Wednesday, January 30, 2013

LaserLyte Reaction Tyme Trainer Targets Review

LaserLyte Reaction Tyme Trainer Targets Review

So here we all sit, waiting out the worst ammo shortage since WWII, terrified to even think about going to the range to shoot up what could be the last box of ammo we may see in the next month, two, or more. What to do, what to do... pellets are still on the shelf for the most part, but that would not allow you to practice with your real firearms.  Amidst the empty ammo shelves, I saw the LaserLyte Reaction Trainer Targets which allow you to practice anytime, anywhere, all without burning a round of ammo.

The company was founded in 1987 and has had a storied past starting as Tach Star then merged in 1996 with Lyte Optics to form LaserLyte.  From that point, the company has been creating one innovation after another which has now evolved to include a vast array of laser gun sights, laser bore sights, and laser training systems.  For LaserLyte, bringing together the boresighting and laser projection into a training system has been a natural progression. 

Springfield Range Officer with Universal Adapter Installed
The technology in the Reaction Tyme Trainer Targets are pretty sophisticated, but LaserLyte’s execution delivers an elegantly simple package. After batteries are installed in the two targets, pop a laser insert into the barrel of an unloaded firearm and you can start blasting the interactive Reaction Tyme Training Targets with your real firearm.

To utilize the LaserLyte training system, you need two products, both the Reaction Tyme targets and a laser insert which are both purchased separately based on your firearm's caliber.  The targets are durable black plastic housings which seem to handle a drop just fine. At approximately 3" x 4", the Reaction Tyme Targets are compact and light enough to stash in a shooting bag for use at the range for ammoless training.  

The Universal barrel insert slips into the muzzle end and secures with an expanding plastic plug which expands somewhat like a drywall anchor, all be it a bit more elegantly.  The other inserts us a single or double O-ring design similar to what LaserLyte uses on their boresight products. Each of the inserts are beautifully turned billet aluminum and then hard anodized.

The Reaction Tyme Target system includes two targets which operate in two modes. In the  Training/Manual Mode to indicate shots which briefly show the laser splash on the target and "celebrates" hits with two beeps and a LED flash. The other setting is Reaction Mode which randomly lights the LED in 3-7 second intervals to work on your reaction shooting.  

It is important to note that this is a professional quality training system and not a shooting game.  Admittedly it took about four shots before my wife and I were betting nickels on who was the better shot, however there are far less expensive toy shooting games out there.  This system is designed from the ground up as a professional system which I was able to get the targets to record hits all the way out to about fifteen yards. From an operational perspective, the targets work independently and do not record or playback shooting hits (LaserLyte has another training target product for that).

The LaserLyte Laser Trainer Cartridges insert into the barrel like any bullet would, but are held in place with the o-ring(s) and do not eject when the bolt/slide is cycled. Once practice is complete, a cleaning rod can be used to knock out the insert. 
I picked up the 9mm and .223 Remington versions. The momentary laser is triggered by the firing pin hitting the integrated snap cap in the cartridge and consequently works 100% reliably and I found more closely matched the actual point of aim of the pistol or rifle.  Testing in my Houlding Precision and Black Rain Ordnance, I did need to find the clocking point which aligned with my rifle's zero. For longer shots, I found a need to also clock the 9mm to adjust the point of aim on longer shots. Both the 9mm and .223 inserts seem to have a greatly extended battery life over the Universal insert.

Unfortunately that same reliability statement cannot be said for the LT-Pro Universal Pistol Trainer insert which is the insert for pretty much any pistol caliber. The LT-Pro works on a sound detection system which about 25% of the time seems both too sensitive and not sensitive enough. The LT-PRO triggered just by handling and usually cocking a revolver, but problems occurred with heavy revolvers shooting in single action and tighter 1911 pistols, such as my Ruger GP100 and Springfield Range Officer.   My Ruger SR1911, pocket pistols, and lightweight snubby revolvers all worked fine, however it seemed that there was just not enough sound or vibration from the hammer drop to trigger the unit reliably in tight fitting and/or heavy pistols. IN some cases I have to fiddle with the LT-Pro to make sure it was not too loose or too tight in the barrel or it would not record shots. The Universal Pistol Trainer Insert for me seemed to deliver laser strikes about 75% of the time which is liveable and still very useable for me as a universal unit I can stick in any pistol. One of the somewhat painful procedures of use was that the Universal Model is "always on" until you unscrew the battery compartment and reinstalling the tiny little batteries correctly is a wee bit frustrating. 

The biggest advantages of this system are that you can use your real actual firearm for training which I consider a huge plus and “the” feature of the LaserLyte system.  With both the universal insert and the cartridge inserts, draws from the holster are possible, however I would buy the dedicated cartridge insert for this activity. Paired with both Reaction Tyme Targets in Random/Reaction mode, this draw and fire drill can keep you hopping.

Whether you actually use the system to train or to have a little fun while watching TV at night, this is a highly valuable system for training to see your trigger control, to minimize your flinching, improve sighting and target acquisition, and practice your holster to target hits.  The system also lets you attempt training which would be potentially unsafe with live ammo or begin training with a new shooter in a safe comfortable environment.

Mrs. Pandemic and I positioned the targets at strategic corners and choke points within the house to practice forced entry defensive response scenarios and also used the targets for draw, charge, shoot drills for our concealed carry guns. We of course used them with our feet up shooting targets in front of the TV as well to "practice trigger control".

Black Rain AR, Kahr CM9, & Springfield Range Officer

With around $300 invested to start up the LaserLyte training system including the targets and an insert, the question is it worth it? A resounding yes, especially at today's ammo prices. Even with the picky nature of the Universal Insert, this is still a great training system which pays for itself really quick and allows you to safely target practice in your home any time. With the cartridge inserts practice is blissfully problem free and much more closely matches the actual point of aim.

This system paid for itself quickly and kept me from going completely nuts during this US ammo shortage. I have used the system in a number of ways, all of which have helped me develop skill, shoot my beautiful firearms, and fight boredom. For the price of fifteen boxes of ammo, this is a no brainer training system for any shooter which will be a valued firearm training tool for many years.

LaserLyte Reaction Tyme Targets TLB-RT Specifications:

  • Works with any of the LaserLyte® Trainers: LT-PRO, LT-223, LT-1, LT-380, LT-9, LT-40, LT-45
  • Two Targets with 2.5 inch diameter shooting ring
  • Batteries:                                3 x AAA
  • Battery Life:                            6,000 shots
  • Activation:                               LaserLyte® Laser Trainer
  • Weight:                                   4.25 oz. / 119 gr.
  • Length:                                    1.30 inches / 33.43mm
  • Width:                                     3.00 inches / 75.96mm
  • Height:                                    3.74 inches / 95.00mm
  • MSRP:                                      $175.95
LTS Universal Pistol Trainer Insert

  • LT-PRO
  • MSRP $120.95
  • Fits calibers: 9mm, 40s&w, 357, .45acp, 38sp, .380 Auto, 357sig, 10mm and 45LC
  • Activation: Sound of striker or hammer
LTS Training Cartridge- 9 MM
  • LT-9
  • MSRP $115.95
  • Hammer activated
LTS Training Cartridge- .223
  • LT-223
  • MSRP $104.95
  • Hammer activated

Training Insert General Specs:

  • Run Time approximately 3,000 shots
  • Batteries: 3 x 377


Shop the complete selection at 


Springfield Armory

Saturday, January 26, 2013

PWS T-3 Summit 10/22 Action Test Reloaded

PWS T-3 Summit 10/22 Action Test Reloaded

Several months ago, I reviewed the PWS T-3 Summit 10/22 rifle and loved the rifle, but most interesting was the unique biathlon style action and outstanding target trigger. The particular PWS T-3 Carbon Fiber barrel I tested was obviously tuned for match ammo and a bit picky with pretty much everything else, so I decided use the platform for a test.

First of the "reloaded" builds was to try a little experiment to test how the action and trigger impacted accuracy with a $145 Feddersen R4 10/22 16.25" .22LR barrel.  The barrel on my Feddersen Tennessee Ridge Runner has proven to be an exceptionally accurate setup, however I wanted to test separately if the accuracy could improve with with a trigger swap and the PWS Summit action.  

One of the biggest variables impacting accuracy on a 10/22 is the barrel and that specific barrel's preference for a particular ammo or lot# of ammo.  We eliminate this huge variable in testing just by sticking with the exact same barrel and the same box of ammo for the duration of the test.

Barrel - My original Feddersen barrel included in the Feddersen TN Ridge Runner blew my mind from an accuracy perspective and has proven to be arguably my most consistent and accurate barrel. I loved the barrel so much I purchased two more for other builds. All three shoot nearly identically which is a testament to the consistency of Feddersen barrels.

Ammo - Without question, Lapua ammo shoots the best of any ammo I have ever tested in the Feddersen barrel, however CCI is very close and far less expensive use for a test like this where the same barrel is used. Based on my experience, the groups would look a little different with different ammo, but percentage-wise the results would be pretty similar. Technically we could used a bulk pack ammo as the averages would give use the same net accuracy variance results, but the CCI SV ammo is consistent, less expensive and available in bulk with the same lot# and for these reasons was selected as the ammo for this test.

Optics - Optics can have a huge impact on accuracy, however I have made an effort to minimize that variable by using the same Nikon Monarch Gold 8-32X scope.  Overkill for a fielded 10/22, yes, however for benchrest shooters it may be a bit under powered and some may even reach for a 50X Nightforce scope. The Nikon 8-32 Monarch Gold’s quality should spur no arguments.

Stock - The Hogue 10/22 stock was used for this test to prevent me from tearing down another build just to facilitate this test. Because the Hogue stock has shown to be finicky with various action screw torque settings, I have greatly reduced this variable by pillar bedded the Hogue stock with a DIY steel pillar turned on my Proxxon Micro lathe. The steel pillar replaced the Hogue stock button and was epoxied in place and also provided a little height increase which assured the barrel was fully free-floated.  Each build was pre-tested with a different torque settings to optimize groups before beginning to shoot recorded groups.  The action screw torque setting delivering the best group was used to shoot the measured groups. In most cases this was a torque setting between 1-2lbs.

Groups - Many groups were shot however after torque settings were identified, four 5-shot groups were shot with each of the following configurations:

Feddersen 16.25" fluted barrel, Hogue stock, Nikon Monarch Gold scope, and the same lot# of CCI SV ammo with Stock Ruger receiver with stock Ruger trigger assembly

Feddersen 16.25" fluted barrel, Hogue stock, Nikon Monarch Gold scope, and the same lot# of CCI SV ammo with PWS T-3 Summit Action with PWS Summit Match trigger assembly

Why Only Four Groups? - The consistency of the Feddersen Barrel over time has shown for me that shooting three to four times as many groups would have still netted about the same answer and just wasted ammo which has become scarce in recent times.

The results of this test were interesting and show how an upgrade to a premium 10/22 receiver and match grade trigger such as the PWS Summit can improve accuracy and consistency substantially. The upgrade netted about a 30% improvement over stock components in most statistical categories. From my experience, an excellent trigger, such as this PWS version, usually will improve accuracy in the 20%-25% range.  I would like to test further the effect the PWS T-3 Summit action has on accuracy independently once ammo availability loosens up. A 30% improvement seems much higher than I expected and beyond what just a match trigger upgrade would provide.  Based on this testing, the PWS summit action may have a few other advantages which lead to improved accuracy, however in this test we can only assume it had some “X-Factor” contribution to the overall accuracy improvement.

CCI Standard Velocity
PWS Receiver & Trigger Groups
(5-shot, 50-yards)
Stock Receiver & Trigger Groups
(5-shot, 50-yards)
Improvement from the PWS Receiver & Trigger

So what does this mean for the average 10/22 owner? According to my testing a match trigger upgrade should indeed improve accuracy. In this case, even a barrel delivering poor 50-yard groupings of 1.5” could see a .5” reduction in group size by moving to the Summit PWS Action and trigger group. 

Obviously the unique T-3 action is not inexpensive, however for the target shooter, a 30% difference in group size would be substantial enough to consider a move from a stock receiver and trigger group to a PWS T-3 Summit action.

Feddersen 16.25" fluted barrel, Hogue stock, Nikon Monarch Gold scope, and the same lot# of CCI SV ammo with Stock Ruger receiver with stock Ruger trigger assembly - $915

Feddersen 16.25" fluted barrel, Hogue stock, Nikon Monarch Gold scope, and the same lot# of CCI SV ammo with PWS T-3 Summit Action with PWS Summit Match trigger assembly - $1290

PWS - Primary Weapons Systems -
Nikon Optics -
FJ Feddersen, Inc. -

Bushnell Legend Ultra-HD Spotting Scope Review

Bushnell Legend Ultra-HD Spotting Scope Review

When it comes to benchrest shooting I am the lazy guy who sets up about twenty or thirty targets from 25-500 yards and just settles in behind the bench for a day of target shooting. Of course the challenge becomes figuring out where your shots are on the paper, what your groups look like, and which groups you should re-shoot. Most importantly, is being able to see those small .22-.308 holes at 50+ yards without pulling your butt off the bench. This is where a high quality spotting scope is a godsend and the 20-60x magnification Bushnell Legend Ultra-HD Spotting Scope define HD (high-definition).

The Bushnell Legend line is the top end of the Bushnell spotting scope line.  These optics feature the most refined and advanced features, the clearest optics from Bushnell, and performance which is superb.

Bushnell does an excellent job to assure quality throughout their entire line, however the Legend series has a noticeable higher quality, fit and finish. One of the last things you want to do is drop a prized spotting scope right out of the case and Bushnell has made things a bit grippier with a rubber coating over the majority of the body.  The finish should show wear and tear less than a paint finish and perhaps help provide some minimal cushion. The Legend Ultra-HD spotting scope includes a weather resistant neoprene style zip up case which I can tell you from experience can handle quite an impact as it tumbles out of your truck. There is also a carry lanyard for the case to trek the scope around. To keep the lens clean, Bushnell includes front and rear lens covers and a optic quality cleaning cloth.

When you look through the Bushnell Legend Ultra-HD spotting scope you can see with stunning clarity.  Many people at my range have used my spotting scope at one point or another and the comment is always "damn that thing is clear". 

The multi-coated optics and whatever ED Prime Extra-Low Dispersion glass is, it certainly does its job. The huge 80mm objective collects light like no other spotting scope I have used before and still delivers a lot of clear spotting even after dusk. In fact, this optic functions so well as our telescope that we sold out real telescope. Bushnell also assures you will have that same perfect clarity during rainy and less than optimal days with RainGuard® HD water-repellent lens coating and a 100% waterproof/fogproof 

The Bushnell Legend Ultra-HD spotting scope has a number of features key to the precision shooter who spends as much time behind the spotting scope as behind the rifle.  That huge 20-60x magnification power range requires physically a long tube, however Bushnell uses a Porro prism design which folds the required tube length and provides a much more compact scope.   BaK-4 prisms assure there is no image or clarity distortion as the image ricochets back and forth inside the Ultra-HD from what you are looking at to your eye.

Although spotting scopes are a wonderful tool for shooters, the Bushnell Legend Ultra-HD spotting scope delivers some functional advantages for those of us who spend extended periods bouncing in between our rifle optic and the spotting scope.

The long eye relief prevents the user from having to press thier eyeball into the eye cup like so many other high magnification spotting scopes. There is a high speed and fine tuning focus controls which I can tell you prevents hours of cursing when attempting to focus in on a 300+ yard target

As with most spotting scopes, the Bushnell Legend Ultra-HD mounts to any standard camera mount on your choice and style of tripod, bipod, you provide. I mounted mine on an old but heavy and solid camera tripod I found neglected in my Dad’s basement, but you might want to spring for something a little more sophisticated.

As with any optic, you get what you pay for and I will tell you from experience that the $60 spotting scope will delivery you $60 clarity. The Bushnell Legend Ultra-HD is street priced at around $480 which is reasonable considering its clarity is going against spotting scopes nearly twice the price.  

The really wonderful thing about a high quality spotting scope it that it can be used for some many great activities outside of shooting, such as bringing the action of star gazing, outdoor sporting events, pool watching from your room, or just to watch your fat neighbor in spandex nearly have a heart attack doing a PX90... there are thousands of entertaining, educational, and relevant uses for a clear high powered spotting scope. Generally mine is usually just sitting next to me offering that perfectly clear view of my group way down the range.

LEGEND ULTRA-HD20-60X 80MM 45° 786081ED
ED Prime Extra-Low Dispersion glass
2-speed dual focus controls
RainGuard® HD water-repellent lens coating
100% waterproof/fogproof
BaK-4 prisms
Fully multi-coated optics
Porro prism design
Long eye relief
Close focusing
Zoom eyepiece
Soft case included
Street Price - $480


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Bushnell Optics

Ruger 10/22 Tech Sights Review

Ruger 10/22 Tech Sights Review

The 10/22 is one of the most fun, rugged, dependable and accurate out of the box production .22LR rifles on the market, however for most of us it represents a starting point for customization and personalization.  When it comes to the front and rear dovetail iron sights, they work infallibly, but as I and others have noted in many situations there can be huge accuracy, durability, and ergonomic improvements by upgrading to AR style peep sights from Tech Sights.

Peep sights have been shown to improve rapid target acquisition and overall shot precision.  Where the Tech Sights are unique is that they raise the front sight and mount the rear sight on top of the receiver.  The result is a faster shooting and higher precision sighting solution for dedicated iron sighted 10/22 rifles such as this Ruger 10/22TD Take-Down rifle. Tech Sights even has a solution for for existing bull barrel models as well.  

Tech Sights was founded to offer shooters an improved combat durable and higher accuracy sighting solution to rifle which usually do not have the best sighting options. Amount those rifles Tech Sights makes sight solutions for includes SKS, marlin 60 & 795, AK, Mini 14, Remington 597. CZ, Mossberg 702, Savage Mark II, and Marlin 925/917/980/981/XT rifles.

Obviously for the purposes of this review, Tech Sights offers several options for 10/22 owners including front and rear sight kits including either their TSR100 or TSR200 rear receiver sights for factory taper barrels such as shown on the Ruger 10/22TD. The company also offers a slip on front sight for bull. 920" barrels.

I picked up both versions of the TSR sights, both sights are identical with the exception the TSR100 has a dual flip style AR aperature and the TSR200 is a single aperture with elevation adjustment.

The TSR100 was mounted to my Factory Ruger 10/22TD take-down model and the TSR200 was mounted to my MOA stainless receiver with an 18" .920" bull Feddersen R4 match barrel in a Bluegrass stock.

The 10/22 Tech Sights are designed specifically for the Ruger 10/22.  Either version of the rear sights attach via the two rearmost holes in place of a scope rail on the stock receiver.  This obviously prevents the use of the full scope rail. You can shorten the rail to mount a red dot, however iron sights of this quality are more than enough for a survival or general purpose hunting rifle

The front sight replaces the factory front sight and is drifted in with a punch and hammer from left to right as any dovetail sight is. Once in place the newfront Tech Sight raises the sighting plane to match the rear sight.  The new sights also offer a few other key advantages such as durable billet steel ears which protect a standard M4/AR15 screw in elevation adjustable sight and the rear peep aperture.

The bull barrel slip-on front sight, mounts to any .920" bull barrel and provides a front iron sight option without the need to permanently machine a sight dovetail into the barrel. The sight is mounted/glued in place with non-permanent Lock-tite.  Although it beats a $100 trip to the gunsmith, this is not my favorite mounting method and I would have prefered a design with a grub screw however it works and is a very secure mount for a dovetail front sight.

If you are familiar with AR sights then these Tech Sights will seem like a familiar duplication of that great sighting system. Yes, you can use any Mil-spec standard AR15 front sight post you want including night, fiber optic and colored plastic versions. For those of us who have snapped the front stock sight off our 10/22s, you will appreciate the much more rugged and durable steel AR15 sight pins over the less durable factory Ruger bead sights.  Just a note that the front post Tech Sights includes is both a taller and finer post. Generally a taller post is required to shoot at shorter ranges and the thinner post can improve accuracy over the standard GI post thickness.

The Tech Sights TSR100 model allows the use of any standard AR national match rear flip peep sight as a replacement.  Again, this opens up the huge variety of rear flip peep apertures for use of the 10/22. That I know of, the Tech Sights TSR100 is the only way you can get front and rear night sights (in the form of tritium AR15 peep aperture and front post replacement) on a 10/22 without extensive modification.  Elevation adjustment is made via turning the front post in 1/4 turn increments just as you would on any AR sight.  Windage adjustments are again familiar AR national match style made via the battle spec detented windage adjustment on the rear sight.

Precision iron sight shooters will appreciate the added tuning flexibility of the Tech Sight TSR200 which trades the TSR100's rear dual flip aperture for a single fully adjustable aperture.  The TSR200 unit has all the same sight tuning flexibility of the TSR100 unit with the added ability for simple small precision elevation adjustments required for various ranges and ammo model changes without the hassle of changing the front sight setting.

We have all seen more than a few used 10/22s with the front sight bent or broken off and the rear sight missing an ear... a survival based 10/22 needs more durable sights.  The Tech Sights, for the venerable Ruger, solves this problem with the steel AR style protective ears on each side of the front and rear sights.  Functionally this setup delivers a nearly indestructible set of sights for your rifle and a set of sights exponentially more durable than the stock versions. The rear sight base is aluminum and although light and durable, I would have prefered a steel base instead for extra durability

Both Tech Sights models deliver a more user friendly sight adjustment than the factory sight which are only adjustable via drifting the rear sight for windage or messing around with the reading glass sized screw for the simple blade elevation adjustment.  The 10/22 Tech Sights deliver a repeatable click adjustable sighting solution in a format that will not fall out of alignment with even a hard bump or rifle drop.

The downside to converting over to this sighting system is that scope mounting becomes a bit more challenging.  In order to mount either a red dot or scope, the user will need to modify and shorten the factory rail.  If a red dot such as a Vortex Sparc or Bushnell TSR-25 is used, then the setup works great, however with a scope, higher than normal rings are required to clear the rear sight.  Honestly this is not a sight setup for a 10/22 intended to be scoped, but it is one which greatly improves shooting with iron sights.

From a functional perspective, I liked these sights much better than the factory versions.  The sights fall in line more naturally with the eye because of the sight height increase. On the stock Ruger, I find I need to smoosh my face down on the stock just a bit to align my eye with the sights; with the Tech Sights, sight alignment was much more natural and consequently faster on target.  Additionally, I have found the peep and post combination a much faster and more accurate sighting solution for the 10/22.

The 10/22 Tech Sights also provide the shooter more of a M1 carbine style sight picture which coincidentally Bill Ruger modeled the 10/22 after.  I can see that some people will want to recreate a .22LR version of a M1 carbine using these sights and an aftermarket 10/22 M1 style aftermarket stock to complete the build.

The 10/22 Tech Sights are a fast and easy upgrade that anyone marginally handy can do with just a punch, hammer and mini-screwdriver and a drop of thread locker. Whether you have a bull barrel or standard stock barrel, they have you covered with a solution. The sights provide fast and accurate sighting at a more ergonomic and natural sight height which delivers a faster shooting 10/22.

I believe both models have their place. The TSR100 is perfect for 90% of survival rifle type builds, however if you find you need a little extra precision, the TSR200 micro-elevation adjustable single aperture is available as a sight set, as a rear sight assembly individually, or also as a aperture replacement unit for your TSR100 base.


  • 8" Longer Sighting Radius
  • Rear Sight Base mounts solidly to the rear of the receiver utilizing the existing tapped scope base holes.
  • TSR100 comes standard with dual apertures (.062) and is compatible with M16/AR15 apertures.
  • TSR200 allows for additional elevation adjustment at the rear sight.
  • Uses incremental windage adjustment with rugged detent locking.
  • Front sight tower comes standard with an incremental detent adjustable AR15 type post designed for the AR15. This gives the shooter a wide variety of post designs.
  • TSR100 - 10/22 Receiver mounted Rear Sight with AR Style Apertures - $59.99
  • TSR200 - 10/22 Receiver mounted Rear Sight with Elevation Adjustment - $69.99
  • TS157 - .920 Barrel Dovetail Adapter for Ruger 10/22 - $15
  • TSR110 - Front Sight Tower Assembly for Ruger - Steel - $22


Find the Tech Sights now at 

Tech Sights

CRKT RSK MK5 Survival Knife Review

CRKT RSK MK5 Survival Knife Review

In a survival situation, one of the the primary must have tools is a knife.  Without it, even making a fire drill to start a fire is a great challenge.  Indeed the knife is a potential life saving item in a survival situation and although a 4"-5" blade is optimal, a tiny 1.75" bladed knife like the CRKT RSK MK5 Survival Knife is far better to have than to have nothing.

With the preparedness of survival, the motto is generally that a tiny survival kit you have with you will will be 100% more useful that the 20lb survival 3-day pack left at home when a real survival situation arises. This methodology has spawned smaller and smaller survival kits with the Altoids Mint tin survival kit being one of the most popular. 

Many of us carry a tin of mints, so swapping fresh breath for a survival kit is an easy decision for the survivalist. The choice then becomes what to put in the kit, there are some heated discussions on this topic, however having some sort of knife included is a necessity everyone agrees on.  The problem is that due to size constraints, this is usually a small Swiss Army knife or a replaceable utility knife blade (which can be somewhat dangerous to use without a handle.)  Generally I have favored a Christy Knife for my survival tin builds, however CRKT's RSK MK5 is the best high durability tin packable knife option I have found yet.

The CRKT RSK (Ritter Survival Knife) MK5 was developed by Doug Ritter, a renouned survivalist with the simple goal of creating the most durable and useful survival tin knife on the market. The strongest most durable knife design will almost always be a fixed blade knife and at the same time, will also minimize cost and reduce bulk which means you can pack additional items in the tin.  Doug designed the stainless 2CR13 steel knife with a highly utilitarian drop point design, unique handle jimping, and lanyard which, when gripped in the hand, extends the grip in a way that makes it feel more secure like a much bigger knife. The adjustable lanyard is not only handy, but critical to the design as it functions as a handle extension when mounted in the hand correctly.

Through his design process, Doug was able to maximize the blade length to a pretty useful 1.75" length all while still making it fairly comfortable to use while still fitting in the tin. Included with the knife is a CRKT branded survival tin, lanyard, slim blade cover and a really good suggested list of items to include in your survival tin kit.  In addition to Doug’s suggested list, I also make room for a mini-Bic lighter and rubberband a large black 50 gallon trashbag and clear trash liner to the outside of the tin for improvised shelter and water collection.

In reality you can do a lot with a 1.75" blade if the edge geometry is right and the steel is high quality including battoning it through a thicker sapling with another piece of wood, clean fish or game, make weapons and fire... the uses are endless.  The high grind of the little blade really makes the RSK MK5 a great little slicer that cuts deep. The RSK sailed easily through my typical whole chicken breakdown, however I did have to work at the joints a bit where I could have powered through them with a larger knife. If you live with the knife for a week in your pocket, I am sure you will find that that little blade delivers cutting utility and edge holding far greatly than the size would indicate.

The slip on sheath as expected is minimalism, but 100% practical. A single hole in the end of the sheath allows the little knife to even be carried as a neck knife with a piece of optional cordage.

Although small, great design attention has clearly been paid to assure this is a brutally tough little knife that will not fail you like a the typical scalpel or utility knife blade included in Altoids Survival kits.  The 3Cr13 steel is similar to a high end 440 or AUS8 but with more toughness and corrosion resistance improved further with the stone washed finish.

The CRKT RSK MK5 also has a skeletonized handle which means that you can lash it to a pole as a spear, or do things like wrap the handle with dental floss (a very handy and strong cordage that you can fish or build things with) and also provides a knife design over 30% lighter than one with a solid handle.  Overall a thoughtful design which you should find plenty of uses for when you need it most.

The CRKT RSK Mk5 is clearly not the survival knife I would reach for as I planned a walk into the woods or if I expected to fend for my life in a survival environment, however it is the one that you can guarantee will be with you should a survival situation occur. 

As with all CRKT knives, this is a high value knife at a great price. Although the MSRP price is $29.99, I picked mine up for only $22.99 which is a heck of a steal for a little, tough knife that just might save you life.

Columbia River Knife & Tool RSK® Mk5
Design Dr. Andrew Osborne, David White, Doug Ritter
Blade Material 3Cr13 hardened to 52-55 HRC
Blade Length 1.75 in. (44.5 mm)
Edge Length   1.94 in. (49.3 mm) plain edge
Blade Thickness 0.12 in. (3 mm)
Blade Shape Wide-Chord Drop Point
Blade Grind High Flat Grind, 18ยบ Nominal
Overall Length 3.81 in. (97 mm)
Handle Skeletonized
Weight              0.78 oz. (22 g)
Sheath Molded & Riveted Fiberglass-Reinforced Nylon
Weight w/ Sheath 0.88 oz. (25 g)
MSRP $29.99, Street $22.99

CRKT Knives