Cheap Knife Storage Case

Posted December 9th, 2011 in Links by Rob

Sometimes it can be difficult to find an inexpensive way to store and protect your knives in an organized fashion.  

I have found that pistol magazine storage pouches work extremely well.  The storage pouch you see in these photos was purchased from MidwayUSA for ~$23 and has 8 pouches.

In these photos, you are looking at a Kershaw Blur, a SanRenMu 763, a Benchmade Mini Griptilian, a Spyderco Catcherman, and a Spyderco Endura 4.  These should give you an idea of what will fit and what won’t.  The storage pouch was designed for double-stack pistol magazines up to 5.5″ long.

There are other models for longer knives(or magazines).  For fat knives, I would recommend a pouch designed for AR magazines.

Yes, there are other magazine pouches that may work, but I recommend the California Competiton Works pouches.  The stitching has held up to my carrying them on road trips across the country, numerous range visits, and general rough handling.   These pouches are often carried with a full load of full magazines.  With my XDm9 mags, that means >150 rounds.  Not an insignificant load.

California Competition Works has a website, but it is extremely difficult to navigate and doesn’t have as many photos as the MidwayUSA site.  The prices are pretty much the same in either place.

Here is a link to the specific model photographed here.

Spyderco Endura 4 Review

Posted December 9th, 2011 in Links by Rob

I purchased a used Spyderco Endura 4(Combination Edge, Saber Grind) several months ago and have been carrying it nearly every day since.  I believe a review is in order!  The specific model I am reviewing today is the Spyderco Endura 4 Saber Grind Combo Edge. (  When I first received the knife, I was surprised at how large it was.  The photos and dimensions don’t do it justice, but it is a good sized knife:

  • Length overall – 8.75″ (222 mm)
  • Blade length – 3.75″ (96 mm)
  • Blade steel – VG-10
  • Length closed – 5″ (127 mm)
  • Cutting edge – 3.438″ (88 mm)
  • Weight – 3.6 oz. (103 g)
  • Hole diameter – .5″ (13 mm)
  • Blade thickness – .125″ (3 mm)
  • Handle material – FRN

Size – You can read the dimensions, but until you hold it in your hand, you may not realize what a beefy knife the Endura is. Thankfully, the size doesn’t bring a huge weight penalty. The FRN handle keeps the weight down despite a fairly thick and heavy duty blade. By way of comparison, the Kershaw Blackout I was coming from is a little more than a half-inch shorter than the Endura, but the weight is nearly identical.

Blade – The Kershaw Blackout had a spine swedge along the majority of the blade that cuts down weight and looks a little prettier(in my opinion), whereas the Spyderco Endura 4 has a squared off, full-thickness spine that runs almost all the way to the tip. On the Endura 4, the grind begins to narrow the width of the spine about a half-inch from the tip.

According to my calipers, the saber grind extends ~.4″ away from the cutting edge. At the blade’s tallest point, that leaves 3/4″ of the blade at it’s maximum thickness. Not ideal for slicing tasks. When cutting stiff, strong cardboard, this sharp grind angle becomes a bit tiresome compared to a full flat ground blade or even my previous Kershaw Blackout with a grind more than 50% deeper(.67″ from cutting edge) than the Endura 4 saber grind(.4″).

I was a bit dissapointed in the proportion of the plain edge vs. the serrations. The Spyderco Endura 4 plain edge portion of the combo edge blade is ~1.55″ vs. ~1.9″ of serration at the base of the blade. That means the plain edge is 45% of the overall blade while the serrations are 55%. On my Blackout, the plain edge was ~2.1″ vs ~1.2″ of serrations(64% vs. 36%). I realize it’s personal preference, but I like having more plain edge. When I buy my next Endura, I will go with a plain edge, full flat ground blade.

Part of the reason I want more straight/plain edge is to make sharpening easier. Clamping the Endura 4 into a sharpening rig can be a real pain. Because of where the spine starts to narrow near the tip, there is a limited amount of grip for the clamp. The other 6 inches of blade and handle all try to twist out of the clamp. I realize that not everybody sharpens the same way that I do, but it was an issue for me. More plain edge area would have allowed me to move the clamp further back down the blade spine for more grip.

Jimping – The base of the blade spine has about a half-inch of jimping where it curves up to the tallest part of the blade. The FRN handles also have ~1.5″ of jimping on the back portion nearest the blade.

Handle – I was a bit worried about the Spyderco Endura 4 handle. Not because it’s plastic, but because of how thin it is. I like handguns with big grips and tools with monstrous handles because my fingers are relatively long. I figured that I would have trouble with the thin handle(~.43″ at it’s thickest).  My Blackout was ~.63″ thick at it’s fattest point and had a similar profile(to the Endura). In reality, the Endura’s handle thinness was never a problem and I actually came to see it as an advantage. When I carry the knife in the lowest/furthest corner of my pocket, you can definitely see the extra impression from a fatter blade(especially in dress pants). The thin handle aids with concealment.

Texturing – Although the points where I grip the handle strongest are along the top and bottom(not the sides), the texturing on the sides of the handle are a nice touch. I can tell a lot of thought went into them. Depending on how long your fingers are, and how you grip the knife, they may help you hang onto the knife where it would have otherwise slipped from your hand. Your mileage may vary.

Carry Options – The Spyderco Endura 4 has four mounting options for the pocket clip. Tip-up or tip-down mounting options on both sides of the handle. When I received the knife, it was set up for left-side tip-up carry. I am a repressed lefty. That is, I am left-handed, but have leaned to cope with a a world built for right-handed people. I decided to leave it set up how it was and carry on the left side for a while. While it didn’t stay that way for long, it was nice to have the option. The change was very simple with torx screws.

My previous EDC knife only had only one pocket clip mounting option: Right-side, tip-down. I had grown accustomed to flipping the knife in my hand upon removing it from my pocket in order to press the thumb-stud. It took some time and practice, but I now enjoy the tip-up carry that allows me to reach into my pocket and place my thumb directly on the opening hole as I am pulling out the knife.

Opening Hole – In short, I love it! The hole is large and smooth enough that it rotates around my thumbtip during opening and closing with minimal friction.

Locking Mechanism – The locking mechanism is a “back lock” with the David Boye detent. I have no problem with this design. It has never released the blade despite some strong spine taps(for testing). In short, I trust it. The David Boye detent does nothing special for me. The back lock does make it difficult to close the blade with one hand, but in my opinion, you should already be in the habit of using both hands to close a knife. Pressing down the back lock pretty much requires you to place a finger(or more) on the other side of the handle as an opposing force to squeeze the lock. Those fingers are directly in the path of the unlocked blade, so I prefer to be holding the blade with my other hand.

No assisted opening, but it’s not a problem. I had grown accustomed to the assisted opening of my previous knife where a short hard shove on the thumbstud resulted in a snappy opening. The unassisted opening may be a millisecond slower, but definitely not a noticeable diference.

Uses – I’m not an outdoorsman, but I’ll give you and idea of some of the tasks in my urban lifestyle that I have used the Spyderco Endura for:

  • Cutting rope
  • Prying off metal caps(from our propane tanks)
  • Opening boxes
  • Cutting carpet and padding
  • Cutting Rubber(inner-tube)
  • Opening plastic packaging and sealed containers

Thankfully, I have not had to use it in a defensive capacity, but I believe this is where the Spyderco Endura would really shine. Most of the above tasks don’t require the Endura’s blade length. Many of these tasks would be better served with a shorter blade. However, in a defensive use case, every extra bit of blade can make a big difference. All other things equal, the ability to quickly deploy a longer blade means that every swipe or strike will do more damage. Every bit of extra damage makes it easier for you to find an opportunity to escape(the ultimate goal).

Complaints – My biggest complaints are all solved by other Spyderco Endura 4 models that are already avaialable. My next Endura will be the plain edge with a full flat grind.

Disclaimer – All measurements are rounded and inexact. My observations are based on my background and previous experience. Your mileage may vary.

Great prices on the Spyderco Endura!


4Sevens Preon 1(1xAAA) Review (photos)

Posted December 4th, 2011 in Links by Rob

Next to Benchmade Mini GriptilianAfter spending a year with this light, I figure it’s due for a review.  When the 4Sevens Preon 1 was purchased, I was carrying a 4Sevens Quark Mini AA2 as my primary carry light. The Quark Mini AA2 is by no means a large flashlight, but it dwarfed the Preon 1.  By moving to the Preon 1, my EDC light became 2 inches shorter, 21% thinner, and more than 50% lighter.  This translated to a major real world difference and I loved it.

The 4Sevens Preon 1 is a miniscule single AAA light.  According to 4Sevens, it weights .6 ounces.  When I place a AAA battery in one hand and the IMG_1199empty Preon 1 in the other, I can’t decide which is lighter.  In real life, when I clip it in my pocket, I don’t feel it or think about it.  A high compliment for an EDC light.

But what did I lose in performance?  The Quark Mini AA2 puts out 180 lumens maximum vs. the Preon 1’s 70 lumens maximum.  I can honestly say that I have never missed those lumens.  This light isn’t a weapon light, a camping light, or a high-performance light.  This is a small and light always-with-you EDC light.  The Preon 1 lumen settings(Low-1.8, Med-2.5, High-70) are very useful for:

  • Looking for a dropped screw in the dark.
  • Reading in the dark without waking the wife
  • Searching for something under the bed.
  • Examining something more closely in a dark corner.
  • Lighting a dark street while walking.
  • Strobing while crossing a busy road.
  • Spotlighting wandering cows from the roof of our 3 story home.

IMG_1182The 4Sevens Preon 1 is not a tactical light and is not intended for stunning with sudden, blinding light.  The light is activated by twisting/tightening the head.  It’s difficult to do this with one hand and not recommended for a “tactical” situation.  Also, to get to the highest output, you have to cycle through the two lower settings first.  In other words, you cannot quickly and easily turn on the highest light output.  I purchased the clicky tailcap for the Preon 1, but had a number of issues with it sticking or not working.  I really tried to work with it, but I eventually gave up and went back to the regular Preon twist only.

The twist interface is very simple. Twisting and untwisting the head cycles you through the following levels: Low -> Medium -> High -> Low -> Medium -> High -> Special Outputs  You can continue to cycle through the special outputs in the following sequence: Strobe -> S.O.S. -> Beacon (high) -> Beacon (low)IMG_1203

The battery is a snug fit without being tight.  When I shake the light next to my ear, I can’t feel or hear any battery movement inside the body.  The endcap has a traditional conductor spring for tension.

The clip is extremely sturdy.  The clip attaches via loop through which the end cap screws into the main body(see photo below).


There is no danger of of the pocket clip slipping off.  It came a bit tight for my liking, but it was easily adjusted with a little pulling and I haven’t had to mess with it since.  The end of the clip is extremely close to the base of the light and allows a very deep pocket carry position.  Even if I momentarily stand on my head or jump, the resistance of the deep pocket carry helps hold it in.IMG_1189

The tail of the flashlight is flat and tailstands easily.  I have not been able to find a great diffuser for lantern use, but I hear that the white crazy glue sticks work well.  After they are emptied ;) IMG_1183

The spot portion with the most light is about 2.5” wide when the light is 6” away while the flood area is ~10” wide.  I’m no expert, so I will refer you to this page where you will find beam shot photo comparisons: 4Sevens Preon 1 Beamshots


Battery life – Obviously, the battery life will vary with different batteries, but 4Sevens claims don’t seem far fetched when compared to my usage:

  • Low: 1.8 OTF Lumens, 23 hours
  • Medium: 8.5 OTF Lumens, 6 hours
  • High: 70 OTF Lumens, 0.8 hours
  • Strobe 1.6 hours
  • SOS 2.4 hours
  • Beacon (Hi) 8 hours
  • Beacon (Lo) 40 hours

I did not do my own runtime tests, but if you are into that stuff, check out this review: 4Sevens Preon Runtime Tests  The charts and graphs can get pretty nerdy, but it’s good information.IMG_1197

The 4Sevens Preon line is very customizable.  You can buy individual parts in various colors, finishes, and even materials:


  • Heads
  • Bodies
  • Tailcaps
  • Clicky tailcaps
  • Pocket clips

Aside from customization, this means that spare parts(which I have not needed) are readily available.

After more than a year of use, I can honestly say that this is a rugged light!  This flashlight has handled some hard use.  You can see in the photos that this light has not been babied.  Our home has marble floors that have caressed the Preon 1 on numerous occasions.  Once it fell on stone patio tiles from the second story balcony when my son decided to toss it over the edge.  I have carried and used it on numerous occasions during our monsoon season in heavy rain that completely soaked completely through all my clothes.  My son has also tested it by submerging it in water on occasion.  The 4Sevens Preon 1 light just keeps on working!

Because of where I live, my EDC light probably sees more use than most.  We have scheduled and unscheduled extended power outages for most of the year and the winter dry season leaves us with only ~4 hours of power per day.  This means that when stores, restaurants, and other public establishments lose power, I need a reliable, always-with-me light to find my fork, keep from tripping down the dark stairs, or even just keep my 1 year old son from getting scared.  I don’t leave home without my 4Sevens Preon.

It’s close, but not quite a perfect light.  Here are a few small changes I hope for in a future iteration:

  • Knurling – It can be turned with wet hands, but it would be much easier with just a little bit of texturing on the head.  The protruding clip is enough to keep the body secure during the twisting motion.
  • Clicky Tailcap – I understand that there may be engineering issues, but I would love to see a high-quality clicky tailcap for the Preon 1.  Preferably something that doesn’t protrude(and turn on when you sit down) and allows for tailstanding.
  • More Lumens – The light from this flashlight is more than adequate, but with new light technology and emitters, I hope we will see a few more lumens in future editions. Even if I have to change my batteries a little more often.
Other 4Sevens Preon Reviews: