Does it matter if your knives and other accessories are carbon steel or stainless steel? Let’s examine the difference of carbon steel versus stainless steel for your everyday carry items.

First of all, let’s give a little explanation of the different types of steel that you are likely to encounter in this situation. When you get into serious cooking in a kitchen, either professionally or as an avid home cook, you’ll probably figure out that high-end kitchen knives are made of carbon steel whereas the silverware on the table is typically stainless steel.


Backtracking even more, what is steel? Steel is an alloy, which is the metallurgic word for combination. The combination of iron and carbon makes steel. I’m not a metallurgist, so this is a very basic explanation. Carbon is added to iron ore generally in the form of coke, which is a high-carbon content material made from coal.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel also has iron ore and carbon but it also has a bit of chromium added to the original steel. This chromium adds resistance to corrosion and rust. That’s probably easy to remember because that’s why we call it “stainless.” Chromium is what gives stainless steel silverware its characteristic silver “sheen.” It doesn’t tarnish or show water spots. It doesn’t rust very easily. A stainless steel knife will rust, it will just take longer. Stainless steel is also harder to sharpen. It is considered a “softer” steel, which means it won’t take an edge as readily as other forms of steel. This “softness” means that if it is bent it will likely be fine.

Carbon Steel

Carbon steel is steel that has an increase in hardness. This hardness issue can be a little confusing. It is considered to be a “harder” steel, but it also increases its brittleness. Scientifically, this is described as being less “ductile.” Ductility is the material’s ability to deform under stress. So a stainless steel knife blade may bend a little under stress whereas the carbon steel blade won’t. This means it’s more likely to chip if you drop it.

Along with the hardness comes the fact that a carbon steel blade can be more highly sharpened. It takes an edge more easily than stainless. The knife is overall “harder” meaning stronger, but the edge can also chip more easily and gets worn down faster. Carbon steel will stain more readily, so it should be cleaned right after use. It should not be left wet for very long. You can rub the blade with mineral oil to form a protective coating that prevents rust when your knife isn’t being used.

High carbon steel knives simply have more carbon added. The increased carbon increases the steel’s hardness (it takes an edge even better) but it also increases its ductility an equal measure.


The Comparison

Because stainless is less prone to rusting, if you’re in a wet environment and are going to be using your knife on a boat, in the rain, in snow, or generally near a lot of water, you might opt for stainless. It really depends on what type of knife you want. If you’re willing to give your knife ongoing, maybe sometimes daily care and take care of it, you might want a carbon or high-carbon steel knife. If you want a razor’s edge and you’re willing to sharpen your knife frequently to get that edge, you want a carbon steel knife.

If you want an EDC knife that will be there when you need it, not need a lot of extra care and handling and will be less likely to chip if you drop it you probably want a stainless steel knife. Stainless knives won’t stay sharp as long and won’t get sharpened to a razor’s edge to the same degree as carbon steel, so you’ll need to continually sharpen your stainless knife if you want a really sharp edge.

What are your thoughts on the best type of EDC knife to carry?

Here are a couple of examples of affordable EDC knives in both categories.

The Kershaw Cryo Knife

This knife has a stainless steel blade and a stainless steel handle. It’s a sturdy pocket-size folding knife with a secure locking blade and opens via a thumbstud or flipper. A good deal at only $56 from the Kershaw website (it seems to be cheaper on Amazon so check around).

The Opinel Carbone

Another pocket-size basic everyday carry knife, this one from Opinel is a 3.35-inch folding knife with a beechwood handle. Beech is a hard wood and has an elegant look. But, it even says right in the description, “can corrode easily” and the manufacturer advises users to avoid dampness and wipe and grease the blade after use. That means after every use! So if that sounds like too much work for you, stick with stainless. On the bright side, this knife comes from the Opinel website for only $15.


If you’re like me, you don’t like to put too much thought  into what clothes you put on in the morning. I like to open the closet, see a shirt, and put it on. Is one shirt really so different than other shirts? What would a person need with a “tactical” shirt, anyway?

Well, you can think of a tactical shirt as a shirt that’s more than just a shirt. It’s been “engineered” to be more than just a shirt. For instance, if you do work where you want a heavier gauge shirt fabric that is resistant to oil and other stains and is water repellent, you might try the TAC convertible shirt from Blackhawk. The other thing that makes shirts like this nice is that if they do get wet, they dry quickly. If you put on a typical pull over or button-up, if it gets wet, it STAYS wet.

A tactical shirt breathes. If you get sweaty, you can still feel cooler. The other cool thing is that it offers sunburn protection. Unlike some fabrics that can give your skin sun exposure through them, these shirts block the sun so you don’t have to worry about getting sun burns on your arms.

The TAC convertible shirt from Blackhawk is made of ripstop fabric, so you won’t easily tear it. The oil and water repellent feature comes from a Teflon like coating that protects the shirt from spills. So theoretically, since it won’t tear and won’t stain, you can get a lot more days of wear out of a shirt like this than from typical shirts. If this shot costs about $75 (that’s the MSRP) and other shirts you might get at Walmart costs $20, you’re gonna get a lot more life out of the $75 shirt than you will the others. Some of my shirts start seeming like the stitches come out the first time I was them, so yeah, I think I could get as much life out of a $75 shirt as I could from four $20 shirts that would cost me the same amount.

But it’s called a TACTICAL shirt because you’re supposed to be wearing it while you’re wearing a firearm. The shirt has fake buttons which hide a snap placket. So you can just rip away the shirt to get to your handgun. This way, if you’re ever in a situation where you need to get to your handgun quickly, you don’t have to worry about walking around the rest of the day with a torn shirt like Lou Ferrigno after he turns back into a normal guy. Plus, even though I’m not a shirt-tucker kind of guy, the shirt is designed to stay tucked. Until you rip it off, of course. Shirt is available in Admiral Blue, Fatigue and Slate and is available online and from major retailers like Cabelas. In sizes from small to 4 XL. Available from

My husband and I have long-harbored a dream to live in a tiny house. This was even before the notion of tiny homes on wheels or otherwise became a popular thing. We wanted to get a small-size school bus or panel van and turn it into a get-away camper that we could be comfortable in for summertime camping as well as maybe live in someday if we ever really needed to. We haven’t bought one yet even though we keep talking about it. And with two kids, it’s not likely that we ever will actually live in one. Still, we want a getaway camper and one that has it all is even better.

Like this one, the UGOAT. It stands for “Utility Go Anywhere Off Road Camping Trailer” and it means “I want one.” It’s $15,000. But realistically, if I were to convert a bus  or van and make it as nice as some of the pictures I’ve seen, it could conceivably cost that much. Plus it would take a ton of time to tear it apart and rebuild the inside, which I don’t have. So maybe buying a ready-made rig is the way to go. And because this thing originally was designed based on military use, it’s rugged.

The UGOAT was created by a team of Marines from the United States and the British Royal Marines to create a “multi trailer” that is better than most standard camping trailer rigs.

Check out this Build Your Own page to see what the base model comes with. It’s a long list. It includes such basics as steel frame, cargo racks or bicycle racks, spare tire mount, standard RV electrical cable, and propane bottle holder. the base model is $6,495. You can add on an aluminum camper top ($6,000). This has multiple power and USB outlets, water outlets, 21-gallon water tank, kitchen and galley lighting, and more.

You can add a tent rack ($500). The adjustable rack lets you use the space below or above it for more storage.

You can add paint and bedliner options and choose some colors. You can also choose to pay more for raising or lowering the lift height and for your choice of tires.

Add on a whole host of options like a kitchen sink ($300), on-demand hot water shower (225), galley kitchen kit ($425), axe and shovel mounts ($199), solar suitcase ($380/$600), two-burner stove with windscreen ($325), and a storage box ($750.)

Add on an awning ($700) or a tent that zips onto the side of the awning ($700). Larger tent sizes are available, from a basic two-person tent for $1,000 up to a deluxe four-person tent with an annex for $2,400.

All those options do seem like they would add up the cost. But taken all together, this is a camper outfit that my family of four could actually live in, as long as we could park it someplace warm!

Images from

So there’s a t-shirt. It looks a lot like any other t-shirt. Well….the truth is, the shirt by itself doesn’t look like a typical t-shirt but if you wore it under other clothes no one would suspect you were wearing something unusual. What’s up with this t-shirt? It’s bulletproof.

Miguel Caballero Fashion had a booth at SHOT Show, where they were showing off their collection of bulletproof clothing. They have a undershirt option for both men and women that can be worn under jackets for discreet protection that might save your life someday. The “Armor T-shirt” is available for men and women for the low, low price of $2,163. We know that people have to pay a premium for bulletproof technology that’s available to the average person who isn’t military or police, but we wish this price was more accessible for the average person.

It’s hard to argue with the benefits this sleeveless t-shirt promises: available in white or black in a variety of different sizes from extra small up to XXXL (with a corresponding increase of about $375 dollars for the larger size) and protection levels IIA, II, IIIA, III and IV. Protection level II stops 9mm, but not 45 Magnums. Protection level IV will stop a bullet from a Kalashnikov, according to the FAQs on the site. You have to add almost $400 more for the highest level of protection for this t-shirt, making it pretty expensive. If I was going into a war zone, and I had the money, I wouldn’t even think twice, but those prices are hard for the average person. Then again, does the average person need one of these?

The company also makes jackets and vests which are even more expensive.

SHOT Show wrapped up last week and while most of the focus at that show is guns (it stands for Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trades), there were a lot of knives. As you can imagine, many different knife makers show their stuff at SHOT Show and it’s a pleasure to walk past a booth and be able to see so many different beautiful and functional knives. The knife maker CRKT is a favorite with our gear tester (you can read Rick’s review of the CRKT Homefront) and we were excited that there are new knives coming out.


The CRKT Pilar is supposed to be available early in the year. Designed by Jespers Voxnaes, it is small and affordable at only $40. I love the shape of the blade. It gives it a low profile and the shape of the blade makes it useful for different tasks without having only a sharp point that can get in the way. Since the designer is Danish, it has that understated, minimalist look that the Danes go for. For me personally, I wish the handle was a little thinner in the back end because my hands are on the small side. But overall, it feels nice in the hand. Blade length is 2.402 inches and a closed length of 3.530 inches. Plain edge on the blade with a satin finish.


The CRKT Hi Jinx Z is coming out sometime later in the year. The availability is yet to be determined so we’re not sure when you’ll be able to get your hands on this knife yet but as soon as we know we’ll keep you posted. Designed by Ken Onion, a Hawaiian man, it’s a simple and elegant knife. It opens with one smooth motion and has a locking liner safety. The blade is 3.293 inches and with a plain edge. Satin finish on the blade and a closed length of 4.721 inches. Weighs only 4.9 ounces and the handle is glass reinforced nylon. A little more than the Pilar at $80, it’s still a very affordable, beauty of a knife. You can sign up on the CRKT website to be notified when it’s in stock.


Images from

We went to SHOT Show last week, and came back with a renewed appreciation for all the gear that is available out there. So much to choose from! Here’s a quick run-down of some gear that we found and loved.

SOG Sync II multitool

One of the most popular booths at SHOT Show 2017 was SOG’s. The keg of beer they were pouring had something to do with it. But people really were interested in their new utility knives. If you stood in line and made a donation, you got not only a pint of beer, I think it was Sierra Nevada, but also a free tiny folding knife.

The SOG Sync II multitool folds up so compactly that it doubles as a belt buckle. The clip can also allow it to be clipped on to a pocket or bag. Closed, it is 2.4 inches and weighs 2.6 ounces. It has 11 tools, from an awl to wire cutters. ($80)

DPx Gear Knives

We met Robert Pelton at SHOT Show and he impressed us. Somehow we had not heard of his name in connection with the war zone coverage he had done in places like Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq and Burma for Vice, Discovery and his own books. He wasn’t promoting his writing, though. He was promoting his DPx Gear (Dangerous places Extreme) knives. We were attracted by the beauty of the knives, and by the fact that many of them are made in the USA. Pelton says his knives are “not just edged tools, they are designed and built to be hostile environment survival tools.” I like this one, the DPx HIT Cutter in Digi Camo. It’s not a new for 2017 knife, but I love that it’s got a carabiner and a rotating, locking edge protector. The blade is revealed in a quick flick and the guard becomes the handle. ($196)

MEGABoom Supersonic Targets

Make shooting plastic bottles a lot more loud and a lot more fun with these targets. They are compatible with standard plastic soda bottles. The base pressurizes the bottles. When you shoot them, they go BOOM! Up to 150 decibels, the company says. ($35)


Savior Personal Defense Shield by Covered 6

The Savior Shield is 6 pounds and folds up into a briefcase-like shape. Designed to be easy to carry, the Savior Shield offers NIJ rated Level IIIA protection. The Svior has a built-in pocket for stashing a weapon and an optional mounted light (for an extra $300). It’s made of waterproof ballistic nylon and opens quickly and easily. (900)

Thermal Vision Monocle by Flir Scout

Wouldn’t it be great to easily see in the dark? With this monocle you can. Whether you’re hunting or hiding from a prowler, or a law enforcement officer hunting the streets, night vision is a necessity. See at night in any terrain up to 550 yards away. The image is displayed on a 640×480 pixel screen in total darkness. ($2,000)

Remember this post, Top 10 Reasons to Give a Tactical Pen As a Gift?

Well, we now have a guide to how to use a tactical pen as self defense to go along with that one. And to sweeten the deal, we’re giving away an UZI Tactical Pen! You’ll earn chances to win one that you can keep for yourself or give to your Valentine’s Day sweetheart if you take part in our giveaway.

UZI Tactical Pen Giveaway

How to Use a Tactical Pen for Self-Defense

A tactical pen might not be your top choice for self-defense. You might rather have a gun or a knife. But there are many places where you can not take a gun or knife, such as on a plane. You might not feel comfortable using a gun or a knife until you have more training. A tactical pen offers real benefits for self defense to people who might be alter-abled or work in places where a gun is not allowed.

Your tactical pen can break glass

If you’re trapped somewhere where there is a locked door and you can’t escape, your tactical pen can give you the physical power you need to break the glass and escape. The pen’s sharp carbide-tip glassbreaker point has enough force to shatter glass and will not make a sound while you are doing it, until the glass breaks. The carbide tip is important because because carbide is stronger and will stay sharper up to 20 times longer than steel or aluminum, which is important for the longevity of the pen’s effectiveness.

Carry it at hand

It won’t do you any good if it is in the bottom of your purse or briefcase and you can’t get to it. Carry it somewhere where you can put your hands on it at a moment’s notice.

Once you do have your hands on it, here’s how you use your tactical pen:

Stab with it

Hold it in your hands so that your arm has the longest reach possible. Use the sharp point in a stabbing motion and try to aim for a sensitive place, like eyes or the Adam’s apple.

Depending on the type of tactical pen you get, one tip might be sharper than another. For instance, the UZI tactical pen with the DNA catcher has a sharp point that is designed to “catch” your opponent’s DNA. Striking or stabbing someone with this sharp point is going to hurt.

Aim for any weak spots

Use the sharp point of your pen to aim for any soft tissue weak spots. If you can’t stab, then use it to apply pressure. The backs of the knees, ears, eyes, feet and throat are spots that are very vulnerable if you can apply enough pressure. Even if you do not have full range of arm motion you will very likely be able to hold your pen somewhere where your opponent will feel it.

How do you recommend using your UZI tactical pen? Let us know in the comments and don’t forget to enter the giveaway! Feel free to share this post with everyone you know who might want to win a tactical pen. We will choose one winner at random.

UZI Tactical Pen Giveaway

ride out a tsunami with a survival podWe wrote about this survival pod designed to withstand any type of disaster back in June 2016 when we first heard about it. Now, we heard on a radio program on NPR that the first customer in the United States has bought one and it is now deployed in Ocean Park, Washington.

Jeanne Johnson lives in Ocean Park, which is just north of the Oregon border. It is prime tsunami country. Some parts of the Oregon-Washington coast, like the sandy, flat peninsula where Johnson lives, offers no high ground protection. Sometimes, there are bluffs right behind the coastal zone. So if you’re walking along the beach and happen to be in one of these spots when a tsunami hits, there might not be time to get out and up to high ground.

Johnson’s survival pod is sold by Mukilteo, Washington-based Survival Capsule LLC. Her pod is designed for 2 people, while other models are designed for 4 people. The company has sold 8 other pods to people in Japan. The pods are made of aircraft aluminum and the 2-person pod is about 4 1/2 feet in diameter. Two tiny windows like portholes would allow you to see out around you while you are strapped in. It comes with air tanks and drinking water bladders. A ceramic heat shield on the inside makes it suitable to protect users from other types of disasters too, such as fires.

Yes, it sounds claustrophobic! But, says Johnson, the alternative is not surviving because you have nowhere to go and you drown, or not surviving because you are caught in the panic of crowds all trying to get away. In the pod, you might be bobbing around for a while and having “the ride of your life,” but at least you would be protected right where you are. She keeps her pod in her garage.

How much are you willing to pay for this protection? The 2-person pod starts at $13,500 and the 4-person pod starts at $17,500. Other pods are available to hold 6, 8 and 10 people.  If you live in a place prone to wildfire or tsunamis, or earthquakes, or tornadoes, and you have a family that you don’t believe you can evacuate in time, this could be an excellent insurance policy.

Photo of Jeanne Johnson from by Tom Banse/Northwest News Network 

Photo of pod from

I’ve been having survival style dreams lately, where I’ve been in the woods in the snow and looking for a place to shelter. In another dream I was trying to to skin a squirrel to try and make a blanket. I think it’s because we’ve been having snow and ice storms lately, and while I’ve been keeping my home woodstove pumping, it still gets cold in the bedroom at night.

It got me to thinking, what would the ideal emergency shelter be like? I have emergency supplies in my home and in my car, of course. But I’m not lucky enough to have a bug-out shelter. I do have ideas for what would make a good one though. It’s a little embarrassing how much thought I’ve put into this, but here goes.

1. The building material.
First, I’d have a separate structure away from my home, like a large garage or tool shed. From the outside it would look like any normal garage or tool shed. But it would be built out of ICF. It’s a form of concrete construction I just discovered. ICFs are hurricane-resistant, fire-resistant, bullet-proof and termite-resistant.

2. The hidden wall.
Inside, it would look just like a normal garage or tool shed. Except I’d have a hidden wall that was , oh, a foot and a half in width, against the back wall, so it wasn’t obvious. I’d have a hinged door so I could open the hidden wall, but I’d have tall shelving units in just the right place to cover the hinges and the latch. No one would know it was there. Inside, I would stash my water cubes, seeds, ammo, guns and 25-year-shelf-life food.

3. Shuttered windows
I’d have windows with protective, armored shutters both inside and out. I’d have a crank on the inside of the shed so I could open and close the shutters on the outside from inside the shed.

4. The periscope
I really think this is my best idea yet. I realized that with the shutters closed, there wouldn’t be much of a way to see outside. I’d want to know if the National Guard was outside, or if it was just a band of gangsters, before I opened the dang door. And I’d want to be able to see all around the house, and perhaps some distance away as well.

To do this, I’d install a ladder that was similar to a library ladder that could roll along a track. When not in use, the ladder would be tucked away behind a panel. When I needed it, I’d roll it out and climb up it into the “loft” or ceiling area of the shed. I’d have a false ceiling reinforced so I could walk on it, and I’d install a periscope, like in a submarine, with a chair that swiveled, so I could see in 360 degrees around my shed. I’d use the extra space up there for more storage of survival gear.

5. I’d have a woodstove.
I’d probably only burn wood at night, so no one could see the smoke, but I’d definitely have a wood stove and lots and lots of wood. More on that later.

6. Warm clothes and boots.
Inside the shed I’d have a hook for a down coat, nice warm boots, hat and gloves that just stayed in there all the time. If I ever needed to lock myself in the shed they would be there.

7. Emergency bed.
I would also stash a good down blanket in a bag in the shed, along with a blow-up mattress.

8. Basic items
Of course, there would be some basics already in the shed, like solar lights, a solar panel, flahlights, a radio and stuff like that. Also, towels and some extra clothes. I’d hopefully be able to get some things from the house, like books or a deck of cards to pass the time. But if I felt like I wouldn’t be able to, I’d keep a stash of reading material or other items to pass time in the shed as well.

9. Access to outside.
If it’s snowing and for some reason it snowed enough that I was snowed in, I’d want to keep the snow undisturbed. I don’t want someone walking by my shed to see that I’ve shoveled the walk. I imagine a large porch and overhang on the backside of the shed, to keep some of the snow from piling up right against the shed. I want to be able to walk outside a little.

10. Access to wood.
A side door from inside the shed would connect by a covered and walled in walkway to a large shed filled with as much wood as I could. This would allow me to walk out of the shed and into the wood room without opening any outside doors or walking in snow, so no one would see footprints.

11. The toilet.
I’d have a composting toilet installed in the wood room, along with a backup supply of the microbe juice that makes the toilets work. If nothing else, a few 5-gallon buckets would probably be ok too.

I know some of you out there have thought about your dream shelter as much as I have. Some of you probably designed your shelters even better than what I’ve imagined. What did I forget? Is the periscope realistic or a stupid idea? Tell me in the comments what the ideal emergency shelter would be like.

Before finding this private plane, the biggest thing I’d ever seen made out of rose gold was a pair of headphones my daughter got for free when we bought her an Apple laptop when she started college. This Cobalt Valkyrie X Rose Gold Private Plane is just as ridiculously opulent as the name suggests.

But, I mean. Wow. Look at how the cockpit is shaped, for views all around. It’s said to be one of the fastest airplanes of its type in the world, able to take a pilot and three passengers at a whopping 230 miles per hour for up to 1,150 ground miles. The shell is high-performance composite carbon. Hand-stitched leather seats (but, of course) and plentiful storage for golf clubs, skis and suitcases (hey, that’s what the catalog says, I didn’t make it up).

An aerospace engineer and the founder of Cobalt, a firm that builds aircraft, created the plane. Why did they make it rose gold? Why not? If you can afford the $1.5 million price tag you must not care that the plane looks like a cross between Pepto Bismol and the pink lining inside a Valentine’s Day box of chocolates.  It’s available for purchase from Neiman Marcus’s Fantasy Gifts Catalog and you can learn more at Cobalt Aircraft.

RosePlane-1 Roseplane-2

Side view image from Additional images from Nieman Marcus fantasy catalog.