Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Review: BladeHQ Knife Store [Recommend]

Lately I've been purchasing a lot of things for review, but I also wanted to review the sellers too: the good, the bad and the ugly. For the most part I seem to be a little luckier than the average. While I'm definitely a stickler for good service, I'm usually patient with legitimate issues. Stuff happens, right? I thought most of these seller reviews would be positive, but a few companies rubbed me the wrong way.

So, I'm happy to report that I really like BladeHQ. I've done a bunch of orders with them, and while they seem to ship a little slow, they don't make mistakes. And they won't take your money unless they have a product to ship you. Overselling really bugs me because it ties up my money without getting what I ordered.

One thing I like about BladHQ is the free swag. I did a few orders over the holidays and got a slingshot, titanium straw and a cool beanie with their logo on it. I even forgot to enter the code to get the swag until after my order but they were nice enough to add it after I emailed them.

It's gratifying seeing a company go the extra mile to treat its customers right, even if they won't break any speed records for shipping. Good selection, good service, fair prices--that's all I want from a seller, and BladeHQ gets it right.






Review: Cutlery Shoppe [Avoid]

It's funny that I seem to have great luck with online shopping. I've had very few issues overall with any sellers, but lately it seems like my run of good shopping luck has ended, and suddenly I'm having issues with a bunch of different companies.

Like Cutlery Shoppe, the online cutlery store which took my money for a product they didn't have in stock, and then cancelled my order when they couldn't fill it. It really bugs me when a company, especially a company located in the USA, sells me a product they don't have.

Not only does this behavior deny me a product I thought I purchased, but for something rare like what I ordered, it's twice as bad, because I could've potentially bought the product from somewhere else before it sold out of everywhere. Now nobody has the product in stock, or even claims to.

So, this was my first and last order with Cutlery Shoppe. They are a pretty big company--big enough to keep track of their inventory and sell people only what they have in stock, instead of taking everyone's money and just giving refunds for the orders they can't fulfill.

I'll come right out and say that I think it's a very shady practice, which I'm only used to seeing with fly-by-night Chinese companies overseas, who just change the name of their company when too many people are annoyed with them.

In about 20 minutes I can create a Drupal e-commerce site using Ubercart, with full inventory control which can show the user what's in stock and not take orders that exceed the inventory. This is basic stuff for an e-commerce site, which is why I think their behavior is shady.

I've done some searching around and I'm not the only one to have problems with Cutlery Shoppe.

Update: I reread their original cancellation email again, and noticed that those funds from my failed purchase don't get to be spent on anything for another 7-10 days, per their email:

P.S. - A note about your funds:
At the time you placed the order your bank reserved the funds in our name when they authorized the transaction.
We have not completed the transaction (charged your card).
Normally the reserve held on your funds is dropped within 7-10 days, but this time frame is entirely up to your bank.


Translation: "It's not really us taking away access to the money for the product you thought you purchased from us, it's the bank's fault."

You Know You're A Knife Collector When...

I've been thinking about this subject for a while. Knife collectors are a rare breed, and I've thought of a few amusing factoids to show how different we are:

You know you're a knife collector when:

  • Most of your knives only get used to open packages containing other knives.
  • Your spouse notices your secretive behavior and bursts in on you to discover that you're looking at knives on the Internet.
  • You keep a loaner on you just in case one of your friends asks to borrow one.
  • You know so much about steel that you could probably get a job as a metallurgist. 
  • Every knife in your house is razor sharp.
  • People hand you packages and mail and say "open this please."
  • You've bought and sold the same knife more than once.
I'll add to the list as I think of more and/or people make suggestions. It's a fun list!


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The X800 Flashlight Is A Scam [Avoid]

If at first you don't succeed, increment your product number! This X800 flashlight looks to be a variation on the G700 flashlight scam. The problem with these types of scams is that people fall for them, because the flashlight looks incredible, and that's hard to fake.

And to some extent the flashlight is incredible for 2009. But it was cheap back then and it's cheap right now. For about 13 bucks you can get an almost identical flashlight. It wasn't and won't ever be used by the military and it's not incredible by any definition of the word, but it's a decent flashlight for 13 bucks.

Or just get a Thrunite Ti4, which I have reviewed and use myself.

UPDATE: I just clicked on an ad that looked like this:



And it took me to an "advertorial" site where it had a photo of the "X800" scam flashlight. They can't even keep the models straight!


At the bottom of the site it says:

"THIS IS AN ADVERTORIAL AND NOT AN ACTUAL NEWS ARTICLE, BLOG, OR CONSUMER PROTECTION UPDATE"

I looked at the Tweet stream of one of the reviewers because of this tweet on the flashlight site:


Scrolling down a little, I found this gem:


So, yeah, a guy named Marky Johns blogs under "blog of matt" and the only non-junk tweet I could find talked about Internet marketing. 

It seems like their "brightest flashlight ever" claim is based on a sock puppet / shill review.



Thursday, January 21, 2016

Review: GearBest [Avoid]

I've done many orders with GearBest, and have even done a few reviews for them. For the most part it has gone well. They seem to have improved their shipping times within the last few months. A couple issues where orders didn't go well, but I let those slide.

There's also a few threads on discussion forums where people are reporting not just normal problems you'd expect with things like language and distance, but some shenanigans and shady behavior. I'm the trusting type, and give everyone a chance, including companies.

GearBest finally did something shady to me. I ordered headphones with the expedited shipping, and they opened a trouble ticket sending me a message telling me that expedited shipping wasn't available, and that they would just apply that towards tracking if that was OK. I told them no, give me the refund, and they replied that they would send the refund as soon as the item shipped.

Well, the headphones shipped, and they didn't send the refund. So I went into the trouble ticked and replied that the item shipped, and to please give me the refund.

They not only didn't respond, but they deleted the ticket, which included the whole conversation, making it much harder to prove a PayPal claim, which is where this is going. Whether or not I see the money back, I can put the word out about GearBest and their shady behavior.

So my recommendation for GearBest is to avoid them.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Photo Gallery: Spyderco Paramilitary 2 in S110V

These "blurple" Spyderco Paramilitary 2 knives have been really well received by the enthusiast community. Dealers are having a hard time keeping them in stock. It's easy to see why: the G10 is beautifully done and the Crucible CPM-S110V steel is the new hotness.

Spyderco Paramilitary 2 in S110V: Black Background 1
Spyderco Paramilitary 2 in S110V: Black Background 2

Spyderco Paramilitary 2 in S110V: Black Background 3

Spyderco Paramilitary 2 in S110V: Black Background 4
Spyderco Paramilitary 2 in S110V With Manix 2, Native 5, Delica 4 and Tenacious 1

Spyderco Paramilitary 2 in S110V With Manix 2, Native 5, Delica 4 and Tenacious 2
Spyderco Paramilitary 2 in S110V With Leatherman Wave and Olight S30

Spyderco Paramilitary 2 in S110V With Leatherman Wave, Fisher Space Shuttle Pen and Thrunite Ti5
Spyderco Paramilitary 2 in S110V - Product View 1

Spyderco Paramilitary 2 in S110V - Product View 2

Spyderco Paramilitary 2 in S110V - Product View 3

Spyderco Paramilitary 2 in S110V - Product View 4

Spyderco Paramilitary 2 in S110V - Product View 5

Spyderco Paramilitary 2 in S110V - Product View 6
Spyderco Paramilitary 2 in S110V - Product View 7

Spyderco Paramilitary 2 in S110V - Product View 9

Spyderco Paramilitary 2 in S110V - Blade View 1

Spyderco Paramilitary 2 in S110V - Blade View 2

Spyderco Paramilitary 2 in S110V - Blade View 3Spyderco Paramilitary 2 in S110V - Blade View 4

Spyderco Paramilitary 2 in S110V - Spine View 1

Spyderco Paramilitary 2 in S110V - Spine View 2
Spyderco Paramilitary 2 in S110V In Hand 1

Spyderco Paramilitary 2 in S110V In Hand 2

Spyderco Paramilitary 2 in S110V In Hand 3

Spyderco Paramilitary 2 in S110V In Hand 4

Spyderco Paramilitary 2 in S110V On Scale

Spyderco Paramilitary 2 in S110V In Box 1

Spyderco Paramilitary 2 in S110V In Box 2

Monday, January 18, 2016

The G700 Flashlight Is A Scam [Avoid]

If you're lucky enough to be part of a flashlight community like Budget Light Forum, you know that fantastic and powerful flashlights can be had direct from China for $3 to $10, with resellers on sites like Amazon selling them for only slightly more.

So, when people like us see "G700 TOUGHEST FLASHLIGHT ON THE MARKET" or "INCREDIBLE MILITARY ISSUE FLASHLIGHT NOW AVAILABLE TO PUBLIC," and see that it's a $10 flashlight you could get on Amazon with a USA seller, it makes us mad.

It's not a military flashlight, while it and similar models are pretty tough for a cheap, Chinese flashlight, they are by no means the toughest. And you guessed it, they are not used by the military. About the only thing true in any of their advertising is that it's a flashlight.

These web sites are a complete scam, as they prey on most people's ignorance of what a good flashlight is. Most people, especially older people, do not realize how cheap and powerful LED flashlights have become. If you bought one, you fell for a clickbait scam, sorry.

If you want to try a powerful flashlight which can take either a standard AA battery or a high octane lithium ion battery, I'd recommend the Nitecore EA11.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Review: Spyderco Des Horn EDC Pocket Knife

Spyderco has some interesting designs and collaborations, such as this one with well known knife maker, Des Horn. Their Taichung models have a reputation for legendary fit and finish, though none of the Taichungs ever really called my name. Getting a Des Horn from Amazon on black Friday for $62 definitely called my name.

Spyderco Des Horn EDC Pocket Knife - Product Link
Spyderco Des Horn EDC Pocket Knife - Product Link


Product Description


This is a small-ish pocket knife made in their Taichung, Taiwan factory from USA made CPM-S30V steel and carbon fiber scales. It features a one way, right-handed, tip-down deep carry clip. I guess I would call the blade geometry a modified wharncliffe.

Spyderco Des Horn EDC Pocket Knife - With Tag Heuer Link and Fisher Space Pen


Spyderco Des Horn EDC Pocket Knife - With Spyderco Mantra - 1

Spyderco Des Horn EDC Pocket Knife - With Spyderco Mantra - 2


Official Specs (From Amazon)


  • Made using the highest quality materials
  • Tested for quality and durability
  • The most trusted name in you cutlery needs
  • Right hand, tip-down clip
  • Michael Walker Liner Lock.
  • Black Smooth G-10 Handle

Initial Impressions


Wow, this thing has a sharp tip, probably the sharpest point I've seen on any knife. In all my years of knife collecting, I still haven't cut myself on a knife, and my first thought with the Des Horn was "don't cut yourself!"

It's extremely light. Between the slim blade geometry and the carbon fiber scales, I can't even feel it in my pocket. Which leads me to my only real gripe with it. The Des Horn comes with the clip tip-down out of the box and cannot be configured for tip-up.

But overall, this is a beautiful specimen, just like the Mantra I bought shortly after this one. I can see why people make a fuss about their Taichung models. 

Spyderco Des Horn EDC Pocket Knife - Product View 1

Spyderco Des Horn EDC Pocket Knife - Product View 2

Spyderco Des Horn EDC Pocket Knife - Product View 3

Spyderco Des Horn EDC Pocket Knife - Product View 4
The carbon fiber scales are beautiful, but they are fingerprint magnets!
Spyderco Des Horn EDC Pocket Knife - Product View 5

Spyderco Des Horn EDC Pocket Knife - Product View 6

Spyderco Des Horn EDC Pocket Knife - Product View 7

Spyderco Des Horn EDC Pocket Knife - Product View 8

Build Quality


It's easy to spot on the uninformed people on the Internet scolding Spyderco and its founder, Sal, for moving production of certain models overseas in order to increase profit and lower quality. For some companies I might agree, but Spyderco's Taichung plant is making models that are probably better overall than their Golden, Co cousins. 

My specimen lives up to its name. Everything about this knife just screams well built. I've never been a big fan of their wire clips, but this one is built well, and I understand that they didn't go to all the trouble of making this knife so light just to add a heavy clip.

Fit And Finish


Near perfect. The scales and blade are pretty much flawless. A blade with this weird geometry just begs them to make a mistake on the grind or the edge, but nope, both are perfect. Blade centering, perfect. Uniformity of the carbon fiber, perfect. No tool marks, blemishes, scratches, scuffs or anything that usually takes away from a finish.

Spyderco Des Horn EDC Pocket Knife - Blade Centered



Blade


The Des Horn has what I would call a hollow grind, modified wharncliffe blade, which comes to an extremely sharp tip. I said 'extremely' right? I'm not sure what to call the jimping on the side of the blade. It seems designed to give you a little extra grip deploying the blade from the spydie hole, and does its job well.

Spyderco Des Horn EDC Pocket Knife - Blade 1

Spyderco Des Horn EDC Pocket Knife - Blade 2

Spyderco Des Horn EDC Pocket Knife - Blade 3Spyderco Des Horn EDC Pocket Knife - Blade 4



Handle


Carbon fiber is a material that Spyderco is adept at working with. The scales have a few grooves on each side to give a little better grip. It's still not ideal, but it's not bad either. However, the handle design isn't so ergonomic.

It's kind of a clumsy grip on the knife with my largish hands. I would consider this a "gentleman's folder" but maybe gentlemen have small hands. Either way, it seems to me like this knife was made more as a work of art than a functional tool.

Clip


The one way, right-handed wire clip is well designed and carries well even though tip-down carry isn't my thing. So the clip is well done even if the tip-down configuration is a deal breaker for me personally. I've read reviews where people carry it in their shirt pocket, and the tip down clip would do pretty well there.

Spyderco Des Horn EDC Pocket Knife - Clip

Locking Mechanism


I'm not sure what a "Michael Walker Liner Lock" is, but I know what a liner lock is, and this is one. It's very well done, and solid, but a little hard to unlock because it's recessed a little. But it deploys nice and smooth, and locks up solid, and that's what I look for.

Spyderco Des Horn EDC Pocket Knife - Lock Usability


There's no reason this wouldn't make a decent EDC, but this one is going to live a pampered life in its box for now, until I decide its fate. I've never been a huge fan of wharncliffe type blades, but this is more of a stabby warncliffe which seems like an oxymoron. 

But again, if you don't cut yourself, this style blade should be able to open mail, packages, cut rope, whatever. I think it probably excels as a "gentleman's folder" and I may carry this one the few times I wear a suit.

Spyderco Des Horn EDC Pocket Knife - In Hand 1

Spyderco Des Horn EDC Pocket Knife - In Hand 2

Spyderco Des Horn EDC Pocket Knife - In Hand 3

Spyderco Des Horn EDC Pocket Knife - In Hand 4

Spyderco Des Horn EDC Pocket Knife - On Scale
It feels lighter than 2 ounces

Spyderco Des Horn EDC Pocket Knife - Calipers

Conclusions


Spyderco has always pushed the boundaries of knife making both with their own designs, and their collaborations. The Des Horn ... maybe pushes them a little far. Mine is a beautiful work of art that I'm never going to part with, but I just don't see myself carrying it much.

As a gentleman's folder, I think it could really shine, and I've seen other reviewers saying something to that effect. It's not that it's a bad design, it's just that there's so many better designs for EDC, like my precious Native.