Byrd Meadowlark 2

The Byrd Meadowlark 2 is a folding knife from Spyderco that I’ve started to look into.

Byrd Meadowlark 2. Photo courtesy of Vita Felice Photography

Byrd Meadowlark 2. Photo courtesy of Vita Felice Photography

A number of years ago I took a Defensive Folding Knife class from Insights Training Center. While there isn’t one specific knife that works, without question the Spyderco Delica comes out as about the ideal knife for such application. As a result of that class, I’ve carried 2 Delicas every day ever since.

Recently I’ve been looking at alternatives to the Delica. The main motivation? Recent life changes may influence my every day carry (EDC), and it’s possible I could find myself in an unexpected situation that requires loss of the knife (e.g. I have to suddenly throw it away, or stash it and risk being unable to recover it). While the Delica isn’t the most expensive of knives ($70-ish), having to replace 2 ($140) is something I’d rather avoid if I can.

I have looked at other brands and styles of knives, but over the years I really haven’t found myself liking many other options on the market. There are a lot of things I like about Spyderco knives, but the biggest thing is the big opener hole. For me, nothing else works as well to facilitate one-handed opening. Most other manufacturers use pegs, and while pegs work they just haven’t worked as well. There’s leverage issues, slop issues (e.g. if you don’t hit it “just right”), gloves, etc.. The opener hole works nicely. That said, I recently play with a Benchmade 550 and found it acceptable, but again it was the hole vs. the peg. I digress.

In looking for a Delica alternative, a natural choice was the Byrd Meadowlark. This knife is the “cheap clone” of the Delica. And at about $25, replacing 2 at $50 – vs. replacing even 1 Delica at $70 – is a little easier to stomach.

(new) Byrd Meadowlark 2 (top). (old, well-used) Spyderco Delica 4 (bottom). Photo courtesy of Vita Felice Photography.

(new) Byrd Meadowlark 2 (top). (old, well-used) Spyderco Delica 4 (bottom). Photo courtesy of Vita Felice Photography.

Obviously Spyderco had to make a lot of manufacturing choices to meet that price-point. The steel isn’t as good, but it’s still a pretty good steel. The profile and overall form factor is more or less the same as the Delica, but if you notice there is a finger choil on the Meadowlark. In the hand, the Meadowlark does feel “cheaper” than the Delica, but overall still feels quite serviceable and switching between the two knives generally feels the same (the choil throws me off a little bit, but no big deal).

Of course, the opener hole is a big issue for me, and this being my first Byrd knife I wondered if the gimmicky “bird” profile of the hole would be an issue. So far it hasn’t!

For sure, the Meadowlark isn’t as refined a knife as the Delica, but so far I have no qualms about it. While I don’t need to carry the Meadowlark right now, I am so I can look for any issues in carrying it and daily use. And yes, that even means things like opening letters. I know some people frown upon using “self-defense knives” for daily chores but I have no problem with doing so; in fact, I prefer it because it gives me repetitions at working the knife. So the blade gets dull: that’s what a sharpener is for. Yes, some knives I carry are geared towards specific purposes and I keep them for just those purposes. But a knife like the Delica or Meadowlark? That’s a useful tool with many potential applications, so I have no qualms about using it.

If anything, getting this new Meadowlark has shown me how worn out my Delicas are.

We’ll see where the Meadowlark goes, but initial impressions as an inexpensive daily carry folder are positive.

Byrd Meadowlark 2. Photo courtesy of Vita Felice Photography

Byrd Meadowlark 2. Photo courtesy of Vita Felice Photography

Special thanks to Vita Felice Photography for taking the pictures of my knives. Vita Felice Photography is Daughter’s photography business. Check it out! 🙂

We each draw our lines differently

Where do you draw your line (in the sand)?

When was the last time you articulated where that line was drawn?

When you articulated that line, have you subjected it to scrutiny? Have you read stories, considered scenarios, applied it (as a training exercise, in your head) while you go about your daily life? Does it hold up? Does it need adjustment and refinement?

Over on pistol-forum.com “LittleLebowski” recounted his experience of when he had to defensively use a knife in a Hawaii hotel. It’s a very detailed story, including details of his arrest, references to news media reports, and all that he went through. I empathized and identified with a fair portion of what he went through.

What was more interesting to me was flipping through all the forum discussion of his account. The majority of it was comments such as “you shouldn’t have gotten involved”, or “wasn’t your fight”. But there were also counters such as “JV_” saying:

It’s interesting to watch incident videos, like the thug beating up on a big bus driver (who won in the end) and many people seemed surprised that no one stepped in to help the bus driver.

And here we have an incident where someone does step in to help out, and we’re back to the “it’s not my fight”. On the other hand, it’s a domestic incident, and if she turned on the helper, he’d still be in jail.

I don’t look forward to living in a society where everyone stands around and watches bad things happen.

And the discussion raged on, as Internet forums do, tho was overall quite civil.

Still, the armchair quarterbacking was interesting for me to observe and it mirrors responses I received in regards to my own incident.

It’s not really that people are trying to tell me or LittleLebowski that we were right or wrong (tho yes, some are certainly trying to scold or correct), it’s more that people are articulating their own feelings against the backdrop of our event. They might be saying “you shouldn’t have gotten involved” but they really mean “I wouldn’t get involved”.

Really, it’s tough to tell someone they shouldn’t have gotten involved – especially after the fact. “Gee, thank you for pointing out my mistakes… as if I’m totally unaware of them.” You may mean well, but think about what you’re really trying to say and why you are saying it. Someone telling their story is making themselves vulnerable, in hopes of helping you (including learning from the mistakes made). Don’t punch them in the gut over it.

And from that, work to learn. If after hearing the story you find yourself (re)assessing how you would respond to such a situation, good! That’s the point of sharing. You should be using the story to figure out where you stand, and if you need to adjust, if you need to change yourself, if you need to further your education.

Remember: as a result, we will all draw our lines in different places. What’s right for you may not be what’s right for me. It’s good to help guide people towards finding, improving, and making articulable where their line is drawn; just don’t look down on them or chastise them for drawing their line differently from yours. So long as they have a clearly defined and defensible line, so long as they can reasonably articulate where and why, that’s what’s important.

How often do you inspect your equipment?

The title says it all:

How often do you inspect your equipment?

It doesn’t matter the context. If you have equipment you rely upon, it should get some sort of periodic inspection.

When was the last time you checked the air pressure in the tires of your car? Or the oil? Or the washer fluid? How about if all of the exterior lights (turn signals, brakes, backup lights, etc.) work?

How about the fire extinguisher in your kitchen? The smoke detectors in the house?

The backup system for your computer (e.g. Mac OS X’s Time Machine). When was the last backup run? Is everything in order?

The list can go on.

I’m far from perfect in this. I’m like you: busy, with a lot of things on my plate and in my head. I can’t remember everything, and things do slip through the cracks. For example, I wear a kydex pouch on my belt to carry my flashlight and a spare magazine. A few weeks ago I realized that one of the belt clips had started to crack. I’m glad I caught it because it wasn’t too long before it fully broke. I was able to get a replacement ordered in time.

Funny thing tho? The replacement wasn’t properly made so I had to send it back (they did correct things; a topic for another time). Thus I was without the pouch for a little while. I used my rotary tool to cut off the broken parts and whittled it down to just a flashlight pouch. But what to do about carrying a spare magazine? While I do have other mag pouches, it would have made EDC cumbersome. So, a DeSantis Mag-Packer to the rescue. It was good to have some sort of equipment redundancy.

Friend of mine had a similar issue with the flashlight in his car’s glove compartment. The bulb fried somehow, and SureFire is going to take care of it. But better that he found out now instead of when he was stranded roadside at night needing to change his tire.

Any equipment and things you rely upon, inspect them. Fix them. Replace them. Do whatever is needed, so when you have to call on your equipment, it’ll be there.

The changing face of violence in the UK

From Chuck Rives, an article about how violence in the UK is getting… worse.

Horrific wounds have been caused by screwdrivers and spoons as attackers look to circumvent knife-carrying laws by switching to “improvised weapons”.

[…]

Doctors say a trend has emerged of teenagers being stabbed in the rectum – a practice known among gangs as “dinking” that can leave the victim requiring a stoma bag for the rest of their life.

[…]

Chris Aylwin, a consultant surgeon at St Mary’s hospital, said: “There seems to be a decreasing value of people’s lives. One of the more worrying features that we have certainly seen are stabbings around the buttocks and thighs. People don’t do that without good reason.

[…]

Duncan Bew, the clinical lead for trauma and emergency surgery at Kings’ College hospital, said: “There is an intention to leave someone with an outward sign that they have been punished by a gang – a stoma bag or some other injury to ‘clip their wings’.”

You should read the entire article as there’s just too much to detail here.

Here’s my take-homes:

Bans Don’t Stop Violence

UK essentially bans guns, so people turn to knives. Now knives are being severely restricted, and so they’re turning to screwdrivers and spoons and other improvised weapons.

Ban all you want, it doesn’t stop people from engaging in the base behavior (how’s that “War on Drugs” working out?). If evil people wish to do evil things, they will always find a way. Instead of focusing on the tools, how about focusing on the root evil(s)? You only have so much time, money, and energy in your lifetime, so why waste precious resources on ineffective solutions?

Statistics Tell Certain Stories

According to City Hall, the number of knife assaults causing injury rose 7.7 per cent across London between April and September this year, compared to the same period last year. There were 335 incidents in September – 51 per cent up on the 222 recorded in March.

People love to quote how “gun violence” is low in the UK, and that it is. Maybe it is support that “banning guns” leads to less “gun violence”. But “banning guns” does not lead to a safer society, a society where there is less violence.

People like to quote homicide and murder rates as indication of how things are getting better or worse. Alas, murder rates only tell part of the story, because for it to be murder the victim has to die. Every year medical ability improves, and these days if you make it to the Emergency Room with any sort of vital signs, your chances are extremely high you will live due to the miracle of modern medicine. Thus, at most your attack will only be classified as “aggravated assault” – what used to be called “attempted murder” – and consequently “murder rates going down” are in part due to good ER’s, not reduction in crime.

Consider the contents of the article: the very intent of the attack is not to kill, but to severely maim and inflict not death but a lifetime of agony and suffering. How does this affect your statistics? And do the statistics really matter when you’re the one spending the rest of your life in a wheelchair with a colostomy bag?

Get Medical Training

A week after Joel was attacked, the trauma team at the Royal London saved a 16-year-old stabbed in the leg. “It was a really deep wound,” Mr Konig said. “That struck me as real intent, and that was just shocking. [In a week] we had one dead, one survived. Left alone, these people would all die.

“Passers-by were excellent at putting pressure on his groin and stopping him bleeding to death right there. If members of the public are having to come to your assistance to stop you bleeding to death, it’s like soldiers relying on their buddies in a war zone. If we have to start educating people how to stop someone bleeding to death, that does change things.”

This doesn’t mean you need to be a medic, an EMT, or anything of the sort. But get some basic First Aid training. Then maybe get some more advanced care in things like Wilderness First Aid, or other training that goes beyond “boo-boos and bee stings” to help you deal with things like severe bleeding and when and how to use a tourniquet.

Carry some form of medical equipment. Heck, my Dad has always carried a single Band-Aid in his wallet: it’s not a tourniquet, but you’d be amazed at how often it’s come in handy.

Some People Are Just Sick

I’m sure you are a positive person that surrounds yourself with other positive, uplifting, productive, contributing, and generally “good” people. Thus chances are you may not realize or really fathom that the world is filled with horrible people. Thankfully they are a minority, but they are still there and all it takes is one to ruin things.

Some people are just twisted and sick. Consider the attackers in this story: they are out to cause their victim a lifetime of suffering. I mean, intentionally stabbing someone in the rectum to cause the victim a lifetime of difficultly? How fucked up is that? Sorry for the language, but there’s no other way to describe such a vile, despicable act. It’s truly the mindset of a sick individual.

It’s important to accept the world contains such scum. You don’t have to like it nor tolerate it, but admitting and accepting they exist improves your ability to address the realities of the problem.

Real Solutions

Mr Bew is a trustee of Growing Against Gangs and Violence, a partnership between the Association of Surgeons, Metropolitan Police and Home Office that aims to end gang and serious youth violence through proactive work and “pupil power”. This Autumn it has reached 17,080 students in 70 schools in 11 boroughs – four times as many students as two years ago.

He added: “Trauma centres have made a massive difference to mortality and morbidity in the last couple of years, particularly in that younger group. The challenge for us is how we stop the kids coming to us in the first place.”

Delica clip replacement

I carry 2 Spyderco Delica folders. Great knives for all sorts of purposes.

Alas, the way the clip is fashioned they snag every now and again on things. Usually they just bend and I can bend things back into place, but I guess the clip bent one too many times and it broke on one of them.

Looking around for replacements, I found it odd that I couldn’t find any for sale on Spyderco’s own website. But a bunch of third-party discussions came up, and I was pointed to these Titanium pocket clips on USAKnifeMaker.com. I liked the fact they were low-rider (the Delica’s stick out a lot from your pocket), and the slim clip does end up looking like a pen clip. All good things.

Alas, they didn’t work for me. The hole spacing does NOT fit the Delica. I saw others with this issue and they drilled things out and got it to work. Well, that only sorta worked. There’s just too much spacing and not enough room to drill before the holes get too big and the screw heads won’t hold. The screws also go in at a slight angle, which means they don’t hold fast – and on one it did pop out. As well, I’m not sure if it’s the bend or the clip itself, but when I first put them into a pocket, I heard ripping — they slightly torn my pant pocket.. .not a deep tear, just some ripping of threads. Ugh. So that was $18 down the drain, because there’s no way I can return them now that I modified them. Nothing against these clips or USAKnifeMaker.com, they just don’t work for me.

I searched around Spyderco’s website again. They really need a better website. But I did find on their support/contact page they actually have an option for “need a replacement clip”, so this probably comes up enough. I sent them a note and we’ll see what comes of it. I also noticed they have a “deep pocket clip”. If I could get those on my Delica, I’ll take it; I asked.

So… we’ll see.

Meantime, if any of you have suggestions on Delica clip replacements that actually work, I’m all ears.

Why 2?

I read this article (h/t to Greg Ellifritz) about carrying folding knives:

So, now I’m going to blow your mind. What side do you carrying your folder and let’s say you cannot carry a fixed? I would say the vast majority and I mean like everyone I see in classes carries their folder on their strong side. Again, we have to go back to defining the mission. Is this a secondary weapon, your pistol being the primary. If it is, then the better approach is to carry the folder on your weak side. The first thing people say is I cannot use my weak hand for anything. That’s a lot like a boxer saying they can’t jab with their weak hand…doesn’t make much sense does it. If you are a bit awkward on your weak side then you will need to train. We have been training on the folding knife for several years and I’m surprised to hear folks comment about how easy it was to pick up the folder on the weak side with the right structure.

We try to encourage folks to look at themselves from a bi-lateral point of view. That means consideration for weapon system available and deployable from your weak side. Not every scenario is a gun scenario, you have to find the balance. That is code for not getting you face punched in before you can think of other weapon systems. Then being able to retrieve and deploy the blade from a folder is the next progression.

So I’m going to blow your mind: carry 2 folders, one on each side.

Part of my EDC are 2 folding knives (Spyderco Delicas, if you’re curious). I learned this from Insights Training Center in their Defensive Folding Knife class. The folders are both set the exact same way: tip-up carry, clipped inside my front pant pocket, one on my left, one on my right. Yes, that means the one on the left is “backwards”, but trust me it works for consistency. It does mean when I draw with the left hand, I must give the knife a flip, but that’s alright because then I have consistent motion. If I use my right hand to obtain the knife on the left, it’s the same as using my right hand to obtain the knife on the right! Same with the left: it’s consistent no matter which knife I go for.

I often get the question: why do you carry two knives?

We can go back to the whole “2 is 1, 1 is none” mantra, and while true that’s not the primary reason. The primary reason is because sometimes you can’t get to one so you have to go for the other.

It doesn’t even have to be in a combat situation. I use my knives for daily tasks, like opening letters, opening packages — cutting things, you know, what knives were designed to do.( BTW, for those that discourage using your “fighting knife” to open letters because it will dull the blade: 1. the daily drawing of my knife is another rep, another bit of practice towards deployment and use, 2. this is why the Spyderco Tri-Angle Sharpmaker was invented; buy one, use it.) And even in my daily life, sometimes I cannot get to my desired knife. Maybe I’m lying on my side. Maybe I’ve got a seat-belt in the way (and sometimes I’m driving, and sometimes I’m a passenger). Who knows. But believe me, having worn 2 knives like this for the past 6 years, while I may generally go for the same-side knife, there have been more than enough times when I had no choice but to go for the other-side — and so far, no knife fighting outside of the classroom.

And yes, sometimes I go for the other-side knife just for the practice.

I agree with the author about the importance of weak-side and being offset from your primary. But even then, you may not be able to get to your one-side, and there’s so little cost and overhead in having a folder on both sides. Consider it.

Spyderco

(h/t Shawn)

Every day I carry 2 Spyderco Delicas and use them regularly.

And the Triangle Sharpmaker is just a fantastic sharpener. It’ll never be like the real artisans can do with a Japanese whetstone, but it’s so easy for anyone to use and gets things sharp enough for most needs.

I like hearing about his beginnings and how he slowly built, experimented, innovated. Awesome success story.