Monday, May 26, 2008

Bladeless Personal Survival Kit...

Many times; people ask the question, "What survival items can I carry when flying, going to federal installations, or other security checkpoints where a knife is prohibited?"

Here's a couple possible solutions to that problem that I highly recommend:

Solution 1. Doug Ritter / Adventure Medical Kits Pocket Survival Pack (modified)

Doug's PSP is a very well thought out compilation of basic survival components that comes prepackaged in a highly water resistant, translucent zip pouch. Here's the contents list as provided by Doug and AMK:
  • Spark-Lite™ Firestarter
  • 4 Spark-Lite™ Tinder-Quik™
  • Fox-40® Rescue Howler™ Survival Whistle
  • Rescue Flash™ Signal Mirror, 2 x 3 inches 20mm
  • Survival Compass
  • Duct Tape - 26 inches x 2 inches
  • Stainless Steel Utility Wire - 6 ft.
  • Braided Nylon Cord - 10 ft. 150+ lb.
  • #69 Black Nylon Thread - 50 ft.
  • Fishing Kit - 4 x medium Fish Hooks, 2 x Split Shot and 1 x Snap Swivel, in a clear plastic vial with cap.
  • Heavy Duty Sewing Needle
  • 4 Safety Pins
  • Heavy Duty Aluminum Foil - 3 sq. ft.
  • #2 Pencil and Waterproof Notepaper - 2 pieces
  • Kit Specific Illustrated Survival Instructions
  • Contents List
  • Fresnel Lens Magnifier - 2 x 3 inches
  • Pocketsize Clear Vinyl Pouch - 4 x 5 inches
  • Weight: 3.9 oz

The PSP is a great value. Purchase of the PSP is cheaper than buying the individual components and all of the components are top shelf items. IE. See my whistle and signal mirror test results on this site as proof positive of the quality of this kit's components.

Although a great value, the PSP can be made better. A little forethought by the purchaser in making some appropriate additions can save a lot of grief in an emergency. Here's some suggestions for possible additions:

  1. Add in a Reynolds oven bag, Gerber baby milk bag or USGI hot water bag for water storage.
  2. Add in a few MicroPur water purification tablets or other individually wrapped water purification tabs of your choice or preference.
  3. Add in a few bandaids and simple wound management stores.
  4. Add in a Photon LED flashlight of your choice.
  5. Add in a day or two worth of personal medication.

Another suggestion is to make up and include an identification card that includes In Case of Emergency (I.C.E.) information for rescuers should you be injured or otherwise unresponsive.

An I.C.E. card should include your name, address, emergency contact info, medical info, and allergy info, and any other info you might have that would aid rescuers in treating your condition(s).

With the aforementioned additions; the PSP becomes a complete means of providing meaningful, field tested and proven gear to assist you in meeting basic survival requirements of water, shelter, fire, first aid, food procurement, signaling and self rescue.

Solution 2. Home Rolled Pocket Survival Kit (PSK)

Only you know your personal skill level and what you really need to bring with you to improve your fare in an emergency. Find a small easily pocketable container like the Witz ID Locker shown above and assemble your own PSK. As stated above, make certain that you have a sufficient store of gear to meet survival basics - include items for:

  1. Water storage and purification,
  2. Shelter and/or shelter building,
  3. Firemaking,
  4. First aid,
  5. Food procurement,
  6. Signaling and self rescue.

You may also want to include utility items like a small pocket pack of duct tape, sewing needle and a floss card, among others, to assist in field expedient means of gear maintenance and repair. Lastly, throw in an I.C.E. card as discussed above.

The PSK shown above is my personal "I can't take a blade" kit. It includes:

  • Witz ID Locker transparent, crush and water resistant case
  • A section of ranger band (rubber band made from an inner tube to be used for tinder)
  • Two preassembled 12' fishing lines
  • USGI MRE Hot Water Bag with markings for up to 16 ounces of water
  • MicroPur Water Purification tabs
  • SparkLight
  • TinderQuik
  • Light-My-Fire mini FireSteel and striker
  • AMK mini signal mirror
  • Acme Tornado whistle
  • Button compass
  • Floss card w/ sewing needles and threader taped on
  • Bobbin of #69 black sewing thread
  • ICE Card

I carry the kit shown above with a separate, dedicated First Aid Kit which is also geared up for my specific needs. This First Aid Kit is assembled in a very small Witz See-It-Safe. I've separated the kits in an attempt at minimizing the possibility of being separated from all of my emergency stores by the loss of one single package.

These two mini kits, along with my normal EDC items on my keyring and pockets, give me a lot of emergency support in several easy to carry, unobtrusive packages...


Sunday, May 25, 2008

HE SCORES! He Shoots! ...

Last fall I had to qualify with the local Police Department in order to maintain training requirements for HR219 national concealed carry law (for police and retired police officers.) I qualified with all of my centerfire handguns, but I noted that my Kahr PM9 was shooting way too far left to be reliably effective at distances over 15 yards under the stress of combat.

A couple weeks ago, I decided to take the Kahr to the range and spend some quality time with it to get it dialed in enough to carry. Long story short, neither the gun nor I fared well. (It had to be the gun as I was shooting everything else well and I'm a trained Firearms Instructor.)

The Kahr went back to the gun dealer on Friday. I traded it for a brand new Glock M26, Trijicon night sights, two more spare magazines with Pierce grip adapters, and three boxes of ammo. While I was at the dealer, I spied something. Something very special. Something I've wanted a long time...

It's a minty Beretta Model 70S in .22 Long Rifle. It came with the box, papers, two magazines and a like new Strong pancake holster. I couldn't resist!
This morning was cool and sunny with calm winds - a day screaming "RANGE TIME!"
It took a bit of effort, but I got both guns shooting halfway decent groups at 25 yards - one helluva lot better shooting than that Kahr...

Great day at the range. I can't express the satisfaction I feel when I finally get 'em dialed in.
The shooting sports are an American Tradition - what better way to celebrate a small part of a Memorial Day weekend than exercising the rights so many gave all to preserve, protect, and defend?

I encourage you all to get out and shoot. Take a kid with you - Don't let the sports die...


Sunday, May 18, 2008

"Hey, Buddy, Have you got...?" Let's talk EDC...

How many times have you been asked that question? Conversely, how many times have you had to ask that question?

Everytime I get asked, "Have you got...?", I get a feeling of pride knowing I probably do have the requested item. I also get a little irked that folks just aren't prepared to fend for themselves in even the smallest of life's little emergencies. I get really irked when the inquirer wants to use a piece of my gear for something clearly outside the scope of what it was made for - like wanting my knife to cut a wire tie or pry open a can, or worse, a door lock.

"Have you got...?" isn't a question I ask very often. Why not? Because I've taken some personal responsibility for myself and I routinely carry items to handle life's little emergencies.

That being said, Let's talk about the concept of "Everyday Carry," hereinafter referred to as EDC...

The concept of EDC is really pretty simple. Select some useful items that you routinely need/want/use, assemble them into a container that keeps them protected and handy, then carry that package with you daily - everywhere you go. Another method of EDC is to select the items you want to routinely have available and them fit them into or onto items you always do have available. An example of this method might be to add a small LED flashlight and/or other items you deem necessary to your keyring and wallet.

The object is to keep selected items portable enough and light enough that you don't get lazy and start leaving them behind. Murphy lurks for such moments.

So what items might you need? That's a question you have to answer for yourself, based on your own needs assessment. Considerations in making that needs assessment might include -

Where do you live? Consider here the general climate of your area. Necessity may dictate that gear selections change with the seasons.

Where do you work? Are you miles from home and need to get back there? What assets, if any, exist at your office or place of employment? Are there company work rules that prohibit carrying certain items? Are you inside all day, traveling, or out in the field? In a dire emergency, can you safely exit from your building? Are means of egress well lit and/or is there emergency power?

Where do you travel to and from? Are you traveling using a personal vehicle or public transportation? Does your typical trip involve traveling highway or back roads? Are you traveling through rural areas or well populated areas? If in the city, are you traveling "rough neighborhoods?"

What items are allowable? Do company rules or public transportation rules prohibit items? Do you need special permission or permits to be able to carry certain items?

How far away is safety, rescue, repair or resupply? Are you miles away from civilization? Are you on the 89th floor of a hi-rise? Can you communicate your emergency to someone? How long will it take someone to get to you? How long will it take you to make it out on your own? What's your method of resupply? Is it the stop-n-rob store down the street, your car, or home? Are there simple materials on hand for field expedient repair of what you actually have available?

Lastly, What have people routinely asked me if I had? A knife? Scissors? Bandaid? Needle and thread? Something for a headache? Something for a stomach ailment? Some string?

Here's my "Top 10" suggestions for EDC:

01. Select a decent knife. Other than a rock, the knife is man's most basic tool. It has far more uses than a rock and is easier to pack and carry. There are literally thousands of decent choices out there today. Need help in making the right choice? Read my reviews here or go to to ask for help. Want multifunction from your knife? Select a real (Victorinox or Wenger) Swiss Army Knife or a quality made multitool by Leatherman or Victorinox. Can't carry a blade because of work rules or public transportation rules? Victorinox and Leatherman also offer up several models without the knife blade.

02. Select a long lasting LED flashlight. Night falls and buildings get dark with the lights out. Not being blessed with night vision, humans typically need light to avoid the dangers of the darkness. A simple 1/4 ounce Photon on your keyring can put out hours of useable light sufficient to traverse a set of stairs or an unknown trail. Got more space available? Look at offerings by SureFire, Fenix, Streamlight, Inova and the hosts of other decent manufacturers available. A decent flashlight also makes a great night time signaling device.

03. Select a decent whistle. A whistle can signal distress and attract help much more efficiently than your voice. Need help selecting a whistle? Read my "Who gives a Toot" article on this site. That article will be continuously updated as more whistles become available for testing.

04. Add some bandaids to your kit or wallet. Want to get fancy? Use the bandaids that come impregnated with antibiotic. (Make sure you don't use the antibiotic bandaids if you or the victim is allergic to antibiotics.)

05. Add a floss card to your kit or wallet. Tape onto the floss card a threader and a couple needles - instant cordage and instant sewing kit. Throw a few medium safety pins wherever you find available space.

06. Add in a small roll of or pocket pack piece of duct tape. Duct tape can fix anything - just ask Care's Dad.

07. If you're traveling rural areas; add in a reliable means of firestarting, some tinder, a means of collecting water and some water purification tablets.

08. Throw a couple bandanas into a pocket. A bandana can be a prefilter strainer for questionable water, a bandage, a sling, a dust mask, and any one of a dozen other uses.

09. Add a small prytool to your key ring or kit. Such a tool is an invalueable aid in opening a stuck door or window and can be used for a host of other chores including digging through sheetrock or prying open a clam.

10. Add a waterproof "spy-capsule" containing at least a couple days worth of personal medications to your kit or keyring.

It's time we all took some personal responsibility for our safety and survival. Packing up a small selection of EDC items and maybe a 1st Aid Kit and Personal Survival Kit is a step in the right direction. Just starting out? The Doug Ritter Personal Survival Pack from Adventure Medical Kits has a lot of the items listed above already included at a tremendous savings over buying the items individually. Doug's kit is easily modified to meet each individual's need and is backed by great customer service and support...


Saturday, May 17, 2008

Maxpedition 10 x 4" Bottle Kit - A Work in Progress...

During PWYP VII, I had the opportunity to see and handle Joe (Joezilla) Flowers' Maxpedition Bottle Kit. I'd seen his pictures on Knife Forums, but I was a little skeptical. As soon as I saw it up close and personal, I knew I had to have one. Lo and behold, my khaki bottle holder arrived safely early last week. I've been assembling it into "kit form" ever since...

Here's the specs on the Bottle Holder as stated by Maxpedition:

Main compartment: 10” high x 4” diameter, padded, with drainage grommet
Frontal compartment: 6” x 3” x 1.5” with elastic retention
PALS attachment webbing: Front and sides
Attachment1: D-rings for optional shoulder strap
Attachment2: Long Malice clips (sold separately)
Attachment3: Keyper quick release hook on back
Available colors: Black, OD Green, Khaki, Foliage Green

As of this writing, I've equipped by bottle carrier with a pair of Maxpedition 4" tube sheaths, one to hold my Leatherman Skeletool and 1 extra bit holder, the other to hold one of my SureFire LED flashlights. I've also added a Maxpedition Barnacle pouch. The sheaths and pouch are secured by malice clips.

The bottle pouch will fit my Guyot Designs stainless water bottle, my Snow Peak Solo titanium cookset, a Snow Peak spork and a folding Swedish Army coffee cup. To fit all this in, the packing order is as follows:
  1. Lid for the Snow Peak pot
  2. Large Snow Peak pot
  3. Guyot bottle
  4. Small Snow Peak pot upside down over the top of the bottle
  5. Spork stuffed behind everything listed thus far, and,
  6. The folding Swedish cup sitting on top of everything else.

The frontal compartment contains a cheap $.99 Coglan's poncho, an Adventure Medical Kits HeetSheet Blanket, and a 25' hank of milspec 7 strand 550 cord as pictured above.

The Barnacle pouch contains two Witz See-It-Safe containers; one for 1st Aid Supplies, one for personal survival supplies. The Barnacle pouch also contains an AMK/Ritter signal mirror in it's front flap pocket and an ID card with 2 $20 bills in it's hidden inner sleeve pocket.

As currently stocked, I think the Max Kit will make a good dayhike and hunting companion. I'm hoping to get 'er out into the woods soon to see how she stacks up. If I'm right, I have a feeling that this kit will end up being a very expensive proposition (as is shown in Pic #1) ...


Friday, May 16, 2008

Small Tiger Knapp by Blind Horse Knives...

During Practice What You Preach (PWYP) VII, in April 2008, I had the distinct pleasure of meeting and spending some time with L. T. Wright and Dan Coppins of Blind Horse Knives. These men are true gentlemen and, together, they make a fine series of quality custom knives at very affordable prices.

I couldn't resist buying a matched pair of their Small Tiger Knapp Knives; one for me, the other for Care...

Here's the Specs for the Blind Horse "Small Tiger Knapp" :

∙ 100 % Made in the USA
∙ Laser/water jet cut blanks made from 4140* steel, hand finished
* 4140 is an oil-hardening alloy steel with respectable hardenability. Here's the breakdown of 4140:
Carbon .35 - .43; Magnesium .75 - 1.0; Phosphorus .035; Silicon .04; Molybendum .35; Chromium 1.10
4140 heat-treats well and machines well in the heat-treated condition. It has good strength, good wear resistance and excellent toughness.
Overall length is 6"
∙ 2 1/2" sharpened edge
∙ 1" squared edge spine tip for use as a ferrocerium (FireSteel) striker
∙ Grind - Hollow (flat grind is optional, soon to be offered as the standard grind)
∙ MSRP - $20.00 USD plus shipping
∙ This Knife does not include a sheath. Sheaths are available from both Blind Horse Knives and from JRE Industries.*
* I highly recommend the JRE Industries sheath - see my "Trusted Friends" links on the left side of the page you're viewing for JRE contact info.
∙ Weight with JRE sheath is 3.2 ounces.

Here's a pic of me wearing the Small Tiger Knapp in a JRE sheath. With me is the talented "Spen" of JRE Industries...

I've been using the S.T.K. for a bit over a month now. It's been my primary utility knife around the house; handling chores such as cutting cordage, cutting or trimming cable ties, stripping wire, and cutting up the piles of boxes and plastics for weekly recycling. Performance on those chores has been first rate. Additionally, performance on making fuzzy sticks out of hardwood scraps down in my shop has been stellar. The edge has not suffered the experiences at all. With routine maintenance of stropping the edge after use and a quick wipe down with an oily rag, I've not yet had to put the knife on the SharpMaker.

Even without handle scales, the Tiger Knapp is very comfortable to use for short periods of time due to the nicely rounded and polished handle edges and most of the blade spine. The Tiger Knapping is inset into the handle and gives the user a little more bite to his/her grip as well as keeping the knife's weight to a minimum. The jury is still out on comfort level for extended use of the Tiger Knapp. The load of boxes I sent out two weeks ago was enormous, including the box from a new lawnmower and that from a new grill. By the time I got all the boxes and plastics cut, my hand was a tad crampy. I kind of suspect that discomfort would have occurred regardless of knife choice - those boxes were really tough material.

The "squared edge" spine tip makes for an absolutely wonderful FireSteel striker. Showers of hot sparks are very quickly and easily achieved with minimal effort, as the Tiger Knapp makes a very stable and capable striker.

In the camp kitchen, the Tiger Knapp shines. It makes a great paring knife for the veggies and it makes quick work of meat cutting and trimming chores. Thus far, it's handling characteristics lead me to believe that the S.T.K. would make a very serviceable field dressing knife for big game as well as an excellent choice for small game / fish / fowl processing.

In my opinion, the Tiger Knapp is an excellent choice for a neck knife, utility knife to be carried as a spare for a primary knife, patch knife for a muzzleloader or a primary knife for one interested in going ultralight. It's a great little knife that performs much bigger...


*Last picture added with permission from Luke Causey (LukeC)

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Who gives a Toot? Whistle Tests Are In...

During PWYP VII, Care and I decided that we were going to finally take some time to test my collection of PSK sized whistles to see how they performed. After a fruitless search to borrow a decibel (db) meter, I finally broke down and bought one for the tests. I settled on a Radio Shack db meter and packed it with the whistles for the trip to North Carolina.

The tests were conducted on Chestnut Mountain, NC – out in the woods with all of the ambient noises you’d experience in the field, not in some sound chamber. The decibel meter was set up 4’ from the whistle. Each whistle was blown three times, with each reading recorded by Care. The averages are seen in the following chart. Later, we recruited Jeremy, Rebecca and Emma (the J, R and E of JRE Industries fame) to help out. We had each of them test the whistles in similar fashion and we recorded the results as before. Their averages are also displayed below.

While the tests seem to indicate a clear winner, that’s not my first hand observation. My observations are that:

1. Any whistle that was capable of routinely reaching 105 decibels (db) or better is worthy of serious consideration for everyday carry and/or inclusion in a PSK or 1st Aid Kit. Reaching/surpassing the 105db mark is going to get someone’s attention!

2. Ease of blowing to reach or exceed the level of 105db is a serious consideration. One with a lung condition such as asthma, COPD, or chronic bronchitis would be well advised to look at the whistles that have been noted as being “Very easy to blow” or “Easy to blow.”

3. Whistle construction is critical if you’re going to depend on it to survive. Look for quality construction. If you opt for a metal whistle and live in a cold climate, take precautions to cover the lip piece of the whistle with a protective sleeve of some type to prevent lip damage.

Wykeite Custom (Cylinder Type w/ stainless reed)
Adult Average: 109.6
Child Average: 110
Overall average: 109.8 db
Very easy to blow. Easy to change tone/pitch using fingers to manipulate side of valve. Excellent small size for even the smallest of kits or key ring. Expensive, but the construction is nearly bulletproof. Also available in brass and titanium construction.

Acme Thunderer (pea type)
Adult Average: 105
Child Average: 107
Overall average: 106 db
The former standard issue police whistle and the former standard by which all others were judged.

Acme Tornado (pealess)
Adult Average: 105
Child Average: 107
Overall Average: 106 db
Very easy to blow. Great size for kits or key ring.

Fox Rescue Howler (pealess)
Adult Average: 109.6
Child Average: 110
Overall Average: 109.8 db
Very thin and slim design. Excellent for fitting into a survival kit. Easy to blow.

Mini Fox 40 (pealess)
Adult Average: 112
Child Average: 116
Overall Average: 114 db
A modern classic. Used in most professional sports and, now, in law enforcement. Easy to blow and very, very loud. Becomes much smaller when you clip or file the “wings” off the bottom of the whistle.

US Gov’t Issue (pea type)
Failed: Whistle was discontinued from testing when it could not routinely break the 100 decibel mark.

ACR (pealess)
Adult Average: 109
Child Average: 111
Overall Average: 110 db
Very thin and slim design. Excellent for fitting into any size survival kit. Very easy to blow.

Bass Pro Flat Marine Safety (pealess)
Adult Average: 107.6
Child Average: 106*
Overall Average: 106.8 db
Very thin, almost wafer like and easy to fit into a kit. Produces duo cord type sound.
* Routinely overblown by children present.

Tool Logic Knife (pealess)
Adult Average: 108.6
Child Average: 109
Overall Average: 108.8 db
Easy to blow. Easily overblown without absolutely perfect lip placement.

Jet Scream (pealess)
Adult Average: 109.3
Child Average: 112
Overall Average: 110.6 db
Odd shape and size doesn’t lend itself to being included in all but a large sized kit. A bit on the hard to blow side.

Windstorm (pealess)
Adult Average: 115
Child Average: 117
Overall Average: 116 db
Odd shape and size doesn’t lend itself to being included in all but a large sized kit or attached to a strap or harness. Very, very loud. Hard to blow, requires a lot of airflow. Construction seems a bit flimsy.

Roy Gonia Lucky Dog (pea type)
Adult Average: 108.3
Child Average: 109
Overall Average: 108.6 db
Easy to blow. Construction seems a bit flimsy.

Bison Small (Cylinder Type w/ plastic reed)
Failed: Reed fell out and was lost just before the test. If you own one or more of these, pop the reed out and epoxy it back into place before relying on its performance.

Bison Large (Cylinder Type w/ plastic reed)
Failed: Reed twisted 90 degrees and could not be blown loud enough to reach the 100db mark. See notes above.

ITWNexus AeroWave Zipper Pull (pealess)
Failed: Too small to manipulate easily. Far too easy to be overblown. Routinely overblown at >91 Decibels.

A good whistle is a must have item for daily carry and for survival kit inclusion. A whistle requires a lot less effort and fewer wasted calories than screaming for help. A good whistle will carry much farther than your voice will, too. Here's a funny but true example of which I speak -

One Sunday morning, I went to Connecticut Hills Game Management Area to do some shooting. (It's the largest piece of state wilderness in NY State.) Once done shooting, I decided to test out my new stainless Wykeite whistle. I blew the heck out of it - man is it loud! As I was packing my truck back up to leave, a NYS EnCon Police Officer pulled up in her vehicle and slammed to a stop. She asked me if I'd heard the whistle, too. (She assumed someone was in distress.) I showed her the whistle and told her it was me testing it. She had been out of her vehicle a full quarter mile away as the crow flies, through heavily forested woods when she first heard the whistle! I was really impressed by the whistle's performance. She wasn't...


PS. A special thanks to Jeremy, Rebecca and Emma for their participation in these tests. They're a bunch of great kids that really lend new meaning to what events like these are all about! M & C

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Gossman Knives FireStriker...

A while back, Scott Gossman introduced a small knife like firestriker. On request/suggestion, Scott agreed to harden the FireStriker sufficiently to also be used to strike flint.

I received and tested mine at Marty and Aggie Simon's WAR rendezous, 2006. It worked and worked pretty well. I was able to achieve huge showers of sparks from a firesteel and I was able to render good sparks from various "sparky rocks" - jasper, agate, novaculite, quartz, etc.

PWYP N encampment, 2006, we used both the Gossman FireStriker and one of my homemade file strikers to conduct a mini firemaking workshop. What an awesome time! Even in broad daylight, I was able to catch Matt's sparks from the FireStriker and sparky rock in the air...

Look at his left sleeve -

Matt caught some of those sparks in a small piece of charcloth and immediately nested the ember into a jute bundle...

As you can see, Matt was successful at blowing the ember and jute bundle into flame...

Not wanting to slight anyone, I should mention that Tim, Marcelo, and Rob were all very successful in achieving fire with flint and FireStriker - I just happened to catch Matt on digifilm for this writing. Kudos to all - I made them each achieve fire three times before they left and they all did me proud.
My personal thoughts on the FireStriker are as follows -

The knife is diminutive and is intended to be capable of being carried in the smallest of fireboxes, PSKs, or to be worn around the neck. Scott designed the knife to be used with a completely unsharpened edge, but will sharpen the edge at the specific request of the purchaser. I bought mine unsharpened and have since used it enough to feel comfortable in using it with a semi-sharp edge. You will need to make up your mind how you want yours made, but I'm recommending that you strongly consider an unsharpened version if you intend to use it with sparky rocks. Once you become proficient with the sparking technique, you can always apply an edge if it's desired. The FireStriker knife is handy enough and fun enough that I've already placed my order for a second. It's an awesome tool with an exceptionally high "cool factor." I love mine and consider it a must have camp and survival tool...

Need more info? Try here:


Survival Folder - The Ritter Mini Griptilian by Benchmade

Right after Practice What You Preach (PWYP) 6, I received a Benchmade / Doug Ritter Mini-Griptilian, Model Mini-RSK Mk1™. The Mini-Grip has been my constant companion since and I thought I'd share my thoughts and impressions of it here.

There's something to be said for carrying a knife which was conceived by someone with an outdoor survival mindset and background. "It works." Add in the following components and you have one great knife for either everyday carry in an urban environment or hard use in the field...

1. Griptilian handle & mechanical design by Mel Pardue,
2. AXIS Lock design by Bill McHenry and Jason Williams,
3. Blade Design by Doug Ritter of Equipped to Survive and, and;
4. A great knifemaker like Benchmade to put it all together.

Here's the tech specs on the Mini-Grip Mini-RSK Mk1™:

Blade Material: CPM S30V hardened to 58-60 HRC

Blade Length: 2.88 in. (7.32 cm)

Blade Thickness: 0.100 in. (2.54 mm)

Blade Shape: Wide-Chord Drop Point

Blade Grind: High Flat grind with 30º inclusive edge, 6.9º bevel

Blade Edge: Plain Edge

Blade Finish: Stonewashed or also available with Black BT2

Closed Length: 3.87 in. (9.82 cm)

Open Length: 6.74 in. (17.12 cm)

Handle Thickness: 0.51 in. (1.30 cm) max

Weight: 2.68 oz. (76 g)

Handle Material: Glass-filled Noryl GTX

Liners: 410 Stainless Steel

Pivot Washers: Phosphor Bronze

Pocket Clip: Ambidextrous Reversible Removeable Stainless Steel

Lock Mechanism: Ambidextrous AXIS Lock

Opener: Ambidextrous Dual Thumb Studs

That all adds up to a knife that's easily pocketable, extremely reliable, extremely durable, comfortable to carry and to use, highly rust resistant, and easy to maintain. It throws in an awesome blade shape for general purpose uses that takes and holds an awesome edge.

I've used mine for weeks now, inclusive to use during the Memorial Day weekend at Marty and Aggie Simon's encampment at the Wilderness Learning Center. I've used the Mini-Grip at work for cutting boxes, tape, and cable ties. I've used it at home for almost every routine chore, inclusive to preparing cardboard and plastic recycleables for pickup. I've also used it at camp for cutting 550 cord, boxes, food prep, and any other knife chore I could find...

While I'm at it here, I can truly say the Mini-RSK Mk1™ cuts very easily and cleanly. Special thanks to Fernando Gonzalez (Akabu1) for assisting me with testing by patching me up after just barely touching the blade to my left index finger.

Through all of the use the Mini has seen thus far, it has not needed a complete resharpening. Routine stropping of the blade after every or every other use has kept the blade nearly light-sabre sharp. There has been absolutely no evidence of any edge chipping, and accidentally striking the blade on my polymer cutting board several times didn't even cause an edge rollover. The S30V steel seems to be hardened sufficiently to allow for awesome edge retention without being brittle. I'll try to remember to report back on ease of resharpening when it becomes necessary.
Let me say that I am thoroughly enamored with the Mini-RSK Mk1™. Whether for woods walking or trudging a city street, it's a great companion and addition to my everyday carry equipment loadout...

For what it's worth, this one is so good, I have another on order. I am not going to allow Care to swindle this one from me by batting her eyes - she's getting her own.

Need more info on this one? Check out or go to to order...


UPDATE: Here we are, a hair over a year later. Care not only has her own Ritter Mini Grip, she also has a pink scaled Benchmade Mini Grip.
Mine has been used hard over the course of the year, but you'd never know it to look at it. I used a Dremel tool to take the scarred black coating off the pocket clip. Other than that, there's barely a mark on it. The stonewashed S30V steel really takes a licking and stays very sharp with routine stopping. The Noryl GTX handle is still flawless - I think it would survive a nuclear attack. The AXIS lock is still working well. Occassional use of canned air to get any grit and pocket lint out of the lock keeps it nice and smooth.
Here's a pic from last hunting season...


Where's Waldo? Using a signal mirror to stay found...

Where's Waldo?

Waldo in this case is Mr. Terrill Hoffman, the man behind the mirror.

During PWYP VII; Terrill, Garrett (poesprogeny), and I spent some quality time together testing signaling devices - the small PSK sized mirrors are to be discussed in this post.

The plan was to send Terrill deep into the woods up the mountain via ATV, approximately 3/4 +/- mile away. He would be armed with a standard computer CD, a BCB MayDay signal mirror, a StarFlash signal mirror, a Victorinox fiber backed signal mirror from their SOS kit, a mirror fashioned from commercially available auto mirror replacement material, and the standard sized Adventure Medical Kits mirror from the Ritter Pocket Survival Pack.

Garrett and I would stay back to record the event, keeping in communication with Terrill via FRS/GMRS radio.

Long story short, The clear winner of the flash-off was the AMK signal mirror from Doug Ritter's Pocket Survival Pack. It outshined the others; with the StarFlash, BCB MayDay, and auto mirror replacement material coming in about tied for "place." The remainder were tied for "show," with the exception of the compact disk which was rated as an "also ran."

Lessons learned?

1. There's no substitute for a quality made, dedicated signal mirror. The compact disk signal was simply not quick to spot and didn't catch the eye well enough. Even with it's massive size in comparision to the 2x2" and 2x3" dedicated signal mirrors, the CD was easily outshined. Let this not go unsaid - if a CD is all you have, by all means, use it!

2. The larger the mirror, the better the signal.

3. The better the clarity of the mirror, the better the signal.

4. Buying a mirror? Buy two. One to practice with, the other to keep protected and scratch free until needed in an emergency.

5. PRACTICE! It takes a bit of practice to learn to use a signal mirror properly.

After this set of simple tests, my kit will not be without a dedicated signal mirror again. A decent mirror will signal for miles and miles under the right conditions and can be seen for a good many miles through haze. A dedicated signal mirror is an excellent investment in promoting rescue in the event of emergency...