Sunday, June 24, 2012

Benchmade VS Kershaw

“Three little knives are we….” (With a tip of the hat to the Mikado by Gilbert and Sullivan) my song should go.
I just got three new knives in and let me bring them out on stage.

Kershaw Brawler,
Benchmade Barrage in Tanto,
HK Entourage.

Benchmade Barrage, HK Entourage, Kershaw Brawler
My three little knives.....Barrage on top, Entourage in the middle and the Brawler on bottom.  Still, who makes up these names??

They almost run the gamut of knives found in pockets across the nation.  The Brawler is made in China by Kershaw who is owned by Kai the makers of Zero Tolerance and Shun kitchen knives.  Benchmade makes HK knives as well as their own.  Both of these were made in the USA.

Two are assisted, two are made in the USA and one is not.  One is an auto.  You would be surprised how many people have a knife in their pocket with one of these descriptors.

Let’s bring one out.

Of all the knives the Entourage is the simplest in appearance.  

Hk Auto Entourage well made switchblade
HK's Auto Entourage 

The knife is tapped for tip up, left or right carry.  The handle is detail free, snag free and has that annoying nail-on-chalkboard feel that enhances grip.  These are positive attributes for an auto opener.

The steel?

The 3.75-inch tanto blade is made from 440C hardened to 58-60 RHC.  The C stands for Rockwell C scale.  Rockwell has several scales including one for copper sheets and aluminum tubes, so it’s important we acknowledge which scale we use.   

This blade has Benchmade’s BK finish.
BK?  Oh, that’s Benchmade’s black ceramic coating, probably Cerakote made by NIC Industries.  I don’t know what that means either.

The spring is powerful enough to open and lock the blade even if the initial opening is slightly hampered.  We've all seen autos that snag, or catch on something and only get three quarters of the way open and the blade just dangles.  Don’t let yours dangle.

A simple wrist flick opens and locks the blade.  No biggy, except for those times when there is no spare time.

The Brawler
The Brawler sports a 3.25-inch blade made from 8cr13mov steel.  The steel is a Chinese stainless and we’ve all seen complications from so called Chinese quality products.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  Quality depends on the company and not the country of origin.  Kershaw is a well-known name and I would trust their products.

Kershaw assisted opening Brawler
Front of Brawler

Assisted opener
Back.  Note the high carry clip and tapping in all four positions.

I can’t find any information on blade hardness.  Other companies harden their 8cr13mov steel in the 56-60 RHC range.  I suspect Kershaw is in that range as well.

This knife is assisted opening, incorporating both flipper and stud.  It’s tapped in all four locations for tip up or down, left or right carry.  Very handy for any of us who like different carry modes.  The handle is a glass-filled nylon which makes for a very strong and durable handle.  The blade has a DLC finish.

DLC?  Diamond-Like Coating.  Did you know that $4000 Rolex wrist watches come with a DLC coating.  You should also be aware there is a family of DLC finishes.

Is it a balloon?  No - it's a Barrage.
The Barrage is one of the nicest designed knives I’ve seen in years.  The AXIS lock is so nice and so easy to use.  The knife’s grip sports little finger bevels to amp up your grip.  Why?  This assisted opening knife opens with authority and has a satisfying “thunk” when the blade locks open.  The blade is made from 3.6 inches of 154CM steel and the handle is composed of Valox.

assisted opening barrage
Barrage in Tanto, Assisted opening

Valox is a thermoplastic polyester resin made by Sabic.  Benchmade doesn’t tell us if it’s a PET or PBT polyester or if it’s filled or not.  But really, how would that information make a difference to you the knife consumer?  At some point we all must trust the company.  That’s why it’s important to buy from quality companies.

So where are we with our three little knives?

Blade Length (inches)
Open length
Opened & closed
Liner lock only
Assisted w/ flipper
AXIS with safety
Assisted w/ stud

Takes the romance out of it, doesn’t it!

Both Benchmade knives have a safety that locks the knife in closed and opened conditions.  The Kershaw Brawler depends on needing sufficient force on the flipper to start the blade opening.  Its liner lock is stout enough to keep it open until you make the effort to close it.

assisted opener Barrage showing lock
Lock on Barrage.  Both the Auto Entourage and the Barrage can be locked closed or locked open.

Both companies offer lifetime sharpening.  Kershaw will even pay the postage to return it to you.  The auto creates a problem.  If you send it back for sharpening, you need to prove (a department letterhead or such) you can legally own the knife.  I don’t see it as a problem.  There are plenty of sharpening systems available as well as professional knife sharpeners.  (Hint:  Learn to sharpen your knife in the field.)

So which knife would I carry?  Depends.  In New York I couldn’t carry any of them. 

If I went in harm’s way, I’d carry the Entourage and back it up with the Barrage.  Why?  Excluding the 'one is none' rule, I’d use the assisted opener for normal activities: opening care packages from home, whittling, cutting cord and other non-lethal stuff.  I’d save the auto for those responses when only coarse motor skills were available to me, like fighting for my life.

With my lifestyle, the Brawler is more than enough.  I’d back it up with a full serration Spyderco Endura, but that just me.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Other Side of the Knife Edge

I missed the Blade Show.

My mother passed away unexpectedly and we had to hightail it down to Florida.  It was a long two-day trip hampered by rain and traffic jams.

Every family does it differently.  Mom wanted to be cremated and returned to the Gulf.  She loved the ocean.

Cremation isn’t that easy.  The funeral parlor is required to wait 48 hours.  Concurrently, the doctor has 72 hours to sign the death certificate.  Some sign right away, others don’t.  Only after the death certificate arrives can they put Mom in the queue for cremation. 
Cremation is very popular in Florida.  It’s legal to dispose of the ashes off any pier, bridge, boat, shore or toilet.  No wonder.  With the high percentage of elderly, the high cost to transport bodies to family plots would be quite a handicap to many families and Florida would run out of land if everyone wanted to be buried there!

Because of the backlog, we had about a week between her death and the services.  My wife and I spent that time organizing and cleaning the kitchen and laundry room for my dad.  I knew my mother was a pack-rat, but this was ridiculous.  We found hundreds, really hundreds of clean, used bread bags stored in other clean used bread bags.  And why pen caps?  Not pens, but a shoebox full of mis-matched pen caps.  

Several years ago there was a science fiction-fantasy show about a missing room in a desert motel chain.  "Artifacts" from the room had strange powers and effects on people.  One of the more humorous ones was a bus ticket which deposited the holder on a road somewhere in Nebraska.  

My mother must have had the one that returns lost pen caps to her.

We scheduled a special trash pickip for all the trash bags
We scheduled a special trash pick-up for all the stuff Mom had packed away.  One exception was a defunct grass cutter which scavengers had already picked up.
We will not even begin to talk about all the open bars of soap she liberated from motel rooms when they traveled!

Father Pat should have presided over the small service my father wanted.  He was strangely unavailable and out of communication with us or the funeral home.  The rectory was closed, nobody was home, messages not returned.  A really different way to run a ministry.    At the last minute Farley Funeral Homes got a fill-in, Father Mike.
Father Mike was an older priest with curly white hair and the map of Ireland written on his face.  He said hello and the service started.

You read off a prayer sheet with little notations like (his/her) or (departed) inserted in the text.  The priest inserts the name or gender of the person to make the ceremony a little more personal.  After all, the normal “donation” is 100 bucks for less than a half hour of work.  That’s a rate of $400K per year if you can find steady work.  In Florida you can come pretty close.

We prayed for a while and he said, "...we pray for Debby."  Mom was June, but my sister Debby was handling a huge part of the burden of arrangements, finding accounts, overseeing so much, she needed a few prayers too, so I didn’t think too much about it.  After about the third time, we realized he had the wrong name……   We corrected him.

Funerals are for the living.  Part of the ceremony is to pray for the living.  So when he got to mentioning my father, “Jack”, we were a little jarred because his name is Frank. 

 We got that straightened out right away.

“Please!  My father’s name is Frank,”  I interrupted. 

My sister Debby, who apparently had been buried earlier in the ceremony, chimed in with “His name is Frank!”

So Father Mike looks at Dad and says “When I met you I called you Jack.  Why didn’t you correct me?”

Dad looked at him and said, “I didn’t want to be rude.” 

I suspect my father’s poor hearing didn’t let him hear correctly so he just assumed the priest had the right name.  I still think we should have given the priest a blood alcohol test.  I bet the level of the cooking sherry was down an inch or two back in the rectory!

The next day everyone wanted a small portion of Mom’s ashes.  This wasn’t unexpected so I searched earlier in the week for small metal containers.  My wife thought she knew where some were sold, but they didn’t have any.  My father's response was to start pulling out amber-colored prescription bottles he uses for small screws and nuts.  I said no to that.

We finally found small metal cans with a clear plastic window in the lid and a magnet on the bottom.  I’m told they are spice containers and the magnet helps them stick to other containers.  Spice containers?  I was out of ideas.   So I told everyone it was a window that Mom could see out of and they could stick it to their refrigerator.  The idea of having your mother’s ashes watching you from the kitchen refrigerator door was strangely comforting to my sisters.  I don’t know where they got this quirky outlook on life from, but my father chose an empty camera filter case to hold Mom’s ashes.  Go figure…..

My absent brother wants to have his own service with Dad, so I planned to leave some ashes in the original container, but my sister said no.  It wasn’t elegant enough.  She chose a thick ceramic container with a metal latch.  Okay….

So the rest of my mother’s ashes are in an old ceramic cheese jar.  Who are these people?

We went to a pier where Mom and Dad fished at, found a nice spot and mindful of the wind, we slipped her ashes into the Gulf and said good-bye.

Mom's finial resting place in the Gulf of Mexico
Mom's at rest in the Gulf of Mexico.

It was a strange and peaceful moment.