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Review: Vosteed Raccoon Cross-Bar Lock

I’ll just spoil this review up front. Vosteed provided me a Raccoon with cross-bar lock for review and I think it is an exemplary knife. It isn’t just great for it’s price. It’s great at any price. It’s great, period. The Raccoon shows what a knife company can do when they design for simplicity and get everything just about right.

Stats

Overall Length: 7.60″ | 193.12 mm

Blade Length: 3.25″ | 82.55 mm

Blade Width: 1.07″ | 27.27 mm 

Blade Thickness: 0.125″ | 3.20 mm

Blade Material: 14C28N

Grind: Flat 

Blade Style: Drop Point 

Hardness: HRC 60±2

Handle Length: 4.36″ | 110.75 mm

Handle Width: 1.10″ | 27.95 mm

Handle Thickness: 0.49″ | 12.4 mm

Weight: 3.06 oz | 86.8 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 satin-finished blade and black micarta handles.

Observations from Use

The Raccoon goes hard out of the gate with its first impression. It comes in a nylon knife pouch which itself is inside of a tin. There are stickers and two patches included in the tin along with a set of spare omega springs for the cross-bar lock which is GREAT. The inclusion of spare springs is a great way to show attention to detail. These springs don’t break as commonly as internet goobers would have you think but having spares is nice.

I would say that, if the Raccoon was a sports team, the blade would be the MVP. Vosteed ticked every box. 14C28N steel is perhaps the best budget steel of all time with its balance of edge resistance, toughness, stain resistance, and sharpenability. The .125″ stock and nearly full-height flat grind means the blade is slicy but also plenty stout. The drop point (almost spear point) shape is versatile with both plenty of point and lots of straight edge near the handle for high leverage cuts. It’s topped off with a crowned spine and perfect jimping. This is the kind of blade that should appeal to everyone. It cuts so well… very, very well.

The handle shows just as much attention to what the knife users want as the blade. The canvas micarta they have sourced for these knives is great – attractive and almost velvety to the touch (in a grippy way). A peek underneath those micarta slabs reveals fully nested, skeletonized steel liners. The matching micarta backspacer is another surprising and welcome touch for a knife at this price. This handle has very little flex while keeping the weight of the knife to right at 3 ounces.

The details and commitment to simplicity continue with the hardware. The clips is reversible and nested into the handle with flush screws. The Raccoon comes with a clip plate for the non-clip side. The pivot has machined flourishes and there is just a single body screw to make disassembly easy.

The handle feels very warm and comfortable in the hands thanks to heavily rounded edges. In fact, every touch point is comfortable on the Raccoon – even the thumb studs which are grippy (but not sharp) and very easy to access…

And you will want to access those thumb studs because Vosteed did some real magic with the action of this knife. It flicks very well and makes satisfying chunky noises while doing it. If you have tried to flick open some cross-bar lock knives, you know the action can be mushy since the lock itself provides the detent action. The Raccoon flicks up and swings shut very well in spite of this which is a testament to how Vosteed tuned the tang of the blade to interact with the lock.

My impressions of this knife are overwhelmingly positive but I think it could be even better. Admittedly, the following items are my own personal preferences but there are changes (or maybe just a different version) I would like to see, nonetheless. If I had my druthers, this knife would be available with bronze washers instead of ball bearings in the pivot since I tend to use my knives in dirty, dusty jobs around hour property. This design lends itself to that kind of work and it would be nice to seal more of that grit out of the pivot. Additionally, the current shape of the grip allows the user to choke up behind the edge but it would be nice if the transition from grip to choil was more flush to make this even more usable.

Wrap Up

If you get a chance to handle a Vosteed Raccoon in person, don’t miss it. It makes a great first impression. I almost can’t believe what this knife offers for the price and I don’t mean the blingy things other companies try to pass off as value. The Raccoon doesn’t try to justify its price with flashy colors or the veneer of luxury. It just gives you exactly what you want as a knife user – good steel, good geometry, comfortable touch points, rugged materials, and some style at a very attractive price.

You can learn more at Vosteed.com

Or check out the Raccoon Cross-Bar Lock (on sale for 10% off at the time of this writing) at Amazon.com.

Lightning Review: Hewlett Two-Side Diamond Sharpener Medium/Fine

There are many, many overdone field knife sharpeners on the market but very few that I would consider carrying regularly. That is why I love my USA-made, easy-to-carry Hewlett Two-Sided Diamond Sharpeners with medium (600) and fine (1800) grits. I have had a couple of these knocking around for years now. It might be the most versatile, easiest-to-carry, field sharpener I own.

These diamond plates are the right size – small enough to carry in their included sleeve and large enough to actually work. They are just under 4″ long, 1.25″ wide, and just about 1/16″ thick. They weigh just over 1 ounce.

I rarely use the medium side but it is coarse enough to get some mild reprofiling done in the field should you take some chips out of an edge. The fine side is all I usually need to touch up an edge before finishing with a quick strop.

I have even used mine to strike a ferro rod and scrape tinder like fat wood thanks to the crisp edges on the plate. It isn’t meant for that and I am sure it isn’t good for it… but it works.

I bought mine on Amazon: Hewlett Diamond Sharpener Medium/Fine

The EDC Tool Roll: Klein Tools 65200 Ratchet Set

The EDC Tool Roll is a feature on Jerking the Trigger in which we profile various everyday-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 everyday 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 have covered a lot of ratchet/driver tools on The EDC Tool Roll and the Klein Tools 65200 has become a favorite. I have carried this one but I also reach for it quite a bit for projects at home and it all comes down to few key features.

The most obvious feature that sets the 65200 apart from every other ratchet I have reviewed is the inclusion of a large ring. The ring allows you to turn the ratchet with just a finger which acts somewhat like an extension giving you some additional reach and leverage. It could also be used to clip or dummy-cord the 65200 to yourself or your gear. I find myself using it a lot.

Klein Tools also designed an excellent finger-turning ring for this tool. If you have ever tried to start a screw with one of these ratchets, you know that it can take a few turns before there is enough friction on the fastener for the ratcheting mechanism to work well. The finger ring is useful for hand-turning fasteners to start them and this one works well thanks to its easy-to-grip texture and large diameter.

I also like the included bit holder. It is more compact than most, holding just 5 bits. I guess some people may wish they could carry more bits but I like how small this holder is and find myself using it with other tools!

Finally, Klein Tools includes a 1/4″ socket adapter with this kit. It seems odd to point this out but it is actually somewhat unusual. I appreciate that this is included because I am often having to buy one separately for other similar ratchets.

As I said, this is among my favorite ratchets but I should point out that the 65200 is chunkier than many similar offerings. Also, as handy as I find the ring, it might make it more difficult to store in some kits. If you need the most compact option, this likely isn’t it.

Where to Buy:

You may actually be able to find these if you have a local source of Klein Tools. Home Depot carries it in some stores as part of a larger tool kit which may be useful to some. Otherwise, these are extremely affordable on Amazon which is where I bought mine: Klein Tools 65200 on Amazon

Previously Reviewed Alternatives:

  1. Alltrade/Powerbuilt Ratchet & Driver
  2. Chapman MFG Midget Ratchet and Accessories
  3. GearWrench MicroDriver Set
  4. Prestacyle T-Handle Ratchet
  5. Topeak Ratchet Rocket Lite DX
  6. VIM Tools HBR3 Bit Ratchet
  7. VIM Tools HBR4/Prestaratchet Mini Ratchet
  8. VIM Tools HBR5 Bit Ratchet

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

Do you have a 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: SOG Tellus FLK

I purchased a SOG Tellus FLK a while back because I couldn’t resist what appeared to be a very good deal for a large folding knife. I was also intrigued by its surprisingly lightweight given its size and the way SOG executed the frame-lock (more on this later).

Specs

  • Blade Length: 3.65″
  • Closed Length: 4.80″
  • Overall Length: 8.40″
  • Blade Steel: CRYO 440C
  • Blade Finish: Stonewash
  • Pocket Clip: Stainless Steel (Tip-Up, Right/Left Carry)
  • Weight: 5.8 oz.
  • Pivot: Ball Bearings
  • Made in China

Observations from Use

SOG states that the Tellus FLK is an “outdoor workhorse,” which is certainly the vibe I get from this knife. The blade shape, size, and overall feel in the hand remind me a lot of past Zero Tolerance/Rick Hinderer collaboration knives and that is a complement. The knife feels like it is ready to work thanks to SOG’s design choices.

The first thing I noticed about the Tellus FLK is its weight. Now, I am not saying this is a lightweight knife but it one of those knives that messes with your head a bit. When you pick this up, you expect it to feel much heavier than it does. It feels very light for its size. This is thanks to SOG’s choice to mill out very large voids in the liners and likely the use of polymer for several parts of the knife including the scales, backspacer, and even the thumb studs.

Those polymer thumb studs are actually very comfortable to use and the blade deploys easily when using them. In fact, I greatly prefer them to the flipper tab that this knife also includes.

The scales have diagonal, grooved texture that offers a ton of grip without being aggressive or hard on your pockets. They are relatively thick and well-contoured. The polymer scales are affixed to the steel liners via internal, nested screws. SOG also chose to affix a small section of scale to liner-turned-frame-lock which improves the comfort in this area. This is the kind of innovative thing that can and should be done with polymer handles!

The 440C used in the Tellus FLK’s broad, drop point blade is easy to resharpen and seems relatively tough. The height of the blade, coupled with a nearly full-height flat grind allows the blade to really thin out behind the edge. This knife cuts better than a lot of knives with even thinner stock thanks to this cutting geometry. It is impressive in this regard.

The pocket clip is reversible and offers a ton of clearance for pockets with chunkier fabrics. The position is somewhat low on the knife which, for me at least, allows it to fall in a comfortable part of my grip rather than being way out toward the edge of my hand.

The blade locks up solidly though there is some slight side-to-side play which is typical for larger bladed folders with ball-bearing pivots.

All of that sounds pretty good (and it is) but there are a few design choices that leave me scratching my head. First, I am little confused by the use of a ball-bearing pivot given the “outdoor workhorse” intentions of the Tellus FLK. Boring old PB washers would like stand up to fouling more readily and might have even been cheaper. Second, the pivot screws on this knife are fairly large but they went with a T6 driver… and that fits kind of loose. Be careful when adjusting the pivot on this knife. Again, different hardware might have made more sense for this design.

Wrap Up

This knife offers a combination of features that make it very attractive at the price: standout ergonomics, tough stainless steel, great cutting geometry, and multiple deployment methods. It is also significantly larger than a lot of knives in this price range and that is worth something if you need a larger knife for your application.

I like the Tellus FLK so much that I could see choosing this over other classic, low-cost work knives like the RAT 1 just based on just how much knife you get for the money. I’m impressed.

I purchased the SOG Tellus FLK with my own money, from Amazon: SOG Tellus FLK

Review: Nitecore TM12K

Pretty much any flashlight can be useful and some are more useful than others. Nitecore makes its fair share of those more useful lights but their Tiny Monster series, the TM12K specifically, reminds us that flashlights can be useful AND FUN… like giggle-inducing, retina-burning, show-it-off-to-your-friends fun.

Overview

The TM12K is one of the brighter lights in Nitecore’s Tiny Monster series. This USB-C rechargeable Li-ion light boasts up to 12,000 lumens of floody output from its 6 Cree XHP50 LEDs. It has 4 levels of output in addition to it’s Turbo mode (a total of 5). The 4th level is user programmable which is a task that is made very easy by the included OLED display!

The light has an internal 21700 battery with 4800 mAh capacity for some very impressive runtimes. It can charge at 18W in just 1.5 hours from empty.

You can see details outputs and runtimes in the image below.

Observations from Use

The TM12K feels like a light aimed at flashlight enthusiasts like much of the Tiny Monster line. I think that is where a lot of the fun (and the price) comes in. Most lights don’t need an eye-searing 12,000-lumen wall-of-light output mode that makes the flashlight body so screaming hot that the light has its own LED display with a visible countdown timer and temperature monitoring to prevent the light from melting itself down into an aluminum puddle… but that’s fun.

OLED displays and 12,000 lumens available at the touch of a dedicated button are fun… but Nitecore also managed to make this light very useful. When you aren’t using the turbo mode to turn night into day, that OLED display gives useful information like which level you are on currently, voltage, temperature, battery level, and even estimated remaining runtime! The latter two information points are extremely useful and makes me wish every light had an OLED display.

I have found the levels/modes on the TM12K to be very practical. Level 1 is an ultralow 6 lumens that runs for more than 200 hours and is great for power outages. Level 2 and 3 offer 100 and 300 lumens for respectable runtimes and I use these levels a lot when using the TM12K as a sort of work light which it excels at. For instance, level 3 was all the light I needed to change the sheer bolt on a snow plow in the dark breezeway of a barn recently. Level 4 is programmable from 400 to 2000 lumens in 100-lumen steps but it defaults to 1000. Programming this level is very easy and fast thanks to the two-button interface and display.

The form-factor of this light is somewhat unique. It has a very good pocket clip that actually works but, realistically, you won’t carry it in your pocket. It is boxy but not uncomfortable to hold and some thoughtful machining provides plenty of grip. I love the shape of this light for how I use it. I can set it down or tail-stand it to aim light anywhere without fear of it rolling away. This is very useful for a light that I mostly use as a work light or during power outages.

There are a few things I might change if I had my druthers. The lens, over the 6 LEDs and their reflectors, is understandably large. It might be nice to see a more protective aluminum bezel to protect that large lens. Also, this light features two lockout modes which are necessary considering this will be carried in a bag most of the time. The lockouts are so necessary that it would have been nice to have them directly accessible via a physical switch. I also wouldn’t mind seeing a more water-resistant cover for the charging port but I have used this light in damp, snowy conditions without issue.

Wrap Up

The Nitecore TM12K reminds me that useful gear can be fun too. It’s an excellent, floody light with long runtimes that make it suitable for power outages and illuminating work areas. However, it also has “12,000 LUMENS!!”, literally engraved on the side so you know it doesn’t take itself too seriously. This light feels a little like a showcase for what Nitecore can do.

TM12K Product Info: https://flashlight.nitecore.com/product/tm12k

The TM12K can be purchased at Nitecore Store or Amazon

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