Sunday, July 03, 2011

Keychain LED knives

There are some things I think everyone should have with them at all times.  A cellphone is a common one.  I personally like to have a multitool, but not everyone wants to carry that.  What I consider absolutely essential, though, is a flashlight and a knife of some sort.  That's why I like having a keychain flashlight/pocketknife combination.  Since I keep it on my keychain, I can be sure that I'll remember to take it with me, as long as I don't forget my keys.  I have a Buck Metro LED which I find very useful.  Unfortunately, it appears to be discontinued, though I'm not sure why.  It has an LED and a knife, along with a very sturdy "ring" to hook onto a keychain.

Recently, I bought another flashlight/knife combo, ostensibly for my wife.  She doesn't really see the need to carry it around though, so mostly it sits in our key basket, on the second set of car keys which she rarely needs.  It's a Victorinox Tech Signature Lite, and it's pretty nice.  Since she's not using it, I've considered swapping out my old knife for it, but before deciding to do so, I'd need to do a side-by-side comparison.  I figured I'd do that here.

Size: While they're both small, but the Buck knife is definitely bigger, made more to fit comfortably in the hand than in the pocket.  The Victorinox is small, the same size as their classic keychain knife, and is thus more comfortable.  Advantage: Victorinox

Blade: While the Victorinox blade is slightly longer, the Buck blade is wider and sturdier.  It also locks into position, and has a grip that makes it easy to open with one hand.  Unfortunately, it's a little bit too easy to open.  While I've never had it come all the way open in my pocket, I've had it come partially open.  Still, I have to say I prefer the Buck one.  Advantage: Buck

Flashlight: Both of them have a bright, white LED.  Either one works well for navigating in dark places.  The Victorinox has a protruding button, while the Buck has a recessed one.  Both have features to prevent the flashlight from coming on in your pocket and staying on until the battery drains (a common failing with keychain flashlights).  Victorinox solves the issue by having a button that must be held down to remain on, while Buck's clicks on, but automatically shuts down after three minutes.  I've never noticed the Buck accidentally turning on in any case.  Either one works.  Advantage: Tie

Ring: Victorinox has the standard, small wire keychain ring, the type that I find very annoying because they commonly bend out of shape and fail in their function of holding the knife and the key ring together.  In contrast, the Buck has a solid metal ring, the type you couldn't bend without a metal press.  It's also well positioned, opposite both the knife and the flashlight, while the Victorinox ring is opposite the flashlight but on the same side the knife opens, making the knife a bit awkward to use while on the keyring.  Advantage: Buck by a long ways

Other tools:  "What other tools?" is all you can say for the Buck.  There's nothing but the knife and flashlight.  It does it well, but that's all.  By contrast, the Victorinox managed to cram in most of the other things you might need in your pocket: a nail file with screw driver, scissors (probably the single most needed tool), and even a pen.  Advantage: Victorinox by default, but it deserves it anyway.

Side by Side of the two knives.

Verdict: So what's the verdict?  I love my Buck, and it has a lot of advantages.  But after working things through here, I think I'll try out the Victorinox for a week, and see how I feel about it.  There are a number of things I dislike about it, but there's enough good there that I think I should at least try it out.

Update: My wife has reclaimed the Victorinox, cutting the experiment short.  It seemed to work pretty well while it lasted.  I'll be keeping the Buck for now, but if I ever need to replace it, I now know a good alternative.

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