Monday, April 30, 2012

Toucan Review by Tom

[Editor's Note: This is a two part review, first up will be the Toucan]

 JRP Toucan and 4Sevens Neutral-White MiniX CR123 While most Light&Saber combos are carried separate, here is a system that combines the two tools into one easy-to-carry accessory.


(The duo)

As you can see my system is comprised of a Jared Price Toucan with a chisel profile and a 4Sevens Neutral-White MiniX CR123. I am using a size 3 (micro) stainless steel (SS) McGizmo Clip and your generic keychain ring to hold the two tools together. Within this review I am essentially killing two birds with one stone and replacing the “Saber” with an edged multitool. I will give both tools their separate 20 point score, but I will consider points within my system of carry. Trust me, the carry makes a difference (divulged in the review, so read on!) The Jared Price Toucan is a rather elegantly designed edged multitool. It comes in three flavors (profiles): sheepsfoot (original), drop point, and chisel. Here is Jared Prices’s info page on his tools and keychain knives. Jared, at the moment isn’t taking any orders but you can get on his mailing list for the Toucan. Toucans can also be found for sale at several knife dealers (most are out of stock). The Nuetral-White MiniX CR123 is a limited run of the MiniX CR123 (which is now discontinued). Here is Tony’s review on the normal MiniX CR123. Let’s get started with the review! Between the two tools, I use the Toucan the most. Thus, we shall take a look at the Toucan First.


The Toucan (Chisel profile)

Design: 2

This is one of the few edged-OPMT that doesn’t require you to unsheathe the tool to use the bottle cap opener. For that alone, I give it a 2. Addtionally, the pry-tip/wire stripper/flathead can also be used without unsheathing the edged portion of the tool. A Huge plus and well thought out design. The Toucan is also aesthetically pleasing and does indeed have the profile of the near passerine birds from the Neotropics, of course the sheepsfoot/drop point profile more so than the chisel profile presented here.

Fit and Finish: 2

The grinds could be a bit more even, but you have to remember that this tiny little tool is a custom hand ground tool. That aside, everything else is crisp and clean. Areas are rounded where necessary and sharp where necessary. There is even hand beveling, which is quite impressive. Best of all is the subdued stonewashed finish. I have used this tool for nearly a year now and it still looks brand new. That is the power of a properly done stonewashed finish [Editor's Note: stonewashed steel is just awesome, my hopefully soon to arrive TuffThumbz pimped knife should have a stonewashed finish].

Purpose: 2

For the day-to-day mundane tasks, this tool handles everything perfectly. From opening mail to breaking down cardboard boxes, this tool can do it all. There really isn’t much more that you need. This, of course, isn’t a full toolbox replacement, but who else but technicians/electricians/carpenters/etc. carries a full toolbox around? I will admit it isn’t a full knife replacement, but again, for most daily tasks a larger knife really isn’t required.

Grip: 2

One full deep finger choil and one partial (3/4 let’s say) finger choil give you a substantial grip on this little tool. The second partial finger choil also acts a leverage point when using the bottle opener with the sheath on. The added beveling also makes the tool quite comfortable to use. If needed, the deep jimping does add additional grip (I despise jimping) and is well executed on this little tool.

Carry: 2

The Toucan was originally designed as a keychain carry tool. However, I have adopted it into a clip carry method that, I feel, works even better. The tool lays flat against my legs, and the light dangles very flat over the tool.

 
(Notice how naturally the light lies on the sheath of the tool)
 
Materials: 2

The blade is made from a lot of numbers and letters. Specifically the tool is made from CPM154CM. This is your normal composition of 154CM but uses Crucible’s powder metallurgy process to refine the grain structure of the steel and improves on few of the mechanical properties of normal 154CM. Needless to say, it is quality steel. 154CM is already great steel, close to CPMS30V (but remember 154CM is much older) in terms of edge retention. Toughness of CPM154CM is one property that is greatly increased compared to normal 154cm (and higher than CPMS30V). 

Deployment/Accessibility: 2

The Toucan’s sheath is a fold over taco-style Kydex sheath that uses a single rivet located near the tip of the tool. This very simple design allows for two critical aspects of carry. First is that the tool can dangle freely (as it was intended to on a keychain). More importantly, the profile of the sheath is near that of the tool itself. Making for a very slim profile sheath. Additionally the round cutout in the tool itself allows the Kydex to mold into the hole and provide an added amount of friction. The amount of retention is good enough that carrying the tool upside-down with the clip poses no problem, but when you need the edge or larger flat head, the tool draws very easily and smoothly from the upside-down position.

 
(Rivet used to be black, notice the micro SS McGizmo Clip)

Retention Method: 2

This is the bread and butter of the system. Originally the Toucan was designed as keychain tool. However, adopting a clip style carry makes the overall system very easy to don the tool on and off a belt loop when needing the pry-tip or light. Losing the keys also makes the tool less cumbersome to use with the sheath on.

Tool Selection: 2

According to Jared Price, there are 5 main tools: 1) cutting edge; 2) bottle opener; 3) pry tip; 4) nail puller/wire strip; and 5) regular size flat head screwdriver. Note the pry tip can also be used as small flathead screwdriver for phillips or flathead screws. All the bases are covered and even a bit extra (that I don’t particularly use to often). This is a very good selection of tools in a very compact design.

Tool Performance: 2

The knife portion of the tool has served me very well. I have yet come to the point that I need to sharpen it (usually just put it over the ultrafine rod every once in awhile). The bottle cap also works very well and gets a really good grip on the cap. All the other tools work also, but I have yet to use them too extensively.

Overall Score: 20 out of 20

Within this system I give it a 20 out of 20. It should be noted that the sharp edges of the pry tool make it very uncomfortable and not suited for its intended style of carry. Under keychain carry I would have given the Deployment/Accessibility of the tool a 0 out of 2. Which really would have brought the tool down to a 0 out of 20 overall because I would never carry the tool. Plus, it is always a hassle having to fish out of your pockets the desired tool. At 85 dollars for a custom little tool, I personally think it is a steal. Sure, you can get a decent knife and a Leatherman PS4 for the same amount. However, given the extra bulk of carrying both those tools means much less pocket time. Plus, all the tools work so well together. You can even pop open a fresh brew without even taking the tool off your belt loop.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Limited Editions, Awesome Upgrades

So the RRT-001 selector ring light from JetBeam I covered here is getting a sexy titanium body and a new name, the TCR-1  This limited edition light, found here at BatteryJunction for $180.00, looks like a world class light.  I love the selector ring only UI, as shown in the review of the Mr. Elfin, and the TCR-1's infinitely variable with a very, very low low.  It is also a smallish light, running about the same size as the Incendio.  Finally, it has my favorite flashlight clip ever, the McGizmo, on it.  If you are looking for a nice, high end light but can't quite afford a Haiku (or wait for me to give you one), the TCR-1 looks super sweet.


Next up is the Bladeforums.com Kershaw Skyline special edition (order and info thread).  This version of the Skyline, which is quite a good EDC blade, comes with bright blue handles and S30V blade steel.  I love the Skyline and I even liked the 14C28N steel, but the S30V is a clear upgrade.  Oh and it is going to be full flat ground.  It is a bit steep, especially compared to the normal retail version, clocking in at $90 compared to $25 for the standard version, but this is a "fantasy team" knife.    

Keep your eyes out, these sprint run, limited editions go fast and often resell well if you don't like them.


Small Production Knife EDC Shootout

Everyone once in a while someone will email me a question and the answer is so interesting that I decide to do more research and make it into a post.  This Shootout came from an email question.  The three knives I am looking at here aren't necessarily in the same price range, as the Dragonfly II is about twice or three times the price of the other two blades, but the question led me to this point--the other two knives are such good values that they really punch above their weight.  It would be unfair, in my mind, to compare the slim elegance of the OD-2 to the mismatched poorly designed mess that is the Kershaw Scallion (a former EDC blade of mine).  It is not price, but size and design quality that group these knives together.  

This is a shootout among the knives that I think are the perfect size for EDC carry.  I have done one shootout before and I am going to use the same format here.  For a refresher, take a look at the Mid-Sized Production Knife EDC Shootout.  The three small production knives in this shootout are:

Spyderco Dragonfly II in VG10 (DFII)(review of DFI in VG-10 and DFII in ZDP-189):


Cold Steel Mini Tuff Lite (MTL)(Review):

IMG_0034

Kershaw OD-2 (OD-2)(Review):

IMG_0024

First, a few caveats about the choices.  I chose the DFII in VG10 even though I have never used this knife.  I feel like I can evaluate it honestly though because I have both the original DF in VG10 and the ZDP-189 DFII.  The reason I am doing this is because the ZDP-189 version would just kill the rest of the knives in the shootout AND because the ZDP-189 version is significantly more expensive.  I'd like to compare small, light cutters with pocket clips and locks (hence the lack of Bug series Spydercos).  The DFII is still the most expensive, but it is not four times the price of the others, making the comparison a bit more realistic.   Other knives in this class that I have reviewed include the SOG Flash I, the SOG Twitch II, and the Kershaw Scallion.  All of those knives were left out of the shootout because, quite frankly, they stink.  The Scallion, despite being my only knife for about three years, was a terrible little blade.  The SOG Flash I, for all its love online, strikes me as an ancient design--bitchin' in 1997 but a significant step behind newer, better designed knives.  The Twitch II, like the Flash I, had such sloppy fit and finish that it scored poorly.  Why bother comparing that knife these knives?  Such a large difference is score is going to make the comparison pointless.  I could have also thrown the Buck Vantage Small in here, but again, this is not a knife that seems to be close enough in quality to compare to these blades.  In the end, I thought these had similar dimensions and weight, and a similar level of quality, even if the price difference was significant.  Other knives that I have not looked at are the Al Mar Hawk, Benchmade Aphid (I am trying to get one of those for review) and the CRKT Eros.  I ignored those blades because they are significantly more expensive than the ones I am looking at here. 

In my mind these knives are the perfect size, weight, and price for an EDC folder.  I have only come to this conclusion recently.  Nutnfancy really emphasized the issues of size and weight and for a long time I was a big knife person, carrying a first gen Cold Steel Recon.  But the knife was just too big.  Still, bit the bullet and accepted the weight and size fearful that there would be a situation that necessitated such a big knife.  That situation never arose and after watching dozens of Nutnfancy videos, I decided, about three years ago, to give a small blade a try.  I have never once regretted doing so.  The 2 to 2.5 inch blade size, with a carry weight under or around 2 ounces is just perfect.  Unless you plan on getting into a knife fight or fending off a bear that you stumble into while texting, these tiny blades are just fine for everyday use.  They can handle about 90% of your daily tasks, more if you are an urbanite like me. 

They also have the side benefit of being less scary to regular folks.  Knives, in many parts of the country, are perfectly fine things to carry everyday.  In other places, they are demonic instruments of violence.  Few people, if any, have a problem with blades this small.  It is not that you should necessarily be afraid of what people might think (though why not be considerate when you can?), but simply a matter of use.  If every time you pull out one a knife you get a look, you will eventually be more likely to just keep it in your pocket.  Even the most stubborn person, will cave if an elderly person is around or a bunch of small kids.  But if you carry these and no one even so much as flinches, then you will be more likely to carry and use your knife.

Methodology

I am going to use my folding knife scoring system, but instead of awarding a score of 0-2 for each criteria, I am going to rank each blade, from first place to last place.  Instead of just ranking them I am going to weight the ranks, much like the BBWAA (see: "How is voting counted?") does in end of the year award voting.  A first place ranking is worth 5 points, a second place ranking is worth 3 points, and third place ranking is worth 1 point.  This separation makes it less likely that the value winner will just be the cheapest knife (as a straight ranking system would award a straight last place knife 10 points for merely being included).  This time I am going to call ties.  There are some aspects of these knives that are so close that it doesn't really make a difference which one you choose.  If the two or three knives are all great, they will tie with five points, and so on down the line.  The one that wins the most overall points has a big advantage going into the final assessment, which product value (performance compared to price).  Here is the folding knife scoring system.  In terms of value, it will be an easy math formula: dollars divided by total points score.  The less dollars per point, the better the value. 

Scoring System Points

Design:

Size and weight of the DFII are just about perfect.  But hitting a weight target is not the only thing that makes a difference here, it is the overall shape of the knife--with a nice, but not too deep finger choil, the DFII is a joy to work with.  You can still grip it for whittling, but the shape is really at its best when doing precision work.  The MTL's "slant angled" blade is an unconventional design, but not that good for precision work.  It lacks the belly necessary for roll cuts and slicing.  It is decent for pierce cuts and dragging slices (such as opening up a bag of mulch).  The needle spear point on the OD-2 also lacks significant belly and feels dainty.  It pierces very well and does dragging slices quite well.  The MTL's handle is very ergonomic, but closed the knife has a few issues.  First, the tang of the blade is partially exposed.  Second, the knife is quite thick, the Grivory handles are probably 1/2 inch thick, massive for a knife of this size.  Finally the finger choil on the MTL is not as refined as that on the Dragonfly II.  The ricasso protrudes from the blade a bit and can get snagged when making cuts.  Kudos to Kershaw for using the JL Williams cam opener.  It is easy to use and fun to play with.  The only design concern I have with the OD-2 is that it feels really dainty in the hand.  I have had a Flash I and that felt significantly more solid in the hand during use and was roughly the same size and materials. 

Dragonfly II: 5
OD-2: 3
Mini Tuff Lite: 1

Fit and Finish:

All three knives have more than acceptable fit and finish, but the MTL's precision set spring for the Tri-Ad lock displays a level of craftsmanship not seen on knives under $20.  I also like the handle finishes on each blade.  The bead blast finish on the OD-2 is my only concern as it is a rust promoter. 

Mini Tuff Lite: 5
Dragonfly II: 5
OD-2: 3

Grip:

I love the Dragonfly form factor so much.  It just fits the hand perfectly.  Even if you have dog paws and can only get a three finger grip it is still a fine little tool.  The grip on the MTL is only okay by comparison.  The choil is not as refined, as mentioned above, and the blade feels fat in the hand.  There is no traction plan whatsoever on the OD-2 and so both score significantly worse than the Spyderco offering.  

Dragonfly II: 5
Mini Tuff Lite: 1
OD-2: 1

Carry:

Wide fat blades on the MTL and the DF II make them more noticeable in the pocket but still they are so small it is not a big deal.  The OD-2's slim form factor though blows them both away.  It vanishes until you need it--a perfect feature for an EDC knife. 

OD-2: 5
Mini Tuff Lite: 3
Dragonfly II: 3

Steel:

I don't really like the steel on any of these knives, but the VG-10 is in a different league than the AUS8 or 8Cr13MoV on the other two knives.  ZDP-189 obviously would crush the competition and is so superior, that if the ZDP-189 version of the knife were in the competition, I would have to declare it the winner.  Steel is important.  Its why you bought the knife.  Truly superior steel overcomes a lot of shortcomings.  Still VG-10 is a good EDC steel.  

Dragonfly II: 3
Mini Tuff Lite: 1
OD-2: 1

Blade Shape:

The flat leaf shaped blade of the DFII is an ideal EDC blade, second only to a good clip shaped blade like on the Sebenza or the Buck Vantage.  The OD-2 spear is decent but feels lacking and the MTL's choil problems and lack of belly make it the loser in the blade shape category. 

Dragonfly II: 5
OD-2: 3
Mini Tuff Lite: 1

Grind:

All of the knives have grind issues.  The VG-10 on my DFI was uneven at the secondary bevel.  Likewise with the OD-2.  The MTL's pronounced choil again causes problems when cutting, especially with such a short blade.  I like the FFG on the DFII so that comes out as the winner, but none of the knives really killed it here.  

Dragonfly II: 5
OD-2: 3
Mini Tuff Lite: 1

Deployment Method:

Something pretty amazing is going to have to come along to convince me that the Spydie Hole is not the best way to open a knife.  The cam opening on the OD-2 is fun to fidget with, but still not as smooth or elegant in design as the opening hole.  Cold Steel's opening oval is very aggressively cut and thus not as easy on the fingers to use.  

Dragonfly II: 5
OD-2: 3
Mini Tuff Lite: 1

Retention Method:

The wire clip on the DFII is probably either my favorite or second favorite design out there (after the Sebenza clip, maybe).  It is very very good.  The MTL's clip is not all that great, but in a stroke of design genius it really does help in gripping the tiny blade while opening the knife.  Excellent double purpose.  The OD-2's clip looks like a pen clip so it is discrete, but it is also flimsy when compared to the other options.  

Dragonfly II: 5
Mini Tuff Lite: 3
OD-2: 1

Lock:

There is no real competition here.  The Tri-Ad lock is so over engineered, so over done that it is doesn't really compare to the other two.  The DFII's lock is okay, but a slow backlock that is prone to blade play (though mine have never had any).  The liner lock on the OD-2 did actually have some issues over time so it gets a one.  Nothing bad, just a little sloppy.

Mini Tuff Lite: 5
Dragonfly II: 3
OD-2: 1

Total Points

Dragonfly II: 44
Mini Tuff Lite: 22
OD-2: 24

Value Calculations

I am going to use the most frequent price for the item as listed on Amazon.  These prices are as of 4/26/12:

Dragonfly II: $46.18


Mini Tuff Lite: $17.99
 

OD-2: $14.95


Value (price compared to performance; dollars/points)

Dragonfly II value score: 1.04
Mini Tuff Lite value score: .82
OD-2 value score: .62

Conclusion


The value calculations didn't really work out all that well, in the sense that I think the DFII is clearly the best knife here, but they didn't completely fail either.  I think the OD-2 is an excellent EDC knife, perfectly capable, quite carry-able, and easy to use.  In my opinion this is the knife that everyone, including Nutnfancy, THINKS the SOG Flash I is.  I am still hesitant about using them everywhere for reasons I stated before.

The DFII's dominance in the categories is really speaks to how good the knife is, but it is clearly not the best value, best knife, but not best value.  The OD-2 is a wildly underrated blade and at $14.95 why not give it a shot.  I have run through a lot of gear over the years and this is the ONLY thing I am considering repurchasing.  I'd like to give the Benchmade Aphid a shot before I do, because that might be the upscale version of the OD-2, but the OD-2 itself is a great knife. 

The MTL is a great little knife, even with its last place showing here.  But it is rough around the edges, an inspired but immature design.  It is like the minor league pitcher that strikes out 11 but walks 8.  A round of refinement and this knife will be amazing.  Fix the choil, thin it out a bit, and fix the exposed and snaggy tang when closed and this is a very, very good blade.  I'd like to see Cold Steel upgrade all of the steel on their knives, but that is something folks have wanted for a decade now.  Its good, but flawed.  

I told the emailer to buy the DFII, and I stick by that, but the OD-2 is really, really good.  If I were on a tight budget, the OD-2 is the knife I'd buy and even when I could afford more, I'd probably hang on to it.  I also have referenced this before, but the OD-2 scores very high on the fidget factor scale making it fun to play with as well as incredibly useful.  

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Fanboy Futility

Note: I am wary of putting this up, but I think it is something that needs to be said.  I am prepared for a vicious attack, but before anger propels your fingers across the keyboard, sit back and think about this--forcing companies to focus on products instead of hype and marketing will only make things better for each of us.  

For whatever reason my hobby as a kid and my hobby as an adult seem to have the most notorious, most entrenched fanboys out there.  As a kid I loved video games (still do, but with much less time).  There were few battles as noisy and partisan as the Nintendo v. Sega war.  It makes Democrats v. Republicans look tame.  Even the Sega catchphrase at the time was a punch in the face: Sega does what Nintendon't.  Twenty years later, the battle between knife company fanboys is equally intense.  And the reality is simple--this is all bullshit.

The thing that got me thinking about this was Nutnfancy's interview with Ernie Emerson from SHOT 2012.  Here is the interview in case you haven't seen it:



Ernie is an amazing person.  Listening to him talk made me want to buy an Emerson right then and there.  He seems like he is a straightforward guy that has information based on real experience.  He is an excellent spokesperson and a good salesman.  He is also a personality and in the knife world that counts, small as the industry is.  But in the end, this is a business and personality, even if it is true to the bone, is still a sales tactic.  Ernie seems like the most genuine guy in the world but putting that front and center is part of an overall strategy of creating a brand, generating customer loyalty, and in the end selling products.  It worked on me.  The Micro Commander is on my "Want list" hovering near the top after this interview.   

It comes down to this--in a day and age of information overload and the savvy consumer, fanboyism has no place.  Liking a product or disliking a product because of its brand is insane.  Brand is yet another way that companies part us with our money.  It is a tactic, no less blatant than the silly Sega marketing campaigns of the 90s. 

It should not be Spyderco v. Benchmade.  It should be consumers v. producers.  You want my money?  Fine, sell me a good product.  I don't care if it comes from Buck, Boker, or Chris Reeve.  I have no brand loyalty.  I like some brands better than others, but not because of who the owner of the company is or how cool their logo is or how many of their products I own.  Spyderco makes my favorite knives.  But they are not my favorite brand.  I am brand agnostic.  I try to come at things from this perspective when doing reviews.  It is about the product, not the company.

I could care less if Mick Strider has a checkered past, so long as it doesn't impact his products.  I could care less if Lynn Thompson is an obnoxious jerk, so long as it doesn't impact his products.  Ernie's genuineness does count for me, but not so much as to make or break a purchasing decision.  Absent something really horrible--like serious criminality (who would want to buy a product from a war criminal for example?), who the owner of the company is, who the designer of the product is, who the spokesperson for the company is (Gerber!), or what the company "stands for"  have no impact on my purchasing decisions.  Companies stand for one thing and one thing only--profits, regardless of how much lip service they pay to "customer care" or "craftsmanship". Customer care and craftsmanship are all in service to profit.

Now their is clearly a class of makers that are small enough to not give a shit about profits.  It seems bonkers to think that McGizmo is focus solely on profit.  If that was the case he would have sold his designs to a big flashlight company and made a tidy sum without the headaches and heartaches of manufacturing his own lights.  But for the majority of gear makers this is a business and a business runs on profit.  

The discussion of gear is generally better than the discussion of video games in the 1990s, but it is still there--fanboyism--right under the surface.  In the end though the fanboys have bought into the marketing hype, the bullshit, and not the product.  They have become the witting or unwitting pawns of a successful PR program.  Be an informed consumer, have favorites, but forget the hype and the marketing.

Whew!  I said it.  Roast me.   

Saturday, April 21, 2012

New Light Sites

Technically it is not new, but LED-Resource.com had published articles so sporadically in the past that they became a dusty spot on my bookmarks list.  But recently they have stepped up their game and reviewed a bunch of really interesting lights in a very systematic way.  When you get a chance go check them out.

Also, if you even casually peruse CPF you will know and love the SelfBuilt reviews.  Well, he has a YouTube channel up and running and it is as great as his forum reviews are on CPF.

Information on new gear is bountiful and this is the golden age of flashlights, so enjoy.

Strider SnG CC Review by Alex


 
Most people who like tactical knives or hard use knives have probably stumbled across Strider Knives. Like the Sebenza and many other high end production knives, the pricing on Strider Knives are going to be the same, if you buy from a dealer. My SnG is a knifeart.com exclusive, with, what Strider calls, Arctic Grey G10 scales. Strider knives typically come in Black, brown, and ranger green scales. The CC denotes that it is a “Concealed Carry” model, but more on that later. Street price for a CC SnG is $475 at monkeyedge.com.


Strider StampStrider makes three other knives with the same design, just different sizes, as the SnG. The PT is the smallest of the 4, then the SnG, then the SMF, and the SMF XL [Editor's Note: Links would be included, but the crappy Strider site is getting an update so there are no links the product page or the product pages for its brothers]. These knives are made in batches, so they are often times sold out at most dealers. [Editor's Note: Here is a written review.  Here is a video review.]

Design: 2

The ergonomics of the knife is fantastic. In usage, I do not find that there are any hotspots that hurt my hand. The cutout on the handles make the opening hole very accessible, even with thick gloves on. People that I lend my knife to tend to think that the studs on the blade are used for opening. Actually, they are stop pins, but can serve to open the blade, as well. There is also a large choil on the blade that allows for choking up on the knife for finer, more precise cutting. While the large choil does make it so you lose a little bit of cutting edge, I have never found that it gets in the way.What differentiates the “Concealed Carry” model to the regular “Lego” versions is the fact that the G10 Scales and Titanium Lockside have been radiused to reduce the foot print of the knife. It has also reduced the weight of the knife from 4.5 oz to 4.2 oz.


Fit and Finish: 1

Let’s face it, Strider knives are not the most refined out of the bag (they come in a bag, not a box). The action was tight and the lock was a little sticky when I received the knife. After a few dozen openings though, these things did work themselves out. My knife is now buttery smooth, and the lock no longer sticks.The finish of the knife, however, was outstanding. No blade play or rock lock, the G10 is cut flush with the titanium lockside, the blade coating and flaming on the titanium are very evenly and cleanly done. The blade is very, very slightly off center towards the lock, though.
 
Grip: 2

The jimping is very functional, while not being too aggressive. Coupled with the design of the handle and choil, the knife is very secure and comfortable in hand. There is jimping on both the spine of the blade and top of the knife, but as well as on the butt of the knife, making it very comfortable and secure in a normal grip and a reverse grip.


Carry: 1

The knife may be a bit heavy for some people. I know Nutnfancy has his 4 oz. rule for EDC knives. This knife comes in at 4.2 oz. The CC scales really help this knife disappear in your pocket. I hardly notice it or the weight when I have it on me every day. I carry it in cargo shorts, jeans, slacks, and occasionally IWB (in the waistband) when wearing sweats or shorts without pockets. It has never bothered me in any of these.I did knock the SnG a point in carry because it does stick out of my pocket a little too much. Nearly an inch of the knife is exposed when it is clipped. [Editor's Note: I am not convinced that EVERY knife needs to be deep carry, especially a more tactical blade like this one]

Retention Method: 2

Strider uses a titanium clip on their knives. It is very tight from the factory, and I have no worries about it every coming out of my pocket when I don’t want it to.


 In pocket, shown in Triple Aught Design F10 NYCO Shorts 

Blade Shape: 2

The blade utilizes a spear point blade. I have no qualms about this. It has adequate belly, and has worked for me in every instance that I needed it to.

Grind: 2

My SnG has a 3/4 grind, meaning that the blade is left flat for about 1/4 of the blade, and hollow ground the rest of the way. What this does is it gives you a very thick blade, while still having excellent cutting ability. This is where the SnG shines. Strider touts that their knives can take abuse like no other folding knife. You can pry with it, you can baton with it, and just all around abuse it. The thick blade stock aides in all of these activities. The edge was ground very evenly from the factory, and was shaving sharp, but not up to my (arbitrary) standards. I have since mirror polished the edge and have gotten it to whittle hair.

Steel: 2

It is S30V. I’m no steel expert, but like the “Folding Knife Score System” stated, it is the “sweet spot” of knife steels.

Lock: 2

The SnG uses Chris Reeve’s integral lock, more commonly known as a framelock. It is strong, but also easy to use. It also features Rick Hinderer’s Lockbar Stabilizer. While I don’t tend to overextend my lockbar, it is nice to have this feature.

Deployment Method: 2

Not quite the round hole that Spyderco uses, but the oval hole works just as nicely. The blade can be flicked out of the handle with no wrist movement. I won’t complain about the thumbstuds being in an awkward place, in regards to the handle, because they are not designed to be used for opening, they are the stop pins.

 
Overall Score: 18 out of 20

This knife is my favorite knife I have ever owned, even over the Sebenzas and customs that I once had in my possession. Because of this, I wanted to give it a perfect score, I really did, but I had to knock it for a few things. I must say, though, that I think what really makes a Strider a Strider is its ability to be taken beyond what a knife should be expect to do, which is cut. I like that I reliably pry with the SnG if I was stuck in a car, or baton wood for a campfire if I ever get lost in the woods. I like knowing that this knife will withstand a bomb and keep on coming. This sense of security that I have in my knife’s ability more than makes up for the little bit that sticks out of my pocket, or the grittiness that it had out of the bag (which, again, is now gone after the break in period).One more thing that I think more than makes up for its shortcomings is the Strider warranty. If you haven’t modified your knife, and it breaks under normal use, abuse, or pure recklessness, Strider will most likely fix it or replace it for only the cost of shipping. There are not many knife companies that will do that for you. Just be sure to read their warranty first.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Gauntlet Cast

Tom has submitted the first user review to be published and boy is it a monster.  He chose to take a peek at the ZT560, one of the hottest folders in the world, using Elmax steel, one of the hottest steels in the world.  He did a lot of work including the not advisable spine-whack tests (I am not sure they really prove anything important for real world non-tactical use).

There are a few rules changes I need to implement:

1.  I will only accept links for pictures.  There are too many problems associated with picture files (another submission crashed my email...yikes!).  The photo album sites are free and Photobucket, Image Shack, and Flickr are all very good.

2. Please include the price in a specific unit of currency.  100 what?  So, for example, if it is 100 pounds, I will convert it to US dollars, but I need to know what the original currency is to do the conversion.  The majority of the readers of the blog are US based, but 20% aren't.

3.  Turn around is about two weeks (well it was two weeks this time because of the email crash).  I will send you an email either way letting you know.  

4.  Send me the text in the SIMPLEST format possible.  I had to format Tom's review, post it, tear it down (it had HTML code in it that fucked with the rest of the site) and then do it all over again.

Give Tom some good feedback.  Other reviews are coming, one on a Large Sebenza and more from Tom.

Good start and consider the gauntlet cast.

ZT 560 Review By Tom

Every once in a while a collaboration between custom knife maker and production company takes the entire industry by storm. Well, in 2011, Zero Tolerance (ZT, a subset of Kai cutlery) teamed up with Rick Hinderer to produce the ZT 056X series of knives. Based on Rick’s XM-18 design (though sized more like an XM-24), the ZT 056X series is wonderful collaboration. It, in fact, won the BladeShow 2011 Collaboration of the Year Award. 

I own a Plain Jane ZT 0560 with a stonewashed blade and black G-10 handles. The design will also be available with a black coated blade, a combination of coyote brown G-10 handles, tiger striped blade, and serrations.


 (ZT 0560 with TTPocketTools gun blued brass lanyard bead).

Here is Kai cutlery’s info page on the 0560. There are no 560s for sale on Amazon and thus no reviews.  [Editor's Note: Here is a good street price. Here is a good video review.  Here is a good written review from Dan].

Design: 2 

It won BladeShow2011 Collaboration of the Year. Not much more needed here. You can see the influence of both Rick Hinderer and Zero Tolerance. Also, all the milling and skeletonizing really bring the weight of the knife down to a featherweight and makes the overall knife very well balanced.  [Editor's Note: The blade:handle is .74.] 

Fit and Finish: 2 

Two words: absolutely amazing! The machining is so well done. I love the texturing on the Ti framelock side and the subdued finish of the Ti has yet to show much wear. The detent is also perfect. The blade came perfectly centered. The stonewashed finish is also executed properly and even after cutting through the harder portion of an aluminum can, there are no scratches that I can see. Just perfect fit and finish for a production folder. 

 
(Centered)

Grip: 2 

All the curves and edges of this knife really meld into your hand. I really don’t think all the jimping is necessary, but I can see how, with gloves, the jimping is an added plus. Under hard use with no gloves, hot spots can develop. Then again, all folding knives will develop high-pressure areas under hard use with no gloves. 

Carry: 1 

I would give this a 2.  I like big pocketknives because they have a lot of useful belly to use. I carried a Benchmade 610 Rukus for years. The deep carry pocket clip does aid in concealing this knife and makes a larger knife much more pocketable. Additionally, with all the milling/skeletonizing, the knife is very light for its size. However, I know a lot of people will just find this knife much too big.

Steel: 2 

Elmax, by Uddeholm, was originally developed as a high compressive strength powder metallurgy mold steel. However, it does have high wear resistance that makes for good knife steel. It is quite an impressive steel and actually rather easy to sharpen. I cut through multiple aluminum cans (even the thicker bottom and top) and found little loss in edge formation. My knife did originally come with a very small nick. It did not hamper performance and was very easy to remove with diamond stones. I absolutely love this steel. 

Blade Shape: 2 

I would have like the spanto. However, the drop point profile is very nice and aesthetically pleasing. The thumb ramp is also a nice little touch. 

Grind: 2 

The grinds are very clean, even. Again, I would have liked a spanto grind similar to the Hinderer XM series, but the high ¾ flat grind makes for a wonderful slicer and there is still a substantial tip.

Deployment Method: 2 

With the really strong detent, the flipper is the primary method of deployment. The thumbstuds are the bladestop. You can use the studs to flick the knife out, but requires a bit more effort. With Kershaw’s Kinetic Velocity Technology (KVT), the knife flips out smooth and quite fast for such a big blade. The bearings housed in the blue polyurethane washer provide for a very smooth and custom-knife-like feel. 

Retention Method: 1 

While I do really like deep carry pocket clips, I have yet to find maker, custom or production, to execute one correctly (to be fair, the SOG Flash does it fantastically, but that’s about it, I also don’t like SOGs steels/handle materials). The deep pocket clips always seems to flimsy for the knife it’s holding (i.e. Benchmade Rukus). It works, but I feel like the clip should be twice as wide to provide a bit more tension, especially for such a large knife.
 
Lock: 2 

The knife has a very good framelock. I’ve been flipping this knife like a madman and so far the lock has not really recessed much further. I have also done spine-whack tests on it. It failed a couple of times initially, but I believe now the tang and the lockbar face have set. The lock, now, passes the spine-whack test. Even after a little abuse, the lock is still seated at about the same and does not stick.

Overall: 18 out of 20 

 
(Ti texturing and laser cut lock) 

I absolutely adore this knife. Unfortunately, after carrying the knife for a few weeks, I find the 0560 just a tad bit too big(though that extra length does aid in cutting my overstuffed burrito). Even though I don’t mind carrying knives of this size or larger, sometimes, my pockets are only so deep. The size of the 0560 is really much more closer to the size of the Hinderer XM-24 than the XM-18. If ZT made a smaller version that was about the size of the XM-18 3.5, this knife would be perfect. The clip and carry issue would be solved. I will also admit that a little bit of up-and-down bladeplay can be generated because the lock-bar is so long (I can see the bladestop/thumbstuds moving away from the frame and feel the lock bar moving). The Hinderer Lockbar Stabilizer does not do much in preventing the lock bar from going up to high because the lockbar has been laser cut and not milled. There is little room before the lockbar hits the roof of the frame cutout and not the stabilizer itself (in this regard the stabilizer’s only task is prevention of overextension which is NOT what Hinderer originally designed it to do). The stabilizer is much more effective in the milled frame cutout version (I believe the first couple hundred of knives were milled, but ZT ultimately decided to laser cut the rest and future runs). Though, with the few downsides, this knife is still a must have. The KVT bearing system is amazing. The fit and finish is amazing. The steel is amazing. Everything about this knife is pretty much spot on (save for size and clip). At a price of $260-325, it is amazing how much bang for your buck you get.


(Added bonus: it can tailstand!)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Sunwayman M11R "Mr. Elfin" Review

I wrote a post about selector ring lights, here, and asked Sunwayman for a review sample.  Elaine, over at Sunwayman, sent me an email and we made arrangements for the review.  She was even nice enough to send me a silver version of the tiny light.

If you read this site I don't need to tell you that the market for single cell EDC lights is a crowded one.  Your light needs to do something exceptional to stand out.  Furthermore, the market for single cell lights under $100 is really competitive.  My current favorite light in this price range is the Lumapower Incendio and it is a feature-packed, experience-tested super light.  Using special batteries, the Incendio, which is the size of your index finger, can hit 500 lumens.  It has a very fine clicky, a great pocket clip (which can be removed without tools), and it comes in at around $65.

But the UI, which is a clicky-based UI, has always left me a little cold.  Fundamentally, clickies are not easy to use.  They are easy to turn on, no doubt, but they are not easy to use.  It takes a great deal of timing to get the light to work just right, and in the hands of a novice, they are positively daunting.  The twisty UI meanwhile is so fidgety, requiring multiple quick twists to access different modes.  I had always wanted a three stage twisty, something like the Muyshondt Aeon, but with a low low.  The M11R is not a twisty in the normal sense, but it functions just like one, replacing the mechanical switching mechanisms with a magnetic control ring.  The end result is a masterstroke UI.  The question is this: does the rest of the light live up to this quantum leap in easy-to-use UIs?

Here is the product page for the Sunwayman M11R.  Here is a good street price (from Amazon, benefits to the blog coffers and the Haiku contest):



Here is a written review from CPF, noting that this is the first non-forum review for the light.  Here is a video reference.   There are no customer reviews on Amazon yet.  Here is the review sample I received from Sunwayman:

IMG_0008


Design: 2

The design of M11R hits a lot of high points.  It is a really compact light (lengthwise), squeaking past the Incendio by about a quarter of an inch.  The clip is great and positioned well.  I like the selector ring as the only form of actuation.  I also like the texturing.  Something is amiss with the length:diameter though as the light feels more like "Mr. Devito" than "Mr. Elfin."  Slim this light is not.  The length:diameter is not a big issue, but something to note.    

Fit and Finish: 2

If the chubbiness of the light is odd in the hand, it means that in practice this is a super stout production light.  The walls of the EagleTac D25a are scary thin, but here you have some serious aluminum between your hand and the battery.  I was worried that the selector ring would be really slippery or move freely on its own, but it doesn't.  The light's threads are well cut and easy to use.  The emitter is perfectly centered (or so well centered I cannot detect an offset).  The hard anondizing is a matte finish which some people love and others hate.  I am ambivalent about it on its own, but I'd comparatively I'd prefer a smoother, satin finish.  The glass lens is coated and has remained scratch-free throughout the testing period (I will note that I have been doing a lot of spring yard work with this guy, especially dusk grass watering and it has been dropped, soaked, and stepped on with no effect whatsoever).  The only ding I could give it would be the matte finish's tendency to pick up dirt.  It comes clean with a little water, but the light color and the very matte finish make it a dirt magnet.   

Grip: 2

While the length:diameter is a bit weird making the light feel fat in the hand, the clip, the cuts, the texturing, and the anondizing are really amazing at keeping this little booger in your hand.  If you drop it, it is your fault alone.  Amazing. 

Carry: 1

Okay so there are two problems here.  First are the portly dimensions.  But really it is not that bad.  It can't reside in your jeans pocket unless you are this guy, but that is not a killer, especially with the FANTASTIC pocket clip, seen here:

IMG_0014
 

That is, if I am not mistaken, the first true deep carry clip on a flashlight.  The new 4sevens clips are over the top style clips, but they are both friction grip clips (ugh...) and they do not reside at the end of the light.  So even if you do have to carry it on the edge of your pocket it is a great clip.

But then there is problem #2--the lanyard attachment.  It sticks out like a shark fin and is surprisingly pokey in the pocket.  I distinctly do not like it.  It reminds me of the lanyard point for the Ti Bitz (another tiny light).

I went back and forth on this one and here is how I got the score of 1.  Assume a starting point of 2.  Take a point off for Devito-like proportions.  Add a point for bitchin' pocket clip.  Subtract a point for pokey lanyard hole.  Score of 1. 

Output: 2

180 on standard cells is plenty.  230 on regular RCR123As is awesome.  Nothing to complain about here.   Three levels are well spaced and useable.  I like the single digit lumen low (noting that the less than a lumen lows strike me as kind of gimmicky) and the high is fine. 

Runtime: 2

I used this it water my lawn at night (a recommendation when it is very dry and hot as the water evaporates less in the dark) and to work inside of case goods in my workshop.  Both required a long, long time of output and the Elfin obliged.  The stats are good, but the real time experience is even better.  Great power sipping light.  

Beam Type: 2

Standard floody single cell beam.  I like it even if it is the same kind of beam in every single one of these lights.  It works for EDC purposes.  

Beam Quality: 1

How very purple-y of Sunwayman.  The EagleTac really spoiled me with its silky white neutral.  Going from that to this is noticeable, even without a direct comparison.  I like the beam profile though--round with a good hotspot and nice spill and free of holes or artifacting.  

UI: 2

Oh my.

This is it.

The perfect UI.

Here is the source of the Elfin magic:

IMG_0011


Now there is another selector ring light out there, the JetBeam RRT001 (See link in first paragraph for more) that forgoes a button and opts for a selector ring.  It also allows for infinite variable brightness, something some people really like.  Not me.  Infinite variable brightness is nice, but it is like moveable shelves on a bookcase--completely unnecessary if you build the bookcase correctly.  If you select the output correctly, like Sunwayman did, there is no need for the showier infinite output.  I like this better than the Haiku's UI, better than the Aeon.  This is it folks--the perfect flashlight UI.  Easy to use, easy to access, easy to explain and completely intuitive.  Even the hidden modes are great--I have never accessed one of them on accident and never FAILED to access one when I needed to.  Think about that.  Can you say that for ANY other UI?  I'd give this light a 3 if I could.  All the flashlight makers out there--the bar is raised.  You have to catch up now.  

Hands Free: 2

Perfect tailstander and perfect anti-roll.  All of the design features make this light a rock steady friend in the workshop.  If it had a magnetized end, like the Preon0, it would be the perfect workshop light.  Loved using this light with no hands.

Overall Score: 18 out of 20

Really this is a UI with a flashlight built around it.  It is an amazing feat of design and engineering.  It is also a perfect example of less being more--really who needs the activation clicky when you can have a UI like this?  It is as fast as a clicky to get to high and as easy to use as a twisty.  It the hands of a novice it is still useful.  In the hands of an aficionado, it is a source of fidgety (more on the Fidget Factor later) delight.  If you are looking for a single cell EDC light for under $100, definitely, definitely consider this gem.  I still like the Incendio, but if I had to choose, I'd probably opt for this light.  Neither is a bad choice and both make excellent night time tools, but the UI gives the Elfin a slight edge.

Now I just need to get a RRT001 for a selector ring shootout.  JetBeam, send me one.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Spyderco Dragonfly II in ZDP-189 Video Review

Safe to say that even a year after its debut the Spyderco Dragonfly II in ZDP-189 is still my favorite knife I own.  Yes, I love the Sebenza too, but there is something of ergonomically perfect about this tiny featherweight of a blade that I can't say the vastly more expensive blade is better.  It might have a little bit to do with the steel--ZDP-189 puts everything else to shame, absolute shame.  So here is the companion video review:

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Poll Winners

AdSense is like that guy you knew in college--full of big promises but never came through.  The estimated revenue was well over $100--$136.55 to be exact, but after Google's "sophisticated analysis" it amounted to $69.99.  Um, what?  Okay. Fine, assholes. 

But I am NOT like that guy in college.  I am like the guy you grew up being friends with--I come through despite setbacks.  So I am going to toss a little of my own cash into this and make up the difference.  I figure the karma will even itself out over time.  That means, however, that I am not going to review the Olight i3, unless they send me one, and instead review the stuff you voted for, because again I am not like those bastards at AdSense. 

The winners were the Boker Exskelibur II and the Fenix PD22.  This was an interesting poll because the choices were, by design, pretty different from each other.  I had originally thought that the Cold Steel knife would win because of the loyal following their knives have.  I also thought that the Kershaw knife would do well for the same reason.  I really gave the Boker no chance and the AG Russell even less chance than that.  But in the end it was a two horse race between the Boker and the Cold Steel.  I like the Cold Steel knife, but the Boker is a vastly more elegant design--a one handed opening knife hidden in the form of a two handed nail knick blade.  I can't wait to play with it, though I am a little wary of the 440C steel. 

The flashlight poll was entirely different.  Nothing ever was even within 50% of the votes the Fenix had.  I get the message--review more Fenix lights.  I will.  The race was literally never ever close.  Neither of the other two torches generated much interest at all.

So, we have our winners: the Boker Exskelibur II and the Fenix PD22.  I am going to get the Boker first.  I am working on a light review right now for the Sunwayman I received and I like to mix up reviews so I don't have one light get confused with another light.

Also, if anyone has any experience with other forms of revenue generation, let me know.  AdSense is on my shit list.   Amazon Associates is another option, but I am not going to run both at the same time, as ads can overwhelm a site pretty easily.  Let me know if these work better and/or if you'd prefer them to AdSense.   

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Bill Hays Hathcock Target Sniper

I wrote a bit about how the world of slingshots had changed since the days of Dennis the Menace here.  One of the people leading the revolution is a guy from Texas named Bill Hays.  He runs a site called Pocket Predator where he sells his designs direct to the public.  Hays had been making slingshots for a while and has a line of basic designs and can make many of them or mods of them with a custom level finish.  They run from a very accessible $20 up to, well, as much as you want to spend.  Some of the more amazing designs were shown in original slingshot post.

Hays is not just a maker of slingshots, he is probably one of the finest shots in the world, doing many of the famous "trick shots" from turn of the century Western shows, but with a slingshot instead of a gun.  He can tear a card in half, shooting it through the edge, from a good distance away.  He can even do the legendary shot from Winchester '73 (a great movie starring Jimmy Stewart, if you haven't seen it; Herb Parsons made the through the coin shot in the film).  Here is Hays doing the same, but with a slingshot (video from his site):



I had to decide which of his designs I wanted to try out and since I was already going into uncharted territory, I thought I may as well go full bore and try something COMPLETE unique.  Among his designs, the Hathcock Target Sniper (HTS) is perhaps the most unique looking and it is, according to Bill (and my experience) easy to shoot.

Bill is something of a slingshot advocate and it is easy to see why once you handle one of his set ups.  He sees it as an easy, entry level device for people that want to try out shooting sports and hunting.  He is also a proponent of slingshots as primitive, emergency hunting devices capable of taking small game (he has a few shots on his site of things like birds, rabbits, and even a snake).  I am not much of a hunter, but the 13 year old boy in me still likes watching targets go boom.  As an entry level device, the HTS is perfect. Here is a picture of the slingshot all by itself:

IMG_0003

Hays's designs are real stand outs, even among the newer style slingshots.  Their ergonomics-first approach makes them something like the Spyderco knives of the slingshot world.  They look dramatically different than what you think a slingshot looks like.  First, unlike the traditional slingshot, Bill's designs are designed to be shot turned on their side ("side shooting style").  This makes them much easier to use, distributing the pressure across your forearm in a more comfortable way.  It also makes them easier to aim.  Here is a shot of the slingshot in my mitts:

IMG_0005


Unlike a traditional slingshot, where you have to aim through the forks (the two top parts of the Y), you can site down groove on the top fork in many of Bill's designs.  He also designed what he calls the "universal fork".  In the slingshot world there are four types of bands: flat bands, flat tapered bands, round tubes, and square bands. Each type has its advantages and disadvantages, but Bill's slingshots allow the user to choose which ever they prefer.  The universal forks also allow the user to determine which firing configuration they want--over the top or through the forks.  One other thing about Bill's designs they are actually quite small.  He really means it when he calls them "Pocket" Predators.  Here is a picture of the HTS next to my well-loved Benchmade Mini Grip:

IMG_0007
After two weekends of shooting, albeit very briefly, I can say that most importantly this thing is fun.  I have a giant field/rock quarry behind my house, a parcel of land bought for development, razed and then abandoned when the market tanked.  The result is a huge open space.  There are some bits of trash here and there and I found a small roll on deodorant package back there and used it as a target.  It took me a while and I came in quite a bit but eventually I was plunking it with regularity.  The "site" on the top of the slingshot was perfect for siting the target and letting the ammo fly (he sends you a pound or so of lead shot ammo, if you are in the US and it too is great).  I am still certain that I couldn't hit a moving object with this guy yet, but I have gotten better in just two weekends (I sound like a weight loss pill, I know, I know).

The HTS is made of a resin material and it is very, very tough.  Even where the Y narrows it is still rock solid.  Wrenching back on the bands before a shot produces no flex in the shape.  Plus, this thing can really take a hit.  Bill's site has a video of him blasting the slingshot with no real effect.  The bands are very, very well attached and the leather pouch is nice.  I want to get faster shooting ammo one after another, but I think that is just an issue of practice.  If you have a few bucks to spare and want to try something different, go see Bill and his slingshots.  Even if you aren't a hunter, they are a ton of fun.    

Saturday, April 7, 2012

One Year Score Updates

It is hard to give a product a score and then let that score stand for years.  If you did that, and you started a project like this twenty years ago, the Mag AA would be a 20/20 even though it is clearly and definitely inferior to the products available now. 

To help you make gear decisions, I am going to update my scores, approximately one year later.  I have done this with the Sebenza, the Haiku, and just today the Leafstorm.  Only the Leafstorm has had a score change, and I docked it a point, so it now scores a 13/20 on my scale.  There are going to be things that get better scores and things that get worse scores.  I have learned a lot since I started this site and the technology and steels have improved appreciably even in one year.  If I am still around in five years, I'll do another update. 

Keep your eyes peeled for score updates and an explanation of why the score has or hasn't changed. 

Friday, April 6, 2012

McGizmo Haiku Giveaway Rules

No more stalling. 

Here it goes:

I have tried to make this a fun site to read. I have also tried, very, very hard, to make the reviews coherent and intelligible. But I am only one person and in the end, I can't buy or even review everything. So I am opening up the site for reviews as part of the contest for the McGizmo Haiku Giveaway.  The user submitted reviews will be published on the main site and then archived on the reviews page under their own categories (unsurprisingly entitled "User Submitted Reviews"). 

Here are the rules for the Giveaway:

Rule 1: You must be a registered follower of the site.

It takes like half a second to register and the more registered followers I can attract the more manufacturers give me stuff to review and the more I can get stuff away.  So please, sign up to be a follower of the blog. 

Rule 2:  Form of the Review

All reviews must use the 20 point system I have developed for the given class of products.  They can be found here.  The review should include at least two pictures of the item (do not send pictures though, see below).  If you can, hyperlink the text.  The closer the email is to a purely publishable form, the better. 

The review should also include the "here" paragraph if possible (I'll expect one for production stuff, custom stuff is a different story, but the more information the better). 

The review should be thorough.  I usually carry an item I am reviewing EXCLUSIVELY for two weeks, using it to do normal everyday tasks and occasionally pushing it to its limits.  After that I usually carry the item and my current favorite in its same product class for a week.  Then I write the review, edit it, score it, let it sit for a day or two and then review it once more before I post the review, to see if the score sits right.  This is what I do and what I mean by thorough.  It usually means that I have to sharpen the knife once or swap out batteries in a light once (though there are exceptions). 

I can't ensure that every reviewer puts their stuff through the two or three week process I do, so I am going to have to take people at their word.  You all seem like honest folks and in the end these reviews help other people like you decide how to spend their hard earned gear cash. I will check around and try to validate the information in the review, but in the end, the review will speak for itself in terms of thoroughness.

Rule 3: Number of Entries

Each person may submit one email.  You can include up to four reviews in that one email.  You can submit one for each of the product classes that have a scoring system.  Reviews of other products will not be considered.  Any additional emails or reviews from the same source will be ignored. 

Rule 4: Submission Process

The review should be submitted to my new email account for the site:

anthonysculimbrene at comcast dot net (in the usual format)

The email should include:
 
    1) the text of the review (hyperlinked if possible);
 
    2) at least two pictures (via links to a photo storing website or other Internet source, no jpegs); and
 
    3) a subject line that reads: "Haiku Review Contest"

Rule 5: How the Winner is Chosen

The winner will be chosen based on three criteria:

     1) the quality of the written review itself (grammar, style, and readability are important; picture quality is also important);
  
     2) the interest level in the item chosen (this does not exclusively mean "expensive" or "custom", I really want a review of the Kershaw Cryo which is neither expensive nor custom); and
  
     3) the feedback to the review.

I will be the sole judge of which review is best.  I will obviously consider the feedback to the article as well, but in the end I am going to make the call.  All of the the reviews that meet a certain level of quality will be published as soon as practicable after I receive them.  If a review you have submitted is not published, assume that it has not reached the level of quality necessary to be considered for the giveaway.

Rule 6: Disqualifications

A review not using the 20 point system will not be considered.  A review that departs significantly from the Everyday Commentary format will not be considered (the format is: Intro Paragraph, "Here" Paragraph, Scoring Paragraphs, Overall Score, and Conclusion Paragraph).  Poorly written reviews will not be published and will not be considered.

Reviews of items already reviewed in a published review will not be considered.  This includes items on the "On Deck" window of the main site as of April 6, 2012 (Sunwayman M11R, Leatherman PST, Leatherman Micra, Novatac Storm, and LRI Micro Photon).  This does not includes user submitted reviews; I don't really want 50 reviews of the Spyderco Endura, but I see no other FAIR way of doing this.  Plain common sense will tell you though, it is much harder to be picked out of a crowd than if you are standing alone, so bear that in mind when you choose the products you want to review.  Reviews from other sites will not be considered unless they are adapted to the Everyday Commentary format.

If you are a manufacturer or a small batch custom maker, please do not do a shill review.  This is the only thing I am really concerned about.  If something sounds to shill-y I am going to exclude it automatically.  I have just about the most liberal review policy in the universe (I will review anything anyone wants to submit to me), so don't do this.  I might not find out, but if I do, I will do my best to send bad karma that person's way.  

Rule 7: Other Details

The contest will start one week after the day this post is published (so that I can make any rules changes necessitated by the comments) end one month after the AdSense revenue reaches $500.  The AdSense revenue controls the length of the contest and the sooner it reaches $500 the sooner I can give the Haiku away.  I want to give this light away and I want to have the best giveaway ever for an amateur gear review site (I think CajunBlaze's Sebenza giveaway probably holds the record right now).  The sooner we reach $500, the sooner someone gets their hands on a shiny, beautiful, McGizmo Haiku.  Here is a picture to stoke the fires:

IMG_0004


In the event that the Haiku is no longer available by the time the contest ends, I will choose a suitable equivalent from Don's currently line up of gorgeous custom lights.

All reviews, once submitted, will become property of Everyday Commentary and I can do whatever I want with them, including: a) nothing at all; b) edit them; or c) publish them in any format. 

I may have to shut down the submissions for a week or two every once in a while if I get a deluge of them, but I will open it up again as soon as I have processed all of the reviews for publication.  

Finally because I cannot account for all of the different ways I have missed something or screwed up the rules, I reserve the right to change the rules at any time. 

If there are any changes to the rules you think I should make, please comment below.  I want everyone to have a fair and equal chance, limited only by your writing skills, so have at it. 



Wednesday, April 4, 2012

State of the Blog and More Giveaways

So, with the end of March the site has reached a milestone.  All of the money from the AdSense revenue will, from here on out, be devoted to the grand prize giveaway of the McGizmo Haiku.  I am still working on the official rules, and when that it finished and I am convinced they are fair, I will post them (they are coming very soon, I promise).  But this leaves the Everyday Commentary coffers with a few bucks to spend (about $100 total).  I am determined to make this a strictly not-for-profit enterprise so none of this cash is going to me.  Instead, I have decided that I am going to use it to buy things for review and then give those things away.  I have a other few things already queued up for giveaways as well.  One giveaway will target the people that submitted entries for the logo contest but did not win.  The others will be random giveaways to people that follow the blog. 

With that said, here is what I would like to do.  I am DEFINITELY reviewing an Olight i1.  That is already on the list, but I have not decided on the other items.  I would like to buy at least one knife and one flashlight for review.  Ideally they would be in the "sweet spot" of the market--knives with blades around 2.5"-3" inches and single cell lights.  They would both sell for around $40-$75 a piece.  In my experience, looking at the data from the reviews page and the Google information I get, these items tend to be the most popular for review and based on the Amazon rankings, the most popular for purchase.  I would also like to increase my list of reviewed brands as well as looking at different mechanisms and UIs. A few other things--I'd like to get a light from either Fenix or JetBeam as I have not reviewed a lot of their products.  I'd like to get a knife from Boker or maybe one of the new Cold Steel blades.  A Kershaw blade would also be good.  In general I want to have a diverse database of reviews with lots of different brands and models, including what I think of as "touchstone" models, things like the Spyderco Tenacious or the Kershaw Skyline, gear that for one reason or another is the starting point for a lot of folks.

Here are the four finalists for the knife review and giveaway:

Boker Exskelibur II:  I liked the clean look of this knife and the opener is really different from most knives.  It'd be nice to add both a Boker to the list and a knife with this kind of opening device to the list at the same time.

Kershaw Ener G: Again a very clean look, but this is out of production, so I might have to go hunting for it.  If this is not an option then I might just review a Kershaw Zing.

Cold Steel Mini Recon I Drop Point: A new knife and one that seems to be about the right size, plus I think Cold Steel has turned the corner and is producing some of the finest designs out there.


AG Russell Titanium Button Lock: A new knife, a new brand, and a new locking mechanism, all in one knife.  This would be my absolute first choice, if it were a little cheaper. 

Here are the three finalists for the flashlight review and giveaway:

Fenix PD22:  The new standard bearer for Fenix--a dual switch flashlight that is still quite small.  I'd like to add more Fenix lights to the list and I'd like to try out the dual switch UI.

JetBeam BC10:  A super simple, basic EDC light.  This is a perfect light for beginners and I think a review of it may help out a lot of folks.

Nitecore EX11.2:  A brand I haven't reviewed yet and a UI I have only seen once (in the Arc 6, ugh....), so again two new things in one item.    

There are two polls over to the right, one for flashlights and one for knives.  Vote and in a week I will announce the winners and then once the AdSense check comes in (around the end of April) I will buy them, review them, and give them away.  Both of these giveaways will involve me randomly choosing among the list of followers.  This way you don't even have to comment to be eligible, just sign up.  Also, if you have OTHER recommendations, feel free to leave them in the comments. 

And stay tuned, the rules for the Haiku giveaway are in the works.  I imagine I will announce them sometime in April.  Thanks again for the support and interest.