Here we see a little pocket blade I like to carry from time to time, making a cameo on an outing for some California roll at the local sushi bar.
The higonokami ,also referred to as the Japanese carpenter’s knife, was born in 1896 in Meiji-era Japan when a man named Tasaburo Shigematsu brought back a knife from the Kyushu province and asked a knife maker named Teji Murakami from Hirata in the Miki region to manufacture it.
A blacksmith is said to have added a simple lever (the chikiri) to a minimally-designed pocket knife to aid in opening and closing the blade and to set it apart from other knives. “Higo no Kami” in Japanese means, “Lord of Higo,” in honor of the Lord of the Kyushu area of Japan, where the knife originated.
Higonokami proved to be successful and a tradesman’s guild was formed to oversee the manufacture of the knife– akin to the Barlow in popularity in the U.S.– marked with the name of the famous samurai Miyamoto Musashi. Once a staple of every youth and tradesman in the Empire, their popularity has waned.
Trademarked higonokamis such as this one, were last made by Motosuke Nagao, established in Miki, descending from four generations of blacksmiths. Today the last of the guild in business is Nagao Seisakusho who sell these knives through Iwachu primarily for export these days.
The knives share a common characteristic:
– A handle made out of a folded sheath of brass stamped with kanjis detailing the name of the maker and the steel of the blade: a sanmai with an aogami edge (blue paper steel), very much like a “reverse tanto” in profile.
– The presence of a chikiri (the lever) on the blade, to open the knife.
– The lack of a locking system.
– The fact that the blade, Warikomi steel, entirely disappears in the handle when the knife is closed.
The characters on this example say “Registered Trademark : Sword Master ‘Miyamoto Musashi”‘
It is very much like the classic German Solingen Mercator “cat” K55K knife, known for the image of the running feline on its folded sheet metal handle. Like the Higonokamis, these have has been around for over a century and are currently made by Otter-Messer.
While no one was looking, Ruger slipped two really sweet 9mm’s on the market, a $200-ish single stack compact and a $300 double-stack midsize, both of which I’ve touched on for Guns.com.
The new EC9s, a no-frills version of their LC9s series, is a single-stack 7+1 9mm polymer-framed striker-fired pistol with sights machined integrally with the slide. Billed as about an inch taller and an inch longer than the .380ACP-chambered LCP, the newest 9mm in Ruger’s stable tips the scales at 17.2-ounces with a 3.12-inch barrel and 6-inch overall length.
Best of all, the MSRP is $299, and a quick search shows dealers already taking pre-orders in the $220-$230 range. This puts the new EC9s in the same size envelope as S&W’s new M&P9 Shield 2.0 and the Glock 43, a point Ruger subtly pokes at in their email announcing the new gun.
Then there is the Security 9 in an ode to the classic Ruger Security-Six revolver of the 1970s and 80s, the newest double-stack in the company’s catalog has a 4-inch barrel and 7.24-inch overall length.
Unlike popular striker-fired competitors in the $379 MSRP neighborhood, the Security 9 uses a hammer-fired system evolved from the one found on the LCP and LCP-II line but includes both a bladed trigger safety and a manual frame-mounted safety.
Additional features of the Security 9 include an accessory rail, front and rear cocking serrations and dovetailed sights with various color options available. The alloy steel slide and barrel, aluminum chassis with full-length guide rails, and nylon frame give the pistol a 23.7-ounce overall weight. The gun ships with two 15-round mags
I will be sure to check out both on the range at SHOT.
Just got my hot little hands on S&W’s new M&P 2.0 Compact in 9mm, which Smith plans on pitting against the always-popular (in polymer pistol circles) Glock 19.
Going through the specs, the Compact uses a 4-inch barrel and has a 15+1 round capacity in 9mm and 13+1 in the .40 variant with an unloaded weight of just under 24-ounces. This is a dead ringer in comparison to the Glock 19 and 23 and a hair lighter than the 26-ounce P-10 C series from Czech gun maker CZ.
I plan on having fun shooting them head-to-head and I have already found things I like about it over the Glock, though it does have a few thorns.
On the cutting board, I give you six sub-$125 (most sub-$50 if you shop around) light fixed blade knives that are small enough to carry every day (depending on clothing options) while still being able to along with you almost everywhere in an urban or suburban environment if needed while remaining nominally concealable. Besides typical chores in daily life, they should also be strong enough to fill a foray into the woods or camp, capable of light bushcraft.
From left to right: A Kershaw 4007, CRKT Mossback, Cold Steel Spike, CRKT Obake, Tops Mountain Spike, and a Benchmade SOCP 176. All in current production
More detail on each, with plusses and minuses, noted in my column at Tac44.com.
Here we have a S&W Model 642 Airweight in a leather Bianchi #6 waistband holster loaded with five rounds of 130-grain Federal HST +P that altogether weighs 19.6-ounces. Sure, accuracy past 15 yards is not as tight as a full-sized handgun with a nice long sight radius, but I can still keep it center mass out to 25– and with a little practice so can anyone. As there are only five rounds in the cylinder, I carry a pair of Bianchi Speed Strips with another 10 rounds loaded and ready inside a repurposed Altoids tin for an additional 5.9-ounces. Why the tin? It is actually lighter than any speed strip wallet I have come across and holds the reloads securely and rattle-free. On the downside, if someone catches a glimpse and wants an Altoid they are SOL.
The light is a Streamlight Microstream which is just 1.2-ounces with the battery and the wallet is a Magpul Daka minimalist which, even when loaded with the same stuff as the regular leather pocket rider, only weighs 1.8-ounces. Finally, for those moments when something sharp is needed, a Leatherman Skeletool KBx multi tool joins the crowd for a downright skinny 1.4-ounces and haves the benefit of a bottle opener, which is handy for those craft beer emergencies. All up weight for a gun, light, holster, 15 rounds of ammo, knife, and wallet is 29.9-ounces.
Every now and then I like to channel the early Don Draper days with the below carry option.
It consists of a pre-71 Colt Detective Special in .38 SPL (stoked with period-correct standard velo 158 gr. soft lead SWC-HCs), a giant 1950s vintage Rosco-imported Mauro Mario Italian stiletto with Brazilian horn scales, a Bowers Kalamazoo Slide Sleeve lighter, Dr. Grabow Savoy imported Mediterranean briar pipe, and a custom steel pipe tamper. Not shown is the leather pipe pouch I use and the companion Bianchi IWB holster for the Colt snub.
All of the above inhabit the desk drawer in my office when not in use, and work just as well as the day they were created.