All posts by RoninsGrips

We're a small business made up of myself and my wife working nights and weekends to hand make items for AK and related rifles as well Nepalese khukuris! We've been in business for over four years and pride ourselves in providing quality products and exceptional customer service.

Latex-ite UltraShield Driveway Sealer Has Limits – It Seals But Does Not Repair

My wife and I wanted to seal our 160 foot long x 12 foot wide driveway in 2022. My first thought was to use a service but they were sold out for the season by the time we asked so we decided to try and do it ourselves.

What I found out is that the old days of buying some liquid tar / oil based product are gone. You have to buy all these different products that are based on latex of some other chemical. You need one thing to seal holes, another for big cracks and the sealant. Okay, we have a big driveway and it is beat to hell, falling apart and really ought to be replace but we couldn’t afford it. So, what did we do? We took a gamble and the results are so-so but I learned a lot and want to share them because I bet they will help you regardless of brand or product you are using.

Getting Started

I did the math and bought a bunch of pails of Latex-ite UltraShield. What I did was I took the length of the asphalt portion of my driveway x the average width in feet. I then divided this by their average coverage ratio: 160×12/200=9.6 pails. I think I actually bought 10 pails at my local Home Depot but ecause my driveway was in such tough shape, I wound up actually using 14.25 pails for two coats.

There were areas where the old asphalt had crumbled and disappeared. I bought bags of Quickrete asphalt patch to fill in these places. I first broke out the old material into rough rectangles and dug down another inch.
This is the result – I used a tamper to beat it down as best I could and then sprinkled the top with sand so it wasn’t so sticky.
Our driveway was in tough shape – we knew that but were hoping to extend the life a few years. After we filled in the big holes – one of which you can see part way down.
My friend John had a good suggestion – heat up old pieces of asphalt with a ground torch and beat them into holes. So I did that in some places where missing asphalt caused a gap.
I read the Late-Ite Ultra Shield directions, watched several videos and new surface prep would be key. I burned off grasses and moss with the ground torch, sholved the grass back off the edge, blew it clear with a blower and then washed it – literally. That is my pressure washer – I went down the whole driveway and first applied Purple Power to clean and degrease it and then another pass with just water in the pressure washer to get rid of the cleaner. It was so clean you could eat off it … time would tell me I got it that clean in most places but not all.
The day before I flipped them so the solids would break free of the bottom and go towards the lid.
The recommend applying the sealer by going left and right with a squeegee – overlapping the last pass and pressing it into the asphalt.
When I got done it looked amazing. You can see all the still wet sealant in the cracks.
I then applied a second coat. The first coat used up each pail real fast due to the cracks. The second coat went much faster and each pail went further. By the time I was done, I had used 14-1/4 pails of sealant and the coverage comes out to about 134 sq ft/gallon if I am doing the math right.

The Results Six Months Later After Winter

I had a really bad experience once with a wood deck repair chemical that claimed to fix anything that looked awesome in the summer but then the wind literally blew it off in sheets during the winter. The deck sealer had glowing reviews that first summer and then got absolutely smalled with one and two star reviews at Lowest after the first Winter. My point is that I have been sitting on a ton of photos and stuff since last fall to see how it would actually hold up before I wrote this post.

The first thing I want to be clear about in fairness to Latex-ite is that they tell you over and over it is a sealant and will not fill big cracks. Well, even though I searched a ton, I ignored that. I shouldn’t have.

Latex-ite is basically a glorified black paint that dries and hardens on clean solid asphalt to seal it. Well, it looks brownish as you are applying it but it turns a nice rich black as it dries and cures.

One thing I learned is that where it can’t get a good grip, it peels up so a oily, dusty or dirty surface will not work. I tried to do my mother-in-law’s little short driveway in a rush and didn’t get it pristinely clean in all places so I can tell you it doesn’t stick plus I had a few on our driveway as well.

You also need to squeegee it in place to force it into cracks, crevices and pores but if applied too thick, such as in the tons of larger cracks on my driveway, it will crack, break down and otherwise slowly disappear.

In short, it is just a sealer and gives you a good looking new black coloring on your asphalt. It really is not a filler, glue or anything else in terms of fixing things.

The following photos show the difference between mid-September 2022 and March 2023:

Most cracks over 1/4″ do not have any visible selant in them. The black sealant is on most of the larger pieces – the brown tracks are where we drive and yes, the area is very wet every spring.
This view is bakc towards our house. The family who had the home built in the 70s had a concrete driveway poured closer to the house and asphalt from a certain point to the road. It was probably a cost savings move and the asphalt is neither very thick nor sitting on a very well prepared bed.
You can see how the sealant is breaking down into flakess and separating.
This is by one edge – it tells you that I didn’t get the drive way as clean as I thought in all places. Again, the sealer can’t bond to dirt so it will curl or float there and rapidly break down as you drive over it.


What I want to take from the blog post are some key lessons learned:

These new drive way finishes – all of them that no longer have oil/petroleum products in them – have limits so carefully read their instructions, application notes and reviews by others. If they say they can’t do something then respect that. My biggest regret in hindsight was trying to use the sealer to fill the cracks – it can’t and the maker said so.

Surface prep is key followed by applying two good coats with a squeegee. The Quickrete patch held up fairly well. The sealer helped keep it from falling apart during freeze-thaw cycles, something I have experienced multiple times in the past.

John’s idea of heating up asphalt pieces and beating them in place worked just fine – no surprises there.

What are my thoughts on Latex-ite UltraShield? Well, to be completely fair to them, the product performed as they said it would. If my driveway wasn’t in such tough shape, I bet it would have held up better. In places where it could get a firm grip on the asphalt it still looks good.

Am I going to use it again if I try to reseal the whole drive again? Maybe not. I would really like to find something that is more flexible given my driveway’s shifting nature but first I need to apply crack filler before doing anything else.

Does it look better than before I started all this? Yes, I think it does. Not as good as I would like but it is better. At best, I am playing a delaying game. We will need to replace that driveway at some point but if I can get another 5-10 years out of it then great.

Let me stress this one more time – regardless of brand or product, unless your driveway sealer or finish says it can fill cracks and gaps the sizes your driveway has, you will need to take care of them first.

I hope this gives you some food for thought.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.

You must run a filter between your compressor and your airgun

If you are into precharged pneumatic (PCP) airguns and have bought a compressor – you need to also make sure you have a good inline filter. The reason is pretty simple, any compressor sucks in everything that is in the air including dust and moisture. You may not have stopped and though about it, but there are also impurities the are bonded to the water as well – sulfurs, acids, minerals, etc. You really need to filter the air before you pump it into your airgun or air cylinder.

If you are wondering why this is critical it is because your airguns use precise maching and a ton of O-rings. You don’t want contaminants to be introduced that cause premature wear or corrision of the aluminum surfaces. The cleaner your air supply is, all things being equal, the more reliable your airgun will be and the less maintenance required. Please note I am not saying this will make your o-rings and what not last forever – all airguns will require maintenance at some point and the most common need is to go though and replace the seals. Clean air will help them last longer than dirty air is all I am saying.

“But isn’t the oil & water separator in my air compressor enough?” is often asked and the answer is a resounding “No, it is not”. High pressure air is hot and as it expands and cools, condensation forms and this continues after the separator. Yes, the separator is better than nothing but it is not sufficient. What you need is a long filter made up of multiple elements.

Buying a Filter

First off, and I can’t stress this enough, you need a filter with a working pressure equal to or greater than your compressor. A high-pressure air (HPA) compressor has working pressures between 4-5,000 PSI these days so your filter must as well and they are specialized – these are not shop air compressors working at 150-250 PSI. One of those would explode.

Second, you need a long filter. When you go to Amazon or other sites you will notice there are short stubby filters that are 1.5-2.0″ long. I sometimes use them from the tank to the gun but I would not recommend them as the filter immediately after the compressor. They are better than nothing but they are too short and usually just have mesh or foam filter elements inside – no dessicant or carbon.

The ones I would recommend are 11.8″ (300mm) long and outside diameter of 1.9″ (50mm) at least. These filters tend to use replaceable cartridges that contain a mesh for particulants, a dessicant for drying the air and a carbon section for neutralizing chemicals that remain.

Air enters at the dessicant end (the white section) and moves towards the black carbon and out the end. There are mesh wafers at the ends and between the dessicant and carbon to trap particulants. The end caps of the filter unscrew and this cartridge can be pushed out and replaced with a new one as it becomes more and more discolored. If airflow stops or you notice fill times taking longer and longer, a plugged filter cartridge is your most likely culprit.
This is my GX CS4 compressor and I am using the factory airline and its 8mm quick connect female fitting to connect to the filter’s male plug. The filter I am currently using and really like is sold on Amazon by “FASTTOBUY”. It’s very well made and you can buy additional filter cartridges. The brass colored nut you see on the surface of the left side’s end cap is the burst disc. A burst disc is designed to break first and let air leak vs. allowing the filter to exceed its safe operating pressure. From the filter, there is a Manloney brand air hose with an 8mm plug on one end and an extended length female fitting on the other.

If you read the captions, I really like my 300mmx50mm FASTTOBUY filter. It’s long enough for a fair amount of drying and cleaning to happen but also ins’t completely unwieldy either as I need to move my compressor around. I have toyed with running two filters in series as a first stage and a second stage and may try that some day but for now, I just run the one.


I can supply clean dry air to my PCP airguns at home with this set up. The FASTOBUY unit works and the fittings they used have worked with what I have so far. They also provide some spare parts including another filter cartridge.

Do you have to go with the one I am recommending? No, of course not. Just look for a long one that gets good reviews and you can get spare filter cartridges for.

What I am telliing you very directly is NOT to fill your airguns right off the air hose direct from the compressor. You need a filter to get rid of water and other contaminants before you fill your airgun or air cylinder.

Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.

Remington Ammunition Is Cranking Out Ammo Once Again – They Were Bought By Vista Outdoors … But Who is Vista Outdoors?

I was surfing around and dropped by Youtube to see what new videos would pop up and there was a four day old video that was a tour of the Remington Ammunition plant. Okay, the tour of an ammo plant always catches my eye but it got me to thinking also. I knew that Remington declared bankruptcy in July 2020 and was bought by Vista Outdoor. I also knew Vista Outdoor owned a number of brands including Federal but what dawned on me was that I really didn’t know much about Vista. Well, when I have a gap like that, I do some digging and a blog post emerges.

First, here’s the cool plant tour video that kicked this all off:

What happened to Remington in the first place?

Well, rather than start with their founding in 1816 by Eliphalet Remington, let’s jump ahead to 2007. Remington was an iconic firm by that time and due to a string of circumstances including declining sales and reputational damage, they were acquired by Cerebus Capital Management. Remington was already millions of dollars in debt but went ahead and bought Marlin Firearms and Advanced Armament Corporation (AAC) – the suppressor company.

Now if you look back on it, a lot of innovation had ceased and they were milking existing product designs. They were involved in litigation, still not making money and declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy in July 2020. As a result, their assets went up for sale. Remington outdoor was split up and sold off piecemeal.

Remington Arms and non-Marlin firearms were sold off to the Roundhill Group. Remington’s ammunition business was sold to Vista Outdoor. I did some quick reading and don’t know much about Roundhill but really the focus of today’s post is Vista so let’s go there.

Vista Outdoors Started As ATK Sporting Products

Well, if we wind back the clock to 1990, a defense company called Alliant Techsystems (ATK) was spun out from Honeywell. ATK had supplied products to the defense industry for close to 50 years at that point.

In 2001 they bought Hercules Aerospace who also made Hercules brand gun power. and decided to enter the ammunition business and bought Blount Industries. The move made them the largest ammunition maker in the United States.

Bear in mind ATK was a big firm and making launch systems also – we are not talking about a small organization, Also in 2001 they acquired Thiokol who made the solid rocket boosters for NASA’s space shuttle program. I’m not going to detail the defense group but they were making missles, the Bushmaster cannon and more.

In 2012 the Army selected ATK to operate the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant (LCAAP) that Remington built in 1941. Renovations were made and quality was improved.

To give you an idea of how big the Sporting Group was – here is a list of the brands they were producing: Allant Powder, Blackhawk, Bolle Bushnell, CCI, Cebe, Champion Targets, Federal Premium Ammunition, Final Approach, Gold Tip Arrows, Hoppes, Outers, Primos, RCBS, Savage Arms, Serengeti, Speer, Uncle Mike’s, and Weaver Optics. That’s quite a spectrum – everything from ammo to sunglasses.

In 2014 ATK decided to split into two companies. Aerospace and defense groups would be merged into Orbital Sciences Corporation. The sporting products group was split off to create Vista Outdoor. The creatiion of the two was completed on February 20, 2015.

Wikipedia has a decent write up of ATK’s history if you want to read more.

Vista Outdoor

Vista was a public company from the start and subject to the pressures of the market to make money, deal with debt, promote and protect the brands it held, etc.

In 2018 they sold off the eyewear brands of Bolle, Cebe and Serengeti.

In 2019 they sold off Savage and Stevens Arms to a group of investors led by the Savage management team.

In 2020 they bought the Remington ammunition and accessory assets. This included the ammunition plant in Lonoke, AR, for $81 million.

How big is Vista Outdoor (stock symbol VSTO)? Well, in terms of sales, they are at $3.04 billion USD in 2022, up 36.08% from the previous year. Net income is positive at $473,23 million up 77.9% from 2021.

Vista does plan on splitting the company into two parts – Outdoor Products and Sporting Products, both of which will be publicly traded.

Outdoor products will include the brands: Bell, Bushnell, Bushnell Golf, CamelBak, Camp Chef, Foresight Sports, Giro, Hoppes, QuietKat, Stone Glacier and others – they have a ton actually so click here for the

Sporting products will include the ammunition brands: CCI, Estate Cartrdige, Federal, Hevi-Shot, Remington, and Speer

As a quick side comment – I didn’t realize how many sporting optics brands that Vista owned until researching this post: Bushnell, Redfield, Simmons, Tasco and Weaver.

In terms of what is new, the company’s CEO, Chris Metz was asked to resign by the board on February 1, 2023, due to a loss of confidence in his leadership. They say the parting was in good terms but regardless of how you look at it, they fired him and there aren’t public details. The firm’s CFO left back in November 2022 so there is some movement going on.

Gary McArthur, a board member, has been appointed interim CEO in the meantime until a permanent CEO is found.

So, that’s Vista Outdoor in a nutshell. Another big holding company with a ton of brands. They invested in bringing the Remington ammunition factory in Lonoke, AR, back up to speed and it is producing now. That’s good.

What will happen with the planned splitting up of the company and long-term plans, it is hard to say. When you look at the the stock price over the past year, it has fallen but it didn’t plummet with Metz’s departure so time will tell. Hopefully good things will continue to happen.

[Note: All images were sourced from a media kit downloaded from the Vista Outdoor website. They own the photos.]

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.

The GX CS4 Compressor Isn’t Replacing the CS3 Models – The CS4 Is For People Who Need to Fill 6.8L Tanks Or Need More Air In General

A fellow asked me that if the CS4 is an upgrade then why are both the CS3 models (the one with the external 12 volt power supply and the one with an internal integrated supply) still being sold on Amazon. I explained in my email back to him that the CS4 does have a longer run time and a faster fill rate but it’s not a replacement. I figured I better expand on the email because if one person is wondering then others are as well – the models are for people with different needs and budgets.

The CS3 series will work great for anyone filling either a small airtank like my 18 cu ft Omega, or an airgun directly. It’s light and portable so you can do that no problem. The limiting factor is that it is air cooled and has a 20 minute duty cycle after which it needs to cool down. I bought mine in November of 2020 and used it right up until I bought my CS4 in January 2023 and I am certain one reason it held up so well is that I would never run it for more than 20 minutes. If I was filling something that took more than that, I would run it for 20 minutes and then let it cool down. It could top off my Hatsan Gladius or FX Impact Compact Mk.II in far less time than that – it was filling/refilling the Omega bottle that took longer.

The CS4 notably has a water/fluid cooling, the ability to add grease every 4-6 hours of run time, a more powerful motor, a faster fill rate and the ability to compress air up to 400 bar (5,801 psi) and a detachable air line. Yes, it does reflect a lot of lessons learned by GX but it’s not a replacement of the CS3 – the CS3 is still there for folks who want a smaller and lighter unit that is more portable and aren’t filling bigger tanks.

I bought the CS4 because I am getting into some airguns that use a lot of air – a Gauntlet .30 and a Leshiy 2 in .22 so I bought a 6.8L Air Marksman carbon fiber tank. You may be wondering how is a .22 an air hog – well, it gets 28 semi-auto shots and then needs to be topped back off and it’s onboard reservoir is rated at 300 bar. I can fill it one time from the big bottle and then the bottle is close to 250 bar plus I plan on buying the bigger optional air cylinder for the Leshiy.

My point is that all of these were going to require the air pump routinely running longer than the recommended 20 minute duty cycle so I really needed to make the move.

In short, the CS3 is for folks who need a compressor to fill and airgun directly or small bottles plus save a little money. The CS4 does have newer technology and is for users who want to fill airguns directly plus have a long enough duty cycle to fill up to a 6.8 liter tank. I bet it could do bigger as long as you honored the remarkably long 5 hour duty cycle of the CS4 but I’ve not used it enough to say that. The CS4 is more expensive than the CS3.

Here are posts I have written about the CS3:

Here are posts I have written about the CS4:

Here are photos of the units side by side:


I had to buy these compressors with my own money and these posts were not paid for – I want to be clear about that. My experiences with both the CS3 and the CS4 have been very positive and I have no reservations recommending either to you.

Oh – also – a guy emailed me the other day asking me about the GX CS2 and I had to tell him that I do not have any experience with that model. Folks, I only have these two. Before the CS3 I had a Hill Mk. IV hand pump – the Hill was excellent but that’s the limit of my high pressure air compressor experience. I am a licensed SCUBA diver but always bought my air at a dive shop so I had a little knowledge from that plus many, many years of industrial and shop pneumatic work but that was only up to 175 PSI.

Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.

Understanding how an automatic folding knife works – Kershaw Launch 1 Disassembly and Re-Assembly

In the last post, I showed you a bunch of photos of the Kershaw Launch models 1 and 13. In this post, I am going to take the Launch 1 apart so you can see what it looks like inside. So, let’s get into it.

Tools Required

You will need #6 and #8 Torx bits. Something to pry the blade up and tweezers might help. For me, I have a large Strebito tool kit with a ton of precision bits, handles, tweezers and pry bars designed for electronics that has worked amazingly well for me when working on stuff with small fasteners.

Disassembling the Launch 1

Safety brief: Just remember, you are working with a very sharp spring loaded knife blade. It wants to open. Handle it accordingly and play it safe.
All of these screws use a #6 Torx bit. I removed the clip first and then the three screws holding the handle halves together. Note how the axle bolt is held in place by a hex head on the left. You don’t need to do anything from the side with that bolt – I’m just pointing out it is nice and secure. If you look at the screws at the bottom – especially the one to the right, it looks like some medium strength thread locker was on them.
I missed it on first glance – this is the other half of the axle bolt – kind of like a Chicago-screw or post-screw. I saw the decorative half circles and wondered how they removed it and then I noticed the hole in the center and looked more closely with a flashlight – hidden down in there is a #8 Torx screw.
There must be some thread locker on this as it took some torque to break it free. I didn’t need to use a wrench or heat – I just had to turn more firmly and it came loose.
Looking at the white/grey stuff in the threads – there probably was just a bit of threadlocker to keep it from coming lose but I am not certain. I would tend to think there is because you can’t crank that screw down or the pressure will keep the blade from opening.
At this point, all fasteners have been removed. Notice how I have it turned over so the push button is up – you will want to do the same.
So the scale lifts straight up and off. It is a snug fit on the axle bolt so it may take some wiggling to get it off. Now I need to point something out – look how clean the machining is and the finish is consistent. So many tools and knives look like crap inside due to an “out of sight out of mind” mindset that it is refreshing to see how well this is done. Kudos to the folks in the Oregon Kershaw plant!
The top pin to the left of the push button is hand press fit in place. Pull it out first and the blade will want to rotate clockwise and then the big hole will present itself to the push button and the push button will lift out.
Yes, in the photo above I said remove the pin and then the push button. In my case I was taking pictures and wiggling the blade round – the push button came out on its own. At this point the spring tension is being taken up by the pin. It’s not a crazy amount of spring tension the blade open but it is trying to go a bit further so be careful. This photo also lets us see the removed push button assembly. Normally, the fat bottom portion is engaging one of the cut outs in the bade. Either the one at the top that is keep it closed or the one at the bottom that locks it open. When you push the button the fat piece slides out the way and the blade is released to either open or close. Note, the spring is not sitting properly in the base of the push button in this photo.
I would not have needed the little blue pry bar if I knew the stop pin simply pulls out. If I had slightly closed the blade to take the pressure off the pin, I could have easily lifted the pin out, then controlled the few more degrees of rotation the spring had left in it and the blade would have lifted right off.
The torsion spring is what provides the power to flip the blade into position. The act of the user closing the blade rotates the spring’s coils and store the energy waiting for the button to be pushed spring back into the relaxed position. One leg of the torsion spring sits in the channel of the handle and the other sits in the blade. In this photo I have laid the blade 180 degrees opposite of how it normally sits in the handle so you can see how the torsion spring sits in the two parts. It’s elegant. Notice the ample grease – I think it might be silicone grease. Anything that causes the blade to bind will slow or even stop deployment.
Here are the parts and you can see the nicely done flat torsion spring. Again, I should have removed the stop pin, then the push button and the blade would have lifted right off the axle bolt. This is it other than removing the stop pin which plays into re-assembly.

Re-Assembling the Launch 1

Putting it back together is pretty straight forward. In hindsight I would tell you if something seems complicated, you missed something. That was exactly my thoughts as I was trying to the the torsion spring oriented with one leg in the handle and the other in the blade.

I spent about 5-10 minutes trying to get spring in and had my “duh” moment. Given how the spring sits, no tool so going to fit in there. I thought to myself “I wonder if that that stop pin can pull out?” And it did.
Wow!! Removing that stop pin made it sooooo simple. Rotate the blade such that the torsion spring legs are seated and you will feel the spring working. Then put in the push button and its spring followed by the stop pin.
I wish they designed the spring to snap into the button but they didn’t. An old trick that I used here was to fill the cup of the push button with silicone grease. The grease in turn holds the spring while you install the assembly.
Rotate the blade just enough so you can install the push button in that first large semi-circular opening. You can then push the button down and rotate the blade into the next notch which is the normal lock open moment. In this photo the blade is at a funny angle because the stop pin has not been installed yet.
Notice the blade is pushed all the way down on the axle bolt. To install the stop pin, push the button, carefully close the bade and release the push button. It should engage and hold the blade in the closed position. This presents the hole for the stop pin wonderfully as you can see in the photo and you aren’t fighting the spring. Literally, the pin goes right in.
I put a light coat on silicone grease on this side of the blade as I had wiped most of it off fumbling around. I did clear the silicone out of the bolt if you are wondering. You can also see the stop pin is in its hole.
The handle half is reinstalled. I carefully held it in place and tested to make sure the blade still pivoted and the push button worked.
When you reinstall the end of the axle bolt, you will need to see how much to snug down the screw. I found that if I made it too tight that the blade would not fully deploy. After experimenting, you may want to put just a bit of medium thread locker on the screw to keep it from working loose.
Re-installed these too and with that am done.


Kershaw did an excellent job on this knife. I thought about doing the same with the Launch 13 and it looks to be the same mechanism so I didn’t bother.

If you are looking for an automatic knife, I am very impressed by the Launch 1 and 13. I suspect the whole line has similar workmanship. I’ll post links further below.

Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.

Reviewing the Kershaw Launch 1 and 13 Automatic Knives

Growing up as a kid in the 70s and 80s you’d see some guy in a move whipe out a switchblade and you’d know a world of hurt was coming. For years, I wanted one but couldn’t own one. Now that I own two, I’m trying to figure out how they factor into my collection to be quite honest.

I’m not handicapped so I can’t speak to how they would use one but other than the “coolness” factor, I don’t see the point compared to the tons of flippers / assisted opening knives that I already own. To be clear, I am not bashing them but I won’t be buying any more either – my curiosity is satisfied. Please note – I am impressed by the design and the manufacturing but have decided they just aren’t my cup of tea.

With that said you are going to get my honest opinion.

Some Background

I like Kershaw knives in general so an ad for their Launch series of automatic openers caught my eye. I’ve always wanted to try a “switchblade”, or more appropriately termed an “automatic”, so I shelled out $114 for a Kershaw Launch 1 and $125 for a Kershaw Launch 13. I figured that would let me try a couple of different designs and they have a number of Launch models for you to choose from.

One thing that appealed to me with both of them is that they are made in the USA. Kershaw has a production facility in Tualatin, Oregon, that makes these models as well as a number of their higher end Kershaw and Zero Tolerance blades. Part of the premium pricing reflects being built in Oregon vs. China.

Note: You need to know the laws and regulations governing automatic knives in your area before you buy one. The American Knife & Tool Institute (AKTI) maintains a page that can help at a state level but you still need to confirm about your county and city just to play it safe.

The Launch 1

This is a good size knife. The slightly “humped” design enables it to fill your hand and be held very nicely. Let’s talk specifications:

  • Blade length: 3.4″
  • Blade profile: Drop-point
  • Blade steel: CPM 154 – it is a tough stainless alloy that also holds an edge fairly well while being moderately easy to sharpen
  • Blade finish: Black Wash
  • Blade thickness 0.121″
  • Closed length: 4.6″
  • Handle material: 6061-T6 aluminum
  • Handle finish: Black anodized
  • Handle thickness: 0.47″
  • Overall length when open: 8″
  • Weight: 4oz

Pros: Weight and size are good, blade flips open with a snap when you push the button, very nicely made.

Cons: I honestly wish there was a safety. This thing opening in a pants pocket is going to really suck fast. Kershaw says it is “low-profile” to make it harder to trigger but even so – you push that button and it will open fast.

Launch 1 closed. Like the US flag. Lines are nice, clean and flowing. All of the screws on this side are T6 Torx. The handle is 4.6″ long, 0.47″ thick, 6061-T6 black anodized aluminum.
At the left are the two screws if you want to move the ciip to this side. The axle pin the blade rotates on is held in place by a T8 Torx. You can see the recessed push button that does dual duty both to allow the blade to flick open and also to unlock the blade once it is locked open.
Good view of 3.4″ CP154 blade with a blackwash finish. The blade is 0.121″ thick so just under and 1/8th inch that would be 0.125″.
Here’s a view of the other side. Note how the axle bolt uses the handle scale to elegantly hold the hex head in place so you can tighten the axle pin from the other side.
From top to bottom: 1. Kershaw Launch 1. 2. Kershaw Knockout with a Damascus steel blade.. 3. Kershaw Blur and 4. ZT 0357. These are all excellent blades. My favorite is the ZT0357 and the Knockout. All are made in Kershaw’s Oregon plant with excellent machining, fitment and finish.

The Launch 13

I like unique looking designs and the Launch 13 immediately caught my eye due to the futuristic look and wicked Wharncliffe style blade. It looks odd but it actually fits my hand very surprisingly – better than I thought it would actually. Let’s look at the specifications:

  • Blade length: 3.5″
  • Blade profile: Wharncliffe
  • Blade steel: CPM 154 – same as the Launch 1
  • Blade finish: Black Cerkote
  • Blade thickness 0.121″
  • Closed length: 4.5″
  • Handle material: 6061-T6 aluminum
  • Handle finish: Black anodized
  • Handle thickness: 0.471″
  • Overall length when open: 8″
  • Weight: 2.4oz

So, it is just a tad shorter but quite a bit lighter than the Launch 1. With all of the angles and skeletonized scales, I didn’t think it would be as comfortable as it is.

Pros: Light, A Wharncliffe style blade

Cons: Even though the push button is recessed, I am fearful of it opening in my pocket.

The scales are nicely done and are machined from 6061-T6 aluminum with a black anodized finish. The small screws are all T6 Torx and the nut on the axle bolt is a T8.
You can see the push button that both allows the blade to spring open and to unlock the blade once it is open. Interestingly, the axle bolt’s head is triangular instead of a hex head like the Launch 1 uses.
The Wharncliffe-profiled blade is very sharp. Yes the grind is simple but it’s a Wharncliffe 🙂
Here’s a view of the Launch 13 open from the other side.
The Launch 13 at the top and the larger Launch 1 at the bottom.
Notice the different handle angles when you get the blades in about the same plane.
From the top: Kershaw Launch 13, Launch 1, ZT 0357 and Kershaw Knockout with a Damascus blade (they also make one that is not Damascus wo that’s why I am pointing it out)
And the other side from the top: Launch 13, Launch 1, ZT 0357, Knockout with a Damascus blade.


The Launch blades are very well made. Of the two, I am partial to the Launch 13 because it is lighter and has a Wharncliffe profile blade – again, I like Wharncliffes. I can cross having an automatic knife off the bucket list but plan to stick with assisted opening flippers like the ZT 0357.

Would I recommend either Launch knife to someone wanting and automatic – yes, I would. The build quality is definitely there. How can I prove it? In the next post I will take the Launch 1 apart and let you see it.

Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.

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Amazing tour video of the Hind Mi-24 helicopter by a pilot

Folks, I have found the Russian Hind Mi-24 helicopter absolutely fascinating for decades. Both I and the Hind are old enough to truly say decades in this case as it was delivered to the Soviet Air Force in 1970 but NATO and the West didn’t find out about them until 1972.

The HIND is a huge helicopter gunship and unique in that it has room for eight passengers. At the same time it is fast, armored and loaded with weapons. Soviet pilots called it the “flying tank: and other nicknames include Galina, Crocodile/Krokodil and Drinking Glass.

At any rate, it is very interesting and has evolved over the years plus the Soviets and later the Russians exported it to many countries including Bulgaria, Macedonia and many others plus it has served in a number of conflicts (click here for the Wikipedia Mi-24 page if you want more details).

The purpose of this blog post is to share with you an amazing video assembled by Erik Johnston where Bruce Stringfellow, a Hind pilot, gives a detailed walkround tour of the helicopter. How detailed? It has an hour and 16 minutes of detail – it is the best video I have ever seen if you want to really know more about the design, capabilities and what a preflight check looks like from a pilot’s view. Here it is:

Note, the photo shown at the top is extracted from the video and shared under fair use. I do not own the rights to the video and imagery – the video was created by and presumably owned by Erik Stone Photography. Please visit the actual Youtube video page if you wish to subscribe to Erik Stone’s videos or buy some of his merchandise to support his efforts.

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Replaced Old Solar Home Security Lights – The New LazyPro 2500 Lumen Solar LED Lights Are Great!

In 2019 I installed some Lemontec solar lights around the perimeter of our house to get rid of dark areas and they have held up fairly well until now. One unit had quit working and other was coming apart so I decided to order some new ones and try a different brand.

A few months back I had to apply silicone glue to seal the bulging solar panel of this Lemontec light. Guess what? It still works great and I moved it to another area.
dCompared to the solar light above, this looked better but was dead. Rather than tinker with it, I put it in the trash.

As usual, I did some searching on Amazon and looked for ones with good reviews and found a brand called “LazyPro” – yeah, I almost didn’t try them because of the name but I am glad I did! They are sold in pairs and I replaced the Lemontec that had failed and the one next to it – because they are high traffic areas right by our driveway and also very dark at night.

You ever read something so off the wall that you just have to try it? That was my exact reaction when I read their slogan “We are engineers of laziness. We create gadgets that make life easier. With this Solar Lights you have more time for … whatever you like to do. Because we are too lazy to pay for electricity.” Alrighty … uhm … okay, let’s try them!
Out of the box they looked well made. This was right before I installed them.
I removed the old solar lights and mounted these new ones in their place. I set the switch on the back for dusk-to-dawn and to only turn on if motion was sensed. You do have other options such as turning on at dusk with a low light output and increasing the light output if there is motion.
The lights are just over seven feet off the ground and 12 feet apart.

What an improvement! The LazyPro units throw out a very wide volume of light because the LEDs are mounted not just on the front but also on the sides and bottom.

Also, the sensor does a really good job of picking up movement – the Amazon listing claims 40 feet and it easily does that if not even further.

This is the area with just our porch light running. It’s dark.
I walked in front to to activate both lights and you can see the huge volume of light the two units are producing.


Yeah, the LazyPro brand name might make you wonder but these are remarkably good lights. I plan to replace the other four Lemontecs that are still working but don’t produce anywhere near the same amount of light.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.