I am not making an official announcement, but I am planning on doing a reader submission contest. I am going to try to get one of the companies to donate the prizes rather than rely on the generosity of our readers. Not only did Jonathan M. donate knives from his collection to our recent Jack-o-Lantern contest, now he has submitted an excellent review piece on an interesting accessory. Expect an announcement for the contest soon, but I am going to go ahead allow this to count as our first entry. -HCA
Knife Accessory Review: Mad Blacksmith “City Dweller” Lanyard
By Jonathan M.
An item that is variously characterized by some of my friends as “ingenious”, “weird”, and “dumb as all hell”, the Mad Blacksmith City Dweller lanyard is an accessory born from unfortunate necessity. Described by creator The Mad Blacksmith (aka Jared West) on his website as a way to avoid “undue attention from onlookers”, the gadget simply works as camouflage so you can carry your knife of choice wherever you go.
When I originally discovered the City Dweller while browsing Blade HQ’s mammoth selection, I have to admit my first reaction was to scoff at the idea. Living in Tennessee, you tend to take for granted many simple freedoms that become felonies in other states. Carrying a knife, whether it be a high-end tactical folder or an old-timer slipjoint, is basically something you do ’round here, so why wouldn’t you? But then you learn that yes, in the United States of America in the year of our Lord 2014, you can and will go to jail after being stopped by Police in certain jurisdictions if they see just a pocket clip (Chris Dumm sums up the worst here: http://www.thetruthaboutknives.com/2013/06/know-your-knife-laws-11-new-york-sucks/). And while NYC and most of the Northeastern states are easy examples of idiotic laws and government overreach, even in friendly territory there are certain instances where discretion and tact becomes a better choice than just leaving your blade at home.
This point was made annoyingly clear when I started a new job with someone I’ll call “Nervous Nellie”. An excellent employee and dedicated worker, Nellie was also, shall we say, high strung and had the tragic character traits of finding new ways to worry about small, asinine things combined with the unfortunate ability to be very observant. This eventually led to: an awkward conversation in the break room one day about “What is that clip attached to in your pocket”; an entire shift of hand-wringing; intimations that a knife surely isn’t allowed at work; wondering out loud what the supervisor has to say about this (By the way, totally legal as long as the blade is less than 4″ at this place of employment, natch).
Enter the City Dweller. Seen here attached to the ESEE Zancudo that I abused the snot out of for months and months at this job (until I upgraded to a Spyderco Delica that is), the City Dweller worked from day one. Nellie said nary a word on the first day I used it and didn’t bat an eyelash as long as I carried it.
The City Dweller is offered in four different models of pen caps – you have your matte silver models for what I assume to be more corporate/white collar environments, and you have your classic black for everywhere else. Both colors are offered in smooth and milled cap ends. The one I chose is the Smooth Black model, PLSB.
Out of the box, the pen cap is well-machined and has a surprising heft to the end of the cap where the “clicker” is. This is due to the fact the clicker and clip seem to be steel and is inserted through what I assume to be aluminum pen body, as it did not attach itself to the magnet I put next to it, whereas the clicker and clip did. The 550 cord and loop adjuster running from the end of the cap are almost exactly 4.5″ long and give whatever knife attached to it more than enough length to hide deep in your pocket unless you enjoy wearing parachute pants. Attaching is simple, just slide the loop over your clip, tighten the adjuster, and viola, retention and camouflage for your knife.
I think the true test of an item’s worth and value is to see how it works over a long period of time, and I am happy to report that not only can I review this accessory, I can give a Long-Term Use review. Over the course of a year, it’s worked exactly as advertised everywhere I’ve used it. From a concealment perspective, if Nellie didn’t make note of it, the average Joe sure isn’t, and it’s never been outed as a knife disguise or really even noticed at all for that matter. When the knife is needed, the pen clip is easily grasped, and withdrawing the knife from a pocket has always been smooth and easy. The retention on the pen clip is still very strong and retention is rock solid on every pants material imaginable, and yes I’ve tried it on most of them. I’ve never had the clip shift or loosen on me, and I do have an active job . (Sadly enough, the City Dweller clip is actually better than the clips on some knives I’ve owned.)
While the City Dweller hits all the checkboxes for it’s intended purposes, there are two aspects I’m not a fan of and would like to see improved on newer models, however minor they may be. The round disk on top of the clicker has surprisingly sharp edges that can scratch the crap out of your hand and knuckles as you reach for your wallet or keys, and I’d hate to see what would happen if a cellphone screen rubbed against it on the way out of your pocket. It’s nothing some sandpaper and Sharpie wouldn’t take care of, but that’s entirely too much effort for a $15 gizmo. The loop adjuster can also loosen over the course of a day’s use, from what I would assume is the weight of the knife bouncing up and down in your pocket. It never affected function at all or even hinted of coming off the pocket clips of every knife I tested it with, but it still would be something I would rather not have to snug up every time I take it out of my pants at the end of the day. Like I said, minor grievances, but they’re there.
There are some readers who would probably question the usefulness and need of this item, and frankly, on some level, I probably agree with their objections. For example, this item can instantly become an fun exercise in resolving awkward situations if someone were to ask to borrow your pen, the one in your pants pocket there. This is absolutely a widget for very specific uses. For the person living in Georgia, it’s hard to imagine an instance this would ever really be needed. For the Marylander, even if your knife is legal, attention from law-enforcement is never welcome due to that state’s hostility to all things favored for EDC. But if you were ever to need an item like the Mad Blacksmith City Dweller, like I did, it’s nice to know the option is there and it works great.
Looks like a nice pen, does it in a subtle manner.
Fit and Finish ***1/2
Well made with no machining marks or fraying of the 550 cord. The black coating is still going strong and shows only very small nicks and scuffs on the face of the clip from banging into furniture. Negatives taken away for sharp edges on top of “clicker”.
Performance as Advertised *****
It 100% works as intended : a concealed knife lanyard for misdirecting annoying coworkers or overachieving law enforcement.
Overall Rating ****
Not much else to say, it just simply works. Nice piece of kit Mr. West, and looking forward to what else you have up your sleeve.
[Disclaimer: TTAK nor I advocate breaking the law in any way, shape, or form. Know your knife laws in your area and follow them if you choose to use this item to carry discreetly.]