Benchmade Griptilian Knife

Hey Everyone. I recently was given a new Benchmade Knife for my birthday. As a guy who is usually firmly in the camp of, “I wouldn’t pay that much for a knife”, my opinion has immediately been changed!

I’ve used many cheaper Buck knifes or other various “Big-5 sale” knifes, with good success. But, once you pick up and use one of these Benchmade knives, be prepared for your opinion of the more budget friendly knife to be changed for the worse.

Benchmade started out in California in 1988 and is now located in Oregon, where they have been since 1990. They pride themselves on making high quality knives using “non-traditional materials and modern manufacturing methods in not only building knives better but, inevitably building better knives.”

In line with their statement, I have to say, I’m really impressed with the build quality and general functionality of the knife. It has a nice weight to it, so it feels great in the hand and it’s very well made. Everything works super smoothly and opens with one hand without any issues.

This particular knife uses their patented Axis locking design. I’ve never used a knife with a design like it, but I really like it. It provides a firm lock, but is easy to disengage, and is ambidextrous. Here is the companies blurb on the Axis system.

“AXIS® A patented Benchmade exclusive, AXIS® has been turning heads and winning fans ever since its introduction. A 100-percent ambidextrous design, AXIS® gets its function from a small, hardened steel bar which rides forward and back in a slot machined into both steel liners. The bar extends to both sides of the knife, spans the liners, and is positioned over the rear of the blade. It engages a ramped, tang portion of the knife blade when it is opened. Two omega style springs, one on each liner, give the locking bar its inertia to engage the knife tang. As a result, the tang is wedged solidly between a sizable stop pin and the AXIS® bar itself. Available in manual, assist or automatic configurations.”

Overall, this is a really great knife. I would highly recommend checking one out, and if you are in the “I wouldn’t pay that much for a knife” camp, I urge you to go to a store that sells these and give one a try. If you already want one, you can order them from Amazon,

To check out more information on Benchmade, check out their website, Also, watch a video review of the knife below!

Theis Holsters IWB

I recently purchased a Theis Holsters Inside the Waistband (IWB) holster… It’s a form of cross bread holster, part Kydex and part leather. In my limited experiences, I’m finding that this form of holster is much more comfortable because it molds to your body better. I’ve found with pure Kydex style holsters, they are more one-size fits all, so they usually cause some uncomfortable pinching or just feel strange, especially after many hours of wear.

For IWB carry, I like something that is easy for holstering, drawing and then re-holstering a firearm. It’s much smoother for training, and I find more convenient for the simple things like just putting your pants and belt on. I also prefer something that maintains its shape a bit better. So all of that is boiling down to the fact that I like something that is part Kydex. So the best of both worlds, in my mind, is the cross-bread type holsters.

Breaking it down, Theis Holsters offers holsters in multiple fashions (IWB and OWB) and for a very large collection of firearms. I’m just going to cover the IWB holster, because that is what I have.

The options for the IWB holsters, once you choose your firearm type, are the type of leather you want (horsehide or cowhide), the type of clips you want (metal, Kydex, or J-Clips), and finally if you want standard or full muzzle coverage.

For my holster, I chose horsehide, metal clips and the standard muzzle coverage.

I decided to go with the horsehide per the recommendations on the site. Theis notes the following positives about the horsehide…

  • They are stronger, yet thinner than cowhide, making them easier to conceal.
  • Horsehide does not absorb sweat like cowhide, because it is more dense and much more durable than cowhide.
  • The horsehide I use is 100% natural with no color or dyes to stain your clothing.

With my couple of weeks of usage, I would have to agree 100%. The thickness is about the same as one of my cowhide holsters and just has a better overall feel about it. Also, I’ve noticed that it hasn’t been absorbing a lot sweat, it has changed a little in color, getting a bit darker. So I would assume its absorbing a bit. But its not noticeable. I also often wear a white undershirt, so the holster is not rubbing directly on my skin, I just don’t like the feeling of any holster on my bare skin. But I haven’t noticed any discoloration on any of my shirts, even after wearing it for 10-12 hours non-stop.

I did decide to use some leather conditioner on the holster. Its something that I use on most leather items that I get. Its called saddle soap, and it’s amazing. You can get some here, Kiwi Saddle Soap The results turned out great… I didn’t go crazy with it, just gave it a little coating to help protect it. In a couple months I’ll give it another coating to clean/protect it. Just something I think will help the holster last longer.

Next up is the clips, I chose the metal clips because I’ve had good luck with them in the past, so I figured why change it. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it!

And finally, I also chose to get the normal muzzle coverage, not the full coverage, for more versatility between firearms. e.g. a Glock 17 and a Glock 23. If you get the full muzzle coverage for a Glock 23, the Glock 17 wont fit. So I figured having an open muzzle was the best choice. And so far, I am very happy with that choice. I’m not concerned about my pants getting a little dirty or anything like that.

For my preferences, I did make a couple modifications to the holster. The leather that protects your side from the slide of the gun stuck out a bit to far for my tastes… Basically it was interfering with my grip when trying to draw my weapon. Your results may vary, but I simply used a razor knife to cut away about a 1/4 inch of material. Here is what it looks like with that done.

After that, drawing was clean and easy, and I didn’t have any obstructions. Depending on your gun, your body type, and the size of your hands you may need to cut more, less, or none at all. But remember, you need to practice. A change in holster is a major thing, especially when your life may depend on it. It can alter everything about your shooting. So make sure to do dry fire practice, and then go to the range and practice. Practice. Practice. Practice!

So, other than the little trimming that I needed to do, I’ve found this holster to be one of the best I’ve ever used and I love it. The retention is great, out of the box, though Theis does give you instructions on how to remold some of the Kydex if you want to change the retention. He also sends out very detailed instruction on the holster and what to expect with it. Like anything new and good, it takes a little time to break in. Though most of the things he mentions that “might happen” never happened or I never noticed. For example, holster squeak.

Bottom line, check them out and give them a try. You will not be disappointed.

Viking Tactics (VTAC) Padded Sling Review

I recently purchased the Viking Tactics (VTAC) padded sling from Bravo Company USA. This was my first purchase from them and everything went very smoothly. I will definitely use them in the future.

You can also get it here.

The sling is packaged in no-frills packaging (a plastic zip-loc bag). Included was the sling and a simple one page set of instructions on how to attach and use the sling.

Upon removing the sling from its packaging, the first thing that I noticed is the sling feels to be constructed very well and made of quality materials. The padded portion of the sling is connected to the main strap with multiple levels of stitching and appears to be very durable. The padding feels to be made of a high-quality foam (or foam like material) and is about 1/4″ thick and 2″ wide.

The sling does not come with any swivels, but can be attached to pretty much any swivel that will handle a standard 1″ wide strap. The sling is attached to the swivels by two plastic strap adjusters. Though the adjusters are plastic, they feel to be very dense and strong plastic and it does not appear that they will break under normal usage conditions.

The sling is equipped with a quick release buckle that allows for quick tightening of the sling by simply pulling on the loose end of the sling, and quick extension by simply pulling on the buckle lanyard. The quick release buckle is made out of metal and has a relatively strong return spring so it will stay tight and not slip while moving.

On my first use of the sling, I needed to cinch it up pretty tight as it’s designed to fit different size people with different amounts of gear, etc. So using it wearing just a t-shirt, you end up with a pretty long tail out of the quick release. But that is nothing that a quick extra piece of Velcro or a ruber band won’t fix.


Model #: VTAC-MK2-BK
Length: 60in. / 1.52m (Fully Extended)
Construction: Cloth strap with a mix of plastic and metal components

Viking Tactical also has a demonstration video for how to use the sling.

Update: 11/21/2013

I’ve been using the VTAC sling for quite some time now; and figured it was worth doing an update… The sling has performed great, I’ve run it through many shooting classes, and drug it around all over the place and had no issues with form or function. I have it setup so I can use my AR-15 with the strong or weak hand, and it all just works. The only gripe that I have is with the sizing (length) of the sling. If I’m not wearing full kit (plate carrier + chest rig + mags + etc.) even with the sling fully cinched up there is still a little too much slack for my taste. I have a relatively small frame, but if you are less than 160lbs and don’t plan on wearing full kit, be prepared for this sling to not hold the gun against you very tight. It’s generally not a problem, but, it can get annoying if you are trying to do something while the gun is slung over you (it ends up flopping around a lot). So just something to be conscious of.