Tuesday, August 2, 2011

2011 Over $1000 Recommendations

Here are the rules. Here is the $25 and less entry, the $50 max entry, the $100 max entry, the $200 max entry, the $500 max entries (tools and lights), and the $1000 max entry.

This is the point where anything goes. These tools are all custom. They belong in the pockets of oil barons and dudes that conduct business from their superyatches for tax purposes. There is no upper limit here, just whatever someone is willing to spend. In reality, there is not a ton of new stuff, as very few flashlights cost more than $500 (there are some though), and few production knives cost more than $500. There are quite a few custom knives, however, that fit the bill. And the reality is, I can't possibly know all of the options out there so I am going to just highlight a few of my favorites. I have none of these and have only handled a few, so this is all just pie in the sky guessing, like when Motor Trend reviews the Bugatti Veyron.

There no reason to really read this as a guide, if you are thinking about spending this much money on a knife and light, you already know what you want. Think of it as the EDC equivalent of the Motor Trend shoot out articles involving exotic Italian sports cars--its just the idea that these things are out there that is tantalizing.

Continuing the car analogy from the previous articles, if the $1000 max gear were F1 cars, these items are the EDC equivalent of SSC Tuatara--faster than an F1 car, but with comfort and refinement allowing for everyday use. And yes the new "fastest car ever" is named after a lizard (I guess it is "soon to be" as it has yet to be unveiled).

These aren't recommendations so much as they are my personal preferences. If I had the money this is what I would get. And a word about custom knives. Once you get into this price range most of them are hideous, with design flair more appropriate for the King of Persia than someone who lives in the age of Dieter Rams 10 Principle of Good Design. I understand that Brian Tighe is a great craftsman and I agree with that, but his design choices are baffling to me. His knives look like something that belongs to a Klingon or a pimp from the Old West. In a world where good design has gone mainstream thanks to companies like Apple, these over-the-top, stuffed-to-the-gills tools look stupid. By the way, note how many of the 10 Principles of Good Design are embodied by the Sebenza.


There is only one production company that makes knives that cost more than $500 and that is William Henry. Yes, Chris Reeve offers some suped up models over the $500 as does Benchmade, but these are all gilded lily knives. Only William Henry offers NEW models at this price range, and it is a shame they do because they are all ugly pieces of garbage. There is not a single knife from them in this price range that I would keep if given to me for free. They show no creativity, no consistent design rubric or philosophy (other than "ostentatious" which I don't really consider a design philosophy at all), and no restraint. They all need to go and see a Greene and Greene house to figure out just what high end looks like when done by gifted designers and craftsman. Putting a topaz in the thumbstud is not my idea of value-added design.

Hinderers really fall into the small batch production niche, and they are really nice. They are not, however, readily available as only military, law enforcement, and EMS workers can buy them from Hinderer. Otherwise, it is wait and see on ebay or one of the custom knife sites.

If I were to pick a knife in this price range it would come from one of the four following makers: Neil Blackwood, Kevin Wilkins, Gerry McGinnis, or Filip De Coene.

Neil Blackwood's designs are known to the production world via two blades: the out of production Skirmishes from Benchmade and the Pipsqueak from Boker. Both are nice, but neither holds a candle to his stunning customs. He can veer a little into WH territory with fancy mosaic pins and whatnot, but the basics of the Skirmish design are phenomenal. I love the "back to basics" G10 model seen here. Gimme a normal looking deep carry pocket clip instead of his cutesy designed clip (which is a Skirmish in profile, how clever) and it would be my EDC for life. They are a bit big, even in the small sizes, but still this is a gorgeous curvy blade with impeccable craftsmanship.

Okay, so we all drooled over the Leafstorm and then when it came out it was not as good as we had hoped. But there is something there, something about Kevin Wilkins' design that has been infatuated with his customs. This Leafstorm is just too beautiful--right on the edge of gilded lily:

Gerry McGinnis makes some incredible knives as well. I actually really like his CRKT production models, owning a Tuition that is surprisingly nice. They look beautiful, of course, but it is the curvy ergonomics and unique grinds that catch my eye. How about these blades?

Filip De Coene is a European maker and the influence of good design (a la the 10 Principles) is evident. These are cool, minimalist blades with a focus on refined design and wicked blade steels. There are no real timetables for Filip's work, which I suspect adds to the allure, but if you can manage to snag one, hold on to it--they are jewels. MOMA may open a knife exhibit and Filip's work would definitely be there. In particular I like the Hybrid seen here:

Recommendation: Filip De Coene's Hybrid
Price: Well over $500


Well, what do you want? There are very few choices here as only two lights cost more than $500 that can be used for EDC purposes. So it is all Cool Fall products. Which would you prefer: Spy 007 or a Spy Tri-V? That is all there is in this price range other than the random Lunasols that float around on CPF's B/S/T board. These lights are so ridiculously high end. There is really nothing out there that is even close. Most McGizmo's sell for around $500. The 007 sells for $1000 for the base model. The Tri-V sells for around $1200, but a new version is in the works. Personally, the Tri-V seems a little to fragile for me. I'd opt for the base model 007.

Recommendation: Cool Fall Spy 007
Price: $995 (available here)

Well, there it is--the whole series is finished. This last one was more of a lark than anything, but still there is some sweet gear out there in every price range, even $25 and under. I think the sweet spot is either around $100 or $200 total, though you do quite well at $500 total (the Caly 3 and Mac Tri EDC). Hope you enjoyed the series.

My next multi-entry project: The List.

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