Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Solving Problems

The 2011 Blade Show offers the unwary buyer more tactical knives than you can shake a broken pool cue at.  Simply assuming that a knife advertised as tactical or designed by former military personnel will meet your needs will put you in a world of hurt.  Still, there are opportunities out there.

The best opportunity is to handle each knife and ask yourself how that knife would solve at least one problem, preferably several.  Let me give you an example.   

TDI fixed blade with belt sheath
The Ka-Bar TDI self-defense knife answers several problems for both the LEO and armed civilian attempting to retain or access their holstered gun.  The small fixed blade doesn’t slip out of your hand, doesn’t slide backwards in your hand, and is small enough to be non-threatening but large enough to get the job done.
Ka-Bar has released a folding version of this knife.  The advantage of a fixed blade for easy deployment under stress is gone.  The folder is significantly heavier.  The ability to keep your hand from sliding onto the blade during a strike remains.  So who needs this knife?

TDI Folder

I suspect it’s aimed at the person who expects the need to defend himself but for one reason or another can’t carry a fixed blade or firearm.  Here the folder shines.  Still, you've got to get it out and open before you can deploy it.

Flashlights are in a similar boat.  Originally we wanted a light that was bright, used small batteries, and was sturdy.  Diodes met this challenge.  Almost indestructible and so efficient, they just sip electricity, and produce almost unheard of amounts of light.

The first diodes didn’t project light forward very well, but new designs of reflectors and diodes have improved that significantly.  The problem then became add-on features.

The computer chip that regulates current and voltage to the diode for constant light output is capable of so many other things.  Soon we had click once for dim, a rapid second time for bright.  Two rapid clicks for strobe, press and hold for SOS, five slow clicks for off and alternating slow and rapid clicks to contact the mother ship. 

Some flashlights added a back cap which had to be rotated to a position before the clicks gave you different functions.  I once found a flashlight that could be connected to your laptop and programmed to product a Morse code message (Drop your weapons and come out with your hands up).  Now you just had to make sure the person at the other end could read code fast enough to translate the message.

When 4Sevens gave me the hard sell for their eight-function tactical flashlight I had a comeback.

“All I really want in a flashlight is the choice between maximum brightness and a strobe.”  (I really believe the strobe is disorientating in a dark room or enclosed space.)

“We got you covered.” The salesman told me.  “The Quark 123 has 230 lumens for 1.5 hours and you can program the light to give you either strobe or max illumination.”  It takes two CR123 batteries, has a pocket clip and now it’s mine. 

It's a 4Sevens and I want 2 of eight

I think it will solve the two major problems I wanted to address, max brightness and disorientating strobe.  The pocket clip means I’ll find it where I’ve clipped it, and the relativity small size means I’ll have it with me when I need it.
Is it a tactical light? 

I don’t know, but it solves two major problems and several minor ones for me and creates only a tiny complication. It needs two CR123 batteries which I already keep on hand. 

No biggie.

By the way I picked up 3.25-inch fixed blade from Shadow Tech knives at the show.  

Shadow Tech Knives
I find I’m interested in thick, fixed blade knives.  I just don’t see an 18-inch long Swamp Rat as useful everyday carry.  The blade length and weight makes me fantasize about pulling the knife Crocodile Dundee–style during a conflict.  But I know that’s unreal.

Swamp Rat's M-9 with a 9-inch blade
Keeping it real makes me appreciate a knife 7 inches long and 0.2 inches thick.  Construction from 1095 steel and wrapped in kydex is a bonus.  I can pry, cut, spark and still wear it without drawing attention to me.   So I’ll be more likely to have it when I need it.

Last note:
Benchmade is using Cerakote Gen II on all their BK and SBK blades made in 2011.  I heard this from my friend Bob and later found it on the inside of Benchmade’s professional catalog.  The coating is reported to reduce visibility ~ “…provide a visual, near infrared and thermal management….”  What does that mean?  I’m not sure.  I know what the words mean but not how it translates in the field. 

Benchmade has a green and black photo showing the knife.  It is less visible.  It’s not a Harry Potter cloak of invisibility, but if you need to control/reduce your visibility, it’s a start.   

Hint: I bet you can find a link to a studio that does powder coating with this same material.

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