Thursday, April 12, 2012

Short and sweet Kershaw OSO Sweet review

Much of what I have to say about the OSO Sweet was already said about the Volt II. These knives are very similar as they are both RJ Martin designs, use the same blade steel and handle material, are liner locks and use Kershaw's Speedsafe Assisted Opening flipper design. Both knives use the same pocket clip and are right side carry only. They are however changeable for tip up or tip down carry.
The spear point blade on the OSO Sweet probably isn't as useful as that on the Volt II but it works OK for my tasks. Like the Volt II it's a hollow ground blade with 8CR13MOV steel.
The handle material is glass filled nylon and the spiderweb design on this knife gives you a lot better purchase than on the Volt II.  The handle shape is somewhat similar to the Volt II but not quite as thick. I would say that the shape of the OSO Sweet's handle isn't quite as good or hand filling.

The clip is equally as goofy looking and works well. I've gotten spoiled by my SOG Aegis and now tend to compare every pocket clip to the SOG's. Nothing is wrong with the Kershaw's clip and it carries pretty deep in the pocket. It's just not a SOG (Of coure it's also half the price and IMO the blade has less movement when deployed).

So here's the important stuff.  The blade deploys fast and easily. It does however seem just a little slower opening than the Volt II.  It's still a great flipper  design. The blade locks up very tight with no movement when deployed. The liner lock seems strong and secure. I trust it and have faith in the Kershaw liner locks.
The steel is ok and like the Volt II, the OSO Sweet routinely sells for $20 on sale at my local gun store.  They make great stocking stuffers.
The OSO Sweet weights 2 oz less than the Volt II and unfortunately they don't make an all black version at this time. The blade, screws and clip on mine are more brightly finished than the Volt's.
While I like the better grip texture on the OSO Sweet's panels I prefer the Volt II overall. One thing the OSO Sweet lacks is jimping and the Volt II seems a little stronger overall for some reason. Maybe that extra 2 oz makes a difference. The liner and liner lock look a little thicker on the Volt II but then again the handle is also thicker so you have to decide if the weight difference and thickness are worth it. I don't see how it's an issue carrying in jeans but some worry about every ounce.
I'd recommend the OSO Sweet but would prefer the Volt II or better yet the black version of the Volt II. I will say however that IMO you can't go wrong with either knife for this price range.

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Kershaw Volt II review

Here's a quick and easy review on the Kershaw Volt II.  Yes, it's another EDC knife. That's probably all that I'll review for a while since I've got a ton of them and seem to get more with each holiday or birthday.
So let's start with some specs:

Overall length:     7"
Blade length:        3 1/8"
Closed length:      3 7/8"
Weight:    3.4 oz
Lock:        Liner lock
Opening:  Flipper design with Kershaw's
                   Speedsafe  Assisted Opening
Steel:    8CR13MOV
Handle:    Glass filled nylon
Blade:    Hollow ground

Here's a pic for size comparison. From top to bottom these knives are the Benchmade Mini Griptilian, SOG Mini Aegis, Kershaw Volt II,  Kershaw OSO Sweet and Cold Steel Mini AK47. There's very little difference in sizes and (To me) weights.

All things considered.....this is a good little knife for a great price. It seems to run $25-$30 online and one of my local gun stores routinely has it on sale for $20. You just can't beat this knife at that price point.  Is it a Benchmade? Nope. Of course you can get 4 of these for the price of one Mini Griptilian. For $20 you can abuse the Volt II and still not break the bank when it's time for a replacement.

So let's talk about a few more pros:
It comes from the factory razor sharp (As it should).
The jimping is just freaking outstanding.
The handle has a great shape for this size of knife.
Reversible tip up or tip down carry.
Easy to sharpen.
Locks up tight. I have no movement in mine when the blade is deployed.
Fast and easy opening. Great assisted opening flipper design.
Very good liner lock.

And now the Cons:
It's just a little thick.
Goofy looking pocket clip.
It doesn't carry as deep as I'd like but it's not too bad.
Mediocre corrosion resistance.
Right side carry only.
The handles are smoother than I like. 

I had a few rust spots on this knife after a couple of weeks of use. Much like my CRKT the spots were concentrated on the edge and the tip. A little sandpaper took care of them and a small amount of oil and care kept them from coming back. 8CR13MOV is an OK steel but it's not know for it's corrosion resistance.  You don't get the world for $20. As I said earlier this knife sharpens easily and it also holds an edge pretty well. I have average sharpening skills so if I can keep a decent edge on it then I suspect that most people can do the same.
I would however prefer the black version of this knife as I think that nitrided (?) coating would offer better protection than the bead blasted finish. The black version seems to run just a couple of dollars more online but I haven't seen many of them in stores.  I prefer the black pocket clip as well since the bead blasted pocket clip just shows too much for my taste.  BTW, the clip works well and I have no real complaints......other than it looks goofy as hell.  Again, for $20 I can live with it.
The handle is slicker than I would expect. I realize that it's not G10 but even with fiberglass handles you can do more with texturing. The OSO Sweet has a much better texture than the Volt II in my opinion and the spiderweb design gives a better grip. The handle's shape on the Volt II however are ergonomic and fit my hand very well for a 3" knife.  The jimping, the shape of the handle and the width of this knife all contribute to a decent grip even if the grip panels are a little slick.
The lanyard hole is where it should be and is sized right (believe it or not some aren't).
All in all this is a good knife and a value for the money. I'm not crazy about Chinese made knives but Kershaw seems to have great quality control in their Chinese products and let's face it. Not every needs or can afford a more expensive knife.  I'd recommend this knife to anyone looking for a good EDC knife at a reasonable cost.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

CRKT M16-13Z

First let's get all of the specs out of the way.
AUS 4 steel with 55-57 HRC
3.5" hollow ground bead-blasted blade
Spear Point blade with partial serrations
8.25" Open Length
4.75" Closed Length
Glass Filled Nylon handles
Liner lock with AutoLAWKS
Pocket Clip
Flipper opening

OK..... first a little background about me. I'm not a tactical guru, Ninja knife fighter or master knife maker.
I'm just a guy that likes a decent EDC knife for daily tasks. If it could double as a lightweight camping knife or be used for defensive purposes that's great.  The knives that I buy however are just intended for normal everyday tasks and I generally don't use them that hard. I think that's how most of us are but I still enjoy seeing others test their knives to failure (So keep up the good work Nutnfancy).
I like the M16-13Z. It's probably one of my favorite EDC knives. There are some limitations but it's a good knife for the price in my opinion.

$40 or so online. It's closer to $50 at a local Bass Pro Shop.
Light weight.
Good size overall
Strong locking system
Extremely fast one handed opening flipper design.
Reasonably strong tip.
Good serrations.
Easy sharpening
Deep carry pocket clip.
Tip down carrying.
OK jimping (Could use another 1/2" though)
Nice hand filling handle.

AUS 4 steel.
Mediocre corrosion resistance
Right side tip down carry only

This 3.5 ounce knife isn't exactly lightweight but it's light enough that it's not a burden to carry. I'll use the SOG Aegis as a comparison as this knife is very popular and easy to find. The SOG Aegis weighs 3.1 oz vs the 3.5 oz M16-13Z.  I've never found myself leaving it at home because it was too heavy or really noticing that I'm carrying it on a normal day. This is what I worry about. I don't get hung up on the numbers. As long as I don't notice it then the weight is right.

It carries deeply in my pocket and the clip works well. It's a clip. There's not much to say about it. This knife doesn't carry as deeply as the SOG blades or Buck Vanguard line but it still rides pretty deep and it is relatively easy to get out.

The Glass Filled Nylon handle is  smoother than I normally like.  I wish they had roughed it up a bit. The shape of the handle helps with your grip and it fits my medium sized hands very well. This is a comfortable knife for me to use but I wouldn't want to use it regularly if I had wet hands.

The blade has decent jimping and this definitely helps to lock the knife in your hand.
Speaking of wet hands and water....I've had my blade rust a little. It didn't take long to start noticing some rust spots on the blade after getting it wet. They were small and came off easily enough. I haven't seen any further rust as long as I keep the knife dry or apply a light coat of oil after it does get exposed to moisture. The AUS 4 steel is not known for great corrosion resistance but I haven't noticed that it's worse than AUS 8 in this regard.  Again....I don't abuse or thrash on my knives so if you were using this as a working blade then your experiences might be different.

This knife came from the factory duller than I'm used to in a new blade. It sharpened up easily which is no doubt due to the AUS 4 steel and my mediocre skills. I use a couple of regular sharpening stones that I've had for years. I would expect someone with a really nice sharpening system to get a razor edge on this knife.  I was a bit disappointed when first getting this knife as it looks as if the edge grind is very uneven from side to side. One side of the blade has a much steeper grind than the other. It seemed like a very odd bevel. I assumed this was a quality issue from a Chinese made knife but have since heard that the blade was intentionally made that way to make it easier to sharpen and it makes the serrations stronger.  The serrations work well and the tip seems strong while still being suitable for delicate tasks. I've used this knife to pull staples out of 2x4's on a recent wood working project around the house. I like the 3.5" blade and find this length does just about everything that I need.

This knife feels strong. There's nothing cheap or weak feeling about it when you're working with it. I'm sure this is in part due to the Auto-LAWKS system.

The M16-13Z has a liner lock and the Auto-LAWKS system. The liner lock is held in place until the Auto-LAWKS system is disengaged. This makes it harder to close one handed but it makes for a strong system and I don't worry about this blade closing unintentionally. 

The flipper design is FAST. As a matter of fact this knife opens faster than some of my assisted opening blades and I've seen other knife owners assume that this is an assisted opener when handling it. I can't speak as to how the other models and smaller CRKT knives are but this model is extremely easy to open and faster than any other flipper I've used.  The flipper doubles as a guard when the blade is deployed. The thumb studs are almost entirely useless for opening the blade but I'm sure that they are intended as a blade stop and not a means of opening.

The blade locks up TIGHT. I can find no movement whatsoever in the blade.
I wouldn't use this as a hunting knife or if I was doing a lot of fishing but for an EDC knife it really is great. I would use it as a camp knife or for any role in which I needed a strong locking blade.  AUS 4's ok. I haven't had to stop what I'm doing to resharpen the knife but I really would prefer something a little better. Of course this is a roughly $40 knife so I don't expect the world from it.

I will say that this carries tip down and right side only. The clip is not movable. This is not an issue for me. Tip up, tip down....I don't really care. It's not a deal breaker.
So in summary..... I think this is a very good knife for the money. I have more expensive knifes from other manufacturers yet still find myself carrying this CRKT more often than not. I would definitely recommend it.

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Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Plan

Well,  the plan is for this to be yet another gun, gear and knife review blog. A little bit of politics is expected and maybe a few daily (Weekly?) observations on current events will be posted.
I're shocked.  How original. We've never seen that before.
We'll see how it all turns out.
As for right now I hope to get a few gun and knife reviews up over the next week.  A few things being reviewed soon will be a Kimber Stainless Target II, Springfield XDM in 9mm and a CRKT M16-13Z.
I'll try to get a S&W M&P15 MOE out to the range too for some ammo testing.
Apologies in advance if it takes a while to get things posted. I do have to pay the bills now and then.
BTW, that is a Daywalker above. Southpark explains the breed much better than I can. I have to give her kudos for actually being outside and in the sun on the blistering hot March day on which the pic was taken.