Gear Watch: January 2014

by Anthony Sculimbrene

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Gear Watch: January 2014

Its a cold month for weather, but a hot month for gear news.

This column, Gear Watch, is going to be a combination of things: a sort of preview of what’s coming, a mourning for what has stopped production, and a bit of news.  I plan on having one come out every two weeks as there is probably not enough new gear releases to sustain one every week, but a month seems too long. 


Arrivals

SHOT (Shooting, Hunting, and Outdoor Trade) Show was about two weeks ago and with it came a slew of releases.  You can find a more detailed summaries here, here, and here.  The highlights are more straightfoward.  First, KAI USA (the parent company of both Kershaw and Zero Tolerance) made a deal with Ernest Emerson of Emerson Knives Incorporated, to bring the Emerson touch to both the ZT and the Kershaw lines.  For the uninitiated, Emerson knives are famous for being tough and incorporating an innovative and simple opening mechanism—the wave (pictured below is a non-collab Emerson, the Mini CQC-7, purchase). 

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It is really an amazing design improvement, allowing for fast and reliable deployment. Simply, run the wave or hook on the spine of the blade towards the lip of your pocket as you pull the knife out and BANG the blade opens automatically, as the hook catches on fabric.  Lots of folks love Emersons, but some put off by the grind—Ernie prefers a chisel grind (the blade is ground only on one side, the other is flat), so the news of a knife with a wave, a normal grind, and the fit and finish of a KAI product is a big deal.  One drawback for some is that the Kershaw branded Emersons are overseas produced.  Personally, it is not an issue for me.  If they are a bit too pedestrian there is always the ZT Emerson that comes in two flavors—nice and REALLY nice. 

Spyderco debuted a lot of its line up for 2014 and beyond elsewhere, but one secret they did keep until SHOT was the Dice, a smaller version of the Spyderco Domino (purchase), one of the finest flippers on the market. 

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The Domino is a great knife, but boy a smaller version just might be the perfect blade for me.  Spyderco, thankfully, is not obsessed with giant sized knives and so the Domino’s 3.125 inch blade is shrunk down to something under 3 inches (most likely 2.75 inches) on the Dice.  There were other things but nothing got my motor running like the Dice.  Andrew, Dan, and I run down most of the new Spydercos on Episode 22 of Gear Geeks Live, our gear and EDC podcast.

Benchmade’s line up was pretty conservative, but the upscale 940 looked nice.  DPx Gear had a bunch of cool stuff, including a flipper (the HEFT) and a small knife (the HEAT).  Leatherman added new colors for the Juice (purchase), a multitool I alone seem to dislike.  CRKT had a huge showing, probably second only to Kershaw, and there was a good deal to like.  They finally released a non-HG Giger version of the Eros, a flipper that looks quite good.  There is also a new Flavio Ikoma knife coming (Ikoma gaining fame as the designer of the first bearing pivot system) called the Fossil and it is positively vicious looking.  The handles are divoted and layered G10 and the blade shape is a beast.  They also have a few larger versions of staples—the Drifter and Pazoda get size upgrades.  There is a lot to like in CRKT’s 2014 product line in part because they are almost alone in the middle of the market.  Everyone is releasing budget blades and/or high end blades, but the number of NEW $50-$100 knives is vanishingly small.  This is odd because from a consumer perspective this is usually where the best values are found. 

Flashlights were a much lower key affair.  Surefire, as usual, put on a pyrotechnics display of new and innovative stuff, but their rate of delivery is low.  Much like the Japanese super video games of my youth, lots of this is vaporware.  They did have a watch/light combo that paired their 2211 wristlight with a Luminox watch.  It sounds better in theory than it looked in practice.  Lots of companies announced XM-L2 emitters for their current products.  Among those jumping on yet another new emitter bandwagon was Eagletac.  They announced the emitter in a lot of lights including their excellent Ti clicky single cell lights such as the D25a and c lights (the “a” runs a 1xAA battery and the “c” runs a 1xCR123a battery). 

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Departures

It seems that the Spyderco Junior (purchase) is not long for this world. 

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It has shown up on quite a few discontinued pages around the Internet and it is a shame.  This is a very unusual and very useful knife.  The lock, the compression lock, is really great and the overall size and shape are nice, as is the clip.  The steel VG-10 leaves a bit to be desired, but its not AWFUL.

Also quietly slinking out of production is a knife, or more correctly, a pair of knives I have always wanted to get for review—the EDC 6 and EDC 10 from William Henry.  They are still being sold by WH dealers, but they are no longer listed on the WH page.  Its a shame because of all the WH knives out there these seemed the closest to striking the right balance between adornment and garnish and utility.  Some of their stuff is just too much for me, looking like the Roland Iten of the knife world.   There is still some stock out there so maybe I’ll pick one up.  

News

Everyone and their mother got a new logo this year.  Kershaw got a new logo, its their 40th Anniversary.  CRKT got a new logo, its their 20th.  Kershaw also let slip a new knife to commemorate that special anniversary.  Its a Tilt-level, design called the Kershaw Ruby.  Benchmade is producing knives under the “Munt” brand (actually its “Hunt” with a terrible design).  Additionally, 2014 marks the 50th year of AG Russell selling knives through his own company.  AG is one of the truly great people in the knife business, something of a living legend.  We’d do better as a community to recognize designers and makers, and this should start with a recognition of just how influential and successful AG Russell has been.  I’d love to see the designer’s name on the box (Kershaw Skyline, designed by Tommie Lucas), even for in-house production knives. 

#spyderco #emerson #shot-show #benchmade #william-henry #william-henry-edc-10 #edc-6-william-henry see all



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