As I pointed out a few weeks back, I'm not a believer in the idea of a knife as an adjunct to a handgun. By that I mean I don't see it as a less-lethal defensive tool in the way that many do; the knife is a lethal object, and use of one will be prosecuted as such in just about any court in the country. It's lethal force, just a less efficient form of lethal force than the handgun.
That being said, I think the defensive knife has uses and one of them is in what I call the "Less Permissive Environment", or LPE. Those are the places (and there are a lot of them) where you cannot legally have or carry a firearm, but you can carry a knife. I've been in two states so far this year where I could not carry my handgun, and in those LPEs made do with a knife.
The problem with the knife is that it requires far more strength and skill to employ than the handgun, and very few trainers in the field have approached knife use with the kind of systems approach that we’re now familiar with in the empty-hands and firearms worlds. Luckily, a colleague of mine has stepped in to fill that void!
Alessandro Padovani is a multi-talented instructor who is certified to teach both SPEAR/PDR and Combat Focus Shooting. This gives him a phenomenal range of knowledge, from unarmed close-quarters defense to use of the handgun in those beyond-two-arms-reach situations that are extremely common. He saw a need to bring the same kind of emphasis on intuitive, efficient techniques to the use of the defensive knife, and thus was born his Safer Faster Knife Defense course.
For those who can't make it to one of his classes (I've been trying for over two years and haven't gotten there yet!), Alessandro has just released the first part of his course as a DVD through the Personal Defense Network's DVD collection. The Safer, Faster Knife Defense DVD is a superb introduction to his philosophy and his systems approach to the knife, always focusing on being efficient and intuitive.
The DVD goes through the fundamentals of using the knife, starting with a good section on practicing to deploy it under realistic conditions. That's something which is glossed over in a lot of other knife videos I've seen, and it's a welcome inclusion here.
He goes on to show how to train to recognize the targets of opportunity you are likely to have, how to best engage them, transfer of power to the target, angles and trajectories, and even the necessity of controlling your attacker's weapon before trying to employ your own. From the fallacy of contrived, choreographed footwork to understanding the effect your knife will have on the anatomy of your attacker - and more - he's managed to stuff a lot of information into this DVD.
For someone like me, who has taken a couple of classes and is conversant with the knife but is not an enthusiast or expert, this DVD was an eye-opener. As I said, I've seen DVDs from a few other instructors - some very famous - but Alessandro's approach to the topic made more sense, and was more plausible, than just about anything else I've encountered.
One of the booths I wanted to visit was Elzetta. I've mentioned before that my flashlight of choice is their ZFL-M60 with a (discontinued) Malkoff MC-E module. This combination gives 500 lumens (!!) of pure flood light, enough to light up a room no matter which direction it's pointed. The beam is so soft that it has no hotspot and thus produces no glare when pointed at anything short of a mirror. It is, I contend, the ideal personal defense light.
The Elzetta light is also incredibly tough, more so than any other light I've owned. Here's a ridiculously over-the-top torture test between an Elzetta and a Surefire:
Having had (and witnessed) various Surefire failures, I can only say "that's why I carry an Elzetta!" If there's a tougher light on the market, I'd like to see it. This picture shows the light from the video (on left), along with the light that drove all the nails into the 2x4 on which it rests. Yes, it still works!
As I mentioned, the MC-E module was discontinued some time ago. This left a huge gap in the market, as there was no high quality flashlight with a flood beam available. This left me unable to wholeheartedly recommend any light when asked, as I truly feel the flood beam is a necessity in indoor environments. Turns out that Malkoff listened, and I learned that the Elzetta light can be had with the Malkoff M60F module: 235 honest lumens with a very floody beam! It's not as pure a flood as my MC-E, but it's better than anything else on the market and the modified beam will probably be more versatile for more people. Elzettas are made in the U.S. and come from a fanatical company that takes their products seriously. Highly recommended.
There was an entirely new line of revolvers unveiled at SHOT, from a company called Sarsilmaz out of Turkey. I talked at length with their chief engineer, Mr. Oner Ozylimaz, and he told me that they made use of forged stainless frames, barrels and cylinders, but use MIM (metal injection molding) for most everything else - including, oddly, the cylinder crane. This gives the guns a two-tone appearance, as the MIM crane is black set against the stainless of the major parts.
The guns bear a superficial resemblance to the medium-frame Taurus, but I was unable to get him to let me look inside of one. The guns are all in .38/.357, are approximately of “K/L” frame size, and have rounded butts. Barrel lengths range from approximately 3" to 6", with all but the shortest having LPA adjustable sights curiously mounted on a plate that's screwed to the topstrap. The 3"-ish model had a simple drift-adjustable rear sight that I found oddly appealing. The guns are of roughly Rossi quality, both in terms of finish and action.
The guns themselves weren't all that exciting, though if properly priced they may be a solid alternative to brands like Rossi and Charter Arms. What IS exciting is that a company outside of the U.S. decided that the revolver market was lucrative enough to justify the engineering and tooling costs (MIM molds aren't cheap) for a new line of guns. I don't think I'll own a Sarsilmaz, but I'm glad they're here!
Ithaca shotguns, if you didn't know, are a particular favorite of mine. Their Model 37 is a classic, an icon in the shotgun world. If you've never handled one you should; if you're used to Remington or (worse) Mossberg pumps, the Ithaca will make you smile the first time you operate the slide! Their actions are smooth, light, and are usually a cure for the person who has a tendency to short-stroke other pump guns.
Ithaca has gone through several owners and a couple of shutdowns over the last decade, but for the last few years has been making a comeback. Not only are they producing a full line of the traditional Model 37 in 12 and 20 gauges, this year they introduced an absolutely darling 28 gauge version - which none of their forebears, including the original Ithaca, ever did. It's made on a special small frame, and is light and very quick-handling. Fans of the '28' will want one, and I'm told they're being produced one at a time in their Custom Shop. The workmanship shows!
That's not the only new thing: they're now producing an over/under of their own design, which looks quite nice. (I'm not an O/U guy, it must be said, but the workmanship was solid.) They've also brought back an old favorite, the single shot single barrel Trap model. They've also spun off their home defense and police shotguns into an allied entity called Ithaca Tactical, and have quite a line of tough-looking door breachers and similar accessories to help them regain some of the police market they once dominated.
One product of Ithaca Tactical was sitting quietly on a back table but wasn't officially introduced: the Ithaca Tactical AR-15. This was the year of the AR-15 at SHOT, as you couldn't look in any direction without seeing some company declaring that they make the "best" AR-15 clones. The Ithaca version is at least different, being fully machined in their factory from aluminum billet instead of built on outsourced castings. Another AR is probably what the market doesn't need, but apparently they feel they need for one if Ithaca Tactical is to compete. OK, then.
I'm very big on keeping my knives sharp, and for the last decade or so have been using the Lansky system to do so. It's able to produce a decent edge, but I've never been happy with the quality of Lansky's components. I've looked at other sharpeners, but have never found anything that is as quick and easy as the Lansky - until this show!
Wicked Edge is a relatively new company out of Santa Fe, and their sharpening system combines easy operation with a wide range of quality stone, ceramic, and diamond hones, along with leather strops for a really polished edge. Pharmacist Tommy had with him a knife that he'd tried (with his Lansky) to get to a decent edge, without success. The Wicked Edge had no problem handling the odd shape and size of the blade, and in a few minutes it was shaving sharp (as proven by Tommy’s suddenly smooth forearms.) He's sold, and so am I. I'm going to order one as soon as I recover from the monetary impact of this trip!
Check back tomorrow, because there's more to tell!
Listening to Steve Denney talk about this blog (commentary at the beginning of the ProArms interview) reminded me that the Friday Surprise! has become somewhat less surprising of late. These off-topic epistles have started to be a bit predictable, and I feel the need to bring something new to the table.
Steve, this is for you!
On many of my bags and packs I have zipper pulls that I've made from paracord - that strong, cheap material often referred to by the name '550 cord'. I've got several favorite patterns, but the square weave is a staple. It's easy to do, and once you have it mastered you can make variations with different colors, or even a spiral version that finishes with a rounder cross section.
These can also be used as lanyards for small flashlights, pocket knives and other such objects. I won't use the cliche "limited only by your imagination" (darn, I just did!), but that's literally true. Go find some paracord and have fun!
If you've hung around here for any length of time, you've noticed that on Mondays and Wednesdays I try to keep the blog somewhat on the topic of firearms, preferably on revolvers.
Today is not going to be one of those days.
Why? I was so busy over the weekend I didn't even get a chance to think about the blog, let alone write anything! Well, that - and the fact that my elbow hurts like heck!
As you may recall, I'm suffering from a very painful occurrence of tendonitis in my right elbow. So painful, in fact, that it hurts to type! As I mentioned last week I took it fairly easy for several days, and was feeling vast improvement until I did something so innocuous that I am startled at the outcome. It involved a Junkyard Dog.
As it happens I live equidistant from the knife companies of Kershaw and Benchmade (and, by extension, the firms of Gerber, Leatherman, and Lone Wolf Knives. I guess you could call this "Edged Alley"!) Over the years I've bought many Benchmade knives, and generally avoided the Kershaw brand. Kershaw just didn't have the quality of blade that I desire in my knives, and despite having met Pete Kershaw himself I was never persuaded to carry one of his products.
When Kershaw moved a lot of their production from overseas to right here in my own stompin' grounds they got my interest, but not enough to make me want to put one of their products in my pocket every day. It was when I found that they were transitioning from the use of cheap 440A and 440C steels to Sandvik steels that I became truly interested.
(Bear with me - this does eventually get back to my tendonitis!)
I have quite a bit of experience with Sandvik blades, particularly with their 12C27 steel as used in the famous Swedish Mora knives. It is, in my estimation, one of the better 'all around' steels that one could use on a general purpose knife. It holds an edge well, is very resistant to breakage, and is easy to sharpen. The fact that there were almost no folders made out of that superb yet underrated steel annoyed me greatly, and I was left to console myself with my Moras.
It was when I found out that Kershaw had gone to Sandvik steel (13C26, a very close relative of 12C27) that I decided I had to have one. The Junkyard Dog II had gotten rave reviews over at Bladeforums, so I decided that I was to get one.
(Luckily my wife intervened, and got one for me as a gift, thus saving me from the guilt of buying it for myself!)
It arrived at the end of last week, and from the start I was smitten with it. Fit and finish is quite good, easily up to the Benchmades that I own, and at the price point it is astounding. I haven't gotten a chance to resharpen the edge and really test it yet (any factory edge is downright primitive compared to what a few minutes with a set of stones can achieve), but I expect great things.
The trouble is that the blade is really quite heavy, and flicking it open delivers a solid "whack" to one's muscles. I was absentmindedly doing that while watching television the other night: opening and closing it repeatedly, just because it's fun to do. After about a half-hour of such foolishness I found that my elbow was as sore as it ever was, and then some!
So now you have, as Paul Harvey would say, "the rest of the story."