I love it when my mail carrier delivers some goodness! Armed with a gift card from Amazon (courtesy of the parents of one of my students last year), and with some money sitting in my PayPal account from some items I had recently sold, I decided to add to/upgrade my Everyday Carry (EDC) gear. What follows are not in-depth reviews, as I have only been using these items for a month or so. Rather, this is just some basic information about the items and why I made these particular choices. I feel pretty good about the choices I made and the roles I envisage these items filling.
I am on record in a few places on the blog as a fan of the Benchmade Griptilian. For a year or two I have been carrying a black-handled, black combo-edge bladed Griptilian and have been very satisfied with it. I originally chose this model because I like the sturdy axis-locking mechanism, the proud ambidextrous thumb stud, the availability of a matching training knife, and the fact that at least one acquaintance of mine carries the same model into harm’s way all over the world.
Although I often also carry a small fixed-blade knife for self-defense purposes, there are times/places when carrying such a blade is not legal, and though I have, on occasion, chosen to “liberally interpret” such statutes, I would rather not run afoul of the law if it can be avoided. On such occasions, I prefer my folder to be my primary edged self-defense tool. However, as I learned in Greg Ellifritz’s Basic Knife Skills class and have read in numerous articles, the combination edge is really not the best choice for a self-defense tool. The serrated part is great for cutting rope and other items, but it can get hung up in clothing—especially zippers—and so I have wanted to “upgrade” to a plain edge Griptilian for a while. I actually found this model with Desert Sand colored handle cheaper than the black version, so I went for it.
I just shipped off my original, black-handled combo-edge Griptilian to Benchmade (along with $40), and they will be replacing the blade with a brand new black-colored plain-edge blade. Two is one and one is none.
Gerber Curve Multi-tool
Because I was always using my Griptilian as a combination self-defense tool/utility knife, it got a lot of use over the last year or so. And because I suck at sharpening knives, it is not nearly as sharp as it needs to be. With my new plan to keep the Griptilian mainly as a self-defense tool, I was in need of something else that I can use for simple utility tasks, particularly at work, where the presentation of the Griptilian would at the very least cause gasps of horror and at worst get me fired or arrested (being a teacher)!
I had considered a simple, small folder, Swiss army knife, etc. In the end, I decided to spring for the $9 or so from Amazon to buy the Gerber Curve. This thing is ridiculously small (2.25 inches when closed) and fits nicely on my keychain (thus seeming even more harmless to anyone who might see me use it). I always keep a more dedicated, larger multi-tool in my bag, but can’t really get away with having it on my belt at all times at work (the maintenance people can get away with that, but if I wore one it would draw looks or ire). Readers might be surprised how often a teacher has the need for tools; I cannot possibly count how many times I’ve had to repair desks, chairs, bookbags, zippers on jackets, rather than wait on the maintenance people to get to anything.
The Curve has a small blade (1.25 inches), a small and a large standard screwdriver, a Phillps head screwdriver, a bottle opener, and a file (the file is on one of the screwdrivers). It is advertised as having 7 tools, but I cannot in good conscience refer to the carabiner as a tool, since its purpose is merely to keep it attached to your keychain (and it only does a so-so job of that!). The screwdrivers, file, and knife all lock open with a tiny—but so far effective—lock. I’ve used all of the tools and they all work, though, as one might expect, not as well as more dedicated items. The knife got a lot of use over the last few weeks, as a project I was working on with my students required the cutting of immense amounts of corrugated cardboard. It has noticeably dulled already, but it was used a lot. The bottle opener has also gotten some use and has never failed to allow me access to my favorite beverages. The carabiner is my only real complaint; the tool has, on a few occasions, popped off my keyring while inside my pocket. The spring clip of the carabiner really needs to be stronger.
Overall, for under $10, I feel like I have already gotten my money’s worth. Keeping this with me has allowed me to reserve my Griptilian for “serious social occasions”.
Smith and Wesson M&P Generation 2 Tactical Pen
Laugh if you must. But yes, I bought a “tactical” pen. I know, I know. Keep in mind, however, that I work in a school and spend considerable amounts of time in other “non-permissive environments” (NPEs). Having options beyond harsh language is welcome in such environments.
Knowing nothing about tactical pens or anything about their effective employment, I spent way too much time researching options on Amazon as well as watching YouTube videos on their use. The best (in my completely inexperienced opinion) of the videos I saw was this one by Michael Janich. In it, he definitely touts the effectiveness of his preferred brand, but I was more interested in the employment of such a tool rather than the model he no doubt gets paid to endorse.
Satisfied that I knew what features I would like, I settled on this pen from Smith and Wesson. Features that I like are that it is all metal, has a screw on, flat-topped metal cap (that screws onto both the ink end and the back end), has a decent texture/shape for gripping, and is not ridiculously expensive. The only negative about it thus far is the prominent “Smith and Wesson” on the pocket clip and the “Smith and Wesson” logo on the top of the cap. As these are about the only two parts of the pen visible when carried, one of the first things I did was sand them off and repaint them in just plain black (I masked the necessary parts and then sprayed with Model Master Flat Black followed by the same brand of semi-gloss. We’ll see how long it lasts). Even in a liberal utopia, the name “Smith and Wesson” is widely recognized, and I want this tool to be innocuous-looking rather than a conversation starter.
I cannot say that the pen has gotten much use, at least as a self-defense tool. I’ve punched some holes in thick cardboard boxes with only minimal effort, as the pen is essentially a kubotan that you can write with. The pen writes well enough but I look forward to replacing the ink cartridge with something better, and preferably in blue ink.
Overall, I feel like these three tools have improved my self-defense EDC. The new Griptilian model is more self-defense oriented—due to blade type—then my other, similar model. The Gerber Curve allows me to reserve my Griptilian for self-defense purposes and has a few useful tools. And the Smith and Wesson Tactical Pen gives me better options than pure empty-hand defense, even in most NPEs. To this point, I am pleased with my purchases though, as always, I am always looking to improve upon what I carry daily.
What are your thoughts on these or other EDC items? Have you augmented your EDC recently with some new or interesting items? Please share below or on our Facebook page.