web analytics

Archive | Reviews

The EDC Tool Roll: Streamlight Bandit Headlamp

The EDC Tool Roll is a feature on Jerking the Trigger in which we profile various every day carry worthy tools. The tools shown aren’t multi-tools but rather real tools, that by virtue of their compact size, light weight, usefulness, or unique functionality, can find a place in any range kit, emergency kit, or every day carry bag.

Feel free to comment on the tools that you carry so we can all learn! The discussion on these posts has been very valuable so far.


I don’t know about where you live, but my official sunset time is already before 4PM and it is going to be that way for a long time. I also live in a very rural location so when the sun sets, it gets DARK. That means I put a lot of miles on flashlights, work lights, and especially head lamps. I’ve come to realize that the beam profile I need while working is different the beam profile I need when I am on the trail. When it come to work, I need a beam that is broad and bright – basically a wall of light that covers everything with light at arms length from one edge of my vision to the other. That is exactly what the Streamlight Bandit provides… and it does it with style and a great price.

The Bandit might be the ultimate pocketable work light. It is compact enough to fit in The EDC Tool Roll and light weight enough in weight to wear for hours (1.3 ounces!). It has a polycarbonate body with a removeable bracket that serves as both an attachment point for the head strap and a clip for attaching the Bandit to the brim of a cap, lip of a pocket, some helmets or even just free standing on the ground or other surface.

It is USB rechargable which is incredible for someone who uses their headlamp as much as I do. This light contains sealed 450-mAh lithium polymer battery that provides 2 hours of runtime at 180 lumens or 9+ hours at 35 lumens. There is also a blinking mode which I never use.

The user interface is simple enough. There is one button. Push it once for low and again within a couple of seconds for high, then blink. After a few seconds, the next click turns off the light. The button is pronounced enough that it can be operated with gloves on.

There are a few factors that make this the best tool light I have right now and the reason it is being included in The EDC Tool Roll series. I have already mentioned that it is very light weight and very compact. That makes it easy to carry. The simple interface makes it easy to use and the USB rechargable feature makes it easy to keep up and running. It also happens to be EXTREMELY affordable – like buy two of them, impulse buy affordable –  at less than $16 each including shipping.

But, when it comes to use as a work light, the real story here is the beam… the glorious blast radius of lumens. The Bandit uses a COB LED which is basically a broad, flat, light emitting plate. There is no lens or reflector. You have no hotspot, just smooth even light for almost 180 degrees. This means I can see every little button, knob, and gauge in the open, unlit cabin of our tractors when I am blowing snow after dark (which really tests the water and cold resistance of a light). It means I can light up an entire room or everything at my feet while walking instead of just a narrow circle. It means I work up close on equipment with the light on high without having a blinding hotspot and without having to constantly adjust the angle of the light. Of course, that broad beam comes at the cost of throw, but you can’t have it all.

So far the Bandit seems to be quite tough and, based on past experience, I am confident that Streamlight will take care of me if something goes wrong. Given their customer service and the low cost of this light, I’m not afraid to use it like a tool. In fact, the low cost has me thinking of buying a second one so I always have one to use while the other is charging.

Where to Buy:

I bought mine on Amazon because they usually have a great price on the bright yellow version of the Bandit. I think I paid a little bit more than the sub $16 price they are charging as of the time of this writing: Streamlight Bandit on Amazon

Previously Reviewed Alternatives:

Nebo Tools Work Lights


See all the reviews for previous tools: The EDC Tool Roll

Do you have a pocketable work light that you prefer or another tool recommendation that fits The EDC Tool Roll? Tell us about it in the comments below or drop us a line on the Contact page.

The above URLs may be affiliate links.

0

Review: Salomon Quest 4D GTX Hiking Boot

I’ve been wearing Salomon Quest 4D GTX Hiking Boots for more than 4 years now. My first pair is still going strong after those four years and last summer I came across a deal on a new pair that I couldn’t refuse so I purchased a second pair. I wear them exclusively when I am hiking, shooting, and daily in the winter. I have no way of knowing how many miles I have on the first pair, but it is a few hundred in hiking miles alone not to mention the daily winter wear. I know these boots inside and out and it’s long past time I wrote a review.

I won’t waste a lot of words giving you an overview of these boots. They are Goretex lined hiking boots. The same can be said for a lot of boots. Instead, I will focus in on what sets these boots apart for me and why I like them.

Longevity

There are really two forms of longevity when it comes to footwear. The first is obvious and has to do with how long a pair of boots can last. I have found these boots to be extremely durable as evidenced by my experiences above. These boots have hiked over Selkirk granite and dusty summer trails. They have spent time in snow, rain, and been submerged during creek crossings. They have been worn as work boots while felling trees for firewood. They’ve been through a lot and the soles are still attached (although I did have to use a bit of Shoe Goo last summer), the toe cap is still attached, they are still water-proof, and the support hasn’t broken down.

The other form of longevity is just as important. There is nothing worse than wearing out a pair of boots that you love only to find that you can’t buy them anymore. Fortunately, the Quest 4D GTX boots have been in continuous production for years. They are actually in their 3rd generation now and while there are small changes, the fit and important features have remained the same (at least through the first two generations that I have used).

Fit and Support

You can boil down the reasons I tried these boots in the first place to two things: fit and support.

The fit is perfect for me and everyone that I have turned onto these boots has found the same thing. I find them to be somewhat narrow through the heel and arch, not overly so, but narrow enough. The toe box is very generous. When laced, I find that the shape of the collar provides plenty of room for your ankle to articulate in the direct that it should articulate. My feet aren’t narrow or wide but I do have high arches. These boots accommodate me very well.

When it comes to support, I have never had a better boot. Wearing the Quest 4D Boots is like wearing ankle braces on the trail. This is accomplished a few ways. First, the ankle area is very sturdy and shaped so the foot can hinge forward and back but has plenty of support for side to side flex. Second, the way these lace is excellent. The first few lace loops are fixed. The first lace hook actually grips the lace aggressively so you can really lock in your heel and set the tension on the lower part of the boot. This is the first boot I have owned with this kind of locking hook and it might be the most important feature to me.

These boots have taught me the importance of locking in the heel for my long term comfort. They actually have a rigid plastic heel cup that works with the previously mentioned locking hooks to really immobilize and support your foot. This has been key to how well these boots support my ankles and prevent blisters. That same rigid plastic component runs all the into the arch for extra arch support. I have never sprained an ankle in these boots (if you know me, you know that is saying something). I have also never had an out of control hotspot or blister in these boots. Those are the functional benefits of good fit and solid support.

Water-Proof Performance

I swore off Gore-Tex boots before I tried these. Some water-proof boots that I have owned have left me with extra foot care problems like blisters from moisture build-up. That hasn’t been the case with these though I do still wish there was an identical, non-waterproof version.

Salomon does make a Quest 4D Boot without Gore-Tex in their military focused Forces line but it appears to have a different lace setup which has made me wary of trying them. If you have them, I would love to hear from you.

If you are stuck with water-proofing, at least it is well executed in these boots. My 4 year old Quest 4D Boots are still water-proof so the water-proofing has proven to be very durable. I also like that Salomon runs the waterproof membrane most of the way up the sides of the tongue, sort of like webbed duck feet. You have to submerge the boot all the way to the second lace hook before you have a chance of water ingress at the tongue which is handy during creek crossings.

Grip

I wear these boots hiking in conditions that vary from damp forest floors, to dusty summer trails, to miles of exposed granite, loose rock, and snow. These boots have an aggressive, long wearing sole that seems to grip wall across all those surfaces and in all directions. The soles on my 4 year old boots have been fairly long wearing and are still offering solid grip on the trail. The new boots seem to be somewhat more aggressive but it is hard to tell if that is because they are new or some change Salomon made to the sole.

Wrap Up

These are my go to boots for pretty much everything. They offer the support, grip, and sneaker like performance that I like for the shooting range or training courses. They have the fit, support, and durability I need for logging miles on the trail. They lock the heel and support my ankles better than any hiking boot I have ever owned. I like them so much that I keep a spare pair, broken in and ready to go.


A note on price… Premium boots are not cheap. These will typically cost around $230-$240 a pair. That hurt at first but using the same boots for 4 years stakes some of the sting out of paying up for them. BUT… You can shop around and save a ton. Salomon seams to roll out new colorways or even new generations of these boots with some frequency. If you can settle for last season’s color, you can save a lot of money. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are right around the corner too.

I have purchased my first pair for $240 at REI so I could try them on. I purchased my second pair for about $150 off retail because it was a discontinued colorway on Amazon. It is hard to pass on a $240 pair of boots for around $100 shipped.

Click Here: Salomon Quest 4D Boots on Amazon

Opening: TacPack October 2018

The latest TacPack has arrived has arrived at the JTT compound. The October 2018 box has a lot going for it. Let’s look inside.

You are likely familiar with the concept of TacPack by now. If not, you can read the reviews of the previous TacPacks for some background on this subscription box.

Guntec USA AR-15 Anti-Rotation Pin Set – I find anti-rotation pins to be mostly unnecessary but some shooters like them. These seem reasonably well made at a cursory glance. They are about as compact and low-profile as they can be. They also come with pre-applied blue thread locking compound which shows some attention to detail.

Black Rifle Coffee Company Mug – This is the third Black Rifle Coffee Company mug that I can remember receiving in a TacPack and I’m not even mad about it. These mugs are actually really nice and each one has been different. This one looks great and has a handle that a man can actually hold onto.

JE Machine Tech AR-15 Armorerss Wrench – If you have an AR-15, you need an armorer’s wrench. I don’t have enough time on it to judge its quality but, based on the JE Machine Tech’s website, I am a little skeptical. If it holds up for a few builds or tear downs, I’ll be pleased.

Hexmag AR-15 Magazine – My experience with Hexmags hasn’t been perfect but I do have a handful of them. I use them occasionally for training and I can always find room for another magazine.

TacPack Sticker – It’s a big sticker!

As usual, I only get excited about these boxes when they are useful. The big ticket item in this box is the Armorers Wrench and that is actually pretty useful… as long as it holds up to hard use. It never hurts to add another AR-15 magazine to the stash and I actually really like the coffee mug. Overall, I’m pleased with this box.

If you want to try TacPack, you can check them out at TacPack.com. TacPack hints that the November box will contain a large, US made AR-15 part, some cold weather gear, and Real Avid tool among other things.

The EDC Tool Roll: Prestaratchet 1/4″ Hex Bits Mini Ratchet (VIM Tools HBR4)

The EDC Tool Roll is a feature on Jerking the Trigger in which we profile various every day carry worthy tools. The tools shown aren’t multi-tools but rather real tools, that by virtue of their compact size, light weight, usefulness, or unique functionality, can find a place in any range kit, emergency kit, or every day carry bag.

Feel free to comment on the tools that you carry so we can all learn! The discussion on these posts has been very valuable so far.


The Prestaratchet 1/4″ Hex Bits Mini Ratchet is yet another tool that came to my attention because of a reader recommendation. Mark M. put this one on my radar and I am glad he did. Thank you Mark!

The Prestaratchet is made by a bicycle accessory company called Prestacycle. In fact, they make a version of this tool with a handle that doubles as a tire lever which could be handy for the cyclists among us. However, the version being reviewed here today has a basic rubber handle with no tire wrench functionality. It comes as a bare tool with no bits included (though Prestacycle does sell nice bit sets with holders separately).

My initial reaction when I first received the Prestaratchet was that it looked a lot my favorite VIM Tools Bit Ratchets. The head on those tools is very recognizable because it is the smallest I have seen. This makes the tool great for use in tight spots. On further inspection, it appears that the Prestaratchet is virtually identical to the VIM Tools HBR4. This is a good thing because of the head size which I have already mentioned and my very good experience with VIM Tools’ products.

This tool works like any other similar ratcheting bit driver that we have already reviewed. It can accept standard 1/4″ hex shank bits or can be used as a socket wrench with the use of an adapter. This makes it extremely versatile for the EDCer or shooter. It is more compact than a traditional screwdriver and can be used with any bit or socket that you need.

The mechanism is reversible via a small lever. There is a speed wheel for starting/finishing fasteners that don’t have enough friction to make use of the ratcheting mechanism. Bits are held captive and snap into the holder with authority.

Unlike the two VIM Tools Bit Ratchets I have already reviewed, this one has a rubber handle. The handle adds very little bulk and is quite comfortable. It appears to be some kind of harder plastic with a pebbled TPE overmold. The TPE is not overly soft and has held up well to my use. I have found the padded handle to be particularly nice when my hands are cold, wet, or oily as it greatly improves grip. That is nice if you do a lot of work or shooting outdoors.

We have now reviewed several of these VIM Tools mini ratchets (or similar) and it is difficult to say which of them I prefer. The Prestaratchet/HBR4 is definitely the easiest to use in conditions that compromise your grip. The HBR5 is like the most versatile of the bunch. The HBR3’s box end makes it nice in higher torque application like trying to break a stubborn fastener loose and its small overall size is nice for EDC. Pick the one that suits you best.

Where to Buy:

Mark M. was able to find this at a local bike shop. I purchased mine on Amazon. If you do buy on Amazon, make sure you do some comparison shopping as the VIM Tools HBR4 often costs a few dollars less:

Prestaratchet Mini Ratchet on Amazon

VIM Tools HBR4 on Amazon

I also recommend carrying an extension with a tool like this. This is my favorite:

Wera Rapidaptor 100mm Bit Holder

Alternatives:

Drivers:

Victorinox Swisstool Plus Replacement Wrench

Wera Kraftform Kompakt 10

Engineer DR-07 Twin Wrench Driver

Tekton 14-in-1 Offset Screwdriver (2945)

Replaceable Edition Fix It Sticks

Doc Allen’s VersaTool

Wera Kraftform Kompact 25

Ratchets:

VIM Tools HBR5

GearWrench MicroDrive Set

Chapman MFG 1316


See all the reviews for previous tools: The EDC Tool Roll

Do you have bot ratchet that you prefer or another tool recommendation that fits The EDC Tool Roll? Tell us about it in the comments below or drop us a line on the Contact page.

The above URLs may be affiliate links.

Don’t Give Up on a Holster Until You Have Done Your Part

A reader recently emailed me looking for a recommendation on a holster. He was looking to replace a holster that wasn’t working for him. It was not a holster that I have personally used but it had many features common to kydex inside the waistband holsters and looked like a perfectly acceptable holster to me.

He was having problems with how the holster concealed and its stability on his belt. I struggled to come up with a recommendation for a new holster because any holster I could come up with had a similar feature set to the one he was trying to replace. We decided to try to a few things to correct the issues he was having with his current holster. Fortunately, that approach worked. All he really needed to do was make his belt loops smaller to match his belt.

Many modern holsters offer quite a bit of adjustment to the end user. “Adjustment” may not even be the right word because it sounds optional. You can think of it more as “fitting” because holsters are designed to work for a wide range of shooters and really need to be fit to the individual. Adjustments like ride height, cant, belt loop size, number of clips, and types of belt hardware all come to bear on how well a holster works for a particular shooter.

Like most great holsters, the Henry Holsters AIWB is even better when the loops are matched to belt size.

Belt Hardware Size

Open a new tab in your browser and head over to Instagram. Search “holster” and check out #holster. Now, look at the top ten holster pics with pull-the-dot style soft belt hardware in your feed. I’ll wait… When I did this, none of the 10 pictures showed any evidence of the belt straps having been trimmed to fit a belt. Either there are a lot of people using IWB kydex holsters on 1.75-2″ wide belts (doubtful considering many belt loops won’t even fit belts that wide) or most people just never take the time to trim their belt loops to fit their 1.25″ and 1.5″ belts.

Matching your belt hardware size to the size of your belt is like an instant upgrade for a holster. It should probably be the first thing your do when you receive a new holster because it has tremendous influence on several attributes of the holster and other adjustments. It improves the stability of the holster on the belt reducing wobble, tilt, and sliding. It ensures that the kydex releases the handgun properly. It helps make devices like struts/claws work consistently to turn the butt of the handgun in toward the wearer.

You may have to either purchase new belt hardware or resize your current belt hardware to make this happen. If you do replace/adjust your belt hardware, check to make sure that things like claws/struts are still engaging your belt effectively as sometimes reducing belt loop size effectively raises the ride height. You may need to lower your ride height slightly to accommodate the change. If you are adjusting the size of the common black coated nylon soft loops, consider trimming the excess loop off once you have tested your adjustment so the ends don’t interfere with establishing a full firing grip.

Tension

I tend to prefer quality holsters WITHOUT adjustable retention but if my holster has a retention adjustment screw, I make sure to tune it to the tension I prefer. Basically, I tighten the adjustment until I can hold the holster upside-down and give a shake without the handgun falling out. FOLLOW SAFETY RULES WHEN YOU DO THIS!

Some tension adjustment screws tend to back out slightly over time so you may want to add a little thread locking compound to the screw. I have also had a few holsters that tend to lose a little tension with wear so you may want to check your tension periodically.

Ride Height

Ride height can and should be tailored to the wearer and the application for the specific holster. Some may find that they need to lower the ride height on IWB or AIWB holsters to prevent the gun from tilting outward away from the body. I usually set my inside the waist band holsters to sit as low as will still allow a full firing grip to be established directly out of the holster. Some people with higher belt lines may find that extreme high ride holsters are uncomfortable to wear as the gun rides most of the way up their torso. Some OWB holsters will lay tighter against the body simply by tuning the ride height.

Cant

The cant of a holster is typically a preference but it can be an important adjustment for some shooters depending on size and the position of the holster on their body. Adding a bit of cant might make a larger gun easier to conceal for a shooter of smaller stature or make the draw stroke easier to deal with for a holster that is located slightly behind the hip.

The Bravo Concealment DOS holsters can be used with 1 or 2 clips depending on user preference.

Number of Clips

Some holsters can be used with either 1 or 2 belt clips. The performance will vary greatly based on this choice. Typically, shooters will find that the holster is perhaps more comfortable with one clip but more stable and concealable with 2 clips though this varies by holster and body type.

If you are going to try to remove a belt clip, make sure your holster is designed to work this way and that you are leaving the correct belt loop installed. Typically, you will want to leave the one located most centrally on the holster.

Type of Clip

If you have a holster that slips off your belt instead of releasing the handgun during the drawstroke, you definitely want to see if you can find new belt hardware. In most cases, you are not limited to the clips provided by the holster maker. Find something that works for you and your belt.

Other Adjustments and Considerations

There are, of course, other adjustments that I haven’t covered here. There are less common adjustments like adjustable claws/struts or items like removable ramps/pads that will have bearing on how aggressively the handgun is turned in toward the wearer. You may also be able to improve your initial grip by trimming a little material off a sweat guard. In some cases, you may even need to remold a kydex holster slightly to better accommodate something like an aftermarket part.

Don’t over look your belt either. Some holsters need belts with certain attributes in order to really shine. Almost every holster on the market will benefit from being worn on a good quality gun belt (click HERE to determine if a belt is stiff enough). Consider belt tension as well. Many AIWB carriers have learned that tighter isn’t always better when it comes to belt tension.

Do Your Part!

Every shooter has that holster box in the corner. You know the one. It’s full of holsters that didn’t work, that were worn out, or that were outgrown as you learned more about what worked for you. If you spend much time shooting, the holster box is unavoidable. However, you can avoid filling the holster box needlessly and prematurely if you take the time to tune your holsters. There’s a good chance that the holster you are using right now could conceal better, be more comfortable, and perform better in general. If you do nothing else, at least match your belt hardware to your belt size (and then post a pic to Instagram so we can fix that mess).

Before you toss another holster in the holster box for poor performance, make sure you have done your part in tuning the holster.

Review: PHLster Spotlight Holster for Glock 43 with TLR-6

Before I start talking about the PHLster Spotlight Holster for the Glock 43 with TLR-6, I need to give you some context. I’ve been carrying a Glock 43 with TLR-6 for a little more than 2 years. The TLR-6 adds significant capability to the G43 but it has one downside that had me so frustrated, I nearly got rid of it. It installs by wrapping around the G43’s trigger guard and it has a very rounded shape. Kydex holsters typically retain the handgun via a molded detent on the trigger guard or weapon light, both of which are difficult thanks to the shape and location of the TLR-6.

During the previous two years, I have purchased two different holsters from well established makers and tried several others. They just didn’t have acceptable retention. The last holster I was using was able to be tightened to the point that it had barely acceptable retention but only when the adjustable retention was completely maxed out. Unfortunately, repeated drawstrokes during training eventually loosened the holster to the point that the G43 will fall out under its own weight.

I was ready to give up on the TLR-6 and I would have… if PHLster didn’t release their Spotlight Holster just in time.

Overview

The PHLster Spotlight Holster was designed in conjunction with Henry Holsters. It is a kydex AIWB holster with a fold-over design and adjustable retention. It features dual soft loops that are adjustable for ride height and belt width (2″ to 1.5″ belts).

The Spotlight has two features that help turn the handgun grip in toward the user. The first is a tear-drop shaped ramp that is molded into the back of the holster. The second is Henry Holsters ModWing-L strut that comes with two different height pads to adjust how aggressively the handgun grip is turned into the wearer.

The holster is cut to accept slide mounted dot sights and extended to fully cover most barrel mounted compensators.

Observations from Use

I purchased this holster with just one hope – that PHLster and Henry Holsters would have worked out how to provide acceptable retention on the TLR-6. They did. It is not quite as crisp as my other holsters from PHLster and Henry Holsters but it can’t be due to the shape of the TLR-6. However, it does offer a more than acceptable level of retention and is far better than any other holster I have tried for this combination. The gun and light do drop into the holster with a pronounced “click”, there is MORE than enough retention, and PLENTY of tension adjustment left. That alone makes this holster important for those who are trying to make the G43/TLR-6 combination work.

The Spotlight Holster has a full sweat shield but it shaped such that it does not interfere with the drawstroke. Even with the holster set to ride as low as the adjustment allows, it is easy to establish a full grip.

This holster conceals extremely well. The molded in ramp and ModWing-L strut do an excellent job of turning in the grip. The extra length that PHLster adds to accommodate a compensator plays a big role in concealment. The little bit of extra length helps anchor the holster below the belt so it less likely to rotate out at the belt line and it provides additional leverage for the ramp. This holster conceals better than any of the other holsters I have tried for this particular gun and light combination.

I find the Spotlight Holster to be very comfortable. I think there is a misconception about ramped holsters with those who may not have tried one that the ramp itself may create a hotspot. I find the opposite to be true. The ramp is very rounded and has a tear drop shape. This creates a large area of contact with the wearer and prevents the hot spots that you get from some AIWB holsters without ramps that end up pressing the bottom corners of the holster into your body.

The shooter should plan on spending some time adjusting the Spotlight Holster to fit their particular needs when they first receive it. There are some very thoughtful adjustments built in. There are two ride height settings for the soft loops which will also have some bearing on how the ModWing-L works. The soft loops should be cut to fit your belt width as this great increases stability. Finally, you should spend some time experimenting with the ModWing-L and its different height pads. If you plan on using the Spotlight Holster somewhere other than the AIWB position, you may want to remove the ModWing-L altogether.

The fit and finish of this holster are excellent. The mold lines are clean, crisp, and the blocking is generous, all of which contribute to a clean draw stroke. Care has been taken to finish the edges and the sight track is straight as an arrow.

Wrap Up

I haven’t tried every available holster for the Glock 43 with TLR-6 but I have tried a lot of them. The Spotlight Holster is better than any of the holsters I have used by a country mile. It isn’t even close. The combination of the extra length, the well-designed ramp, the ModWing-L, and PHLster’s insistence on getting the retention right make this holster worth your consideration.

PHLsterHolsters.com

The EDC Tool Roll: VIM Tools HBR3 Bit Ratchet

The EDC Tool Roll is a feature on Jerking the Trigger in which we profile various every day carry worthy tools. The tools shown aren’t multi-tools but rather real tools, that by virtue of their compact size, light weight, usefulness, or unique functionality, can find a place in any range kit, emergency kit, or every day carry bag.

Feel free to comment on the tools that you carry so we can all learn! The discussion on these posts has been very valuable so far.


The VIM Tools HBR5 Bit Ratchet is one of my all time favorite tools and that made the VIM Tools HBR3 just a little too tempting to try. I bought one last month and have been using it since. At first glance, the HBR3 and HBR5 are very similar tools but there are some differences.

The HBR3 is about 3.5″ long which is about 1″ shorter than the HBR5. It is smaller in almost every dimension which makes it considerably more compact and lightweight. The HBR5 features a ratchet at each end (see the HBR5 review for more details) but the HBR3 has a ratchet end and a box end both of which accept standard 1/4″ shank bits. The smaller size and the box end is what really sets the HBR3 apart from the HBR5.

The compact size and excellent quality is what has endeared the HBR5 to me. The HBR3 is even more compact and just as well made.

The HBR3’s box end has proven to be very handy. It is extremely compact, barely adding any length to the bit itself, which allows it to get into very tight spaces – like behind a door knob to tighten the screws holding it to a door. It also allows you to apply a lot of torque without fear of breaking your ratcheting mechanism.

HBR3 (top) with HBR5 (bottom)

The ratcheting end has a quick disk/speed wheel that makes it easy to start fasteners even when they don’t have enough friction to start using the ratcheting mechanism. It is reversible and has a small lever to change directions. VIM Tools claims that their ratcheting heads are the smallest in the industry and I believe it having used several competing tools.

The HBR3 seems to be intended to use as a bit driver predominantly. It does not come with provisions to be used with sockets but the adapters to accomplish this are easy to find. I recommend picking one up as I find it to be very handy. This is a great socket wrench for tight spaces. I also recommend adding a bit extension if you plan on using this in your range bag so that you can access things like AR-15 grip screws.

Where to Buy:

I have never seen VIM Tools anywhere but online. I purchased my HBR3 at Amazon: VIM Tools HBR3 Bit Ratchet at Amazon

Alternatives from Previous Reviews:

Drivers:

Victorinox Swisstool Plus Replacement Wrench

Wera Kraftform Kompakt 10

Engineer DR-07 Twin Wrench Driver

Tekton 14-in-1 Offset Screwdriver (2945)

Replaceable Edition Fix It Sticks

Doc Allen’s VersaTool

Wera Kraftform Kompact 25

Ratchets:

VIM Tools HBR5

GearWrench MicroDrive Set

Chapman MFG Midget


See all the reviews for previous tools: The EDC Tool Roll

Do you have bot ratchet that you prefer or another tool recommendation that fits The EDC Tool Roll? Tell us about it in the comments below or drop us a line on the Contact page.

The above URLs may be affiliate links.

Review: Gearward HemiSERE Titanium Lapel Knife

Gearward’s HemiSERE Titanium Lapel Knife is a throwback to the OSS Lapel Knife… at least in terms of function and intended use. It is thoroughly modern in material, a titanium-ceramic composite, which makes it feather light and gives it aggressive cutting properties. This knife is designed to be immanently concealable. Its size and the materials chosen for its construction are in keeping with that design goal.

Overview

The HemiSERE is a diminutive 3.375″ in overall length. It is ground from 0.05″ thick non-ferrous titanium/ceramic composite material that is most commonly found in high end kitchen knives. That small size, wafer-thinness, and material mean that this little knife weighs in at just 4 grams.

The wharncliffe blade shape is chisel ground. It has a full height flat primary grind with a secondary bevel on only one side. The tip is very slightly ground off, sort of like a micro reverse tanto, to render a still very acute but slightly stronger tip.

It ships already stuck to dummy credit card and with 12 3M Glue Dots.

Observations from Use

I’ll start first by saying this knife is VERY small and that means that the handle design has to be on point or it just won’t work. Fortunately, Gearward did their homework. The handle has a bead blast finish and a deeply dished choil that locks the knife into the users hand. Without the choil, this knife would probably be nearly impossible to use and retain. Handle design is exceedingly important on knives this small and thin.

The HemiSERE is so light and concealable that it can be stuck just about anywhere with the included (and easily replaceable) Glue Dots. Gearward shows the HemiSERE stuck, without a sheath, under the collar of a shirt which caused a bit of an uproar when the knife was announced here on JTT. I tested this and found that it actually seems safer than you might think with a stiff collared dress shirt and the edge turned down but I likely would not carry it that way. This knife was designed by a world traveler for world travelers… and I don’t mean Sandals resort. If you are already the type of person who is taking risks with the places you travel, under collar carry might make more sense.

The carry methods are only limited by your imagination. It can be stuck inside a phone case, inside your wallet, on a credit card (replace the dummy with a real card that you don’t use anymore), in an out of the way place inside a bag or briefcase, inside an Altoids tin, or anywhere else you can safely carry a razor sharp knife. Your carry options could be expanded if you fashion some kind of a small sheath for it. My favorite way to carry it is on the back of a credit card though that might not be the most accessible in an emergency.

There are a number of thoughtful touches in this knife, many of which I think are unique to the HemiSERE. I have already mentioned the well designed handle and bead-blasted finish that promotes grip. The material itself is interesting. The titanium/ceramic composite is extremely lightweight. It cuts better than titanium alone and is more durable than ceramic alone while retaining the non-ferrous, lightweight properties of both which are desirable for a knife like this. Gearward grinds the tip off very slightly. It still penetrates quite well but the needle like point that would likely break off anyway is gone. Finally, the choice of a wharncliffe blade shape puts the point forward and gives plenty of straight cutting edge to lever through cuts.

Speaking of cuts, this is an aggressive cutter… I mean very aggressive. It cuts like a paring knife! It is wafer thin which helps and comes sharp with a somewhat toothy edge. It bites deeply into soft materials, slicing cleanly thanks to the full height flat grind. Sharpening is a little tricky but not impossible – definitely easier than sharpening all ceramic blades.

I would like to see Gearward make a small, non-metallic sheath available for this knife. I would pay extra for some kind of minimalist blade cover just to have some expanded carry options.

Wrap Up

Gearward went all in on concealment with this knife and it shows. It is purpose built. The design, the material, even the philosophy of use baked in with the included credit card and glue dots speak to the extent to which this knife is to be concealed. This knife is meant to disappear and it does so readily.

HemiSERE on Gearward.com

Review: Speedbox Endurance-40

Speedbox is known for their “modular container systems for palletized cargo” which is a fancy way of saying they make rugged cases that stack together easily and are sized perfectly for various pallets in use by the military and other groups. The palletization features are very cool and very useful for some people… but not me. I have no military background and no need to palletize gear but a rugged, water resistant box that I can roll pretty much anywhere? Well, that I can use.

Speedbox Endurance-40 in FDE

Overview

The Speedbox Endurance-40 is the second similar product from Speedbox (the first being the larger Voyager-70). It is a 40 gallon capacity container (33.40”L x 19.95”W x 26.00”D) with a footprint that is sized to maximize the capacity of the ISU 90 and 463-L pallets. It has features that allow it to be locked together with adjacent Endurance-40s and to be stacked on other Endurance-40s.

It features durable rotomolded polymer construction with steel and aluminum parts. The interior of the case is sprayed with a textured liner used in marine applications. It has both a drain plug and breather vent to help equalize the interior atmosphere with the exterior.

The lid is secured with rubber cam locks that serve to compress a large gasket that keeps the Endurance-40 water-tight. The hinge for the lid is beefy and pivots on a solid rod.

The Endurance-40 rolls on large, no-flat tires that are mounted on a 5/8″ thick through axle. It can be rolled on those wheels with it’s “Never-Fail Handle System” that is constructed with solid aluminum square stock with steel reinforcement plates.

Who Might Want One

I am not the original military market for the Endurance-40 but it is versatile enough and unique enough to have broad crossover appeal to anyone who spends time outdoors. Gear and the outdoors go hand in hand so having a way to haul that gear is handy.

I have used the Endurance-40 to cart my family’s gear down to our favorite swimming hole. That involves a quarter mile hike on the trails on our property to get to a creek that is dominated by glacial granite boulders of various sizes. It takes everything we need in one trip and rolls over everything along the way.

I’ve used it to access shooting spots on public land where there are no sidewalks. It can hold multiple Defense Targets RSTs (think B-C sized silhouettes), short 2×4 target uprights, my shooting bag, lunch, and still have room to spare. Best of all, I can throw my rifle bag over my shoulder and get everything from my truck to the shooting line in one trip. Once I arrive, it makes a decent shooting table.

Ivan at KitBadger.com shared with me that his gear often had to be palletized when he was serving as a security contractor. He thought something like this would offer a lot of peace of mind for someone who’s gear was sitting out on a hot or rainy tarmac for hours at a time.

It could provide rolling, semi-secure storage for a hunting camp. It could store extra gear at a camp site or vacation spot. It could be used to pack for a carbine course. A firearm instructor could keep all their course supplies packed and ready to roll. You can even use it as a cooler in a pinch!

If you need to carry a lot of gear into a rugged place, you can probably put something like this to use.

Observations from Use

Is it possible to fall in love with tires? Because, I think I am in love with these tires. There are other wheeled boxes out in the marketplace but they are usually geared more toward photography equipment or tools and their wheels range from tiny rollerblade wheels to hard plastic wheels that look like they came off of push-mower. The Endurance-40’s wheels are one of the keys to its usefulness and what sets it apart. This thing is purpose-built to go to rough places. I have rolled the Endurance-40 on interior surfaces, gravel driveways, sidewalks, hiking trails, glacial granite rock, and grassy fields. It rolls over all them with varying degrees of effort. I am not talking about dragging the case. It actually rolls.

40 gallons of internal capacity can hold a lot of stuff! I fit 3 steel targets including their uprights and stands along with a large range bag, a lunch bag, 2 water bottles, a belt rig, and still had room left! I can fit my full overnight hiking pack into it with about 2/3rds of the interior space to spare.

A word to those who plan to carry this in a pickup truck. It is a BIG case and it may not fit under a bed cover upright. I just lay mine on its side in my F-150.

Shown: Handle, Valve, and Plug

I appreciate the build quality of this Endurance-40. When you look at it, you initially see a lot of polymer. When you really start paying attention, there are some absolutely over-built design details. The wheels ride on a 5/8″ solid axle and the area between the wheels has been angled so that when you lift the front to roll the case, additional ground-clearance is created. The handle is built extremely well from solid aluminum square stock and reinforced with steel plates so that there is never metal bearing on polymer under load.

Steel Reinforced Handle Interface

The handle is not only solid but comfortable to use. The handle itself is large enough to grip comfortably and spins freely so that you never have to reposition your hand as the angle of the Endurance-40 changes when lifting or rolling over uneven terrain. I do wish there was some way of securing the handle when it wasn’t in use like a friction lock or something along those lines. It hangs freely and can stick out when the Speedbox is tilted.

I think Speedbox may have also missed some opportunities for internal organization with the Endurance-40. If there were something like like molded in ledges that could hold a tray used to organize cargo or maybe molded slots that accepted partitions, that could be useful. The military market might not have need for an internal trays or partitions but the guy who buys this for personal use might and he would likely pay extra for the parts!

The Endurance-40’s gasket is huge.

Testing

I tried to come up with some tests that would simulate the kinds of rough treatment a box like this might experience in regular use. I wanted to see if the Speedbox was up to transporting and protecting gear in a variety of conditions.

The most important test in my estimation was loading it heavily and rolling it on very uneven surfaces. The best test of this was likely my shooting loadout. It was well over 150 pounds with 3 steel targets (nearly 40 pounds each), loaded magazines, spare ammo, and everything else I need on the range. It was rolled over completely unimproved footpaths, dirt road, and rocky hillside with no signs of damage to the axle or where the axle interfaces with polymer body. It has also been rolled for more than a mile hiking trails and small glacial boulder fields (golf ball up to basketball size round stone) on its way too and from our creek with zero detectable change in the wheels or axle.

The Enurance-40 lodged on the rocks during testing.

Speaking of the creek… The most fun testing that we completed was the float test. I sealed the empty Endurance-40 and let it roll down the same 50 yard section of the creek twice. At the end of the second float, it lodged on some rocks were it stuck with the full force of the creek behind it. This isn’t a dive case and getting stuck on the rocks with the pressure of a creek behind it is probably beyond what Speedbox intended but the gasket did its job. There was no water in the case though a few drops did force their way just under the gasket.

Finally, I pushed the Endurance-40 off the tailgate of my truck (which has a 3″ lift) 4 times. I did it twice empty and twice with a load of firewood in it. The LZ was my gravel driveway. Ouch! The box took some gouging, especially when full, but the lid remained sealed, the cam buckles didn’t break, the hinge is fine, and its integrity is completely intact.

I am impressed.

Price

I rarely comment on price in reviews, preferring instead to let you make your own judgement on value. I am going to comment on price here because these boxes are not cheap but I believe the price should not be a surprise.

I’ll draw a few comparison to illustrate what I mean. Any and all high-end rugged, water-proof, rolling, polymer gear cases (usually geared toward firearm transport or camera equipment) are relatively expensive. You can also price similarly sized rotomolded items like high end coolers as a benchmark. The Endurance-40 is sort an amalgamation of both of those with other features thrown in like large rubber tires and an over-built handle. The Endurance-40 also happens to be larger than most high end cases.

Rocky hills? No problem.

Wrap Up

If you have seen Speedbox’s offerings online before and passed right by thinking they weren’t for you because you don’t need to palletize gear, you are missing out. I like to think I put the Endurance-40 through some realistic testing (maybe even some testing beyond realistic) and it proved to be extremely durable. It has a combination of features that make it useful in lot of situations.

I don’t know of another storage container that do what Speedbox does and, more importantly for me, go where Speedbox goes.

Speedbox.us


Disclosure: The Endurance-40 was sent to me by Speedbox free of charge for the purposes of writing a review.

Review: SaltStick Electrolyte Caps

If you are reading this blog, it is probably safe to assume that you enjoy a lot of same pursuits that I do and a lot of those pursuits, like shooting, training, and hiking, happen outdoors. If you enjoy these activities, you know the importance of hydration. No one wants to get sidelined on a hike or feel wrecked on day two of a carbine course because they didn’t monitor their hydration. You can’t get that lost time and money back.

I used to play organized sports year round and I drank a lot of water to try to stay hydrated. However, I still found myself dizzy with headaches, cramps, and sick to my stomach on a regular basis. That was likely because I was taking in too much water without also being intentional about adding nutrition and electrolytes. I added sports drinks to my hydration regime which helped dramatically.

As I have grown older, I’ve become more conscious of the amount of sugar that many sports drinks contain (especially when you are drinking them one after the other) so I started looking for a way to add electrolytes while reducing my sugar intake. That search lead me to a number of products that work very well but the one that has been the most convenient is SaltStick Electrolyte Caps.

Basically, these are capsules that contain an electrolyte mix that mimics the types and amounts of electrolytes actually lost in sweat during 30-60 minutes of strenuous activity. I like to take one with my first drink of water and then take another every hour or two based on my activity level and how much water I am taking in. Since SaltStick Caps contain only electrolytes (no other nutrition or sugars), I am able to keep my electrolyte intake and nutrition intake separate which makes it easier for me to keep track. I make sure I am drinking water and periodically adding solid nutrition like fruit, nuts, granola bars, etc. and the capsules handle the rest.

I don’t have any quantifiable lab results but I can offer some long term anecdotal evidence. These capsules have worked for me for more than 3 years. I deal with temps in the 90s and humidity below 20 percent during the summer months. If you hike, run a chainshaw for a few hours in protective gear, or do some training on the range in that kind of weather… you will need to be on your hydration game. I have not had a single dizzy/headache episode since I started using SaltStick and, for me, that is really saying something.

I should also mention that at a cost of about $.20 per capsule (when you buy 100 at a time), they are less expensive than pre-mixed sports drinks! In my experience, they work better. You also don’t need to clean them out of your bottles and hydration bladders like sticky drink mixes!

I have only used the regular SaltStick caps but they also make SaltStick Plus cap which have some caffeine and SaltStick chews. I have never found SaltStick locally which is kind of a bummer but they are readily available online. I have purchased all of mine from Amazon (affiliate link): SaltStick on Amazon

Powered by WordPress. Designed by Woo Themes

%d bloggers like this: