Tools for your lifestyle.
A folding knife is probably the first tool a young man will receive. It's a timeless rite of passage that will always be remembered and treasured. Ten to twelve years of age is the typical window of opportunity. Many younger boys won't appreciate the significance and responsibility of ownership, often losing the knife. Teenagers will just buy one for themselves. Buck's 110 is an American made legend and a worthy candidate. It was the first folding knife deemed tough enough to handle the tasks of a fixed blade hunting knife and has gone on to be the most prolific folder in the world. Its lock back design remains the strongest, though subsequent frame locks and liner locks have proven adequate.
The 110 was developed for hunters but was quickly adopted by soldiers, sailors, adventurers and workmen. The hollow ground stainless blade was thin enough to excel at everyday tasks but retained a strong spine for durability. Hunter Gene Mo's feat of killing a 750 lb attacking bear with his trusty 110, has become part of Buck's folklore. The 110's heft delays hand fatigue under heavy use. It's not uncommon to hear stories of decades of hard use. Buck upholds their famous forever warranty. They don't charge much to refurbish old knives either. The 110 ships with an imported black leather belt pouch. U.S.A. made, brown leather belt pouches are optional. It's currently available with a more durable and functional drop point blade.
Originally, tactical knives were simply folding utility knives for soldiers. The SERE knife was inspired by Colonel Nick Rowe's use of the Buck 110 in Vietnam. Subsequently, a few guys started marketing fast opening "fighting folders" and the market caught fire. Knives like the Infidel OTF, BM 42 balisong, Crawford Assassin, Spyderco Sage2, Hinderer XM-18 and Kershaw Skyline are seriously cool. Other than being unfriendly to left hand users, the Skyline is a great starting point. Sadly, whipping tactical folders out in an office environment may generate some consternation.
That's where the Buck 525 comes into play. It inherits the durability, simplicity and quality of the 110 but shrinks it into a
discrete all stainless package. The 110 weighs 7 oz and is best carried in a belt pouch. The 525 SSS weighs 1 oz, which
disappears in a trouser pocket. The 525 is small and thin but remains functional for the typical daily tasks of opening letters and packages.
The 1-7/8" blade features a sturdy drop point. The 525 isn't that common and thus can make a thoughtful gift, particularly with some
tasteful engraving. Select the stainless model via the color option.
Multi-Tool & Flashlight
The Victorinox Spirit X has a key advantage over other multi-tool brands. Its screwdrivers don't snap off under normal use. It doesn't feature detachable components, eliminating another failure point. The superior design, materials and build quality is based on years of experience. Proven Swiss Army Knife components are married to an ergonomic folding pliers. All tools lock and are externally accessible. It's a serious tool for improvised repair rather than a collectible gadget. It won't suit plumbers as the jaws are too narrow to accommodate some fixtures. However, if you are a motorcyclist, adventurer, outdoors man, mechanic, contractor, sailor, soldier, police officer, pilot, astronaut, home owner or father, this is the model you need.
The saw and file may strike you as superfluous. The saw can circumcision cut large tree limbs, plastic pipes and holes in sheet plastic or dry wall. The file can straight cut sheet plastic and sheet metal. The file is edged on three sides and functions as a miniature hacksaw and sharpener. The file cuts on a push stroke is hardened. Don't pry with it. The large flat head screwdriver is designed for light prying. The chisel can quickly shape wood into useful objects. The awl can drill holes in wood and punch oles in leather. Scissors can tidy up a flesh wound. The 'X' Spirit variant features a non serrated knife blade, which is easier to sharpen. Victorinox employs soft, high carbon, stainless steel. Over-torqued tools will flex rather than snap. The spirit pliers will drive nuts, cut steel fishing line and extract small parts.
Weighing 7.4 oz, the Spirit X isn't a pocket Multi-Tool. It probably won't be an everyday carry item for most owners. It will get thrown on the belt for hikes, fishing, hunting, shooting, adventuring, vacationing, long haul journeys, DIY and various other man stuff. Although pocket-able, ultralight Multi-Tools aren't proving satisfactory under reasonable workload. Consider the Victorinox Farmer pocket knife as a stripped down Multi-Tool that retains the quality of the Spirit X. The Leatherman Juice S2 falls between the Farmer and Spirit X models. It incorporates a functional set of pliers but remains pocket-able. The Juice S2 has an urban focus, whereas the farmer is geared toward the outdoors. The Spirit X is configured for double duty. Combine any of the three with a micro igniter and Skyline tactical folder for an effective foundational tool set.
Pocket flashlights and multi-tools sort of go together. Designed for maximum durability, the stainless steel Eiger Ultra,
matches the quality of the Spirit X and Farmer. Cool white is the brightest LED color. Coupled with Li-Ion AAA rechargeable batteries,
max output is 234 lumen, versus 62 lumen from standard alkaline batteries. The narrow angle beam provides the greatest range
and maximum perceived brightness. The optional momentary switch enables rapid access to max light output, for emergencies
and self defense duty. Full size tactical flashlights are covered on section 5 of the night vision page.
Wristwatches fall into the quartz variant or mechanical movement categories. Modern Quartz variants retain the accuracy shock resistance and economy of the original system. They extend their service interval by incorporating a charging system. Seiko pioneered the mechanical Kinetic system. Citizen subsequently developed the solar charged Eco-Drive. Kinetic systems require considerable movement to maintain a full charge and thus maximize battery life. This mandates everyday usage or a specialized watch winder. Solar quartz watches charge from static positions enabling the owner to effortlessly rotate multiple time peaces. Even Japanese quartz watches have a failure rate. If purchasing on-line, take care to select a model with a warranty.
The six major quartz watch genres are digital, dive, pilot, sport, field and dress. G-shock digital watches are worn in critical roles and heavy duty but are just as useful hunting, working out or wrenching on a motor. Their minimal moving parts, shock absorbing mounts and semi-permanent water seal, make them virtually indestructible. The rubber wrist bands are the weakest element. Life span is 1-2 years. Most G-Shock models have styling and modes that are incongruent with serious duty. Casio's DW5600 is unique in this respect. It has classic 'digital watch' styling and KISS functionality. It's the preferred beater watch of fighter pilots, soldiers, fire fighters, police and pretty much everybody else. The proven quartz Casio Duro diver, presents a classic alternative to the digital beater watch. Charge the lume with a flashlight to maximize low light endurance. Replace the band with a 22mm Perfit ZULU.
The durability, versatility and masculine aesthetics of analog dive watches, drives their popularity in both watch mechanism categories. The uncluttered dial supports speed reading. Fitting a tasteful NATO band, permits the watch to be worn in all levels of formality. The NATO band will also retain the watch, should a spring bar fail under shock. Water sealing gaskets enable the watch to be worn in a power shower, swimming, snorkeling and scuba diving. The uni-directional timing ring is configured to time out early should the ring be bumped. The bezel timer's simplicity, makes it quick and easy, to roast vegetables while barbecuing with family and friends.
Original pilot (Flieger) watches featured 55mm cases, which enabled wear over WWII Luftwaffe flight jackets. Contemporary homages to the Flieger design, often feature 45mm cases, which suits larger men's wrists. Typically, pilot watches have no special function other than highlighting minutes over hours. The Flieger model I selected also incorporates a chronograph. Chronograph sports watches have associations with motor racing and the NASA Apollo missions. Modern flight watches incorporate the functionality of the mechanical E6B flight computer. Most models cram the dial with multiple slide rule graduations, obstructing the primary time display. Pictured above, the Nighthawk is the exception, sporting bold hands and baton indices, removing non-essential flight plan functions. The center of the watch dial features a programmable 24h second time zone.
Field watches also originate from WWII. Contemporary field watch homages, employ a 38mm case
to convey their classic military inspiration. This makes them particularly suitable for smaller wrists. The subdued, utilitarian
styling has popularized this genre for weekend casual duty. The selected watch is of good quality but the 18mm band should be
replaced with something better. There are several options to consider, black leather, brown leather with contrast
stitching, black NATO, bond NATO or olive NATO. Adding a black leather band particularly boosts appearance and versatility.
In terms of durability, the field watch is closer to a traditional dress watch than a dive watch. If you are buying this
style as a "beater", expect some wear on the mineral crystal.
Mechanical wristwatches share the same genres as quartz with the obvious exception of digital. The market breaks down to three distinct grades, beater, mid tier and luxury. Beater grade watches are the equivalent of "Hot Hatchback" cars, such as the Golf GTI. They get the job done and offer great bang for the buck. Production volume is high. Spare parts and service costs are reasonable. Aftermarket companies support self-customization. Financial appreciation is impossible, excluding limited editions or storied examples. The horological equivalent of a Sierra Cosworth RS500.
Seiko automatic divers are durable mechanical beater watches. Shock and water ingress are the enemy of mechanical wristwatches. The budget Seiko divers have proven tougher than many exotica. They will run without service for 10+ years. Even luxury watch collectors will have a Seiko diver in the mix. The in-house 7S26 and evolved 6R36 movements run without service for 10 years. Their hardlex crystals are a mid grade between mineral and sapphire glass. Seiko's propitiatory lume leads the industry. The SKX007 and SKX009 feature 7S26 movement. The Monster II and Turtle feature the 6R36, offering better accuracy, hand winding and hacking. Hacking stops the second hand for atomic clock synchronization. The Monster sports a quality pin and collar bracelet. SKX models can be enhanced by the aftermarket Strapcode super oyster.
Seiko does offer mid-tier Proxpex dive watches on the Japanese Domestic Market (JDM). However, they can be something of an anti-climax, relative to the Monster and Turtle. I favor the Seiko SARB0033 dress watch. It features a sapphire crystal and an exquisitely brushed and polished case. The traditional textured black dial and dauphine hands compose an elegant and practical display. The 38mm case compliments dress shirts, sport coats and blazers. The 6R15 movement retains the durability of the 7S26 and 6R36. However, it delivers accuracy of +/- 2 seconds per day. This performance is generally reserved for luxury grade swiss watches. The SARB ships with a good bracelet but the watch really shines with a 20mm Hadley-Roma black croc or lizard strap.
Tudor, IWC, Oris, Breitling, Tag Heur, Tissot, Hamilton, Laco and Steinhart are some examples of mid-tier Swiss made timepieces. The first five manufacture propitiatory in house movements and command something of a premium. The final four employ proven ETA movements, typically the 2824 workhorse. Hamilton has a long association with the U.S. military and is now part of the Swatch group. Their popular Khaki field watch is best described as a weekend dress watch. All dress watches are vulnerable to water ingress during swimming, washing hands or heavy rain. Laco remains family owned. They have been producing Flieger watches since WWII. Several grades are available with the Paderborn model offering the greatest authenticity. Features such as square lugs, mushroom crown, sand blasted case, blued hands and sterile dial are prized among enthusiasts.
Dive watches' durability and masculine styling make them an extremely popular genre among enthusiasts. However, pictured above, GMT watches can offer some variety in function and aesthetic. Rolex developed GMT watches from their Submariner model for issue to Pan-Am long haul airline pilots. The additional red "GMT" hand revolves once per 24 hours. The unidirectional bezel is incremented into 24 indices. The GMT hand indicates the secondary time against the bezel. Rotating the bezel offsets the secondary time to another time zone. Steinhart offer high quality mid-tier homages to the GMT II. The red-black model offers an efficient balance of color and formality. It is possible to resynchronize the GMT hand from civil time to Greenwich Mean Time. This resynchronization facilitates offsetting the bezel, to any global time zone, via the UTC offset table.
Our final mid-tier automatic, boasts a little bit of everything, including 300 M water resistance. Steinhart's
Ocean Vintage GMT (OVGMT) takes inspiration from the '70's era Rolex Explorer, yet remains unrecognizable to the general public.
The staggered GMT indices create a checkered effect, which was a prolific '70's motif. Enhance the subtle retro theme, by fitting
a thick, chocolate brown, leather strap, accented with cream stitching. The combination of
fixed GMT bezel and olive NATO band, echo the styling of a traditional field watch, while retaining a diver's water resistance. Fitting a
black ZULU band, emphasizes the watch's diver origins. The large black dial, thick stick hands and scaled indices, match
the legibility of traditional dive and pilot watches. The dual time GMT functionality, further qualifies the addition of a black leather
pilot strap. Switching to a black leather strap with orange contrast stitching, evokes memories of '70's motor racing. The stock 316L
stainless steel bracelet complements dress shirts, sport coats and blazers.
Issued to astronauts, pilots and soldiers since 1958, American Optical's aviators are the quintessential gentleman's field glasses. They present a classic masculine image, which compliments everything from leather jackets to business suits. A 52 mm silver frame with gray glass lens is the preferred format. However, multiple frame sizes and colors are available. This model also offers very high quality and value.
Eye protection is appropriate for mowing the lawn, using power tools, disassembling items under spring tension, cycling,
motorcycling, freezing winds, shooting and reloading ammunition. Director tactical sunglasses are one of the few models that meet
military performance standards. Generally, a monolithic lens is required to distribute the impact shock. That style of eye pro
isn't inconspicuous. Director prescription lens are available but need to be ordered directly from the Smith optics
Nothing beats a backpack's comfort for carrying weight long distances on foot. Stuff sacks and packing cubes help to keep top loaders organized. Duffel bags suit motorized transport. Their larger opening offers quicker access. Addidas offer functional retro gym duffel bags that suit casual scenarios. Leather duffel bags present a professional image on business trips and weekend getaways. Olive polyester garment bags have less capacity than duffels but are more appropriate for suits and sport coats.
Shirts, jackets and pants are packed on their hangers. The garment bag is subsequently sealed and folded in half, resembling a satchel. The fold is shallow, keeping clothing uncreased and ready for immediate wear. This is convenient for seminars, weddings and other ceremonies, where we are often on a tight schedule. These bags have additional pockets for shoes, toiletry bags and documents. The garment bag will support a couple of days travel. Combine it with the leather duffel for a more comprehensive luxury travel set.
The Key-Bar is a heavy duty key organizer, which eliminates that annoying jangle, via a pocket knife form factor. Different length
screws adjust for key quantity. Maximum capacity is 12 keys. Washers serve as key spacers. One scale has circular recesses for the
flat head screws. The other scale is threaded to accept the two screws. Incorporate more washers if the screws are not flush to the
scale. Most key designs are compatible. A lanyard loop supports the connection of a vehicle key fob.
Computing devices have become compact enough to make the classic briefcase a viable option once again. Gerstner's Model 1700
is a thing of beauty. Although not inexpensive or lightweight, it's highly desirable and would
make an excellent graduation gift. If you want a leather briefcase that will last; Saddleback's classic model
is the only product that will suffice. A basic padfolio is acceptable for job interviews but
attending corporate meetings or business lunches requires a little more table presence. Saddlebacks's chestnut model
won't go undetected. Using a fountain pen rather than a disposable Biro, is possibly the most economical style enhancement available.
Update:2017: Gerstner briefcases are out of production but can be occasionally found on ebay.
Whiskey & Cigars
Whiskey and cigars may not be particularly healthy but that doesn't mean they can't be consumed with a little flair. Most hip flasks and designed as novelty gifts. Made in the U.S.A., Colonel Conk's flask is constructed from solid billet stainless steel but remains within the typical gift price range. The engraving panel has been discontinued but the cap remains available for inscription of initials. Make sure to pick up a small stainless steel funnel too.
Most lighters are finicky, the current butane torch models are no exception. Zippos are classic Americana, making that distinctive
clink when opened and closed. They're robust and reliable but the lighter fluid's odor taints premium tobacco. Denatured alcohol is
odorless and works reasonably well in a Zippo. It's less windproof and evaporates at a faster rate. Use a section
of bicycle tube as a rubber sleeve to prevent your Zippo going dry during long term storage. Armor brass Zippos
are the most durable. Their cases are thicker and there is no paint or plating to wear off. The Victorinox cigar knife incorporates
three circular punches to accommodate different ring sizes. The alox handled tool offers a classic and convenient experience.
A cigar punch cut tends to deliver more flavor than a typical guillotine cut.
Gritty British espionage dramas, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1965), The Day of the Jackal (1973), Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (1979), Smiley's People (1982), Harry's Game (1982), Reilly ace of spies (1983), Edge of Darkness (1985) and The Shadow Line (2011), cultivate a pragmatic world outlook. A chap may also develop a penchant for adventure, intrigue, French cuff shirts and cufflinks. Barely larger than a shirt button, silk knots are very discrete. Their color scheme should blend with the shirt for maximum efficiency. This subtlety enables the wearer to remain distinguished in casual circumstances yet not feel awkwardly overdressed. Tease each individual layer of cuff around the knot to ease installation and removal.
Basic stainless steel cufflinks are a great default option. They're economical, durable, versatile and easy to use.
They won't clash with any color scheme. Their relatively low cost means several pairs can be stored in shirt cuffs. Gemstones are
the next level of formality. A Cabochon cut, flatters opaque semi-precious stones, which feature grains and strata.
Certain opaque stones, such as lapis lazuli, sparkle after being faceted and polished, delivering superlative impact
at a reasonable price. Although not translucent, large rough cut emeralds, rubies and sapphires, are accessible to an ordinary
fellow. Pictured above, Victorian and Celtic style cufflinks are suitable for all levels of formality, which can simplify matters.
There you have it.....old boy.
Angling & Shooting
Angling is a traditional pastime that enables guys to reset from demanding or stressful circumstances. It's an economical and accessible hobby. Fly fishing is a more active discipline with tactics not dissimilar to hunting. However, mastering the cast can be problematic. Pictured above, the telescopic Tenkara rod employs a much simpler system. The absence of reel, facilitates a light furled line, simplifying casting and fly placement. The minimal equipment also supports accessing remote locations.
Historically, the shotgun was the gentleman's prime accessory. Beretta's over and under, Silver Pigeon 1 harks back to that period. It's affordable, durable and beautiful. However, Remington's 870 wingmaster is practical, economical, versatile Americana. Designed in the same era as the FN FAL and AK-47, it's rugged and modular. Switching barrels and stocks is a snap, whereas traditional models often require fitting. Field strip is similar to a modern combat rifle. Components detach via push pins and a knurled lock nut. Pre-owned wingmasters have a higher level of fit and finish. The brand is under new ownership.
Clay pigeon shooting is a particularly friendly environment. Most clay pigeon ranges will offer introductory safety courses and training in skeet, trap and sporting clays. Using appropriate ammunition, a 12 gauge shotgun can ethically dispatch any animal sized from a rat to a mature grizzly bear. Twelve gauge target shot is some of the most economical ammo available. Only bulk .22 lr ammo is cheaper, assuming it's available. Short Lane's scavenger adapters enable a rapid caliber conversion to .22 lr. Load a .22 cartridge into the adapter, then insert the adapter through the 870's ejection port. This system has superior versatility than a child's .22 lr single shot training rifle.
Shotgun cartridges are some of the easiest ammo to hand load. Assembled or unassembled, buckshot and slug ammo are quite
expensive for regular shooting. Self casting shotgun projectiles from lead wheel weights is an enjoyable hobby in itself.
The self cast Lyman 525 hunting slug delivers optimal production, accuracy and penetration.
Its nose heavy profile stabilizes from smoothbore barrels. However, a rifled choke tube will cut groups from 5" to 3" at
50 yards. The 525 slug resembles an over sized air rifle pellet. It's designed to tumble and drop to the ground beyond 100 yards.
Brenneke slugs are preferred for longer ranges. Both the Lyman 525 and Brenneke have superior penetration to standard Foster slugs.
Indian Royal Enfields, IMZ Urals and Land Rover Defenders, are full of character but don't have inspiring track records. Alternatively, built under Edward Deming's manufacturing principles, "Hinckley" Triumph Bonnevilles (2001+) are modern machines with classic styling. They're configured to compete against Harley 883's. Thus the finish isn't really suited to year round commuting. The strong parallel twin motor has counterbalance shafts to tame vibration. The gearbox is smooth and predictable. Handling is civilized. Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI) replaced carburettors in 2008. Water cooling was introduced in 2016, in addition to ABS, traction control and ride by wire throttle.
Devoid of electronic systems, early Hinckley Bonnevilles are better suited to guys interested in performance modifications and self maintenance. The one exception is Transistor Controlled Ignition, which superseded breaker points technology. TCI units have no moving parts and live in sealed waterproof boxes. Points demand regular maintenance and are vulnerable to water ingress. TCI takes a signal from the crank shaft to interrupt current to a coil, triggering a high voltage output to the spark plug. Points were essentially mechanical contact switches that did the same thing.
There can be issues with TCI units and automotive electronics in general. Bean counters often source from the lowest bidder. Electronic components are vulnerable to heat and vibration. Replacement factory TCI units have a hefty mark up. There is no way to directly test a factory TCI unit. All other possible issues must firstly be eliminated, carb setting, fouled plugs, low battery charge, bad connections, bad fuse, bad cut out relays, sensor resistance and coil resistance. Ignitech and Procom offer aftermarket TCI units, which can be tested. The life span of a quality TCI unit is 5-10 years.
Questions & Feedback.
I hope you found this useful. If you have any questions or feedback, feel free to contact me through the welcome page.
Ian ST John.
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