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.

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.