Friday, December 30, 2011
NOTE: Click on the any of the photos for a larger view.
I bought my Reactor Trident 59506 (Hereafter referred to the Trident) around a month and a half ago and have worn it exclusively since, on and off duty. I have not found many reviews for this watch on the net so I’ll try to touch on a few points here. Keep in mind when reading this review; I'm a watch user, not a collector.
I found the Trident while doing a search for a watch that uses Tritium tubes as its lume. Reactor watches had also caught my attention a while back while perusing watches on watchuseek. They have some very good looking watches and I almost purchased one several months ago but held off due to the asking price (then at around $400+). The Trident 59506 comes with either a stainless band or a rubber band (59806). This review is for the model with the stainless band with the black nitride coating.
LOOKS / APPEARANCE
This model of the Trident has a solid black stainless steel case and band and a dial face with what Reactor calls a Khaki color (looks more dull yellow to me). The dark case, band and watch dial look VERY good in my book. My wife’s first reaction when she saw it was, “It’s a little smaller than what you usually wear, but it looks good”. The face while busy, looks very good in my opinion. The feel of this watch is VERY solid. Even the back of the watch has a unique look to it.
I would say even the mall ninja's and tactical computer warriors would be happy with the looks of this one.
The Bezel turns nice and turns smoothly counter clockwise for 120 clicks. The "clicks" as it turns are just the right tension; not too tight not too loose. The scallops, teeth or grooves, are a little small in comparison to my other dive style watches. I use the bezel to time my runs and workout times. Simply turn the marked arrow with the dot of lume on the bezel to align with the minute hand and go...simple. The main arrow on the bezel lines up pretty good with the numbers.
The dial window is made of a mineral glass that is common on many mid to lower end watches. I’ve had mineral glass on other watches and have found it to perform very well. I’ve accidentally banged this one a few times into objects and thus far, it shows no damage.
The case on the Trident is very tough black nitride Coated stainless steel and made to take some abuse. The screw out crown is placed at the three o’clock position. While I’ve found some dive watch crowns uncomfortable at that position, the Trident pulls it off nicely. The crown is stamped with the Reactor logo and isn’t rough enough to be uncomfortable against the back of the hand. The crown is protected by protruding stainless steel guards from the case. The Bezel sits on top of the case unprotected by any guards. It is sufficiently small enough however that I don’t see the lack of protection being much of an issue. That small size however also isn’t as grippy as say the Seiko Monsters or a GSAR. The teeth on the bezel are actually somewhat dull but are easy enough to grip and it turns nicely. The subdued numbers on the bezel, while they fit the “mall-ninja” bill, are difficult to see in all but the best light.
The dial is laid out nicely with large florescent Arabic numerals and Tritium tubes placed at the 12, 3, 6 and 9 positions. The arrow shaped hands are also large and the tips are coated with florescent paint. The hands are also inlaid with tritium tubes. The day and date are the biggest complaint on this watch. The day and date are so small that I often have trouble reading them in all but the best lighting. A Cyclops would be very helpful on this watch.
Reactor came up with a brilliant idea on their watches and calls it “NeverDark” represented on the dial face with a big ND. Many of my friends however who have seen this watch have asked, “What’s the NO mean on the face?” It really does look like a, “No”. If you like florescent paint as your lume, you’ll like this watch. It’s as bright as the brightest that I’ve owned (Seiko's Orange Monster ). Reactor calls the florescent paint concoction, Superluminova. I don't know how much different it is than the paint used by other manufacturers but it works well; it's BRIGHT. If you like Tritium as your lume, you’re also in luck. Reactor placed Tritium tubes at the 12, 3, 6 and 9 positions as well as on the hands. Tritium glows continuously for up to 20 years. The lume from Tritium isn’t as bright as fully charged florescent paint but is easily bright enough to read your watch all night for many years to come. I really like the idea Reactor came up with here. Well done!
The band on the Reactor Trident is very well done. I have had no pinched hairs issues, it’s solid and very flexible. The clasp has three micro adjustments on it and the fold over is branded with the reactor logo. The band on this watch is very well done, I’d rate it a 9/10.
This watch is powered by a “10 year lithium” battery which means it will last a long time. Ten years? I doubt it but even at eight, I’d be happy with it.
Movement on the Trident is a no frills Japanese Quartz movement. Nothing fancy just plain-Jane accurate movement. It’s proven much more accurate than any of my auto’s. It’s at least on par with my G-Shocks. While Quartz isn’t fancy, it’s accurate and can with stand some punishment. One other thing that I wish this watch had (and should for the price in my opinion) is a perpetual calendar. It’s another watch with the 31 day month thing that you have to unscrew the crown and change every month that doesn’t have 31 days. Given, it’s a minor complaint but I’m a set-it and forget-it kind of watch user.
The Trident is advertised as a dive watch and is supposedly waterproof down to 200 meters. For my purposes, that’s well within my occasional snorkeling depths.
ON THE WRIST
Amongst the dive watches that I’ve owned, the Trident runs a bit small. The case measures 40mm wide. While this is by no means a small watch, amongst today’s mega sized divers, it’s on the small side. I could have stood a couple of extra mm’s but that’s just personal preference. Being solid Stainless Steel, this watch also has some heft. This heft to me speaks to its robustness. This watch feels SOLID. I like it.
Price averages about $350 for the model with the rubber strap to about $400 to $450 with the full stainless band. The question of whether or not it’s worth this amount is difficult to answer. If you base price upon the sum of its parts, then I would say you could find several similar Quartz watches with similar parts for much cheaper. If you base your criteria on the sum of it’s parts, construction, looks and “cool factor”, I’d say I’d pay in the upper $200 range for one of these. At $350 to $400, I’d say it’s a bit of a stretch. Still, this does not detract from the quality of the watch; it’s a good one.
The Reactor Trident seems to be a very solid watch. It’s one of the first things that hit me when I removed it from the case. It has proven to be a very accurate watch. The NeverDark idea by Reactor works very well in my book. I’ve actually used this in the field in total darkness in what some would call Tactical situations and I’m very satisfied. I’ve run through firearms qualifications with this watch on my wrist shooting over 200 rounds of 180 grain .40 through a H&K P2000, about 100 rounds of 12 Ga. Slug and 00 buck and the entire full auto M16 qual course. The reactor never missed a beat. My dings on this watch are the very small day/date, no bezel guard, the 31 day calendar and the nitride seems to be wearing pretty fast on the stainless case and band. The price seems a bit high for me as well for the parts you get. All this being said, I like the watch and will be keeping it.
Sunday, December 25, 2011
NOTE: Click on any of the photos to see an enlarged view.
I purchased a Orient CEM65002DW AKA the "Blue Mako " about three years ago.This review is a little different in that about three weeks after I purchased this watch, my dad came over to visit and made several comments on how much he liked the watch. Being that I had several watches and Orient was selling these for such a good price at the time, I gave it to my dad with the caveat that he would report back his likes and dislikes. Still I had the watch for about three weeks and put it through it's paces a bit to see what I liked and disliked. The rest of the review will be somewhat shallow and second hand info from my dad. He's 70 years old and is used to his Rolex. Which one does he wear more? read on to find out ;)
As far as dive watches go the Blue Mako is a bit "dressier" than some of the other divers I've owned such as the Seiko Orange Monster, Reactor Trident, and GSAR. I think this watch just looks a bit classier but less robust. The blue on this watch is outstanding and should be seen in person to be appreciated. The case diameter is a healthy 41mm so it's not a small watch nor does it scream, "look at me".
The bezel on this watch is not as aggressive looking as the bezels on many other dive watches. To me it looks cheaper but it could also be described as more of a dress watch. The bezel is unidirectional and only 60 clicks instead of 120 like on many other divers. I have to ding the Mako in this area because for me, the bezel a.) was somewhat difficult to turn and b.) didn't line up exactly at 12, 3, 6 and 9. I found myself having to use my fingernails to turn the bezel most of the time. I think Orient could remedy this my making the teeth larger or bezel taller. It just didn't feel as good quality as it should have been.
The dial window on the Blue Mako is made of mineral glass, a standard (but good) material in lower to mid priced watches. My dad has worn this watch daily for almost three years. Even at 70+, he works hard and is a little rough on watches. Even with the treatment he put this watch through, it still looks good.
The Case on the Blue Mako is very tough polished stainless steel and made to take some abuse. The crown is placed at the standard three O'clock position and is protected by steel on either side protruding from the main case. The bezel sits unprotected by any portion of the case unlike that of the Seiko Orange Monster which is protected by case guards at the top and bottom of the bezel.
CROWN / PUSHER
The crown as stated above is positioned at the 3 o'clock position and is protected by the case on either side by protruding guards. The crown itself is stamped with the Orient logo and looks nice. Unscrewing the crown and pulling out one click will allow you to change the date. A second pull/click outward will allow you to change the time. The pusher (above the crown) at the 2 o'clock position is also a screw out type. Screwing it out and depressing it will allow you to change the day and does so smoothly. I liked this aspect of the watch.
The lume on the Blue Mako is a standard florescent paint like that used by many other manufacturers. While the lume is bright enough to be usable after a day long charge (or a high intensity charge with a flashlight), I found that it's brightness was average at best and did not last as long as some other lumes that I've used.
MOVEMENT & POWER SYSYTEM
The one thing that sets Orient apart from many watch brands is that their movement is "in-house"; that is, they make their own. While I did not have adequate time to judge the Orient Caliber 46943's accuracy, reports from my dad are actually somewhat glowing. He swears by this watch's accuracy and durability. Like I said previously, he has worn a Rolex for the past 10 years and switches between that and an Omega. According to him, the Mako holds its own..Impressive.
The Blue Mako is powered (like many divers) by the movement of your arm. My dad says it holds a charge for about 2 to 3 days when fully wound; about average for an auto diver.
The bracelet on the Blue Mako felt a bit cheap to be quite honest. While the watch itself, felt solid and well made, the stainless bracelet felt sub-par. The clasp did have the orient logo stamped on it and it looked nice but it just felt flimsy. Conversely, when I asked my dad what he thought, he just smiled and said, "you're too picky, it's fine."
The price on the Blue Mako was VERY good for a watch with in-house movement and of this quality. I picked up mine for $132; VERY reasonable for a watch that looked this good and was this accurate. For anything under $150, I think you're getting a good deal. Anything over, I'd look towards Seiko, Citizen or even Invicta.
I think that the Blue Mako is amongst the most popular watches from the Orient watch Company; at least it's one of the most discussed on the various watch forums. In the looks department, it's a very classy looking diver and the blue color just stands out (you really have to see it in person to appreciate it). It doesn't look as robust as some of the other divers but I guess it depends on what style you're looking for. Accuracy according to my dad has been very good but in reading others reviews is about average for a low end auto movement, probably on par with Seiko's 7S26. My major dings for this watch are the bezel, the bracelet and the lume. While they are not terrible by any stretch, I think Orient could really improve them. For the price you can pick one of these up for however, I think it's a fine watch and would recommend it to my friends looking for something in that price range. My dad? Well he's been wearing it for close to three years now and hardly ever takes it off.
Sunday, December 4, 2011
NOTE: Click on the any of the photos for a larger view.
I bought my SKX781K3 (Hereafter referred to the Seiko Orange Monster) around two years ago and wore it frequently since then on and off duty. Since there are already hundreds of reviews on the net that pretty much touch on every aspect of this watch, I'll just give my thoughts on the basics and aspects I like and dislike about this watch. Keep in mind when reading this review, I'm a watch user, not a collector. A collector's view would be MUCH different.
The Orange Monster and it's brother the Black Monster (SKX779) are arguably Seiko's most popular dive watches amongst watch collectors, enthusiasts, horologists, et. al. These are the models with the rubber bands; of course they come with nice stainless steel bracelets too in the SKX781 and SKX779K models.
LOOKS / APPEARANCE
The first thing that stands out about the Orange Monster is that it's much different than other watches; in a good way. For those who like dive watches, the Orange Monster is a "looker". The orange color, large size and just plain good looks garner comments from even the non-watch crowd. The stainless steel case without the crown is a substantial 41.5mm across and almost 13mm thick. The crown is offset at the 4 O'clock position which minimize rubbing against the back of the hand when your hand is bent backwards. The Scalloped Bezel stands out amongst other divers and looks very nice. The crystal dial window called hardlex by Seiko is slightly convex and slightly magnifies the details of the watch face. In short, it's a beautiful watch and I can't count the number of compliments I've received on it.
The Bezel turns nice and smoothly counter clockwise for 120 clicks. The "clicks" as it turns are just the right tension; not too tight not too loose. The scallops or grooves, are perfect for gripping it. I use the bezel to time my runs and workout times. Simply turn the marked arrow on the bezel to align with the minute hand and go...simple. If you're looking for a bezel that lines up perfectly with the corresponding numbers on the dial face, you may want to look elsewhere. This doesn't bother me.
One thing that was pointed out to me to a "watchuseek" user (tirod) was that the scallops on the bezel are polished or buffed to give the shiny look while the rest of the bezel and watch are left to the standard stainless steel look. Good eye tirod. :)
One thing that was pointed out to me to a "watchuseek" user (tirod) was that the scallops on the bezel are polished or buffed to give the shiny look while the rest of the bezel and watch are left to the standard stainless steel look. Good eye tirod. :)
The dial window is made of a hardened crystal that Seiko calls Hardlex. In short, IT"S TOUGH. I've banged my Orange Monster into many things from fence posts, to barbed wire to brick walls and it barely shows any signs of wear. I'm impressed.
The Case on the Orange Monster is very tough polished stainless steel and made to take some abuse. As stated before the crown is placed at the four O'clock position and is protected by steel on either side protruding from the main case. The Bezel sits inside of a protective Bezel Guard at the top and bottom which is also part of the main case. Seiko leaves the sides unprotected so you can grip the bezel to turn it. Seiko put some thought into this case and it works perfectly.
The dial is laid out nicely with large lumibright markers where the numbers usually sit. The arrow shaped hands are also large and coated with lumibright. The day and date are pleasantly large enough to actually read (a complaint I have with many other watches). The dial on the Orange Monster is one of my favorite things about it.
Seiko calls their lume coating used on their dials Lumibright. Lumibright is Seiko's own concoction of florescent paint used on watch dials and hands. It absorbs light when available and glows for a short while in the dark. Of the watches that I currently own that use florescent paint for lume, the Orange Monster ties for the brightest with my Reactor Trident watch. After a day in the sun, the Seiko stays illuminated brightly for about 20-30 minutes, then less so then on for about and hour. At the three hour mark, the very slight glow is barely enough to read the time in the dark. To be fair, the lume on most florescent painted watches do not last this long and Seiko has them beat in this respect and in it's initial brightness. The only lume that lasts longer is electroluminescent options or tritium tubes. As you can see below, the Seiko lume is BRIGHT.
The Orange Monster like many Seiko's is an automatic watch. This means that it does not require a battery and is powered by your natural movement when mounted on your wrist (or while sitting on a winder). Seiko calls their automatic movement the Magic Lever Winding System which consists of only four moving parts. The simplicity of the system aids in it's robustness which is one issue many automatics usually fall short on. The power reserve on mine was usually good when fully charged for about 2+ days. If it runs down, just pick it up, give it a minute or so of gentle shakes, adjust your time and your set.
Movement inside the Orange Monster is provided by Seiko's in-house 7S26 21-Jewel mechanism. It's nothing fancy but it works as it should. The 7S26 has it's good points and it's bad; first the good. Seiko's 7S26 movement is a very common movement used in many of their watches and also used in many other brands sold to them by Seiko. This being the case, if you ever have to have your watch serviced, most horologists know how to clean and repair them. The other good point, is that due to their simplicity, they are a little tougher than other more complex movements.
The bad points unfortunately for me are that (on my two tries/copies) it wasn't as accurate as I would have liked which lead to other problems I didn't like. My first attempt gained over a minute a day! My second try showed a gain of about 40 seconds a day. Then I read various sources that claimed that this movement got better after prolonged use and it will eventually "settle". On my Orange Monster, it did finally settle to the accuracy of 1 to 1.5 minute gain a week. While it doesn't seem like much, over several weeks, it adds up to an inaccurate watch that I constantly found myself adjusting. This lead to another issue I have with the Orange Monster. The weakest part of this (and other analog watches) is the crown, hence why they are all protected in some form or another by some type of guard. Every time you need to adjust the time on the Orange Monster, you must unscrew the crown, pull it out two clicks, adjust the time, push it back in and hold it in while your screw it down. The date function on this watch must also be adjusted frequently because it counts from 1 to 31 every month and as you know, every month doesn't have 31 days. Again, this leads to having to access the crown, pull it out one click and adjust the month. While having to constantly adjust the time and month may seem trivial, I'm 6'1" 230 and have gorilla hands that do not work well with delicate instruments and the crown is by all accounts a delicate instrument.
The Orange Monster is first and foremost a divers watch and is reportedly waterproof down to 660 feet. While I've attempted a 660 foot dive to test this, for some reason, I've never gotten past 9 feet deep. I usually run out of breath and my ears start popping, so I'll have to accept what others say is true. I have however, snorkeled with this watch extensively in local rivers and lakes and had zero issues.
ON THE WRIST
As I said before, when wearing this watch, I get compliments all the time. It is an eye catcher for sure. At almost 42mm wide, it's not a small watch but I do own larger ones. For a 6 foot plus tall man, I think it's the perfect size. It even looks good on a smaller wrist in my opinion. The positioning of the crown at the 4 O'clock position works well for comfort. This watch wears well in a dressy environment or in shorts riding your mountain bike. I've worn it many times at work where I sometimes walk for miles through the south Texas brush climbing fences, banging it against trees and fence posts, subjecting it to sweat and the elements. For an automatic, it has held up well and never showed any signs of stress.
Price, if you can find one, is very reasonable for a watch of this quality. The problem was that initially these watches weren't available in the US. The internet has somewhat alleviated these problems and if you can find one on the web, the Orange Monster with the rubber strap can be had for $150-$170 and the model with the bracelet can be found for anywhere from $180-$200. You can also find them occasionally on the watch nerd forums in the classifieds. Again, for the price, this is a nice watch.
The Seiko Orange Monster (and the Black Monster) have become one of Seiko's all time best selling dive watches and for good reason. The movement while not as accurate as some higher priced watches is durable and can reportedly run without adjustment for 15+ years. It is still however an automatic and cannot take the beating of a quartz or come close to what a G-Shock can take. Still, under normal circumstances, the 7S26 movement should provide years of reliable service. The looks of the Orange and Black Monster are a thing of beauty; from the distinctive bezel to the lume to it's large size. If you buy this watch, you will get questions and compliments. For me however, being a "set it and forget it" type user (not a collector), I ended up selling it. If Seiko ever upgrades the movement to a Seiko 6R15 and gets a perpetual calendar, this may be the perfect watch for me.
Ironically, after writing this review, I think I may go buy another one with the stainless steel bracelet. It is a very nice watch :)
Thursday, September 29, 2011
Click on any photo to view the large version
Pens are an every day item in many professions and law enforcement is no exception. I have used just about every type of pen imaginable over the past 20 years. I have broke many of them, ruined many a pocket with leaking ink and pretty much considered them a disposable item. Recently however, I became interested in quality writing instruments and being in the profession that I am, I thought one with a self defense twist to it might not be a bad idea. At first I purchased two different pens; a Smith and Wesson M&P Tactical Pen and a (Tom Anderson Style but Chinese made) Elite Tactical Pen with a Glass Breaker. Well, I couldn't get rid of the Elite Tactical pen fast enough and the while the S&W is a very nice pen for the price, it was a bit big for my tastes. Then I found out that my favorite knife maker; Rick Hinderer made pens as well. I figured if his pens where half as good as his knives, they would be a winner. He sells two sizes; a smaller "Investigator pen" and a larger "Extreme Duty Pen". Being that my only complaint with the S&W was it's size, I decided to go with Hinderer's smaller Investigator pen.
Well, I can happily report that just like my Hinderer XM-18 knife, the investigator pen's fit and finish was first class. No rattles, nice, precisely cut threads and a good green color. While he sells an Investigator pen made of more expensive Titanium, I went with the aluminum model due to my tenancy to loose pens. The aluminum, is Aircraft Grade 6061-T6 Aluminum with a Mil Spec Type 3 Hard Coat Anodize. Roughly translated, this means it's much stronger than your average aluminum, much like the popular Mag lights and stinger flashlights. The groves cut into the body of the pen aid in grip retention. I have to admit, I would have liked the longitudinal groves the whole length of the pen. I've seen several people that put rubber rings between the circular grooves for comfort and I may eventually do the same.
The ink cartridge that comes in the Investigator Pen is a full sized Fisher Space Pen. It fits snugly into the pen with no springs or other parts to fail. People either love or hate fisher pen cartridges. They write in just about any environment and even upside down. They do this by creating pressure within the cartridge "pushing the ink" towards the tip. Unfortunately, this often causes what some people dislike about fisher cartridges; a slight ink blob. Some people find that when using fisher cartridges after long periods of non-use, the first contact with the paper is sometimes is marred with a little extra ink. I do not find this a big issue as (for me at least) it hasn't happened except on a couple of occasions. The pros for me outweigh the cons, mainly because it always works when I need it to. You can also buy these cartridges in a fine tip. I've read that the fine tip hardly ever has this issue.
When I saw the photos of the Investigator pens tactical end, I thought it wouldn't provide much deterrence as it didn't look as "aggressive" as the other aforementioned pens. In person however, the bullet tip is well executed and would suit it's purpose very well. It threads into the end of the pen making it modular (interchangeable). It also holds the ink cartridge in place. Hinderer plans on offering different tips in the near future.
POCKET CLIP AND CAP
The pocket clip on the Investigator pen is just about perfect in my book. The main thing I hated about the Elite Tactical pen was that the pocket clip was immovable and just about worthless. The clip on the S&W is just a bit too flexible but not bad. The Hinderer Investigator pen's clip is strong, flexible, not too long, not too short and is as close to perfect as one could expect on a pen. It is threaded into the cap with (what appears to me) a smaller version of the lock bar stabilizer used on his knives; it's not going anywhere. The cap threads on to either end of the pen with three threads. So you don't have to spend forever un-threading your cap but there is enough threads that it won't come undone and lose the cap. To me, this is just another example that Rick actually uses his products and perfects them before selling them to the public.
Like I said before, the S&W tactical pen is just a tad big for my tastes and I'm 6'1", 230. The Elite Tactical was even bigger and clunky. The Investigator Pen is much smaller than either one. The size in a defensive grip allows just enough room for the defensive tip to extend beyond my fist and my thumb over the other end. For writing, it's just about perfect. For defensive purposes, I may have preferred an inch +/- longer, but that might have made it more awkward to write with, who knows?
Price for this aluminum version is around $60.00 on various websites or off of the Hinderer website. It's about twice that of the Smith and Wesson but the Smith and Wesson is Chinese made and doesn't have near the Fit and Finish of the Hinderer. It's cheaper than the Benchmade Tac. Pen but again, the fit and finish of the Hinderer is a winner for me. The Hinderer pen is made right here in the United States by Rick Hinderer and the cool factor has to count for something :)
Like all Hinderer products that I have handled, this pen is overbuilt and the fit and finish is top notch. I love the threaded ends and the fact the cap can thread on to either side. I like the ink cartridge and the fact that I NEVER have to shake the pen to make it work. I like the longitudinal grooves in the body of the pen. I may like the circular grooves more when I put some comfort rings (O-rings) on them. For a last ditch defensive purpose, I think this pen would work. I know I wouldn't want to get thumped on the grape with it. It's small enough to fit comfortably in any pocket and fits snugly in a uniform pocket with the confidence that your $60 pen isn't going to fall out. Everyone that has seen it, wants one. I've had it now for over a month and I've really grown to like this pen and I'm constantly messing with it either sitting at the desk or while stationary in my patrol vehicle. If you like a smaller, comfortable tactical pen, I think you will find the Hinderer Investigator Pen a VERY nice choice. If you like a larger tactical pen, maybe the Hinderer Extreme Duty pen will fit the bill. I don't own one yet but when I get one, rest assured, I'll review it.
COLORS: The investigator pen comes in Green, Black or Blue. I chose green to match the uniform.
Hinderer also makes a Stainless Steel and a Brass Investigator Pen for the same price.
Thursday, September 22, 2011
|Spyderco Dragonfly 2 FRN|
Click on the photos to view a larger version.
The Spyderco Dragonfly has been around for a long time. You might call the dragonfly the little brother to the Delica and the Endura . As with many Spyderco knives, the Dragonfly2 is a result of Sal Glesser (owner of Spyderco) and Co. constantly listening to and considering feedback from their end users. They call their evolutionary process of refining knives their C.Q.I. (Constant Quality Improvement) process. Sal, his son and their staff are well known in the knife industry and among enthusiasts for their constant interaction via email exchanges and on the various forums around the net (including their very own at www.spyderco.com). One thing is very evident; they listen. The Dragonfly2 is the result of improvements suggested by end users.
The Dragonfly 2 uses FRN (Fiberglass Reinforced Nylon) as it's scales or handle. If' you've ever owned a spyderco, you know what these scales feel like. They are nice and grippy. The Blade is made from one of my favorite steels, VG-10. VG-10 was originally designed for the Japanese cutlery market but was picked up by Spyderco for use in several of their knives. VG-10 lies in the mid range for RC hardness at around 59 or 60. I have found in use that I can (personally) sharpen VG-10 to a sharper edge than any blade material that I own. I can routinely get my VG-10 blades to razor or shaving sharp. Even better, they hold that edge for a long time. Not too hard, not too soft and it's stainless. I really like VG-10 steel.
Spyderco chose to utilize screws to hold everything together rather than the pins they used to use. I think this just exudes more quality than the pins and it allows for repairs or cleaning.
As stated above, the VG-10 blade is one of my favorite steels. This knife blade is a miniscule 2.25 inches and the cutting edge due to the choil is a mere 1 7/8 inches. In use however, this little blade can accomplish 80% of my every day cutting tasks and does so very well. The blade is available in plain edge or serrated (AKA Spyderedge). Despite the small size of this blade, it is very capable.
The lock is a standard yet capable lockback style. Nothing fancy but it works and works well for a knife in this category as long as it's used for it's intended purposes. I wouldn't do any spine wacking experiments on it though :)
FIT AND FINISH
The fit and finish on my knife was very well done. All screws were tight, the clip was tight and the blade was reasonably centered. When open, there is VERY little side to side blade play and zero up and down.
As stated previously, this is a small knife. I ordered this knife online due to so many people recommending it. I was admittedly a little apprehensive about such a small knife and thought it's uses would be limited. Further, I never expected to be able to flick it open like my larger Spyderco's. I was pleasantly surprised when it arrived. While ergonomics are mostly a personal issue, I found this knife to work way better than expected in my hand. I'm a big guy (6'1") and have big hands but this little knife just works. I have found that the choil is very useful when performing small cutting tasks and find myself laying a index finger along the spine during many tasks. The ergonomics are very good in my book.
While I like most all of the clips that come on Spyderco's knives, I like some better than others. On the little Dragonfly2, Spyderco has utilized a tip up (right or left) recessed wire clip. I like this clip better than most because it doesn't have the tenancy to loosen and wiggle back and forth like some of the other clips. It clips very well into the pants (or like I carry it) into a shirt pocket. It is held in place by a single screw and it holds it in place well.
|The very nice wire pocket clip on the Dragonfly|
SIZE AND WEIGHT
This knife weighs in at a feathery 1.2 ounces. Clipped into the pocket, you can honestly easily forget that it is there. I actually had a kydex neck sheath made for mine and it works great as a neck knife and "running knife". It's closed length is only 3 5/16 inches. Below is a photo of the Dragonfly 2 next to it's bigger cousin the Endura 4.
|The Spyderco Dragonfly and it's bigger cousin, the Endura|
|For size comparison, the dragonfly and my G-Shock watch|
SMOOTHNESS OF OPENING
I was pleasantly surprised when I received the Dragonfly 2. It opens very smoothly AND I can flick it open just as fast as my other Spyderco's with a snap of the thumb.
If I have to nit pick anything on this knife I guess it would be that because it's small size, there are a few cutting tasks that it cannot handle well. It's not long enough to cut through large onions or tomatoes and would probably be the last knife I would reach for in a life or death situation (although it's better than nothing). Fortunately, it was not made for these purposes so this must be taken into consideration. It does VERY well, opening envelopes, peeling apples, opening boxes, cutting out splinters and scraping off cactus spines. In fact, I used it on today's date just for that purpose. I think it will handle 80% of cutting tasks that most folks may encounter.
Being a runner, I often run in bad or rural areas. It's always a good idea to carry a last ditch self defense tool with you when you run alone be it for animals or someone wishing to do you harm. Many folks in the country let their dogs run loose and a person running often triggers a dogs "Prey Drive"; or the dog(s) could just be a biter; I have been bit. While I often carry pepper spray for these dogs, sometimes spray fails to deploy due to expiration or faulty propellant or since most jogger sprays are small one can run out quick. In these cases, a knife makes a good backup. I have found that the Spyderco Dragonfly's weight makes it a perfect joggers knife. I carry it in one of two ways, either clipped to the outside of my shorts or in a custom made kydex neck sheath that I bought off of an ebay vendor. It has worked very well for jogs, hikes and bike rides. I think the FFG Delica would work well/better for the same purpose. The Dragonfly setup I use for Jogging, hiking and biking is below; it works well.
|My Dragonfly2 jogging rig / neck knife|
|Even real Dragonfly's give their approval :)|
As long as you consider this little knife within the scope of it's intended use, I don't think you can buy a better little "big" knife. I was a little skeptical reading all the rave reviews thinking I probably wouldn't like such a small knife. This knife however has won me over. I carry it every day in my shirt pocket on my LEO uniform. It is VERY sheeple friendly and can be easily sharpened to a razor edge. If you are looking for a small bladed knife but want something with a bit more heft and strength than a standard small Swiss army knife and made with very good Japanese VG-10 steel, then I would highly recommend looking at the Spyderco Dragonfly2.
Ergonomics: 8/10 (feels surprisingly good despite it's small size, snaps open like a bigger Spyderco)
Materials: 9/10 (For it's size, I love the materials. Good blade steel and FRN is perfect for a knife of this size)
Fit and Finish: 9/10 (Very good for a knife of this price range)
Camp Use: 6/10 (more suited as a gentleman's folder )
Hard/Military/Police Use: 3/10 (would have to be a last ditch tool)
EDC Use: 9/10 (a sheeple friendly but surprisingly useful blade)
Food Prep: 5/10 (a little small for this purpose but peels apples very well)
Skinning/Game Prep: 4/10 (too small for this purpose for all but very small game such as birds)
Zombie Usefulness: 3/10 (I guess you could put out their eye)
Saturday, September 17, 2011
NOTE: Click on the photos to see larger versions.
I was recently at a gun show and as most gun shows go, there were several knife vendors. While I'm admittedly not usually a big fan of Cold Steel's folding knives, the Cold Steel Recon 1 caught my eye at a vendors table. When I handled the knife and opened it up, I heard a "snap" like I've never heard before on a lock-back/Rocker lock knife (Cold Steel calls theirs the Tri Ad Lock). The smile I developed when I heard that snap immediately told my wife the wallet was coming out. To my chagrin however, the tanto point was the only one they had left. I've never been much of a fan of the tanto point but I had to try out this knife so it went home with me.
The scales of the Recon are made of a nice "grippy" laminated G-10. Inside the scales is a 6061 (hardened aluminum) heat treated spacer. The screws holding the scales together are nice torx head screws. Also visible are the pivot pins from the rocker lock and one the works in conjunction with their Tri Ad Lock. The blade is made of Aus 8A stainless steel. Aus 8A is in the same class of steels as 440c which is commonly found in mid to lower priced knives. RC hardness is usually around 57 to 58 depending on the treatment. From what I've read, Cold Steel treats their Aus 8A with freezing temps so I assume this puts its hardness at the harder end of the RC scale (58 or so). One good thing about Aus 8A and 440C is that it has good rust resistance. While it may not hold an edge as long as D2 or the carpenter steels, it is much easier to sharpen to a razor edge. One of my longest owned EDC knives is a Spyderco Native in Aus8 and I have had nothing but good things to say about it.
The blade is coated with a black teflon (commonly used as a lubricant) coat which in theory should make this knife cut through items smoother. The teflon coat may also aid in rust prevention but as I said earlier, AUS 8A should be fairly rust resistant. Lastly, the Recon comes with a removable/changeable thumb-stud. As you can see in the below photo, the thumb-stud is threaded and workable with a slot screwdriver.
The blade on this particular model is a 50/50 (plain/serrated) tanto point. Cold Steel also makes this model in a much nicer (in my opinion) clip point. Out of the box, this blade was hair splitting sharp. The serrations are particularly well done on this blade and I think for any sawing purpose, they would do very well:
I'm going to have to go along with the hype over this lock. I've owned allot of lock back / rocker lock knives over the years. My Spyderco Chinook 1 held the title for years for my strongest lock back knife. It snaps closed with an authority that leaves no doubt that it would hold under pressure. The Recon 1 snaps closed with the authority of a #15 steel trap. My first impression of their Tri Ad Lock literally made me say, "Wow!".
This is one serious lock! Unfortunately, you have to put a little more effort into disengaging the lock. While it's not bad, it definitely takes more effort to disengage than your standard lock back. In short, I like it! I think the you tube spine wackers will have their hands full with this one.
FIT AND FINISH
Fit and finish on the Recon 1 is very impressive. It opens smoothly, locks up as tight as a bank vault and has zero blade play. All screws were tight, it came out of the box very sharp and the contouring and scalloping on the G-10 is very nice. This knife feels good and solid in the hand. Well done Cold Steel!
In the hand, the Recon gives a sense of a hard use tool. You get the impression when holding this knife with it's super lock that it is indestructible. Cutting tasks with this knife were hindered somewhat with the Tanto blade. Again, if this one would have had a clip point, I think I would have rated the ergonomics a 9/10 for every day cutting tasks. With the Tanto point, I would rate it at 5/10. For stabbing to death angry car doors or slaughtering flesh eating zombies... a solid 10/10.
The pocket clip on the Recon 1 makes it sit a little higher in the pocket than I would have liked but that's a personal preference. It's also pretty tight against the G10 scales. While this holds it in the pocket nice and secure, it will also wreak havoc on pocket material over time. I think if the clip were bit longer, it would allow for a bit more flex so it would be easier to get in and out of the pocket without tearing up your pants over time.
SIZE AND WEIGHT
The size of the Recon 1 is pretty close to my Spyderco Endura 4 but is slightly heavier. The Recon 1's blade is a big 4 inches in length while the overall length is a substantial 9 3/8 inches. The Endura 4 however does not feel nearly as tough or solid as the Recon 1 by any stretch of the imagination. I don't think the weight of the Recon 1 (5.3 ounces) would be an issue for me for EDC. For reference, my ZT 0301 was too heavy to carry and I ended up selling it. At the time of this wirting, I only carried the Recon 1 for a week and it carried well.
SMOOTHNESS OF OPENING
While the Recon 1 opened very smoothly, I wouldn't call it buttery smooth. I'm a big fan of the spyderco holes in knives for one handed opening but I also have many knives with thumb studs that I like just as well. Thumb studs for me have to be done perfectly to be able to flick blades open as fast as I like. The first thing that goes through my head when playing with a new tactical knife is, "would I be able to snap this blade open easily in a life or death situation?" For this knife unfortunately, my answer was no. It's a big blade and while the position of the thumb stud works fine for one handed opening, it doesn't lend itself to snapping open with authority. For under handed wrist flicks, it works great.
One of the drawbacks of Tanto points in my opinion is they they limit the uses of the knife. This knife was clearly designed for hard military, police, or self defense use. This is one of those knives that if you ever HAD to end up in a knife fight, this one would only be bested by a fixed blade. If you can learn to snap this one open instinctively, it would fit it's intended purpose well.
This is one tough knife; I don't think that point can be argued. The Tri Ad Lock on this knife is probably the strongest lock back style knife I have ever used. The blade steel is very good in my opinion and in a clip point style blade, I would really like it. When open, this knife is SOLID with zero blade play and definitely gives the feeling that is was designed for hard use. For a knife this size, it feels very good in the hand. Unfortunately for me, the short, tight clip, the difficulty snapping it open quickly with the thumb stud and the tanto point are deal killers. If you like the Tanto point style blades in a big, solid, zombie slaughtering, car door killing knife, then you will love this knife.
A word of caution; every non-knife person that I opened this knife around pretty much gasped with, "Whoa!, that thing is evil looking" While I kinda laugh at reactions like these, one must be cognizant of his/her audience when deploying a knife like this. Sheeple will run in fear of this knife. Overall, I think Cold Steel has a winner with the Recon 1 . At a street price of $60 to $70, I think this is probably one of the toughest folders in it's price range. For me, this Tanto point version is going up for sale. I may try one with a clip point later.
Looks: 9/10 (Very tough looking knife)
Materials: 7/10 (nothing fancy but the materials are excellent for what this knife was designed for)
Fit and Finish: 8/10 (very good for a production knife)
Camp Use: 8/10 (Clip point would be better)
EDC Use: 7/10 (a little big and it stands out; sheeple will cower in the fetal position just looking at this knife)
Food Prep: 8/10 (a little big for delicate stuff but a great slicer, more suited for killing food)
Skinning/Game Prep: 6/10 (probably not enough belly for skinning, but good for killing food)
Warranty: 7/10 (Cold Steel seems to have a good reputation but not the top of the heap)
Zombie Usefulness: 9/10 (Zombie's won't have a chance if you can catch them after they see this beast)
Angry Car Doors/Hoods: 10/10 (The ultimate in car door slaughtering design)