The Yeoman

IMG_0022This is the Yeoman by Victorinox (boy scout version). This was my very first swiss army knife, and I carried it EVERYWHERE. I wasn’t in scouts very long, but because of this knife, my EDC obsession started early. This knife was my most prized possession for the majority of my childhood. This thing has to be about 20 years old, but every tool still functions perfectly, including the pen!

This particular model is now discontinued, though they did a limited run back in 2007 with an updated magnifying glass and repositioned a few of the tools. It’s similar to the Explorer model (which is still available), minus 2 or 3 functions.

This model is the closest thing to my idea of a “perfect” swiss army knife. I’d probably swap the corkscrew with a reamer, because who really uses the corkscrew anyway? Other than that, I think this is one of the more functional swiss army models around.

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ZT 0220

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Here’s a look at the ZT 0220 designed by Jens Anso.

I was trying pretty hard to sell this knife not too long ago, but it has become one of my favorites in the last month or so. I just really wasn’t a huge fan of the bright orange backspacer or the large blue “ZT” medallion on the front of the knife. (Be warned if you don’t like the medallion, there’s just a hole in the scale behind it, so it won’t look any better without it!)

So after removing the orange anodizing on the backspacer with Greased Lightning, I sent it over to Mark Mansfield (@mmans0311 on Instagram) to do some work on the blade.  As usual, Mark did a fantastic job darkening, etching, and sharpening the blade to completely change the look of the knife.

Little did I know, the knife now comes with a black backspacer from the factory. So I called ZT and ordered a new stock black one (pictured above). Now the knife looks as good as you would expect with the quality of design and materials that went into making it.

The blade is 3.5” and made from CPM-S35VN. The knife overall is 8.375” long, so it’s a pretty good size. It weighs about 6.25 ounces, giving this American made folder a nice sturdy feel to it. The action of the ball bearing system makes the “flipping” smooth and effortless. I guess it just took a little bit of modifying to make the 0220 a knife that I want to hold onto for years to come, but I’m very happy with how it turned out.

Pioneer X

IMG_0019I just got the new Pioneer X from Victorinox and I have to admit, it may be the most functional Swiss Army Knife ever made.

The Pioneer model by itself is one of my favorites. It’s essentially a larger version of the Cadet model, only it replaces the file with a reamer. Now they have added scissors into the mix, and I’m not sure there is anything this knife couldn’t do.

The Pioneer X is in the 93mm size group of Swiss Army Knives (about 3.6”). It’s just small enough to be carried without noticing it’s there, but big enough to feel like it can take on more robust tasks than a smaller SAK would be able to. As much as I love the Cadet, sometimes I feel like it’s a little too thin/small for certain situations (i.e., cutting something thick or needing to pry something heavy).

The Pioneer X features a blade, can opener/small screwdriver, bottle opener/large screwdriver, a reamer, and scissors. Tell me that wouldn’t make you feel like Macgyver..

The X only comes in the silver color (like the one above) and a limited edition metallic grey color that features a Damast blade.They are becoming increasingly harder to find, but they normally run about $45 or so for the silver model and about $185 for the limited edition.

Ursa Minor

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This shot features the Ursa Minor by Kizer Cutlery, the Bottle Scalper by Tony Nicholl, and handkerchief by Cranky Hanky Co.

Ursa Minor This knife is designed by Ray Laconico and produced by Kizer Cutlery. The knife is a frame lock folding knife with “flipper” opening style. The action on the Ursa Minor is probably the smoothest of any knife that I own. The blade is made from CPM-S35VN stainless and measures 3.125”. The handle and clip are both titanium. The hardware comes in a blue color, but I have had some customization done to mine. The hardware and clip have been anodized to a bronze color, and the handles have been stonewashed. The blade has also been acid washed, etched, and sharpened to a mirror finish. One thing I really love about the blade is the “harpoon” style grind that gives it a little more character than just a regular hollow grind would.  

Bottle ScalperThis simple bottle opener/pry bar is designed and made by Tony Nicholl (@nichollknives on Instagram). I like the simplicity of this small tool. It’s thin and lightweight, but sturdy enough to be used as a light pry bar or flat screwdriver. Not to mention the ability to open an ice cold beer! Tony makes these in different thicknesses and metals. Mine is made from a stainless steel.

Plaid Handkerchief This is another one of my many handkerchiefs from Cranky Hanky Co. These usually measure 10.5”x 10.5” and are double sided made from cotton.

Budget EDC

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This time around, I’d like to prove that a good EDC doesn’t have to completely break the bank. Here are some high quality items that I carry that are affordable yet extremely reliable.

Olight S10 Baton – $40

The S10 is a classic EDC light. It’s small, bright, and extremely sturdy. The magnet in the tail cap allows you to use it hands free in just about all applications. The clip is reversible so that you can carry it face down in your pocket, or flip it around and put it on the brim of your hat for a headlamp. It runs on one CR123 (or rechargeable CR123) and has a max brightness of 400 lumens. There are 4 brightness levels, as well as a hidden strobe feature.

CRKT Pilar – $25

Designed by Jesper Voxnaes, this compact frame lock folding knife may look small (just over 3.5” folded), but it feels pretty comfortable in the hand. The handle is made from stainless steel and the blade from 8Cr13MoV. Maybe not the best steel, but that’s what makes it so affordable. You may need to sharpen the blade more often, but it will be an easy sharpen. This is a great option for someone that wants a compact knife with a clean design and doesn’t want to drain their bank account.

Big Red Bi-Fold Wallet – $40

This is my absolute favorite minimalist wallet. Hand made by Big Red Beard Combs, this thing will last forever. It will hold about 4-6 cards, but I usually have about 2 cards, driver’s license, a little cash and some business cards in it. It will also fit Big Red’s number 9 or number 5 comb if you can spare the room. The leather quality is some of the best I’ve seen, and the stitching is on point (little sewing humor there).

So at just over $100, you get a small but powerful flashlight, a simple, well designed knife, and a wallet that you’ll probably be able to pass along to your grandchild someday. Not bad..

Less Is More

This combo features the Spyderco Techno designed by Marcin Slysz, and the Olight S mini baton in bead blasted titanium.

The Techno was my first “nice” knife, and it remains one of my favorites today. I’ve had a little customization done to it, but I think it has only made the knife look and function better. The blade (just over 2.5” and made from CTS-XHP steel) has been etched, stonewashed and sharpened by Mark Mansfield (@mmans0311 on Instagram). I’ve sent multiple knives to Mark and have never been disappointed. I’ve also replaced the stock blue backspacer with custom individual backspacers (not visible in the picture of course). This knife is definitely a compact workhorse that won’t let you down.

The S mini baton by Olight is exactly like the S1 baton, only without the magnet on the base of the light. It’s made from a beautiful bead blasted titanium and features five different brightness settings starting with a “turbo” burst of 550 lumens, and then stepping down to 300, 60, 12, and a .5 “moonlight” setting. It runs off of a single CR123A (or rechargeable CR123), and is the currently the smallest CR123 flashlight Olight offers. The only complaint some might have about this particular light would be the lack of a reversible clip.