Saturday, May 28, 2016

Gear Review: Cold Steel Spartan Folding Knife. UPDATE 5/28/16

There comes a time in every man's life when he must retire a knife. It's like losing an old friend that's been around forever. Earlier this year my Beretta AirLight Tanto gave up the ghost and lost the screws for the pocket clip. I've had this knife for 10+ years and loved everything about it. It's lightweight, ultra thin and holds a nice edge. The screws are the weak point. The ones that hold the clip in place stripped out from the frame. So, that brings me to my next adventure. Finding the right knife for me.

I'd been trolling several web sights looking for something similar to the Beretta but never really found the right one. I finally just gave up and decided to get something different in the less than $100 market. The choices were endless. While looking at many blades, I noticed that the Tanto style I was used to wasn't going to be good for skinning or hunting use. My next blade should be useable for such since my boys are getting to the age where I will be taking them in the field soon enough. A nice curved folder would suit me just fine. What size should I get? Well, bigger is better, right?

Sales video from the Cold Steel website.

Cold Steel Spartan Folder. Glock 17 and mags for size reference and cool factor.

My first impression is that this thing is HUGE. The blade itself is is 4.5 inches long with a total length of 10.5 inches. The weight is 9.2 ounces so it's a hefty knife. Definitely one you will be hard pressed to forget it's in your pocket. The grip has a good texture with internal steel liners and a positive locking mechanism that is about as robust as they come. There are videos on the web site showing the locking mechanism holding a 300 pound load. A very well built knife for the price!

I started carrying the knife around six months ago and noticed it's bulk right away. The length is so long that it tends to rub the keys at the bottom of my pocket. This gets annoying at times when seated for long periods. The blade itself came very sharp and held it's edge well for quite a while. The locking mechanism needs to be operated a few times and lubricated a little before it's perfect. The clip is very sturdy as well but it's losing it's black coating on the leading edges. The finish on the knife is a bead blasted stainless look with the lettering near the handle. The Aus 8 steel isn't a very robust stainless. Mine is getting bits of rust or corrosion on it in several places.  It seems to be only on the side that rests against my leg so it must be a moisture/salt issue. Makes me wonder how well it will stand up to opening bags of ice melt this winter.

Corrosion on the blade. The lines are from sharpening a pencil Friday afternoon.

Overall, it's a very nice knife. The blade itself is easily sharpened and fairly tough, but not nearly as hard or resilient as many others I've had. I nicked the blade when I was cutting zip ties off a fence. I was disheartened when it happened but I wasn't being very careful. The blade was easy enough to bring back into shape that it wasn't a big loss. My only other annoyance is the fact that you really need to put your fingers inside the hilt where the blade goes to operate the safety lock. I cut myself once trying to snap it closed due to the design. I'm not a fan of leaking, so that one was pretty big.

I like the knife for what it is and it's really nice to take bushwhacking because it doubles as a machete in the dense brush. A swift whack with the blade is all it takes to cut back brambles and vines. The handle is shaped to hold your hand in place and not lose the knife or allow the edges of your fingers to be exposed while chopping. Great feature for a knife of this heft and type. Another great feature is the pocket grabbing plate at the top of the blade. It catches the edge of your pants pocket and opens the blade for you if you draw it properly. My only issue with that feature is that the thumb piece seems to be a little loose fitting. You can move it slightly but the screw seems to be tight.

My thoughts are that I'm going to keep the knife and use it for weekends in the woods or certain special times when a small machete is needed. I'm going to continue my search for another knife of the size and caliber of the Beretta I previously owned. 

Update: This winter I broke the flat tang that is used as a pocket catch for fast opening the knife. I was batoning wood during a camping trip and noticed it was missing after I finished. It had been loose for a bit. I kept meaning to return it for repair, but life gets in the way. Fast forward to last week and I brought it with me to the NRA convention to check with the Cold Steel reps there. I asked if they had a good warranty and told them of the issue. He grabbed it from me and took it in back, then handed me a box. He also informed me that the new updated model is a better steel. So far that seems to be the case. I'll let you know how it holds up. AWESOME WARRANTY! 

Normalcy Bias & Distractions, General Rambling

I'm as guilty as you are of allowing distractions to steer my goals and to delay my investments. The current weather and summer planning has pretty much dominated my existence for several weeks. The times it's rained we spent working on the house and the times when the weather was good was spent cleaning up outside the house. I know these are important things when you consider organizational strategy and remaining as grey as possible in your neighborhood.

One thing that was very surprising was that several of my neighbors have come to me asking for gun advice. I've done some repairs on their guns in the past, and have helped them with decisions on new purchases. Not very grey of me. I guess it's more important to me to have those people be prepared than it is to keep them in the dark. Then, just a few weeks ago, a news truck pulls in my driveway. A local reporter was given my name as the neighborhood watch captain. I'm not, but even people that don't even know my name, and live a block away know of me. They gave the gal a description of my truck and where I live to locate me. I ended up doing an interview and inviting her to a training class.

I've evidently been very remiss in my dealings with neighbors. I've allowed them a glimpse into my security abilities, and I've trained a few of them through the security consulting company I work for part time. I'm now seen as a leader (target) for armed incursions should there be any in a WROL situation; This was not my intention.

It's normal to want to keep your neighbors safe. It's in your best interest. They have no idea of my food stores or plans, but they do know I have the ability to defend myself. If that a good or bad thing is a 50/50 split. Good as a deterrent, bad because it makes me a target for thieves. We've had a recent dirtbag influx when a couple of the elderly people in my neighborhood passed away and the family took over the property. 4am fireworks, trash blowing around, their guests tossing food wrappers and drinks out of their cars, code violations, poor lawncare, etc. Nothing serious, yet, but still annoying. The new occupants have been hauled off to jail a couple times for minor court violations, but not for felonies. I've contacted my people on the local PD to have them investigate them, but I haven't taken a stand, yet.

This brings me to the point. I'm guilty of letting myself be lulled into normalcy bias by my domesticated home life and my comfy surroundings. My wife travels a bunch for work so I'm always dealing with my boys and keeping things together on the home front. It's a necessary distraction from the big picture and it's eating my days away.

I've upped my physical training regimen and got back into shooting more than just the carbine and glock, but the long range guns do eat up the pocketbook pretty fast when you consider you're buying 200+ grain bullets and using 4x the powder charge of a 223 round. Adds up quickly.

I do get to practice my fieldcraft quite a bit more with the shopping trips and errands I must run. That's the up side. My 14yo son is also starting to get some of the training I've wanted him to get involved in. He's grown 6 inches this year and is now taller than me, so it's time for him to get involved in his own self defense. He seems to be catching on. I rarely see him holding his phone while walking or in a public area.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

2016 Nominations and The Political Landscape.

I've been inundated with calls and messages about my thoughts on the current political landscape. It's difficult to fully explain the deceit and moral deficiency within our hallowed halls of leadership, but to quantify government in it's simplest term, it's a Dumpster Fire. The only thing worse than smelling a dumpster is to set in on fire and turn the putrid refuse into smoke.

Our government is a morally bankrupt institution of greed and moral decay that is based on graft and theft. Even if the best among us were to be put in charge of enforcing the laws and treaties of the US, it would still be a smoldering dumpster fire. It's just too far gone.

Choosing which leader rolls the dumpster over the cliff is just a question of how fast it will get to the edge, not if it will go over the edge. That's already been determined, there is zero chance that our country will survive as the debt overcomes our means to pay it.