NOTE: It is with a sad heart that I post this addendum to this review. After a few complaints from various folks and my own efforts to reach out to Aaron, it appears that life issues have interfered with him completing or even responding to folks about their knives, some of whom appear to have paid or made deposits up front. I have no idea who is right and I am not able to mediate a dispute like this. The issue is that too many people have reported problems for it to be an isolated incident. Deal with Aaron at your own risk, as it always has been. Now, however, keep these problems in mind. Once these issues are resolved I will post more and remove this warning from the review.
Gear geeks will pay extra for four things: sexy materials, innovative design, top shelf fit and finish, and superlative utility. The Bushido Mosquito Custom SAK Rambler has all of those things in spades. Hence I paid a bit more for it than the normal Swiss Army Knife (SAK) Rambler. Aaron Solomon, aka BushidoMosquito, has been making ultra high quality custom SAKs for a while now. Google "BushidoMosquito" and "Custom SAK" and you will treated to pages of gorgeous eye candy--brass, titanium, and copper scaled versions of your favorite SAK. Seeing these I contacted Aaron through EDCF and arranged a deal. It is hard to put into exact money terms the cost of my Rambler because things changed after the order (I had asked for something, as it turns out, was mighty difficult). I'll let Aaron post prices in the comments section (or I'll post them after I talk to him).
So the normal "here" paragraph is going to be much abbreviated. Here is the normal Swiss Army Knife Rambler. Aaron has no website, this is a full custom order, a one of a kind so far as I know, and as such there is not a whole lot of information. These knives are readily available, i.e. they can be ordered, but they are true custom items. Additionally Aaron's workspace is not terribly sophisticated so the work is painstaking and slow going. But the results are truly awesome:
Be prepared for a wait. Given his insistence on truly great fit and finish, he might have even closed his book for now (that is, not taking new jobs). Here is Aaron's contact information:
bushidomosquito at gmail dot com (in the normal format)
So now we come to the controversial part of this review: how to categorize this little gleaming gem. Is it a multitool or is it a knife? In a very strict sense, it absolutely is a multitool because it has multiple tools, but the primary tool, the one that the device is based around is a knife. I think it could go either way, especially with a SAK like this one, but I am going to consider this a multitool and evaluate it as such. The primary reason for this classification is because: 1) while based around a classic nail-nick pen knife, the thing that makes this knife something I'd carry are the things OTHER than the knife; 2) ranking it as a knife would only allow me to discuss a few of the tool's best features. Ultimately this is a judgment call.
Aaron took a well designed SAK, the Rambler, and made it even better. It is not really even in the same league anymore. First, this Rambler has a really elegant and well-designed pocket clip (upon request by me). It also has a small green tritium locator, something that not only adds to the "pimped out" feel of the tool, but makes it easier to find (a feature that is always helpful). As it was when it was stock the Rambler would have probably scored a 2, but as it is now, well I would give it a three if I could. Superlative design in every way. Want more evidence of its design perfection? The cool torx bolts allow for user changes of the tools in the event that one wears out or isn't what you want. Plus I think they give it a distinctive industrial look.
Fit and Finish: 2
Again, the Rambler starts out as a pretty nice little tool, as all Victorinox tools do, but now with Aaron's polish and care, the tool is nothing short of a gem. All of the edges are rounded, the Ti is mirror polished, and the tools inside are cleaned and polished. Honestly Aaron's work makes this tool more akin to the zero tolerance work of a superb watch than the fit and finish associated with a knife or multitool. Again I would give it a three if I could.
I think of the Rambler, especially in this configuration, as a sort of light duty, everyperson device, something that would be at home in a woman's purse or on a man's keychain. It has four very useful and basic tools. Its size and weight give you no excuse to forget it at home. As such, the tools and the size fit the theme well. It also makes you wonder why you carry other things when something this small and light can do so much. It gives the Leatherman PS4 a run for its supreme small utility crown.
This is a speck of a tool. But it is not designed for high pressure uses. Instead it is designed for light, every day tasks. With that in mind, the grip is actually fine. Aaron's Ti scales make it feel nice in the hand and the pocket clip adds a bit of dimension, helping with the grip a bit. For what it is and how it works, I couldn't expect much more.
Thin, light, slim and perfectly sized to carry anywhere for any reason, this is a joy to carry. It works in a suit, in jeans, even my pajamas. This is what everyone should aim for--invisible carry.
The blade steel is the only thing Aaron didn't actually upgrade, but the SAK steel is very good for utility/light cutting tasks. Everything else is new and substantially upgraded. The scales and clip are all titanium. There is a green tritium insert (noting of course that green is the brightest color in tritium inserts). Everything is top shelf and the soft SAK steel serves its purpose well in this tiny tool.
Aaron's work on the tools themselves and the brilliant design make each of these tiny tools surprisingly accessible.
Retention Method: 2
I am not a fan of keychain carry in general, reserving the keychain
for keys and VERY light, simple tools. As such, I wanted a pocket clip
and Aaron was kind enough to oblige. Here is a picture:
Really, the clip is a thing of beauty. Not only is
mirror polished, it also functions absolutely flawlessly. It holds
tight but not too tight. It does not snag, it does not stick out to
far, and, as you can see, it carries very deep in the pocket. Out of
all of the pocket clips on all of the gear I have, this is right up at
the top for my favorite design. Keep it simple, snug, and slim. Great,
great job Aaron.
Tool Selection: 2
Pliers would be great, but unforunately the SAK design does not accomodate them easily. So with pliers off the list I would want in the following order these tools: 1) knife; 2) scissors; 3) Phillips driver; 4) bottle opener. You get them all hear, and two throw ins: a flathead driver and a file, which is surprisingly helpful.
Tool Performance: 2
I LOVE the real, 3D Phillips driver. Nice and pointy, but plenty of heft for light tasks. The knife is a little small, but again for light tasks it is enough. The scissors are actually very nice, exceedingly sharp and precise. I loved all of the tools and that extra polish Aaron added made them nicer.
Overall Score: 20 out of 20 (Score Suspended until further notice, see above)
There are items that I have given a 20 out of 20 to and they were great but not perfect. This, on the other hand, is a truly perfect 20 out of 20. Aaron's work takes a really good little multitool and made it an absolute jewel. Many of my lawyer friends carry tiny SAKs for trimming stray threads and popping the occasional post-trial brew and all were impressed with this gem and NONE were gear people. I really, really love this guy and if you can work your way on to Aaron's wait list it is worth it. But be patient, the dude is a one man show with primitive tools working in a closet--seriously. If I could I would give this a higher score...it is just great. It is one of the first items I have really lusted for that turned out to be better than I thought it would be. Great job Aaron.