web analytics

Archive | Knives

Review: Benchmade Safety Cutters

Hopefully, most of you reading this blog right now are in the habit of carrying a first aid kit when you are shooting and, hopefully, you have at least some training on its use. If you do carry a first aid kit with some regularity, you are likely familiar with the ubiquitous medical shears that are a part of so many kits. These shears are, with few exceptions, cheaply made but passable for clearing obstructions like clothing and gear from a wound site. Those shears have been used for years, but, as with most pieces of gear, eventually someone gives us something better. The someone is Benchmade and the something is their Safety Cutters.

The 8 Hook sheath is on the left and the 7 Hook sheath is on the right.

Removing the Safety Cutter from the sheath is easy. Just lift the flap and pull out the cutter.

Some Background

To really appreciate the Benchmade Safety Hooks, you have to first understand what they replace (or at least supplement). Shears, medical shears, EMT shears, or whatever else they might be called are both a blessing and curse. On one hand, their design allows them to cut through some incredibly durable materials. This is often demonstrated by cutting a penny in half. However, their cheap construction can render them useless in a matter of minutes. They often dull very quickly – even after cutting just one pair of pants. They can flex and bend. They aren’t comfortable to use for strenuous work and can fatigue your hand very quickly. They can also take quite a long time to cut through some material or to make long cuts like in the case of a pant leg. In spite of all of that, you will still find a pair in any serious first aid kit because they work, at least for a while.

A Better Way

Benchmade Safety Hooks represent a better way to do many of the tasks that you would traditionally complete with shears. They are easier to carry, easier to use, faster, and they last nearly indefinitely.

I own several of the 7 Hook/Safety Cutters and 1 of the 8 Hook/Safety Cutters. They weigh about the same as a set of shears but are much more compact and easy to carry. Benchmade Safety Hooks come with a sheath and in the case of the 7 and 8 Hooks, they come with a MOLLE compatible sheath. The sheath is simple and effective. It retains the Safety Cutter with a hook and loop secured flap and a secondary elastic band. In the event that the flap catches on something and is pulled loose, the elastic band can retain prevent the Safety Hook from being lost. The sheaths even come with the MALICE clip that is necessary to mount it.

The sheath mounts easily with a provided MALICE clip.

Even if the flap is accidentally released, the elastic loop serves as secondary retention.

Using a Benchmade Safety Hook is easy. “Grip it and rip it” has never been a more appropriate phrase. As soon as you have one in hand, you know how to use it. You hold the grip area in your hand and hook whatever you wish to cut with the hooked end of the cutter. Then it is simply a matter of pulling the hook through the material. The hooks are so sharp, that this takes very little strength and effort.

I stated above that the Safety Cutters are faster than shears and you may be wondering how much faster. I compared a brand new set of shears that had never cut anything with a brand new 7 Hook/Safety Cutter by using each to cut from cuff to waist on an old pair of BDU pants. The shears did the job in a respectable 46 seconds while the 7 Hook zipped through in less than 4 seconds. Not only was it faster, but it was considerably easier. 4 seconds is a lot faster than 46 seconds.

The 7 Hook made it through these BDU pants 42 seconds faster than brand new shears.

Benchmade has tested their Safety Hooks for hundreds of cuts and while they do eventually get harder to cut with due to dulling, they will last many more cuts than a pair of shears. The 440C Safety Cutters are hardened to 58-60 Rockwell and the edges are refined to a high polish. It is amazing how long the edge lasts. If it does start to dull, you can simply return it to Benchmade with a small fee to cover return shipping and they will bring it back to life for you. You can also maintain it yourself if you are handy with strop compound. I use compound loaded into a thin leather strap to keep the hooks sharp. Harsher abrasives like ceramics or diamonds should not be used.

What Will They Cut?

I have used the Safety Hooks to cut all of the mundane stuff like tubular webbing, first aid tape, pant legs, para-cord, and heavier rope. However, what is most impressive is how they cut more difficult items like multiple layers of 1000D nylon in a chest rig and even a leather work boot.

This chest rig opened with an 8 Hook like it had a zipper. The straps were also cut easily so the rig would fall away completely.

If you need to access a chest wound, the Safety Hook can be used to strip away clothing and even gear. It zipped through no less than 3 layers of 1000D nylon and a layer of MOLLE webbing in one pull when I tested it on an old chest rig that I had laying around. Searching for buckles is wasted time when you have a tool like the Benchmade Safety Cutters.

Even tough leather work boots are no match for the 7 Hook.

If you need to clear a boot, don’t waste time trying to untie the laces, loosen the boot, and then remove it. Simply pull the cutter straight down from ankle to sole and then forward toward the toe and the boot falls away (you don’t need to cut both sides). It only takes a few seconds and it is amazingly easy to pull the hook through multiple layers of leather and fabric.

Even thicker items like climbing rope can be cut with these Safety Cutters. You simply start the cut with a small rocking motion to get into the inner layers and then pull. It’s easy.

Conclusion

Both the 7 Hook and 8 Hook Safety Cutters are excellent. The 7 Hook is more compact and its foam rubber grip is more comfortable and easier to use with gloves. I think it is the better all around choice, but some users may prefer the more nimble feeling and slightly longer reach of the 8 Hook. There is also a newer version of the 8 Hook that integrates a carbide glass breaker which really adds to an already excellent tool.

These Benchmade Safety Cutters outclass every similar product that I have ever tried. They represent a huge improvement over shears for first aid tasks. They are so reasonably priced (especially considering the sheath and MALICE clip) that it makes sense to own at least two of them so you can be sure to have one even if the other is sent out for sharpening. They work so well and are so easy to carry that there is almost no excuse not to add one to your kit today. I consider them among my most important pieces of first aid gear.

You can check out the 7 Hook and the 8 Hook along with all of the other Safety Cutter models on Benchmade’s website.

SAR Global Tool Webstore Launch

SAR Global Tool, maker of the excellent Eclipse Signal System and excellent custom knives, now has  a new webstore that makes getting your hands on their gear easier than ever. You can check out the new site at SARGlobalTool.com.

Review: Spyderco Delica4 and Endura4 Emerson Opener

I am constantly changing gear around in order to find the next great gadget. However, in the last several years, I haven’t changed the knife that I carry. It isn’t for lack of trying. I own or have owned several knives that, while generally very well regarded and expensive, just can’t unseat the Spyderco Delica4 or Endura4 with Emerson Wave from my pocket.

EDC Classics: The Delica4 (top) and Endura4 with Emerson Opener

History

The Delica and Endura have been part of Spyderco’s catalog since 1990. They have gone through a handful of changes over the years to the handle, clip, and blade steel but for the most part they are still recognizable as the Delica and Endura. The most recent changes are perhaps the most sweeping and they resulted in the generation 4 models which I believe are the best yet.

Not long before the release of the Delica4 and Endura4 knives, Spyderco licensed the Wave Opener feature from knife making royalty, Ernest Emerson, for use on a special edition of the Endura3. The model featured both the famous Spyderhole and Emerson Wave. This model sold briskly and has since become somewhat of a collectors item.

Shortly after the release of the Delica4 and Endura4 models, Spyderco announced that an Emerson Wave enhanced Endura4 would become a production model along with the introduction of a “waved” version of the Delica4. My love affair with these knives started as soon as these knives hit dealer shelves.

The Delica4 (top) and Endura4 have a unique appearance when closed thanks to the Emerson Opener.

Emerson Opener (Wave)

The Emerson Opener or Wave is what really sets these knives apart. Without it, they would just be regular Delicas or Enduras (not that there is anything wrong with that). The Wave takes these models to a whole new level.

The Wave is a hooked protrusion from the top of the blade that allows the blade to catch on the pants pocket while it is being drawn. When the hook catches, it forces the blade open. It is extremely reliable and actually faster than an automatic because it is opening as the knife clears the pocket, not once the knife is produced.

The Emerson Opener catches the pocket...

And deploys the blade as the knife is drawn from the pocket.

Spyderco added the Wave in addition to their famous Spyderhole. The result is a knife that can be opened in a ton of different ways. The ease and speed at which these knives can be produced and opened is unbelievable.

The Wave is billed mainly as a self defense feature and it certainly makes sense as one. Being able to produce your folding knife and open it without extra thought or manipulation is certainly a great thing in a self defense scenario. Savvy users will also see the utility of this feature in an EDC or general use outdoors knife. Being able to open a knife quickly when your hands are cold and wet or when one hand is disabled is never a bad thing.

The only problem with the Wave is that you will eventually have a hard time accepting a folding knife that doesn’t have the feature. It will change what you expect from a folding knife to the point where it is hard to without. I really can’t over state how important the Emerson Opener has become to me.

Details and Observations

The Delica4 and Endura4 seem to be sized to comply with the most common knife laws. The Delica sports a sub 3” VG-10 steel blade that is legal in all but the most restrictive areas. The Endura and its sub 4” VG-10 steel blade can be carried where there are more permissive laws.

VG-10 is one of the only modern stainless steels that I like. S30V and others can hold a great edge but in actual use, I rarely see a difference other than the S30V being much more difficult to sharpen. VG-10 sharpens easily and holds a working edge for a long time. It also takes to the strop well. I don’t have to spend much time at all when the blade needs resharpening.

One of the biggest improvements that came with the gen 4 models was the inclusion of nested steel liners. The liners are heavily skeletonized so that their impact on the weight of the knives is minimal. These steel liners really step of the durability of the knife. These metal liners also give the pocket clip screws something solid to screw into which is an improvement over past models. The pocket clip is moveable for left and right hand, tip up or tip down carry.

The handles scales are made from plastic (FRN) and have multi-directional texturing. I love modern handle materials like carbon fiber, G-10, and micarta but the plastic handles on the Delica and Endura keep bringing me back. The plastic provides great grip without being harsh on your pockets. It doesn’t tear them up like other materials would and it doesn’t beat the tar out of items that you carry in the same pocket with your knife. It may not be the coolest, but it just works.

The multi-directional texture on the FRN handle generates a very secure grip.

Spyderco, more than any other maker, knows how to design a handle that is both very thin and yet very ergonomic at the same time. Both the Delica4 and the thicker Endura4 are very thin and carry unobtrusively in your pocket.

The blade shapes are very versatile. They have a spear point profile with a fairly fine point. It doesn’t have a ton of belly but it has more than enough for most tasks. I have yet to find a cutting task that I felt hindered because of blade shape.

The Wave feature as Spyderco envisions it is larger and more rounded than you will typically find on an Emerson folder. I find it to be just as reliable without being so hard on your pockets.

Spyderco seems to have purposefully designed these knives to be deceiving in size when they are in your pocket. When you view the small portion of the knife that sticks up out of the pocket when stowed, the knives appear like they would be much smaller than they actually are. In fact, when clipped in your pocket, it is difficult to tell the difference between the Delica4 and the much larger Endura4. You can carry these without drawing a lot of attention to yourself.

Even without low-ride pocket clips, these knives appear very small in the pocket thanks to their tapered handles (Endura4 on right, Delica4 on left).

The Delica4 and Endura4 might also be one of the best supported factory knives around in terms of parts and accessories. You can buy spare parts kits directly from the factory that will let you replace commonly lost or worn out parts. You can also buy realistic and fully functional training versions of these knives.

Not Quite Perfect

While none of these gripes have been even close to enough to displace these knives from my pocket for the last several years, they are not perfect.

They have a plastic backspacer in which the spring for the lockback is housed. This seems to prevent the knives from having a very crisp feel when closing. They just don’t always seem to snap closed like an all metal knife might. Closing feels a bit mushy.

The blades are saber ground which means that they have flat primary bevel that comes about halfway up the blade. I would prefer a full flat grind but this is just a personal preference and these knives cut very well just the way that they are.

The black paint on the pocket clip scratches fairly readily. The pocket clip will be looking worn and ragged in no time. I don’t mind this but a different coating or treatment might hold up better.

Conclusion

You can spend a lot more on a knife that will have more exotic design, blade steel, and handle materials but you won’t find a knife that is more functional or easy to carry than the Spyderco Delica4 and Endura4 with the Emerson Wave Opener. The Emerson Wave Opener takes these already classic knives to a whole new level.

You can check out more detail specs of the Delica4 and Endura4 on the Spyderco website.

ZT0551 Frag Pattern Scales from Monkey Edge

I recently mentioned the accessory scales that are available for the Zero Tolerance 0550 and 0551 from Hinderer Knives. Well, now ZT 0551 owners have another option –  ZT0551 Frag Pattern Scales from Monkey Edge.

These scales are made by Hinderer Knives exclusively for Monkey Edge. They feature the “Frag Pattern” which is used with permission from the noted 1911 and AR-15 smith, Ned Christiansen. Ned uses this pattern as a checkering alternative on his custom 1911s.

You can check out these and other Frag Pattern scales at Monkey Edge.

Scrap Yard Knife Company 511

The newest knife design from Scrap Yard Knife Company, the 511, is available now. It continues Scrap Yard’s tradition of offering a very functional hard use knife for a very reasonable price.

The 5.11 features Scrap Yard’s excellent Resiprene C handle. I have three knives with this handle and find it to be very comfortable and easy to use. It also sports a 5.5″ blade that is ground from 3/16″ thick SR-101. SR-101 is a very tough carbon steel that holds an edge reasonably well while still being very easy to sharpen. The blade size, coupled with SR-101, make this knife a great choice for general camp chores.

As usual with Scrap Yard knives, they are only around for a limited time before they are gone forever (or at least a long time), so act fast. You can get yours on the Scrap Yard Knives wesbite.

ZT 0550/0551 Scales from Hinderer Knives

The Zero Tolerance 0550 and 0551 knives are a smash hit due to their combination of near custom quality, extremely modern materials, and the excellent designs skills of Rick Hinderer. Now you can buy accessory scales to customize your ZT 0550 or 0551 directly from the man that designed the knife.

The Hinderer Knives ZT 0550/0551 Scales are available in several colors, including my favorites: orange and translucent green. There are even camouflage options. The scales are machined from G10 which is resistant to just about everything (chemicals, heat, breakage, etc). The XM texture that Hinder Knives uses on these scales is touted as being easy on the hands while still providing plenty of grip and, based on the XM-18s that I have handled, I believe it.

The ZT 0550/0551 Scales are available on the Hinderer Knives website.

Boker Plus Epicenter

I always like to keep my eyes on what Boker is up to, especially in their Boker Plus line. They introduced several new knives in their catalog this year, but none were more intriguing than the Boker Plus Epicenter. This is one great looking and well appointed production knife.

The Epicenter is designed by an up and coming maker named Todd Rexford. This knife is packed with features that I really like in a knife. It has 5mm thick titanium handle slabs which are contoured to fit the hand. These thick slabs also mean that the frame lock on the Epicenter is massive. The 3.5″ blade is a drop point profile that is ground from VG-10 steel. VG-10 is one of the only stainless steels that I actually like because of its combination of edge holding and ease of sharpening. The ambidextrous thumb studs are removable and the pocket clip can be placed for tip up or tip down carry.

The Boker Plus line is well known as a great value and the Epicenter should be no exception. It will be priced very competitively with other Ti framelock designs.

The Epicenter should be on dealer shelves shortly. Todd Rexford already has his first production example of the Epicenter and he seems very pleased. You can read more about the Epicenter on the Boker website.

ESEE Factory Replacement Handles

ESEE users have been clamoring for years to be able to purchase replacement handle scales. ESEE has finally made this a reality. You can now purchase replacement scales for the ESEE knives, directly from ESEE.

So, if your ESEE-4 came with linen micarta scales but you prefer the canvas micarta scales, you can by them. If you have an ESEE-6 but would prefer to have the scales from an ESEE-5 with their bow drill divet, you can buy them. This opens up a whole new world of ESEE mix and match opportunities.

The handle scales are available on the ESEE website.

SAR Global Tool E&E Knife Prototypes

SAR Global Tool is always creating some innovative piece of gear that could save your tail in a bad situation. The latest design is a very small, compact, and simple knife that is designed to take up as little space as possible in your survival kit, BOB, or E&E kit.

These E&E kit prototypes are ground from .090″ thick CPM 154 steel, so they should hold an edge well and resist rust as they sit packed away in a kit. They have a 1.5″ cutting edge and are only 3″ in overall length. The blade has a sort of angular sheeps foot shape that should offer plenty of cutting power in a small package. The tip looks to be very fine which is a plus on a small knife that will likely be used for many detailed tasks.

The coolest thing about these little knives is the sheath. It lays very flat so that it fits anywhere and it features 3 grommets so you can carry it many different ways. What really sets the sheath apart is the orange kydex panel. This panel can be used as a close range signal panel or marker. I have found that having something that is highly visible like this can be a land nav aid in dense under brush. When the undergrowth is too thick to take an azimuth to a landmark farther than a few feet in front of you, it can be helpful to send someone ahead with something visible so that they can become your land mark. You direct them verbally or visually to your azimuth and then walk to them.

This knife is small and simple but it comes with the kind of innovations that you would expect from a rescue professional like Spencer at SAR Global Tool. You can purchase your own on the SAR Global Tool blog. While you are there, check out the incredibly slick, patent pending Eclipse Signal System.

IZULA Custom Handles from The-Knife-Connection

The-Knife-Connection continues to add to their line of custom knife handles for ESEE Knives. Their latest addition is the new IZULA Custom Handles and they look excellent.

These handles can be bolted directly to your ESEE IZULA with no modification. They improve the usability of the knife by improving your grip. The handles feature a rounded, palm swell shape to fill the hand. The handles are tapered at the end closest to the cutting edge. This allows for a pinch grip that I find very useful on a small knife like the IZULA. The large lanyard hole of the IZULA is covered slightly by the handles which creates a more usable grip while still providing plenty of room for a lanyard.

The IZULA Custom Handles from T-K-C come in a ton of different colors including the ever popular and highly visible blaze orange and a really attractive ranger green. They come with all the hardware necessary to mount them. I would consider using a dab of thread locker, like Loc-Tite, when installing the handles.

While these may cost considerably more than the OEM IZULA handles, they are also a much more refined solution. You can check out the new IZULA Custom Handles on The-Knife-Connection.com.

 

Powered by WordPress. Designed by Woo Themes

%d bloggers like this: