Aftermarket Mods

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Custom stuff is pricey.  That’s not news.  Production stuff, while being the best it has ever been, can be, well, a bit impersonal.  In the gap between these two markets there are a host of knife modifiers (I dislike the other term, equating folks with people that engage in sex abuse and human trafficking is never a good thing).  Folks like Tuffthumbs, Menovade, and Alexander Dietz have all produced truly stunning upgrades and tweaks to existing knives.  But these folks have long lists, the prices can be high, and there is a painfully long wait. 

You can try you hand at modding stuff yourself and it is very fun, but there is a fourth option, one that is just starting to grow—aftermarket additions.

One of the first and perhaps best known aftermarket upgrades to a pocket knife were the Kevin Wilkins-produced WilkinsGRIPS.  Originally these CNC-made grips were released for just the Benchmade Griptillian and Mini Griptillian.  Now he offers them for other knives too, like the Spyderco Delica.  Others have jumped on the bandwagon, folks even make parts for flashlights.  There is a whole range of people making stuff for the old Surefire 6P platform, most famously, the “Malkoff drop-ins”.  Now dozens of folks are making things for this knife (and its clones, so-called P60 sized lights).

These aftermarket parts are a great way to personalize and upgrade your EDC relatively inexpensively.  I have had the opportunity to get a few upgraded parts and they have made one of my favorite light and knife pairs even better.  

 Here is a shot of my upgraded Benchmade Mini Griptillian 555hg:


The scales are from Allen Putman’s  Allen, like Kevin Wilkins, offers replacement scales for a wide variety of knives, but unlike Kevin, he is in the US (which means faster shipping) and he has a stock of scales in a wide variety of colors and materials (Kevin’s stock can get a bit thin).  

Overall, the new scales are big upgrade.  The main critique I had of the Mini Grip 555hg was that the scales were a bit shreddy, especially under the pocket clip.  Many a pair of jeans and shorts look worse for wear thanks to the stock scales on the Mini Grip.  I was also not thrilled with their hollow feel, though I think to many folks make a big deal about it.  Both issues were cured with the Putman scales.  The scales are made of milled black G-10 and look, as you can see, like factory scales.  The fit and finish is superb.  Allen’s work is top notch and he is very fast and responsive (fixing a problem with the original scales that was caused by the clip).  

The resulting knife is something that is very close to my perfect EDC knife (which is still probably the Spyderco Dragonfly II in ZDP-189, though the Super Blue Sprint Run coming looks AWFULLY tasty).

Knives aren’t the only place you can find aftermarket upgrades.  The light I usually carry with the Mini Grip, the Peak Eiger, has also been significantly improved over stock.

There is the Eiger all decked out (with the original Putman scales and an aftermarket clip that was not very compatible with the Mini Grip as it was designed for Spyderco knives). 

There are three major changes I made to the light.  First, I opted for the Oveready Edition head, which provides for my favorite emitter, the Nichia 219 Hi CRI emitter.  At the time, this was the only way to get Hi CRI, but now you can get it straight from Peak.  Second, I swapped out the keychain attachment at the back for the sometimes-hard-to-find momentary on switch, an accessory from Peak.  The final upgrade is the clip, an aftermarket work of simple grace from Prometheus (of flashlight and pen fame). 

Taken together these three changes from stock make this already superior light among the best I have ever seen and one of the staples of my flashlight collection.

My two aftermarket upgrades make this flashlight and knife combo completely amazing and totally unique.  Overall I have about $250 into these two items and they provide me with a great deal of utility for a small size, while also being tailored just to my tastes—a lot of the benefit of custom or modded gear with less waiting and less cost.

There are a wide variety of folks offering aftermarket upgrades.  Here are a few of my favorites (other than those already linked above):

1. Oveready: If you can trick out a stock flashlight, especially a Surefire, they have done it.  If you need anything from a 1k lumen drop in to a pocket clip, they can help you out.  They also have their own lights too, which are quite amazing.  

2. STR: Pocket clips are surprisingly hard to get right, even if you are a huge production company.  STR starting making clips for a forum and now does it pretty regularly.  He has a wide selection of much vaunted clips.

3. Phil Dobson: I don’t know if Phil is still making stuff, but damn what he did make was beautiful.  He also has a wide range of replacement scales to choose from, so go take a look and, if necessary, you should coax him out of retirement (that is, if he isn’t still making stuff).     

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