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