Szanto 4100 Series Watch Review

Szanto 4102 darkSteampunk.  It evokes images of an alternate reality, where the use of 19th century technology dominates a timeline in which the retro is modern.  Picture in your mind’s eye wood and brass replacing carbon fiber and stainless steel.  Analog verses digital.  That’s what I see in Szanto’s new 4100 series.

As I have previously related, Barry Cohen, Szanto’s owner/mastermind, has sought to bring turn-of-the-century design to the marketplace.  When I saw the 4102, I was immediately reminded of an old style gauge from a creaky merchant marine ship or even a ’60’s sci-fi spacecraft.  Antique distressed “brass” housing, ivory dial, and stitched brown leather band–perfectly Steampunk.

I could not help but order a 4102 because of its interesting appearance.  When the timepiece arrived in Szanto’s unique traveling trunk box, I was not disappointed.  The watch has classic looks and the modern machinery to back it up. Continue reading

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Shooting Creek Holsters by Daniel

Shooting Creek Holsters laserDaniel, a contributor here at, asked to borrow my Ring’s Manufacturing Bluegun replica of a Smith & Wesson Bodyguard 380. He told me he was making a pocket holster for a friend.  Several weeks later I discovered–I was that friend!   He presented me with a beautifully handmade holster.

A few years ago, Daniel inherited some leatherworking tools from his grandfather, who lived in a town called Shooting Creek in North Carolina.  Daniel began practicing, making such things knife sheaths and notebook covers.  Daniel had even made me a rich brown flask cozy.  His attention then turned to handgun holsters.

I had seen some of the holsters he had constructed.  They were far and away better that the primitive leathercraft I had attempted decades ago.  Daniel’s cuts, burnishing, and dyeing were very good, but his stitching and stamping had become the work of an artisan.

Knowing I prefer pocket carry, Daniel added several thoughtful details to the black basketweave creation.  The throat of the holster is reinforced to Continue reading

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Kershaw-Emerson CQC-2K

IMG_6133I couldn’t stand it anymore and at $31.50, the item was well within reasonable discretionary spending.  My curiosity about the quality of Kershaw (KAI Cutlery) and Ernest Emerson’s love-child production folding knife from China got the better of me and my MasterCard.  Order placed.

A week later, the diminutive Kershaw-made/Emerson-designed CQC-2K was dropped into my mailbox.  The packaging was discarded upon arrival at home from work.  My first reaction was, “Solid little knife!”

The CQC-2K has a 2 3/4″ blade of 8Cr14MoV that is black-oxide coated.  Sporting a modified clip point, the blade is recurved.  The look of it is tactically smart.  Atop the blade is a thumb disk and Emerson’s Wave-Shaped Opening Feature.

A frame lock, the left side wears a black G-10 scale, while the right side is 410 stainless steel that is likewise black-oxide coated.  The lock-up of my knife was mechanically perfect.  A 2/3rds rear spacer leaves the interior of the handle accessible for cleaning.  The pocket clip is tip-up reversible and is Emerson skulled.

IMG_6135 Continue reading

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German Watch Factory in Action

I was fascinated by this video of watches being manufactured.  From the handwork to the laser engraving–all cool stuff.  NOMOS Glashütte makes 95% of its own innovative watch movements in-house.  Glashütte is a town in Germany where their watch industry is said to have been born.  Says NOMOS:

Plenty of tradition and handcraft—combined with high-tech, where it outperforms handcraft:  That is NOMOS Glashütte.  All our movements are built in-house and by ourselves in Glashütte.  This also applies to our watches—Tangente, Orion, Zürich and all the other models—many of which are already considered classics.  You can find out how we do this by visiting us in Glashütte and taking a tour.  In the meantime, this short film can give you a first impression of what we do.

I was recently in a watchmaker’s shop (a good friend of Daniel) and I was mesmerized by the specialized equipment and professional focus I observed while one of my TAG Heuers was serviced.  Mechanical artisanship.

by Wilson

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Guardian Tactical Knives

Guardian Tactical HelixGuardian Tactical, Inc. bills themselves as “Superior Knife Manufacturing.”  You have already seen their prowess in making Rat Worx’ knives.  At Blade Show, I actually visited Guardian Tactical before Rat Worx and the Guardian guys urged me to go right over to see the “steampunk” Nautilus, of which they were very proud.

Andy Buerk is a design engineer with Guardian Tactical.  He said their knives are 100% Made in the USA with nearly all the components constructed in their Emporium, PA, shop.  The HELIX is their flagship model.  It is robust, but tips the scale at just 4 ounces.  He was jazzed about their unique CNC blade grinds.  The HELIX blade has both flat and hollow grinds milled with precision on Guardian Tactical’s machines.

Guardian Tactical

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Spyderco Ronin 2 Prototype

Spyderco Ronin 2 GhostWay, way on the bottom of Spyderco’s Blade Show prototype showcase, I spotted a mockup of the Ronin 2, Michael Janich’s next evolution of the Ronin fixed blade knife.  My Canon DSLR begging to be used, I examined the Ronin 2 prototype.  It is a slim knife with thin G10 scales over a full tang spine.  The scales are held fast with three Torx bolts and there is a lanyard hole at the rear.  The Ronin 2 blade was marked CPM S30V and was deeply hollow ground.

Before someone cries foul and alleges I broke show rules, this is not a photograph from Spyderco’s Blade Show 2014 booth.  Clearly, it is forbidden to take pictures of the glass case of prototypes from Golden, Colorado.  I am, however, armed with Photoshop.  And I took some notes at the show…

My image is made from a photograph I took of my own Yojimbo 2, which I digitally altered to look like the Ronin 2 that I was able to handle at the Blade Show.  I think it is pretty true to the Spyderco prototype.

One detail I was not able to recreate from memory in my pirate image was Continue reading

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Spartan Knives Nymph Slipjoint Folder

imageSomehow in the constellation of knives at Blade Show, I missed seeing the Blade Show 2014 Most Innovative American Knife of the Year–The Spartan Nymph.

From Spartan Knives:  NYMPH – Intregral Frame Slipjoint

This small titanium folder is the result of a desire by Spartan Blade to produce a high quality slip joint folder using as few small moving parts as possible.  While attending the 2012 IWA Show in Germany, we spoke with several people who simply couldn’t own one of our larger folders due to the restrictions of knives with locks, one handed opening, and long blades.  During the show, Mark and Curtis were visiting the Nuremburg Toy Museum and were impressed by some of the very small high-tech mechanisms used to make toys.  It was then the idea hit them to make a slip joint that didn’t require several small fine blanked parts, allowing for a more modern look and function than the classic slipjoint.  Now they had a great idea but not the full mechanism to make it work.

Later, Spartan met with Les Halpern of Halpern Titanium and explained their idea for a small modern slip joint.  He became very excited as he had an idea for a similar knife using what he called “A good idea” for a mechanism.  Les did some drawings explaining his idea for eliminating the traditional back spring.  Normally, slip joint blades are held in position by a strong “back spring” which assists them with bias to the open or closed position.  Les’ idea was to make the frame the spring with the same bias in open or closed position. Continue reading

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