Review: The Hissatsu - Designed by James Williams

The Hissastu folder is a knife that I have owned for almost 10 years. It is a knife designed by James Williams and produced by Columbia River Knife & Tool, Inc., better known as CRKT. The knife designs of James Williams have continued to impress me throughout the years. His wealth of experience in the martial arts and his particular expertise in the samurai martial tradition is immediately evident when you pick up one of his knives. As a longtime instructor of military and law enforcement professionals, he received many requests for a concealable and yet dependable defensive tool. The Hissatsu Folder was his answer to these requests. Since then he has designed and released a number of different knives that offer the same defensive power.

I currently own both the Hissatsu and the smaller Heiho. In regard to the Hissastu, I have an original model that has been used and abused. The blade is 3.875 inches long and the the black teflon coating has been removed. Advertised at the same length, the newer model has a slightly shorter blade, with the black coating very well intact. I carry this knife strictly for defensive purposes, and do not use it otherwise. The knives have stainless steel liners (one locking), and black Zytel scales, which are textured to provide grip. Although I love the Hissatsu, I do wish better materials were used for the scales. Nevertheless, they get the job done and I’ve never had any slips. The Hissatsu also comes with a patented OutBurst assisted opening mechanism. I purchased the original model without this feature, the newer model arrived with it included. And, it works. The Hissatsu deploys with authority. Surprisingly, this mechanism can be disabled and removed via a single screw. Now, by far, the best feature of this knife is the patented Auto-LAWKS safety mechanism. This is a secondary lock that engages automatically when the blade is deployed. It prevents the liner lock from disengaging, essentially turning the Hissatsu into a fixed blade. I have put this knife through its paces, and I have never experienced a failure.

The Heiho is the younger sibling. Similarly designed, it also has the OutBurst and Auto-LAWKS mechanisms. The blade is much shorter at 3.125 inches, and arrives very sharp. The Heiho has G10 scales. However, I have heard complaints that the scales are too smooth and can result in slippage. This knife was gifted to me recently, so I haven’t used it nearly enough to have an opinion. But, I do find the scales unusually smooth. I feel this can be easily remedied with some grip tape. Properly placed, it may make the knife even more aesthetically pleasing. Unlike the Hissatsu, the Heiho comes with a deep pocket carry clip. Given its size and the more desirable clip, this knife is much easier to conceal than the Hissatsu.

I have used and carried the Hissatsu for many years and I recommend anyone looking for a defensive blade to consider the it. There are many knives out there of dubious value. The Hissatsu can be found online for under $60.00. This is a no-brainer. I guarantee this knife will equal or out perform other well known options, some coming with $300+ price tags. James Williams has managed to use centuries old Japanese blade design and enhance it with modern and simple features without compromising durability. In fact, with the Auto-LAWKS mechanism, he has actually improved the dependability of the folding knife. If you’re interested, I would also take a look at his more recent work, the Shizuka Noh Ken, the Otanashi Noh Ken, and Goken. Williams has also started a new venture called, Williams Blade Design, in which he partners with different makers to produce knives with higher grade materials. Honestly, I can’t wait to get my hands on the Osoraku Zukuri Folder.

Many of the great achievements in the world were accomplished by tired and discouraged men who kept on working.
— Oscar Wilde

Review: GORUCK MACV-1 (Ongoing)


I received my first pair last month and I was so excited to put these to work, I forgot to take initial photos of the boots out of the box.  So, these photos were taken after about 50 miles on the books. Feel free to click any of the photos to enlarge.

The MACV-1 pays homage to the beloved Vietnam era jungle boots used by the United States military.  GORUCK modernized the design for today’s challenges and produced a boot they state is tougher, lighter, and more supportive.  To develop the MACV-1, GORUCK teamed with Richard Rice, US Army 1966-94 5th Special Forces Group and Paul Litchfield, a true treasure in shoe business with 30 years experience.

The MACV-1 essentially features a four part construction.  The uppers, the midsole, the outsole, and the insert. Let’s start with the uppers.

The Uppers

The uppers are made of leather and 1000 D Cordura.  They also have a strip of 2-inch nylon webbing to provide ankle support.  The use of Cordura nylon reduces the amount of leather used.  This really helps to reduce the overall weight of the boot and increases its breathability.  In addition, it adds flexibility without compromising ankle support.  At the very top they added doubled over leather for comfort, greatly appreciated.

GORUCK’s spearhead logo is featured on the tongue.  The tongue is also made of Cordura nylon, and is wide enough to allow for easy accessibility. On to the midsoles.

The Midsole

The midsoles are made out of a lightweight foam called EVA.  In testing, GORUCK attempted to use an EVA only outsole, but it didn’t provide enough traction.  To remedy the issue, they added a shielding rubber outsole. Other boots of this kind will usually have a rubber only outsole making the boots incredibly heavily. The EVA saves the weight, and make these boots feel more like a sneakers than boots. To bond these materials together without sacrificing durability, they used an adhesive bond tested at upwards of 12.5 kg of applied force, far surpassing industry standards.  These boots will take a beating.  

Shortly after taking these photos, I used the boots to help a family member with some junk removal.  As we were taking apart a large piece of wooden furniture to fit inside a dumpster, it somehow managed to tip over and one of the edges struck the side of my foot.  While it left a nice bruise and a few deep scratches on the sole, the sole itself was not compromised whatsoever. We also happened to be loading this dumpster during some heavy rain…and these boots are NOT waterproof.

That’s a good thing. Just above the midsole, the MACV-1 features drain holes.  GORUCK is actually proud to state that these boots are not waterproof.  They added two shielded drain holes that expel water and moisture while also keeping debris out.  These boots are made for walking (cue Nancy Sinatra), LOTS of walking.  Your feet need to breathe. Waterproof lined boots will definitely keep the water out however, they will also serve to trap and collect any moisture inside the boot and keep it there.  During sustained hikes or rucks, water that comes in over the top, any sweat build up, or any moisture accumulation will wreak absolute havoc on your feet.  These drain holes will keep your feet dry, and also prevent odor build up.

The Outsole

As you can see above, the bottom of the rubber outsole features a unique hexagonal pattern, with a triangular sub-pattern. This design provides great traction. GoRuck’s spearhead logo is prominently displayed at the center of the sole. The amount of rubber used usually determines the weight of a shoe. So, fusing this with the EVA midsole was a brilliant move.

The Workhorse Insert

The insert is fairly thin, you’ll find the manufacture date, item information, and the logo on the bottom side of the insert. According to GORUCK, it uses dual layered compression foam and provides contoured arch support. It’s worth noting, they use a similar dual layer method in the straps of their rucksacks. One layer is standard, the other is significantly denser to provide greater support and comfort. This insert has done a great job so far, I still haven’t had any issues with hotspots or blisters.

Overall Opinion

The MACV-1 is true to size.  However, I forgot to account for foot swelling.  While in use, I have felt pressure at the toes during longer rucks.  So, I’ve ordered my next pair to be a half size larger.  Once my next order arrives, I’ll use these as daily beaters and see how they hold up. GORUCK claims these boots require no break-in time. I found that to be somewhat true. Initially, they were a little tight above the midfoot where the laces begin. However, they only took 3-4 uses to properly break in.

I’ve also found that these boots are a great for travel. The use of Cordura fabric allows them to collapse and compress in ways ordinary boots cannot. They won’t take up much more room in your pack or suitcase than a pair of regular shoes or sneakers.

Now, I’ve read many complaints regarding the MACV-1’s appearance.  We’re talking about GORUCK here.  GORUCK’s design principles have always prioritized function first.  Aesthetics have always been and should always be secondary.  Their design principles are meant to give what you need, not what you want or what you think you need.  If you’re looking for style or perhaps to impress your friends, stop complaining and go buy a pair of $500 Whites Boots. 

Although, I praise many features of the MACV-1, this is a first generation model. Ultimately, we have to see how they hold up over time. As of now, I’m very satisfied with my purchase. They are surprisingly light and comfortable. I’ll be sure to keep this review updated with any success and/or failures.

I’m training to complete GORUCK’s Star Course (50 miler), which will take place in New York next September. Hopefully, I’ll be able to use a pair of MACV-1 while I earn the patch.

GORUCK is now taking pre-orders for the MACV-1 in Coyote Tan.  They are scheduled to ship the week of 12/17/18.

If you have any questions about the MACV-1, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. Thanks!

Review: MKII Paradive Gen 3 (FAT BAR)

The MKII Paradive Gen 3 (FAT BAR) is part of MKII’s Ready-to-Wear series of watches. In operation since 2002, MKII is a contemporary watch brand that references and reinterprets vintage military watch designs. The Paradive is a watch that pays homage to the renowned Benrus Type 1. The Benrus Type 1 & Type 2 were dive watches produced for US Special Forces and CIA operatives from the 1960’s to the 80’s, and proved to be hardwearing and capable timepieces. You can still find some examples of these watches on the market today, however, you’ll be hard pressed to find one in satisfactory condition. Given their history and limited number, these watches command a hefty price tag, often exceeding $2000.

The MKII Paradive is more than just a recreation of the timeless Benrus Type 1, it also improves upon its design. It has a larger 41.25mm bezel diameter, a double domed sapphire crystal with an anti reflective coating, SuperLumiNova BGW9, and it comes with a bead blasted 316L stainless steel casement. It has a Made in Japan SII NE15 movement. And, it comes with a screw down crown, with water resistance up to 200 meters. The “FAT BAR” designation simply means the watch accepts both 1.8mm and the heavier 2.5mm diameter spring bars. Like its predecessor, this watch is designed to take a beating. I’m very hard on my watches, so we’ll see how it holds up.

With its durability aside, what I love about this watch is the utter simplicity of it. For once, this is minimalism done right. Note the large white indices on the black dial, the plain and yet gorgeous bead blasted steel case, and the aluminum GMT bezel insert. You can also get the Paradive with an acrylic bezel, which would be truer to the original, however, I feel the aluminum bezel is far more appealing.

Although, I have only worn the watch for about a week, wearing it has been immensely satisfying. At first sight, the watch appears to be very large. However, the convex design slightly elevates the watch off the wrist, and it wears very comfortably. The crown guard also prevents the crown from pressing into your wrist which only adds to the comfort.

My watch was purchased at Worn & Wound’s WindUp Watch Fair. Luckily, I scored a deal, as my Paradive came with a tool kit, and both a rubber and nato strap included. However, the price tag of $895 is more than fair for what you get in the Paradive. Not only is it a beautiful timepiece, it comes with no shortage of history and I’ve found it to be a great conversation starter. Trust me, people will take notice. This is a watch I plan to keep in my collection, to live with and enjoy for years to come. I look forward to writing an additional review once I’ve worn it for some time.

At the fair, I also had the pleasure of trying on MKII’s new model, the Cruxible. If the Paradive doesn’t fit your style, I highly recommend checking it out. It’s modeled after the American A-11 tool watch of World War II. It’s a lovely timepiece.