Monday, September 22, 2014

TOPS Fieldcraft Knife

I'm not a big knife collector, but only because my wallet has a credit limit. It's also rare for me to spend over $20 on a knife, let alone $100 +, but I wanted something else on my battle belt besides the Gerber LMF that was currently taking up too much space & weight. I opted to get the TOPS Fieldcraft Knife designed by The Brothers of Bushcraft (BOB) and made in the USA. I believe it's been out for over a year and I recently saw it at a decent price on Amazon, so I decided I had to pick one up for my kit.

[Click on images to enlarge]

Summarized from the TOPS site: 

The knife is 10" total in length. The blade is 4.5" long, 3/16" thick, and made of 1095 High Carbon steel with a rockwell hardness of 56-58. The cutting edge is a modified Scandinavian Grind, which is very effective for carving, skinning, and other general wood work.

The knife feels great in my hand with a fluid ergonomic handle. Additionally, the canvas micarta used for the handle adds to the comfort of the grip. The thumb scallops on the side of the handle provide further control for carving and skinning purposes. The aggressive jimping on the spine provides added grip on the knife beyond the bolster.  There is also a divot toward the rear of the handle, before the lanyard hole, for a bow drill. I doubt I'll ever utilize this feature, but never say "never". There are plenty of videos of guys abusing the hell out of this knife, especially batoning, and it's held up without issue. The knife comes with a molded Kydex sheath, but if you go through the TOPS website, you can purchase a leather Bushcraft sheath for an additional $40. However, I am quite comfortable using Kydex, as I'm sure many of you are as well. 

Included with the knife is a slim and effective whistle. While probably the last thing I give a damn about, it serves a purpose and is now in my med kit. The Ferro rod and magnesium rods that come with the knife have their own compartment on the Kydex sheath. Some people have switched these out with different fire starters, because they felt the Ferro rod was not very effective. However, I found the Ferro rod to produce enough of a spark when used correctly. As pictured below, face the half-moon scraper or the "shango notch" on the exposed pommel toward your body and then strike the rod down & away to produce an effective spark.

 A view of the exposed pommel with the shango notch, the lanyard hole, and the bow drill divot.

The hollow brass rivet for the lanyard hole can also be used to separate a bullet to harvest the powder that can then be used as a quick & effective fire starter, as seen in this review by Innerbark on YOUTUBE. Watch the whole vid if you have a moment. There are a lot of vids on this knife btw.

But can it open a bottle of beer? Yep, no problem there - 10/10

The molded Kydex sheath has a steel belt clip which, again, seems to irk some users, but I have had no issues with it thus far. The belt clip is also adjustable, allowing it to rotate for a vertical, horizontal, or angled carry.

As pictured below, I decided to paint the Kydex sheath with AERVOE coyote tan (purchased from DSG). I simply masked off areas I didn't want to paint, like the interior of the sheath, and hit it twice within an hour. I then let it sit for about 48hrs before I touch it again. The paint will come off with use.

And, finally, I also added a piece of shock-cord to the fire-starter rods for extra retention. Note the Serpa holster for my FNP-9 on my battle belt below, it was also painted with AERVOE coyote tan. It has held up well. 

Final notes. Total weight as pictured on the battle belt with firestarter and sheath is 0.83 lbs. Now to use it & abuse it with purpose. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014


I have been running a MAGPUL K2 grip on my PSA/FORTIS AR15 and I've started to dislike it. I find that when I'm transitioning primary to secondary or visa versa, I'm not conforming to the natural hold that I've become used to. My muscle memory is jarred for a split second, especially considering it is the only AR I have set up with this particular style of grip. Now, before someone rolls their eyes, it may be your favorite grip, I'm happy for you, but I'm just not (literally) feeling it.

MAGPUL states that the grip has more of a vertical angle, this is by design and most definitely true, but it also has an aggressive indent that the webbing between the thumb and hand falls into. I believe this feature is what is getting to me the most. Again, beautifully designed, but just not for me. So, I gave MAGPUL more money and ordered up another MIAD. Problem solved!

Following are some images for a side by side comparison.

Side by side, you can see the sweep on the MIAD vs the vertical back of the K2 that then drops into a huge, awkward indent. The MIAD also fills my hand perfectly as opposed to the slim profile of the K2. Additionally, the MIAD mimics the grip of my FNP-9 more closely than the K2, all about ergonomics and muscle memory. 

If you toggle between (click images to enlarge) the two images above, you'll see how the K2 kicks forward, because of it's vertical design versus the MIAD's gradual and natural sweeping design that is characteristic in most grips.

The GEN 1.1 MIAD comes with an oil bottle... I do not care for this, as well as, additional parts that allow the user to adjust the grip's ergonomics based on preference of fit.

I use my storage compartment for additional batteries for my optics and/or light. It's a great option to have in any pistol grip for miscellaneous items or components specifically dedicated to the platform.

The K2 also has a storage compartment, nothing fancy and it doesn't need to be. It gets the job done, simple and effective, like most of the MOE line.

Final notes. Run your system how you want to; familiarize yourself with it, test new gear with/on it, get away from the bench as much as possible, and if something is not functioning in accordance with your working space, change it sooner than later.

Just released, the new MOE-SL grip does away with the indent while maintaining the vertical style of the K2. If you like the style of the K2, this is an alternate option to consider. Note that it does not have the indent and does not have a storage compartment like the K2.