Spyderco Native 5

Spyderco’s Native has been one of my favorite carry knives since the first version. The Native 5 is a great continuation of that tradition, and yes, it’s still a favorite. I like the feel in the hand better than Spyderco’s other great EDC folder, the Delica. And for the record, this isn’t a 5th edition of it, because there’s practically a countless number of Natives out there with a myriad of handle and blade materials in just about every combination you could think of.

This version is designed to be a light weight version with easy of carry and great EDC properties. Such as a 3″ Blade, and overall length of 6.8″. The weight is only 2.4 ounces. And the blade steel is the delicious CPM S35VN steel. Which is one of the most ideal blade steels out there.

Size wise, the Native has always been a perfect pocketborne companion. Something you could just always have on you. And in the pocket, clipped properly, it still leaves you a pocket you can use for other things, such as car keys. And you wont get any new scars when you reach in to get those keys.

I got into Spyderco when I was going through my Police Academy getting my Colorado POST certification. That was a long time ago. The Spydercos tend to be simple lockbacks, with good blade steels and absolutely wickedly sharp cutting edges. The Native 5 is very very very sharp. One of the very sharpest blades I’ve ever felt. I’ve always liked the way one can open and close the blade one handed without much shifting in the hand.

The Clip isn’t the lowest or deepest carry. But it is reversible and changeable for tip up or tip down carry, left or right hand carry. Whichever way you want to carry it. And through the hole in the clip and scales… You can run a cord for whatever reason you feel like you need tassels on it.

One thing I found on the Native 5 that I didn’t like at first, but have come to appreciate it… is the molded in texture. It’s a directional pattern than allows it to slide in one direction and really grip and lock-in, in the other direction. So while it’s a tough carbon reinforced nylon type polymer… it is strong, and it’s not going to slip around at all in the hand.

The #1 Rival to the Native would probably be the Benchmade Buckout. As you can see they are similarly sized, with the Bugout being a little slimmer, and a little lighter, and carries deeper.

The Bugout is anywhere from 20 to 40 bucks more depending on your retail outlet… And while slimmer and lighter and deeper, I don’t know if it’s actually worth any more money. Because the Bugout is also a bit more delicate, and can flex too easily when you go to use it for anything more heavy duty than slicing open snacks or throats. The Native for it’s small size, isn’t actually a light duty knife. You can really use it for some serious work. The finger grooves really allow you to grip the hell out of the knife. So taking away Benchmade’s Political SNAFU and comparing both knives on their own merits… I think the NATIVE 5 is the better buy. You’re getting more knife for less coin, and most gun owners won’t give you stink-eye when they see you’re packing a Benchmade.

Buck’s 110 Slim Hunter Pro

In 1964 Buck Knives introduced the Model 110 Folding Hunter. The knife that became not just a classic, but the most popular folding knife ever made. It has handsome lines, and sharp looking brass bolsters with wood scales. And the blade locked, which was practically a novelty then. The knife proved to be a strong and reliable tool that every outdoorsman wanted.
The problem that it has though, is that it’s rather heavy unless you carry it in the belt sheath… Because you had to. Some years ago, Buck made a Ecolite version, which was much lighter and better suited for everyday carry. But some guys didn’t like the Paperstone scales, and it didn’t have a clip. I for one love the Ecolite and wish they still made them.

Buck has now released the Slim Hunter Pro version which takes even more weight out of the knife, and adds that Pocket Clip we’ve been waiting for. And the name is quite fitting… The knife is very slim, and very light, and it works incredibly well for the purpose of packing every day and all day. It also adds something we’ve wanted all along too. Thumb Studs for easy one handed opening.

Now, I know someone in the comments will say that you could always open a 110 Folding Hunter one handed, easily. By gripping the blade and flicking the handle down. Yes. And I’ve also seen guys flick that knife across the room when they lost their grip doing just that. I’m talking about safely and securely opening the knife. And I love the way it opens too… With an authoritative snap when the lock engages. It’s satisfying in the same way a pump action shotgun is satisfying when you rack the slide. It gives you that feedback and confidence that work is about to get done.

The Elephant in the room though, is that pocket clip. It’s works fine, and gives a nice deep carry. It doesn’t make any hot spots really in the hand when you are using the knife. It’s a good clip functionally. The problem though is that it’s this huge fat thing that detracts from the simple elegance of the 110 design. If someone out there was in the business of making replacement clips, something that could replace this thing would be a winner product to make. Because I’d buy one in a heartbeat.

The blade is 3.75 inches long, with an overall knife length opened, of just over 8 inches. The steel isn’t the normal 440HC BOS. This stuff is the upper scale blade steel, CPM-S30V. Which is fantastic stuff without being too expensive. And then Buck takes that blade and gives it the BOS heat treat process which involves cryogenic treatment to improve the steel even more. The blade shape is reminiscent of the classic 110 Folding Hunter, but slightly different as it doesn’t have as much of a Bowie style recurve to the clip-point profile. So the knife doesn’t quite have as much of that needle point tip as the old school version, but is still a handsome looking blade.

Buck makes Slim Hunter Pro version of their 112 series as well… Which is just like this but with a shorter blade and even better suited for Every Day Carry than the full sized 110. The 112 version is a great option for those that are considering the Benchmade Bugout, but would rather buy something else due to Benchmade’s political SNAFU.

Both versions and different color options can be found at BladeHQ. Amazon, or other fine retailers. This is the knife I’ve been waiting for Buck to make for a very long time. 30 years? I’m glad it’s finally here. I recommend these knives highly. While they are a little spendy compared to the classic Folding Hunter, these knives are certainly better suited to our modern lifestyle and knife habits. Also, these knives are made right here in the USA so your money is going to support American families and not a foreign government that wants to bloody our nose and overthrow the world under their communist flag.

Craft Holster’s IWB Concealment RIG

Some time ago, my friend Luke at Craft Holsters sent me a wonderful little bag to review, that I’m still using. He left me with an open invitation to review a holster. So when I finally acquired my Unicorn Pistol… I dropped Luke a line to send me one, if the invitation was still good. Well, it was, and so is this holster he sent me. The photos were taken immediately upon arrival, as I was excited to get this holster. It impressed me the moment I pulled it out of the bag.

I’ve been running this rig for about a month now, so I feel like I can give it a good shakedown. Overall, the holster is well made and the leather quality is very good. The thickness is enough to be sturdy, and over the month of use, it’s holding up very well and not showing signs of wear. The finish is good, with deep penetration of the dye and I’ve not had any problems with any dye seepage or staining clothes, and the holster didn’t have that acidic fresh tanned leather smell.

The stitching is well done, with a nicely contrasting colored thread. Double row as well. The brown leather with this stitching gives the holster a rich, classic look. It looks like it could be from Galco or DeSantis. The body side of the holster is smooth, and contoured properly to wear comfortably against the body. At the same time the holster holds the gun nice and tightly against your side to keep the gun concealed. Which is the whole point.

The boning work is done beautifully. Boning the leather does two things for a holster… One is cosmetic. It makes the holster more attractive, making it look like an actual holster instead of just a sheet of leather. And Two, it fits the holster to the gun. And this is an important aspect. You can do this boning process too much, with the result being a holster that you can’t get the gun in and out of. I think this might be a good time to mention just what Boning is. It gets the name from the tool. Leather workers would use pieces of actual bone or antler to press the leather into shape. This work was, and still is quite often, done by hand. Some companies might use a roller to imprint the leather, or others will steam the leather and then pressure fit it like kydex. This was done by hand, the old fashioned way.

An important part of an IWB holster is the reinforced mouth. This allows the firearm to be drawn when needed, and then reholstered when it’s not. Some holsters I’ve dealt with in the past, don’t reinforce the mouth, and so when the weapon is drawn, the holster collapses and you have to undo your belt to get the gun back in. This was not a problem with this Craft rig. Drawing and reholstering is not a problem. Also in part to the classic FBI Cant, which tilts the holster slightly forward. This angle helps your draw to be nice and smooth, while pivoting the grip frame forward enough to help keep the gun’s grip nicely concealed.

The Belt Loops were just wide enough for my gun belt, and I had no problem at all with my dress belt. The holster fits and wears comfortably, all day long and allows you to completely forget it’s there. You forget it’s there, you can draw when needed, and you can reholster when you like. It does everything that a holster should do, and it does it well while looking good doing it. For sixty bucks, you just can’t go wrong with it.

Thank you to Luke at Craft Holsters. This rig is going to see many years of use.

CRKT PILAR

In my opinion CRKT is a lot like Babe Ruth, the Sultan of Swat. Babe Ruth swung more Strike Outs than anyone. A record breaking number of swings and misses… But at the same time, he made some crushing home runs. What is he remembered for? No one remembers his strike outs. They remember his home runs. It’s really easy to dismiss a knife company that takes so many swings and makes so many misses. I used to pretty much just flat out hate CRKT and I dismissed everything they did because of all the misses. But they really do smash some home runs. Their catalog has a whole bunch of them. Why is that? Because they are not afraid to take the swing. I like that. What I don’t like are their secondary locking mechanism… freaking tumors on otherwise good designs. But the Pilar doesn’t have a secondary lock.

The PILAR is one of the Home Runs. It’s different… A unique take on the new trend of Cleaver Style blades, which are just butch Wharncliffe style blades. And that’s a good description of the Pilar. It’s butch. It’s stout. It’s kinda thick, but not too thick that one doesn’t want to carry it. I don’t like thick folders for EDC use. But this one isn’t that thick… It’s thick enough to have enough beef to it that you feel like you can really get in there and get some work done if needed. Which is good. This is a Gentlemanly Working Knife. It EDC’s very well, and even leaves you more than enough room to still have a usable pocket when you carry this clipped to said pocket. As one of my Lads would say, “She thick”. Which is evidently a good thing. I think that suits the Pilar. She thick.

The other nice thing, is that the knife is quite attractive. It’s good looking in that “She Thic” kind of way. The Pilar has some technical look to it and in a solid stainless construction, looks and feels like something Cyber Punkish. It opens and locks like a Bank Vault. Maybe a little too much so. The Frame lock is as stout as the knife… meaning, it’s a bit stiff to unlock. After working the Pilar for a couple weeks, it’s gotten a bit easier. It doesn’t hurt my thumb to unlock it anymore. And the knife has smoothed out a great deal. I can easily and quickly open the knife by holding the blade hole between finger and thumb, and flicking the handle down. This method of opening puts the blade in a perfect working position.

The Pilar is by no means a “Tactical” knife. The grips are too slick. The blade too short and blunted. It’s not black or flat dark earth or coyote tan. There’s no Green Berets that used it to slit Taliban throats. Army Rangers don’t rappel out of hovering choppers holding this knife in their teeth. Marine Raiders don’t keep one in their boots when pillaging. Navy Seals don’t use these for trimming their nails and cuticles. It’s just NOT a tactical knife. But an Office Manager might use this to open a package of Notepads and Pens he ordered from Amazon. An Account Agent might use this to break into the next pack of Coffee for her morning wake up in the office break room. Steven in Acquisitions might use one to trim his Steak during lunch. There’s a lot of real world uses for a good folder that do not involve Violence… and this Pilar just might be a great little knife for that. Because even around the most melty of snowflakes… pulling this out in front of them wont cause them to signal to Human Resources that you have a dangerous weapon. They just might instead say something like, “Hey, that’s pretty cool.”

Because it really is pretty cool. For a 2.4″ Frame Lock knife, it is about as cool as it gets without looking like you’re about to go Sweeny Todd on someone. (Like the Gerber Flatiron or CRKT Ripsnort) It looks like this knife is more interested in opening a bag of crisps rather than jugular veins. It’s a well behaved and handsome EDC type knife that wont raise alarms, but maybe an eyebrow or two. And it’s about 25 bucks on Amazon.com. Can’t beat that.

Benchmade 535 Bugout

The Bugout is named inaccurately. Bugging out to me, means it’s a SHTF scenario. Where you are going to deal with everything from Aliens to Zombies to Survival. That kind of knife is probably better off being a Fixed Blade, and maybe a large one at that. That’s really not what this knife is all about. What this knife really is, is a more butch Gentleman’s knife.

The Bugout sports a thin flat grind blade that’s very sharp and awesome for slicing. The handle profile is also very thin. The clip allows for a very deep carry. And the overall weight is under 2 ounces, making it just crazy light. Saying that “It’s like it’s not even there” is an understatement. And like a Gentleman’s knife, the Bugout is on the smallish side.

The liners are very short, to reduce weight. And the knife is mostly open. But the Axis lock is smooth, and just what you would expect of a Benchmade. I do like the design and the execution. And I do feel that you are getting what you pay for with the Bugout… if you went into it with proper expectations. Because the knife was designed from the start to be crazy light, it gives up some things that a true SHTF Bug Out Knife should have. The blade isn’t heavy enough to flick out with a snap of the wrist. But it does open smoothly with the thumb stud, and you can flick it out with the studs with a little practice. You are getting a coated titanium Axis lock, which means it’s very light, and it’s going to last for a very long time. As will the reinforced nylon scales… Though they can flex if you squeeze it, it’s not going to hurt them. And you can get kits to swap those with G-10 or Micarta, if you want to add some thickness and weight. Which defeats the purpose of the Bugout’s super light nature. It’s fine as it is. Right now, you can get the plan satin blade with blue handles, or a tan handle with a black coated blade. But I tend to not light coated blades… so… Blue. Which looks nice enough.

I find it odd that this was marketed at guys that are doing backpacking and are counting every ounce. No. That’s really not this knife. This is better suited to the guy that wears a suit every day and suit pants pockets don’t hang heavy folders very well. But I guess the name “Professional” or “Middle Management” or “Sales Team” just doesn’t inspire, and probably doesn’t show the handle materials that those names might conjure… Like Rich Mahogany or Corinthian Leather. But the S30V Blade Steel sure does. That’s a solid choice, without getting silly in expense. As is the Bugout knife as a whole. A solid choice for the guy that wants a really good every day carry knife that is light and deep, yet capable of good cutting when needed.

The Bugout is worthy of the Butterfly… Benchmade really does make some great knives, and this is one of them.

UPDATE: Some time later after packing the Bugout for some time… It’s become my favorite EDC Folding Knife. The fact it does very well at not being there when not needed, and being handy and sharp as hell when needed… It’s damn near the Perfect EDC knife. I love this thing.

Glock Model 45 Quick Take

I’ve handled the Glock Model 45, but haven’t fired it… But I have fired the Glock 19X. Here’s my take on the G45: It’s the best handgun Glock has ever made. Period. It takes that “Glock Commander” form factor that make the 19X a pleasure to shoot, but improves it. True Glock Gen 5 features, forward slide serrations, and no droopy lip on the bottom of the front strap like on the 19X. And no lanyard. All you need to do to the G45 is to put Night Sights on it. Done. It’s the first Glock that I’ve ever looked forward to seeing hit production.

Gerber Flatiron

I’ve done something I honestly never thought I’d do. I picked up a Gerber. I’ve been kind of interested in Cleaver Blade folders, and this one just stood out to me. Now, I’m just not a fan of Gerber… Their designs, their Chinese production… and this one is Chinese made too. Damn it. I seriously find that irritating and I strongly dislike Gerber for that reason. I make no excuses for getting this knife… I have Sinned. Forgive me. But this knife is pretty cool…

SIG M11-A1 a Unicorn captured.

The SIG M11-A1 has been one of my Unicorn pistols for some time.  It’s basically the latest version of the P228 that’s no longer in production.  I had used a 228 many moons ago as duty weapon when I did patrol work.  The M11-A1 simply adds factory night sights, the SRT trigger, and that’s about it.  If you are unfamiliar with the 228, that’s a shame.  But it’s what the 229 became with the addition of a frame rail.  The M11-A1 keeps the lines clean by being free of rails.  
Now, a lot of new Shooters out there might not know anything about the M11.  In the 80’s when the US Army adopted the Beretta M9 pistol as the service pistol, they quickly found that it did not meet the needs of everyone that needed a pistol.  So the Army adopted the M11 shortly thereafter. 
The M11 was primarily issued to Investigators and other DOD Agents that needed something concealable.  It also found its way into the hands and holsters of Aviators and others that the M9 was too large for.  The M11 has been quietly seeing service ever since the late 80’s
During that time, the civilian P228 was gaining popularity with Law Enforcement and I remember if a LEO wasn’t packing a Beretta, it was 226 or a 228.  I myself carried a 228 on duty until I switched to an HK USP, a decision that I do not regret.  But I did regret giving up the 228 from my arsenal.  It was a good balance of size, weight, and capacity and really worked well.

Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio


Driving the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio is an experience that any true Car Guy needs to check off the bucket list. Sitting in the car, you find that you are both very comfortable, and held into place thanks to what are the most perfect sport sedan seats I’ve ever felt.
Once adjusted and mirrors positioned, you buckle up and hit the start button located on the steering wheel. The button’s position is to remind you of just what it is you are getting yourself into. Things pop into mind like “Ferrari” and “Racing Car”, and those things are not far from the truth. The engine truly is derived from Enzo’s passion. That’s no joke. But this is a Sedan that is meant to be used as a car, just like any other… That’s why there are the A and N settings on the now famous Alfa Romeo DNA dial.  Continue reading Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio

Vanderhall Venice: Constructive Criticism.

When I first saw the Vanderhall Venice, I was really smitten.  I was thinking it was the coolest thing ever.  And they are cool.  Don’t get me wrong, they are cool and they are fun to drive.    The problem I have with them is that they are 30 Grand.   For that much money, you can buy some pretty nice cars that are also fun to drive but also offer some practicality.  The Venice has no practicality to it.  At all.   The other cars out there that you could get also have a certain level of Build Quality.  And that’s my main problem with the Venice.  Vanderhall is almost there with it, but every car seems like it’s still a prototype. 
The Venice has a vibe of a 60’s era Formula 1 car.  Like something James Garner drove in “Grand Prix”.  But they missed that mark in cosmetics and other styling points.  They also missed the mark on the “Modern Morgan 3 Wheeler” they were shooting at.

Let’s look at the details.  The grill just flat out looks cheap as hell.  It looks like an old-fashioned Ice Tray insert.  That’s a detail that bugged me from the very first instant when I saw it.  I like that the headlights are tucked in, but overall the impression is that the entire front end was just phoned in.  Also, the area below the grill being flat faced when it could have been more like a Formula 1 cowling.  It was a missed opportunity for greatness. Continue reading Vanderhall Venice: Constructive Criticism.