Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Mad Mike BOB: The Blades

This is the third in a series reviewing a Bail Out Bag being sold by Michael Z Williamson.  Part 1 and Part 2 are as linked.

This is the part of the bag where I expected the most quality and least surprises.  To put it mildly, Mike knows blades.  I had every confidence that any blade in a kit he sold would be a quality tool.  I was not disappointed.

First, the folders.

The Lansky folding knife has a traditional back-locking mechanism and a stainless blade measuring in at just under 4". The blade is also partially serrated.  The handle scales are made from a tough, grippy material.  The first thing I noticed about the knife, though, is it's extreme light weight.  It measures at roughly 4 oz, meaning that it doesn't contribute to breaking your back while it's in the bag, and you can carry it on your belt all day and never notice it.  By all appearances and to my current impression, it's a good all-round working knife.

The Lansky multitool, on the other hand, is a beast.  All the weight saved from the folder landed on the tool, as it weighs in at over half a pound. That weight, however, does include a bit set, making the tool far more versatile than my beloved little Gerber. It is a traditional folding-pattern tool, with the blades on the inside of the handles to allow a stronger and more comfortable grip.  It has both smooth and serrated blades, an awl, a file (something I miss on the Gerber and love on a multitool), a can opener, two slotted drivers, and a bit holder.

Now for the big blades.

The first is a Cold Steel Roach Belly. Similar to the famed Mora knives in style and function, it's a handy little working knife.  The blade is listed as 4.5", and is roughly 1/8" thick 4116 stainless steel.  It comes with a simple, deep nylon sheath, and a polypropylene handle that completely encases the tang.  It is quite sharp out of the box, and is about the perfect size for cleaning fish or game, or doing general camp chores.  It's a bit light for batoning or splitting wood, but that becomes a non-issue by the inclusion of the...

Lansky Fire Fighter's Battle Axe,  A two-pound piece of steel with a cutout to shut off natural gas lines, a firehose hook, and a pry-bar edge.  The handle is rated to take 10000 volts, but I'm not near nuts enough to test that.  The cross-shaped cutout in the center of the head is a wrench to shut off natural gas feeds in an emergency, and the unique shape allows it to function from almost any position. The leather sheath has two closures, completely enclosing the head and holding the tool securely on a belt.  As a splitting tool, it does a wonderful job, being sharp from the factory, with a good blade shape and handle angle.  It's somewhat lacking as a felling and cutting tool, though.  Thankfully, the kit includes a...

Gerber Double-Joint folding saw.  The double-joint setup allows the entire blade to be shielded by the handle when not in use, without being unwieldy when it's getting work done.  And get work done it does.  The blade locks into either the open or closed position with a positive pushbutton lock. I took this tool out while I was camping, and used it to break down a pile of deadfall limbs for firewood.  While cutting hardwood, it performed wonderfully up to 2" limbs, and quite satisfactorily on 4" ones.

Two other minor updates on the kit.

First, Mike has said that he can sell the first aid kits as a stand-alone unit.  Contact him for details if you're interested. It's honestly one of the finest pre-built kits I've come across, and would be an excellent pickup for anyone who needs a kit.

Second, to give an idea of the form factor of the bag as a whole, it fits cleanly under the rear seat of a mid-2000s F150. There's not many places it can't be stowed in an average automobile.


(FTC Disclaimer:  As I said last week, my opinions are my own, and anything factual I say can be tested.  I wasn't paid to say anything I'm saying, and would say the same things if I had been.)

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