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GEC knives; good for the money 4985

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GEC knives; good for the money
« on: January 16, 2012, 08:05:11 PM »
I originally intended to call this topic Northfield Knives - Underwhelmed as that was my first reaction after seeing and playing with the knife.

I, however, decided after some more time that this would have been a bit harsh.

So…..
After reading here (2XTAP  :D …) and elsewhere about how good GEC knives were I decided to get one of them, instead of buying several, apparently lower end, knives.

Reading the web they appeared to be perfectly constructed, faultless (apart from the hard pulls) and to have a mythical status.  :salute:

Considering that, I went for the fancier version, the Northfield instead of the less refined Tidioute ones. I wanted a benchmark knife to look at and play with, not to use, something to compare the other knives with.

Since I like trappers and bone handles and did not want to spend a huge amount of money on a knife bought unseen I chose this jigged bone trapper.


The knife arrived in a nice tube, with no papers.






The seller said it had 1 out of 25 on the side of the blade, but I have not been able to see such markings.  ???

Disappointments:

The knife has beautiful jigged Plum Bone scales, however there is a distinct damage to the jigging, where the carver took out a bit he should not have.




There is a similar issue on the other side too, but to a lesser extend.

Considering the reputation of the company I can not understand how the carver and the QC department allowed this to pass through; I am lead to believe that this could be something they consider acceptable. I have several Rough Rider knives with jigged bone and none of them has such a problem.



Does Rough Rider have better QC? Do they care more about their product? To me it seems that they are the better company in this respect. I am, however, passing judgment based on a single knife:think: though with their prices it is not logical to expect people to buy several before they form an opinion.

The other disappointment was the pull. I find it painful to open the knife and can not understand why it has to be so. This knife is a nail breaker; both blades. I am aware of their reputation, but I do not see the point. It is similar to making a chair especially uncomfortable, for no reason…..  >:(

Good things:

The finish of the knife was quite good.
The scales are nearly perfectly aligned with the liners, though you can still feel the transition from the scales to the liners.



The springs, blades as well as all other metal parts are nicely polished; equal to what is being offered by other, good, knife companies.

(L to R Indian Head, Case, Northfield, rough rider, Hen&Rooster)




The rivets deserve special mention as they are very nicely rounded and polished

The knife is quite substantial and feels really good in my hand.
Once opened the knife begs to be used; something that I have not had from any other knife so far. I am actually considering making it a user, though I wish it was SS instead of Carbon steel.
The blades are comparable to the one on a Case large Sodbuster, both in size and in thickness.

Main blade

Secondary Bade



Thicknes


Both blades have a half-stop which, considering the strength of the springs, is a good idea.

Looks-wise the knife looks good but not better than most decent knives.





Apart from the problems I mentioned I actually like the knife, though at the beginning I did consider sending it back.
Compared to most USA made offerings of the same level it is not unreasonably expensive, especially if you realise that it is quite a big knife, with two large blades.
A higher end Case knife would sell for similar money, for example.

Would I buy another one?

Possibly, a SS one, but I would like to chose it myself to avoid having the QC issues this one had.  :tu:
« Last Edit: February 24, 2012, 05:55:54 PM by mcniac »

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Re: GEC Northfield Trapper; good for the money
« Reply #1 on: January 16, 2012, 11:40:55 PM »
dks,

I think you are holding to high and expectation for an item built by humans. Granted, under extremely close inspection I can find minute faults in just about every knife I own. Taken for what they are, they are exceptional knives. Everything you noted are not considered QC issues, although the slight difference on the rear end of your knife where the scales are a hair off of the liners would be if it was more noticable.........keep in mind, at the level these are done. Classic build the way they were done 100 or more years ago.

GEC's go through more hand operations in construction than most. Their shields are wielded up and pinned on, bolsters are welded/soldered. Small minute imperfections can happen. All GEC's are done in low production numbers.....there are few that I own done in totals over 100. In the case of Rough Rider, their shields are glued in, their bolsters are glued on, and they go through alot less hand operations in construction and are produced in a much higher volume.

And as far as handle materials go, GEC does not over polish their jig bone like Rough Rider does, they rough jig and do a buff......and unlike Rough Rider, their jigging from piece to piece is not fully symetrical from one lot to another. There are differences. I'm not sure if you understand, but GEC's are built the old school way. Rough Riders are churned out in a modern factory by the thousands. Comparatively speaking, what you are comparing as far as QC between the two is actually polar opposites as to true quality.

I don't know if I am coming across with this right, not sure if you know what it is am speaking of.......as good as RR's are for what they are, in regular use and likely just sitting in a collection they will far apart in 30 or 40 years time if not sooner. A GEC you will be able to hand down to your kids, and if maintained probably a generation after that.

As to their backsprings, people have become too accustomed to soft easy-pull springs. Stout springs are how these knives were made back in the day and how they should be. With the particular pattern you have, even more so because of the squared tangs. The reason here on these patterns is the fact that GEC produces stout springs, with the squared tangs the backspring has to "bend" back even further than usual to snap into it's full opened, closed, or half-stop position. The #23 pattern and #73 pattern are known for this. And why the square tangs....they were originally designed this way so that the tangs reach out to the end of liners and bolsters as well as mate up even with the backsprings and nearly to the edge of the frame opening to seal that end of the knife when it is carried to prevent lint and other pocket gunk from building up in the joint area.

Anyway, don't take this the wrong way bud. I know I am not coming across with this the way it should be, the crafting of these GEC knives is done on a whole other level, most operations by hand on a production level that splits standard factory production with custom. You compared them with Rough Rider and I about spit coffee all over my keyboard!

I know from where you speak, but I don't know if you have handled many a knife that was built at the turn of the previous century. It's a hard thing to explain when many look at things from a modern perspective of manufacture.

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Re: GEC Northfield Trapper; good for the money
« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2012, 07:28:09 AM »
You compared them with Rough Rider and I about spit coffee all over my keyboard!


Sorry about the blasphemy, 2xTap  :D

I knew you would be along soon mate.  :tu:

As I explained, when I got the knife out of the tube, that imperfection in the jigging of the scales really hit me.  I was not expecting highly polished bone, but for a knife that was supposed to be high end I assumed that they would not have allowed these scales to go out.
If I saw it immediately, I am sure they could have seen it too. I am not worried that much about the springs and the fact that the liners are not totally flush with the scales.

As you said, maybe my standards are too high, for a handmade product.  ???

In the end I liked the knife, though I would like to get one of the GEC 440C SS next, hopefully after choosing it myself.

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Re: GEC Northfield Trapper; good for the money
« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2012, 10:53:29 AM »
personally, I wouldn't have called carving on the bone a flaw, I sort of expect the carving to be rough and functional as a grip. You can always send the knife on to me if that would make things better.  :salute:
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Re: GEC Northfield Trapper; good for the money
« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2012, 11:12:36 AM »
Of course it would, if you pay for it  :D

The problem was not the carving, it was the inconsistency in the pattern, produced by a mistake during carving.

If you look at this picture:



you notice that above-right of the pin (Two carving rows up) there is a part where a bit was removed that was not supposed to, between two grooves.

If you compare that area with the area below the pin you realise that that carved bit was not part of the pattern but a mistake.

Not a huge mistake, but quite noticable to me.

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Re: GEC Northfield Trapper; good for the money
« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2012, 10:30:46 PM »
dks,

They are not entirely handmade, but do go through alot of hand operations in their production.....with alot less automation in their construction. GEC is small, and it's a small group of employees that build these. But unlike custom pieces were a individual can take a week or more to build one and get everything exact, these are done in similar fashion (to a degree) but they have to build in lots. While the lots are small, they need to build many within the same weeks time or so. Handmade, to a level......yes. But not under the same level of preciseness that a single custom piece is made. But then also far beyond the quality of a churned out piece done mostly on automated machinery.

You will find small discrepancies here and there, usually more character flaws of a sort than true QC issues. Human hands ain't perfect, especially when said hands have to produce a number knives in the classic production fold but still hold to a old world quality standard.......but there is a level of quality where their knives won't pass. Those become what they call "EDC's", and sold at lesser price points. Not seconds though.

The "flaw" you see in the bone is a jigging flake, small highpoint of the bone....whether by natural bone void or crack......seperated during jigging. It can and does happen, have a few Case knives like this. One that was truely gouged and actually shouldn't have passed QC for the size of it. The one on yours is actually quite small. They hold knives and sell off as "EDC" items when handle materials are compromised like pin cracks or seperations that can cause the handle material to fail. Yours I don't believe falls into this category.

As to 440-C bladed stuff.....they do very little of this. 2007 and 2008 production runs had alot more than following years. Some can still be had in the larger patterns but lately the only ones made in 440-C have been some of the smaller stuff, and some of the #72 lockbacks. They have been doing alot more carbon steel Northfields and Tidioutes.....their biggest sellers.

2xTap

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Re: GEC Northfield Trapper; good for the money
« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2012, 10:52:24 PM »
I can see both sides to this. The cutlers in my home town (or what's left of them) work in a similar way. It's kind of an old fashioned automation, a small scale batch production rather than each knife built individually (though there are some that work like that). If many people today, knife and tool enthusiasts that is, picked one up there's a good chance they wouldn't be impressed - but the knife would probably still be working well after a better finished cheaper import had fallen apart.

I like the local knives as users (well, from some of the manufacturers anyway), but the above points also limit how much I'm prepared to pay. There are some companies such as Taylor Eye Witness who have a "standard" quality range, and then a premium range, where there is just one guy hand building these with premium handle scale materials and taking more care in finish etc. Truth is though, I've only ever bought the users. AFAIK the same blade spring and pin components are used for both, though more care is taken and fileworking may be added

Many people would expect a higher finished knife for the price range of many of the users, and the same people would probably want something other than a mystery knife steel for the premium knives ... but they'll get neither. What they will get is a long lasting hard working user that'll hold an edge well enough for most users and be easy to sharpen. The quality is not in the fit and finish or the fancy steel specification, and truth be told you might not even notice the quality until everything else has fallen apart. It's just rugged good honest working tools that have been built to be used not fondled



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Re: GEC Northfield Trapper; good for the money
« Reply #7 on: January 18, 2012, 06:25:17 PM »
As I said I actually like the knife now.
I think the problem is the expectations you have reading Bladerelated forums in which  GEC, especially the "posh" Northfield brand, are described as perfect in every way, I call it "the Sebenza effect  :D ", whereas they are good solid knives but not created by some divine force.

I have not been able to find anything about their finish not being 100% perfect, so I expected perfection. :tu:

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Re: GEC Northfield Trapper; good for the money
« Reply #8 on: January 18, 2012, 11:42:41 PM »
dks,

It is the expectation, for many when they get them they are absolutely perfect.....but on any given level of inspection. How one get's into thoroughly going over F&F is different than another. As I said earlier, on close enough scrutiny I could probably find any number of faults with a majority of the knives I own. But on a simple in-hand inspection as long as there are no gaps in fit, backsprings rest as they should and aren't stepped, grinds are even and clean, blades are sharp, backsprings aren't lazy, and the finish is how it should be.....they are perfect.

It's funny that this should come up as there is a dealer I know of that has had similar issues pop up from purchases, he has a return policy that is 100% for any reason.....and he has seen a number of returns of GEC's that have no QC issues or similar. Just knives being sent back as they didn't meet with customers expectations. He blogs about it here: http://blog.tsaknives.com/2012/01/06/time-for-a-rant.aspx

You made a good point about what you call the "Sebenza effect", it is like that. Not having had one and to hear what most others think of them, the expectations are high for a truely sublime piece of art. They are in their own right, works of art.......for what they are and how they are made at their price point the only way to get better is several hundred dollars above what they are going for and a waiting list.

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Re: GEC Northfield Trapper; good for the money
« Reply #9 on: January 19, 2012, 07:15:03 AM »
I think his blog entry should be a "sticky" in every traditional/slipjoint knife forum!  :D

I agree that, despite what people think, these knives are quite cheap, for what you get.
Similar products from most makers would be more expensive.
Even RR posh models are around $30, so a GEC product from $70 upwards is not bad.

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Re: GEC Northfield Trapper; good for the money
« Reply #10 on: January 22, 2012, 12:59:03 AM »
Well I have a 73 and what has impressed me has been the overall quality and the fact that so much of it was done by hand...I carry it from time to time at work and on weekends and use it..She is far from a safe queen and seems to be developing a nice patina...I for one like the stiff springs...I wish there were more Pocket Knife Companies like GEC...I have owned a couple of Rough Riders and what 2XTap says is true...They are great for what they are,but something tells me that 20-30 years from now with a modicum of care my GEC will be still at it in my Pocket where the Rough Rider has gone by the wayside or fallen apart from use

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Re: GEC Northfield Trapper; good for the money
« Reply #11 on: January 22, 2012, 06:29:46 AM »
If you do use it as a beater,you will learn to love that 1095 carbon steel. :salute:
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Re: GEC Northfield Trapper; good for the money
« Reply #12 on: January 22, 2012, 12:38:28 PM »
I am currently trying to make/get some sort of pouch to keep it in so that I can carry it in my pocket, as a user, though I do not really like 1095 for cutting anything that I will eat; and usually I cut everything with my pocket knives, food, sticks, plastic bags....
My Moras and Marttiinis are 1095 Carbon steel and I am quite happy with them, though I do not cut food with them.

As for the longevity of RR knives and really of GEC knives we can not tell as they both have not been around for that many years. People tend to forget that GEC is a new company too.

Swiss army knives have been produced mainly with machines for decades and they seem to last fine if not abused for several decades, a century even, so RR knives could well last longer than people expect them too. Theoretically the GEC should outlive them, but it all depends on the use of the kinife. I am sure my safe queens can easily survive 30+ years.  :D
I have a cheap Chinese buck 110 lookalike which is over 20 years old and still going strong and that was not good quality or expensive.

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Re: GEC Northfield Trapper; good for the money
« Reply #13 on: January 22, 2012, 05:36:44 PM »

As for the longevity of RR knives and really of GEC knives we can not tell as they both have not been around for that many years. People tend to forget that GEC is a new company too.

Swiss army knives have been produced mainly with machines for decades and they seem to last fine if not abused for several decades, a century even, so RR knives could well last longer than people expect them too. Theoretically the GEC should outlive them, but it all depends on the use of the kinife. I am sure my safe queens can easily survive 30+ years.  :D
I have a cheap Chinese buck 110 lookalike which is over 20 years old and still going strong and that was not good quality or expensive.


True, to an extent. The thing is with GEC is that they came into being, and are being built by, people who have been doing this a long time. And doing it in a very proven method using nothing but the finest materials......same way it was done in the past, and those knives make up the foundation of a large portion of collections out there now. We already know how long folding knives built this way can last.

With RR, they are built in a similar fashion to many other imports that have a history of falling apart. Granted, many of these are not built to the level of RR's, for they do have a more refined way of doing it. But where GEC welds, solders, and pins......RR glues. They are by their very nature not built for longevity. We know the quality of the steel and other materials that goes into GEC's, and we can see how they are built (go to GEC's website, every couple of weeks they post up new pictures of their recent builds, in shop pics of their construction.) With RR's we only know what they say in descriptions, as well as what little we glean from their importers. Most of what we know of them comes from owners, users, and those that work on a rehandle/customize RR's. And while RR has picked up a following for inexpensive quality there is a reason they are still not regarded in the same way a Case, Queen, GEC, CSC, Hen & Rooster, Boker, and others are.

There is also a reason why Rough Riders will never gain any collector value. A Rough Rider bought today will gain little if any value in 20 years time. I have GEC's that are a few years old right now that have already gone for twice their original cost recently.

Rough Riders are good knives, for what they are. I am a fan of them too. Been buying them since they first popped up through SMKW's. The quality of the build for the price is great, but I understand exactly what they are and don't expect anything beyond that. As to your mention of SAK's and their construction, yes.....they are built in a more modern automated fashion but their's is designed around many decades long knowledge. They have been doing it a long time and while they might be more automated they have done so around the premise of making more at the same quality. And they haven't skimped on construction of critical parts for the sake of making more money.

But even with them......ask yourself, how many people you know still have, or carry and use, their fathers, uncles, grandfathers chinese knock off or SAK from when they themselves were young? I know alot of of knife users and collectors and I know of none that have any. But I know a ton that still have their fathers, uncles, grandfathers pocketknives and many still use them and carry them. Hell, I have my Dad's old pocket knife from when he was in his teens.......American made Camillus from the 60's. And my wife has her grandfathers American made Schrade Old Timer stockman. Both are well worn but still going strong.

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Re: GEC Northfield Trapper; good for the money
« Reply #14 on: January 22, 2012, 06:22:17 PM »
I have GEC's that are a few years old right now that have already gone for twice their original cost recently.

2xTap

...and there I was, thinking of using mine. Now I am tempted to keep it as a safe Queen  :D

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Re: GEC Northfield Trapper; good for the money
« Reply #15 on: January 23, 2012, 02:15:47 AM »
I have GEC's that are a few years old right now that have already gone for twice their original cost recently.

2xTap

...and there I was, thinking of using mine. Now I am tempted to keep it as a safe Queen  :D

First, don't expect all of them to do that. Some are more rare and done in smaller numbers, and in unique patterns, than others (I have GEC's done in limits of only 9 produced, one of only 14, and one that only 15 were made). GEC's are built to use.....so if that is what you got it for then by all means put it in your EDC rotation.

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Re: GEC Northfield Trapper; good for the money
« Reply #16 on: February 23, 2012, 06:04:52 PM »
I got another GEC, a Stag Conductor in 440C.



I wanted something reasonably sized, with normal pull and in SS and the Conductor was all that. (slim, single spring)









It arrived today from oldhundredcollectibles, with a free pouch which is quite useful for protecting a nice knife.



The knife was smaller than I expected and the stag seems varnished.


The pull is very good on both blades.

I chose this knife, from pictures of several, because it had decent looking stag.

Problems?

There seems to be a suspicious line in the handles that could be a crack though I have no way to verify how deep it is. It does not open up if I push it with my nail and I am not about to stick a screwdriver in it…



Also one side of the bolsters has a minor dent, where the makers tried to push it down to be more flash with the stag.



Finally some of the gaps are a bit bigger than you would expect for the price/name of this GEC knife.



I intend to make this knife a user, which is why I asked for the pouch.



Some comparison pictures:




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Re: GEC Northfield Trapper; good for the money
« Reply #17 on: February 24, 2012, 05:51:09 PM »
I also noticed that the shield pin was sticking out inside the body of the knife.

It does not seem to rub onto anything yet...
I do not know if this is common or not with pinned shields, but it is not visible in such a way in the Northfield trapper knife.




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Re: GEC knives; good for the money
« Reply #18 on: January 31, 2018, 09:49:42 PM »
seeing a renewed interest in the stockmans, here is a bump, for fun.

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Re: GEC knives; good for the money
« Reply #19 on: February 05, 2018, 01:21:20 PM »

L-R: #14 Lick Creek boys knife, #66 Calf Roper, #15 Crown Lifter, #71 Bullnose, #47 Hayn' helper

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Re: GEC knives; good for the money
« Reply #20 on: February 05, 2018, 01:50:00 PM »

L-R: #14 Lick Creek boys knife, #66 Calf Roper, #15 Crown Lifter, #71 Bullnose, #47 Hayn' helper



You've got pretty good taste haven't you... you're alright...  :salute:

Calf Roper and Crown Lifter especially... especially the Crown Lifter!

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Re: GEC knives; good for the money
« Reply #21 on: February 05, 2018, 02:27:59 PM »
I watched a factory tour video, they were never on my radar before then, but they sure are now.......

What stunned me were the prices, these are expensive little knives........way out of my price range, not criticizing their prices but I am a little surprised they "get away with it".

Maybe someday I can find a 2nd hand one I can afford.......but I don't want one.......I want most of them  :gimme:

So that answers how&why they get away with it  :like:
Admin Team Absolutely No Life Club Posts: 6,863 I brake for cake
Re: GEC knives; good for the money
« Reply #22 on: February 05, 2018, 10:09:20 PM »
You've got pretty good taste haven't you... you're alright...  :salute:

Calf Roper and Crown Lifter especially... especially the Crown Lifter!

Thanks Fuzzy. :cheers:
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Re: GEC knives; good for the money
« Reply #23 on: February 05, 2018, 10:16:44 PM »
a little surprised they "get away with it".

They are very good quality and reasonable value for money - about 50% more than an equivalent Case, and better finished.  What's most impressive is the way they've cultivated the market, releasing what amounts to limited edition knives to a growing group of trad enthusiasts.  They might only make a few hundred of a particular pattern - or a few dozen of an SFO (Special Factory Order) and then not make any more of that type for several years.  Their production totals are interesting: http://greateasterncutlery.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/2016-PRODUCTION-TOTALS.pdf for example.
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Re: GEC knives; good for the money
« Reply #24 on: February 06, 2018, 03:13:53 PM »
Frankly, I've owned three or four GECs, and the blade play varied between “noticeable” to “incredibly annoying”. None of them was what I would call without play. They are very pretty knives, but not for me. What GEC cares about is not the same as I care about. I have better experience with e.g. Case. Just wanted to add an YMMV to the other voices here.
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Re: GEC knives; good for the money
« Reply #25 on: February 06, 2018, 07:58:42 PM »
What GEC cares about is not the same as I care about.

Agree 100%. I think you hit the nail on the head.

I have a few GECs, and would say for me, I have about a 95% satisfaction rate. The few faults could be repaired by me (2nd grinds, sharpness out of the box), or were not really that big enough of a deal for me to send the knife back (spring tension, jigging pattern burn outs, blade rub). There was a time when new out of the box a GEC would barely cut paper and you had to sharpen it yourself. If someone came to GEC out of precision made modern flippers, a lot of that would be unacceptable.

When they first started up, people were hungry for tight, high quality slipjoints. There was much maligning Case and nostalgia for the good old days, and along came GEC with superior product.  I think a lot of the hype was well deserved, but some of it also was honeymoon sentiment.  To expect perfection from anything is a fool's errand.

As a side note, I think Case and Queen have upped their game a bit since GEC came out.

Anyway, it's important to keep a scope to what you expect from a knife/purchase. I don't have a 95% satisfaction rate from many other companies or brands. A good amount of the criticism given to pocketknives is so far off my radar that a negative YouTube review is meaningless to me, other than to see the knife in hand.


"Everybody's got a plan until they get punched in the face."
Mike Tyson
Absolute Zombie Club Posts: 20,251 Gone

dks cy

********* *
Re: GEC knives; good for the money
« Reply #26 on: February 06, 2018, 08:32:46 PM »
Queen?  the understanding  was that they only upped their prices, before closing shop...

Kelly: "Daddy, what makes men cheat on women?
Al : "Women!"

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Sr. Member Posts: 305
Re: GEC knives; good for the money
« Reply #27 on: February 06, 2018, 08:47:10 PM »
Lil' guy

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Absolutely No Life Club Posts: 7,809
Re: GEC knives; good for the money
« Reply #28 on: February 06, 2018, 09:03:10 PM »
Lil' guy (Image removed from quote.)

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That too is bloody nice! (I've just commented on your buck Post).

Sr. Member Posts: 305
Re: GEC knives; good for the money
« Reply #29 on: February 06, 2018, 09:14:03 PM »
Lil' guy (Image removed from quote.)

Sent from my SM-G955U using Tapatalk

That too is bloody nice! (I've just commented on your buck Post).
Thanks

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