Saturday, March 11, 2017

Marble's Woodcraft 100th Anniversary Knife Review

The venerable Marble's Woodcraft Knife was originally designed in 1914 by George W. Brooks.  Mr. Brooks took his design to Marble's and contracted Marble's to make the knife. Seeing promise in this design, Marble's acquired the rights to the design and began limited production of the Woodcraft in 1915. By 1916, the Woodcraft was a staple in the Marble's Knife catalogue. The Marble's Woodcraft has been made in various iterations over the past century, both on-shore and off-shore.  The versions made in the USA by Marble's have gained a legendary reputation for exemplary performance in the field.

The current version of the Marble's Woodcraft 100th Anniversary Knife is a true 100% American Made knife, made by Mike Stewart and the good folks at Bark River Knives. It is made under license for the Marble's name, which is owned by Blue Ridge Knives. The Woodcraft carries with it Bark River's no-nonsense, rock solid warranty.

Here's the Woodcraft's specs:
Overall Length: 8 1/4"
Blade Length: 4 1/2"
Handle length: 3 3/4"
Blade Steel: A2 Tool Steel
Blade grind: Fully convexed
Blade Thickness: .185"
Handle: Stacked Leather
Weight: approx 5 oz.
Sheath: (as supplied) right hand tanned leather

Opening the box on my sample knife was like taking a step back in time to my childhood, circa 1969. Back then, I spent a lot of time in NY's Adirondacks with my Great Uncle Charlie. It was my job to pack Unc's packbasket prior to each of our endeavors into the woods to forage for leeks and fiddleheads. The very first things in the packbasket were always Uncle Charlie's prized Marble's Woodcraft and his old Plumb hatchet. I admit that, on seeing this knife, I choked up some remembering those golden times...

The only difference I can see between early versions of the Woodcraft and the current model are:

1. Steel type, 1095 carbon steel (olde) vs A2 Tool Steel (new),
2. Blade thickness .125" (olde) vs .185" (new), and;
3. The fact that the current iteration does not have checkering on the spine.
The current version mirrors the 1924 design specs pretty closely.

So what did Marble's see in this design that led to it's inclusion in their line-up? I believe that the reason is because the Woodcraft is the true grandfather of the current genre of "bushcraft" knives. In the early 1900's, using your fixed blade knife for anything other than processing fur, fish, fowl or game was unheard of. Knives of this size typically had a blade thickness of .10" or less - sometimes far less. What we refer to now as bushcrafting tasks back then were accomplished with an axe or hatchet, saw, and maybe a stout pocketknife. Batoning a knife to split wood or make kindling was unheard of. The Woodcraft broke away from that tradition and was purposefully designed and built stoutly enough to handle separating bones on large game, carving trap triggers, making tent stakes and the like. In that it has a step down stick tang under the leather washer handle, batoning the Woodcraft to split wood, whether you have a 1916 version or a 2016 version is probably not a good idea - it was not designed for that type of abusive treatment. However, the Woodcraft is perfectly capable of processing kindling and tinder as long as you use proper technique in performing the baton cuts.  By proper technique I mean:

1. Keep the blade spine parallel to the deck throughout the cut to avoid creating a mechanical shear which could cause a break, and;
2. Cut all the way through the material being baton cut - do not cut partially through and then pry the wood apart.  Doing so could cause a break or bend.

I've seen a lot of knives damaged by user error by not using proper techniques.

Some may balk at the size of the Woodcraft's handle. At 3 3/4", it just doesn't sound very big. On the odd occasion that I wear gloves, size Large fits me, albeit somewhat snugly. The Woodcraft fits my hand very nicely in a variety of grips and locks in place providing good purchase. It is nimble in the hand and easy to manipulate for a host of cutting chores. One thing I love about the handle length is that for drilling, ie. beginning cuts in a hearth board for a bow-drill spindle, it is very comfortable and easy to bear down on with the nicely rounded pommel.

I was thinking of a way to show the knife's cutting ability - the Woodcraft is made from Mike Stewart's legendary A2 tool steel and is expertly convex ground by his staff.  We know it will cut.  Then it came to me.  Anyone who camps with us knows the quality of my wife's cooking.  One of her specialties is soup and one of my favorite soups is her 1860's style corn chowder, which calls for salt pork.  If you've ever tried slicing and cubing salt pork, you know it can be a real PITA with a poor quality blade or a blade that isn't really sharp.


Hence, I put the Woodcraft through several pieces of salt pork, using just a little more than the weight of the knife alone to slice through without cutting the thick skin underneath.  It did very well, but I did have a hard time not cutting skin.   I fillet the strips of salt pork off the skin and save the skin to slice up into thick strips to be fried up for dog treats - my dog Jake loves them.

So what is my impression of the Bark River made Marble's Woodcraft?  The Legend continues.  This knife is absolutely a keeper whether you're a collector or hard-core user who likes gear with an olde-timey flare.  I love this knife!!! 

Where do you find the knife, you ask?  Try my good friends at  ...       M

Friday, March 18, 2011

Emergency Bugout Thoughts...

Back in late January, I was one of the first responders to an "explosion with injuries" call. (It was later determined to be a home that had exploded, in which two people were severely injured and one 15 month old infant died in the resulting blaze.)

One of the very first things I noted on arrival at the scene was a strong odor of gas. We had to immediately evacuate neighbors from the area. They had NO TIME to grab personal possessions from their homes, they had to run, NOW! They couldn't even get in their vehicles to escape, they had to hoof it as quickly as they could and dressed as they were. (It was later determined that where I stood to photograph the initial shots of the scene, in front of one of the evacuated homes, was greater than 95% saturated with natural gas. Sorry, my photos are unavailable as they are being used as potential criminal evidence.)

That tells me a few things to note to my readers...

A. Be prepared to bugout on an instant's notice. Don't argue with or question the emergency response personnel, follow their direction immediately. Make a plan to bugout and practice the bugout. Have available a bugout bag, which is a a bag of essentials that you'll need for a day or three until you can muster assistance. Keep that bag where it can be grabbed immediately on exit. At an absolute minimum, your bag should include:

1. Clothing geared towards seasonal conditions.

2. A toiletry bag of essential personal hygiene items you use daily.

a. Consider adding a pair of shower shoes for sanitary purposes.

3. A computer flash drive containing prized photos, phone numbers and addresses of important contacts, insurance information, etc; so that you can recover those items from another computer. The drive should be password protected for security purposes. Use a password that you won't forget. You may want to further protect the flash drive by placing it in a waterproof, crush resistant, lockable container like an OtterBox 1000.

4. Personal medications that you need daily.

5. Spare personal items that you use daily that may have been left behind because you couldn't get to them. (My personal examples of this category would include a Swiss Army knife, a good LED flashlight, a good pen, a stainless water bottle and a bandana.) If you're packing for a child or pet, don't forget some mind occupying/comforting toys for them.

6. Cash and/or a prepaid debit/credit card.

7. Spare keys / keyring.

8. You may want to include wilderness survival essentials if your bugout plan requires extensive travel or travel to or through remote areas.

Strive to keep the prepared bags as light as possible. Twenty pounds doesn't sound like much weight until you've had to tote it all day. Think minimalistic. It may be helpful to take notes for a day or two as to just what you really do use on a daily basis.

B. Install early warning devices in your home. Carefully follow the manufacturer's directions for installation of the devices.

1. You should have a carbon monoxide detector on each level of your home that has a fuel burning appliance AND one within 15' of each bedroom.

2. You should have a smoke detector IN each bedroom and on each level of the home.

3. You should have a gas detector on each level that has a gas fired appliance.

C. Don't ignore potential danger. If you smell gas and/or if an early warning device alarm sounds; grab your bag, get out and retreat. Call 911.

The bottom line is this - you don't know how or when an emergency situation will occur which might require your evacuation. "Failing to prepare is preparing to fail."


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Practical Minimalism, Another Attempt...

In my last post, I tried trimming down to manageable levels of gear. I thought I'd done a fair job. I carried that set-up for a few weeks. I became a tad dissatisfied with the loose gear clanking in my pockets. I was displeased with having to try to remember what was where. I was also somewhat uncomfortable with miniature items and being able to manipulate them in this cold weather. I needed some organization. I felt I could trim down a bit more and add items which were easily manageable with cold, wet digits.

Enter a leather pocket organizer that I'd had Spen from JRE Industries make for me a couple years ago...

The pouch is constructed of a heavy leather front to reduce pocket signature, with a sewn on suede back which forms the three pockets. The rough side of the suede is sewn inside, in order to add friction to hold items in the pockets in place. The pouch is approximately 4" by 4", with a slight taper from top to bottom. This allows it to fit inside trouser pockets and stay somewhat stationary. It works equally well in my cargo pockets or inner jacket pockets. In the pocket, it becomes nearly invisible.

Gear selection was fairly easy. I wanted to keep it light weight, with items that supported me 24/7, whether at work or play, in town or in the field. The main (knife) pocket will support a one or two layer Swiss Army Knife or a smallish lockblade. I opted for a single layer Victorinox Swiss Army Waiter model with an added eyeglass screwdriver and straight pin. The knife has proven itself quite capable in managing day to day chores, thus far. If I feel I need more knife, the pocket easily supports an alox Swiss Army Woodsman, Pioneer or Soldier model.

To fill the middle (flashlight) pocket, I had a wide variety of single AAA battery size flashlights to choose from. All fit fairly well. I selected a Fenix E01 for it's bulletproof construction and long battery life. It is a tad short, so I added to it a Traser tritium GlowRing. The GlowRing helps me find the light in lowlife conditions and it aids in drawing the light from it's pocket.

The last pocket had originally been designed to carry the mini Light My Fire firesteel. Having broken every one of the mini LMF's I have had, I looked for a better option. To fill that pocket, I selected the ExoTac Nano Fire Striker and an Inka pen. Together they fill the void perfectly. The ExoTac Nano is my preferred fire starting device for this application as it breaks down and screws into itself, thus protecting the ferrocerium rod from damage and from premature corrosion. It also carries and protects it's own striker. The ferro rod is a tad smallish, but it strikes easily and throws a decent spark for it's size. In as far as the Inka pen, well, I had it available and it fit. I needed a pen in the mix for my work. Thus far, the choice has been a great one, I was writing tickets with it this morning in -9 degree F weather conditions. It didn't skip and it wrote very smoothly. The Inka's tip was more than sufficient to press out the two copies required.

Something was missing and I didn't know what until reading Kevin Estela's recent slideshow on Urban Survival. I needed a lanyard! I raided Care's cordage supplies and made a lanyard that would easily attach to all of the previously mentioned implements...

The lanyard rides wrapped around the pouch, affixed only to itself and protected on the inside by the two filled pockets it rides between.

I've been carrying this setup for a couple weeks and am very satisfied. It has addressed all of my concerns with my previous carry options. The gear is handy and accessible. There is no question about what is where. I like it...


Friday, January 21, 2011

Practical Minimalism...

Two long trips to and from Virginia, one long trip to and from Maine, three long weeks of 100 miles per day patrol left me with a screaming sciatic nerve. A literal pain in the ass!

My solution? Other than mega doses of Aleve, I did a complete EDC (every day carry gear) re-evaluation and an evaluation of how the gear that remained would thence be carried.

I emptied my pockets of gear and took the few things that were on my belt off. I was 4 lbs lighter than two minutes before. I thought to myself, "That's plain nuts." Looking at the pile of gear; it contained no less than 4 different knives or multitools, a cell phone, wallet, 2 bandanas, a PSK (personal survival kit), a 1st Aid kit, a bottle of breath drops, two BIC lighters and two key rings loaded with gear that was made redundant by other pocketed items. Time to trim down - especially when you consider that I have a go-bag that travels with me 24/7/365 that carries a full sized SwissTool X multitool and a Blind Horse Knives Small Tiger Knapp fixed blade knife.

What had to stay with me? Wallet, bandanas, breath drops, one BIC lighter, ONE small knife or multitool, a small PSK geared up solely to enhance the skills I have and one keyring with NO or minimally redundant items.

I took everything out of my wallet and put in only what absolutely needed to be there - Driver's license, hunting/fishing license, pistol permits, medical insurance card and ONE debit card. Bandanas were a no-brainer - they stayed because there's too many practical uses for them on a daily basis and they're invalueable in an emergency. The little bottle of breath drops stayed because it keeps my raspy voice working. The cellphone stays because it's a valueable work tool and lifeline.

It took a couple weeks to pick a knife. I spent two weeks tracking what I used on the former pile of tools I carried. I determined, based on actual use of the items, that I most needed a locking blade, a medium screwdriver, a toothpick, a super small screwdriver and it had to have a means to attach a lanyard or watch chain. The blade needed to be long enough to cleanly slice summer sausage and wide enough to plop a huge dollop of canned pate onto a water cracker. Additionally, the knife had to fit into the watch pocket on my jeans and cargo pants. Lastly, when it was placed into my watch pocket, it could not interfere with my ability to draw a pistol from the main pocket. These determinations basically meant that I needed to select an 84 or 85mm Swiss Army knife with no more than two layers. Selection then became easy, there was only one that met all of my criteria above, that being a Wenger 85mm Evo S10 with a Victorinox eyeglass screwdriver mounted into the cork screw. It's weight is advertised as 1.9 ounces, but mine tips the postal scale at 1.9 ounces with the added-on screwdriver.

My Otterbox 1000 sized PSK and Witz ID locker 1st Aid kit went by the wayside. I selected a Sparklite sized translucent container for my new PSK. Whatever I really needed had to fit in. It does. I carry a small AMK signal mirror, cylinder shaped handmade brass whistle, pico sized photon type light, three sewing awls and threader, a travel sized roll of floss, a ferro rod and striker, some tinderquick, some post-it notes, a piece of pencil, a spare cuff key, fish hooks and sinkers, a spare toothpick and a SERE compass in a box that's 2.5" x 1.5" x 5/8". Weight is 2.1 ounces. The beauty of the container is that nearly all of the contents can be easily seen from the outside. I added a homemade ranger band to secure the container from accidental opening.

Nothing gets carried in back pockets except bandanas. They're for padding while tucked away. Everything else is divied up between cargo, front and watch pockets. The only item added to the mix is a homemade watch chain to secure the SAK from being accidentally dropped. It also adds a touch of class to the mix.

In as far as my keyring goes, all of the keys that see only occassional use and all of the redundant gear was stripped off. Remaining onboard is an Egear Doug Ritter Pico light, a small traser glow ring marking light, an ID tag, and a delrin space capsule with a couple day's worth of critical meds in it. The two full sized BIC lighters were replaced by one Mini BIC.

I feel much better now. Light and Airy. Practically minimalistic...

M :)

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Safety Info for Glock Owners...

Let me forward this by stating what some of my closer friends here already know - I have 20 years experience as a Glock Armorer and FBI/NYSP certified Firearms Instructor...

A few days ago, I was talking to one of the members of a local organization's safety team. He had purchased a new Glock .40 cal M23. He stated that he had gone shooting and needed some help with sight adjustment. He'd fired 26 rounds of "reloads" and was hitting wide left.

I asked what the reloads were and he stated they were "lead round nose."

I immediately told him not to fire any more and to meet me this morning to get the gun checked out and cleaned.


1. NEVER SHOOT RELOADS FROM A GLOCK. Doing so voids the warranty.

2. NEVER, NEVER, EVER SHOOT LEAD BULLETS THROUGH A GLOCK FACTORY BARREL. Glocks do not have traditional rifling, but a hexagonal profiled bore. Shooting lead bullets causes lead buildup in the bore. That buildup occurs VERY quickly and can cause chamber pressures to increase rapidly to the point of blowing up the gun.

I met my friend this am and inspected his Glock. He had fired a total of 26 rounds of lead round nose bullets through his Glock. The barrel was leaded so badly that I had to use a stainless brush to even begin to see the bore profile. Approximately 1" in front of the chamber, there was a distinct buldged ring in the barrel - rendering the weapon unsafe to fire under any circumstances. If he had fired even one or two more rounds, I am convinced that the weapon would have blown. That little lesson will cost him >$100 to buy a new barrel. At least it didn't cost the gun and damage to his hand or face!

If you own a Glock, DO NOT FIRE LEAD BULLETS through the factory barrel. If you have fired lead bullets, have the gun inspected by a certified armorer or gunsmith, asap...


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Bark River's Mikro II in 154CM Stainless Steel

Many moons ago, read 12/2003 and 01/2004, Mike Stewart of Bark River Knife & Tool and I collaborated on a knife design that was ultimately dubbed the “Mikro Canadian.” The Mikro Canadian is a small utility knife, designed primarily for EDC. The Mikro Canadian was initially offered in A2 tool steel and it has subsequently been offered in Sandvik 12C27 stainless steel as the Mikro II.

Enter into the collaboration Jason at DLT Trading, who recently orders a special run of the Mikro II in 154CM. A great little knife just became better.

Here’s the specs:

Overall Length: 5.125 inches
Blade Length: 2.19 inches
Cutting Edge Length - 1.775 inches
Blade Steel: 154CM @ 58 RC
Blade Thickness: .120 inches
Weight: 1.375 ounces
Sheath: Sharpshooter Sheath Systems Type F

I’ve been carrying my sample daily for about two months. It has endured some Virginia tidewater fishing, some local woods time scouting for deer, practicing bush craft skills and for routine daily carry in between. It has easily tackled a few Texas Roadhouse steaks, some fish, a bunch of practice traps, some fire building and all of the routine every day chores one would expect of a small knife. I have used it for cutting up countless boxes for recycling, cutting open packages and a host of cable ties in packages. It has opened up another host of those damn plastic bubble theft deterrent packages. Nary a bobble, nary a whimper, the Mikro sailed through every test with flying colors.

With routine stropping after each use, I have so far avoided having it visit my sharpening gear. The little blade will still pop free standing hair.

How did the knife become better, you ask? I can say that, with a whole bunch of years experience with the Mikro in A2 and Mikro II in 12C27, the newest incarnation in 154CM holds an edge nearly as long as A2 and better than 12C27. It resists corrosion better than A2 and nearly as well as 12C27. Not meaning to offend anyone, but, the newest Mikro II in 154CM is the consummate perfect solution to a problem that didn’t exist. I love it! What a great idea!

The Mikro II in 154CM cuts like mad and it cuts like a much larger blade. It easily push cut through woods that were nearly half the blade length thick. I used it a number of times to scallop cut large branches and saplings to effect clean breaks of same. I used it a bunch to whittle out trap parts and to whittle fuzzy sticks for fire building. It’s comfortable to use, even when the cutting is extended or cutting harder material.

To make matters even better, my particular sample arrived with a very crisp, sharp 90 degree spine. I use the spine all the time to scrape tinder nests from natural materials and jute twine. I also use the spine as a scraper for my fire steel. My particular sample of the Mikro II does an awesome job of performing both chores very well.

The Mikro II in 154CM makes a great daily carry knife; whether it rides in your pocket, on your belt or around your neck. The Mikro II also makes a great small knife to piggyback to a larger knife - the small knife taking the brunt of the utility type tasks, saving wear and tear on the larger knife’s edge. It really has proved itself as a solid performer and serious working tool.

Need more info? Contact Bark River Knife and Tool or DLT Trading .

Monday, July 12, 2010

New Magazine Alert - A "Must See"

Hey gang -

Harris Publications has a new Magazine out, "The New Pioneer" . A little pricey at $10 per copy, but it has a veritable wealth of information for the outdoors oriented and preparedness minded. This magazine is a must see item...


Friday, June 18, 2010

Klean Kanteen - The Consumate Survival Tool...

Water. Such a crucial component to human survival that man can die within 3 days for lack of it. How ironic that on a planet comprised 2/3rds of water that such a tragedy should occur. However, thousands die each year because of dehydration - the lack of potable water intake leading to a horrific untimely death.

Care and I carry bottled water everywhere we go. We’ve gone the full gamut of buying dozens of cases of bottled purified water to buying home water filters and bottling our own filtered water in Nalgene containers. The harm to the environment from the plastic waste and the subsequent BPA toxin scare from Nalgene and similar bottles made us search out stainless steel bottles.

Enter Klean Kanteen. Based on the recommendation of a friend, Care and I purchased a few different Klean Kanteen single wall stainless water bottles for our daily use. They have become a critical component of our everyday carry gear and essential survival gear for our outdoors trips.

We settled on the standard, shouldered 27 ounce version as our primary carry bottles. The 18/8 food grade stainless steel bodies and BPA free polymer tops are toxin free and are environmentally friendly. The Klean Kanteens hold a substantial quantity of water and they fit well in and retrieve more easily from our tightly packed Maxpedition 10x4 bottle carriers than do the 40 ounce size.

The Klean Kanteens also fit well in several non-descript insulated water bottle sleeves that we acquired over the years for the bottles we formerly used. Additionally, the 27 ounce Klean Kanteens still fit in our Jeep’s cup holders.

Klean Kanteens are super durable. I have voided my warrantee hundreds of times by freezing my 1/3rd full bottle each night to have a long lasting ice water supply at work the next day. The single large chunk of ice formed lasts far longer than ice cubes. HOWEVER, the bottom of my bottle has severely rounded from the expanding ice and it does not stand upright on a flat surface anymore.

The seam has held and the bottle still serves me daily. Your mileage may vary - You will void your warrantee and you may ruin your bottle if you try this.

Klean Kanteen’s website FAQs indicate that “in a pinch” you can boil water in your brushed stainless bottle on a stove or near a fire. DO NOT try this with a painted bottle or with a double wall bottle - You will ruin a painted finish bottle and you may experience catastrophic failure of a double walled bottle.

Let me tell you - You CAN boil in a single walled, brushed stainless Klean Kanteen! I have done this dozens of times at camp to purify water and to heat water for drinks, meal preparation and cleanup duties. I formerly fashioned a makeshift bail for our bottles by wrapping stainless steel wire around the bottle neck for ease in inserting and removing the bottle from the fire. I have since voided our warrantee again by using high temp silver solder to affix stainless washers to the bottle’s shoulder in order to attach a bail.

This setup isn’t pretty, but it works like a charm. The Klean Kanteens have held up to the hottest of fires and white hot coals.

Common sense should dictate, but I will save my Attorney his aghast reaction by mentioning that the bottle top must be removed prior to subjecting the Klean Kanteen to heating, lest a catastrophic failure may occur.

Klean Kanteens have become the centerpiece of our everyday carry and survival equipment. Their utility, functionality and practicality keep us motivated to have them ever present and, subsequently, the remainder of our emergency gear gets tagged along in the carrier.

I HIGHLY recommend Klean Kanteen products. They have a wide range of sizes and different top configurations to meet anyone's specs. Need more info? Check them out at or on FaceBook......... M

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Near Perfect EDC Companion - Leatherman’s PS4

I’ve been carrying and using Leatherman Tools and their subsequent clones on and off since the mid 1980’s. I never found “just the right one” to satisfy my needs without a lot of extra fluff - until now. A few months ago I saw a forum post where there was mention of a new mini Leatherman Tool being introduced, called the PS4. Investigation ensued and then the seemingly endless wait until it became available. I recently took delivery of a PS4 from my friend Roger at The PS4 seems the near perfect EDC companion, with scissors and pliers mated in a very pocketable miniature sized tool frame. Pay particular attention to the size and weight dimensions below.

Here’s the specs from Leatherman:

420HC Clip Point Knife
Spring-action Needlenose pliers
Regular Pliers
Wire Cutters
Medium Screwdriver
Flat/Phillips Screwdriver
Wood/Metal File
Bottle Opener
Stainless Steel with Anodized Aluminum Handle Scales
Stainless Steel Body
Outside-accessible Tools
Key Ring Attachment
Available Colors: Red, Black, Blue
25-year Warranty
2.25 in (closed)
1.9 oz

After opening the box, I rushed to find my glasses and good lighting for the PS4’s initial inspection. Fit and finish is great. Blade walk and talk is better than average - good tool snap into the open position, albeit a tad less snap on closing. A good thing - its not quite so prone to bite the fingers when closing the tools.
Care is out for a few hours, so I immediately set out to begin the process of testing.

First up was the scissors. They’re similar in design to the Wenger scissors, working from a frame mounted spring bar. Among the hundreds of obvious uses for scissors, I need to EDC an implement with scissors on board to take care of errant facial hair, cut fishing line, and to make steri-strips for first aid applications. PS4 and glasses ready, to the bathroom I head. Trim up the facial hair with ease. Search the medicine cabinet for a Band-Aid. Trim up a series of steri-strips from the Band-Aid with ease. The scissors are sharp and very effective at both tasks thus far. Now for the serious test. We head to my shop and dig out the tackle box. Out comes the ultimate scissor test - Spiderwire Braided 20lb test line. To my amazement, the PS4 sailed through the test with 20 quick, clean cuts in Spiderwire Braided line. Test over. This happy camper heads back upstairs for round two of my testing protocol.

I own a number of Photon 2 flashlights, which require a small Phillips screwdriver for battery changes. I dig out a Photon that I know needs a battery change and grab a set of fresh batteries. I sit at my desk with a small parts tray handy and use the PS4’s Phillips driver to make the change. No problem whatsoever. While it’s right there and handy, I grab and make safe my Ruger LCP .380 caliber pistol. I use the PS4 phillips driver to lever out the disassembly pin. Again, no problem whatsoever and no telltale marks left on the weapon. Gun cleaned and lubed, then made ready for “the next day’s business.” Back off to continue the PS4’s testing protocol.

I grab my test Ferrocerium fire starter rod and some tinder, then head to the front porch with the PS4. I open the file. To my surprise, the file only scraped a mediocre spark from the ferro rod. The spark was adequate to ignite TinderQuik and Coghlan’s Emergency Tinder. However, I knew the ferro rod was capable of producing much better sparks. While waiting for the ignited tinder to die out, I used the file for a personal manicure. Performance was up-to-par on this test. While out there, I remembered that the camper’s electrical connection needed to be cleaned up. The small file worked like a charm and did a stellar job at that task. I also grabbed the machete out of the camper and used the PS4’s file to touch up a flat spot on the blade’s edge. It was a bit short for such a task, but it performed well for its size. Time to find another tool and task.

Out comes the blade. Slight disappointment ensues. The blade, although razor sharp, is chisel ground. I will change that to a double bevel grind when time permits. Slight disappointment is overcome when I discover the blade spine has a sharp, clean 90 degree edge. Out comes the test ferro rod and another piece of tinder. Hot sparks fly and bounce everywhere, bursting the tinder into a ball of flame. I’m made very happy again - the blade‘s square spine maximized the ferro rod‘s capability to produce. I now decide to cut up the USPS shipping box that the PS4 was delivered in. I make 27 clean slices in the cardboard before the edge starts to drag. A quick inspection reveals a very slight edge rollover occurred. I grabbed my strop off the desk and remove the rollover, post haste. The edge is back to grabbing free standing hair sharpness in seconds. I can live with that for the time being. A double bevel applied by my diamond Lansky hones will cure any edge ills. Back down to the shop we go.

Pliers are something I rarely use in the field. When I do, it’s usually to pick up something I don’t want to touch with my hands, disgorge fish hooks or to make a snare. Digging through my workbench, I find copper wire in 22 and 26 gauge and stainless wire in 19 gauge. I cut a few lengths of each easily with the PS4’s wire cutters. I then use the pliers to twist those lengths into snare material, without problem. Not the most comfy pliers I’ve ever used, but they certainly did the job required of them. Then I remembered the first aid applications. Out comes the tackle box again. I pick out several hooks and use the wire cutters to cut them. The small, standard sized freshwater hooks were no problem. Big hook removal, however, may be quite the exercise is torture and futility. The wire cutters would not pass through the big stuff - take note of the scarring damage on the red hook, just below the barb. The pliers slipped off and would not cut the thick, hardened stock. The blood blister on my hand at the base of my right index finger will remind me of this for a few days to come. Regardless, I declare passable performance achieved - it is a small tool and the big stuff is simply out of its realm. One last set of tools to test.

Out comes the medium slotted screwdriver / bottle opener. A trip to the safe is in order. I pull out a number of firearms I have available. Where a slotted screwdriver is called for, the medium screwdriver works. It’s a tad small, but with some extra care, I managed to avoid slipping and damaging the guns and/or the screws. The PS4’s lockup is unaffected. Firearms checked and returned to the safe and secured. The last was a very important step. Now it’s time to find my olde friend, Samuel Adams. I’ll finish the review and summary tomorrow…

Very passable performance was achieved with the bottle opener and I had the opportunity to bond with an olde friend.

Within it's design limitations, the Leatherman PS4 is a very good performer. It has earned a spot in my EDC rotation and I like it so much, I ordered another for Care... M

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Poor Man's Knife Harness...

During a recent rendevous, Care and I learned about a Poor Man's Knife Harness for conveniently toting a fixed blade knife in a shoulder rigging. I immediately tried the harness and found it serviceable, albeit a tad uncomfortable due to a cordage crossover that occurred right on my spine. When not rubbing directly on the spine, the cordage had a tendency to move around easily, changing the placement of either the knife & sheath or the cordlock.

After some brainstorming with friends, I came up with the idea to use a leather crossover disk to keep the cord "knot" off the spine and to keep the desired angle of the knife being carried. I fashioned a crossover disk from a piece of scrap leather and then tested it to be sure the theory worked. Once relatively sure it did work, I contacted Spen and Dan of JRE Industries to make some crossover disks from some good leather. Here's the result:

Here's the assembled components of the harness, followed by a parts list:

8' of milspec 550 cord or any other stout cordage of your choice. I prefer the 550 as with it, I'm carrying an (approximate) extra 56' of cordage inside the 550 cord outer sheath. Some prefer to strip the inner strands out of the 550 cord so that the harness lies flatter and tighter to the body,

One cord lock,

Two beads (Optional - but they really aid in adjusting the completed harness),

One leather crossover disk,

Knife with a sheath that has grommeted attachment points - a leather or kydex sheath will work...

To assemble the parts, first thread the cord through the grommets on the knife sheath to the approximate midway point of the cord. Now thread the cord in an "X" pattern through the holes in the crossover disk. Next, thread both ends of the cord simultaneously through the opening of the single cord lock, pulling the cord lock up 8 - 9" onto the cord. If you choose to have beaded ends, now thread on the beads. The last step in assembly is to tie off the ends of each piece of cord.

To fit the harness, put it on like you're putting on a jacket. Position the sheath where you want it and then slide the crossover disk to a position right above your spine. Once done, slide the cord lock up so that it holds the desired sheath and crossover disk position. You will have to trim the dangling ends of the cord to suit your size. Leave about 6-8" of extra "dangle" to accomodate the ability to adjust the harness for wear over heavy clothing. After the final sizing and trimming, don't forget to heat seal the cord ends to inhibit fraying.

Care and I have been wearing the harnesses we made almost daily since we got all the parts assembled. We both found the harnesses we made extremely comfortable and an easy way to keep a fixed blade concealed yet handy. I also sent Jerry Young (hayseedw45) a crossover disk to test. Here's Jerry's comments:

"I wore the shoulder set up the whole time, well excluding bed. I found the disc kept the set up from moving around. It was very comfortable. I give it 2 thumbs up! The disc made the difference."
Taking another suggestion from Jerry, here's Care with an added carabiner filled with survival essentials attached to the strong side...

Need one? Want one? Yeah - you know you do. With this harness system, gone is the day of the neck knife and all the discomfort and accidental chokes associated with them.
Spen at JRE has indicated that he will make the crossover disks available in black or tan and, soon, will have all parts stocked at a very reasonable price. Click on the link to your left for JRE contact info...