Friday, January 31, 2014

A.G. Russell Skorpion Review


Skorpion featherlight steel
It seems right to begin with disclosing that this is a "seconds" knife. No doubt if I were reading a review and the product wasn't up to the owner's expectations in ways that could be explained by the fact that it was a seconds product, I'd ignore the review and move on. The problems with the A.G. Russell Skorpion go far beyond a few cosmetic blemishes. In fact, my knife has very few of them and nothing more significant than I would put on it myself in a week or two of use. I think that perhaps I could have returned my Skorpion and got my money back, but I was conflicted the day I got it and started examining it. I wanted to give it a chance by taking it apart, cleaning it up and tweaking it to an acceptable state. What's more is, I like it. I like the way it looks. I love the design and the proportions. I wanted to make it work.

That's when the trouble started. I don't know if I've expressed this opinion in my previous posts, but I cannot stand the abusive application of thread locker on knives. Just leave it off. For one thing it's not necessary, for another thing they appear to be using the red compound given the red tint to it when I remove it. But for all I know it could be super glue and in the case of the Skorpion it certainly seemed like it might as well have been. Even with a small torch the nasty goo wouldn't let go in places where it was far beyond liberally applied.

review folding knife
All of the screws were basically just like this - some worse than others.

Virtually every screw on the knife had been damaged at the factory. The Torx-style sockets are off-centered and each of them marred by sloppy assembly. Most of the screw heads sit off to one side or the other in their respective countersink and overall create a cheap appearance. The screw holding the lock bar over-travel stop was destroyed and conveniently covered up by the pocket clip.
Lock Bar Over-Travel Stop screw out of the box - no thread locker thankfully. The pocket clip screws are the same size and the extra clip came with spares so luckily I have a good screw to replace this one.

What amazes me is that the handles and blade look pretty good. My particular unit could have been given fresh screws (without loctite) and sold as a true second quality product and I would have been writing a more positive review - though not entirely positive. It probably would have cost pennies and seconds to make this knife functional at the factory.

Skorpion seconds
Rough.
Out of the box the blade nearly touches one of the handle slabs and requires a good snap of the wrist to fully deploy. It was gritty, stiff opening, and essentially unacceptable for use as it arrived. The lock up is almost too late and very sticky to unlock. This is the biggest problem because it could potentially render the knife useless if it cannot be remedied or gets to be unsafe. With any luck I can square the Skorpion up enough that the lock-up improves. Bottom line here is that blemishes are one thing, a non-functioning product is another entirely.

Luckily the tolerances aren't so good that these rough surfaces do much grinding. I doubt they help though.
Some might be saying, that's what happens with those Chinese knives. I disagree. I have a handful of overseas Kershaw and CRKT knives, plus the Ontario RAT 1 and Boker Titan that have all been pocket ready right out of the box. No destroyed screws, perfectly smooth deployment and acceptable overall fit and finish to go directly into my rotation.
Burrs from machining on the lock face.

And that brings me to the big A.G. Russell Skorpion problem. It simply isn't worth what it costs. In flawless condition this is a $40 knife that A.G. gets $75 for. We can call the mostly gimmicky machining in the handles a minor value adder but in my opinion that only gets it to the $40 mark. I bought the knife in hopes that there had to be some kind of value boost somewhere in it. Like it would be silky smooth opening, or there would be a little extra attention to detail all around. Wrong. It has plastic washers and a simple "internal" stop pin. No extra or fancy looking pillars, nothing. It does come with an extra pocket clip. I guess that clip must be worth about thirty bucks. There are a few design missteps that I didn't notice until I held it but they seriously hurt the review because for the money, every detail should have been considered, and they weren't. With major value adders available for significantly less money like the ball bearing pivot in the CRKT knives, the Kershaw Cryo and all its features like assisted opening, and solid reputation for consistently being amazing, or the American made Buck Vantage line with better steel, it is very hard to recommend the essentially featureless A.G. Russell Skorpion in flawless condition for the price. For $75 it should be American made and assembled correctly. A second quality unit should function like a first quality and cosmetic blemishes could include marred screws or scratches, but an unfinished, poorly assembled product shouldn't have even been acceptable to A.G.Russell for sale at all.

Some of those design missteps are the holes for the blade stop pin, the pivot itself and the pocket clip location. When I fix my Skorpion I will get some pics up but I was too impatient to get any before I took it apart. But you can see what I'm saying with the pics above. The stop pin holes go entirely through the handle. Why? It should be hidden. The pivot is actually a standoff or pillar just like the others found in the handle. How much adjustment are we going to get from that? Very little if any I think. The pocket clip took some thought, but it doesn't belong where it attaches. The head of one screw is partially under it so it doesn't sit flush to the handle. It could have been right, it just isn't. These design flaws are the nail in the coffin for me. Not recommended.

Click for the final review.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Navy K-610 Review and Project Intro

cheap chinese knives budget blades for everyday carry
I hadn't paid a whole lot of attention to the Navy brand folding knives even though I have enjoyed modding several other cheap Chinese brands like Enlan and their relatives. If memory serves I recall reading a few less than stellar opinions of the Navy brand, but since that time I've seen them pop up here and there and the owners seem perfectly happy with them. What I didn't know is that they have a handful of Spyderco knock offs. I've had a Tenacious on my kinda want list for awhile and they are about $40.00 right now. Honestly it's the shape of the Tenacious and their whole Chinese line that attracts me to them more than the price because most of their knives don't do much for me overall. As luck would have it this Navy appears to be a direct Tenacious copy. This is an introductory post so I have resisted the urge to tear it apart and begin my modifications. For that reason I haven't really had a chance to get any use out of it. But, for $25.00 and the assumption that it's correctly made 440C, it should be a relatively good value. $25.00 seems a bit high all things considered and so if it turns out to be a dud then I fully recant my value comment. On paper however, it's looking decent. It's much larger than the Enlans I've modded in the past, maybe even twice the knife, so twice the price feels reasonable. It would be a steal at $15 or $20. But it is large indeed. I think it'll be fine for EDC use for anyone who isn't turned off by a larger blade. It's pretty wide, and although shorter than an Ontario RAT 1, still at the beginning of what I consider large folders - about all the bigger I want to carry in my front pocket. The RAT 1 isn't narrow and the Navy K-610 is wider still actually exactly the same after taking measurements. This might be a plus in that a larger folder should probably fill the hand better to facilitate harder use tasks. As with all the Chinese G-10 I've encountered it feels very dry and very grippy - far more than any of my other knives. It seems a shame to get rid of it but it just looks bland. It is also probably a pocket shredder. If you want a hard use beater knife though, something like this is the way to go. It's got pretty fat liners and you aren't going to be slipping on the G-10 they way it's textured on these things - no way, no how. The lock-up is solid so I suspect it's got plenty of brawn for a working blade. As one might expect however, it needs some work even for general use. Opening on my unit is very stiff and rough so at a minimum it's going to need cleaned and lubed, then adjusted to suit your preferences. Picture time.
440C stainless budget folder spyderco knock off
Good looking knife overall - attractive shape - total Tenacious knock off. The Thumb hole and pocket clip arrangement are the most obvious departures from the Spyderco blade. The K-610 came in the nifty little camo pouch in the picture.

rat 1 and kershaw cryo budget edc knives
I would say it feels larger than the RAT 1 (center) even though it is shorter. There is more blade to work with and a more hand filling handle. I will say that the RAT 1 feels right in the hand, but less so when you bear down on it.
knife photos pictures reviews
Well executed markings on the blade with a clean even finish overall. The hardware appears to be in decent condition and as yet the only place I've found thread locker has been on the pivot screw. I am sure it's cheap hardware though and the finish is rough generally speaking. A quick spin on some sandpaper will do a lot to make it look nicer. 
Here is the first rough work I found. There is a nasty deformation where the blade hits the stop pin when closed. I suspect that this could have possibly been peened on purpose in order to stop the blade sooner. See next image.
I had trouble capturing this but the blade actually touches the lanyard tube when the knife is closed. If the peening seen above was on purpose, it failed. Bye, bye lanyard hole. The is one of few el cheapo knives (and not many less cheap knives) where I like the way the lanyard hole worked into the appearance of the whole package. Without it, there is a whole lot of nothing below the last pillar so I might have a shot at making a back spacer. Also, the edge grind isn't as bad as this picture would suggest, someone just got a little carried away at the tip. It's actually pretty even along the rest of the blade. 
I took this picture to demonstrate that the blade wasn't given a ton of clearance in the closed position. Here the blade is open slightly and you can see that from just a little bit of travel from the lanyard tube to this position the tip is out looking to stick somebody. It's plenty clear while closed but it almost has to be touching the lanyard tube to be safe.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

KydexProcom Kydex Forms

For you fellow Kydex benders out there and soon to be Kydex benders swing over to kydexpro.com and get yourself signed up. I think it's the same folks who ran kydexforum.com so if you're already a member, do both. But I'm writing this post because I got all kinds of help from the great community that has developed around the wonder plastic that is Kydex. I'm not absolutely sure I've personally seen anything quite like this happen but it's one of the beauties of the world wide web for sure. I suppose there isn't much to hide when it comes to Kydex bending, even though many a income stream have sprung from it, but even the beneficiaries of those streams are willing to share their knowledge. There was so much knowledge already available that my first holster is still in service and I've avoided many failures thanks to the advice of people who'd already suffered them. Contrary to the persistent human desire to make the exact same mistakes as thousands of others before us rather than continuing our learning from their failure point, the Kydex community shares mistakes and successes equally.

Now, this particular forum, its creators, and members seek to consolidate the knowledge and facilitate its expansion. Recently they've been putting on contests and many of the industry leaders have apparently climbed on board. I just received the following e-mail and I'll let it tell the rest of the story.

"I was just contacted by Danny at Index Fasteners. He and the other big wigs at Index Fasteners wanted a way to give back to the Thermoforming community that has supported them in this arena of maker supplies. So they have pledged to give me access to $50 a month in Index Fasteners credit to give away as I see fit. This can be used towards our contests, random drawings and other member giveaway events.
Thank you so much to Danny and the rest of the crew at Index Fasteners for always thinking of your customers and specifically this community as a whole.

Nate

*We currently have 146 members. If we can get 160 members this month, we will do a drawing for ALL members to receive the $50 IFI credit to the winner. So, spread the word and get people to register.

Read more: http://kydexpro.com/thread/668/index-fasteners-50-month-prize#ixzz2pjpT8mzT

You are receiving this email because you have opted to receive emails from kydexpro.com"


In case it isn't obvious, this means they're going to be giving away cool stuff to contest winners. This isn't one of those deals where a company says let's get a couple hundred creative people to design our next product, pay none of them, and give some crappy awards to the one who is the coolest of the bunch. No, you participate for fun and maybe score some good stuff you can actually use in the process.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

46 Plymouth Portrait

One heck of a Christmas gift to the owner of this vehicle from his wife.
two-tone custom classic with lots of chrome
Pretty fun Plymouth project with lots of chrome to lay down.