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Monday, September 1, 2014

Review: Boker Magnum 'Lil Friend' Arrowhead [Tiny Fixed Blade Knife]

There's been a proliferation lately of these micro fixed blade knives. There's a few smaller knives in my collection that I am fond of, such as the Becker BK14. But this class of knife makes my BK14 look big. This class of knife makes everything look big. A couple people have questioned me about the usefulness of these tiny fixed blades. Think about it this way: you get the functionality of a small knife that's much more robust than a pocket knife. I could probably pound most of my tiny fixed blades into concrete if I wanted. With a pocket knife, the lock will fail with N pounds of force, and sometimes it's not safe to find out what N is!

So ... it's the right tool for the right job, and I picked up this little Boker Magnum from Amazon as part of a fairly large order that I'm finally getting around to reviewing.

Boker Magnum 'Lil Friend' Arrowhead Product Link
Boker Magnum 'Lil Friend' Arrowhead Product Link


Product Description

Price: About $17 Online

It looks like there is more than one "Boker Magnum" model. This review is for the "arrowhead" version. Some people look at knife reviews and completely miss the size of them due to the difficulty with seeing scale in the photos, so I'd like to point out that this knife is teeny tiny.

Weighing in at .9 ounces (with sheath) with a 1 3/8 inch blade, it's hard to get a feel for how small this thing is without holding it in your hand. Other than that, it's a basic fixed blade knife with an arrowhead blade geometry and a bare frame which begs for a paracord wrap.

Official Specs (From Amazon)


  • Blade length: 1 3/8".
  • Overall length: 3 3/8".
  • Weight: 0.6 oz.

From Left: Ka-Bar Becker BK14, Buck Smidgen, Boker Gnome, MTech MT-20-30, Boker Magnum Arrowhead
From Left: Ka-Bar Becker BK14, Buck Smidgen, Boker Gnome, MTech MT-20-30, Boker Magnum Arrowhead
Boker Magnum 'Lil Friend' Arrowhead With Chain Attached
It's probably way too small for a neck knife, but whatever floats your boat..
Boker Magnum 'Lil Friend' Arrowhead: Product View 1

Boker Magnum 'Lil Friend' Arrowhead: Product View 2

Boker Magnum 'Lil Friend' Arrowhead: Product View 3

Boker Magnum 'Lil Friend' Arrowhead: Product View 4

Boker Magnum 'Lil Friend' Arrowhead: Product View 5


Looks like the same stonewash finish as my MTech MT-20-30. I also noticed other similarities in their small knife product line, so I wonder if they are made in the same factory?

Initial Impressions


This is one I had high hopes for as a backup knife to live my disaster bag. The arrowhead point coupled with the light weight made it seem like it was made for my bag, so I was really excited to unbox this little knife. The excitement was short-lived. 

The Magnum is only my second Boker, and it doesn't bode well that this is the second Boker in a row to arrive with a loose-fitting sheath. This one is Kydex. You have to work really hard not to get Kydex right.

So from this point forward, for me it almost doesn't matter how good the knife is, because it's unsafe to carry without a tight-fitting sheath. In many years of collecting knives, I still haven't cut myself on one, and I don't intend to start.

Build Quality


The quality of the materials is actually pretty good. The steel is probably some variation of  8Cr13MoV which is a decent Chinese steel. I'm not a big fan of this type of steel for other types of tools, but it's pretty good for knives. The machining is decent, and top it off, the knife has a nice stonewash treatment on it.

The material of the sheath is regular Kydex and seems well done considering it doesn't fit the knife. If it wasn't for that, I would say the quality of the sheath rivals more expensive knives.


Blade


The knife itself is nice. The blade on this model is not just arrowhead-shaped, but arrowhead-sized as well. The hollow grind on mine is pretty good. It didn't come with much of an edge but that can easily be remedied with a coffee cup. The stonewashed finish on the blade is well done.

Boker Magnum 'Lil Friend' Arrowhead: Blade View 1

Boker Magnum 'Lil Friend' Arrowhead: Blade View 2


Boker Magnum 'Lil Friend' Arrowhead: Blade View 3

Boker Magnum 'Lil Friend' Arrowhead: Blade Tip Closeup
Looks like they went through the trouble of actually trying to put an edge on it!

Boker Magnum 'Lil Friend' Arrowhead: Blade Tip Closeup 2
The tip is decent for a cheap knife. You can also see the intricacies of the arrowhead grind


Handle


The handle on the Magnum is skelatonized to save on weight. There are no scales or wrap that comes with it. This thing definitely would do well with a paracord wrap. There is a lanyard hole with some jimping around it. You could also attach custom made scales easily.

Boker Magnum 'Lil Friend' Arrowhead: Handle Closeup 1Boker Magnum 'Lil Friend' Arrowhead: Handle Closeup 2

Boker Magnum 'Lil Friend' Arrowhead: Handle Closeup 3


Sheath


The sheath holds the knife securely if I put the knife in upside-down. But doing that dulls the already dull blade. It's made of Kydex and looks to be decent quality. The way it's formed, cut, the rivets: everything looks like a more expensive sheath ... except for the fact that the knife doesn't fit.

Boker Magnum 'Lil Friend' Arrowhead: Sheath View 1

Boker Magnum 'Lil Friend' Arrowhead: Sheath View 2

Usability


Since putting the knife snugly upside-down in the sheath dulls the blade, and since the blade came dull already, I didn't see much point in doing much testing testing with my review sample. But from the design I can see that this might make a decent EDC knife.

The tiny blade rules out certain camp tasks like food preparation, but there's lots of other tasks it would be well suited to for EDC, like opening packages and cutting cord and so forth. But I really think it could shine as an emergency backup since it's a lot of functionality in a small package. Not to mention that if you are Rambo, the arrowhead blade could be fashioned in to an actual arrowhead or tip of a makeshift spear. 

Holding the knife has a surprisingly good feel to it. The ergonomics are great for a knife this small.

Boker Magnum 'Lil Friend' Arrowhead: In Hand 1

Boker Magnum 'Lil Friend' Arrowhead: In Hand 2

Note: Since this is being marketed as a neck knife, and since most people think neck knives are for self defense, I'd like to point out that this would probably make a lousy neck knife you intend to use it in that capacity. One of the Amazon reviewers mentioned that it might be good for self defense against mice, so there is always that.

Conclusions


A dull knife in a sheath that is too loose to fit it. Out of the box, my review sample was worthless. I know Boker has a solid following and I respect that. But I have to go by experience, and so far I've been 0 for 2 with Boker.


Project Knife?


I still have hope for getting around to fixing this knife some day since the knife itself is first rate. It could easily be sharpened to a good edge. The sheath can be heated in a toaster oven or other means and re-formed. I just need to think of the quickest way to build that apparatus. Right now I'm thinking some foam, stiff cardboard and a wood clamp or two might do the trick.

Someday very soon I am going to start making my own Kydex sheaths, so if I can't re-form this one, I'll probably just make a new one. 


Gallery


Boker Magnum 'Lil Friend' Arrowhead: In Box 1

Boker Magnum 'Lil Friend' Arrowhead: In Box 2

Boker Magnum 'Lil Friend' Arrowhead: In Box 3

Boker Magnum 'Lil Friend' Arrowhead: Caliper Measurement 1

Boker Magnum 'Lil Friend' Arrowhead: Caliper Measurement 2

Boker Magnum 'Lil Friend' Arrowhead: Caliper Measurement 3

Boker Magnum 'Lil Friend' Arrowhead: On Scale
Boker Magnum 'Lil Friend' Arrowhead: Next To Ruler




Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Review: Revant Elite Lenses for Oakley GasCan Sunglasses

Several years of my youth were spent as a pool man in Southern California, where I developed an appreciation of high quality sunglasses. The cheap ones wouldn't last, and can even be worse than not wearing any eye protection. So I've been wearing Oakley and Ray-Ban for about as long as I can remember. That old ZZ Top song never told you what happened to your eyes from wearing Cheap Sunglasses for 8 hours a day in the sun.

Revant Optics Home PageMost people take great care of their expensive sunglasses, but I don't seem to have that ability. Look at a pair of sunglasses I've had a while, and you'll see lots of wear: scratched frames, scratched lenses. I have a pair of Oakley GasCans with the original lenses all scratched up. They used to be my favorite pair, but they were about to be put out to pasture.

...until I was contacted by Revant Optics, who offered to send me a pair of their replacement lenses for review and asked if I had a pair of Oakley that needed new lenses. I sure do! This company makes replacement lenses for higher end shades. They sent me a pair of their Elite HC3 "polarized stealth black" replacement lenses and this is what I will be reviewing.

The funny thing is that it never dawned on me how easy it was to replace lenses. If I had known this, then I wouldn't have all these pair of scratched sunglasses, some of which I've given away rather than throw away.

About Revant


Revant Optics is an optics company specializing in replacement lenses for good brands of sunglasses like Ray-Ban and Oakley. Their web site is well done, and prices seem fair for high quality lenses. They also appear to offer free shipping site-wide, which always gets my attention since I am an Amazon Prime addict.

Product Description


These are Elite HC3 polarized replacement lenses for Oakley GasCan sunglasses. My review sample came with a white Revent micro-fiber pouch and a cool looking sticker. While I know it's the shape of a diamond and I even get the "c3" reference, the sticker looks like it should be on the armbands of some futuristic storm troopers.

Revant Elite HC3 Replacement Lenses For Oakley GasCan

Official Specs (From Revant)


Revant has a helpful youtube video showing how to replace the lenses.

Key Features
T Taper Corrected

P Precision Polarized
IR Z87.1 Impact Resistant

UV 100% UV Protection
% 8% VLT

EXPERIENCE CONFIDENCE

100% SATISFACTION GUARANTEED
FREE DOMESTIC SHIPPING
1 YEAR WARRANTY
Stealth Black

  • 100% polarized Polarium® lenses reduce glare and enhance contrast
  • 100% UV protection
  • Revant Repel™ nano coating - repels water and dust
  • 8% light transmission - neutral view tint
  • Impact resistant (exceeds ANSI Z80.3 and EN 1836:2005 standards)
  • Revant microfiber transport bag included
  • Precision cut and guaranteed to fit

Revant Elite HC3 Replacement Lenses For Oakley GasCan: Product View 1


Revant Elite HC3 Replacement Lenses For Oakley GasCan: Product View 2

Revant Elite HC3 Replacement Lenses For Oakley GasCan: Product View 3


Initial Impressions


My new lenses arrived in a tiny box, which also contained a white pouch and a cool looking sticker. Everything looked legit, and I folded the lenses over each other while they were still in the plastic to see if there was some sign they were truly polarized. And yep, it makes a prismatic pattern that I would've captured in the photos if I wasn't in such a hurry to install them and put them on my face.

Revant Elite HC3 Replacement Lenses For Oakley GasCan: Included Sticker
Hail to the Emperor?

Revant Elite HC3 Replacement Lenses For Oakley GasCan: Unboxed 1

Revant Elite HC3 Replacement Lenses For Oakley GasCan: Unboxed 2

Revant Elite HC3 Replacement Lenses For Oakley GasCan: Unboxed 3

Polarized?


I'm not a physicist, but these sure look polarized to me. There's a lot of fakes out there. Before I mounted the new lenses on my GasGan frames, I took the two new lenses and overlaid them, rotating them to see the telltale prismatic patterns. Had I acted like a true professional and not some kid excited to get his new shades, I might have captured this effect with the camera. But it's definitely there, and I can sometimes see the prismatic effect in the right light holding them at a certain angle.

Polarized Lenses Factoid


Doing some routine research into polarized lenses for sunglasses, I ran into something that really surprised me. Polarized lenses make it harder / impossible to read small LCD screens like you would find on a phone or tablet in sunlight. My phone seemed to be mostly unreadable in sunlight, and now I know why. If it's bright enough to have the sun shining on my phone, then I'm probably wearing shades.

Revant Elite HC3 Replacement Lenses For Oakley GasCan: Test Polarization


Fit and Finish


The best I can tell, there are no flaws of any kind in the finish of the lenses. The "Elite" logo could probably be etched a little crisper, but I'm not a fan of the of the logo anyway. I'm more concerned with the finish of the lenses, and they look great. I have old eyes but a new camera, and if these lenses have any flaws, my camera can't see them.

Revant Elite HC3 Replacement Lenses For Oakley GasCan: Logo Closeup Usability


I've worn my shades with these new lenses for a full week now and it's been plenty of time to get a feel for how well I like them. They are nice and dark, which I definitely prefer. The polarization is really good, too. Driving in the late afternoon during summer is a great test of shades, so I've really put these new lenses through their paces.

One thing that stood out to me about these lenses is their exceptional clarity. Looking through glare out into my sunny backyard as a test, I swapped back and forth with my polarized Ray-Ban Wayfarers. I was surprised that the Wayfarers are still a little darker, but compared to these Elite lenses, the Wayfarers have a greenish-tint and aren't nearly as clear as these.

Having used them a week, I can find no noticeable scratches, nicks or other damage. A week after originally buying the GasCans, they already had scratches on the stock lenses.

Revant Elite HC3 Replacement Lenses For Oakley GasCan: Mark Wing, Blogger
These new lenses are nice and dark!

Conclusions


Now I have everything I liked about my GasCan frames (ruggedness, wrap-around) with optics as good or better than my Italian-made Ray-Bans. These are back to being my go-to pair of shades. The little logo in the corner sometimes distracts me once in a while, but overall these lenses are legit. I think they should make the logo a little smaller and maybe put it in the top corner.

The best I can tell with my non-scientific testing, these Elite lenses are much better than the stock made-in-USA lenses my GasCans came with. Better glare protection and clarity for sure, and less prone to scratches.


Gallery


Revant Elite HC3 Replacement Lenses For Oakley GasCan In Box

Revant Elite HC3 Replacement Lenses For Oakley GasCan: With Blogger
"OK, there, I smiled"



Sunday, August 24, 2014

Garage Sale: Victorinox Classic Consignment

Someone gave me a couple zip-loc bags full of classic Swiss Army Knives. They all have logos, so I'm probably the 10th person to pick through this lot. Supposedly they were all confiscated by the TSA. I can't see how these are anywhere near dangerous, but hey, I leave all that stuff in my checked luggage when I travel.

Most of these are in good condition, with a some in poor condition and a few in excellent condition. They are cheap and only cost about $15 new, so I will probably try to sell some of the better ones for $6 shipped in the continental US. If any of my readers are interested, shoot me an email. I should have them separated in the next couple days. In the meantime, I could pick one out based on just condition if anyone is interested.

Here's my email: markwing@theoutdoornerd.com

Victorinox Classic Pocket Knives With Logos

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Review: Thrunite Ti3 [1xAAA EDC Flashlight]

Thrunite had my number a long time ago with features like moonlight modes and mode memory. One of the first things I learned collecting flashlights is that people really don't appreciate having bright lights pointed at their faces. It can be great having a lot of output sometimes, but more often than not, you just don't need a lot of light for looking for your keys on the floor or changing a tire on the side of the road. In fact, in some of those cases you would rather have run time over output. So I always pay attention when new 1xAAA EDC type lights come out. I saw it on Thrunite's Facebook page and I went straight to Amazon to buy one.

Thrunite Ti3 1xAAA EDC Flashlight: Product Link
Thrunite Ti3 1xAAA EDC Flashlight: Product Link

Product Description


The Ti3 is a 1xAAA "twisty" flashlight which has the latest Cree XP-G2 emitter inside. Unlike previous incarnations (Ti and Ti2) which had two modes with a 2 stage switch, the Ti3 is a run of the mill twisty with a spring in the tail just like you would expect. It also gains an extra mode, making it 3 modes plus a hidden strobe.

Official Specs (From Thrunite)


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Thrunite Ti3 1xAAA EDC Flashlight: Shown with MTech MT-20-30 Fixed Blade Knife
Shown with my MTech MT-20-30 mini fixed blade knife

Shown with a Spyderco Dragonfly pocket knife and Casio MDV106 diver's watch

Thrunite Ti, Ti2 and Ti3 1xAAA EDC Flashlights
Here you can see that the Ti3 is a radical departure from its predecessors

From Left: Thrunite Ti Firefly, Ti, Ti2,  Ti3 and Sanyo Eneloop AAA battery
From Left: Thrunite Ti Firefly, Ti, Ti2,  Ti3 and Sanyo Eneloop AAA battery

All Thrunite, from left: Thrunite T10S, T10T NW, Neutron 1C, original T10, Ti, Ti2 and Ti3
All Thrunite, from left: Thrunite T10T NW, T10S, Neutron 1C, original T10, Ti Firefly, Ti, Ti2 and Ti3

Thrunite Ti3 1xAAA EDC Flashlight: Product View 1

Thrunite Ti3 1xAAA EDC Flashlight: Product View 2Thrunite Ti3 1xAAA EDC Flashlight: Product View 3


Thrunite Ti3 1xAAA EDC Flashlight: Product View 4

Thrunite Ti3 1xAAA EDC Flashlight: Cree XP-G2 LED Emitter Closeup
Closeup of Cree XP-G2 Emitter
Thrunite Ti3 1xAAA EDC Flashlight: Product View 5
Thrunite Ti3 1xAAA EDC Flashlight: Product View 6Thrunite Ti3 1xAAA EDC Flashlight: Product View 9
Thrunite Ti3 1xAAA EDC Flashlight: Product View 7

Thrunite Ti3 1xAAA EDC Flashlight: Product View 8



First Impressions


I was expecting an evolution of their Ti serious with the 2 stage twisty switch, but what I got was something that looked more like an Olight I3S than anything from Thrunite's Ti series. I actually liked the 2 stage design, but I was probably the only one. And most of my Ti's had to have the little tab bent to make the light work right. But I certainly understand why they did away with the hassles of that design and went with something more conventional. I've always liked the classic twisty design so this change is fine by me.

This light gave me a great first impression and so far I'm pretty infatuated with it. Enough so to where right off the bat I could see this model was aimed straight at the I3S. It's even constant current in all modes. I really like the knurling. I also really like the reversible clip, though I've already used it to damage the knurling that I like.

Build Quality


I've had mixed feelings about Thrunite's build quality for some time, but that has slowly been changing as I buy more of their products. I still have some minor complaints such as the clip on their new T10 series. But I have no quality gripes with my T3. It's well put together and well machined.

The clip on the T3 is still a little on the thin side, but it thankfully seems to be rigid enough not to bend like the clips on my T10S and T10T. Time will tell, though.

Overall this looks like a well built and machined light. It had to be to compete with the I3S.

Fit and Finish


Overall, excellent. It came with a couple small scratches on the clip, but that's about it for flaws. The knurling is aggressive and cut perfectly, giving it a really good grip. It hits all the other marks: perfectly centered emitter (which is a pet peeve), lettering, threads, o-ring, grease, everything good.

Of course, reversing the clip scratches the light up pretty good, which is kind of a shame.

Thrunite Ti3 1xAAA EDC Flashlight: Fit and Finish 1Thrunite Ti3 1xAAA EDC Flashlight: Fit and Finish 2Thrunite Ti3 1xAAA EDC Flashlight: Fit and Finish 3



Modes


The T3 has 4 modes total: Moonlight, Low, High and Strobe. As this is a "twisty" interface, you change modes by twisting to cycle the flashlight on and off. Another reason I like Thrunite lights for EDC is that most of them have a low-medium-high mode order, which this one also has. It's a personal preference.

Cycling through the mode groups twice will activate the hidden strobe mode.

Thrunite Ti3 Animated Modes GIF


Output


The circuitry in this model pushes a regular AAA battery pretty hard, and so the output on high rivals some of my flashlights running a 10440 lithium-ion battery. Which also means the body gets fairly hot. Not hot enough to damage the light, but probably just short of that. I left it unattended a few minutes for my test, but I would avoid doing that in normal use, keeping it in my hand to dissipate some of the heat.


Mode Memory?


This model has some kind of what I can only call short term memory. It retains the last mode you used, but resets after X amount of time, with X being a number I haven't figured out yet. Math is hard. I didn't really like this at first, but it's grown on me a little. I can see why they did it: You can be guaranteed that if you wake up in the middle of the night, the light will come on in moon light mode. But if you are walking around the house looking for what the dog did with your wallet, it will remember the mode you have it on.

PWM


I could find no trace of PWM on any mode using the cell phone camera method of detection. It's always gratifying to see an efficient circuit that doesn't really sacrifice tint. Constant current design is a requirement for me personally for all the survival kits I make, including my own 72 hour emergency "bug out" bag.

Beam


The textured "orange peel" reflector coupled with the larger-die Cree XP-G2 LED gives the T3 a smooth, floody beam which is well suited to an EDC type flashlight such as this one. Sometimes I miss the smaller-die XP-G for seeing my dogs across a large back yard, but for the most part flood is much better than throw for every day use.

Run Time Tests

All tests performed with a Sanyo Eneloop AAA NiMH low self discharge cell.

Notes:


ModeStatedTested
Moonlight115 hours-
Low6 hours, 20 minutes11 hours, 5 minutes
High1/2 hour1 hour, 20 minutes

  • Gets pretty hot on high, even with an Eneloop in it.
  • Started dimming noticeably on high after 30 minutes


Tint


The tint on my sample is cool white, with no trace of the green-ish or blue-ish tinge sometimes seen with constant current designs.

Thrunite Ti3 Tint Comparison
Tint Comparison From Left: Fenix E01, Thrunite Ti Firefly, Ti2, Ti3, Olight I3S


Clip


This model has a reversible clip. It uses a snap-on type clip which is a little on the thin side but the clip design is well done and the clip seems sturdy enough. I guess with the last couple lights, I'm lucky to have a clip that's acceptable. Like most flashlight manufacturers, they aren't exactly setting the bar very high.

One thing I do not like about this design is that reversing the clip back and forth really scratches up the body and the edge of the knurling. They should have left a little slack at the end of the knurling to at least prevent that.

But all things considered, it's a good design. The reversible clip is great for using it in a pinch as a headlamp by clipping onto a ball cap.


Thrunite Ti3 1xAAA EDC Flashlight: Clip 1

Thrunite Ti3 1xAAA EDC Flashlight: Clip 2Thrunite Ti3 1xAAA EDC Flashlight: Clip 3


Tail


The T3's tail is flat, with a lanyard attachment point angled in such a way that it doesn't interfere with the flashlight's tail standing. Which means this model will tail stand, letting you bounce light off the ceiling and use it as a makeshift lamp. I do this a lot with my flashlights.

There's also an attachment point for a keychain or lanyard.

Thrunite Ti3 1xAAA EDC Flashlight: Closeup of Tail



Comparison to Olight I3S


  • Slightly better build quality
  • Aggressive knurling
  • Better twist feel
  • L-M-H mode order
  •  Better tint
  •  Better output on high
  •  Doesn’t have that weird stuck-on-medium problem my I3S sometimes gets and which Olight never saw fit to comment on

Usability


This was one of those times where I received a new flashlight and then took it on a long road trip, and this trip turned out to be a pretty good test of the T3's abilities. The twist action has a great feel to it, and the beam is nice and floody for EDC use. I actually prefer these type of lights to be less floody, but the die size on LED emitters keeps getting larger and larger, so I guess it's inevitable.

The deep carry clip appears sturdy and carries well. The clip holds snug, and the unit is compact, so at one point I had it clipped to the change pocket on my bluejeans and thought I lost it.

The modes are well spaced, or should I say the low mode is set correctly. I wish most of these companies would just add another medium mode, but getting the low mode right is the next best thing. The output on high is fantastic. The XP-G2 does well in a 1xAAA form factor: you get efficiency and output.

Thrunite Ti3 1xAAA EDC Flashlight: Held in Hand


Conclusions


It seems pretty clear that they built this light to compete with the Olight I3S, and I think that for the most party they built a better product. It has everything I like about the I3S but the build quality is a little better, it doesn't have the stuck-on-medium quirk that my particular I3S has, and it has my preferred mode order.

Opening up the package I thought I was getting a slightly upgraded Ti model, but I got something even better: a much improved I3S. My next ranking is definitely going to show this in the #1 spot unless something better comes out before I write it.

Gallery


Thrunite Ti3 1xAAA EDC Flashlight: Packaging 1

Thrunite Ti3 1xAAA EDC Flashlight: Packaging 2

Thrunite Ti3 1xAAA EDC Flashlight: Packaging 3

Thrunite Ti3 1xAAA EDC Flashlight: Packaging 4

Thrunite Ti3 1xAAA EDC Flashlight: Packaging 5

Thrunite Ti3 1xAAA EDC Flashlight: Next To Ruler

Thrunite Ti3 1xAAA EDC Flashlight: On Scale

Thrunite Ti3 1xAAA EDC Flashlight: Caliper Measurement 1

Thrunite Ti3 1xAAA EDC Flashlight: Caliper Measurement 2