Monthly Archives: August 2018

Trestle Pine Buddy and Spyderco Mule

The Trestle PIne Buddy has been with me on all of my recent camping trips and I like it for a lot of reasons.  It’s light to carry, compact on your belt, perfect midsize blade for all around use to name just a few.

Trestle Pine Buddy

I’ve been bemoaning the discontinuance of Spyderco’s Mule Team Project lately and fortunately already have several of them with different blade steels.  On my recent field trip I took one along with the CPM 4V blade in a Dave Taylor Custom sheath.

Trestle Pine Buddy & Spyderco Mule Team CPM 4V

A couple of years ago I tried out both the Maxamet and CPM 4V blade steel and beat the hell out of both on a piece of birch seeing how well the edge held up.  With the Maxamet  Rockwell in the upper 60’s range I’m always a little concerned with chipping with a steel that hard.  I performed incredibly well with the 4V coming in close behind.  This year I decided to put the  Trestle Pine Buddy up against the CPM 4V Mule Team.  While its definitely not an even comparison, it was kind of interesting.

Comparing 1095 steel with CPM 4V, ….well, they don’t compare.  The convex ground 1095  blade of the Buddy takes a fantastic convex edge and holds up well under normal use.  Beating on a piece of birch like I did with the Maxamet will take the edge off fairly quickly BUT, it’s a whole lot easier to touch up then the Maxamet.  A smooth flat river stone will work wonders on 1095 when you’re out and about.  With the Maxamet, you’re gonna spend some time with that rock to get the same result.  And that’s the joy of 1095.

Buddy (L) and Spyderco (R)

What I was interested in comparing was the ‘utility’ of both knives on similar jobs.  In the above pic you can see the Buddy has not only a shorter but also a slightly thinner blade.  Not so easy to see is the flat grind and bevel on the Spyderco and the convex grind on the Buddy.  The Spyderco also has a longer handle making for a bigger package to strap on your belt.

On normal cutting chores (paracord, food, etc) they two both worked great without a lot of difference.  The most noticeable difference came when I was shaving a fatwood stick.

For years before the Buddy, it was noticeable that with this type of cutting my convex ground Bark River Northstar seemed to just want to cut deeper and deeper.  The same is true of the Buddy.  The flat ground Spyderco was razor sharp but didn’t seem to bite in the way the Buddy or the Northstar.  It has everything to do with the grind.

The convex grind works great on a thicker blade (in my experience) while the flat bevel works best on a thinner blade.  While the Spyderco is thicker on the spine its uniform flat grind tapers to a fairly thin edge.  The Buddy maintains a little more thickness as you approach the edge.  It’s always interesting how these subtle differences effect the performance of a blade.

I really didn’t use either knife enough to really evaluate the edge retention on both knives.  There’s no doubt the CPM 4V will hold an edge much longer then the 1095.

So who’s the winner?  I am as I own both knives.  I wouldn’t give up my Trestle Pine Buddy due to it’s size.  The Spyderco Mule CPM 4V is just a great no nonsense workhorse that can handle a ton of abuse and maintain an incredible edge.  There’s just so many great knives and so little opportunity to use them all.

 

 

 

 

Hess Bird & Trout Review

The Hess Bird & Trout has been in the store lineup for a number of years and I’ve wanted to try one out but just haven’t done it!   My recent field trip was the perfect opportunity to do just that.

Hess Bird & Trout Black Leather

It’s a great representation of all of the Bird & Trout knives that have gone before it including the Marble’s, Western, etc.  If you’ve followed the pricing on some of these older B&T’s, they’ve gotten expensive.  The Hess Bird & Trout offers up the same features at a much more reasonable price.

Measuring a trim 6.75″ OAL with a 3.375″ 1095 blade, weighing 2.3 ounces,  the Bird & Trout is a compact package.  I have fairly large hands and it’s not a knife I’d want to spend a lot of time cutting with.  But that’s not what it was designed for.

I don’t want to call the Hess Bird & Trout ‘delicate’ because that’s not accurate.  It’s just a compact knife made for field dressing fish or birds.  You wouldn’t tackle dressing out a deer with it but I have no doubt with some patience you could.

While I was camping I didn’t get an opportunity to do any fishing so I didn’t get a chance to try it out on a ‘trout’.  I did use it for some food prep and it was a great tool around the table.  The convex ground blade held an edge very well for 1095 and I didn’t find a need to touch things up.  One of the things I’m tempted to try is a flat bevel on the blade just to see how it works out.  I typically only use a convex grind on my thicker blades and the Bird and Trout might work just as well without it.

The stacked leather handle didn’t get slippery when it was wet and lends a great ‘classic’ look to the knife.  The one point to keep in mind is, typical of all 1095 steel, it’s unforgiving if you don’t clean it thoroughly after use.  It’s the perfect example of a knife that I use Frog Lube on.  The Frog Lube is food friendly and does a fantastic job cleaning and protecting metal surfaces.  And it doesn’t stink or taste like motor oil.

While using it I had to keep reminding myself that the Hess Bird & Trout is what I’d classify as a specialty knife.  It’s not an all around ‘utility’ tool you’re going to use for trimming brush, batoning kindling wood or dressing big game.  It’s made for lighter tasks and does a great job on them!  I’d recommend having one in your kit to fill the gap between your traditional folder and your larger bushcraft knife.

Fenix UC35 V2.0 Field Test

I just added the Fenix UC35 V2.0 to the store inventory a couple of months ago.  Last week was the first chance I really had to get it out in the ‘field’ to try it out.  I’ve used it around the house and in the garage for a few night time searches, but I finally had the opportunity to try it in ‘the dark’.

Measuring just 5.5″ long, 1″ in diameter and weighing 4.9 ounces it’s truly a powerhouse.  With 5 power settings from 1 lumen to 1000 lumens it has a range of intensity that’s unmatched.  At the 1 lumen setting it has an advertised 800 run time.  Power it up to 1000 lumens and you still have 2 hours and 15 minutes of continuous run time.  Plus you have the option of a strobe for personal security purposes.

Fenix UC35 V2.0

It’s submersible to 2 meters (about 6 1/2′) and shockproof which I can personally attest to it’s durability.  About the second time I used it I had lain it down on the bench in the garage and immediately knocked it off onto the concrete floor.  No foul, no harm.

Most of the time we were camping I used it on the second setting of 50 lumens.  It served it’s purpose lighting up the campsite at bedtime to pick up and put away odds and ends and in the camper.  My wife’s nephew and wife were with us and I did turn it up to 1000 lumens just to see how bright it was.  In that part of the world there aren’t any street lights in the woods and 1000 lumens will definitely light things up.

After years of carrying/using a MagLite I had some difficulty getting used to the tail switch.  Like anything else, since I’ve gotten used to it I like it.  Sometimes finding the switch on the side of the MagLite with gloves on was a guessing game in the dark.  With the tail switch, pretty easy to figure out where it’s at.   For tactical use against things that go bump in the night, the tail switch is the only way to go.

The rechargeable battery is fantastic and easy to recharge.  A really nice feature is the light intensity doesn’t start to fade as the battery discharges and checking the battery charge status is simple.  The run time is outstanding.  Recharging is as simple as you could ask for.

On the forward part of the flashlight body is a small brass colored ring with a battery status light in the center.  By pressing on the tail switch the color of the status light will let you know if it’s time for a recharge.  After a couple of months usage, I’m still in the green.

Battery Charge Status Indicator

When you’re ready to recharge it, simply take the standard supplied USB charging cord and plug it into the USB port on the flashlight.  You can use either a wall plug in your house or the accessory plug in your vehicle and charge it on the go.  To me this was a huge feature.  In the past I’ve avoided the rechargeable lights that required a separate charging station and a 120V outlet.  If I”m camping the only power source I typically have is my vehicle.  With the Fenix UC35 V2.0, problem solved.

USB Port for Charging the battery

Try as I might, I can’t come up with a negative on this light.  I have several other Fenix lights ranging from a little pocket light that uses a single AAA battery, an LD20 mounted on my AR and now this gem.  All of them are stellar performers but the Fenix UC35 V2.0 is definitely the king of the hill in my book.  Highly recommend it.

Baddest Bee Fire Fuses Review

One of the items I took up North to try out were the Baddest Bee Fire Fuses.

Fire Fuse 3 Pak

As the name implies, they’re a ‘fuse’ for lighting fires in the outdoors.  Made from a cotton material that’s impregnated with a wax type accelerant, they’re very easy to ignite with a Fire Steel.  By my rough estimate, it burns at a rate of about an inch a minute.

Fray the end slightly

I make it a practice to carry some pieces of Fatwood with me when I’m camping.  The Fatwood makes lighting a fire so much easier particularly if you’re experiencing wet conditions and dry tinder isn’t easy to come by.  It lights easily and burns for a long time.  It’s perfect for getting your campfire going and the Fire Fuses are the perfect way to get things going.

After I stacked a bit of kindling (which was not cut particularly small), I shaved a piece of the Fatwood and inserted about an inch long piece of the Fire Fuse into a  notch on the Fatwood.

A couple of strikes on the Fire Steel and we’ve got fire.

At this point, lay the Fatwood stick under the kindling and get the coffee pot ready!

I’m seriously impressed with the Fire Fuses for a couple of reasons.  It’s easy to light with a Fire Steel, it’s very resistant to getting blown out by a breeze and it’s waterproof.  It doesn’t take a whole lot to get things going, even if you have relatively damp kindling.  But I really like the fact they used their head regarding the packaging.

Rather then just sticking a few pieces in a plastic bag, the manufacturer was bright enough to package it in a water resistant tube with caps on either end.  The package of 8 fuses is small and easy to fit in a pocket.   If your fingers are cold and stiff, simply pop the caps off both ends and push the fuses out from the opposite end.  Cutting the 8 fuses into one inch lengths means about 24 fires per tube.  And each package contains 3 tubes of 8!!  Not a bad deal.  I’m impressed and if you spend any time in the woods, I feel the product is well worth the price.  Along with a Fire Steel, the Baddest Bee Fire Fuses make for an inexpensive bit of insurance should you need a quick fire to warm up or dry off.

 

Field Trip Return & Rare GEC Gunstock 1 of 1

I had mentioned previously that I was lucky enough to be the winner of a rare GEC Gunstock.  In fact, it’s a one of a kind finished with White Pearl LG handles.  (I had mistakenly said before that it was MOP).

One of a kind GEC 44 White Pearl LG

Great Eastern offered it as a raffle item to raise funds for the Wounded Warrior Project during their 2018 Rendezvous.  It’s a gorgeous knife and makes me long for the days past when GEC ran some of  their knives with premium handle materials.  My intention in the near future is to offer the knife once again as a fund raising vehicle for the Wounded Warrior Project.  I haven’t decided if it will be by raffle or an online auction.

I returned from a trip to the Minnesota Boundary Waters area Thursday nite and am just finishing catching up.  Actually, it wasn’t to bad as there weren’t any boxes of knives waiting for me when I got home.  I did get a notice that the GEC 44 Gunstock Stags are in transit.  Not sure if I’ll see them today or more likely, Monday.

It was a fun week and next week, I’ll share some details of a few items I took with me to do some field testing with.  Getting out in the field and actually using some of the store items is so much better then just regurgitating the marketing literature hype.

On a sad note, I did retire an old friend.  This coffee pot has traveled to the northwoods with us for 40+ years.  I couldn’t possibly guess how many 50 gallon barrels of coffee have been brewed in it.  The wood smoke had gotten so embedded in the metal that I couldn’t scrub it off and you got a bit of a smoky flavor in your morning coffee.  Sunday morning the little percolator top broke and that was it.  We searched all over Grand Marais for a replacement to no avail.

40 years of service ain’t too bad.

I thought about upgrading to a new, fancy stainless steel pot but just didn’t feel right doing it.  A search of Amazon turned up an exact duplicate pot for the princely sum of $15.27 shipped so I stayed with tradition and hit ‘order’.  It falls into that category that you don’t tinker with perfection.

No Shipping Next Week

Today, Friday 8/17 will be the last day I will be shipping any orders out until next Friday, 8/24/18.  I’m closing down operations for a week to make a field trip to the Northlands.  No fun and games, understand, just some serious field testing of a couple of items in the store.  If I sell it in the store, I like to make sure it works.

Some time back I had a conversation with a guy and we got to laughing about some of the video ‘reviews’ online.  Its the ‘new’ releases that got us laughing.  Two minutes of video showing the package that came from the post office followed by a minute and a half unwrapping it.  THEN there’s the obligatory rolling the knife around the camera lens showing the knife from all angles until vertigo sets in for the viewer.

Probably nothing wrong with that type of review but it doesn’t do much for me.  I prefer to know how the knife works in the field.  There are some great field test videos on line.  Probably one of the best I recall was on the Fallkniven A1 that the guy put through the destruction test.  In fact, just google “Fallkniven A1 Destruction Test“.   There are about 6 different videos and it shows just how tough that knife is under incredibly extreme conditions.  I don’t plan on doing any videos but I do like to snap a few photo’s to give folks an idea how things work in the field.

But I digress.  Even though I won’t be shipping until next Friday, the store will remain open to accept orders.  I try to check emails once a day (if I’ve got cell service) but won’t be answering the phone.

GEC Next Release and Rendezvous Knife Winner!

In a conversation with Chris I was told the next release following the Stag 44’s and the huge run of 14’s will be a rerun of the #99 Wallstreet.  These have been run with Clip, Spear and Wharncliffe blades.  I have no idea what the offering will be this time around.  The only thing for sure is it’s another allocation knife so I’m assuming quantities will be limited unless they open it up to SFO’s.  Then all bets are off regarding quantities.

https://i0.wp.com/greateasterncutlery.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/991114LB-Gabon-Ebony1-700x456.jpg?resize=604%2C393Picture is offered for reference only.  Actual 2018 release may be different.

My understanding at this point is that the schedule for the balance of 2018 from GEC will include the completion of the 44 Gunstocks, the run of 14 Boys Knives and they’ll finish the year with the #99 Wallstreet.

As with the upcoming 14’s, TSA Knives won’t be offering an early order option due to the fact we can’t be assured of the quantity of knives we’ll receive.  In fact going forward I’ll most likely be eliminating the early order option with a few exceptions.

It came as a surprise that I was the winner of the GEC Rendezvous Knife Raffle for the Wounded Warrior Project.

2018 GEC Rendezvous Knife

This is a one of a kind 44 Gunstock finished with MOP handles.  I was thrilled to win it and am happy to announce that once I get it and have a few days to look it over, I’ll be offering it up for raffle/auction again to raise more funds for the Wounded Warrior Project.  Chris said that they didn’t have a final total yet, but the preliminary guess was that the Rendezvous Raffle raised $1000 or better for the WWP.  That’s fantastic and I look forward to adding to that.  It’ll be a couple of weeks at least before it’s offered again so pass the word and keep an eye on the blog.

A final note regarding shipping.  I’m heading out on a field trip for a few days so I won’t be shipping any orders starting Saturday the 18th running through most of next week.  I’ll put up another notice Friday but make a note.

Family Weekend, Mule Team Demise & Field Trip

I’m still in recovery mode from last weekend.  That was our annual family get together and fortunately, we won the ‘weather’ lottery.  Rain prediction was 80% for Saturday and it turned out sunny and warm the whole weekend.  Thank you weather gods.  There were around 14 of us and having three boys that are like lit sticks of dynamite tearing through the house all weekend was an intimidating possibility.

Yeah, my great uncle is an incredible guide…..

The only one happier then him is me!

The big guy is my nephew that used to spend summers with us when he was a youngster.  The little guy is his nephew,  my great nephew.

Time for a little recovery and regrouping.

I didn’t have the camera handy but I passed out pocket knives Sunday before everyone went home and they all left with smiling faces.  The whole weekend is a lot of work but worth every minute.  Nothing I hate worse then seeing these kids grow up.

And a caveat to all who don’t spend much time in a boat around ropes.  Do NOT put your foot on a pile of rope when on board.  Even letting the rope out dragging an empty tube can result in a broken ankle bone.

Major Rope Burn and broken ankle bone

A couple weeks ago I got a message from our old friend Dave down in Arizona that Spyderco was discontinuing their Mule Team Project.  What a disappointment.  I quickly jumped onto the Spyderco site and picked up one more blade in the PMA 11 steel.  I’ve got the Maxamet, CPM 4V and one or two others.

Spyderco Mule Team CPM 4V With a Dave Taylor Custom Sheath

From Spyderco’s website:  “By definition, a “mule” is a sample knife used for in-house performance testing. “  Dave tipped me off about the program a few years ago and I really appreciate the heads up.  The blades Spyderco offered were a huge factor influencing my love affair with the ‘high tech’ steels.  I slid away from 1095 and 440C and have never looked back.

Whether discontinuing the program was financially motivated, fewer steels to experiment with or just a lack of customer participation, it’s sad to see it end.  Spyderco deserves a ton of credit for making some fantastic steels available for steel geeks like Dave and I to sample at a really reasonable cost.

I had an invoice come through from GEC for the Bone Northfields so I anticipate seeing them arrive around the first of the week.  As soon as I have them in hand, invoices will go out to all of you that place an early order.  I ask for payment within 3 days or risk losing your deposit.  The second warning is next weekend I head out on my annual field testing trip and I want to ship your reserved knives ASAP.  Yahoo!!!!

This annual trip is the high point (one of many) every summer for me.  I have a number of new items I carry in the store that need field testing and this is the opportunity to do it!  One item in particular is the Hess Bird & Trout.  While it’s not a ‘new’ item per se, I’ve carried them for years but have never taken the time to put one to the test in the field.

Hess Bird & Trout

And there’s the Fenix U35 V2.0 and the “Baddest Bee” fire fuses.  I’ve used both items but never in real field conditions.

Fenix UC35 V2.0 and Baddest Bee Fire Fuse

So for now, back to trying to get more of the new knives listed I picked up.  It’s been a slow process with everything that’s going on but I’ll try to stay it!

 

Knife Collection Acquisitions

I’m really happy to have completed a couple of knife collection acquisitions over the last few weeks.  Here are a few pix.

Case Cheetahs
Miscellaneous GEC’s
Case, Queen, Schatt & Morgan Knives

Miscellaneous…miscellaneous.

And there are some really nice pieces among them.  Here’s a good example.

Case EX344 SS Lion Paw 5/29/14

Between the two collections there are roughly 300 pieces so it’s going to take a while to get through them all.  From what I’ve seen so far, all are as new in their original boxes.

There are around 80-100 Queen / Schatt & Morgans as well.  Some of them are earlier knives such as the Premier Series.

And a few harder to find pieces like this medium Scout Knife.

The Great Easterns include some choice pieces like the Genuine Stag Serialized Toothpick.  They only made 32 pieces in Genuine Stag and you sure don’t see many of them come up for sale.

GEC 281211J Genuine Stag

Great group of knives!!