TangoDown® New Product Release – TD® Inc. MK3 Rifle Magazine

TangoDown® Inc. is pleased to announce the release of the MK3 Magazine.  After extensive engineering and testing, the wait is over.  The MK3 magazine body is of modular construction and features aggressive texturing along with ribbed design for positive no-slip manipulation.  We’re confident you’ll be pleased with the features and function the MK3 brings to your rifle.

Here are just a few of the MK3 features:

  • Available in Black and Flat Dark Earth
  • 30 Round Magazine (20 Round option coming soon)
  • Available in a Flat Bottom and Round Bottom (for mono-pod style use)
  • White anti-tilt low friction follower
  • Impact resistant polymer construction
  • Corrosion resistant heat treated spring

Note:  The MK3 is intended for 5.56 x 45mm NATO cartridge use and will work in any AR15 or M16/M4 MIL-SPEC pattern magazine well.

Visit the product page for all information regarding the TangoDown® MK3 Magazine:

https://tangodown.com/tangodown-mk3-rifle-magazine-30-round-5-56mm/

Part Numbers:  MK3RND30-01BLK / MK3FLT30-01BLK / MK3RND30-01FDE / MK3FLT30-01FDE

MSRP:  $23.95Customer Questions:sales@tangodown.com

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Review: Vosteed Ankylo with New Vanchor Lock

The Vosteed Ankylo has a lot of momentum right now. It’s a new knife with a promising new lock, its all over my feeds, and it met its funding goal on Kickstarter in 30 minutes. That’s hype and all signs point to the Ankylo living up to it.

Specs

Blade Length: 3.18″ | 80.90 mm
Overall Length: 7.75″ | 196.90 mm
Blade Width: 1.22″ | 31.00 mm
Blade Thickness: 0.134″ | 3.40 mm
Blade Material: Elmax
Blade Grind: Flat
Blade Style: Reverse Tanto
Blade Finish: Black Stonewash / Satin / Stonewash
Hardness: HRC 60±2
Handle Length: 4.57″ | 116.00 mm
Handle Width: 1.06″ | 27.00 mm
Handle Thickness: 0.563″ | 14.30 mm
Handle Material: 6061 Aluminum
Color: Black / Green / Gray / Orange / Blue
Weight: 4.76 oz | 135.00 g
Opener: Front Flipper | Back Flipper | Thumb Hole
Lock Type: V-anchor Lock
Pivot Assembly: Caged Ceramic Ball Bearing
Pocket Clip:  Non-reversible | Stainless Steel
Carry Position: Tip-up
Knife Type: Manual Folding
Designer: Yue

Observations from Use

The Vanchor lock that is debuted on this knife is the recipient of most of the hype but, first, I want to talk about the Ankylo as a knife. It has dominated my pocket since I received a prototype for evaluation. Vosteed’s take on the reverse tanto blade shape has everything you want for an EDC knife – a strong and useable point, plenty of sweeping belly, a tall flat grind, and a reasonably thin edge.

The choice of Elmax steel made my day. Elmax is underappreciated and underused as a blade steel. It has very well-rounded characteristics with solid edge holding, toughness, and corrosion resistance while being easier to sharpen than many other super steels which I appreciate.

Accessing the blade is easy thanks to the multiple deployment options baked into this knife. It has a front and back flipper, neither of which add any width to the knife which I love. They also both have great jimping. The large thumb hole works like a champ for any deployment method you would want – slow rolling, thumb flicking, or reverse flicking. The Vanchor lock provides a very well tuned detent to support all these opening methods and the action is kind of unique. It’s very smooth and moves freely with somewhat of a buffered feel that is hard to describe – you need to try it. I think that feel might come from the magnet in the lock.

This knife fills and melts into the hand in multiple grips. The handle is long enough that average hands will be able to hold it with the index finger in the finger groove or choke up to the flat ahead of the finger groove… or choke up even further to place the index finger on the large comfortable finger choil. None of the opening methods get in the way of your grip because they all tuck cleanly into the handle when the blade is deployed (this is one of my most appreciated design elements that Vosteed incorporates into several of their knives).

Finally, we can talk about the Vanchor lock. This lock does exactly what you want a knife lock to do – lock up like a vault. The Ankylo with its Vanchor lock seems to have no play at all, in any direction. Not only does the Vanchor lock provide a lot of lock surface area but the large pivot assembly requires larger diameter caged ball bearings which coupled with the all metal construction make this knife feel like a fixed blade when it is deployed. Most knives on bearings can be flexed at least a little bit… not the Ankylo.

The heart of the Vanchor lock is a steel bar with a large lock plate on one end (all one piece). The steel bar is mounted inside the knife scale much like a nested liner lock so the lock plate can flex toward the blade. However, instead of locking against the tang, the lock plate mates into a groove at the base of the blade. When locked, this solid steel bar would need to break or deform for the lock to fail.

This design provides a few interesting benefits for end users and even knife designers. First, it is button-actuated which brings with it a lot of ease of use /fidget-factor for left and right handed users. Second, its detent geometry is very much like that of a liner lock which makes it easy to achieve a strong, crisp detent to support all fidgety-goodness that can be designed into a button lock knife.

When it comes to new knife locks, only time can tell the whole story. We can’t know yet how this lock will fair over the long term, exposure to pocket lint, sand, etc. but it certainly seems like a promising mix of strong, reliable lock-up with the user-friendliness of a button lock.

No knife is perfect and there are a few changes I would like to see made that are really just my preferences. First, it would be nice to have milled pocket clip on a chunky knife like this. I like Vosteed’s stamped clips but a milled clip would suit this knife. Second, I would like to see the large lock button recessed a bit more. It is large enough that you will always be able to find it so making it even more resistant to inadvertent contact seems like a win-win.

Wrap Up

The Ankylo is a knife worthy of an exciting new lock. It would be easy to loose sight of the fact that this is just a great knife in all the hype around the Vanchor lock. That said, the Vanchor lock does deliver. It has strong lock up, a great detent, and is as easy to use as any button lock. It will be very, very interesting to see where this lock turns upon next.

You can learn more about the Ankylo on Kickstarter. Learn more about Vosteed at Vosteed.com.

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Review: SRM Knives 9201

I have a confession to make. I like cheap knives. I’m not talking about “gas station knives” (though I like those too, if I am honest) or knives that are cheap for the sake of being cheap. I’m talking about the thrill of finding knives that are cheap but that actually offer compelling reasons to like them. It’s one of the reasons I spend so much of my money on knives that cost around $30 to review here but…

Today, we aren’t talking about a $30 knife. We’re talking about a knife that costs closer to $20 but still manages to offer some features that set it apart from anything you’ll find at that one sketchy knife table at every flea market. We’re talking about the SRM Knives 9201 – specifically the version with polymer scales.

Specs

  • Blade Length: 3.5″
  • Closed Length: 4.55″
  • Overall Length: 8.09″
  • Blade Steel: 8Cr13MoV (stainless)
  • Blade Thickness: 0.12″
  • Blade Shape: Clip Point
  • Handle Material: FRN
  • Locking Mechanism: Ambi-Lock
  • Pocket Clip: Reversible Stainless Steel
  • Weight: 3.4 oz

Observations from Use

This is the most affordable version of the SRM 920X series. It costs under $22 shipped to your door. While nothing about this knife screams premium, it manages to make a compelling case for itself with workaday features that make it a very useful… and dare I say… likable tool.

I want to start with some things that genuinely surprised me about this knife in a good way. First, the knife came greased – not packed with grease like some cheap knives (though there was a lot) but with grease that was applied purposefully to the pivot. This knife clearly passed through human hands before going into the shipping container bound for American shores. Additionally, I took it apart and found surprisingly thick bronze washers and blue tread locking compound applied to all the screws. It also arrived very sharp due to the near MIRROR POLISHED EDGE… impressive and surprising for $22.

The blade steel, 8Cr13MOV, is nothing to write home about but it is similar to AUS8 which sharpens easily and polishes well (easy to maintain on a strop). SRM has done the steel some favors here with a very tall flat grind and thin, polished edge so it cuts very well. They clearly put some effort into getting the edge, the most important part of a knife, as right as it could be. They also give you a lot of edge to work with thanks to the 3.5″ length and great piercing thanks to the large clip that tapers down to a needle-like point. It’s chocked full of slicey, pokey goodness.

The experience of using and carrying reminds me a lot of the Spyderco Endura. It is relatively large but slim and lightweight. And, like the Endura it has FRN scales. The FRN feels/sounds a little cheap at first but they do seem to have decent glass content (very crunchy when you touch them with a soldering iron) and they offer really excellent grip thanks to the embossed SRM logo pattern. As much as it would be easy to take shots at these plastic scales, they are well executed.

The SRM 9201 is very easy to flick open thanks to the smooth action (after cleaning out some of that aforementioned grease) and well-designed opening hole. Its very fidgety and easy to access.

The biggest draw for me when I added this to my cart was the crossbar lock. We are unaccustomed to seeing proven, hard-use, finger-safe locks like this at this price point and I wanted to see if was decent. This lock is better than decent. Mine locks up perfectly and has passed multiple spine whack “tests”. A lock like this and at this price is impressive.

Not everything is coming up roses for this knife though. The blade centering on mine is off and I can’t correct it despite trying. I also wish the omega springs in the lock were just a bit more stout but the provided springs work well enough. The blade coating marks up easily and likely won’t last. And, like I already said, the FRN scales feel cheap even though I don’t think they actually are that cheap (makes you appreciate how companies like Spyderco make FRN feel premium). Fortunately, a lot of these gripes can be overcome by selecting a different version of this knife with different scale material or a lack of blade coating… and SRM offers several.

Wrap Up

If you read around the internet a bit, you’ll find that the SRM 920X series is a bit of a cult classic among cheap knife enthusiasts and I can see why. It is a knife nerd’s knife at a big box store price.

This knife is very slim and lightweight for its size. Its easy to carry and boasts a strong lock. It’s an aggressive cutter and will be easy to keep that way thanks to great cutting geometry. There is a lot to like here for around $20. This is a knife that isn’t just cheap. It fights for a spot in your pocket by offering actual value and personality.

I purchased my SRM 9201 on Amazon. The blue FRN scale version with a coated blade is not currently available but the selection changes frequently. You may want to shop around a bit as there are many versions of this knife at various price points: SRM 9201 on Amazon.com

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Review: Vosteed Mini Nightshade with New Aluminum Scales

I’ve been fortunate to handle several Vosteed Cutlery knives at this point and the Mini Nightshade is still in my top 2 (alongside the Raccoon). The Nightshade series knives, with their unique Shilin Cutter shape, are the knives that really exemplify what I like about Vosteed – great functional shapes and materials, great prices, and some really bold designs.

Vosteed provided the latest version of the Mini Nightshade for me to check out.

Specs

Blade Length: 2.60″ | 66.04mm

Overall Length: 6.31″ | 160.37mm

Blade Width: 1.13″ | 28.28mm

Blade Thickness: 0.098″ | 2.49mm

Blade Material: 14C28N

Blade Grind: Flat

Blade Style: Shilin Cutter

Blade Finish: Stonewash

Hardness: HRC 60±2

Handle Length: 3.71″ | 94.33mm

Handle Width: 0.89″ | 22.6

Handle Thickness: 0.437″ | 11.10 mm

Weight: 2.16 oz | 61.10 g

Opener: Thumb Stud

Lock Type: Crossbar Lock

Pivot Assembly: Caged Ceramic Ball Bearing

Pocket Clip: Reversible | Stainless Steel

Carry Position: Tip-up

There are other finishes and handle materials available but my review sample has a black-washed blade, green aluminum handles, and gold accents (thumb stud and backspacer).

Observations from Use

I have already written in-depth why I like the Mini Nightshade in the previous review which I suggest you check out. In this review, I’ll focus on the differences with this new aluminum scale version.

I expected this would just be a scale-swapped version of an already great knife but I was surprised to find that the aluminum scales changed the character of the Mini Nightshade a lot. The new scales are slightly thicker than the original G-10 version. It’s enough that you notice a difference. That extra thickness with the great machined texture makes this new version feel a little more capable… more ready to work.

Speaking of the texture, Vosteed gets a gold star for how they executed it. They machined a scalloped pattern into the scales that provides great grip out near the edges but tapers down to smooth at the center of the scale. This means the clip rides on the smooth part of the scale making it very easy to take in and out of the pocket. This is such a clever touch that works and looks great.

This version of the Mini Nightshade feels more substantial in the hand in part due to a slight weight increase but it is still an absolute feather-weight at just 2.16 ounces. That is incredibly light for an all-metal knife.

The Mini Nightshade was already a refined, gentemanly knife but this new version received even more refinements from Vosteed. The deep carry clip is now nested into the scale and they provided a filler tab for the side that is not in use. They even took care to slightly extend the thumb studs to account for the thicker scales. That is some solid attention to detail.

If you haven’t tried something from the Vosteed Nightshade series, you really should. This blade shape is incredible. It holds material in the cut and gives easy access to the point like a sheepsfoot or warncliffe style blade but also offers belly for slicing and draw cuts like a drop point or leaf shape blade. It’s unique and useful.

Wrap Up

This is new version of the Mini Nightshade from Vosteed builds on the back of an already great knife. The proven cutting geometry, useful blade shape, lightweight, and compact design are still there but with some additional refinements, new texture, and a great new look. This is my favorite version of the Mini Nightshade to date.

You can see the whole Nightshade range at Vosteed.com. Now is a great time to check them out as many of their knives are up to 20% off for Easter (no code required).

The new Mini Nightshades are also on sale and available at Amazon: Mini Nightshade on Amazon.com

Review: Flextail Tiny Pump 2X

You may be surprised to see a small, lightweight, USB-C rechargeable air pump on these pages but this Flextailgear Tiny Pump 2X has earned a permanent place in my backpacking gear.

This is sold as an air pump for sleeping pads but I think of it more as a lantern that happens to blow up sleeping pads. That is how it earned a spot in my pack… it kicked out the backup light/lantern that I was already carrying out of my pack.

Maybe it is weird to start out a review of this pump talking about its secondary functionality as a lantern, but is actually a very useful light. The included bail makes it easy to hang up in or near your tent and it has broad, floody beam with three well-spaced output settings. It’s a better backup light/tent light than what I was carrying before and it weighs less than many similar lights.

The main reason that I appreciate the pump feature is how easy it makes setting up my sleeping pad. After a long day hiking up hill the whole way, it’s easier to push a button than to blow up the pad with your lungs. It’s also nice to not introduce the moisture from your breath into your sleeping pad where mold can form. This might help extend the life of your sleeping pad and help you sleep a bit warmer.

At around 3.5 ounces and roughly the size of a shot glass, this Tiny Pump 2X packs a lot of usefulness into a small space. I would probably never carry a dedicated pump, but a lantern that also happens to pump up my sleeping pad effortlessly… I can get with that.

I bought my Flextailgear Tiny Pump 2X on Amazon.com but shop around, as sometimes there are better deals direct from Flextailgear.

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