1-2 and 1/4 box wrench. Also note the clasp’s square driver bit (R2) bottom left in the photo.

There is no Link #3 in this sample instead we skip to Link #4. This has a small cutter, pick for mobile phone SIMs and a scribe. Underneath the pick and cutter is the clasp’s 1/4″ square drive for small sockets.

With no Link #5 we move onto #6 which has a 1/4 and 5/16 slot screwdrivers and a 3/8 box wrench.

Link #7 has 1/8 and 3/32 Allen keys plus a 3/16 box wrench.

Link #8 has 3/16 and 1/4 Allen keys (which are taking on a ‘flat’ appearance) plus an Oxygen wrench.

Link #9 goes metric with 5mm and 6mm Allen keys and a 10mm box wrench.

Link #10 stays metric with 3mm and 4mm Allen keys and an 8mm box wrench.

No link #11, so we skip to #12 which has PH1 and PH2 Philips screwdrivers and a 6mm box wrench.

Then we have the clasp. In the middle is a bottle opener.

The clasp also has the previously mentioned 1/4″ socket driver and R2 square driver.

Just showing the 1/4″ socket driver with a socket fitted.

Pause for breath….

OK and back to the resizing. This is the final configuration I had to go with; going to the next smaller size involved removing the small link, at which point the TREAD was overly snug and got much too tight when I got hot.

Though it doesn’t show the tool in the centre of each link, here is a quick overview of all the bits.

Multi-tools have come a long way thanks to Leatherman, here we have old and new multi-tools with 25 years between them.

Troubleshooting

This is a new section I am adding to mention any minor niggles I came across during testing, in case the information helps anyone else.

Though technically no issues were encountered during testing, I did find it necessary to take off a few sharp corners (more on why in the ‘in use’ section).

I had to break out a selection of files from a standard needle file, diamond needle files and a DMT Diafold sharpener to work on pretty much every single screw. The slot cut into the screw head has sharp edges and corners which I needed to ease.

The edges of the clasp also had a bit of a tidy up.

None of this was absolutely necessary but for me improved comfort and usability significantly.

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 TREAD in use

You can view the TREAD in different ways. It might simply be ‘Man Jewellery’ or genuinely an Every Day Tool. How well you get on with it will also depend on several factors, from the actual size of your wrist, to if you are happy wearing something reasonably heavy on your wrist (like a big diver’s watch).

First of all though, just look at what you are carrying on your wrist with the TREAD (the adjustable wrench represents an Oxygen wrench), so the burden, if it is a burden, may just be worth it.

Leatherman are working on a watch for the TREAD to be a strap for. This has always seemed the most logical approach to me as a watch wearer, as with no additional burden my watch strap suddenly becomes useful.

In the meantime though we have the TREAD as shown here, and for me the main issue has been of fit. Leatherman state it can be adjusted to 1/4″ increments, but this is not true. There are two link sizes, 1” and 3/4″ which are indeed 1/4″ different. So if you substitute one of these links for the other it will be a change of 1/4″. However this relies on those two links being available , which they are not always going to be. Take the example, that for me to wear the TREAD I consider the two small screwdrivers as essential. This means I have to keep the 3/4″ link in place so can now only adjust the size in 1” increments. This is a very coarse adjustment.

Unfortunately this coarse fit adjustment has led to several issues. Firstly the tread now sits onto my hand when my arm is down, and secondly, but more importantly it now clashes with all long sleeved tops and jackets.

In the previous section I showed the filing I did. The reason for this was that the TREAD’s sharp corners were not out of the way near my wrist, but instead rubbing on any long sleeve I wore. I was not prepared to shred my sleeves, so had to take action with the files. If the fit had been closer to my wrist, I don’t think this would have been a problem at all.

So moving beyond this, when the weather was warm enough not to wear long sleeves, the TREAD was much easier to live with and I was able to make it part of my EDC.

At first it might seem awkward and odd to have a flexible screwdriver handle, but the Tread works surprisingly well in the hand allowing you a firm grip.

I might be wrong, but I feel the TREAD is really only for light duty jobs, and if winding up the force you need to be careful not to over stress the links and bend the jumper bars.

The two smallest screwdrivers are my most used part of the TREAD. But being on the only small link has two consequences. First is the limited size adjustment by having to keep this one link.

The second is that the blade can only be moved out to the side and not as much as the other screwdriver bits, limiting access.

Access is another consideration. If the screw head is recessed at all, the bits on the TREAD will not reach it, so the TREAD is only suitable for surface mounted screw heads.

With all of that said, the TREAD is oddly alluring and both demands to be worn and to be toyed with like an ‘executive toy’. Its true usefulness will be entirely dependent on how often you need access to any of the tools on the TREAD. I can personally go days or weeks without needing any of these, but then go days in a row constantly needing various tools (however I did find the small cutter incredibly useful even when I didn’t need any of the other tools). If you use any of these tools daily, I’d say the TREAD is an absolute winner in terms of convenience. It also has a seriously manly bling factor and has people doing double takes as they realise it really is a working tool.

Leatherman has said it is working on improving the fit and on a watch face to go with the TREAD. These additions/improvements will take the TREAD to a new level of integration and usefulness.

Review Summary

_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Things I like What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Always on you tools Size adjustment is too coarse to get a good fit
User can choose which tools to keep Screw heads and clasp have some sharp edges
Doubles as ‘Man Jewellery’ Possibility of overloading with the larger tools
Airport security safe (so far)
Replaces up to 29 tools (depending on wrist size)

Gear Review: NORDIC HEAT Heated Glove Liner (Thin)

Having been thoroughly impressed by NORDIC HEAT in previous years at IWA, at IWA 2018 I made sure to visit them to be able to talk directly about their thoughtful approach to electrically heated clothing; plus I wanted to take the opportunity try some of their products at the show. I was so impressed, I came away with some NORDIC HEAT gloves to take a more in depth look at.

In this case the I’m testing the Glove Liner (Thin) gloves which are the lightest-weight gloves in the NORDIC HEAT range. They give you the option to use them on their own as lightweight heated gloves, or are thin enough to be worn under outer gloves, adding heating to otherwise unheated gloves.

A few more details:

NORDIC HEAT Power Pack-G:

In their logically thought out approach, the whole system is modular and the power packs and charger come as a set to be combined with various items of heated clothing.


A good look round the NORDIC HEAT Glove Liner – Thin – Things to look out for here are:

Despite being a lightweight glove, the construction is solid and attention to detail in the fit and comfort is excellent. The entire inner surface has rubber dots to really add grip, plus there is a touch screen compatible pad on the index finger.
NOTE: (Added at the request of NORDIC HEAT) – NORDIC HEAT recommend fitting the battery pack the other way up to the way shown in the photos. They intend for the power cord to go straight down into the glove rather than being looped round.


What it is like to use?

On this subject of heated clothing, I am reminded of a quote from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams:
“one of the lingering questions on NowWhat is how the boghogs manage to stay warm in their skins. It says “if anyone had wanted to learn the language of the boghogs, they would have discovered that they don’t and are just as cold and miserable as everyone else”.”
And this is simply because in the past you had only one choice in the cold, and that was to try and reduce how cold you were with more clothing – ‘try’ being the operative word. Once cold starts to set in, the body reduces blood flow to the extremities and they get even colder. So really you were just a certain level of cold, but didn’t have much choice so got used to the discomfort.
Heated clothing provides us with benefits beyond simply the comfort of feeling warmth; it keeps us functional longer in more extreme conditions.
I use it in a few different ways, all of which are subtly different. These are also based on the fact that there are batteries which will run out, so you can’t simply run them all the time.
The first of these ways of using them involves actively combating the cold to stop it setting in. This is where you start off with the gloves on, and turn them on before even going out into the cold. Keeping the hands warm with heating from the very start means you maintain the best dexterity as long as you have battery power for the heating.
Second, and for me a very important way of using them, is for recovery. There are situations where it is not practical to use the heated gloves initially, and other gloves are used. Inevitably the cold starts to creep in and your hands become colder and colder. Once you reach a certain point you really need to recover. Swapping to the heated gloves and using them to bring back the circulation gets you ready to go again. As these glove liners are not themselves thermally insulated, on their own they do not provide much protection beyond keeping some cold air off the skin, and certainly don’t help with holding very cold tools or touching cold surfaces beyond the active heating provided to the side of the fingers. This is why I frequently use other thicker gloves, most of which are not large enough to allow the use these as glove liners, mainly due to the battery pack bulk, so the ‘recovery’ approach is very helpful.
Third on the list is preparation for the cold environment. We are not always warm to start with and the other gloves you are going to use might be chilled; you can use these heated gloves to give you hands a real boost to start with. The non-heated gloves can then be warmed with body heat from this pre-warming and the circulation boost.
You may find different ways to work with them, but this is what has been good for me.

Though I’m going to move onto observations that are more specific to these gloves, there is one characteristic I need to mention which is the same for all heated gloves that have their own battery packs. Having the battery pack in the cuff gives the gloves a strange balance, bulkiness and heavy feel. In the case of these glove liners, this is even more pronounced as the gloves are lightweight, but it is the same in all heated gloves. The bulk at the cuff tends to interfere with your watch; I frequently go without a wristwatch when using heated gloves. This is something you need to accept if you want the benefits of independently powered heated gloves.

The next comments are supported by the photo gallery coming up next –
Thoughtfully, even though these are called glove liners, a touch screen compatible index finger tip has been included. Though it doesn’t look conductive, it certainly works. Be aware however that, just like every other touch screen compatible glove, the finger contact area is pretty big and imprecise. It is more of a case of being able to answer a call without taking off the gloves than being able to make a call. There is not enough precision to tap on a number or name in a list. Certainly useful if you accept the limitations.
Overall comfort is excellent and the fit is good. In this gallery the first three photos of the glove being worn are without the battery fitted. Skip forward past the photos showing the button illumination to see the bulk added by the battery pack. You get used to this bulk quickly, but it requires some consideration.
It is nice that the power button itself is directly illuminated. When first turned on (using a long press), the first of the three modes is high. To cycle through medium, low and back to high you briefly press the button. A long press is then needed to turn them off again.
Last in the gallery are some thermal camera images of the excellent design of the heating in NORDIC HEAT’s gloves. Each finger is surrounding with heating elements which are clearly visible. Frequently, heated gloves only heat the back of the hand, meaning there is only heating on one side of the fingers. NORDIC HEAT’s method applies heat to two sides of the finger getting more heat in.


Using the FLIR Scout TK thermal camera again to shoot some video, this shows the gloves heating up from cold and those excellent heating elements.

Video Edited with – Cyberlink Director Suite 5 (PowerDirector 16 and AudioDirector 7)
Camera – FLIR Scout TK    

How long do they run?:
Using a dual thermal probe to measure the ambient temperature and the temperature in the middle finger of one glove, the time/temperature graph was plotted of the difference between these two temperatures. This was carried out in a cool but sheltered area on HIGH mode.
One glove ran out of power at 1h43m and the other at 1h46m.
Recharging the batteries from completely flat takes around three and a half hours (3h33m for one and 4h07m for the other).
The charging indicator on the charger will be solid red if both batteries are connected and charging, and solid green if they are both fully charged. If the indicator light is flashing red, this means that one battery is charged and the charger is “waiting” for the second battery, or only one battery is connected for charging.

In the graph below, the line marking ‘Glove Battery Exhausted’ is the time when the power light went out.

Some Modifications:
There is only one aspect of these gloves that didn’t work for me, and that was the cuff adjustment tabs. With the batteries adding bulk to the cuff, you really need to open the cuff adjuster to put them on, and then do it up again.
For the first hand this is fine, operating the cuff adjuster with bare hands is no problem, but then we get to the second hand, and now we are using the gloved fingers to grip the tab.
Immediately, as you do up the cuff adjuster, you find the Velcro hook part grabs the fabric of the thumb doing it up. This quickly starts to ‘fluff’ up the thumb fabric and is going to wear it out much faster.
Worse than doing it up, is trying to get hold of the cuff tab to undo it. You really have to press the thumb into the edge of the tab to get hold of it, and so onto the Velcro hooks. This is when the thumb fabric sticks to the hooks and has to be ripped off them.
All it really needs is a little grip tab (which has no Velcro and extends enough to grip with the gloves on) to allow you to get hold of it, so I got out my ‘Velcro control pack’ to make one. As I find the tendency of Velcro hook material to grab things quite annoying I have a selection of hook and loop strips (my ‘Velcro control pack’) that I can cut to size to cover up excessive hook material or in some cases extend it.
The following gallery steps through what I have done for each cuff adjuster. A simple job that took five minutes to do, and has transformed the fitting and removal of these gloves.


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
_______________________________________________

All fingers heated on two sides.
Touch screen compatible index finger.
Turns onto maximum power.
Simple and reliable interface.
Adjustable cuff.
Good grip.
Dual purpose, liner or lightweight glove.
Modular design for use with other NORDIC HEAT products.

_______________________________________________
What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________

Cuff adjuster tab too short and difficult to get hold of.
Batteries can be fiddly to fit into the pocket.

 

Discussing the Review:

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

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

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

Gear Review: Gerber Center-Drive Multi-Tool

Gerber’s Center Drive multi-tool may be one of many in the highly competitive multi-tool market, but its name clearly tells you what its key design feature is. Gerber have gone all out with the capabilities of the built-in screwdriver bit holder, along with considering the ergonomics when using a screwdriver which has a multi-tool as the handle. So Gerber aligned the axis of the bit holder to be as close to the centre line of the tool as possible. The Center-Drive tool also includes a larger than normal knife blade, powerful sprung pliers with replaceable wire cutters plus even more.

A few more details:

We’ll be taking a good look round this tool, first what is in the box, then focusing on the headline feature before taking in the rest of it.

What’s in the box?:


The driver in the Center Drive:


A good look round the Gerber Center Drive – Things to look out for:

With the featured functions of the bit driver and large knife blade, the Center Drive has an asymmetrical layout with one handle carrying these features on the outside, and the other handle having further tools folded into the inside; this gallery takes you around all of these.


What it is like to use?

Having seen some less than positive comments about this tool, I felt the need to address these first before going into more on how I have been getting on with it. In particular I wanted to mention the often overlooked aspect that a multi-tool, by its very nature is a jack-of-all-trades and as such a-master-of-none. All tools have their limits and it is up to the user to apply appropriate force and use the tool in a reasonable way. Multi-tools will get you so far, and are a tool-kit in one package, they can’t do it all. In every job I’ve used the Center Drive for I’ve not been trying to push it to its limits; heavy jobs need dedicated tools. Use it appropriately and enjoy the benefits.

With that said, there is one design aspect you should be warned about. The knife blade has an opening hole for one-handed use, however there is a high likelihood you will cut yourself if you use it. In the sample on test, the knife blade has a good resistance to movement (which helps keep it closed) and this requires a certain amount of force to rotate the blade open. This amount of force pushes the thumb quite hard onto the side of the blade, so much so the cutting edge touches your skin. Initially I found small skin flaps forming on my thumb, then realised where they came from. Check the images I took from my Instagram posts on this in the gallery below an you will see what I mean.


With all that out of the way we can look at what makes this tool particularly good. Personally, my main uses of a multi-tool, in order, are as a screwdriver, then the pliers, the file, pry-bar, awl, after which it depends on the tool, and as I carry a dedicated knife, using the multi-tool knife is generally only a last resort backup.

So my most frequent need will be for the screwdriver tool, and the Center Drive has an extended, centred, standard 1/4″ Hex bit-holder. That is something to take in and consider. No special bits are required, any 1/4″ Hex bits you have can be used. The first thing I did was pop a PZ2 (not supplied) into the bit holder as this is my number one bit type used. Multi-tool screwdrivers are often awkward to use as they are generally to one side or other and not that long; not so with the Center Drive. The extended bit holder make it so much easier to see the screw head, and access internal screws, or those near a corner. Clearly with a folding tool like this you can’t 100% centre the bit holder, but it is centred in relation to the widest part of the tool, and this makes it much easier to use. This is the best built-in multi-tool screwdriver I’ve used.

Onto my second most needed tool, the pliers. Since I first used sprung pliers (probably some jewellers pliers), it makes non-sprung pliers seem a pain to use, especially when manipulating the work piece. Having OTF pliers, the Center Drive is able to have sprung pliers (the unfolding type of multi-tool pliers typically have no spring), and thanks to the spring just become an extension of your hand, allowing you to focus completely on the work.

As you might expect from a multi-tool file, it is not that sharp, but it lets you take off those rough edges from softer materials and non-ferrous metals well enough.

One disappointment is the serrated knife blade, which, in this example, is blunt. The cutting edge has the same black coating as the blade, making it appear as if it never got a final sharpen.

The awl has no sharp cutting edge, so is really just a metal spike, useful for all sorts of little jobs. Next to this is one of the best prying tools I’ve seen on a multi-tool and will get into narrow gaps as well as being able to lift small nails.

All of this is no good if you don’t have it with you. The included pouch has two compartments, one for the set of bits, and one for the tool. Should you want to go lower profile, you can leave the full set of bits out (still having two in the tool itself) and the pouch slims down – belt or MOLLE mounted you’ll have it with you.

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
_______________________________________________

Centred, extended, 1/4″ standard Hex bit holder.
Spring loaded Out-The-Front pliers.
Versatile prying tool.
Quality carry pouch.
Replaceable wire cutter.

_______________________________________________
What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________

One-Handed-Opening the main knife blade can cut you.
Serrated blade was blunt.

 

Discussing the Review:

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

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

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

EDC Gear Review: Wiley X Sunglasses – Hayden, Kobe, Wave (EN.166 Safety)

Wiley X continue to innovate, and this Wiley X sunglasses review includes the new ‘Hayden’ which combines the timeless metal framed aviator style with high ratings of eye protection previously not possible with this style. Along with the more conventional ‘Kobe’ this group review shows the ‘Wave’ with its facial cavity seal system providing goggle like protection with sunglasses style.

A little Background:

For those that have not read one of Tactical Reviews articles on sunglasses, I just wanted to add a little explanation as to why the performance of sunglasses is crucial to me, every day, not just in the summer or on sunny days.

Due to having hyper-sensitivity to light, I wear sunglasses 100% of the time during daylight hours when I’m outside or driving, so get a lot of wearing time. I would never consider having only one pair of sunglasses and have many different types and styles. (I’m also a lens quality perfectionist)

Being a shooter, I also only settle for full protection when it comes to my eyes. This requires a good fit, a choice of lenses and of course the appropriate safety standards.

A few more details:

The three models on test here all offer something a bit different. Each has its own gallery to take you around the design and highlight features. The Wave has a further gallery in the next section to show the facial cavity seal in more detail.

Starting with the metal framed Hayden which has Polarized lenses.

 

Next we have the Kobe which has standard non-polarized lenses.

 

Last of the three is the Wave. In this gallery we focus on the overall look and details, but as it has the facial cavity seal feature, this has been put into a gallery of its own.

What it is like to use?

I’ll start with a word – Safety. Let’s get this out of the way, but not dismiss it. Wiley X glasses easily surpass the safety standards designed to ensure standard safety glasses will protect you. The exact standard surpassed does depend on the model, and some have higher ratings, but all are at least EN.166 rated, so you know if you have a pair of Wiley X glasses on, you are protected.

A crucial factor for comfort and performance is fit, and with Wiley X there are models to suit all face sizes, so you might find you need to choose a different one to the models shown here to get the sizing right for you.

Here are the Hayden, Kobe and Wave being worn.

 
HAYDEN: Having made the switch to wearing protective glasses at all times, I have been missing my metal frames, so the Hayden is a seriously welcome addition. Being highly light sensitive, I am aware that there is less protection from light coming directly from the side as the thinner arm doesn’t block the light like a thicker plastic arm. A minor point, but might dictate which day I choose to use them.

As delivered I found the Hayden’s nose pads excessively close together, more so than any other glasses I’ve ever tried. Having a couple of specialised pliers I was happy to adjust the nose pieces myself, but most people might want to pop into an opticians and get them to help; even though I’ve done it before, it still worries me having to bend the metal nose pad holders.

The spring arms make for a very comfortable fit. You might notice from the photos the precise fit of the parts of these spring hinges. So tight and precise, they have nipped me a few times (hair and skin) when taking them on and off and flexing them both ways.

However, otherwise, once the nose pads have been set correctly, the Hayden is light, comfortable and the polarized lenses are excellent performers. Very impressed with these.

KOBE: These are the quiet but efficient ones in the group. No ‘special features’, but just doing the job. They are very lightweight and have an efficient ergonomic shape, a bit of a ‘fit and forget’ you are wearing them. The arm width is sufficient to block light from the side along with the fact they have a wrap around shape in the first place.

WAVE: A key feature of the Wave is its Facial Cavity Seal which also appears on several other models. This feature 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.

A more detailed look at the Wave’s facial cavity seal.

 

I’ve found that in situations where I would want to wear a peaked hat, the Facial Cavity Seal provides sufficient protection from light that would normally leak in around the frame and 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, and the included head strap keeps them firmly in place.
You also have the option of removing the seal and using the sunglasses as normal sunglasses. This is crucial as they do 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 Wave delivers exactly that.
Remember though, that unlike goggles, you can remove the seal and they become normal sunglasses.

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 already described.

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            
 __________________________________|___________________________________
 All - EN.166 Safety or above.     |                                   
 All - Comfortable and lightweight |                                   
 All - Case, strap and cloth       |                                   
 included.                         |                                   
 Hayden - Metal Frames.            | Hayden - the hinges can pinch.    
 Kobe - Simple and reliable.       |                                   
 Wave - Removable Facial cavity    | Wave - FCS can cause fogging.     
 seal (FCS).                       |                                   
                                   |                                   

 

Gear Review: Wiley X Protective Eyewear – Rogue and Valor

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

The models on test:

Both models come in the Wiley X standard black boxes.

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

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

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

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

Each pocket is fleece lined.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Detail of the hinge with the arm folded.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…until it clicks into place.

Similarly, slide in the nosepiece and squeeze…

…until it clicks into place.

Lens Swapped!

A few more details of the Valor:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fixed rounded rubber nose pads are used.

Taking a close look at the hinge.

A long screw forms the hinge pivot.

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

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

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

Checking first the left hand side.

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

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

One of my favourite features is a good polarised lens.

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are they like to use?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Review Summary

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

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

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

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

 

Discussing the Review:

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)

EDC Gear Review: Nite Ize S-Biner with SlideLock, MicroLock plus GearLine

There are some things that are so useful you can’t really image life without them. Nite Ize’s S-Biners are one of those designs that have simply integrated themselves into so many of my every-day activities I’d be lost without them. For some these will need no introduction, but if you haven’t used them before it is very likely the S-Biner is going to find a way into your selection of gear.

 photo 01 NiteIze S-Biner Group boxed P1210803.jpg

A few more details:

In the introduction image are all the versions of the S-Biner featuring in this review, which include the S-Biner – #10, S-Biner – #8, S-Biner SlideLock, S-Biner MicroLock, S-Biner® MicroLock® – Polycarbonate, KeyRack Locker® – Polycarbonate S-Biner® MicroLocks® and GearLine Organization System 4FT.

Moving forward I’m breaking this down into three groups, the larger S-Biners, micro S-Biners and the Gearline system.

Starting with the BIG S-Biner – #10 and S-Biner – #8, plus the S-Biner SlideLock.
 photo 02 NiteIze S-Biner Group1 P1210807.jpg

Here are the first set of S-Biners
 photo 04 NiteIze S-Biner Group1 unboxed P1210814.jpg

The packs say ‘BIG’, and big they are. These are the two largest S-Biner models. They only come in plastic versions and give you the option of a super-sized clip.
 photo 05 NiteIze S-Biner large in hand P1210818.jpg

Of course the SlideLock S-Biners are much more normal in size for clipping keys and anything else to bags, belts etc.
 photo 06 NiteIze S-Biner small in hand P1210829.jpg

With the SlideLock, you can see the black plastic slider on each gate. Here the top one is locked and the other unlocked.
 photo 11 NiteIze S-Biner slide P1210855.jpg

The instructions for the SlideLock are very clear, but you don’t need these, it is obvious how simply and easily they work.
 photo 03 NiteIze S-Biner lock P1210813.jpg

Looking in closer at the slider, it is shaped so that it won’t easily fall off the gate bar.
 photo 12 NiteIze S-Biner slider P1210858.jpg

In the locked position the gate is positively held closed so the S-Biner won’t get twisted off and become lost.
 photo 13 NiteIze S-Biner slide locked P1210865.jpg

Next up are the real key-ring sized S-Biner models the Micro-versions. In this case these all feature the micro-lock design.
 photo 07 NiteIze S-Biner Group2 P1210830.jpg

We have the standard metal S-Biner MicroLock, then the ultra-light Polycarbonate S-Biner® MicroLock®, and lastly the KeyRack Locker® – Polycarbonate S-Biner® MicroLocks® where the keyrack is metal and the S-Biners are Polycarbonate.
 photo 08 NiteIze S-Biner Group2 unboxed P1210841.jpg

The MicroLock is a stroke of genius. With the smaller clips you are often carrying vital objects like keys. Previously the smallest S-Biners were pretty secure, but with the MicroLock you remove all doubt.
In the middle is a small plastic arm which rotates. When aligned lengthways, the gates are unlocked, but when turned cross-ways and clicked into the locked position, both gates are locked shut. Sitting on these or otherwise giving them a hard time won’t shift those gates – believe me, I’ve given them a run for their money and the lock has not let me down.
 photo 09 NiteIze S-Biner micro close P1210846.jpg

Same hand (I take an XL size glove by-the-way) and these are as small as they can be, but still easy to use.
 photo 10 NiteIze S-Biner Group2 in hand P1210852.jpg

Lastly in this review is a logical extension of the usefulness of the S-Biner, and that is the GearLine. This is the GearLine Organization System 4FT.
 photo 15 NiteIze S-Biner gearline P1210873.jpg

This system contains 5 x #2 and 5 x #4 Plastic S-Biners on a special webbing strap with 2 x 12″ Gear Ties, one on each end.
 photo 16 NiteIze S-Biner gearline unboxed P1210880.jpg

The Gear Tie fresh out of the box.
 photo 17 NiteIze S-Biner gearline end P1210883.jpg

Along the webbing strap are a series of loops formed by the double layer of webbing.
 photo 18 NiteIze S-Biner gearline loop P1210887.jpg

Two sizes of plastic S-Biners are used (#2 and #4).
 photo 19 NiteIze S-Biner gearline sizes P1210891.jpg

Quickly comparing the S-Biners in the GearLine system and the three sizes of SlideLock S-Biners.
 photo 20 NiteIze S-Biner gearline comparing P1210894.jpg

Those Gear Ties just untwist and are a stronger version of twisty-ties.
 photo 21 NiteIze S-Biner gearline twist P1210900.jpg

What it is like to use?

Anyone leading an active life and who uses a variety of gear will need and use clips and karabiners of various types. The biggest revelation of the S-Biner design over karabiners is the double-gate. This keeps the item you are carrying secured separately to whatever you are attaching it to. A simple thing, but it means that when you open one gate or the other, you are either releasing the item, or taking the S-Biner off from the attachment point.
With a standard karabiner when you open the gate both the item carried and the fixing point can be released; not always what you want. Intended as true load-bearing devices, the karabiner is usually larger and heavier than you might want. Not only does the S-Biner take a karabiner to a more useful layout, but it is also not as big and heavy, as it is not intended to carry the weight of a person.

When preparing this review I wondered how I would show the extent to which I use these, but while standing there in my photo studio, I just patted myself down and pulled all these out of my pockets/belt. We’ll take these one at a time in a moment, but you see how integrated these are.
 photo 24 NiteIze S-Biner in use P1250369.jpg

So the biggest here is a torch/flashlight pouch which is clipped onto my belt or belt loop, or onto my backpack.
 photo 25 NiteIze S-Biner pouch P1250374.jpg

Mainly a marker, this Glo-Toob is left to flap about (normally on my backpack) so needs the extra security of a locking S-Biner.
 photo 26 NiteIze S-Biner glo-toob P1250377.jpg

A couple of work related items which need to go from one bag to another and the KeyRack holds a SecurID tag and a USB flash drive. There is normally another flash drive on here but it has been lent at this time.
 photo 27 NiteIze S-Biner serureid P1250381.jpg

On this kevlar cord retracting key ring is a MicroLock S-Biner that has been particularly heavily tested. Sat on, caught in doors and accidentally hooked onto this and that, the door entry tag has never come loose.
 photo 28 NiteIze S-Biner door tag P1250386.jpg

Then my keys. Pretty heavily loaded with more non-key items in the wrap, but outside the widgy pry-bar and a TUBE light are held securely with the plastic MicroLocks.
 photo 29 NiteIze S-Biner widgy P1250389.jpg

So that GearLine, where is it? When I go camping I do use this inside the tent, but it also has an every-day use, which for me is in the boot (trunk) of the car. Fixed between two headrest posts, the GearLine gives me lots of fixing points to stop various items moving round. Most often I use this to keep shopping bags from rolling around and emptying themselves, but other things go on and off the S-Biners.
 photo 23 NiteIze S-Biner gearline car P1250346.jpg

The only aspect of the S-Biner that occasionally causes a problem is that there is a groove in each hook where the gate bar sits when it is closed, and when taking the S-Biner out of a tight-fitting loop, sometimes this groove catches and makes it difficult to remove. Other clip designs also have this but the S-Biners somehow seem to catch more than most. I certainly forgive the design this minor flaw as overall the S-Biner makes the karabiner a practical true ever-day carry item and I would not be without them.

The BIG S-Biners also bring this practicality to a much larger scale. I carry the #10 S-Biner as a backpack hook and use it to hang the bag on tree limbs, rails and any other suitable hanging point up to the thickness of your wrist.

You have a choice of size, weights (plastic or metal), materials which are either stronger or anti-scratch as well as two types of lock.

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
_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Double-Gate karabiner design. Sometimes catch when removing from tight loops.
Choice of Sizes. (seriously can’t think of anything else)
Choice of Materials.
Choice of two types of lock.
GearLine extends functionality.

 photo 14 NiteIze S-Biner group 1 2 P1210871.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.
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EDC Gear Review: Leatherman MUT Multi-tool

The MUT (Military Utility Tool) is billed by Leatherman as “the first multi-tool that functions as both a tactical and practical tool for military, LE, or civilian shooters” and is packed full of functions not found in other multi-tools.
With so much detail to cover, this review has turned into a rather extended look at this interesting multi-tool, so has even more images than I normally include!

 photo 00 MUT feature P1200868.jpg

Talking through the features:

Before diving into all the detail, I wanted to have a look at a few more of the descriptions and specifications from Leatherman.

“The MUT features multiple areas on the tool threaded for cleaning rods and brushes and all the screwdriver bits are sized for standard military and civilian sighting adjustment work.”
When it comes to cleaning rod/brush use, you have the choice of two main connection points, the threaded hole in the side of the MUT and the threaded post onto which the punch screws. Either can act as a substitute handle for a rod or brush. This is pretty good in theory, but in practice, for myself, it did not work terribly well. All my multi-part rods are based on the handle having the first rod section permanently attached to it. If you are missing this first part (so need the MUT as a handle), the rod will be too short to reach all the way through the barrel. Still a useful feature, as a brush can be directly fitted and used to scrub areas round the breech and into the chamber, and that in itself is worth it.

“Also built into the design of the tool is the flexibility to replace the most commonly used parts on the spot, using a simple Torx #8, keeping down-time to a minimum.”
This is an excellent feature. Also included with the review sample was the maintenance kit (details to follow), and this allows for replacement of the wire-cutter blades, punch, scraper and line cutter, so you can happily give all these plenty of use, knowing it is easy to bring them back to like-new performance once they wear out. Designing in replaceable parts, means you can buy the tool knowing it is a long term investment and can be maintained.

“With all this, a MOLLE sheath and scope adjustment wrench included, the Leatherman MUT may very well be the most efficient and useful piece in your kit.”
Unfortunately, despite the well designed sheath, the fact that the sight adjustment wrench is a separate item means it can more easily be lost.

On Leatherman’s website (at the time of writing), officially the specification is that the MUT has 16 tools (plus an additional wrench/sight tool). The first six items in the list, Needle-nose Pliers, Regular Pliers, Premium Replaceable Wire Cutters, Premium Replaceable Hard-wire Cutters, Stranded-wire Cutters and Electrical Crimper, are all aspects of the main pliers in the MUT.

 photo 78 MUT diagram P1210064.jpg

The rest of the list refers to more distinct tools, and is in fact a little light on detail. Taking those straight forward features first, you have the 420HC Combo Knife, Wood Saw, Replaceable Cutting Hook, Hammer, Bolt Override Tool, Replaceable Bronze Carbon Scraper, #8-32 Cleaning Rod/Brush Adapter, Replaceable Firearm Disassembly Punch, Karabiner/Bottle Opener, and a separate 3/8” Wrench and Front-Sight Adjustment Accessory.

One of the less understood features is the Bolt Override Tool. Really all this consists of is a strong hook that you can use to drag back the bolt on an AR instead of using the charging handle (or something more dangerous like a knife), to free up a jammed cartridge. Thanks to the design of the MUT you can easily apply a lot of force to the bolt for those stubborn jams that require this.

The last feature which is underplayed somewhat is the Large Bit Driver, which is a bit holder for the three double-ended screwdriver bits that are included in the MUT. The bits are the short PH1-2 + 3/16 Flat, plus the two long double-ended bits which have T15 + Hex 7/64, PH2 + 1/4 Flat. Of course with the Leatherman bit set, you can expand on this selection of bits.

Lastly for this section a few notes on some of the materials used in the MUT. The blade is made from 420HC Stainless Steel, an improved, high-carbon (HC) form of 420 stainless steel. The replaceable wire cutter blades are made from 154CM Stainless Steel. To prevent damage to steel parts, the carbon fouling scraper is made from Bronze. Then there is the tool coating of Black Oxide; Black oxide is a powder-based metal coating effective in reducing glare and reflection.

A few more details:

Before really getting our teeth into this review, I will mention once again that the full review has a total of 84 images in it, so shows a great deal of detail. If you want a close look at this tool, here it is.

The MUT’s very yellow box.
 photo 01 MUT boxed P1200708.jpg

In the box, there is a separate compartment for the tool.
 photo 02 MUT box open P1200712.jpg

Here are the box contents laid out. You get the MUT, sight tool, holster, instructions and a sticker.
 photo 03 MUT box contents P1200716.jpg

Personally I find the holster/sheath of a tool can make or break the user experience. In this case Leatherman have included a well made, versatile holster for the MUT. This is the holster fresh out of the box and with nothing inside it.
 photo 04 MUT holster P1200719.jpg

The side has an elasticated part to keep the holster in shape.
 photo 05 MUT holster side P1200722.jpg

On the back is a PALS/MOLLE mounting that doubles as an adjustable width belt loop.
 photo 07 MUT holster MOLLE P1200730.jpg

With the MUT inside the sheath the package is very neat.
 photo 10 MUT holstered P1200741.jpg

And here we have it, the MUT. We will cover more details as we go, but this is the side of the tool with the knife blade and carbon scraper.
 photo 13 MUT angle P1200749.jpg

Flipping it over and on this side we have the saw and punch.
 photo 14 MUT angle reverse P1200751.jpg

On one edge we have one cleaning rod attachment point and clip/bottle opener.
 photo 15 MUT side P1200756.jpg

The other edge has a slot to hold the small double-ended bit (here the bit is fitted into the bit holder). Also note the pocket clip which I found far too stiff to be of any real use.
 photo 16 MUT side2 P1200760.jpg

The MUT is basically held together by the main pliers pivot bolts.
 photo 17 MUT main pivot P1200763.jpg

Integrated into the hammer/bolt-override tool is a replaceable cutter held in place with one T8 bolt.
 photo 18 MUT cutter P1200767.jpg

There are grip grooves cut into the hammer face, especially important as the hammer face is not that big.
 photo 19 MUT hammer P1200770.jpg

A karabiner style clip is integrated into the MUT allowing very easy attachment to cord loops or trouser belt loops (if they are strong enough). It also doubles as a bottle opener.
 photo 20 MUT clip P1200773.jpg

Located at the opposite end of the MUT to the hammer face, one of the main folding tools is a 1/8″ firearm disassembly punch.
 photo 21 MUT punch P1200777.jpg

Getting in really close to the threaded hole (actually in the pliers jaw) allowing the MUT to be used as a handle for certain cleaning rods.
 photo 22 MUT cleaning rod P1200778.jpg

A plastic part on the opposite side is for holding the small screwdriver bit.
 photo 23 MUT bit channel P1200783.jpg

For its knife blade, the MUT uses a part serrated edge.
 photo 24 MUT main blade P1200789.jpg

To lock the blade, the MUT uses a liner-lock style sprung locking bar.
 photo 25 MUT main blade lock P1200793.jpg

Viewed from the other side, you can now see that the plain edge is a double-sided bevel, but the serrated portion is a chisel grind.
 photo 26 MUT main blade P1200796.jpg

Close-up of the serrations.
 photo 27 MUT serrations P1200798.jpg

Opposite the knife blade is a similar sized wood saw.
 photo 29 MUT saw blade P1200805.jpg

Those saw teeth are unfortunately not as sharp as a well known SAK maker produces.
 photo 29 MUT saw teeth P1210020.jpg

The same liner-lock design is used for the saw.
 photo 30 MUT saw blade lock P1200807.jpg

Here that punch is fully open and you can push out roll-pins. If needed you can tap out stubborn pins by hitting the MUT’s hammer face.
 photo 31 MUT punch P1200811.jpg

However, you can remove the punch itself and then use the MUT’s own hammer to knock out the pin. The screw-post which holds the punch in place can also be used for some cleaning brushes and rods.
 photo 32 MUT punch off P1200814.jpg

A great deal of thought has been put into the MUT and another aspect that shows this is the use of bronze for the carbon scraper. You can use this on steel parts without worrying about damaging the steel. As the bronze is intentionally soft, it will wear and is intended to be easily replaced by the user with the MUT accessory kit of replaceable parts.
 photo 33 MUT scraper P1200820.jpg

On the other side of the scraper is a thumb-nick for opening it out.
 photo 34 MUT scraper front P1200823.jpg

The karabiner style clip also doubles as a bottle opener.
 photo 35 MUT bottle open P1200827.jpg

Perhaps more intended for use once the MUT has seen some wear and the pivots are no longer as tight, there is a handle-lock included in the MUT. Here it is shown in the locked position with the locking hook clipped into the other handle. Of course if you are not using the holster and have it clipped onto something, using this lock ensures the MUT handles stay closed.
 photo 36 MUT main lock P1200831.jpg

The handle lock is released by pulling it out like this.
 photo 37 MUT main lock released P1200834.jpg

When not in use the handle lock folds out of the way.
 photo 38 MUT main lock folded P1200835.jpg

To access the bit holder the handle needs to be opened out as it can’t be used with the handles folded.
 photo 39 MUT bit holder P1200839.jpg

Each bit has a couple of small grooves either side which allow the bit holder to secure the bit.
 photo 41 MUT bit holder locked P1200852.jpg

Pressing on the release plate pushes the bit hook away from the bit so that it can be pulled out of the holder.
 photo 42 MUT bit holder unlocked P1200854.jpg

The bit can then be put back into place on the side of the MUT.
 photo 43 MUT bit channel P1200857.jpg

Requiring a very firm press the bit slides fully into place.
 photo 44 MUT bit channel filled P1200860.jpg

OK, time to get onto the pliers.
 photo 45 MUT pliers open P1200870.jpg

Leatherman use a hybrid jaw which is a blend of needle-nose and standard pliers.
 photo 46 MUT jaws P1200875.jpg

The jaw tips are well aligned and the very tip touches to give tweezer like gripping.
 photo 47 MUT jaw tips P1200877.jpg

A massive improvement over pliers with cutters that are formed directly from the jaw steel, is to use replaceable cutters. There are two benefits, with the first being that once blunted the pliers are not ruined, and the other being that the cutter material can be specifically chosen for higher performance. 154CM has been used for these cutters which is very tough and wear resistant. There is a step in the cutter edges that allows the cutter to grip and hold tougher wires that might slip forwards and keep them as close to the pivot as possible (for the best leverage), making the cut much easier.
 photo 48 MUT cutters P1200881.jpg

The last features of the pliers are a stranded wire cutter and crimping tool which sit the handle side of the jaws.
 photo 74 MUT crimpers P1210048.jpg

Fitted within the structure of the MUT are three double-ended screwdriver bits. We have already seen the one held in a plastic side panel, but there are two more that slide into one of the MUT’s handles. To keep them in place, there is a sliding button that clicks into place to block the driver bits falling out. Here it is preventing the bit from coming out.
 photo 50 MUT bit button P1200896.jpg

Pressing on the button moves it out of the way of the driver bit.
 photo 51 MUT bit button 2 P1200900.jpg

Which can then slide out so you can use it.
 photo 52 MUT long bit P1200903.jpg

These long bits are too long to leave in place with the MUT handles folded, and give you extra reach for recessed screws.
 photo 53 MUT long bit fitted P1200906.jpg

Turning the MUT over, the second long driver bit is hidden under the pocket clip. The same button holds this bit in place.
 photo 54 MUT bit button B P1200910.jpg

Pushing the button down allows this bit to slide out from under the pocket clip.
 photo 55 MUT long bit 2 P1200915.jpg

Here the second long bit is fitted into the bit holder.
 photo 56 MUT long bit fitted 2 P1200916.jpg

Taking a close look at the double-ended button used to hold the two long driver bits in place. To clicks to the left or right depending on the bit you want to access.
 photo 57 MUT bit button side P1200921.jpg

The sight tool is a separate item.
 photo 75 MUT sight tool P1210054.jpg

One end of this tool is a 3/8 wrench.
 photo 76 MUT sight tool end 1 P1210057.jpg

The other end is a foresight adjustment tool.
 photo 77 MUT sight tool end 2 P1210058.jpg

And there we have it, the MUT’s features covered, so next we are going to have a look at a couple of accessories.
 photo 71 MUT part open P1210010.jpg

A few more details of the MUT’s accessories:

Along with the MUT, the additional bit-kit and MUT accessory kit were supplied.
 photo 58 MUT accessories boxed P1200933.jpg

The bit-kit has two strips of bits that fit the MUT’s bit holder and the accessory kit has a bag of several parts for the MUT.
 photo 61 MUT with accessories P1200952.jpg

Laying this all out, the accessory kit has all the replaceable parts, cutter, wire-cutters, punch and scraper, plus replacement screws for fixing all of these parts.
 photo 59 MUT accessories unboxed P1200937.jpg

The screws even have a pre-application of thread-lock on them.
 photo 60 MUT accessories detail P1200948.jpg

Having the bit-kit massively enhances how useful the MUT’s screw driving capability is.
 photo 66 MUT bit set P1200970.jpg

What it is like to use?

Starting from the first moment you get your hands on the MUT, I’ll have to talk about that Black Oxide coating! So, out of the box, you are going to get nice black hands. It certainly looks very anti-reflective when new, but part of that is the loose surface of black dust. Four or five baby wipes later and the MUT is looking slightly less black, but now isn’t shedding black onto your hands and everything it touches. My advice would be to give it a good wipe down before you do anything else. If you are jumping straight into cleaning a very dirty gun, then you will end up with black hands anyway, but it is worth the initial cleanup.

When you pick up the MUT it is clear this is a heavy duty multi-tool. It is not the largest I’ve used, but it certainly feels tough. (I take XL sized gloves.)
 photo 70 MUT in hand a P1200892.jpg

The knife in the MUT is a reasonable size, locks firmly and the blade is a sensible thickness too. This is one multi-tool blade that can do a reasonable amount of work. Unfortunately as a UK resident, this locking knife is something of a potential issue with EDC so I’ll take another look at that later.
An important thing to note here is the position of my little finger, and how it lines up with the cutter notch next to the hammer. If your finger starts to slip into the cutter notch, you certainly can get cut by it. If it were the other way round this would not be the case, as your palm could not get deep enough into the cutter notch. Just beware your finger doesn’t slip in under heavy use or when hammering.
NOTE: Leaving the small screwdriver bit in the bit holder helps guard against this happening.
 photo 70 MUT in hand knife P1210004.jpg

We’ve seen it in the hand, but here is a little size comparison between an original PST, the MUT and the OHT. Due to its out-the-front pliers deployment, the OHT looks quite large, but its build is not as heavy. The PST is quite compact and closer in size to the average multi-tool.
 photo 69 MUT size P1200995.jpg

Then we unfold them all.
 photo 67 MUT size P1200984.jpg

Despite the OHT initially looking quite big, with the MUT fully open, its presence is clearer.
 photo 68 MUT size P1200991.jpg

The MUT includes a safety feature that is used in other Leatherman multi-tools, but you might not have noticed. There is a safety lock to prevent the knife blade being opened when you are using the pliers.
You might have spotted the cams which are included on the pliers’ handle pivots in some of the other photos. What you might not have seen is the metal arm which sits against one cam. Here the lower arrow shows the cam, and the upper arrow points to the safety lock arm. As you rotate the handle open to deploy the pliers, the safety lock rides up the cam slope, pushing the metal arm sideways.
 photo 73 MUT blade safety lock cam P1210025 002.jpg

With the handles closed, and the knife blade able to open, if you look inside the opening hole, there is a small metal pin sitting back inside the handle as shown by the arrow.
 photo 63 MUT blade safety lock off arrow P1200963.jpg

When the handles are opened, that cam pushes the safety lock out, placing the pin inside the opening hole. Like this you can’t open the blade as it is blocked. A small detail, but a really important one that stops what could be a nasty accident if the blade opened when using the pliers.
 photo 64 MUT blade safety lock on P1200964 002.jpg

Taking the MUT out into the field and amongst the jobs it was needed for was some tidying up of barbed wire. Two gauges were being cut, a high tensile 2.5mm and a smaller 1.6mm.
 photo 83 MUT in the wild IMG_20160702_162230.jpg

The MUT breezed through the 1.6mm, but the 2.5mm required a but more grunt, after a while I started to need to nip through one wire at a time purely due to fatigue.
What was very impressive is the state of the 154CM cutters after a lot of work, they looked like this, pretty much untouched.
 photo 82 MUT barbed wire close P1210789.jpg

Carrying the MUT to be as fully prepared as possible means carrying the sight tool and extra bits. The sight tool fits into the pouch much better if laid next to the pocket clip like this before inserting it.
 photo 84 MUT sight tool holster P1250290.jpg

The front of the holster does have a pocket that nicely holds one of the bit sets, so here we have the MUT, sight tool, and one bit set.
 photo 85 MUT sight tool bits holster P1250295.jpg

Compared to the earlier photo of the MUT when it was on its own in the holster, the flap now sits higher up on the pouch front, but remains perfectly secure.
 photo 86 MUT holster full P1250296.jpg

If used for firearms maintenance, the fact the MUT has a knife blade in it is not really of any consequence as you have a gun with you. However I wanted to carry the MUT at all times, not just when out shooting. Being a UK resident, this means considering the knife carry laws, and being a locking knife the MUT is effectively classed as a fixed blade – so not UK EDC friendly.
 photo 87 MUT edc convert P1250309.jpg

It turned out to be a very easy conversion, especially as the accessory kit has a spare bronze scraper which very nicely substitutes the knife blade.
 photo 88 MUT edc convert P1250324.jpg

If you want to do this, you will need two T10 security bits to be able to undo the knife pivot. After doing this it is easy to substitute the knife blade for the spare scraper. You could use a couple of washers or something else to fill the space the knife blade occupied, so you don’t need to have the accessory kit to do this conversion (but you do need to add a spacer of some sort).
There is one thing to look out for if you use the scraper or similar long substitute. The blade safety lock still operates as you open the handles to use the pliers, so it needs space to move into. The scraper’s nail-nick works perfectly for this, so long as you line it up properly (as shown here). If you used washers, this wouldn’t be any concern.
 photo 89 MUT edc convert P1250319.jpg

While undoing parts of the MUT, I decided to try out the ‘replaceable’ parts on it. Starting with the scraper and using the supplied T8 torx key, I hit a snag. The screw was very stiff, so much so that the T8 key stripped (with no damage to the screw). The supplied key had seemed a slightly loose fit, so I moved up to the next level; a mini screwdriver set which had T8, T9 and T10 bits. Actually the T9 was the best fit. This was a mini screwdriver, so not designed for heavy work, and after applying more and more force, the handle of the screwdriver started to turn around the shaft and the MUT’s screw still wasn’t moving.
So onto the next level and out to the garage. Going to a full sized screwdriver and in this case a T10 bit pressed very firmly into the screw, and finally it moved. The thread-lock used makes the turning motion very sticky, but the screw certainly won’t fall out on its own.
The moral of this story is not to rely on the Torx key provided with the accessory kit, and don’t go blindly for T8, but try out the T8, T9, and T10 bits you have to find the best fit.
 photo 91 MUT replace P1200947.jpg

It has done plenty of heavy work, so how about something more delicate. I had a small sheet-metal Star Wars model to construct, and needed some needle-nose pliers. Roll in the MUT. Not necessarily the tool you might have though of for the job, but it did everything I asked it to. Here the MUT has shaped and assembled the pilot/cockpit of an X-wing fighter – pretty fiddly job, but the whole thing came together as well as it could.
 photo 90 MUT pilot IMG_20170104_171203.jpg

Review Summary

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

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

_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Things I like What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Firearm orientated multi-tool. Handles are initially very stiff.
Heavy-duty build and performance. Pocket clip almost immovable.
All cutters are replaceable. Supplied Torx key in the accessory kit is not up to the job.
Strong knife blade. Sight tool is a separate piece.
Excellent holster. Saw is not very effective (but OK on green wood).
The unusual tools included are very effective – Punch, Hammer and Scraper. A finger can drop into the cutter notch.
Bit Holder extends functionality.
Powerful hybrid pliers.
Useful cleaning brush/rod attachment points.

 photo 00 MUT intro angle P1200745.jpg

 

Discussing the Review:

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

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

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

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