Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Hinderer 0550 Misses the Mark

I just got a ZT/Rick Hinderer 0550.  It’s a lovely knife.  

The ZT Hinderer 0550 kinfe remains closed
What a great looking knife, a great handle and a very nice blade.  Too bad for ZT.

At least I thought so until I went to open it. 

I thought I was going to bust my right thumb pushing on the opening stud.  I changed to my left thumb.  Still no joy.  The knife remained sealed shut.

No, there’s no lock.  Just grab the blade anywhere and it pops open.  But you’ll snap the bone in your thumb if you try to force it open using the opening stud.  I am so surprised about this considering the reputation Zero Tolerance has for quality knives.

It’s hard to sell a tactical knife you can’t open with one hand, so I called my distributor.

They didn’t want to believe me.  They sell a lot of ZTs and they never had opening trouble before.

“Tell you what,” Bob said.  “I’ll go out to the warehouse and get one and call you back.”

Five minutes later my phone rings.

“You know what the problem is?”  It was Bob back from the warehouse.  I expected to be told I was holding the knife wrong, or it just needed a touch of oil, or I didn’t use the super-secret unlock feature.

“Damn stud is in the wrong position!  I can’t get it open either if I hold the knife in the regular grip.”

the only way to open a ZT0550 is with two hands
The ZT 0550 is a tactical knife that can't be opened tactically.... NYC would love it!!

At least it wasn’t me. 

“If I hold the knife low in my hand and come at the stud from the 6:45 pm position and press sideways while I jump up and land on my left foot, assuming you’re right handed…..”  I kind of zoned out on the rest of the opening ritual.

Huh,  no.  This isn’t going to work.  It’s going back.  So if you’re thinking of buying a Zero Tolerance Hinderer 0550, make sure you can return it.  Unless you like jumping onto your left foot to open a knife.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Blade Show Day 2

Today’s my last day at the Blade Show.  I’m heading home Sunday June 2nd but the show continues most of Sunday.  I always feel sad about the end of the show.  For two days I’m surrounded by people with many of the same values I have.  Come Monday I’m back at work surrounded by sheeple.  I may have to go back to the sheep, but tonight I’m still entrenched in the knife culture.

I stopped at Spyderco.  I just love their knives.  Look, there are only so many variations on a knife: blade, handle, lock, cutting edge.  Many companies make the same knife in 30 variations.  Face it, see one Benchmade and you’ve seen about 80% of all Benchmades.  And I’m a big supporter of Benchmade!

Spyderco is a little different.  They are not afraid to try something different.  Take the Pingo Orange.  
Spyderco Pingo
Spyderco's Danish Pingo.  It will work in many knife intolerant US cities.

It’s a collaboration of Spyderco, Jen Anso and Jesper Voxnaes.  The two are Danish knife makers and despite their long established knife culture, Denmark has some very strict knife laws.  Citizens can’t have locking or one-hand opening knives.  The Pingo has a 2.35 inch blade made from N690Co steel and is street legal in Denmark. 

I got into a discussion about locking blades with Joyce at Spyderco.  I’m uncomfortable with non-locking blades.  I’ve cut myself a number of times when I did something stupid and the knife closed on me.  She told me about several Danish military frogmen who bought a lot of these at a dive show they were attending.

“Look,” they said. “You can do three things.  Carry illegally and hope for the best, do without, or follow the law and have something on you.”  I agree with that completely, but I’ll add we don’t know how lucky we are to be Americans!  (PS: This knife should work legally in Chicago, New York and Cleveland just to name a few.)

Also from Spyderco are a Puukko fixed blade made from CPM S30V steel and a folding Puukko also made with S30V steel called Nilakka.  It’s named after a lake where the designer Pekka Tuominen lives.   
From Spyderco Puukko and folding puukko
Two knives showing Spderco's interest in ethnic knives.

Both are excellent knives.

I stopped off at Boker to get more information on their knives.  Boker has several different levels of knives.  Some are made in Germany, others in South America and still others made everywhere else.  I know it doesn’t sound very useful if you’re trying to match quality and price.  Boker tells me all of their knives meet the quality standards set by the German parent company and you can find some remarkable knives in the Magnum class.  Much to my error I’ve always thought Magnum class was the cheaper, junk knives.  I’ve got to admit the ones I saw felt pretty good.  But as the sales rep told me, there’s German steel and then there’s other steels.  I guess you have to read between the lines.

Benchmade was selling knives.  That amazed me!  A number of years ago Benchmade stopped selling to distributors and wanted to deal only with brick and mortar stores.  They never sold at the SHOT Show or the Blade Show.  Until now.  It was a good deal:  15% off list and free laser engraving.  The engraver was a little thing about the size of a 1200-watt microwave.  I suspect laser engraving could become so cheap you’ll see it everywhere including home hobbyist.

I was looking for a neck knife, but nothing struck my fancy.  I stopped at Danny Robinson, who prints his business card on the back of a sealed band-aid, and fell in love with his files-to-knife conversions.  
Steel file converted to a knife
Utility converted to art.
I bought a high carbon steel fixed blade with a wood and brass handle and a blued blade.  Maybe someday I’ll have a neck sheath made for it.

Last word for tonight!
How does she keep her balance!!!!
How does she keep her balance?!  Yikes!

Friday, May 31, 2013

Blade Show Opening Day

I got in line around 9:40.  The show opened at 12 noon.  Fortunately the fellow in back of me was interesting and we spent the time yakking.  Turns out he’s a high end commercial photographer.  We’ve both seen the end of film as a media and the growth of digital media.  While most of his work is wedding and architectural photography, he occasionally takes photographs of a few knives and was a lot of fun to talk with.  He likes high-end knives ~ Microtech, Chris Reeve and Benchmade.

line up for entrance to the Blade Show
We're lining up to get in.  Toyland for adults.
We got in and started walking.  It’s row after row of knives, sharpening, manufacturing supplies, and of course, more knives.  Frankly, after a while it all blends together.  Especially with sore feet.

The crowds at the Blade Show
The floor isn't packed yet, but it's beginning to get crowded.

Still, I picked up a few new knives.  My wife and I both got Covert Defenders from TWBrands Gear.  Covert Defenders are neck knives made from G10.  No metal.  They can be resharpened with an emery nail board (!) and one’s include in the pack.

neck knive from TWBrands at Blade Show
The knife is entirely made from G-10.  No metal.
You’re not going to shave fir sticks to start a fire or skin a deer out with it, but I sure wouldn’t want to get slashed with it.  I’m told you can get it sharp enough to slice a tomato.  It fits into my personal belief that I should be ready.

My wife bought several Cutco Knives.  Cutco, as you may know, owns Ka-Bar and makes quality knives.   Yes, Cutco is expensive but their quality makes the price reasonable.  I hope to write a little bit more about them later.

I like some of the new knives coming out from CRKT.  The Swindle has a lot going for it, but the crazy spring-loaded clip wants to hold the knife perpendicular to your body.  That’s kind of odd.  CRKT indicates the knife will distort the fabric and lay flat until you reach for it.  The hand pooches the pocket outward and the Swindle become very easy to grasp.  I don’t know.  Too many of CRKT theories sound good and work okay standing at the counter, but stoop down or sit striding a bike and the theory self-destructs.

One of my last stops today was Shadow Tech.  They make all their knives in Ohio and have some very interesting designs.  I picked up their newest.  It’s so new it doesn’t have a name yet or is on their website.  At least that’s what I was told.  (I did check their website and it’s called the QRT and you can find it there.)
QRT from shadow tech
This may rival Ka-Bar's TDI knife.

The knife is designed for police and military.   It has a lot of the functionality of a push dagger, but doesn’t torque in your hand.  The finger hole really locks the knife into your grip.  The blade is 1095 steel with a Rockwell C of around 58.  That’s a good value for knives that may be used a pry bars, scoops and God knows what else.

Tomorrow is another day.  I still have to meet with some people and I anticipate a few more purchases.  I still haven’t found the neck knife I want.  Everything in this hotel and show is very expensive, so I really have to think about what I’m purchasing.

More tomorrow I hope!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Pre-blade Show

It’s Thursday evening  and I’m settled into my hotel room at the Blade Show.  The drive was relatively painless and uneventful.  No drama when driving is a good thing!

My wife and I went down to the hotel bar to grab a pre-dinner beer.  Let me recommend Sweetwater IPA.  It’s excellent, unless you think Bud is the beer to die for.  The beer has an amber cloudiness and the hops give it a strong citrus/grapefruit aftertaste.  I know, sounds weird, but I’ve had a lot of IPAs and this one is excellent.

It’s doubly weird to sit in the bar and watch people pull knives out of pockets, parcels, bags, boxes and sometimes thin air.  They click them open and closed, pass them around and none of the staff seems to notice.  If you’re a hoplophobe, you’d feel like a long tail cat in a room full of demonic rockers.  But then you wouldn’t be reading this blog either.

Our next stop was Ted’s Montana Grill (as in Ted Turner in case you need to drop a name) for buffalo bison steaks.  They were so tender you could cut them with a fork.  Expensive?  Look, if you come to the Blade Show, bring a little extra money and enjoy a meal out.  The food was excellent and the service good.

We returned and I found out we could purchase our VIP passes at 9 AM tomorrow.  The VIP pass gets you in the show a couple hours sooner.  I can’t wait.  If they had a midnight showing I’d be camped out in line.

I’m looking for an artsy neck knife.  Of course I want to visit most of the knife companies, as well as the custom makers and still get in the lectures.  It’s clear I need to clone myself so I can be in two places at once, so the next few days will be busy.

More later.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Blade Show 2013

There are two important US shows for the knife world.  One is the Shooting Hunting and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show.  That’s usually in Las Vegas in January.  Most of the commercial manufacturers will have their new products on display.  A knife that doesn’t capture the interest of the retail market at SHOT will find itself circling the drain.

The next biggest is the Blade Show in Atlanta, Georgia in a few days.  Most of the commercial manufacturers will be there and use it to introduce tweaked and new knives driven by the SHOT Show.   It’s also a show about custom knife makers who may only make 20 true handmade custom knives a year.  It’s also a show about knives, blades, swords and their utility and artistry.

Spyderco Dragonfly ~ It's a cute as a bug! 

Like Spyderco’s Joyce Laituri say, “It’s more fun talking knives with knife people.”  I agree.

I’m leaving for the show and I’ll update my blog when I can.  I can’t stay for the entire show and there are more than a few lectures I would like to catch.  So I may not have much time for blogging. 

Tell me you’ve never attended the SHOT Show and I’m not surprised.  You need some access through a commercial endeavor.  But the Blade Show is open to the public.  Take the time and attend.  You’ll never be the same.