Prepared for Wednesday, February 15, 2017
The KeyBar can be ordered engraved, as shown.
I received two gifts for Christmas that have been not only useful, but have led me to believe they are handy for your readiness.

The first of these items is called a KeyBar. This handy little gizmo helps to organize the many keys we all find ourselves in possession of. The normal keyring may hold your keys securely, however these key get in a jumble when deposited in a trouser pocket. That jumble can cause keys to become tangled with each other making quick access nearly impossible. This jumble of keys also can become rigid where keys are sticking straight out like a spike. If you fall this jumble of keys may become embedded in your body, requiring medical care.

If you choose to wear your keys on your belt, by using one of the many key clips, you have created a noise maker that will give away your position with every step. The KeyBar keeps your keys side by side like the blades of a Boy Scout Knife. The keys are always in the same position and order. The KeyBar also has a fold out loop that allows attachment of electronic key fobs for newer vehicles. The KeyBar also offers a few accessories that can be added to the unit to provide basic needs. Mine has a toothpick and tweezers, these have come in handy already. The KeyBar is offered in several configurations and custom engraving is also available. For more information go to KeyBar.
Outdoor Edge has partnered with professional knife thrower Bobby Branton to offer its new line of throwing knives. The Aero-Strike is a precision crafted trio of Tanto, Bowie and Spear-Point blades that are equally weighted and balanced so that all three blades throw and fly uniformly.
Hogue Knives is pleased to announce the addition of four inch automatic knives to their popular line of American-made folding knives. The new autos are spring-loaded four inch versions of Hogue's popular EX-01 and EX-04 tactical folding knives.
Your boots should not only keep your feet dry, warm and comfortable, but they need to carry you over the toughest of terrain with speed and agility. At no time is that more necessary than during evac in wet or wintery weather -- to say nothing of simply working outdoors. Field & Stream's Merrimack 6" 400g Winter Duck Boots features 400-gram Thinsulate insulation to keep your feet warm when temperatures drop.
As cutlery can come in very handy in survival situations, it makes sense to look at makers and products -- Tiger McKee handles that for us today.

Pretty much all the gun people I know who grew up around firearms are all blade guys too. Most of us grew up with knives; being trusted with your first blade was a major milestone in your life. Knives are one of those things you establish a relationship with, just like your firearms, and we're always on the look out for good steel. When I saw Walter Sorrells had launched his Tactix Armory line of knives there was no question about it. I had to have one.

Walter has been making Japanese "style" blades for over a decade. He doesn't claim to make "Japanese swords," but modern swords inspired by Japanese sword-making traditions. He got into making blades after participating in martial arts for about twenty-five years. I asked Walter about his martial arts experience. "As far as my background goes," Walter told me, "I have a third degree black belt in a Japanese karate style, a blue belt in Brazilian jujitsu, a rank in Shinkendo (a Japanese sword art) that wouldn't mean anything outside of the style but that's probably a rough equivalent of a black belt, and have also trained in aikido and some other things." Studying these martial arts gives one a well-rounded education in fighting, and Walter applies this experience to his blade making.

Sorrells is also a shooter. Which came first, I asked, the gun or the knife thing. "My interest in guns goes way back," Walter said, "though I didn't get into the competition side of things until my aging body started telling me that my days of slam-bang martial arts were numbered." A lot of us can understand this one.

My introduction to Walter came through his YouTube videos on knife making. He made his first videos in response to inquiries about heat-treating blades. Now he has a variety of educational videos covering everything from making a blade using only hand tools and hardening with charcoal, to advanced instructions using high-end equipment like milling machines and ovens. (He's also a well-known writer, having published around 30 novels under his own name and a variety of pseudonyms.)

The Tactix Armory knifes are a set of standard styles he offers, with prices ranging from $145 to $315. I purchased one of the "Operator" blades. This knife is made from 1095 carbon steel with canvas micarta scales, a Cerakote finish and it comes with a Kydex sheath. This is one of those blades that as soon as you handle it you know it's a keeper. The knife is lightweight, feels good in hand, and is sturdy and made to be used.

In this day and age everything has a logo on it, but the knife didn't come with any. I asked Walter about this. "I'm kind of at the beginning phases of the Tactix Armory project, so I'm testing the market as well as the manufacturing to see what sticks." Etching a logo that will show up well after the Cerakote process is difficult. "I had one approach I was using that I wasn't happy with so I've had to produce a few of them with no logos just to get them out the door." Walter likes carbon steel, but – and I know this from what little knife making I do - it does require extra attention when it comes to final finishing of the blade and scales. "I may be going with stainless for that model as I move forward."

Walter still offers custom blades, but if you can't afford one of these or don't want to wait a long time I highly suggest checking out his Tactix Armory blades. These are custom knives at an affordable price. I guarantee you won't regret adding one of these to your collection or putting it in with your tactical/survival gear. And if you are interested in knife making check out his videos; I've learned a lot from them.

Until next week, stay safe.

Tiger McKee is director of Shootrite Firearms Academy, located in northern Alabama. He is the author of "The Book of Two Guns" - http://shootrite.org/book/book.html writes for several firearms/tactical publications, and is featured on GunTalk's DVD, "Fighting With The 1911 - http://shootrite.org/dvd/dvd.html Website: www.shootrite.org

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