CRKT M16-01S

CRKT is slowly winning me over, just like how Ruger did. 8 Years ago I’d have never said I was a fan of Ruger, but now I truly am. And with CRKT, even up through last year, I’d have never said I was a fan. But things change. Ruger changed. And CRKT is changing too, it seems. And because of those changes, my mind has changed.

I’ve always liked the looks of the CRKT’s Carson designed M16 series knives. Handsome knives. But I wasn’t a fan of the liner locks on them, and the secondary safety lock mechanism was a flat out turn off. Some time ago, CRKT has changed at least some of them to a Frame Lock design, and they ditched that wart of a secondary safety. So what you have now is a cleaner, more pure, more essential, M16 knife. The way they should have always been.

This knife here that I now have, is the model M16-01S. The series gives you a lot of options in style, serrations, tanto or spear point, and blacked out blades as you like… but this one is the smallest of the M16 series, with a bead blasted finish, plain edge, spear point.

This gives you gorgeous, sleek lines, that looks fantastic from every angle. The blade length is just a tick over three inches, with an overall length of just a tick over seven inches. The blade steel is 8Cr13MoV, which is essentially the same as AUS-8. Which means it’s going to take a very sharp edge, but you’ll have to resharpen it from time to time. Luckily, with this steel (and AUS-8) the bottom of a Coffee Mug does just fine for that.

The blade flicks out with a satisfying *snick* sounds with a flick of the flipper. It’s a smooth action, that opens and closes easily. And the frame lock is, in my opinion, a much more sturdy lock than the previous liner locks. The blade pivots on brass washers, which is a nice touch on a knife at this price point. And the blade is perfectly centered in the frame. The handle material is stainless steel. but because there’s just not a lot of it, the knife is delightfully lightweight. Strong, but light.

The folded knife carries deeply in the pocket. The clip works with slacks very well, as the clip slips over the softer material easily and doesn’t abrade the fabric to wear out your trousers prematurely like some knives are keen to do. The clip is narrow enough to be very unobtrusive. The whole knife, when folded and clipped in the pocket, is very unobtrusive… it carries exceptionally well, and leaves a lot of room in the pocket for your car keys. It carries very very well. The clip also doesn’t get in the way of your hand when holding or using the knife.

Other M16’s in the CRKT line are certainly of the Tactical Folder type. But this one is not. It’s more of a Gentleman’s knife, due to the size and weight and slim profile. But it’s got that rugged tactical look. Imagine bearded and tattooed veteran working a civilian office job. Imagine Matt Best in Business Casual. That’s what this knife is. Unobtrusive, but ready to take the air out of your lungs.

Overall, it seems like these knives are exceptionally well made, and of high quality. Especially when you look at the price. That may be the best thing about this knife. You can get them for well under the 49.99 MSRP. In fact, right now, BladeHQ has them for $31.95. And I’ve seen them for even less… 20 bucks… on Amazon Prime! That makes these an amazing value. Absolutely amazing. I’m not saying you should rush out and get one. I’m saying I don’t blame you if you do.

Here’s my wish though. I wish CRKT would make these in the USA. I’d pay an extra 10 bucks for that. And I wish they would use a better grade of steel. I’d pay an extra 10 bucks for that too. Then, sure, the knife would actually sell for the MSRP and be worth every penny. But I guess they are worth every penny now as it is. I’d just like to see the design executed to its full potential.

BlasTech E-11

The E-11 Blaster Rifle is one of the most famous rifles throughout several galaxies, as it’s been the standard issue for the Empire for several decades. But the real question is, just how good is it?

As we all know, MilSpec certainly isn’t a guarantee for quality, but simply as the establishment of minimum standards. And with the E-11 being in production under license on less than a dozen worlds even Imperial MilSpec is a floating goal. We’ve seen some problems with power-pack compatibility in some cases. But that doesn’t mean there’s a problem with the design because of that. That’s more of a quality control issue. Most of the time though, what we see from the E-11 series, is that they are extremely robust weapons with reliability like a solar cycle. You pull the trigger with a charged power-pack, and the E-11 will fire. Sometimes, even when the safety was on. This was a known defect, Safety Malfunctions have been all too common and usually blamed as a Training Issue, which I agree due to most Stormtroopers lack of weapons training due to budget cuts for Death Star projects, and new Troopers lack familiarity with the use of the weapons while in their Hard Armor uniforms.

The standard short power-pack, or “Shorty Pack” as the Stormtroopers are prone to call them, offers 200 full power shots on the Lethal setting, and 300 on the Stun setting, and about 600 on the Sting setting. The bigger “Bully Pack” ups that capacity for 500 full power Lethal shots. This is enough to keep you in the fight with any Rebel Scum you come across. And honestly, if you are having to reload, your tactics suck.

The Rifle is most often carried with the stock folded for ease of handling, transportation, and storage. But the stock can unfold for greater stability and accuracy if desired. The E-11 has been taken to task about accuracy concerns, but this is once again a training issue instead of a firearm issue. Stormtroopers, who use the E-11 the most, just about never extend the stock or even make use of the electro-optical gunsight, which offers IR/UV/Thermal targeting features. But other Imperial forces do, and they have no problem bullseyeing their targets out to the 500 meter max effective range.

Max Effective Range differs depending on the operational atmospheric environment. Extreme cold or humidity can shorten the max effective range to 300 meters. Other versions of the E-11 can extend the range out to 1200 meters, but they use a completely different powerpack that’s not compatible with standard issue rifles.

Really, the E-11 is a fantastic Blaster, and certainly fitting for all of our Imperial forces needing a rugged weapon. But like any weapon, it’s only as good as the Troops that use it. It’s our suggestion that improved training standards should be the priority over any weapon upgrade program.

HK’s HK45 Tactical

One thing I like about the HK HK45, is that it’s actually a .45 Auto caliber handgun. Unlike Glock’s G45, which is a 9mm. Small details, but with the HK, the small details add up. Outside of 1911’s, the HK45 is one of the very best looking .45 caliber handguns on the planet. And one of the best feeling handguns in the hand. As I said before, it’s in the small details.

The newer HK45 Tacticals are coming with tall suppressor sights. But I like these lower profile night sights that have a nice hook to help with one handed slide manipulations. It’s Ambi-Friendly as you can see with the wrong side slide release lever and the magazine release lever. It has, of course, the expected frame rail and the extended, threaded barrel.

The full sized grip frame allows for a full 10 round magazine capacity. The but it also gives you some very elegant contouring for an amazing feel in the hand. And to make sure it’s good in more than the average hands, the back strap is changeable. The muzzle end has some nice lines to it as well. Gone is the monolithic flat faced of the USP series. The beveling doesn’t just look nice, but it also helps reholstering. I like the fatter magazine floor plates that help in a fast reload in making sure the mag is slapped all the way in and locks properly.

At 31.2 ounces, the HK45 isn’t the lightest of handguns, but it’s not a heavy one either. It balances well in the hand, and with a 1911-like grip angle, it points naturally. The trigger is smooth, and the break is crisp. I do appreciate the DA/SA trigger system. You can carry it cocked & locked, or you can decock it into DA mode, where it’s nice and safe and you won’t have anyone tapping your shoulder, “You’re Hammer is cocked.” I hate that. The 5.2″ Barrel is long enough to give you a good long sight radius. These little details add up to a comfortable handgun that is very accurate and comfortable to shoot. The recoil is cushy.

ESEE AvISPA

Many of you are well familiar with the Ontario RAT 1 & RAT 2 knives. Great hard working value grade folders, designed by Randall’s Adventure Training… hence the name. I’ve reviewed the RAT 1 before. And it’s a great knife for the money. But now there’s another sister knife. The Avispa. ESEE isn’t working with Ontario anymore, which is fine. They are busy making their own knives. ESEE is also busy building a huge following for their hard working, get it done blades.

There’s some distinct differences between the RATs and the Avispas. First and foremost is that the Avispas are Frame Locks and not Liner Locks. The other is that the blade shape is more of a drop point rather than the RAT’s more clip point’ish style blade. Other than that, you can see and feel the same DNA in the designs.

The blade steel is “D2”, which is great. It’s certainly not the end all be all of blade steels, but it’s a very tough material that holds up well and takes a good edge without requiring diamonds to sharpen. The frame lock system is solid and smooth. You can easily flick the blade open, and it locks open with a snap.

The best thing about these knives are the price. They are cheap enough you can buy a couple and keep them in convenient locations. Or just put one in your EDC rotation. I think these are the better knives than the RAT’s but I do like the RAT’s blade profile better due to the sharper point at the tip. But I think overall the Avispa is the better knife. And right now, you can get these on Amazon for less than 35 bucks. $35 Bucks! That’s a lot of knife for the money. Enough to make one reconsider the actual practical value of knives costing 4 times as much as not as fond of hard work.

Kriss Vector pistol

One of the more strange arms out there on the market is the Vector series of firearms by an outfit called Kriss USA. The claim to fame is the unique action which does not reciprocate laterally like normal. No, the Vector does things different. The bolt cycles down at a curving angle with the idea that it reduces the felt recoil. Originally available in .45 Auto and now with the option of 9mm. As odd as it is, I have to admit, it does seem to work. Shooting the .45 auto version is a riot. The recoil is light. And the gun is rather accurate.

You can get the Vector as a Pistol, as shown. Or as a Carbine with a 16″ Barrel and a stock. Then if you like, there is the SBR versions you can also get if you have the jingle.

The Vector has a distinctive look to it. What I like best about it, is that it uses common Glock magazines. I love that fact. What I don’t like about it though… Is the company Kriss USA themselves. See, let me explain why. When I was the Retail Manager for Blackstone Shooting Sports, I had a few of these Vectors in inventory. One of them was Folding Stock version, and the other was a Fixed Stock version. The problem lies in the fact that they look very very similar. So when a Customer picked up the Fixed stock version and tried to fold it. Oh, it folded. But it wouldn’t lock in the unfolded position again. Because the stock was now broken. Kriss offered no help in fixing this problem and I had to pay $80 for the part to fix it. This was highly irritating to me. See, I watched the customer do this. He didn’t put any effort into folding it. The busted part just snapped like over-crisp bacon. This shouldn’t have happened. The part was faulty to begin with.

I like the fact that you can put whatever sights and optics on top. And the fact that the gun seems to function with just about everything that says “.45Auto” on the ammo box. And with a gun like this, coming with a threaded barrel is nice too. You can go with a Suppressor or other Muzzle Device as you see fit.

From the above photo, you can see that the ejection port is big enough you can eject soda cans out of it. That’s a plus for reliability.

The downside to it is that the Vector is one overly complicated piece of hardware. Inside the external housing, everything ties into a thin sub-frame that seems a bit too delicate, and there are far too many little pins that connect everything. The bolt mechanism is also complicated. Very complicated. And it doesn’t benefit from normal bolt momentum as the action is designed to reduce that inertial energy. The other downside is the price. The above pistol was about $1500 USD. Now they come with Arm Braces, which is an improvement but raises the price by at least 100 bucks.

So being Overly Priced and Overly Complicated… I’m not a fan of the Vector. Honestly, I’d rather buy a Ruger Police Carbine, and save that $1000 price difference on ammo, optics, magazines, or a suppressor for that.

FN Five-seveN

FN’s Five-seveN pistol is one strange handgun. The exterior of the pistol is all polymer, including the slide. The gun is very light with a balance that makes it feel like some sort of toy. The safety strange too, like an AR-15’s safety, but reversed. The 5.7x28mm cartridge it fires is also odd, like a little bottle-necked rifle cartridge.

But as strange as it is, the gun works very well. It’s accurate and reliable. And it hits like a .22 Magnum from a rifle. Which is impressive from a handgun. And with a full 20 rounds in the magazine, that’s a good amount of firepower on tap. And with the proper ammo selection, it’s armor piercing.

The gun is odd feeling in the hand. The long narrow profile of the grip frame is different. It’s 1911 Government Model in size, so it points well, and handles the recoil quite well too. What recoil there is. It’s low. And the trigger is different too. But it’s not bad. Not bad at all. But the oddities all mix together into something unique and pretty damn cool. Making hits with the Five-seveN is easy.

If there is any downside to the Five-seveN, its that it’s $1,435.00 MSRP makes it an expensive novelty with a proprietary cartridge that needs to be chambered in a small light bolt action rifle that would then equal a .22 Hornet. Instead of a nice little bolty, the option is the FN P90 series of carbines which is even stranger than this pistol. Which is pretty dang good. The options for holsters and ammo is limited, but they’re out there. Overall, I like these weird little pistols and shooting them is a blast.

Ruger’s LCRX

Some years ago, Ruger took a risk and did something very different. They made a Revolver out of Plastic. This was a bold move, and a big risk. Revolvers tend to be something for Traditionalists, and plastic guns and Traditionalists don’t really go together. When I first saw the little snub-nosed LCR, I was more than skeptical. Never took much interest in them. For one, the LCR is Hammerless and I just don’t really dig that. And at the time I wasn’t all that keen on Ruger either. And then Ruger did something that caused me to raise an eyebrow. They put a hammer on it, and took the barrel out to 3″. They called it the LCRx.

Now the gun has been on the market for a few years, and they still sell fairly well… So I thought I’d take another look at the LCRX and see how it’s held up. The X Factor of the longer barrel and hammer was really all it needed for me. This pretty much makes the gun the same size as my SP101 .357 Magnum. The big difference though is the LCRx is like half the weight of the SP101. It’s only 15.7 Ounces. For a Revolver that’s chambered and rated for .38 Special +P, that’s a feather. That’s nothing. You can also get it in .357 Magnum, .22 Magnum, .327 Federal, .22LR, and 9mm. That’s some good variety.

At the Range I worked some time ago, we had an LCRx available to rent for those that wanted to try it out. I shot it on a few occasions and even considered buying one myself before deciding to get the SP101 because I liked the weight when firing hot loads. Not that the LCRx couldn’t handle it. It is a Ruger after all. That means it’s built tough. It’s a clever design they have here. Being a polymer frame means they had to get a little creative in the architecture to make it work. And it works very well. It’s more than accurate enough for most anyone looking for a defensive gun. That said, and 25, I could cover my shot group with my hand. Even though it’s light in heft, the gun handles recoil surprisingly well. But better yet, you have an easier time packing it all day long if you chose to make it your EDC gun.

The action is certainly smooth enough to function well, as expected. But what’s not expected is just how easy this gun is to live with. Being as light as it is, and familiar in function to other Ruger revolvers, there is nothing alien about the Plastic Revolver here. Even if it looks kinda different and not what we’re used to seeing. One thing that stands out is the Cylinder. It’s sculpted drastically to take as much weight out of it as possible. Not all of the gun is plastic of course. The frames are made from a highgrade aluminum and the magnum versions are steel. Really the firecontrol house is polymer, and we know this isn’t a problem at all considering the majority of new guns these days are all made of polymer. This is just a novel application of that technology into someplace you don’t expect to see it.

Overall, I think the LCRx is a cool little gun. It might not be on your radar, and it might be something you’ve overlooked. But it’s well worth your time to give it some consideration. It would make for a great Concealed EDC Gun for someone wanting something different, or for someone having a tougher time with automatics.

You know, I’d actually love to see Ruger take the SP101 and use a Cylinder like this one it and make something kind of a hybrid. An SP101X.

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.