Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Review: Sanrenmu GB-763 [Pocket Knife]

SanRenMu GB-763 Pocket Knife - Product Link
SanRenMu GB-763 Pocket Knife - Product Link

About SanRenMu


Sanrenmu (or just "SRM") is a Chinese manufacturer which is well regarded among knife enthusiasts. So much so that it can be hard to find their products at times. Almost all of their products are in the $10 range and compare well to knives costing 5-10 times as much. Sanrenmu is rumored to make products for American manufacturers such as Spyderco.

Product Description


The Sanrenmu GB-763 is a budget axis lock folder which is very well regarded in the EDC and knife communities. It has G10 scales and is very light weight. I believe it is the only axis lock in their lineup. Both the lock and thumb studs can be accessed from either side of the knife, meaning that it's ambidextrous.

Notable aspects of this knife include the bottle opener on the blade next to the thumb studs and a removable steel insert for a lanyard.

My sample was purchased from exduct.com, and took a month to the day to arrive at my door. I see it's now available from Amazon.

SanRenMu GB-763 Pocket Knife - Split View Closed

SanRenMu GB-763 Pocket Knife - Split View Open

SanRenMu GB-763 Pocket Knife - Top View Open

SanRenMu GB-763 Pocket Knife - Closeup Thumb Stud

SanRenMu GB-763 Pocket Knife - Bottom View

SanRenMu GB-763 Pocket Knife - Can Opener

SanRenMu GB-763 Pocket Knife - Top View Lock

SanRenMu GB-763 Pocket Knife - Opened Top View

SanRenMu GB-763 Pocket Knife - View Of Lock


Blade


The blade is a hollow ground, drop point skinner made of 8Cr13Mov steel, which is a common (and decent) steel for Chinese knives. Mine came with a razor edge. I must be getting old (or I just have too many knives) because I didn't shave off any hair to test it. The blade also has some very course jimping on the spine.

SanRenMu GB-763 Pocket Knife - Blade Closeup 1

SanRenMu GB-763 Pocket Knife - Blade Closeup 2

SanRenMu GB-763 Pocket Knife - Blade Closeup 3

SanRenMu GB-763 Pocket Knife - Blade Closeup 4


SanRenMu GB-763 Pocket Knife - Blade Closeup 5

Handle


The handle is made of the same textured G10 material found on about a billion other knives. Hey, why mess with a good thing. It's light and has a good feel, even wet. The handle has a clip which can only be mounted tip-up, but it can be moved to either side. The back of the handle has the same course jimping on it as the spine of the blade. When opened, the jimping has a nice range to it.

The handle screws are allen head, unlike the Torx head screws found on similar knives, and even other Sanrenmu models. The lanyard rings (is that what they're called ?) are removable as well.

SanRenMu GB-763 Pocket Knife - Handle Closeup 1

SanRenMu GB-763 Pocket Knife - Handle Closeup 2

SanRenMu GB-763 Pocket Knife - Handle Closeup 3

SanRenMu GB-763 Pocket Knife - Handle Closeup 4

SanRenMu GB-763 Pocket Knife - Handle Closeup 5

SanRenMu GB-763 Pocket Knife - Handle Closeup 6



Locking Mechanism


This knife uses an axis lock, similar to (and some say copied from) Benchmade models. It can be opened with the thumb studs or using the "axis flick" by pulling the lock back all the way and flicking the knife open with the wrist. I read somewhere where this lock is even an improvement over the Benchmades.

The best thing about an axis lock to me is that it can be closed without putting one of my fingers in harm's way. Other than that, and maybe the fun factor, I don't have any strong opinions about this type of lock.

SanRenMu GB-763 Pocket Knife - Lock Closeup 1

SanRenMu GB-763 Pocket Knife - Lock Closeup 2

Design


This is a well designed and thought out knife. I'm not sure I like or need the bottle opener since I'm worried it could catch on things in my pocket (though it hasn't so far), but the groove seems to feature into the design of the lockup to give it a little more stability.

The tip-up carry isn't my personal preference, but I'm in the minority. This knife is clearly designed for people who know and appreciate knife design.

Fit And Finish


Overall superb. Mine came with no noticeable flaws of any kind. None of the common scratches, nicks, or tool/machining marks that would normally be expected with a budget knife such as this one. I'm a generally critical person, and I can usually find something wrong with anything. But the the fit and finish on this knife is about as good as I've seen for any knife. The blade is even perfectly centered.

SanRenMu GB-763 Pocket Knife - Logo Closeup 1

SanRenMu GB-763 Pocket Knife - Logo Closeup 2

SanRenMu GB-763 Pocket Knife - Fit And Finish 1

SanRenMu GB-763 Pocket Knife - Fit And Finish 2

SanRenMu GB-763 Pocket Knife - Fit And Finish 3


Usability  


I've been EDC'ing this knife for about a week. The axis lock is fun to play with, and overall has a great feel to it. It opens smoothly and has no discernible play to it. The knife has been great around the house. I took the clip off though, and I may take the lanyard rings off too.

Conclusions


After a week carrying this knife and playing with the axis lock, I can see what the hype is about. I'm seriously infatuated with this thing. Another reviewer said it best: This isn't just a good knife for 13 bucks. It's a good knife at any price.

We'll see how I feel once the honeymoon period is over. I already feel the little bit of extra weight. It's 2 ounces (minus the clip) versus 1 ounce (also minus the clip) of my Spyderco Dragonfly. An extra ounce doesn't sound like a lot, but it's double the weight of the Dragonfly with only a little more blade surface.

But at 2 ounces, this knife is a lot of knife. My first Sanrenmu was a 704 which I gave to my dad, thinking I could buy another one any time I wanted, not knowing that they'd stop making them for a while. I don't think the 704 has left my dad's side in the year he's had it. Now that I found a reliable source of them (exduct.com) I intend to work my way through just about all of Sanrenmu's models.


Gallery


Sanrenmu GB-763 folding knife: jimping and more jimping
It's a jimping party and everyone is invited

Sanrenmu GB-763 folding knife: closeup of centered blade
The camera makes it look a hair off center, but to my eyeballs it's perfect. Amazing for a budget knife either way

Sanrenmu GB-763 folding knife: closeup of clip and lanyard attachment
The clip is nice, if that's what you're into. The lanyard attachment looks pretty robust as well

From Top: SanRenMu 704, GB-T11, GB-763
From Top: SanRenMu 704, GB-T11, GB-763
From Top: SanRenMu 704, GB-T11, GB-763
From Top: SanRenMu 704, GB-T11, GB-763
SanRenMu GB-763 Pocket Knife - With Eagletac D25A Mini Flashlight and Schrade Tactical Pen
With Eagletac D25A Mini Flashlight and Schrade Tactical Pen
SanRenMu GB-763 Pocket Knife - With Spyderco Dragonfly
Shown with Spyderco Dragonfly 2
EDC Favorites, from top: Kershaw Chill, Sanrenmu GB-763, Spyderco Dragonfly
EDC Favorites, from top: Kershaw Chill, Sanrenmu GB-763, Spyderco Dragonfly

SanRenMu GB-763 Pocket Knife - In Package



SanRenMu GB-763 Pocket Knife - Stuck In Deck

SanRenMu GB-763 Pocket Knife - Held In Hand

SanRenMu GB-763 Pocket Knife - Next To Quarter



SanRenMu GB-763 Pocket Knife - On Scale

SanRenMu GB-763 Pocket Knife - Next To Ruler

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Every Day Carry: The Philosophy

From Top: Leatherman Squirt PS4, Spyderco Dragonfly, Fenix LD01
Trifecta of awesome: Leatherman, Spyderco and Fenix
It started years ago, before I had ever even heard the term "EDC." Long before I learned the name of my obsession, there was the obsession. I was working outdoors, cleaning pools in Southern California. The cheap sunglasses I was buying would only last a week or two before they wore out. I wasn't rich by any means, but it dawned on me that the cheap ones were costing me more. I couldn't really afford the $100 pair, but the cheap ones were costing me more in the long run!

What I was noticing was that anything I used daily had to be more rugged to withstand the abuse of working outside with water, harsh chemicals and getting in and out of the truck all day. Shoes, watch, wallet, you name it. Nothing that wasn't rugged lasted any length of time. Which leads me to the first rule of my EDC philosophy:

1. If something is used every day, it must be rugged


This is the heart of my EDC philosophy, and one I have lived by for 3 decades. The more I use something, the better and more rugged it needs to be.  in order to survive the abuse I put all my stuff through. Recently I retired a pair of Oakleys I had worn for 7 years. I have pocket knives that are just as good today as they were 20 years ago.  Granted, some EDC items like LED flashlights can go obsolete within a year, but some EDC items can stand the test of time. Either way, my normal cheapskate rules don't apply to EDC.

2. One is none, and two is one


Keychain Tools: Craftsman Keychain Screwdriver, Gerber Shard and Sunwayman R01A Flashlight
I've had the Craftsman tool on my keychain for 20 years!
Having backups for stuff you use every day is a no-brainer, but in the last few years I've really embraced this concept. Even with my average, boring life, there have still been a few times where I've used EDC items like flashlights, knives or lighters in what I would consider an emergency situation. What I like to do now is look at how my "second string" backups compliment their every day counterparts. In some cases the backup might be my first choice. Also, I like to really think through the use cases of all my backup gear. For instance, I keep a backup flashlight (Fenix E01) on my wife's keychain. It's extremely rugged and totally idiot-proof. If my EDC light fails, or I'm not there, I know the light will function when it needs to. So in this case, the primary use case for a backup flashlight would be in a last ditch scenario.

3. Small carry


The old saying "the best tool is the one you have with you" is especially true for me. I tend to leave anything behind that's too heavy or cumbersome. I might say "I'm fine with the extra weight", but do I actually put it in my pocket? There are plenty of situations where I will carry larger gear, but day to day, I just prefer to lug around less weight.

I'm not obsessed about weight, but I've noticed that the lighter and smaller something is, the more I tend to carry it. Because of this, I like the most bang for the buck I can get. If I can get a compact pocket knife that does the same job as a larger one, I'm going to pick that one.

4. Easily obtainable


Ray-Ban Wayfarers
The polarized lenses on the Wayfarers are awesome
This is where my philosophy is going to differ from some of the serious EDC enthusiasts with their fancy, custom and almost always ridiculously expensive gear. While I do my best to take care of my meager possessions, I am fundamentally clumsy. Some of my gear lasts a decade and some of my gear gets run over by my truck the day I buy it. Because of this, I may need to replace any given EDC item on, uh, short notice.

If I can't get it from somewhere like Amazon or Walmart or somewhere I can have it within a few days, then it's not for me. Everything I carry every day is a replaceable cog in the wheel.


5. KISS Principle


Keep it simple, stupid. Just as I noticed I was leaving bulky items behind in favor of the the more compact ones, I noticed that I was leaving complicated items behind in favor of the simpler. Being a computer nerd, complexity is something I am comfortable with, but for EDC most of that complexity just isn't needed day to day. As an engineer, I despise over-engineering and I respect elegant simplicity that can go into something as basic and mundane as a small, folding pocket knife.

Conclusions


Since I have started heavily scrutinizing the items that are with me, I have seen much more and better use from them. So have my friends and family, because when something goes wrong, out comes the Leatherman or little pocket knife.

Tag Heuer Link
My 40th birthday present, a Tag Heuer Link
People don't want things to go wrong, but with a little planning and a few small, affordable gadgets,  they can easily handle most of what life throws at them.











EDC Items


Here's most of the items in my "EDC Rotation":


ItemCurrent Description
Pocket KnifeSpyderco Dragonfly
Spyderco Ladybug
The most commonly used item in my EDC arsenal. The Spydercos are just superb.
FlashlightFenix LD01 (AAA)
Jetbeam BA10 (AA)
Great for emergencies but more useful day to day than you would think. For camping and the woods, I usually have a more powerful AA (or larger) flashlight on me.
Multi-ToolLeatherman Squirt PS4
Leatherman Wingman
Situational. The further I am from home, the more likely I am to have a multi-tool with me. For really far from home or camping, I like to have a larger multi-tool like the Wingman.
SunglassesOakley Gas Can
Rayban Wayfarer
I wear the Wayfarers when I want to look nice, but for EDC I have the Gas Cans, which seem pretty much indestructible.
WatchCheap Timex
Tag Heur Link
I have a couple nices watches like my Tag Heuer, but for EDC I want something I'm not afraid to accidentally destroy.
Fixed BladeKershaw Bear Hunter II
Cold Steel Tanto GI
I always carry a fixed blade knife when I'm camping or in the woods.
KeychainGerber Shard
Craftsman Gadget
SWM R01A Flashlight
I usually have a few keychain gadgets on any given keychain/day.

Oakley Gas Can

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Review: Kershaw Bear Hunter II [Fixed Blade Knife]

Official Specs

  • 8Cr13mov Steel 
  • Full flat ground (FFG) blade
  • Co-polymer Handle
  • Blade length 4 1/2 inches (11.4 cm)
  • Total Length 9 1/2 inches (24.4 cm)
  • Weight 5.3 Ounces
  • Real Leather Sheath

My review sample was purchased from Amazon.com.

Design


This is your standard fixed blade, drop point camping / hunting knife with a real leather sheath and rubberized handle. One thing that stands out though is its full flat grind (FFG) blade with the aggressive jimping on the back. It's a simple, practical, design.

Blade


The drop point blade is a full flat ground (FFG) made of 8Cr13mov Chinese steel. This is the same steel used on other great budget knives like the Spyerco Tenacious. The flat grind is well suited to camping tasks. There's nice, aggressive jimping on the back of the blade. As you can see in the pictures below, the blade has a nice thickness to it and it feels as solid as it looks in the pictures.

Handle


The handle is made of "co-polymer", whatever that is. It's basically injection molded synthetic rubber. It has a nice, grippy feel to it, even with wet hands. The contoured fingers are OK but not as good as I had hoped. The handle has a solid feel, but bordering on awkward. I guess the problem is that the handle is just a tad too big for my medium sized hands. But it's still perfectly acceptable, and forgivable since the knife is so light. The little bit of extra handle isn't reflected in the weight. All things considered, I wish the handle was a little smaller.

Sheath


The sheath I believe is real leather. It's obviously not high end leather, but it's remarkably good for how cheap the knife is. The leather itself is decent quality and the stitching is decent too. It's plenty thick, and the clasp has a good fit to it.

First Impressions


The first time I held a $15 Mora, I was amazed at how good a cheap knife could be. Is the Mora perfect? Hardly. And neither is this knife, but it gives me the same wow factor that the Mora did. I do like the "scandi grind" of the Mora, and it's easy for a novice to put a scary-sharp edge on it, but the flat grind is just more useful for common tasks.


Fit And Finish


Overall, excellent. The stitching on the sheath isn't 100% perfect, and the blade on mine came with a decent edge but nothing spectacular. Small imperfections of the grind - all things that you'd be surprised not to be on a $25 knife. Nothing really major except mine seems to have either come with a few light scratches on the flat of the blade, or somehow I made them by gently unsheathing it. Some grit in the sheath maybe? They aren't getting any worse, so I am not worrying about it.

This knife is a tank, and the scratches are a badge of honor.

Usability


While I have not taken this knife out in the woods yet, I have tested it extensively in the kitchen, since I intend for this knife to do lots of food prep while on camping trips.

Conclusions


This might just be the perfect camp knife I have been looking for. It's cheap, well-designed and pretty much indestructible. I'm so glad I stumbled upon the Bear Hunter II because at first glance it looks just like every other cheap Chinese fixed blade knife. One of the reasons I bought it was because someone had said it would be a better food prep knife than my Moras. Also, the fact that the Moras are not stainless steel didn't seem like such a big deal before I used them in the wilderness and brought them home looking a little thrashed. I think I'll just stick with stainless most of the time.


Gallery


Kershaw Bear Hunter II: Packaging
Basic, simple packaging

Kershaw Bear Hunter II: Model 1029
Dunno why they named it the 'bear hunter' ... seriously, bears are scary

Kershaw Bear Hunter II: Knife and sheath in packaging
Again, simple packaging. Nice touch with the silica gel

Kershaw Bear Hunter II knife and sheath out of packaging
It came with a little protector for the tip

Kershaw Bear Hunter II Grip 1
It's got a solid grip to it

Kershaw Bear Hunter II shown with Mora Companion
Shown with a Mora Companion

Kershaw Bear Hunter II shown with Mora Companion out of sheaths
Shown with a Mora Companion out of sheaths

Kershaw Bear Hunter II Grip 2
It's got a great feel but notice the handle sticks out about an inch from my medium sized hands

Kershaw Bear Hunter II stuck into deck
You're not a knife blogger until you take a picture of it stuck into something wooden

Kershaw Bear Hunter II on deck
The handle is a little big for the blade, but overall this is a solid knife

Kershaw Bear Hunter II in sheath on deck
The sheath is surprisingly good. I didn't expect a sheath this good on a $25 knife

Kershaw Bear Hunter II cutting the cheese :)
Sophomoric humor goes here

Kershaw Bear Hunter II dicing onions
This is a good food prep knife, as you would expect with the FFG blade

From top: Cold Steel GI Tanto, Kershaw Bear Hunter II, Mora Clipper
From top: Cold Steel GI Tanto, Kershaw Bear Hunter II, Mora Clipper

From top out of sheath: Cold Steel GI Tanto, Kershaw Bear Hunter II, Mora Clipper
From top out of sheaths: Cold Steel GI Tanto, Kershaw Bear Hunter II, Mora Clipper

Kershaw Bear Hunter II closeup of sheath - front
Closeup of the front of the sheath

Kershaw Bear Hunter II closeup of sheath - back
Closeup of the back of the sheath - notice the belt loop

Kershaw Bear Hunter II closeup of blade
Closeup of the blade with the best steel China has to offer

Kershaw Bear Hunter II closeup of blade scratches
Dunno how it got these scratches. I've been fairly easy on it

Kershaw Bear Hunter II jimping on spine
Love the jimping on the back of the blade

Kershaw Bear Hunter II - closeup of blade versus Mora Clipper
The blade is a good bit thicker than the Mora Clipper

Kershaw Bear Hunter II in cargo pocket
It fits nicely into my cargo pocket for EDC around the property