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How to Add Retention to Your Mora Sheath

Mora knives are great. I think we all know that by now. Most of them cost between $9 and $15 but they offer performance and quality well beyond their price point. I like them… a lot. I like them enough that, while I own several expensive knives (even customs of my own design), I carry and use Mora knives most of the time. They are so lightweight, so inexpensive, and so capable that it is hard to justify the pack weight of other knives.

But… There is always a catch. The sheaths that come with Mora knives are actually mostly functional but don’t always offer enough retention for use during very vigorous activity or for carrying lose in your pack. This problem can result in a lost knife, ruined gear from a loose knife flopping around in your pack, or even injury. I highly recommend addressing the issue somehow, especially if you are going to carry a knife in your pack. Fortunately, it can be fixed easily and inexpensively.

In my experience, there are two easy ways to fix the retention issue. One is VERY inexpensive and one generally costs more than the Mora itself but still offers a good value. I’ll start with the more expensive way.

The Expensive Way – Replace the Sheath

There are a ton of kydex benders out there who would be more than happy to fold a sheath for you. The benefits of buying a kydex sheath are numerous. The most important benefit is that, if the sheath maker is worth their salt, the retention should be improved enough that you can carry the Mora without fear that it will come out of the sheath on its own. Additionally, you can choose your own belt attachment method (or no belt hardware at all), features, and color.

If you can, consider supporting a kydex bender that is local to you. If not…

You can spend a lot on a sheath but you don’t have to. Armory Plastics makes a great sheath for the Mora Companion (one of my favorite and most common Moras in the line right now) for around $20. It is made in the USA – the great state of Idaho to be specific. It comes with a very stout rotating belt clip that I like a lot, offers great retention, drains well thanks to a molded drain hole, and is available in orange or black (mine is orange): Armory Plastics Mora Companion Sheath on Amazon (affiliate link).

The Cheap Way – Ranger Bands

If you don’t want to drop the coin on an aftermarket sheath, you’re in luck. Most Mora sheaths can be rigged with a ranger band in order to retain the knife. The sheaths with a drop hook belt attachment can generally except a thin band near the top of the belt hook to create a retention strap (see image below). This includes models like the Pro (C, S, Robust), Craftline, and Companion series. You simply pull the band up and over the butt of the knife to release it and the band stays attached to the sheath.

I like to use Gearward Ranger Bands for this because they are the perfect size for this task and are very robust. You can make your own too.

The sheaths with more of a bucket-like design, like the venerable 510, require a wider band. Simply cut a band that is around 1.5 – 2″ wide and fit it around the top of the sheath so that it extends above the top of the opening. It will grip the Mora’s handle and add just a bit more retention. You will eventually cut it when inserting the knife back into the sheath, but it should continue gripping the knife even when cut.

As a bonus, ranger bands make a great firestarter in a pinch. They can be lit with a lighter and will burn long enough to buy you some time to ignite less than ideal tinder. You can probably cut a 2″ wide band into 4 smaller fire starters or just use the whole band to light especially poor tinder.

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

Gearward HemiSERE Titanium Lapel Knife

Gearward’s new HemiSERE Titanium Lapel Knife is now available. The HemiSERE is like the classic Lapel Knives of the OSS in concept but thoroughly modern in materials, ergonomics, and function.

This wafer thin, ultralight, non-ferrous knife is designed to be carried discreetly in a number of different ways. It is ground from .05″ thick Titanium/Ceramic composite that was selected to balance factors like durability, weight, and edge retention. The HemiSERE’s overall length is 3.375″ long with a blade length of 1.875″. It weighs just 4 grams!

The HemiSERE’s name comes from the hemispherical cut out in its handle. This is the key to how the HemiSERE can be gripped comfortably, retained effectively, and creates its edge forward orientation when gripped. This, coupled with its thin flat grind and Wharncliffe blade shape, allows it slash deep.

Each HemiSERE Titanium Lapel Knife comes stuck to a blank credit card with a glue dot and with 12 extra 3M glue dots. The HemiSERE is so thin and light that it may be carried with the glue dots in a variety places like under a lapel, inside a phone case, stuck to a credit card, or anywhere you can dream up.

Stay tuned for a more complete review.

Gearward.com

Gearward FireBox

The new FireBox from Gearward is a fire starting kit that is compact enough to EDC, water-resistant, usable for multiple fires even after the tinder is exhausted, and ready to use right out of the box. It contains three components, all of which I have used myself in my own kits. The provided ferro rod and ceramic striker provide hot sparks in all conditions and can be used to ignite many different tinders – not just the provided tinder. The kit also comes with 20 pieces of jute twine tinder that is impregnated with a substance that makes it water-resistant and allows it to burn longer.

This type of tinder is extremely easy to ignite with sparks. You simply process it into fine fibers (this can be done with a knife, a rock, or even by hand). The fibers can then be lightly bunched to create a nest that will catch a spark readily. It is extremely easy to use and will work in damp conditions, cold, and even at altitudes that give butane lighters fits.

Check out the FireBox at Edge/Equipped.

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Guest Post – The Importance of a Public Knife for EDC by Mark Greenman

Mark Greenman is the editor of Good-Kit and the founder of Gearward – an online retailer with all kinds of unique and useful EDC gear. His article on the “public knife” concept gelled some ideas that I have been knocking around in my own mind for some time. I found this article to be excellent and asked him to publish here on JTT.

Like Mark, I prefer to carry a smaller, more palatable knife but my reasons are different (and more selfish). I don’t necessarily feel burdened to represent all knife carriers with the knife that I carry but I do prefer to remain as anonymous as possible. That is hard to do when you pull out your Throat Slasher 5000 folding knife at a restaurant just to remove a string from your cuff.

His point about knives only being small and large in the eyes of the uninitiated is well taken. That Spyderco Delica that you think looks small and discreet might as be a machete when you take it out at the office to open a box.

Thank you Mark for allowing me publish this article here on JTT.


The Importance of a Public Knife for EDC

On the forums, I frequently hear about people getting bad reactions when they use their knives in public. Conversely, I use my knives frequently, and almost never get a negative reaction.

While I bemoan the rise of a “sheeple” society afraid of inanimate objects, their reactions are not always unreasonable. For example, if I’m just hanging out at the mall, and a guy I don’t know flips out a 4” tactical knife, you better believe I’m going to be keeping my eye on him. And I’m a straight up knife nerd/blogger whose been carrying since I was 4 years old.

Are we really surprised that the uninformed and unarmed might be a bit shaded out by the sudden presence of a large blade?

Which gets to the crux of this article: people are not scared of knives. They’re scared of large knives that have no apparent purpose.

First off, what constitutes a large knife? Well, for 90% of the public, the answer is “any knife that isn’t small.” For you and I, knives come in small, medium, and large. However, for the general public, there is only small and large. That nice, medium sized folder you carry is a large knife in their eyes, and the large folding knives I favor are veritable swords.

That’s because these folks have not had any positive experiences with EDC knives. Much like most anti-gunners have never been to the shooting range, most “sheeple” have never seen a reasonable knife used for a reasonable task.

The trick to having positive public knife use, and winning these folks over to our side, is to get our foot in the door is by using reasonable knives for reasonable purposes.

The “foot in the door phenomenon” is defined as “people’s tendency to comply more readily with a large request if they have already agreed to a smaller favor.” The knife equivalent then is to have people become comfortable with small knives, so that they will be more receptive to larger knives down the road.

Let me give you a personal example. I was traveling in Europe, which is about as anti-knife a continent as exists, and I needed to cut up a lime for drinks. I was in a mixed group of travelers I just met. Now, I was carrying two folders: my 3.75” Pacific Salt, and my 1.75” Spyderco Ladybug.

I pulled out the Ladybug, and quickly cut the lime. One of the girls commented that, while she had never really considered it before, she now saw the obvious utility of having a knife. Now, had I whipped out my much larger Pac Salt, do you think I would have gotten as positive as a reaction, even though the cutting task itself was identical?

A few days later, that girl’s sandal broke, and I needed to split the sole in half so that I could repair it. This required a much sturdier knife, so I pulled out my Pacific Salt, and once again, there was no negative reaction, because she was now accustomed to knives being used for utility, and this task clearly necessitated a larger knife.

The point I’m driving at is that if we want people to view carrying a knife as reasonable, we need to use a knife commensurate with the task. If it’s a small task, we should use a small knife. And if it’s a big task, we should use a big knife.

Using the right knife for the task wins people to our side.

While using too large a knife just makes us look weird.

When it comes to opening a letter or slicing open a box, it’s important we select the right tool for the job. Which of these should you use to open a difficult candy bar in a crowded lunchroom?

Public Knife selection:
To compliment your larger EDC knife, I recommend carrying a “public knife,” which is small enough to be socially acceptable everywhere. That means that the knife should have a 2” blade or less.

I have used all of these knives in public, and no one has ever become alarmed:

However, it’s more than size alone. The knife also has to look friendly. While these knives have 2” blades, their appearance is distinctly menacing, which defeats the point of the Public Knife.

Since you will be using your Public Knife quite a bit, I recommend purchasing something that offers both high performance, and elegant looks. You want something that you will enjoy using, and something you would be proud to show off.

My personal preference is for the Spyderco Manbug G10. It’s a bit pricey for such a small knife, but it’s extremely well made, with a full flat ground VG10 blade that offers excellent edge retention and sharpness. The result is a 2” knife that can out cut many 3” folders on the market today.

Meanwhile, the G10 handle has refined ergonomics that fit the first three fingers perfectly. With the addition of a small lanyard, you can have a full, secure grip, while still fitting in the change pocket of your jeans.

If the Mangug is too pricey, I suggest the Spyderco Ladybug, which is the original version of the Manbug. While not as classy, it still offers tremendous cutting potential, at half the cost. I personally recommend the SE version if you don’t know how to sharpen, as it works better on boxes.

If you’re looking for something for your keychain, I recommend the Leatherman Squirt. It’s incredibly useful, and people I show it to love it.

GEARWARD Ranger Bands

I usually just cut bicycle inner tubes into whatever size “ranger band” I need but they can get brittle and tear in a relatively short amount of time. GEARWARD is now offering a more substantial Ranger Band. Theirs are made from thick EPDM rubber which, according to GEARWARD, resists heat, UV, and saltwater. Like most rubber bands, these can be burned as an emergency fire starter but thanks to their thick construction, they burn for 3 minutes.

The bands are 2″ long, 1/2″ wide, and come in packs of 20. Check out GEARWARD Ranger Bands.

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Gearward Ceramic Escape Knives

Gearward’s new Ceramic Escape Knife (CEK) is designed to be a last ditch cutting tool that can be carried discreetly. The folding design packs a 1.25″ ceramic blade into a trim 1.75″ x .40″ package that weighs the same as a penny (2.5 grams)! The “handle” is plastic and features a cutout to make deploying the blade easier.

The CEK is so small it should be able to fit into any kit you have and be able to be concealed in just about any way you can imagine. Gearward has some great ideas for how to carry the CEK on their site.

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Gearward A-K Band

Gearward’s A-K Band, or Anti-Kidnapping Band, is an extremely discreet kit that can keep a few effective escape tools close at hand, even if you are restrained. The kit consists of a bit of ranger band, a polymer handcuff key, a ceramic razor blade, and a 4′ length of Kevlar cord to use as a friction saw. The ranger band allows you to stow all of the contents of the kit on your watch band where it nearly disappears once covered by the folded over excess of the watch band.

The kit is completely non-metallic and since it is carried on your watch, it can theoretically be accessed while you are restrained (assuming you are allowed to keep your watch). As with any kit of this sort, I highly recommend that you spend some time learning and practicing its use before you need it.

You can find the A-K Band at Gearward and, while you are there, check out their extensive pictures on the A-K Band’s use.

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Gearward Adds 3 New Compact Survival Cord Options

Gearward has added three new options for their excellent Compact Survival Cord (see the previous review). The new options include:

  • Small Kevlar: 200′ of 200lb Line
  • Mini Technora: 25′ of 600lb Line
  • Micro Technora: 10′ of 600lb Line

The Small Kevlar option is most exciting to me. In my review, I mentioned that I hoped they would bring a kevlar option to their largest spool and they heard my pleas! 200 feet of cordage in such a small and easy to deploy package represents a lot of capability.

Check out the new Compact Survival Cord options at Gearward.

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Review: Gearward Field Lighter

When it comes to lighters, will a cheap Bic lighter work? Yes, very well in fact. Will $20 Zippo work? Yup, they are an American classic for a reason. Sometimes you just want something classy, something you can be proud to own, something truly fine.  There are certainly less expensive lighters but sometimes you want something  like the Field Lighter from Gearward. It is the classiest item in my EDC/survival kit.

The Field Lighter comes in very nice box. This image also shows the protective collar in the locked position.

The Field Lighter comes in very nice box. This image also shows the protective collar in the locked position.

Overview

The Field Lighter from Gearward is imported. It is made in Japan and available overseas. Gearward is the only importer to the USA that I know of.

This lighter is very finely machined from solid brass and has a polished chrome finish. It has a reassuring heft to it but a subtle, watch-like, fine quality to it at the same time. This lighter is crafted, not made but don’t think it is all show and no go. This lighter is actually fairly unique among lighter fluid fueled lighters in that it seals.

Gearward Field Lighter

It has a threaded, o-ring sealed collar that makes the flint water-resistant and locks the cap in place. The extinguisher bell seals over the wick when it is in the closed position, making it water-resistant. When everything is locked down, the Field Lighter is water resistant enough to sit at the bottom of a sink full of water for 5 minutes and then be sparked on the first try after a quick shake. I know because I did just that.

The fill cap on the bottom of the Field Light is like a tiny little doctoral thesis in fine machining. It is screwed into the body of the light and is o-ring sealed. The fill cap has its own tiny o-ring sealed, threaded cap that contains a small emergency reservoir of lighter fluid. That small cap has an even smaller o-ring sealed, threaded cap that holds a spare flint (included). You should probably be dumbfounded right now because that is ridiculous in the best way something can be ridiculous.

The fill cap contains two more threaded caps that contain spare fuel and a spare flint.

The fill cap contains two more threaded caps that contain spare fuel and a spare flint.

This is a closer look at the caps.

This is a closer look at the caps.

Observations from Use

I think the best way to talk about how well this lighter performs is probably to compare it directly to something you all know well – the venerable Zippo.

The Zippo has several things going for it over the Field Lighter. In my testing I noted that the Field Lighter is very wind resistant but it still falls short of the Zippo in this regard but most lighters do. The Field lighter handled windy days well enough but the Zippo really excels.

The Zippo also has more commonly available spare parts. You can find flints and wicks in just about any drug store. The Zippo wicks should work fine for the Field Lighter but I don’t know of a widely available replacement for its oversized flints. It does come with a spare flint and Gearward will be selling them in the near future so stock up. That is where the Zippo’s advantages (other than price) end.

The grooved collar is shown in the unlocked position which allows the Field Lighter to operate.

The grooved collar is shown in the unlocked position which allows the Field Lighter to operate. When this collar is closed, it is air tight.

The Field Lighter is more durable, more compact, easier to light (even with gloves), easier to fill, can be maintained without tools, has a more stable and usable flame, and most importantly for survival kit use, is far more water-resistant and more reliable. The water-resistance comment should make sense in light of what I have already said above. You can actually submerge this lighter and then use it immediately.

The reliability comment will take some explaining because right now you are probably saying, “How could it be more reliable than a Zippo?” It is far more reliable thanks to the fact that its sealed design actually retains lighter fluid. Fluid will evaporate out of a Zippo in as little as a few days and as long as about 2 weeks.

The Field Lighter is completely sealed and can hold its fluid for a year or more. In fact, even if you do forget to seal it up, it still takes several weeks for the fluid to evaporate thanks to the better seals. If you do find that the fluid has evaporated, you still have an onboard emergency reservoir that is sealed in behind two o-ring sealed caps.

So, while the Field Lighter looks amazing and feels like functional art, you should not forget that it is functional. It would be a tremendous addition to a fire starting kit or EDC thanks to its ability to retain lighter fluid. I have never found the butane torch style lighters to be all that reliable while naphtha fueled lighters like the Field Lighter, Zippo, IMCO, and others are rock steady as long as they have fluid.

Pressing down on the tab at the top of the Field Lighter flips the cover open and ignites the flame. Closing it snuffs the flame.

Pressing down on the tab at the top of the Field Lighter flips the cover open and ignites the flame. Closing it snuffs the flame.

Wrap Up

It is true that the Field Lighter is expensive. It is also true that spare flints are not available currently but they will be soon. In spite of all that, I greatly prefer this to any lighter that I have tried. It is so robust, reliable, well-engineered, and finely made that it is not only extremely useful but also something to be desired. It is just plain cool.

Check out the Field Lighter at Gearward.

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