Monday, December 28, 2015

Review: FIXR 20-in-1 Multi-Tool

My every day carry hobby encompasses lots of types of items: pocket knives, flashlights, sunglasses, multi-tools, and more. I've always had a soft spot for keychain-sized multi-tools. I also keep a small tool pouch for my small EDC gadgets, so when the manufacturer of the FIXR tool contacted me and asked me if I wanted to review a small multi-tool, I readily accepted. I also noticed that it was available with Amazon even with prime, as well as Rakuten. Doesn't seem to be a hard item to find.

FIXR Multi-Tool - Product Link
FIXR Multi-Tool - Product Link


Product Description


This is a small-ish multi-tool that seems to do a little of everything: Pry bar, metric wrenches, bicycle spoke tool, file, ruler, screwdrivers, and even a wire stripper with a dedicated blade. This is what I would call a gentleman's multi-tool, and even comes with a smart looking sheath.

FIXR Multi-Tool - EDC Tools


Official Specs (From Manufacturer)


Engineered in black titanium coated 422 grade stainless steel with a silver stainless steel disc, rotating on sprung stainless steel ball bearings - The FIXR is flat, light, strong, and infinitely useful.

Clips to anything and is always ready for use, with the most useful array of tools possible within such a small space. The rotating tool plate serves to protect and keep all the tools safe when the FIXR is not in use, or simply twists with a push of your thumb on its sprung bearings to click definitively into set positions to use the driver bits, nail cleaner, extra sockets, razor sharp cutter and wire stripper.

1. Quick Release Clip
2. Bottle Opener
3. Nail Cleaner
4. Large Flat Screwdriver
5. Medium Flat Screwdriver
6. Small Flat Eyeglass Screwdriver
7. Medium Phillips Screwdriver
8. Small Phillips Screwdriver
9. 14mm Spanner/Wrench
10. 12mm Spanner/Wrench
11. 10mm Spanner/Wrench
12. 8mm Spanner/Wrench
13. 6mm Spanner/Wrench
14. Bicycle Spoke Wrench
15. Razor Sharp Cutting Blade
16. Wire Stripper
17. Measuring Ruler
18. Box Opener
19. Pry Bar
20. File

Included in box
The Fixr
Leather pouch
Instructions

Material
Gold titanium coated disc, black
stainless steel body, K5 carbon steel blade

Size
L83 X W25 X D9 mm


FIXR Multi-Tool Clipped To Backpack


Initial Impressions


The FIXR tool looks like a fantastic design. The screwdriver wheel especially interested me, and I wasn't disappointed. It must be on some roller bearings or something, because it it has a superb feel to it.

Looking at the FIXR in the pictures, I pictured some mechanic using this thing with greasy hands. But holding the FIXR in my hand, I could see that it's more like a gentleman's multi-tool; more for around the office than the garage.

FIXR Multi-Tool Product View 1

FIXR Multi-Tool Product View 2

FIXR Multi-Tool Product View 3


FIXR Multi-Tool Product View 4


Build Quality


Good overall. The manufacturer says that it's made from 420 stainless with K5 carbon tool steel for the blade. I've never heard of K5 but it sure sounds like a carbon tool steel. The FIXR is made in China, and every day that goes by, some of these larger factories make better and better tools.

Some of the machining looks a little rough around the edges, but nothing that would affect the functionality. I wish the tool were just a tiny bit thicker to make the tool more rigid, but it's a small gripe.

One of the critical aspects of a Chinese tool is the heat treatment. This is where passable quality steel becomes decent quality steel, and the thing that an overseas factory is most likely to get wrong.

To that end, I picked on the FIXR as much as I could without damaging what I was working on. I specifically tried to "roll" the edge on the screwdriver to get it to fail. I found a screw on my RV to sacrifice just in case, and I was able to put enough force to make a bad heat treatment fail on either, and both held up. The screwdriver wheel is well built!

Fit and Finish


Very good overall. You don't get a fit and finish this good by accident, so I must say bravo to you, sirs, for your attention to detail. The screwdriver wheel has plenty of grease--nice touch. The blade looks well mounted and has a good edge. The material on the file looks to be a well done.

About the best I can nit pick with the finish is some slight tool marks on the spine of the tool--not much.

The "pleather" sheath has an above average fit and finish. Normally the sheath on a budget multi-tool is just an afterthought, but this one looks sharp. The material, sewing and snap all look good. I'm pretty sure the scratch on the snap in the photo was from me.

Carabiner Clip


It's decently done for a budget carabiner. I've never been a huge fan of budget carabiner clips, though I do carry and use a few just for connecting stuff together, like hanging to keep something out of reach of critters or children.

This tool should have omitted the clip and featured a solid piece of steel, like the Pegasus tool it's pictured with. It could've added a separate clip, again, like the Pegasus tool.

Having said that, it's useful having something to clip things to. It just would've been more useful to me as a tool if it had more rigidity since I always carry a couple of carabiners anyway.

FIXR Multi-Tool - EDC Tools 2Screwdriver Wheel


The screwdriver wheel is a very slick design and well executed. It's got a couple philips heads, a flat head and a fingernail cleaner. It says "nails" on it so naturally at first I was trying to figure out how to use that part of the wheel to take off nails.

It would be an even better design if the wheel locked. The wheel tends to slip when I'm putting some force on the screwdriver, which makes it much better as a light duty screwdriver.

FIXR Multi-Tool Screwdriver Wheel


Pry Bar


The FIXR has a pry bar on the front of the tool, and it's well done. However, to put full force on the pry bar means putting full force on the end of the carabiner. Just like the screwdriver wheel, it's good to keep in mind that this is a light duty tool.

There's no shortage of pry bar tools out there made from a solid piece of tool steel, if you really need a tiny, heavy duty pry bar.

Spoke Tool


Did I mention this tool has a clever design? The spoke tool is a nice touch. Currently I'm only riding a stationary bike, but I've been thinking about a mountain bike, so it's a tool I might use someday.

The angle on the spoke tool is pretty good as well. It looks like it will give me all the leverage I would need to adjust a spoke.

Wrenches


I had originally intended to crawl under my truck and find a couple small bolts to try to break loose with this tool, but it's been raining a month straight here in Oregon. So, the hands-on testes never happened, but also notice from the photos that I have similar wrench tools and I know this type of wrench works fine. They aren't the first company to think of this style of wrenches.

Having one end of the wrench tool open with the carabiner clip means it's not as rigid as it should be. In the review of the Navy multi-tool (which itself is an Atwood knockoff) I broke loose a 12 mm bolt on a chair in my garage that was ready to go to the dump.

So, my educated guess is that the wrenches on this tool will be just fine for light duty--maybe to tighten a small bolt on your bicycle or something.

Wire Stripper



This FIXR tool is fairly unique in the fact that it features a carbon steel tool blade as a dedicated wire stripper. Most of the time the blade is obscured by the screwdriver wheel, and there's not much chance of cutting yourself.

In 20 years of knife collecting, I've never been more than nicked by a knife or tool I was handling, and I handle a lot of sharp objects! So, I was a little dismayed that the screwdriver wheel slipped on me and nicked one of my fingers. It's definitely worth noting to remember that this little blade is there inside the tool, and it's sharp.

The stripper itself is pretty much useless for the test I did. The only wire I could easily find that I was willing to sacrifice for the test was a spool of speaker wire. That's a good real world test, too. Maybe the wire is too thick. I don't know what the problem was, but all I could seem to do was damage the wire no matter how I tried to strip it with this tool.

I could have used just the blade to whittle away at the insulation on the wire, though, just like I could do with a small knife. And like the manufacturer's photos show, you can use the blade to cut rope or string.

So, the stripper blade is something I'm leaning towards removing, which is a shame because the blade itself is a decent quality. It should really be on the wheel or something, because it would be a decent utility knife if it wasn't in an awkward location.

FIXR Multi-Tool Wire Stripper


File


The file looks to be good quality. I've used it as a fingernail file and would predict that it would do fine on lots of other materials. Note that you shouldn't press too hard on this type of file, since it gets its abrasiveness from a coating. The coating is fine, but this type of coating can rub off if you press too hard, which is instinct for most people to do.

The coating could be a little thicker, but other than that, it's well done. Files and sharpeners actually work worse if you put too much pressure on them. With a nice steady pressure on whatever your filing, these type of (diamond?) coatings can last a long time.

Ruler


I live in the USA where we still haven't adopted the metric system. Now, when I took chemistry in college, the professor made us memorize every single metric conversion, because science is all done in the metric system.

But this isn't a tool that screams "I am a scientist" so there should be a standard version of the ruler for the system of measurement the Queen forced on us a few hundred years ago. It's not good or bad that we use a different system of measurement. It is what it is. Most people who are likely to see this tool in person would probably want it standard, where practically everyone on earth will say "good" that it's in centimeters.

Sheath


The FIXR tool comes with what I'm guessing is a fake leather sheath with a little snap to hold it in place on the tool. It's well done and gives the tool and almost upscale look, if that's possible with a cheap sheath.

Stitching on the sheath is good, and it's even got the name of the tool stamped onto it. This is one of the few little budget sheaths I've liked.

Usability


Most of the testing I did with this tool went well, with a couple minor exceptions. The screwdrivers work better than I thought they would, other than the fact that there's no screwdriver shaft on the tool, so it only works where there's room to move the whole tool.

The problem is that the screwdriver wheel doesn't lock, and if you put a whole bunch of force on it, the wheel slips. This wouldn't be such a problem, but one time when the wheel slipped, my finger nicked the stripper blade.

Other than that, this is a usable tool. The pry bar, file and spoke tool are especially well done.

FIXR Multi-Tool Wire In Hand 1

FIXR Multi-Tool Wire In Hand 2

FIXR Multi-Tool Wire In Hand 3


Weights & Measures


Not much to see here. The FIXR is lightweight and compact.

FIXR Multi-Tool Wire On Scale

FIXR Multi-Tool Caliper Measurement


Conclusions


I have mixed feelings about this tool. It's a decent tool, and it's earned a spot in my EDC pouch. But it's hard not to see its flashes of brilliance and how the design falls a little bit short. If the gate clip was steel that went all the way around, and if the screwdriver wheel locked, and the blade was positioned better, it could function as a heavy duty tool and be much more useful than it is now.

But it's easy to paint this tool as something it's not. As a light duty, "gentleman's" multi-tool, it definitely serves a need. For my EDC pouch, it will serve as a small pry bar, metric wrenches, as well as a backup file and screwdrivers.

So, while it's not the multi-tool I hoped it would be, it has still earned a spot in my pouch, and that's a pretty good endorsement. Maybe someday a small pry bar tool will knock this one out of the pouch and into the bag of shame, but for now it has earned its place in the pouch. I still might take off that cutter blade, though.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

New Toys

Someday soon, I'm going to do a Youtube video of one-handed deployment of a wide variety of pocket knife designs, and so I was filling in a few in my collection for balisong, stiletto, and switchblade styles.

I also got in an interesting multi-tool from a manufacturer, as well as a new one I bought for review but can't seem to find at the moment. BladeHQ also had some good swag for black Friday and cyber Monday, so I scored a slingshot, titanium straw and beanie.








Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Review: Kershaw Link [EDC Pocket Knife]

My brother is really hard to shop for. I've given him a few cheaper knives, which he likes. But he wears them out quickly, even the more robust ones. So, I wanted to get him a decent quality made in USA model that he'd be hard pressed to wear out so quickly.

He doesn't like my precious Spyderco knives because he says they are too light. Even the heavier G10 models tend to be weight conserving, which is diametrically opposed to my brother's "it must be heavy" philosophy. This Kershaw Link is solid metal, so hopefully it will feel solid enough for him. Otherwise, well, when have I ever turned away a shiny, sharp object?

Kershaw Link EDC Pocket Knife - Product Link



Product Description


The Link is an assisted "flipper" which deploys the blade when you press a little lever a certain amount. This model features an black washed, saber ground blade made of 420HC and made in the USA, in Oregon. With a two way deep carry clip, liner lock and anodized aluminum scales, this is just a basic USA made flipper.

Official Specs (From Amazon)

  • SpeedSafe open, built in Flipper
  • Reversible pocket clip, (left/right)
  • Steel: 420HC, black-oxide BlackWash finish; Handle: Machined aluminum
  • Blade length: 3.25 Inch (8.4 cm); Closed length: 4.4 Inch (11.2 cm); Overall length: 7.6 Inch (19.3 cm)
  • Weight: 4.8 Ounce (136.1 g); Made in the USA

From Top: Spyderco Manix 2 Lightweight, Kershaw Link, Spyderco Native 5 FRN
From Top: Spyderco Manix 2 Lightweight, Kershaw Link, Spyderco Native 5 FRN

Initial Impressions


Before I opened the box, I could see the address on the box where it was made, and off the top of my head, it looks like about a 10 minute drive away from where we are in Hillsboro, Oregon now.

The first thing I noticed about the knife is that it didn't have all the little fit and finish issues that I've seen on almost every one of my Kershaws. They make good knives which have good value, but botched edges, off-center blades, stripped screws--I'm used to immediately seeing something wrong with Kershaw's lower end knives.

Maybe the Link finally reaches the point where you're just out of that low end territory, because my sample looked pretty much perfect out the box. I wanted a perfect sample and was prepared to send it back with enough time to give my brother a perfect knife in time for the holidays.

So, the Link gave me a really good first impression. The blade is a little thin for the weight, but that's fine. The lock doesn't engage as much as I'd like it to, but I'm super picky about liner locks. But all in all, this is a well made knife at any price point.

Kershaw Link EDC Pocket Knife - Product 1

Kershaw Link EDC Pocket Knife - Product 2

Kershaw Link EDC Pocket Knife - Product 3

Kershaw Link EDC Pocket Knife - Product 4

Kershaw Link EDC Pocket Knife - Product 5

Kershaw Link EDC Pocket Knife - Product 6
Kershaw Link EDC Pocket Knife - Product 7

Kershaw Link EDC Pocket Knife - Product 8

Kershaw Link EDC Pocket Knife - Product 9

Build Quality


I've never owned one of their high end Zero Tolerance models, but from what I've read and the photos I've seen, it's believable that these are close cousins, which is awesome. Having similar models where the price mostly a function of the quality of the steel is a good philosophy. If I like the Link, then I know I will really like one with high end steel. But I can carry a lower end version just to see if I like it.

Normally even Kershaw's lower end products have a decent build quality, but with this model, I can get a glimpse of what they are capable of. My only other USA made Kershaw was a Skyline, and while I liked it and still occasionally carry it, the fit and finish issues didn't make me a big fan. It still rankles my OCD every time I see the broken off tip, which came that way from a USA made factory with no excuses to let it out the door like that.

While the Freefall, Swerve, Chill, Brawler, etc. were good enough to give to a non-enthusiast as a gift, this is the first model I've purchased where the build quality is good enough to where I personally would carry it, because I have some awesome pocket knives. A couple like the Freefall almost clicked with me, but it was just a little rough around the edges.

Fit and Finish



Overall, very good. The acid washing could be a little more uniform, but I understand that it's supposed to look imperfect, like artisan bread or something, but eh, it could be a little better. The assisted deployment could be a little smoother for the price point. It deploys with about the same feel as the cheaper models. From looking at the photos, the lock looks like it engages in the 30% range, which could be better.

But a few minor gripes aside, this is closer to what I would normally expect for a higher end USA made knife. The machining, anodizing and blade centering are all perfect. The clip is even anodized. So, here is a 40 dollar knife with the fit and finish of a 120 dollar knife.

Kershaw Link EDC Pocket Knife - Blade Centered

Blade


This model came with a hollow ground, drop point "saber grind" blade made from USA 420HC steel, which is a decent budget steel. But more important than the chemical composition of the steel is the heat treatment, and for whatever reason, the USA is second to none in that department, not that we don't have competition from the Japanese and Swiss.

Just like with the first time I held my, Dragonfly, I have to overcome my instincts to say the blade is ground too thin and say it's probably perfect for EDC. I would absolutely feel confident about putting this knife to hard use, but I wouldn't consider it a hard use knife, if that makes sense.

The blade on my review sample is well executed: good machining, good edge and good centering on the blade. See, is that so hard? Extra points for the good job this model does on the acid wash. Extra points for a scary sharp edge.

Kershaw Link EDC Pocket Knife - Blade View 1

Kershaw Link EDC Pocket Knife - Blade View 2

Kershaw Link EDC Pocket Knife - Blade View 3

Handle


This model features smooth, gray anodized aluminum scales. The scales on mine look perfectly uniform, and it's an extremely clean look. However, without the clip, there's probably no way to hold this thing if your hands are wet.

Kershaw really did a good job on the handle's anodizing. The way they did the scales looks more like a high end knife. The smoothness is actually a plus for not wearing your pockets or scratching something it comes into contact with. It's not a deal breaker, but I can't help but thinking this knife would be sweet with custom, textured scales of some type.

Clip


The Link features a two way deep carry clip, which comes configured for right-handed tip-up carry and can be moved to the other side if you're a lefty.

The clip is well done on my review sample. Just like with the overall build quality, I finally feel like I hit that magical price point in Kershaw's catalog where they start getting everything right. A deep mounted hourglass clip that's not too stiff, and even anodized. Thank you.

Kershaw Link EDC Pocket Knife - Clip


Locking Mechanism


Liner locks aren't my personal favorite, but they work just fine for my purposes when done right, and this one is done right. I wish the lock engaged a little more, but it seems within specs, and I appreciate that it's not over-engineered. It's a basic liner lock.

The deployment isn't quite as smooth as I would like, but I'm probably being picky at this price point. I'll put a couple drops of mineral oil on the pivot if it persists for my brother.

Overall though, my Link fires confidently and locks up tight. They kept it simple and did a good job, which is the philosophy I use for software design, the "KISS principle."

Kershaw Link EDC Pocket Knife - Lockup

Usability


I normally carry any knife I review for a week, but this one is going to be a gift, and I don't want to wear the clip or scuff the blade or anything.

But I can easily tell that this is a usable knife. Decent steel with a good edge, and optimal blade geometry for an EDC.

My only real usability issue with this knife is the smooth scales. The clip gives it some good grip, otherwise you'd be hard pressed to use it with wet hands. But hey, this is what I would consider a gentleman's flipper, so the grip will be passable under most conditions a gentleman would encounter.

The thin grind on the blade makes it a better slicer, and I personally like a knife with some belly on it, so other than the grip issue, I would consider this knife to be very usable for EDC and will carry one myself after the holidays, and after I decide if I'm just going to buy the ZT version.

Kershaw Link EDC Pocket Knife - In Hand 1

Kershaw Link EDC Pocket Knife - In Hand 2

Kershaw Link EDC Pocket Knife - In Hand 3

Weights & Measures


It carries pretty light for a knife that weighs about a quarter pound.

Kershaw Link EDC Pocket Knife - On Scale

Kershaw Link EDC Pocket Knife - Next To Ruler

Conclusions


This is a sweet knife that almost perfectly hits that sweet spot for price. A good quality USA made knife at this price point is a rare thing. In fact, most of the knives at this price point and similar quality are made in China, so it's satisfying to give my brother a gift which was made a few miles away. The Chinese made Spyderco Tenacious is a few dollars more than the Link and is still a great value, so I personally think the Link is a fantastic value.

Holding this Link in my hand made me think of how awesome the high end ZT version of this knife with Elmax steel would be, with a smoother deployment. But I think I'm going to buy a Link for me first, and carry it a few weeks before I go spending the big bucks on the ZT.

It wouldn't be terrible if my brother didn't like this one, because this is one of the few Kershaws that have really clicked with me. This one might be too light for him. He's a body builder and doesn't like wimpy, lightweight cutlery, where I appreciate that the designers pulled their hair out shaving off a few grams here and there. So if this one is too light, then, darn, it'll go back to me. I don't mind a heavier knife if I'm wearing jeans.

Gallery


Kershaw Link EDC Pocket Knife - In Box 1

Kershaw Link EDC Pocket Knife - In Box 2


Kershaw Link EDC Pocket Knife - In Box 3Kershaw Link EDC Pocket Knife - In Box 4

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Photo Gallery: Spyderco HAP40 Delica

The Spyderco Delica to me has always been the quintessential pocket knife for every day carry (EDC) use. It's light, strong, and well built in Seki, Japan. Normally made from high quality VG-10 steel, it can also be had in higher quality ZDP-189 steel.

But they like doing limited edition runs of certain models, and they've seen pretty good success with the Aogami "Super Blue" variants of their lightweight FRN (fiberglass reinforced nylon) knives. In fact, anything in super blue ranges from hard to impossible to find.

In 2016 most of those same models: Delica, Dragonfly, Stretch, Ladybug and Manbug will see another Japanese "super steel," HAP40, which is a powered tool steel made by Hitachi.

These Delicas pretty much sold out in minutes as each dealer made a small quantity of them available. I think the total run is 1,200, so this is going to be repeated a few more times until they are all gone or demand drops off. Since the super blue Delica is an incredibly rare beast, I would expect no less from the HAP40 Delica.


Spyderco HAP40 Delica EDC Pocket Knife - Gallery 1

Spyderco HAP40 Delica EDC Pocket Knife - Gallery 2

Spyderco HAP40 Delica EDC Pocket Knife - Gallery 3


Spyderco HAP40 Delica EDC Pocket Knife - Gallery 4

Spyderco HAP40 Delica EDC Pocket Knife - Gallery 5

Spyderco HAP40 Delica EDC Pocket Knife - Gallery 6



Spyderco HAP40 Delica EDC Pocket Knife - Blade 1

Spyderco HAP40 Delica EDC Pocket Knife - Blade 2

Spyderco HAP40 Delica EDC Pocket Knife - Blade 4Spyderco HAP40 Delica EDC Pocket Knife - Blade 3

Spyderco HAP40 Delica EDC Pocket Knife - Clip

Spyderco HAP40 Delica EDC Pocket Knife - Presentation Side

Spyderco HAP40 Delica EDC Pocket Knife - Clip Side

Spyderco HAP40 Delica EDC Pocket Knife - On Scale

Spyderco HAP40 Delica EDC Pocket Knife - In Kitchen

Spyderco HAP40 Delica EDC Pocket Knife - With Spyderco Mantra

Spyderco HAP40 Delica EDC Pocket Knife - With Spyderco Mantra 2