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Spyderco Dragonfly2 Salt

Spyderco’s newest addition to their Salt line is the Dragonfly2 Salt. The Salt line consists of several Spyderco classics and some knives unique to the Salt line, all of which make use of a “rust proof” steel called H-1. The rust proof properties of H-1 come from its extremely low carbon content and it makes these knives ideal for extreme environments like saltwater.

The rust resistant properties of the Dragonfly2 make it very resistant to the problems that come from a lack of maintenance. That, coupled with the compact size, make the Dragonfly2 a great choice for a knife that will be kept in a small survival kit, car kit, or any other kind of kit that will be carried often, used once in a while, and maintained infrequently.

The Dragonfly2 is one of my favorite small knife designs. It isn’t the smallest design on the market but it very compact without sacrificing ergonomics. It is very ergonomic, much like most Spyderco designs. Features like fine jimping on the finger choil and thumb ramp help lock the Dragonfly2 in your hand (a very nice thing for a knife that may be used around water).

You can read more about the new Spyderco Dragonfly2 Salt at Spyderco’s website.

MOLLE Visor Panel from Zulu Nylon Gear

When ever Zulu Nylon Gear (ZNG) turns out something new, I take note. Joel, the owner/operator of ZNG, always puts a really interesting spin on his designs. The new MOLLE Visor Panel is no exception. There have certainly been other MOLLE panels made to fit on sun visors but, as usual, the one from ZNG is loaded with features that make it unique and functional.

The ZNG MOLLE Visor Panel features a MOLLE panel on one side. This panel is 3 rows tall by 8 columns wide. This is tall enough and wide enough to fit most pouches on the market. Top and bottom row of MOLLE webbing is made from color matched elastic! This allows the user to easily store things like chem lights or pens. There is hook and loop material sewn between the MOLLE webbing rows that allows the user to affix hook and loop backed pouches or patches. That is three different ways to stow gear on the same the MOLLE panel.

If that doesn’t offer enough storage and organization potential for you, then you are in luck. The opposite side of the panel features slash pockets that would be perfect for storing maps, notebooks, a parking garage ticket, or anything else that you can fit. There is also another set of elastic loops that are suitable for storing a flashlight.

Both sides of the MOLLE Visor Panel are accessible because it actually wraps around the sun visor. I guess that if you like to check yourself out in the mirror often this may not be for you. If you aren’t worried about the mirror, this design is really efficient. It expands your storage and organization potential and allows you to store things that other panels might not accommodate.

It adjusts to a wide variety of visors via adjustable hook and loop straps. This would also make it fairly easy to take in and out of the vehicle if you are concerned with theft.

Zulu Nylon Gear continues to impress.

New Products from Mountain Ridge Gear

Mountain Ridge Gear (MRG) has rolled out a ton of cool stuff since I last wrote about them. I’ll highlight a few of them here.

TMP-W Extreme

TMP-W MOLLE

The most notable of the new crop are the 2 new versions of the Tactical Man Purse – Wide (TMP-W) which I previously reviewed. The TMP-W is one of the most impeccably made pieces of nylon gear that I have laid my hands on to date and I have no doubt that these new versions are going to be just as bomb-proof. Both new versions appear identical to the original TMP-W on the outside. It is the inside that sets them apart. The TMP-W Extreme has an interior that is completely covered with hook and loop material which offers the user nearly endless ways to quickly and easily organize the bag. The TMP-W MOLLE has an interior that is lined with MOLLE webbing which also allows a high degree of customization – especially if you already own a stash of MOLLE pouches like I am sure most of you do. The TMP-W has also seen some improvements in the form of available A-TACS camo and a new rubberized bottom panel.

Backpack Straps for the TMP

MRG also has a slick new set of backpack straps for the Tactical Man Purse. They attach to the carry handle of the TMP and allow the weight to be distributed between both shoulders instead of one like you would have with the standard shoulder strap. They also allow easy access to the TMP by simply taking one arm out of the strap and pulling the bag around to your side. These would be ideal to keep packed away inside the bag until you need them. They wouldn’t be my first choice for an overnight trip but they would sure beat having to carry a heavy bag on the single shoulder strap over long distances. This is a very clever idea.

Other new items include the extremely handy Quick Sac organizers in a variety of functional fabrics and the Hanging Pockets which will also work in your Kifaru bags.

Boker Plus CLB MICROCOM

Knife users everywhere should be thankful that the Boker Plus brand has given Chad Los Banos (CLB) a venue to show his knife design prowess. The collaboration of CLB and Boker Plus has resulted in several excellent high value knives, and the new MICROCOM seems to be more of the same.

CLB has stated that the MICROCOM is an homage to Fred Perrin. It is very easy to see the influence. Like many Perrin designs, the MICROCOM features compact dimensions, a chisel ground edge, and a deep finger groove to maximize retention. The Perrin influence is certainly visible if you read between the lines, but even a cursory glance leaves little doubt that this is a CLB design.

The MICROCOM is ground from 440C steel. It features a compact 2″ blade and a 4″ overall length. The scales are skeletonized G10 with a checkered texture. It comes with a Kydex sheath that is set up for neck carry but could easily be adapted to other methods of carry.

This would make a phenomenal EDC fixed blade and last ditch defensive tool. The price is excellent considering all of the the features. I have seen these at various sellers for around $20.

You can read more about the MICROCOM and other CLB designs at the Boker website.

Review: SAR Eclipse Signal System

Signal mirrors have proven their worth as survival gear time and time again. A well made signal mirror can literally save your life, but even the best survival gear is of no use to you if you leave it at home.

The patent pending SAR Global Tool Eclipse Signal System (ESS) is a signal mirror that is the size of a dog tag and weighs less than 1/2 of an ounce. It is small enough to slip into a single section of MOLLE webbing or the coin pocket of your jeans. It can be laced into your boots or clipped in the business card slot of your briefcase. It can be seamlessly integrated into whatever gear you are carrying. This is the kind of tool that you will actually have with you when you need it.

And if all of that isn’t enough to get your attention… It works at night.

Details

The ESS is a cleverly designed stack of dog tags that have been riveted together. The top dog tag has the SAR Global Tool logo, an aiming hole, and a ring of highly reflective SOLAS (USCG approved, Safety Of Life At Sea) tape around the aiming hole.

The next dog tag down in the stack is a mirror polished reflective surface. It is protected from scratching by the top dog tag. The top dog tag has a slight bend in it that allows it to be close over the top of the polished tag without contacting anything but the rolled edge of the tag. It is an ingenious way to protect the mirror polished surface.

The basic model only has the two above dog tags. SAR also offers a model with a third dog tag in the stack. The third dog tag is bent into a clip that allows you to clip the tag to fabric, webbing, paper, or any other relatively thin material.

There is an additional model that has a fourth dog tag. The fourth tag is made from titanium and has a sharpened carbide knife edge. The edge is small but it is enough for dressing small game, cutting cordage, or other survival tasks.

In this review, I will be looking at the basic model and the model with the clip.

The clip allows the ESS to be mounted on MOLLE webbing. In this picture it is turned in to prevent unwanted reflection.

 

The ESS can serve as a "cat eye" when attached to your gear.

Aiming

To aim the ESS in the daytime the user holds the ESS up to their eye with one hand so that they can look through the aiming hole. The user extends the other hand in the direction that they wish to signal. The user forms a “V” with the index and middle finger of the extended hand and then brackets the intended target in the center of the “V”. Finally, the user moves the ESS so that the sun’s reflection is visible on the fingers that are forming the “V”. You can wiggle the ESS so that the reflection is passing back and forth from finger to finger in order to create an attention getting flash effect. The sighting hole acts a rear sight and your fingers act as a front sight. It is easy to do but it should be practiced.

Your extended hand makes an excellent "front sight" when aiming.

You do not need to be as exact when aiming the ESS at night. The SOLAS tape is extremely reflective and, while it will appear brighter when it is aimed completely square to the light it is reflecting, it is very forgiving. I found that the easiest way to aim it was to just look though the aiming hole at my intended target, trying to keep the ESS square to that target. Just like during daytime use, a slight wiggle of the ESS can create an attention getting flash.

The ESS is 40 feet from the camera and illuminated with a 4 lumen white light.

The ESS is 40 feet from the camera and illuminated with a 4 lumen red light.

In Use

I have been able to test the ESS in a variety of conditions. SAR has tested the ESS all the way out to 10 miles. I have tested it as far as 300 yards with excellent results. At 300 meters the flash is very attention getting. If someone was looking for you, they would certainly see you. The ESS performed as advertised.

At night, the ESS will amaze you. It is so simple to use. I was able to test it all the way out to 100 feet. At that distance, an 80 lumen Surefire G2L lit up the SOLAS tape like a beacon. The real test however came when I used a 4 lumen green CMG Infinity. The CMG Infinity is a very early 5mm LED light. Even with just 4 lumens of green light, I was able to illuminate the SOLAS tape plainly. I replicated the same test with a 4 lumen white LED and 4 lumen red LED as well. That is incredible performance.

Alternate Uses

Signal mirrors can be used for more than signaling rescue. The ESS can do even more than the typical signal mirror.

If you have ever tried to use a sighting compass at night and in tree cover, you know how difficult it can be. It is extremely difficult to take an azimuth when you can’t see any landmarks. If you have at least 2 people in your party, the ESS can be used as a night time navigation aid. Send one person ahead with the ESS while another person stays on the known azimuth. The mobile person points the ESS at the stationary person while the stationary person aims a compass and light at the ESS. Once the azimuth is established, the stationary person can walk to the reflection of the ESS and then repeat the process until the destination is reached. This is exactly the same technique that many people use during the daytime in dense foliage that doesn’t allow the compass user to view a distant landmark.

Thanks to the extreme reflectiveness of the SOLAS tape, this can be done relatively discreetly using a small red colored LED. I have tested a 4 lumen red LED out to 100 feet and I am sure it would reflect further. The actual effective distance will vary based on terrain and foliage.

Conclusion

The patent pending Eclipse Signal System is a life saving tool that is very easy to live with and extremely versatile. It is small enough that you can forget that you are carrying it until you need it. The reflective surface is protected from scratches that can reduce its performance (unlike most signal mirrors). On top of all of that, it is usable at night. Amazing.

You can find more pictures and information at SAR Global Tool’s website.

Disclosure: The patent pending Eclipse Signal System was provided to me, free of charge, for this review.

Benchmade 915 Triage

Benchmade’s new 915 Triage is purpose built for first responders, but others might find some of its life saving features useful, too. The Triage features a sheepsfoot blade profile, a glass breaker, and an innovative fold out safety hook cutter.

The 3.5″ sheepsfoot blade is ground from .130″ thick N680 steel. This is an excellent blade shape for working in and around flesh because it lacks a point. It allows the user to slide the spine of the knife against a surface (like a person) that they do not want to damage or harm while they cut away clothing or a seat belt. The blade utilizes the excellent AXIS locking mechanism.

The fold out 440C steel safety hook feature provides an even safer option for cutting belts or clothing. It folds out from the knife’s spine at the opposite end as the blade. It features a thumb stud for easy one hand access.

The Triage also features a carbide glass breaker set in the base of the knife. It will be available with orange or black G-10 handles with a black coated or uncoated blade. The buyer will also have the choice of a plain or combo-edge (partially serrated) blade. The pocket clip is reversible for left or right side tip up carry.

Check out the 915 Triage at Benchmade.com.

Review: Tactical Watch Cover

A watch is an integral part of the gear that we carry everyday. It can also be a significant investment that needs to be protected. I have found that time spent on the shooting range can be very hard on a timepiece so I set out to find a way to protect my watch when I train.

I came across several options. I could leave my watch at home, but I like wearing it on the range. I could also purchase and install a watch band with a built in cover. However, these watch band covers don’t really blend in an office environment which means I would constantly be swapping out the watch bands. I couldn’t find a solution that I liked until I found the Tactical Watch Cover.

Description

The Tactical Watch Cover is a simple 1 7/8″ wide black neoprene band that can be placed over your watch, band and all. The band has a 1″ diameter hole cut in the center that allows you to view the watch face. The stretchiness of the neoprene material allows the band to stretch enough to accommodate most watches. It also has a flap that can be secured with hook and loop material.

Fit, Finish, and Details

The Tactical Watch Cover seems to be very well made. It is made from a single piece of neoprene that is doubled stitched onto itself to make the flap that covers the watch face. The hook and loop material is sewn around its perimeter. The neoprene material is about 1/8″ thick and has a very slightly shiny appearance.

In Use

Neoprene is the perfect material for this watch band. It is very stretchy which allows it to move with you and makes it very comfortable. It is also excellent at protecting the watch from impact. I have worn the Tactical Watch Cover all day on several occasions and I basically forgot that it was even on my wrist.

I like to use the Tactical Watch Cover when I am running through my dry fire drills at home or when I am on the range. Training with an AK can wreak havoc on a watch. When I need to reach the bolt handle during a reload, I reach under the AK and use my index and middle finger to pull the charging handle to the rear. This has lead to several impacts between my watch and my AK. This motion can put the watch face in a precarious position, but the Tactical Watch Cover protected the face of my watch admirably.

If you break a watch band pin, the Tactical Watch Cover can retain your watch. Your watch immediately falls off of your wrist if one of the 2 watch band pins in a typical watch band breaks. If this happens at an inopportune time, you may never see the watch again. However, the Tactical Watch Cover can actually keep a broken watch on your wrist. You might not even notice the broken pin until you remove the cover.

The Tactical Watch Cover also serves to reduce the visual signature of your watch. If you don’t want glare from your watch face or glowing watch hands to announce your presence in the dark, the Tactical Watch Cover might be perfect for you. I generally don’t have to worry about my watch giving my position away in the office but there people out that that need this functionality.

Viewing your watch when the Tactical Watch Cover is in place is very simple. You can pull the flap completely open or simply push it to the side. The stretchiness of the neoprene allows you to stretch the flap enough to see the watch without undoing the hook and loop material.

Conclusion

The Tactical Watch Cover is an elegantly simple product. It is a great design that has been constructed with the perfect material. It works.

Members of the Usual Suspect Network can purchase the Tactical Watch Covers on the forum or the seller can be reached via email at fosters@socal.rr.com.

I have a few of these to give away, so keep an eye on the blog for more details.

Peak LED Solutions Matterhorn – Accidental Torture Test

I have been using flashlights from Peak LED Solutions for years. My favorite of their products is the Matterhorn. The Matterhorn is a simple flashlight that uses 5mm LEDs and accepts AAA batteries. It is blindingly bright but it doesn’t have to be. It serves wonderfully as a small, pocketable back-up light. The light itself is barely larger than the AAA battery that powers it yet it still provides a useful amount of light for a long, long time.

In December of last year, I noticed that the Matterhorn was missing from the pocket where I usually carry it with my keys. I searched high and low but I couldn’t find it. I sadly conceded that I must have unknowingly dropped it in a parking lot somewhere and that I would likely never see it again.

Then, just this week, the prodigal Matterhorn flashlight reappeared in one of our flower planters – a place that I rarely go, especially in the winter. It seems that the diminutive flashlight took a trip through the snow blower at some point this winter and was deposited far from where I dropped it getting into or out of my truck. Not only did it go through a snow blower but it has been sitting in the soil of a flower bed, exposed to an unusually cold and snowy winter for around 3 months.

At this point you may be wondering if a flashlight that took a trip through a snow blower and was exposed to the winter weather for 3 months still works and what it looks like. It does still work with the same battery that was in it when I dropped it and it looks pretty much like it did when I dropped.

This is what a Peak Matterhorn looks like after a trip through a snow blower and a whole winter spent outdoors.

The Matterhorn is made from hard anodized aluminum which makes it exceedingly tough. It basically has only two main parts: the head and the body. The body is just a machined aluminum tube. The head is also machined from aluminum. The 5mm LED and electronics are actually potted (encapsulated except for the battery contact) in epoxy inside the head. This makes it basically impact and element proof.The simple construction, potted small parts, and small size allowed this little light to run through a snow blower unscathed.

The only thing that really seems to show any sign of the ordeal is the o-ring that seals the joint between the head and body of the light. It is intact, but a little bit dry. That is easily fixed with some grease.

I should also note that when I was taking the picture for this post, I knocked the Matterhorn off the table and onto a patio stone. It landed on its head but survived. This is one tough little light.

Review: Fallkniven DC4 Diamond/Whetstone

Recently, I spent some time looking for a new knife sharpener to use when I am out in the woods. I wanted something compact, lightweight, and capable. After spending some time looking over various options, I settled on the Fallkniven DC4. At just under 4″ by 1 1/4″, it is certainly compact and it is quite light at only 3.7 ounces. I’ll share more about what makes it so capable later in the review.

The DC4 comes with a leather slip cover.

The previous sharpener that I was using utilized only diamond abrasives to hone the edge. The diamond abrasive cut quickly but it didn’t leave the edge very refined. In order to refine an edge, you need a fine sharpening stone or a leather strop. A quality whetstone or strop will polish the edge instead of just cutting the material.

The Fallkniven DC4 solved a problem for me. It features a diamond stone on one side and a fine whetstone on the other. This combination of sharpening surfaces gives you the quick cutting performance of a diamond abrasive and the ability to refine your edge on a whetstone. The DC4 also comes in a leather pouch that is not only useful for protecting the stone, but also for stropping the edge of your knife to put a final polish on it.

The diamond side of the DC4 makes short work of very dull edges.

The DC4 is simple to use. It does not require any water or oil, but it would be a good idea to clean the surfaces periodically with soap and water. If your edge is very dull, you start with the diamond abrasive. It removes metal relatively quickly so that you can reset the edge of the knife. Once you are happy with your progress, you can move onto the fine whetstone which helps refine the somewhat rough edge that diamond hones can leave. Additionally, if you want to refine the edge even further, you can use the leather cover of the DC4 to strop your edge. If your edge just needs a touch up, you can start with the whetstone or even just strop it on the leather cover.

Fallkniven does not advertise the leather cover as a strop but it actually works very well. Just put the DC4 in the cover so that you have a rigid backing and pull the edge across the surface of the leather with the edge trailing (the opposite of how you would typically sharpen, edge first). The cover has Fallkniven’s maker’s mark embossed on one side so you will want to use the opposite smooth side of the leather.

The fine whetstone side of the DC4 refines the edge and is great for quickly touching up your edge.

I was disappointed initially with how coarse the “fine” whetstone was. However, like the Fallkniven website says, it has become much more smooth over time. Mine is already quite smooth and it is getting smoother with each use.

The Fallkniven DC4 is a compact, lightweight, and capable all-in-one solution for keeping your knives sharp in the outdoors. In one small, slim package you have the ability to rehab a very dull edge, touch up, and even refine an already sharp edge. It is extremely versatile and it has become a fixture in my hiking, hunting, and even my every day carry pack.

Tactical Watch Covers

These Tactical Watch Covers feature a very clever design. Unlike other watch covers that are integral to the band of the watch, the Tactical Watch Cover slips over the watch that is already on your wrist. It features a cutout that allows the wearer to view the face of the watch and a flap that is secured over the face of the watch with hook and loop. Since the Tactical Watch Cover is not connected to the watch, it can easily be removed and moved from one watch to another.

The design of the Tactical Watch Cover is based on watch covers used by the Israeli Military. It covers the face of the watch to eliminate the chance of someone seeing the glow from your watch in the dark or reflections off the face of your watch.

The cover is made from neoprene which is the perfect material for this application. Neoprene provides more impact protection than other bands that have covers made from webbing. It also stretches and moves freely with the wearer which makes it very comfortable. The tight fit that the stretched neoprene provides also serves to retain your watch even if a watch band pin breaks.

Even if you are a cubicle dweller who doesn’t really need to worry about the visual signature of their watch, you will appreciate how this cover protects your watch when you shooting, hiking, hunting, or any other outdoor pursuit that tends to be hard on your watch. They also happen to be extremely reasonably priced.

Members of the Usual Suspect Network can purchase the Tactical Watch Covers on the forum or the seller can be reached via email at fosters@socal.rr.com.

I have some of these inbound for a full review. Stay tuned.

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