Sunday, December 30, 2012

Review: Sanrenmu B787 [Pocket Knife]


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

Price: About $10
Sanrenmu B787 Pocket Knife

The B787 is another interesting EDC folder, presumably of SRM's own design. It features a back lock and anodized titanium liner with titanium scales. I do not know if it's actually titanium or not. 

It was clearly designed to be ergonomic, and has one of the strangest blades I've seen on a pocket knife. 

From Exduct:

Blade length: 65 mm
Blade thickness: 2.4 mm
Blade material: 8Cr14MoV
Closed: 90 mm
Handle material: double titanium sheet
Lock: Back lock
Hardness: 57HRC +
With a clip and features with a beer bottle opening
My review sample was purchased from exduct.com and took a little more than 3 weeks to arrive at my door from Hong Kong. I noticed there's a seller now on Amazon.


 Overall Design


While a bit strange, this looks like a great design. The back lock is as thick as I've seen on a pocket knife- it's thicker than the blade! It has jimping at the 4 main contact points with your hand as well as on the back of the blade for your thumb. The only weak part of the design I can tell so far is the lack of a well-defined finger choil, but it's not that big of a deal.

The clip is setup for right-handed tip-down carry and can't be moved. And just like the 763, the exposed part of the blade when closed is a bottle opener.

Blade


Wow, this is the strangest looking blade I have ever seen. It's actually a chisel grind, meaning there's only an edge on one side. But the tip is also chiseled as well. Also, the opposite side of the edge has about a one inch "swedge" in it, probably just to make it look cool. I guess you could call it some sort of "Razel" blade, meaning a cross between a razor and a chisel, but I'm not sure that's an accurate description either. Whatever it is, it's different.

There's also a finger hole for one-handed opening. It can be opened one handed, though I wouldn't call it ideal. I don't recommend closing it one-handed though, as the lock is accessed way in the back.

The chisled tip is hard to explain. My theory was that it's either there to make the knife looks less threatening or as an aid to open packages and such. Again, it almost looks like their own attempt at a razel shape.

Handle


I originally thought that the liner and scales were both aluminum, but exduct.com claims they are titanium. I'm not sure I'm smart enough to tell the difference, but the knife has a ridiculously solid feel to it, so I can believe it. My only skepticism is that I'm getting Ti for that price, though I have read that  Ti is fairly plentiful in China, so I'm leaning towards believing it.

The interior liner is anodized blue, but one side of it looks purplish. I have no idea if this is intentional or a by-product of some heat treatment, but it looks kinda neat either way.

The clip only has one location on the handle. Not a deal breaker for me, but then again, I'm not big on clips. It is deep carry though. There is also a lanyard hole / glass breaker at the end of the handle, which is blue on one side and purple on the other.

There are what appear to be metric hex screws holding the knife together.

Fit and Finish


Overall good. I would've rated it as excellent, but there's a little bit of a gritty feel where the blade starts to open, which makes it a little harder to open one handed and doesn't feel that great. My guess is that it is going to smooth out on its own over time. If it gets too annoying then I'll probably just disassemble and sand the offending surface.

But other than that, there's no scratches, tool / machine marks or flaws in the anodizing that I can see. It has the same high quality stainless steel clip that my other SRMs have. The precision machining is pretty much perfect on this sample. All of these SRM knives look much more expensive than they are.

Locking Mechanism


This knife uses a very beefy-looking back lock mechanism, which I tend to prefer over liner-lock knives. The lock is a serious piece of steel, and if it looks half as well as it looks (no issues so far), then I expect this knife to have a lockup that's on par with some of my more expensive knives.

I'm super impressed by the back lock on this knife. Lots of people see SRM as nothing more than a oem / cloner / counterfeiter, and this design shows that they deserve their place as a manufacturer in their own right.

Usability


When I bought this knife, I wasn't sure if the design was made to be functional, or whether this would be an odd decoration in my knife drawer. But after carrying it EDC (which I do for all my reviews) for a week, I can say that this is a functional design.

Again, I wish it had a more defined finger choil because my index finger seems to want to creep toward something that's just not there. I've gotten used to feeling for the jimping and stopping my finger there. But that's just a minor gripe.

The chiseled tip does indeed work great for opening mail and packages. I haven't used to to pry anything, but would probably do OK as long as you remember it's not actually a pry bar.

Conclusions


This is a cool knife. Love it or hate it, it's certainly innovative. Overall this is a great knife - better than I thought it would be. Since I tend to EDC light, this knife is just a little heavy for me to EDC. Others will probably find it about perfect, though, especially since this knife is solid metal. I still may take it with me into the world where its non-threatening looks would be helpful. But for the most part, I think this is going into my toolbox.

So, in conclusion, for me, this is perfect for my toolbox. I think this knife is going to be better suited for cutting drywall than it would be in the woods, though again, for most people this would be a fine EDC choice, especially if you like something different.

Gallery


Sanrenmu B787 Pocket Knife in packaging
Typical SRM packaging

Sanrenmu B787 Pocket Knife on the snowy deck
This picture shows the blue inner liner fairly well

Sanrenmu B787 Pocket Knife on my holiday tablecloth
It's a holiday review!

Sanrenmu B787 Pocket Knife shown with some hand tools
This is a solid knife that would be at home in any toolbox

Sanrenmu B787 Pocket Knife shown with Pelican 1910 flashlight
Shown with a Pelican 1910 AAA flashlight

Sanrenmu B787 Pocket Knife - closeup of lock and clip
Here you can see how beefy the lock is, as well as the quality of the machining

Sanrenmu B787 Pocket Knife shown with Sunwayman V11R
Shown with my trusty Sunwayman V11R variable brightness flashlight


Sanrenmu B787 Pocket Knife - another view of lock
Another shot of the ridiculous lock

Sanrenmu B787 Pocket Knife - closeup of bottle opener
Closeup of the bottle opener, and you can see one of the hex screws

Sanrenmu B787 Pocket Knife - closeup knife folded
This knife really has a unique look to it

Sanrenmu B787 Pocket Knife - closeup of open knife
It's almost as ergonomic as it looks

Sanrenmu B787 Pocket Knife - closeup of open knife (clip side)
Nope, no edge on this side

Sanrenmu B787 Pocket Knife - another closeup of closed knife
Look at the purple tinge on the inner liner on this side of the knife



Sanrenmu B787 Pocket Knife shown with Sanrenmu 763 - Bottle openers
Showing the bottle openers for this B787 as well as one of my favorites, the 763


Sanrenmu B787 Pocket Knife shown with Sanrenmu GB-T11
Shown with the Sanrenmu GB-T11 - birds of a strange feather

From Top: Sanrenmu GB-T11, Sanrenmu 704, Sanrenmu B787, Sanrenmu 763
From Top: Sanrenmu GB-T11, Sanrenmu 704, Sanrenmu B787, Sanrenmu 763

Sanrenmu B787 Pocket Knife - closeup of chiseled blade tip
It looks like somebody cut the tip of the blade off with a saw

Sanrenmu B787 Pocket Knife - another closeup of chiseled blade tip
Another closeup of the strange but functional chiseled tip

Sanrenmu B787 Pocket Knife - closeup of maker's mark
Notice that it's 8Cr14MoV and not the typical 8Cr13MoV

Sanrenmu B787 Pocket Knife - closeup of laser etched logo
Typical laser-etched SRM logo with the model number

Sanrenmu B787 Pocket Knife - closeup of blade centering
Believe it or not, it's centered, and the blade doesn't rub on the liner

Sanrenmu B787 Pocket Knife held in hand
View with my hand choked up on the knife

Sanrenmu B787 Pocket Knife on scale
It's fairly light for being all-metal. Maybe the handle really is Titanium?

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Review: Sanrenmu GB-T11 [Pocket Knife]



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

Sanrenmu GB-T11 Pocket Knife
Price: About $10 online

The GB-T11 is what I could consider a utility knife. It's one of their newer models, and I purchased it to maybe use in some of the survival kits that I sell periodically for my sister. It's got what looks like a box cutter blade with a fold-out can opener - definitely interesting.

This sample was purchased from exduct.com and took about a month to arrive. I did notice that it's now available through Amazon.

Official Specs (from exduct.com)

Liner Lock knife,White blade,with opener function.
Handle Material: G10
Blade Material: 8Cr13MoV, Stainless Steel
Blade Hardness: 56-58HRC
Handle Length (Closed Size) : 83mm
Blade Length: 57mm
Knife total length: 138 mm
Tip down,Right hand (Can modify to tip up,Left / Right hand,)

Overall Design


This appears to be a Sanrenmu original design. As an OEM manufacturer for many American companies, SRM is really starting to shine on their own with some of these newer models. This liner lock knife has lots of jimping and nice, thick G10 scales with removable screws. The bottle/can opener is a nice touch, as is the amidextrous, "deep carry" clip, which can be changed to tip-up or tip-down carry.

One thing I like about his knife is that it looks like a utility knife. This is something I would feel comfortable giving someone like my mom. Nobody is going to confuse it as a weapon.

Update: This is definitely a clone of the Mantis Pit Boss knife. The Pit Boss looks like a beast but seems to get mixed reviews.

Blade


This knife has an interesting, box-cutter-ish looking blade. It has a flat grind and is swedged on top, with a little bit of jimping on the spine. The finger slot looks like the blade won't open one-handed, but it will.

The steel is typical 8Cr13MoV and has the SRM logo etched into the blade. There's no stamp with the steel type, but its listed in the specs.

Handle


The T11 consists of a steel liner with a thick, G10 handle. It has the same thick G10 material as my 763, which is one of my favorite EDC knives. The extra thick G10 gives the T11 a really solid feel.

The clip is nice and sturdy. With the deep carry feature and all 3 positions it can moved to, the clip makes it feel almost like a high end knife.

Locking Mechanism


This is a typical liner lock. The steel liner looks to be a little on the thin side, but my guess is that the lock is getting some of its strength from the meaty slabs of G10 material. The 704 is this way too, but just like the 704, the lock has a really solid feel to it. For EDC tasks, both knives have performed well and the lockup hasn't given me any grief.

Fit and Finish


Overall, superb. My 704 has a few minor flaws and tool marks, but this one doesn't. The fit and finish on this T11 is every bit as good as on my 763. They just seem to have their act together on these newer models.

The blade came with a good edge - almost scary sharp. The lockup is superb for a liner lock. The blade is well centered but appears to be rubbing the liner. I've been EDC'ing it and the blade has some scuffs on it. No play on either the blade or bottle opener. The bottle opener has a detent which isn't a lock, but keeps it from flopping around when it is open.

Conclusions


This is a great little knife. It's probably not my ideal EDC, but it's a great utility/tool box knife, and would be good for someone that wants the utility without the stigma of something menacing-looking.

I'm slowly working my way through exduct.com's catalog and so far I'm just super impressed. These aren't just great 10 dollar knives; these are great knives, period. I'm a little concerned about the thin-ish steel liners on some of these models, but in practice they do fine. My dad has a 704 that he will probably never part with.

My only real gripe is that this knife is a bit heavy for how much steel it projects. I like to see a little better ratio of blade surface versus weight. But for a tool box, glove box or survival kit, having it be a little on the beefy side is a plus. This is one model I intend to gift heavily.

Gallery

Sanrenmu GB-T11 Pocket Knife - in box
Not much to say about the packaging
From top: Sanrenmu 704, Sanrenmu GB-T11, Sanrenmu 763
From top: Sanrenmu 704, Sanrenmu GB-T11, Sanrenmu GB-763

From top: Sanrenmu 763, Sanrenmu 704, Sanrenmu GB-T11
From top - folded: Sanrenmu GB-763,  Sanrenmu 704, Sanrenmu GB-T11

Sanrenmu GB-T11 Pocket Knife
It has a really interesting look to it

Sanrenmu GB-T11 Pocket Knife - closeup of clip
Showing the beefy G10. The clip can be moved for tip up or tip down carry

Sanrenmu GB-T11 Pocket Knife - closeup of clip
Can opener tool has a beefy pivot screw with brass washers

Sanrenmu GB-T11 Pocket Knife - closeup of centered blade
Mine is perfectly centered - not bad for a $10 knife

Sanrenmu GB-T11 Pocket Knife - closeup of blade
The blade almost looks like a box cutter

Sanrenmu GB-T11 Pocket Knife - held in hand
Not the best ergonomics but not the worst either

Sanrenmu GB-T11 Pocket Knife - shown with Spyderco Dragonfly
Shown folded, with a Spyderco Dragonfly

Sanrenmu GB-T11 Pocket Knife - shown with Spyderco Dragonfly
Shown with a Spyderco Dragonfly, which has a similar size

Sanrenmu GB-T11 Pocket Knife - shown on scale
It's a little heavy, but solid

Sanrenmu GB-T11 Pocket Knife - shown with Fenix E01 Flashlight
Shown with another survival favorite, the Fenix E01 flashlight

Sanrenmu GB-T11 Pocket Knife - closeup of bottle opener
The T11 has a nice, beefy bottle/can opener

Sanrenmu GB-T11 Pocket Knife - another closeup of bottle opener
Here you can see the hex head screws that hold the knife together









Saturday, December 15, 2012

Flashlights for The Nightstand

Left: Sunwayman M20C, Right: Sunwayman V11R
Left: Sunwayman M20C, Right: Sunwayman V11R
Like any good "flashaholic", I have definite opinions about what flashlights I want on my nightstand next to the bed. There's two common usage scenarios that I want for a nightstand light, and that's why I have two. And having two also serves to make sure that I will get a working light when I need it the most, late at night in my home, with my family.

Scenario #1 - Household Patrol / Late Night Bathroom Breaks


Most of the time I use the smallish Sunwayman V11R flashlight for walking around the house or checking on the kids/wife/mother-in-law/pets. It's small enough to fit in my pajama pockets and it has a control right which makes it infinitely variable, down from the so-called moonlight mode right up to enough light to illuminate up my whole house or backyard.

Having a moonlight mode is the most important priority I have for a nightstand flashlight. That's because, from a dead sleep with dark-adjusted eyes, most humans only need a tiny bit of light to see things in the same room. There's no reason to be blinded, or to blind others. The sub-lumen output of these modes also serve to preserve your dark-adjusted vision and, more importantly, keep you from disturbing someone else who is sleeping. I use it all the time to check on sick kids or the missus. I can take the kids' temperature or give them medication without hardly disturbing them. In this case, less is truly more.

One thing I like about the V11R is that with a slight twist I can make it put out a blinding amount of light. So as I am walking through the house at night or standing in the backyard, I can have as much light as I need.

Scenario #2 - Something Goes Bump in The Night


For this scenario, I use a Sunwayman M20C tactical flashlight, which has a larger reflector and throws its light a longer distance than the V11R. This scenario does happen once in a while, though it usually turns out to be Racoons or other wild animals trying to get at the cat's food in the garage through the cat door. But it still could be a human intruder. For this scenario, having "throw" is more important to me, especially since I have a large property, and the entire neighborhood has large lots. There's been a couple times where I've stood on my deck and looked into the neighbor's backyards for possible intruders.
Top: Sunwayman M20C, Bottom: Sunwayman V11R

For this scenario, I not only want throw, but some sort of tactical strobe. It's not that great of an advantage for home defense, but it is something. I have seen the strobe temporarily disorient humans and even wild animals.

The M20C is such a great light because while it isn't infintely variable like the V11R, it does have the same type of user interface. A twist of the control ring takes you through the low, medium, high and strobe modes. And just like the V11R, it's possible to set the mode while the light is off.


Sunday, December 9, 2012

Review: Leatherman Wingman [Multi-Tool]

Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool Product Link
Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool Product Link
The Wingman is a newer entry in Leatherman's lineup and fills the budget role with a price point under $25. I own higher end Leatherman models like the Juice, but I bought this one because I wanted a multi-tool I wouldn't feel guilty for beating the snot out of.

This review sample was purchased from Amazon.com.

Product Description

Price: $25-$30

This is a full-size, full-feature multi-tool which is comparable to their more expensive models. Clearly the Wingman is a budget model. It uses lower end steel and parts, but that is about the only sacrifices it makes, as the overall build quality is good.

I'll be honest and say that when I first got this tool, I just automatically assumed it was made in China based just on the price point. But in discussions over at EDC forums, a few people corrected me, and I now understand this whole line is made in the USA.

Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool - Split View

Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool - Side View 1

Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool - Top View 1

Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool - Top View Closeup
Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool - Side View 2Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool - Side View 3

Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool - Pliers Open

Official Specs (from Leatherman's site)

Tools:
  • Spring-action Needlenose Pliers
  • Spring-action Regular Pliers
  • Spring-action Wire Cutters
  • 420HC Combo Knife
  • Package Opener
  • Wood/Metal File
  • Scissors
  • Small Screwdriver
  • Medium Screwdriver
  • Phillips Screwdriver
  • Ruler (1.5 in)
  • Bottle Opener
  • Can Opener
  • Wire Stripper
Features:
  • Removeable Pocket Clip
  • Stainless Steel Body
  • All Locking Outside Blades
  • Stainless Steel Handles
  • 25-year Warranty
Measurements:
  • 2.6 in | 6.6 cm (Blade Length)
  • 3.8 in | 9.7 cm (Closed)
  • 7 oz | 198.4 g (Weight)


Note that my scale shows the Wingman at 6.7 ounces.

First Impressions


I bought this Wingman about a year ago at the same time as a more expensive model, the Juice Xe6. I planned to use the Wingman as a backup/beater to the Juice, which I intended to be my EDC multi-tool. The Juice is a fine multi-tool, with a superior fit and finish as well as better materials. But the pliers aren't spring loaded, and it doesn't come with a sheath. At some point I just started carrying the Wingman, using its built in deep carry clip. So, I didn't think much of the Wingman until probably a few weeks later. It's not much for "curb appeal".


Design


It may be a budget multi-tool, but it has a first rate design. The pliers are spring-loaded. The scissors and knife are locking and are located on the outside of the tool, meaning they can be used without opening the pliers. The rest of the tools are located on the inside of the tool. There are 8 Torx head screws holding the tool together, with one of them holding the deep-carry clip on.

I like the design: it puts your two signature tools on the outside with frame locks. The knife can even be opened one handed after some practice.

Fit and Finish


Overall, good. Again, this is not one of their high end multi-tools. The Wingman is not the Charge, and the fit and finish reflect that. My sample had no scratches, nicks, tool-marks or any obvious defects. The knife came with a decent edge, but the scissors came with a barely acceptable edge. Also, the scissors are a little finnicky to deploy; they have to be extended all the way until they "click", at which point the spring deploys and they function properly.

Mine has a little bit of play on the two main pivot screws, as well as the clip. These all perfectly acceptable issues, especially at this price point. But all things considered, this is a well built multi-tool.


Pliers


The Wingman has larger pliers than my other Leatherman models, and it's one of my favorite things about it. They are well machined and are spring loaded, unlike my Juice XE6. The pliers also have built in wire cutters.

Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool - Pliers Closeup 1

Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool - Pliers Closeup 2


Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool - Pliers Closeup 3

Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool - Pliers Closeup 4

Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool - Pliers Closeup 5


Scissors


The scissors are decently machined but honestly, a little disappointing. They are large, and I like the spring loaded design. But they aren't as tight as they should be, and it's challenging cutting something really thin like paper. Like everything else about the Wingman, the scissors appear to be sturdy.

The scissors feature a locking mechanism which holds the tool open for safety.

Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool - Scissors Closeup 1

Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool - Scissors Closeup 2

Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool - Scissors Closeup 3

Main Blade


The blade on the Wingman has a combo edge, meaning it is plain edge towards the tip and has serrations toward the base--what I would also call semi-serrated. It also features a chisel grind, meaning the edge is only one one side.

Like the scissors, the blade features a locking mechanism which holds the blade open for safety. Definitely a nice feature to have.

Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool - Blade Closeup 1

Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool - Blade Closeup 2


Screwdrivers


For screwdrivers, the Wingman gives you one main Flathead and Philips. The file/ruler also acts as a smaller Flathead screwdriver. These screwdrivers are surprisingly decent and get a lot of use around my house. One of the problems with Chinese tools is that the softer steel makes for OK knives but lousy screwdrivers, and the Wingman gives you the best of both worlds: cheap with decent steel.

Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool - Screwdrivers Closeup

Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool - Philips Screwdriver Closeup

Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool - Flathead Screwdriver Closeup

Other Tools


The Wingman doesn't give you a huge selection of fancy tools like their higher end models. So beyond the basics like the blade, pliers and scissors, there's not much in the way of fluff. The file, has a ruler on the flip side, unlike most multi-tools which give you two different textures. The bottle/can opener is also pretty basic. The package opener is neat but it's on the inside where it is less usable. If I use my Wingman to open a package, I just use the main blade which is on the outside, and also happens to be locking.

Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool - Closeup Of Ruler

Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool - Closeup Of File And Opener

Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool - Closeup Of Opener

Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool - Closeup Of Ruler

Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool - Closeup Of Can/Bottle Opener

Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool - Closeup Of File


Usability


Day to day, the Wingman is a little heavy. But then again, all the full size multi-tools are. Also, the Wingman is only 1/10th of an ounce heavier than my Juice Xe6. So, this is my usability gripe against this whole class of tools.

Clipped to my belt, I like carrying the Wingman better with its built-in clip than with a separate sheath or pouch. It's a very usable tool. The pliers are full size and the knife has a half serration on it, which I kind of like but I know will be a hassle to sharpen. It's easy to get at the knife and scissors, though I wish the scissors were better. They are definitely bigger than the ones on my Juice, but they are slightly less usable. But overall, acceptable.

Conclusions


I have carried this tool for the better part of a year, and it's seen extensive use both in the outdoors and around the house and on road trips. Going camping? Clip the Wingman to my belt. Someone's car broke down? Clip the Wingman to my belt. The remainder of the time it sits clipped inside my EDC backpack, ready to go.

The Wingman is a great multi-tool and a great value. I still have a hard time comprehending how this thing could be made in the USA and still be under 30 dollars. It does not compute. If there's a way to get a better multi-tool for this kind of money, I sure haven't heard of it. I would rank this value up their with other gems like the Spyderco Tenacious, or the Sanrenmu 763.

Gallery


Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool - Shown With Spyderco Delica 4
EDC Friends: Shown with Spyderco Delica 4

Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool - Opened Up

From Top: Leatherman Squirt PS4, Leatherman Juice XE6, Leatherman Wingman
From Top: Leatherman Squirt PS4, Leatherman Juice XE6, Leatherman Wingman

Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool - In Medium Size Hand
Shown in my medium sized hand

Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool - Next To Quarter For Scale

Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool - On My Digital Scale
A little heavy but not unreasonably so

Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool - Open In the Snow

Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool - Front View In the Snow

Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool - Blade Open In the Snow

Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool - Back View In the Snow

Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool - Shown In Maxepedition EDC Organizer
The Wingman has a permanent place in my Maxpedition EDC organizer