Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Drop Leg Bushcraft Knife Rig

Drop leg rigs are normally associated with tactical equipment; pistol holsters and the like. I am normally dead against using 'tactical' style equipment for bushcrafting but for the last year I have been carying my bushcraft knife on a drop leg rig and have become firmly converted. 

First to explain what I want from a carry solution for my ideal day to day bushcraft knife;

  • A hygienic sheath which will not soak up blood, fat and other contaminants from skinning and butchering game or preparing food (realistically this means a plastic like kydex)
  • A sheath which will not be uncomfortable when worn in conjunction with the hip belt of a rucksac (so no 'scout style' which honestly is a ridiculous way to carry a knife whether you are wearing a rucksac or not (sorry Tom Brown Tracker fans)) .
  • A sheath which is accessible without unnecessary 'faf' even when wearing winter clothing.
  • A sheath which I can wear directly on my person  (ie; on a belt or around my neck or on a baldric style over the head under the arm arrangement) rather than strapped to my rucksac. This is important so I can't be separated from my most important survival tool if I was to loose my rucksac.  
  • A sheath which is easy to detach from my person without un-threading my belt so it can be stowed in a rucksac while I'm travelling to and from places or situations where I need or can justify wearing it on my person.
  • A sheath which is secure and doesn't dangle, swing, rattle or bump (ie; securely on my belt not around my neck or on a baldric under my arm).
  • A sheath which is easy to access without unnecessary contortion.
So these are my basic requirements of a bushcraft sheath, notice that none of those requirements is that the sheath also contain a fire steel, sharpening kit etc... sometimes that is nice but it's not essential. I've come to realise that a drop leg arrangement is the best way to meet all these requirements. I have been using Maxpeditions 'low profile drop leg PALS panel' to mount knives on for about a year now and I'm as happy as I have ever been with my bushcraft knife carry arrangements.  
Maxpedition Low Profile Drop Leg PALS Panel
Maxpedition low profile drop leg PALS panel
Image result for blade tech molle lok
Blade Tech MOLLE LOk
These panels come in two parts a nylon belt loop which can be threaded onto your belt and forgotten about and the panel it'self. The two can be joined by  a robust plastic buckle. The panel also has a loop at the bottom to allow a cord to be threaded through to be tied around your thigh to secure the panel in place. Because these panels are equipped with 'PALS' or 'MOLLE' attachment points some sheath will not immediately fit them. A lot of quality Nylon sheaths are already MOLLE compatible so can be easily attached to these panels without modification but as I have mentioned before they are not my favourite option as they are very absorbent and can easily soak up fish slime, blood, fat, plant juices, oil and other contaminants presenting a potential food hygiene risk which would be undesirable at best. Avoiding that hygiene risk and making your knife compatible with these panels if it originally came in a leather sheath is a simple fix though; Blade Tech Molle LOk's can be easily attached to most kydex sheaths and used to secure your sheath to the panel. As kydex (or at least some non-absorbent material, zytel or other plastic material is equally acceptable) is one of my requirements for a general purpose bushcraft knife I haven't had to think about how I would attach leather sheaths to one of these panels and it isn't a problem I intend to spend any time solving or thinking about as if I intend to use the knife for general bushcrafting I will always make a kydex sheath for it if it doesn't already come in one. I know this might go against the grain for those who like their bushcraft kit to have that 'traditional' appearance and there is a lot of good to be said for traditional materials like leather, canvas and oilcloth but as I come from a deer stalking and gamekeeping background the need to keep my knife clean and hygienic is really important and something I always stress with my students that good practice requires them to use knives with impervious handles to avoid contamination of the meat they may be selling into the food chain. This has stuck with me and although I wont dispute the beauty of a full grain leather sheath my personal preference for reasons of practicality and hygiene is a plastic sheath. 

So now that we have our kydex sheathed knife firmly attached to the drop leg panel lets see if this carry option meets all my requirements;

  • A hygienic sheath which will not soak up blood, fat and other contaminants from skinning and butchering game or preparing food (realistically this means a plastic like kydex). Yes we've already discussed this one at length above. 
  • A sheath which will not be uncomfortable when worn in conjunction with the hip belt of a rucksac (so no 'scout style' which honestly is a ridiculous way to carry a knife whether you are wearing a rucksac or not (sorry Tom Brown Tracker fans)). Yes; check out the picture to the right showing my homemade sheath which contains my British Army Survival Knife and attached survival kit being carried well out of the way of my rucksak waist strap. The fact that the nylon belt loop is so thin is important here as a bulky strap would cause irritation even if the knife it'self hung clear of the waist belt. 
  • A sheath which is accessible without unnecessary 'faf' even when wearing winter clothing. Again see the picture on the right, in this arrangement the knife hangs well clear of even quite long Winter coats. 
  • A sheath which I can wear directly on my person  (ie; on a belt or around my neck or on a baldric style over the head under the arm arrangement) rather than strapped to my rucksac. This is important so I can't be separated from my most important survival tool if I was to loose my rucksac.  Yes as you can see it's attached to my belt and is therefor independent from my rucksac, I could loose my bag but still have my knife to hand. 
  • A sheath which is easy to detach from my person without un-threading my belt so it can be stowed in a rucksac while I'm travelling to and from places or situations where I need or can justify wearing it on my person.
    The picture to the right shows the panel detached from it's belt loop and showing the buckle for attaching the two pieces together. This can easily be undone to allow the knife to be stashed in a rucksac while you are on the way to the woods or until you reach the jumping off point of your expedition.                         
N1152
A Sami belt with dangling knife sheaths, whetstone pouch and needle case  from the Scott Polar Research Institute at the University of Cambridge. 
  • A sheath which is secure and doesn't dangle, swing, rattle or bump (ie; securely on my belt not around my neck or on a baldric under my arm). With a leg strap these drop leg panels are easy to secure and do not cause the frustration that carrying knives around the neck does. 'Dangler' style sheaths have become popular among bushcrafters but I personally can't get on with them, they bump against your leg and need to be held still with one hand while the knife is removed and replaced with the other. Among the Sami people living in the Northern latitudes of Scandinavia dangling knife sheaths are popular but the way they carry their knives is very different, generally outside of winter clothes rather than on a belt threaded through a pair of trousers so the bump, bump, bump of the knife against your leg isn't an issue and oriented more to your front than to the side so it's more accessible. 
The top of the handle sits
right next to your pocket. 
  • A sheath which is easy to access without unnecessary contortion. The handle of the knife secured to a drop leg panel sits roughly at the level of your trouser pocket (although this can be adjusted depending on the position of your attachment between sheath and panel) which is an ideal position to reach it without having to reach all the way up to the handle of a knife in a deep carry sheath mounted directly to your belt.  








So all my criteria are met and I'm entirely happy carrying my standard bushcraft knife on a drop leg panel. That doesn't mean I'm opposed to other styles of carry, in actual fact from an aesthetic point of view I think it looks a bit silly, but it just suits my needs better than any other options. 

Real Steal Bushcrafter, Eikhorn Nordic Bushcraft and Viper Tank all on drop leg panels ready for carry. 
 




 

Thursday, 14 September 2017

'EDC'

The contents of my pockets as I write this; wallet with readyman survival card, half a pencil, watch, case of plasters, lighter wrapped in duck tape, pocket knife; a Boker Plus tech tool 5 and 89 pence in change.
Everyone carries things in their pockets on a daily basis but there is a certain section of society for whom what you carry in your pockets is a fascination nearing a hobby in and of it'self. Most of us use our pockets just to carry essential items like keys, phone and wallet. If you've got a bit of common sense you will also carry a pocket knife, not in case of an imminent zombie apocalypse but just because it's a sensible thing to carry with you. Presumably if you are reading this blog you are not the kind of person that would be offended by the idea of legally carrying a knife (if you are offended by that read some of our other posts on firearms, that should finish you off).

But for people with a life 'edc'ing' as it has become know (every day carry) isn't a 'thing' it's just what you do. For me that is always a variation of what is pictured above, I see very little need to constantly change what you carry if it works for you.

This is what I had on my person back on the 24th of April, just to show you how little my 'edc' changes. A different watch because the battery in the Lorus pictured here has run out and I haven't had a chance to change it, and a Boker Plus griplock instead of the tech tool on this occasion. 
One thing missing from all these pictures is my phone, I was using it to take the pictures. 

Some items may change from time to time, in my case the item that changes most often is the pocket knife just because I have lots and sometimes fancy a change or might choose to carry something slightly more robust when I can justify it.

Lets face it it's nice to have options when it comes to pocket knives; from 12 o'clock a Sheffield eye witness sheepsfoot pocket knife, CRKT edgie, Viktorinox spartan, Svord peasant, Swiza CO4 camo, Shrade avatar, Opinel No.7, Cold Steel Finn Wolf, Buck Bantam, Viktorinox hunter XS.
That word 'justify' is key when it comes to carrying a pocket knife. In the UK you can't legally carry a pocket knife that has a blade of over 3 inches in length or that doesn't freely fold despite it's length without good reason. That means lock knives and fixed blade knives of any size are out as an every day carry item unless you can justify it. According to the UK government website justifications might include; 
  • taking knives you use at work to and from work
  • taking it to a gallery or museum to be exhibited
  • if it’ll be used for theatre, film, television, historical reenactment or religious purposes, for example the kirpan some Sikhs carry
  • if it’ll be used in a demonstration or to teach someone how to use it
Other things that might change about what I carry in my pockets might be keys and wallet depending if I am cycling, walking or driving somewhere will determine whether I need to carry any keys and exactly what I am doing on any given day will determine whether I bother carrying my wallet but generally my 'edc' stays much the same from day to day. 

Certain activities will see me add other items, for example if I am doing some bushcrafting I will carry a sheath knife, normally in a bag and only on my belt when I actually need to access it. 

You can see the bulk of what I have in my pockets remains the same, or at least very similar but I add a bushcrafting knife and fire steel on a drop leg sheath which can be clipped on and off my belt with a buckle without having to un-thread my belt. Next week's post will be all about drop leg knife sheath's, about a year ago it became my favourite way to carry my bushcraft knife and i'll explain why next week.  
By definition though any of these items we add to what we carry to meet specific requirements of activities or things we need to do on a given day are not 'edc' items and lets face it this post is really about pocket knives that you carry on a daily basis because they are the only really interesting thing that most people carry in their pockets. So while I will always carry a pocket knife (unless I'm travelling through an airport or somewhere else where they are specifically prohibited) it won't necessarily be the same one every day, although it often is, the Boker Plus tech tool or Swiza Swiss Army knife are my favourites at the moment. 

As an example of how my knife might change from day to day; if I am carrying a multi tool I won't generally carry a multi bladed pocket knife as well, but probably a single blade utility knife like the boker plus grip lock pictured already or Svord Peasant, or if I needed something really robust and had a reason to carry a locking knife perhaps a Cold Steel Finn Wolf . If I was dressing a little smarter for a shoot day or dealing with a client on the farm perhaps my Mcusta Tsuchi or Boker Plus Exskelibur. Or if I'm not in a situation where I need or can justify a lock knife a plain non locking Swiss Army style knife by Viktorinox, Swiza or one of the boker plus tech tools. 

The hammer finish and laminated Damascus steel on this Mcusta is beautiful. 

What I don't do is get overly concerned with what I carry on a day to day basis as long as I've got what I need and it fits in my pockets without producing embarrassing and uncomfortable bulges or pulling my trousers down under it's weight that's all that matters. You'll never hear me talk about an 'edc system' or go on about trying to find the perfect combination of gear to carry around with me or fretting that everything I need doesn't fit in my pockets so I need an 'edc organiser' or an extra bag or four pocket knives to cover a range of scenarios from tactical self defence/zombie combat to bottle opening, box cutting, finger nail trimming and envelope opening (because some people just have to whip a knife out for everything). You may choose to carry a few extra bits and pieces in a bag if you happen to be carrying one anyway, for example the bag I cycle to work with always contains a waterproof jacket and trousers, a leatherman multi tool, a small first aid kit, a puncture repair kit and pump for my bike, a headtorch some safety pins and some business cards, along with the things I need for work. the extra few bits and pieces take up about the same space as your average lunch box and are primarily to service my bike and keep me dry not because I'm expecting the breakdown of society to occur at the drop of a hat. If it does  I've spent a lifetime learning bushcraft and survival skills that I can put to good use and don't think I'll be hugely disadvantaged because I don't carry a 'bugout bag' with me at all times. 





 


Friday, 8 September 2017

'Survival' Knives With Built in Survival Kits

Sylvester Stallone as John Rambo is perhaps the most famous person to use one of these 'Survival Knives' but are they any good? 

John Rambo.jpg
By Yoni S.Hamenahem - Yoni S.Hamenahem, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Generally I would say NO! the kind of survival kit that can be crammed into the handle of a knife is likely to be so small as to be fairly ineffective. It might have just enough in it to improvise a bit of fishing kit or make a single snare, light a fire (which may well be a life saver), contain a scalpel blade for skinning (although you already have a knife so why bother with a scalpel blade), or a single plaster dress a tiny wound. So while none of those things are useless you would be far better off having those things on your person because in my opinion you are just as likely to loose your knife in a survival situation as anything else. Really I suppose the kit in one of these knives is meant to be a last resort, you wouldn't willingly head off with nothing but what was contained in the handle of your knife (unless you really wanted to test your skills) and would probably have (SHOULD DEFINITELY HAVE) proper, full size, kit as well as what's in your knife should you choose a knife of this type. 

These knives are generally weaker than I am comfortable with though, the handles of the knives you will often find on Amazon and Ebay will definitely break and realistically will probably be made of appalling steel that certainly won't arrive with a decent edge and probably won't ever take a decent edge either, these knives will DEFINITELY break even moderate use putting your main tool out of action and posing a significant risk of injury. 

There are some that seem robust enough to use;

The Cold Steel Survival Edge is a no frills affordable hollow handled survival knife that as well as coming with a good sharp blade contains a small survival kit and houses a fire steel in the sheath. It is remarkably robust, almost miraculously robust, I can't quite work out how it's so strong without a full tang. Other hollow handled survival knives are far too fragile unless you move well up the price range and go for something very expensive. Even then your options will be limited and I would suggest your money is better spent else where but for the £30 you'd spent on this cold steel offering you are basically getting a hollow handled Mora. It wont break the bank and it will perform just fine. The one complaint I have about it is the handle is bit too fat, it's down to the perfectly cylindrical shape perhaps but it just feels a bit uncomfortable. Maybe I have small hands but I can handle a British army 'survival' knife which has a notoriously large handle.   
 
Another option is this style of knife which does not have a hollow handle but comes with a survival kit in a waterproof container attached to the sheath. In this case a Marco Polo survival knife which isn't made of great steel and has a very oddly placed bottle opener instead of a choil (not that I'm a fan of finger choils on knives, I'll explain why in a later post) but the decision to add a bottle opener there seems very odd. This design does mean I'm not sacrificing strength for a hollow handle though and the specially designed sheath contains compass and a substantial survival kit as well as being engraved with morse code and a ruler. 
The survival kit comes in this waterproof clear plastic case and contains matches, sharpening stone, plasters, fishing kit, magnifying glass and a few other odds and ends. However once you have removed it from the sheath the knife wont go back in and be held securely. But again everything in this kit is so small that it is of very limited use. 


My take on the all in one knife/survival kit package is a little different, as I've said I think a lot of the items stashed in the smaller kits are a bit too small to be useful but this kit has everything of a useful size. Instead of two plasters in a little plastic bag the pouch on the front of this sheath contains a a CAT tourniquet. If your wound only needs a plaster to fix it it's not serious enough to worry about but this will take care of large wounds that really might be a 'survival' situation. 

There is also an extra large ferrocium rod contained in this sheath, instead of using your three matches from your survival kit that have been beat up in their container for goodness knows how long and have all fallen apart to hopefully light one fire, you can use this to light ten thousand fires.
The small knife is a TOPS mini eagle combining a strait edge and a small section of serrations for tasks that the large British Army survival knife is too big for; skinning, food prep, fine carving etc...
If I'm headed out into the wood by choice I'll take all the tools
I want or need, some people will tell you that's heavy but a
full kit with axe, whittling knife, folding saw and main
knife probably wont weigh more than five kilos, if you
can't manage that then you need to worry about more
than a survival kit
If you are in a real survival situation you are just as likely to have access to the bigger kit than the smaller and by that I mean almost zero chance of having either. Choosing to go into the wilderness an use your skills is another matter though so you may as well use the kit you really want to rather than trying to find a knife that does (or contains) everything. So my personal choice would be not to take any of these things pictured above take a bushcraft knife, an axe a folding saw, a ferrocium rod, a full size first aid kit, if you want to go fishing take a rod and spinners, if you want to catch food using traps take some snares or a rifle. 

My current first pick for a main bushcraft/woods knife.
The Eikhorn Nordik Bushcraft




If you're really in a survival situation innovation is likely to be your best and only ally.  










Take a look at what is in your pockets right now because if in the next ten second's you find yourselves in the middle of a zombie apocalypse that's all you're going to have.
 
On my person right now; watch, butane lighter wrapped in duck tape, wallet (inside the wallet is a Readyman survival card), pocket knife (a griplock by Boker plus), case of plasters. 

Or think of the cliche crashed plane survival scenario what have you got in your pockets, now deduct from that any pocket knives because you wouldn't have those on the plane add a slight chance that you will locate your hold luggage which may or may not contain some survival aids and your best chance is again innovation. Making something out of nothing and the most of what you've got. 

So are 'survival' knives any good? if they are well made they may not be worse than any other knife but ultimately that's all they are; any other knife, the survival kits are fairly poor and need to be supplemented by primary gear. If you have one in a real survival situation then thats far better than nothing but if you are practising bushcraft recreationally they would be far from my first choice. 

Thursday, 8 June 2017

TOPS C.U.B Knife

I am working on a second edition of a my book on friction fire lighting and am dedicating a section of it to looking at knives which have a rather interesting feature. It has become popular to include on some bushcraft/survival knives handle divots which allow you to use the handle as a bearing block for your friction fire lighting. I have always thought of these as a gimmick but wanted to test some out for the new book. The TOPS C.U.B knife is one of the knives I chose to test this feature and is described by the manufacturer as follows;

"The C.U.B. (Compact Utility Blade) was designed to be a compact, lightweight sidekick to a machete/bolo/parang in the jungle or a tomahawk/axe in North America, capable of performing all the important utility duties of camp craft and food preparation, while leaving the heavy work for the chopping tools. With an emphasis on compact, keeping the total blade length under 4" makes it legal to enter most countries internationally without attracting too much attention. The C.U.B. was designed with two of Reuben Bolieu's favorite styles of knives in mind, a Finish Puukko (with a Scandinavian grind) and Kephart style knife. Put them in a blender and you have the TOPS C.U.B. - rugged simplicity!"
Features
  • Natural tan Micarta scales with divot for bow drill.
  • A TOPS modified Scandinavian grind.
  • Thin 1/8" stock for optimal slicing and weight reduction
  • Chicago screws for easy field removal (for cord wrapping or pounding on the butt without damaging the scales) with a flat head screwdriver or small washer
  • Wide blade gives more surface area to pound on, allowing the blade to sink in deeper while cross-grain battoning into green wood
  • Thumb notch cut into the scales for a secure, comfortable chest lever grip. 
  • Sheath is the simple Nylon

Specifications
  • Overall Length: 8"
  • Blade Length: 3-3/4"
  • Cutting Edge: 3-1/2"
  • Thickness: 1/8"
  • Steel: 1095 High Carbon Steel, 56-58HRC
  • Sheath: Tan Ballistic Nylon
  • Handle: Natural Tan Micarta
  • Blade Color: Stonewashed
  • Weight: 5.2 oz
  • Designed by Reuben Bolieu
  • Made in the USA
TOPS C.U.B and it' accompanying survival kit

Although the addition of a survival kit is nice it seems a bit of an afterthought, the firesteel, and Fresnel lens and whistle are by far the highest quality parts of the survival kit but every TOPS knife comes with a whistle and the knife is really the main event. It's sheath which supposedly could contain the survival kit as well is a bit of a disappointment. It is made of fairly poor quality nylon and the knife is only retained in the sheath thanks to the bulky top flap which secures relatively loosely over the from with a buckle. This flap can be removed and the knife secured with a velcro tab around the handle but this doesn't seem secure at all to me. The fit of the sheath to the knife provides no retention at all and you are entirely reliant on the Velcro and buckle to hold the knife in place. This also means that the knife is impossible to use as a bow drill divot while it is still in the sheath which means that you have to hold a naked blade while you bear down on it with a great deal of force and move a bow drill vigorously back and forth inches from that exposed blade as you light your fire, not really as safe as I'd like. The sheath really was a disappointment and really devalues a knife that retails for almost £150, there is no excuse for a sheath that bad at such a high price, the molded plastic sheaths of budget knives are better. 

The handle of the C.U.B with it's built in bow drill divot is no worse a bearing block than anything else, but it's no better either, it's not magically frictionless, there is an inherent danger it having a naked blade waving around as you work up a coal with your bow drill especially as you will be bearing down on it with considerable force. Also if you have found enough material to make your bow, drill and hearth presumably you have access to another piece of wood which would make a perfectly adequate bearing block as well?

While the divot wasn't really as functional as it was hyped to be the handle it'self was fine, the tan micarta provided plenty of grip and while it does look a little angular was actually very comfortable for all tasks. 

 The C.U.B also includes a survival kit;

  • Razor blade
  • 3 barrel fire starter
  • P-38 can opener
  • Steel snap link
  • Fresnel lens
  • Heavy duty rubber band
  • Sail needle
  • Safety pins
  • Fishing line (25 feet)
  • 2 fish hooks
  • Liquid filled button compass
  • Orange marking tape (12 feet)
  • Acrylic signal mirror
A combination fire steel including magnesium rods as well as ferrocium. 

A button compass.

A whistle

A Fresnel lens (magnifying glass)
A miniature fishing kit, razor blade and can opener. 
The blade came absolutely razor sharp and although I personally can't understand the need for the additional edge bevel to 'strengthen' the scandi grind of the knife it does still perform superbly in wood carving and whittling. 

The knife is tastefully marked with the TOPS logo and is finished in a nice stone wash, no coatings to ruin the performance of the edge. It is carbon steel though so the blade will of course need care and attention if you are going to avoid rust. But any knife would.  The one complaint I have about the bale is the excessively large finger guard which is uncomfortable and unnecessary in a blade of this size and style. I'm constantly surprised by peoples concern over having a sizable finger guard on their knives, for general woods use and bushcraft finger guards only get in the way of fluid and efficient wood carving as you need to use a variety of grips on the knife. Perhaps it's the youtube trend for doing ridiculous things with knives that inspires manufacturers to include overbuilt finger guards on their knives but I have never needed to stab through a car bonnet or do a so called 'hammer stab' that the keyboard bushcrafters of youtube all think are necessary and reasonable. Finger guards do one of two things, protect you finger from slipping onto the blade or prevent something else sliding up your blade onto your fingers or hand. Neither of which is going to happen while you are bushcrafting. I eventually ground the finger guard off completely so it became more comfortable to use and so it fit better in the kydex sheath I made to replace the very poor nylon original. 


The knife was kindly provided by Hennie Haynes  based in Cardiff South Wales and who are the best in business when it comes to fixed and folding knives.  

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Real Steel Bushcraft Knife

The word 'bushcraft' attached to any product seems to drastically increase it's price but unfortunately often not it's value. That's not to say that more expensive equipment isn't good, sometimes it's very good but at other times the gulf between the prices of kit, most particularly knives, is not always as vast as the quality and performance.



The Real Steel Bushcraft knife may not be as low cost as the ubiquitous Mora Companion but it is full tang, has a thicker blade (at 3.5mm instead of 2.5mm) than a Mora and a micarta handle. It certainly looks the part of a bushcraft knife with a Scandinavian grind and in this case coyote micarta handle slabs. At less then £60 the D2 steel is a bargain and will hold it's edge well, I have had mine for well over a year and use it regularly and have only needed to give it the most basic of care and sharpening.  

The Scandinavian grind enables this knife to excel in in wood processing tasks, from making feather sticks for fire lighting to carving and whittling duties. While some might criticize it as having no chopping power the same could be said of any bushcraft knife of ideal size. Between four and five inches is a good size for general craft chores, food processing and gentle batoning; all the tasks required of a general purpose outdoors knife. 

 

The kydex sheath with drain hole might not be quite as rustic as a more traditional leather sheath but does mean that the blade is better protected from the elements than in a leather sheath that gets damp and holds water. 

All in all this knife is hard to beat on price or performance as a general bushcraft knife.  





  

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Browning X-Bolt .223




The Browning X-bolt is already a tried and trusted hunting firearm, which I already own and use in its 6.5 x 55 form so when I needed a lighter calibre, another X-bolt was an obvious contender to include in my research. It looks almost identical to my other synthetic stalker and straight from the box it points nicely, is light and beautifully balanced. 

Un-boxing the new rifle
It seems a shame to spoil that balance with a sound moderator and I’m sure there will be times when I don’t burden myself or the rifle with that extra weight right up the front. However, for this very brief preliminary test, I did use a moderator and an old and simple fixed 6 power scope, which has been adequate for my hunting needs and has helped me put a lot of meat in the freezer.

Looking down range at Riddy Wood

The new feature on this rifle is the ‘Super Feather’ trigger, which I found to be superb! I’m looking forward to having much longer to get acquainted with this lovely rifle in the coming weeks and months and to preparing a more detailed test report.


Wednesday, 17 May 2017

The Retirement of an Old Friend; Karrimor Trig 30 Airspace


I bought this rucksack many years ago when I first moved away from home to attend college, it has served me well all over the globe from short expeditions here in the UK to New Zealand, North America and Scandinavia. At the time of purchase rigid air space rucksacks were becoming popular and having returned from many a hike drenched in sweat under my rucksac straps and on my back I thought it was time to try one of these new-fangled packs. 


I had been concerned that the rigid plastic which maintained the gap between my back and the rucksac would limit the carrying capacity of the rucksac and it did to an extent, and Bulkier objects if forced into the pack would also bend the plastic which maintained the gap between my back and the pack it'self. If packed sensibly though these things were never any more of an issue than they would be in any other type of pack.

The side pockets have proven very useful, although not really deep enough or secure enough to hold a water bottle the pack is equipped with well placed straps on the sides to allow the pockets to hold the end of ice axe's or other similar gear which can then be secured with the straps. The front pocket, if stuffed full, does eat into the available space of the main compartment but I found it an excellent place to stow waterproof and gear that needed to be accessed quickly. The lid pocket houses a waterproof rain cover which can be stretched over the pack in bad weather and which is large enough to house other gear which you need easy access to; first aid kit, compass and map etc..

The 'air space' meant that your back was much cooler  during extended hikes, and the problems of sweating and overheating were much reduced compared to a pack without this space. 
The air space lived up to it's hype and has kept me dry and very comfortable for several years over hundreds of short expeditions, day walks and days of supervising groups out of doors carrying this loaded with first aid kit, emergency equipment and the other trappings of an outdoor educator. 

Looking worse for wear after thirteen years hard use. 
Eventually though all good things come to an end and the wear and tear started to show, the fabric and frame of the bag it'self is still completely sound and free of any significant damage but the, zips, buckles, straps and padded hip belt have all gradually degraded and worn away. All the buckles have now been replaced with various combinations of elastic and carabiners or have had so many changes of buckle that the straps themselves are worn out. 

A make shift closure for the pack made out of elastic and a caribiner. 

If Karrimor still made them I would highly recommend them, even after a more recent experience with a pair of disintegrating walking boots by Karrimor has put me off the brand, this particular pack was a winner and it's a shame to see it go but sometimes kit really does need to be retired.