Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Kizer Gemini Overview

As the year winds down, we are being treated to an amazing array of awesome gear.  One of the best pieces of kit to cross my review desk this year is the Kizer Gemini.  Here is an overview, with the review coming at the end of the week:

Friday, November 27, 2015

Wounded Warrior Giveaway Results

I was worried that I might be dead before the results went up as I came down with what doctor's call food poisoning and clergy call demonic possession.  But, well, I am sort of alive.  Anyway, we killed it again.  The total for the giveaway this November was $769.  That brings the collective total to $2569.  Hopefully everyone will give in three digit sums from now on to preserve that final to places...tee hee.

Here are the winners:

Grand Prize: David Moore
Runner Up: Colton Kilgore
Vet (FINALLY, Tim has entered every time and never won, but he won this time, totally legit, thanks to random.org): Tim Pilgrim
Big Heart (two donors gave the same, so again random.org): Mike Rixman
Big Mouth (multiple mentions, random.org): Adam Barraclough
Cheap Ass: James Thuman
Week 1: Adrian Walleigh
Week 2: Tim Martinez

I love the giveaway, it is one of my favorite things to do with the website because, in the end, I don't want to be divorced because I have too much gear and because I am deeply grateful everyday for my freedom.  Thank you to all that donated and my sincerest gratitude to all those that served.

Send me your address via email to everydaycommentary dot net in the usual format with the subject line WWP GAW Winner and I will mail stuff out by the end of this week. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Black Friday Specials from Sponsors

Derrick over at Knives Ship Free is running a special contest.  He is giving away a knife everyday.  All you need to do is order to enter.

Blade HQ has a ton of stuff coming Friday.  UTX70s with the exclusive gladius tip (think Roman sword) and the LUDT both from Microtech.  They will have the Emerson/Kershaw CQC6 for $24.99.  The ESEE Izula with exclusive "Ant Swarm" graphic overlay will be $56.95.  On Monday $26 Kershaw Cryos in G10 (this is the RIGHT Cryo to get), as always, they have some Hinderer specials and exclusives.  They will also have some Hom Balis which are always very hot, some Kock OPMTs, and v2 Rexford RUTs with leather sleeves.

E2Field Gear will have some flashlight sales.  All in stock Armytek lights will be 15% off.  No coupon necessary.  As a reader of Everyday Commentary you can save an extra 5% by using the code ARMY2.  A few Zebralight headlamps will be on sale: the H600FW, H600 and H502w.  Again readers of the blog can use the code Zebra2 to save 12%.  Finally they will have a selection of 18650 Li-ion batteries, XTAR Chargers and Zero Tolerance Knives on sale with no coupon needed either. The sale will start on 12:01AM Thursday and run through Monday or until inventory is exhausted.


Monday, November 23, 2015

Why Kickstarter Matters to the Knife Industry

Very quietly in 2015 Kickstarter, the leading crowd funding website, switched its stance and now allows folks to seek funding for knife projects.  It makes sense financially, especially as the knife industry experiences a boom in sales, and it matches the Kickstarter "maker" ethos.  The knife industry came from and will always have a craftsmanship/custom component.  Knives will be good to Kickstarter, no doubt.

But Kickstarter can also transform the knife industry.  Until Kickstarter, and to a lesser degree Massdrop, enthusiasts drove a very small part of the industry.  The vast majority of knives produced, advertised, and sold are mass market blades more focused on hitting a pricing target set by Wal-Mart or another Big Box store than they are concerned with performance or blade steel.  As Thomas W. told us on the podcast, he has never been to a meeting with a Big Box where someone asked about blade steel.  We are a very small part of the market and while we have gotten more goodies than ever recently, no major production company caters to us.  They know they don't have to.  We will buy their wears regardless.  We are knife knuts, that's what we do.

But with Kickstarter things can be different.  The Pebble, one of the early smartwatches, was an early success story on Kickstarter raising a then astonishing $10.3 million in one month.  Sales like that would make even KAI or Gerber think twice about the market.  That kind of money, though admittedly it is unlikely a knife would ever been that popular, could fundamentally shift the market.  What happened to kitchen supplies twenty years ago could happen to knives.  Think about it--instead of some junky mixer sold at an anchor store in the mall, we now have a market where $400 Kitchen Aid mixers are par for the course and there is a William and Sonoma selling handmade chef knives in many malls.  What if the production companies made and sold knives like that?

It will probably never happen as the knife market is nowhere near the size of the kitchen supplies market, but Kickstarter could change who is in the driver's seat.  Instead of some bean counter in some department in Bentonville, Arkansas dictating knife creation at KAI (thank you Captain Jackass for 3Cr....), Kickstarter could have consumers directly incentivizing the creation of a higher class of cutlery.  That is the promise of Kickstarter.

And with last week's Kickstarter release of the HEST/F Urban by DPx Gear, that promise is closer to a reality.  This is a tremendously important knife for the knife industry, perhaps as important, from a financial perspective, as the first Kershaw Speedsafe Onion knife.  If the Urban proves popular, it could be a model for other companies to follow.

Money shows its popular--the Kickstarter for the Urban funded in less than a day.  I contacted Lisa from DPx Gear about why they made the move to Kickstarter and here is what she said:

Kickstarter allows us to get direct feedback from the customer. DPx Gear has excellent support from distributors and a select group of dealers but when we develop new platforms, we want direct input from the end users. Also, Kickstarter has become its own sales channel with people who we might not reach through traditional knife marketing events or venues. In fact, in the beginning of our campaign the majority of backers were through Kickstarter, not directly referred to the site.  

This is a major step forward for the knife industry.  DPx has approached their business in a radically different way than other cutlery companies.  Lisa discussed this on the podcast, and a look at their robust patent portfolio proves it--they are run more like high end tech start up, with their focus on R&D and IP, than they are as an outdoor gear company or an outgrowth of a custom knife business.

Finally, and importantly, its great to see that the majority of backers weren't from the knife community, but from the Kickstarter community.  Kickstarter has revolutionized the pen and stationary business and there is no reason to think that it would do anything less to the knife business.  Good job DPx.  But they aren't the only ones.  Darriel Caston, he of the Spyderco collab, is also releasing a knife through Kickstarter--the Kadima.  Spyderco, Benchmade, KAI are you paying attention?  Maybe its time to explore a direct to consumers model folks.

And for those that complain that DPx is a big company or that this is not a release that is within the spirit of Kickstarter--you're wrong on both accounts (obviously these objections don't apply to the Kadima).  Lisa confirmed that DPx has 6 employees.  That is a ton fewer than many of the Kickstarter mainstays, companies that specialize in Kickstarter only releases.  And second, the day of some guy making some gadget, well they aren't over, but Kickstarter as evolved to something more than just that.  I like the idea that companies, even "big" ones, can test out releases that are departures from their normal "brand" on Kickstarter.  Its fun to see a true EDC knife from DPx.  Its something I have wanted for a while now, as the HEAT is a bit too fat for me (The HEAT has a half inch shorter blade and weighs a bit more than the Urban does). 

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Gear of the Year Survey

Let's make this more official than last year.

Everyday Commentary Gear of the Year Awards Survey

This will be up and running until December 31.  I will collect the results then.


Dang it!  Forgot the watch category...ballz...

Friday, November 20, 2015

Lionsteel TRE G10 Review

Dan Policastro is a wise man.  When talking about Lionsteel on one of the podcasts he referenced their poor performance on the secondary market as an indication of their popularity (or lack thereof). It was an astute observation that seemed to mismatch was normally happens in the knife world.  A company puts out a Gee Whiz amazing product and folks gobble it up.  But time and again with Lionsteel stuff, they released something amazing and it sold okay, but then died on the BST market.

I thought about Dan's comment a lot as I tested and carried the Lionsteel TRE G10.  On the podcast I told him I thought Lionsteel's poor performance was due to the gimmicky nature of their knives.  The SR-1 and SR-2 were integrals when no one else was or could do integrals, but they had a weird, almost comical blade sale.  The TiSpine was also an integral but it was probably too much of an art knife to be a rousing success in the modern knife market.  The flagship TRE model, the one that won Blade Show, is similarly gimmicky.  Unless you live in a place with very restrictive knife laws or you do lots of traveling (and like to pack small fiddly accessories), the "innovation" of the TRE's swappable deployment methods is probably much closer to gimmick than feature.  It is a shame too, because the underlying lines of the TRE and its materials (mmmm..M390....) are awesome.  Imagine my surprise when, just after Blade Show, I saw the TRE G10, shorn of the bullshit, on Lionsteel's website.  Now this is a Lionsteel I could really like.

Here is the product page. The Lionsteel TRE G10 costs $199.95.  There are three G10 colors--black, green, and orange.  In addition there are the full Three Rapid Exchange models, that allow for a flipper, a thumb disk, neither or both.  They are available in carbon fiber and titanium for a significant premium.  This knife won Knife of the Year at the 2015 Blade Show, not the one I am reviewing here.  Impossible as it may seem, there are no written reviews. Here is an excellent video review by Auston (Epic Snuggle Bunny). Here is a link to Blade HQ, where you can find the Lionsteel TRE G10, and all proceeds benefit the site when you purchase things through this link:

Blade HQ

Here is my review sample:


Twitter Review Summary: An instant classic.
Design: 2

There is very little here that is anything other than refined.  From the blade shape to the flipper tab to the landing area for the flipper--every single aspect of this knife has been studiously and attentively examined and polished.  The entire thing is the epitome of design refinement.

Normally I would complain about the overly boxy, oddly angular handle, but the reality is it looks more squared off than it is in hand.  There is a bit of confinement to the indexing notch, as it also serves as a cutaway to allow access to the lockbar, but beyond that, I found the TRE G10 very comfortable, despite its boxy blueprint.  


The performance ratios are very good, something that you'd expect from such a careful laid out blade.  The blade:weight is 1.32.  The blade:handle is .73.  Both are quite good though neither are record holders.  It is important to note that part of the extreme weight savings in the design comes from the milling done on the inside portion of the titanium handle scale.  It is also noteworthy that this is the lightest of all of the TREs.  The carbon fiber handle offers no weight savings at all.

Fit and Finish: 2

Other than the error made on the first batch of HESTs made for DPx, Lionsteel has put out nothing that is less than stellar.  This isn't a huge surprise given just how advanced their machining capabilities are, but its worth noting.  


Its hard to compare this knife to something like a Canal Street Cutlery or an Al Mar, where the sumptuous quality comes from real hand finishing.  This knife is certainly the equal of a high end ZT and runs quite well with a knife from Chris Reeve.      

Grip: 2

Its hard to not have a a good grip on the TRE, what with all of the machining going on here.  The cutterhead paths have been left pronounced and not only provide an aesthetic highlight they also help with grip.  Overall, very little to complain about here. 

Carry: 2

For a medium sized knife the TRE G10 certainly plays very well with others.  Here it is with my favorite paired flashlight, the super great S1 Baton:


I never felt like I was on the verge of being depants and I never felt like the goddam knife clogged up my pockets.  It was simply a nice, rounded presence--there when I needed it, and gone if I didn't think about it.  This is one instance in which the sculpted pocket clip was nice--there was no rough edges or pokey points.  

Steel: 2

I could write a poem about how good M390 is, as it is one of my very favorite, if not my outright favorite steel on the market today.  In fact here is just such a poem

M390 is a truly great steel,
Sharpens nicely despite being hard,
Resists corrosion, that's its deal,
Still quite pricey on the charge card.

Okay, poetry is not my thing, but M390 certainly is and after 270 some reviews its hard to find new ways to describe how awesome this steel is.  Its corrosion resistance gives it a slight edge over ZDP-189 in an EDC knife. 

Blade Shape: 2

This is where I think the TRE G10 really shines compared to some of Lionsteels other offerings.  There is no bulbous belly or crazy tall blade--just a drop point.  But what a drop point blade it is.  Its perfectly done here--there is a true ricasso for easy sharpening, the spine is rounded over, and the blade is stonewashed.  These three features are all my first choice and are surprisingly hard to find in a single knife.  In many ways the TRE is the flipping Sebenza--its basic but perfect blade is very similar to the Sebenza's and that, as always, is a high complement.  

Grind: 2

Like with everything Lionsteel, the grind is meticulous.  There is never a question about their fit and finish, only some of their design choices.  And a good grind is very closely related to good fit and finish.  Even, clean, and a good flat grind.  

Deployment Method: 2

Ah...the flipper.  First let me say that I like it a lot.  I want to get that out of the way because what I am about to write sounds like a negative.  This is not the snappiest flipper in the world.  This is not a flipper that functions solely by overcoming the detent.  You do need to use some force.  In large part this because the TRE platform was designed to accommodate non-flipper opening methods and a strong detent would ruin those other ways of opening the knife.  The G10 model as a stronger detent than the other TRE, but it is still not as crisp as a say a Kizer flipper or a ZT flipper.  The long and the short of it is that the flipper is still very fast and rarely if ever misfires.  Its just not a "pop and go" type opener.  I think this is more of a matter of taste than function, as the knife opens quite well, but some may disagree.

I also have to mention the "landing strip" on the back of the knife.  I love it, but I imagine some folks might complain that it is too sharp or pokey.  Like the "flavor" of the flipping action I mention this to put you on notice, not to complain--hence the 2.  

Retention Method: 1

Sculpted pocket clips might be nice to look at and all the rage, but they just don't have the springiness or tension I want.  Here I was worried that thicker fabric would bend it all out of sorts and so I was careful when I clipped the TRE to my pocket.  The clip worked, but requiring that sort of forethought is annoying.  I can't wait until this trend is over. 

Lock: 2

There is simply nothing to complain about here.  The lock is solid, easy to engage and disengage and displays no blade play or lock stick.  Like grind I think lock up is a corrollary of good fit and finish.  As such, it is, as expected, top shelf:


Overall Score: 19 out of 20

This is easily one of the best knives I have reviewed this year.  It is, in many ways, a flipping Sebenza--simple blade shape with excellent execution.  I would always opt for the cheaper option here, as the other TRE offers nothing I care about.  The titanium or carbon fiber handles are pure ornamentation and something I don't need.  As an EDC the TRE is hard to beat.  If you are interested in a Lionsteel knife, but haven't taken the plunge this is the one to get.


Yikes!  Even this knife, at a 19/20 is facing stiff competition.  Many Kizer knives are very competitive, as are the new S35VN ZTs (though the ZT0450's lockbar problem makes it a clear loser by comparison).  The just released Spyderco Positron is also a strong competitor, albeit with inferior steel.  I am not sure who would win this one.  Why don't we just settle this with a 2015 Flipper Shoot Out--the Kizer Gemini v. the Lionsteel TRE G10 v. the Spyderco Positron?  Its in the works.  

Monday, November 16, 2015

Lionsteel TRE G10 Video Overview

The TRE is one of the most important knife releases this year and as we wind down 2015, the hits will be fast and furious (hopefully, if my 8 month old cooperates by sleeping).  I wanted to give it a full week of analysis because, frankly, it deserves it.  This is one of Lionsteel's first "non gimmick" knives and it is much better for it (accounting for the fact that the premium TRE is the very essence of a gimmick knife).  Here is the video overview: 

Review at the end of the week.