Cold Steel’s Frenzy II, by Pat Cascio

cold Steel Frenzy !!

Cold Steel never ceases to amaze me, and this time around they sent me their new Frenzy II folding knife for testing. Long time friend and owner of Cold Steel, Lynn Thompson knows that our readers at SurvivalBlog keep asking me to review large folding knives.  Lynn is only too willing and ready to show us some of his newest and coolest blades.


Cold Steel Knife and Tool Company  is a knife and tool company dedicated to creating the world’s strongest and sharpest knives. They also create swords, tomahawks, machetes, cutlery, and tools for every day use. One of the things that always catches my attention with most of the very large folding knives that Cold Steel produces is that most of them are light weight, believe it or not, so they’re easy to carry in pants pockets. However, keep in mind, that some pants … Continue reading

Valley Food Storage, by Pat Cascio

Valley Food Storage

While there are many different types of “survival foods” on the market, ranging from military MREs to freeze-dried and dehydrated plus any number of types of off-the-shelf foods that last a long time, today we are looking at dehydrated foods from Valley Food Storage.

Survival Foods

Having been a Prepper since I was a little tyke, I’ve tasted all manner of “survival foods” over the years. Some were better than others and some much, much better that others. Then we have some that aren’t very tasty, but they will keep you alive. My family and I are always on the lookout for something new to try and add to our food stores, and we make a point to eat what we store. I’m not a very picky eater, but some would say otherwise.

Springfield Armory’s Range Officer Elite Champion, by Pat Cascio

Springfield Armory Range Officer Elite Champion

The all-new and improved Springfield Armory Range Officer Elite is under review today, and Springfield really went out of their way to update/upgrade this line of fine 1911A1 handguns.

Springfield Armory 1911 Range Officer Review Plans

I’ve been a huge fan of the Springfield Armory line of 1911 handguns since the mid 1980s for a number of reasons. Their very first 1911s were mostly mil-spec in nature, and they were priced extremely “right”; they still are. Springfield Armory offers great value for your money. I had recently received the Springfield Armory full-sized Range Officer (R.O.)1911A1 for testing and review and ran quite a few rounds through it. I was all set to sit down and do my review on this fine handgun, until I got an e-mail from Springfield, announcing their Range Officer Elite line-up. I had to have one, and in a few days, one … Continue reading

Cold Steel Heavy Duty Sword Cane, by Pat Cascio

Cold Steel Heavy Duty Sword Cane

The Cold Steel Heavy Duty Sword Cane may well be the strongest and without a doubt the sharpest real world sword cane ever built. In 25 years of testing and writing about knives, firearms, and all manner of survival gear, it was done on a professional basis, and I always tried to maintain an unbiased opinion. However, in the case of the Cold Steel Heavy Duty Sword Cane, it was tested for real world use—my own personal, medical use.

My Slow Hip Replacement Recovery

As this is being written, I’m in my eleventh week of recovery from hip replacement surgery. Quite honestly, the recovery is taking much longer than I expected or was led to believe it would. I’ve never been a very patient person, and I thought I’d be back to 100% a few weeks after the surgery. Such is not the case. I’m far from … Continue reading

Maxxeon’s 2nd Gen WorkStar 620 Headlamp, by Pat Cascio

Maxxeon 2nd Gen WorkStar 620

Today we’re taking a close look at the Maxxeon 2nd Gen WorkStar 620 Technician’s Rechargeable Headlamp. We have tested several other lighting products from Maxxeon for SurvivialBlog readers over the years. One still sits on my desk, and I use it all the time when I need extra illumination for a project or looking for a lost gun part.

Maxxeon Varied Intensity Levels

Not all headlamps are the same. With that said, the Maxxeon 620 is quite the light. It has several intensity levels, with the highest being 700 lumens, medium 400 lumens, and low is still a bright 150 lumens. It is powered by a Cree light bulb, which is top of the line, too.

On the high setting of 700 lumens, the light will operate for two hours. On medium, it operates two hours and on low for eight hours. I’m impressed. Recharge time … Continue reading

Kershaw Launch 7, by Pat Cascio

Kershaw Launch 7

The new Launch 7 by Kershaw Knives is their newest folder. It’s an automatic push button opening knife.

Kershaw Knives

I still remember when I took my first tour of the Kershaw plant how small it was. If memory serves me correctly, there were 17 people on the shop floor making knives. Since that first trip, Kershaw has moved into a much larger building, and no sooner did they move in they had plans to expand their operation. My last tour of Kershaw was several years back, and they had several hundred employees on the shop floor, in the warehouse, loading dock, and front offices. KAI Corporation in Japan actually owns Kershaw these days. The daily operation at the Kershaw plant is overseen by “Jack”. He prefers to be called that, because it’s hard to pronounce his Japanese name. He’s a wonderful man who always has … Continue reading

Springfield Armory’s XDe 9mm, by Pat Cascio

XDe 9mm

The newest handgun in the XD line-up of Springfield Armory line-up is the compact XDe 9mm. I’ve been a huge fan of their XD line since the first one came out well over a dozen years ago. I purchased the first one I saw. It was used, and it looked “oh-so-GLOCKish” with a green polymer frame. But it was much more overbuilt than a Glock. And none of the parts will interchange with a Glock either. My first, but not my last, XD functioned with everything except Remington UMC bulk .40 S&W 180-gr FMJ ammo. I had numerous rounds that would not even chamber in that XD. And this isn’t an isolated case, either. Other handguns in 9mm and .45 ACP also had problems with this Remington ammo. I’ve even had primers installed backwards and sideways in this ammo, so I steer completely clear of it, … Continue reading

Ruger American Compact .45 ACP, by Pat Cascio

Ruger American Compact .45 ACP

Though some time back, we reviewed the Ruger American Compact 9mm pistol, today we are looking at the American Compact .45 ACP. The Compact 9mm was a winner in my book. Ruger hit it out of the ballpark. My oldest daughter fell in love with it and had to have one of her own, though she hasn’t bought a new gun in at least eight years. My name was on the list for the American Compact in .45 ACP. So not too long ago, I finally got my sample for testing.


The 9mm and .45 ACP compact models are very similar in size and most dimensions. However, here’s the .45 ACP specs, just the same. The sample I requested was the Pro model, which has no manual external safety lever. The frame is black polymer, and the slide is stainless steel. However, it is black in color (Nitride) and … Continue reading

CRKT/Ruger Hollow-Point Folder, by Pat Cascio

CRKT/Ruger Hollow-point Folder

Today, we are taking a look at the CRKT/Ruger Hollow-point Folder. It is a Ken Onion knife, and I’ll have more on that a little later.

Knives Are Tools

I love knives, all knives, big and small. They all have a use. I especially love well-made knives, because I don’t have a lot of use for junk knives. That is why our readers just won’t see me wasting my time reviewing junk knives. A knife is a tool, first and foremost. Many people forget that. Many claim that the knife is the first tool ever invented. I’m sure those first knives did not resemble what we consider a knife by today’s standards. But still, it did the job it was designed for— cutting!

Gun Companies Make Guns But Outsource Knives

Many gun companies offer up some knives with their name on it. And no matter how hard I try to … Continue reading

Sol-Ark Review, by James in Florida


Over the course of the last year, I have bought my Sol-Ark system in increments as funds became available. First, I bought the Sol-Ark “brains” followed six months later by 15 solar panels. Then, last month, I purchased 16 AGM deep storage batteries.

Placement of the Sol-Ark Unit

I’m the kind of guy who likes to carefully think through a project before starting it. Having read the Sol-Ark installation instructions, which are very straight-forward and uncomplicated, I decided to mount the Sol-Ark unit in my garage utilities closet. I’m fortunate that my homebuilder actually made a mistake when building my house; my HVAC unit and water heater are in a closet with a wide door instead of being out in the open garage and subject to the heat and humidity. There is enough “leakage”, for lack of a better word, from my five year-old HVAC system that it keeps the … Continue reading

Taurus Model 85, Ultra Lite, by Pat Cascio

Taurus Model 85

Today, we are going to take a close look at the Taurus Model 85 Ultra Lite while I continue on with more all-metal handgun reviews, as requested by many SurvivalBlog readers. According to Taurus, which offers several versions of this model, the Model 85 is their best-selling handgun. Many people are so caught-up with polymer handguns, especially semiauto handguns, they are overlooking some outstanding firearms still manufactured out of metals.

An Old Dog

For quite some time, I only considered carrying a revolver for self defense. Yep, I’m old school but I’m not too old to be schooled! You can teach an old dog new tricks. For sure, I owned a lot of semiauto handguns early on, to wit, the outstanding Colt 1911A1 as well as the Browning Hi-Power. And when I was younger, much younger, I would sometimes carry either a 1911 or a Hi-Power while working in private … Continue reading

Harvest Right: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly – Part 1, by HJL

Harvest Right


Three years ago I reviewed Harvest Right’s Freeze Dryer (Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3). Since then, Harvest Right has updated their freeze dryer with many improvements and new features. SurvivalBlog felt is was time to re-visit this subject and update the review based upon these new and improved features. We’ll also include many of the operating tips that we have learned along the way. We’ve been running the new model of the freeze dryer (FD) for almost a year now, right along side the old model. It made the comparison very easy on the new features.

The Good

Harvest Right has obviously been responsive to their user base. They’ve listened to the issues, made improvements that the users have suggested, and incorporated many of their customer’s suggestions into the redesigned FD. The original model that … Continue reading

Kershaw’s Dividend, by Pat Cascio

Kershaw's Dividend

Today, we are talking about Kershaw’s Dividend. It’s a small folder.

My General View on Small Folding Knives

I’m not really big on small folding knives. Bigger folders can, well, do more chores better than most smaller folders. I like a folder with a blade between 3.5 inches and four inches in length. A blade length of 3.75 inches seems about perfect for my every day carry use. But that’s just me, I guess.

However, I won’t turn my nose up at a well-made, well-designed smaller folder, not in the least. I appreciate cutlery, period! All knives have a use. Keep in mind that the knife was man’s first tool. And a knife is first and foremost a tool. Any other uses are secondary. I know, I know. We all fantasize about going toe-to-toe against the bad guys, armed only with a folding knife. Excuse me? I’d rather run than … Continue reading

S&W M&P .45 Compact, by Pat Cascio

S&W M&P 45 Compact

Today, I’m writing about Smith & Wesson’s M&P .45 Compact. This is the “older” M&P rather than the 2.0 version.

Smith & Wesson

I used to be a huge S&W fan. I still love their guns, but over the years their customer service just isn’t what it used to be. So, whenever I have a S&W firearm, I know that I’m pretty much on my own if something goes wrong with it. Last time, S&W wanted $88 to repair something that was covered under the warranty. I told them to keep the gun. Instead, they returned it still broken!

S&W is still a leader in the firearms industry. There is no doubt about that at all. And, they are making a very strong come back in the law enforcement arena, which they used to pretty much own until Glock came on the scene. Still, S&W is doing great with their … Continue reading

CRKT Rakkasan, by Pat Cascio

CRKT Rakkasan

The CRKT Rakkasan was designed by Austin McGlaun as part of Columbia River Knife & Tool’s “Forged By War” program. Austin McGlaun is a military veteran who served in the 101st Airborne Division in Iraq and chose to donate 10% of net profits to the Green Beret Foundation.

CRKT- Rock-Solid Designs

Anyone who has seen my many knife designs knows that I like designs that are simple, uncomplicated, easy to manufacture, and tough. There are several knife companies producing some of my designs, with more on the drawing board. One company is Columbia River Knife & Tool (CRKT), of which I’ve been a fan of their knives since they first started out in the knife industry.

CRKT was actually started by two executives from another major knife-making company. They started out with some rock-solid designs and have continued to grow year-after-year.

While many will argue the point, you can get … Continue reading