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Reviews

Gear reviews including knives, pens, and lights. 

Olamic Cutlery Wayfarer 247

Nick Clayton

The Wayfarer 247 is a variation of the original Michael Vagnino designed Wayfarer model. The Wayfarer is Olamic's signature folding knife design with their motto "Never the Same" ringing true as there are many MANY different examples of it. The Wayfarer is a custom knife fully furnished in-house while the 247 is not.

The 247 is a new project for Olamic as their first "mid-tech" (I use quotes here because that phrase means something different to everyone). The majority of the knife is machined in Italy and the final finishing done by Olamic. Some might argue that this is more of a production knife but this has largely become an argument of semantics and I will avoid that for this review. Instead we'll focus on the knife itself and what is gets right and wrong.

I've handled two of the three 247 models that will be available, the darkwash and the plain Ti. There is also a fancier version that is similar to the plain model but with a mokuti pocket clip and inlay, with the possibility of more options down the road. The darkwash type finish is not one I am very fond of, I much prefer the plain ti. I will focus this review on the plain one as the darkwashed one was also a prototype and not 100% indicative of the production run. 

So enough backstory, lets get moving. 

The overall shape of the Wayfarer is very unique. With the handle growing towards the rear, it has, what some may call, a booty. The larger portion of the handle near the rear might look strange at first glance but actually lends itself well to a proper grip. The sloping of the handle seats nicely in your hand with plenty of room for all four digits. 

The blade shape is a combination of a drop point and a spear point. There is a downward slope towards the tip of the knife and there is a nice swedge that gives a spearpoint profile. The blade is well finished with noticeable grind lines and a polished treatment. It's both handsome and utilitarian. The blade steel is Elmax which, despite past claims, is a great steel. 

The hole in the blade is actually useful as an opening method if done slow and deliberate. I can't use it quickly with my thump or middle finger, though. The main way to open the knife is, of course, the flipper tab. 

Keeping in mind that the knife I have is only a week or so old, the action on the knife is smooth but not free-falling. This is not necessarily a knock against the knife. There are lots of collectors who dislike a completely free-falling blade. Opening is extremely fast due to proper flipper geometry and just-right detent strength. There is a neat area above the flipper on the frame that is a perfect seat for your finger to sit. This makes light-switching a breeze to get right despite the lack of any meaningful traction on the flipper tab. 

The 247 is a frame lock design with a stainless lock insert/over-travel stop secured by two titanium screws. This has become the standard set of improvements to the Reeve Integral Lock. The over-travel stop prevents damage to the lock while the insert provides a more solid surface which to lock up. There is a cutout ramp to allow the detent ball to ride up so there is no hard shelf to overcome when closing. This is not something that is present on all designs and it's welcomed. 

The pivot required custom hardware and the tool is included. I am not a fan of this practice. I understand the design aesthetic etc. but I would rather have a more standardized hardware slot. Sure it looks good but lose that little tool and you're in for a wait to just adjust your knife. 

The pocket clip is interesting. It's a flat titanium clip attached by 3 standoffs that are threaded into the frame then tapped to accept the screws that hold the clip and it uses a large ceramic ball to secure it in pocket. This is all in place of any bending and adds a lot of parts and detail to an otherwise mundane part of the knife. It works well and it's nice to see the attention. 

Overall the knife is very well done. There is a lot of attention paid to smaller details that really show that Olamic cares about knife design. Not only that but the knife is perfect. It's perfectly centered, the grinds are even, the finishing is even, the backspacer ( a solid free-floating unit) is centered and matches the frame, etc.. I really can't find any flaws in the finish. Combine the expert build with a great attention to details and I predict the 247 will make a lot of knife guys happy. 

  

Zero Tolerance ZT0220

Nick Clayton

The ZT0220 is a collaboration between Zero Tolerance Knives and designer Jens Anso. Anso is a legend of a designer in the knife world and has been around since 1988. This is the first collaboration piece between the two. (Product page)

The 0220 is unmistakably Anso with its organic shape. This is a contrast to knives like the ZT0804CF. The handles are flat titanium slabs that are beadblasted and are chamfered for comfort . The build is similar to knives like the ZT0801 with black hardware and solid Ti and the whole thing weighs a solid 6.2oz. 

There are two pieces that are set apart: the orange backspacer and blue ZT medallion. The backspacer is a nice touch and has a built in lanyard hole (if lanyards are your thing). 

The medallion, however, requires a certain taste that I don't share. I understand the need to break up the otherwise bland titanium with a pop of color but I would have preferred they stuck with orange to match the backspacer. 

The flipper tab is well designed and reminds me of the flipper on the Les George designs. It works exceedingly well and the knife fires like a rocket. This is made possible by the venerable Kershaw Velocity Technology (KVT) that uses caged ball bearings to smooth out the action. 

The blade shape is very much an Anso (as you should expect). The spine of the blade starts out straight enough but then drives towards the tip abruptly and is met by a gentle recurve. As a rule, I don't like recurve blades, I find them hard to sharpen, however, this recurve is gentle enough that I can see this not requiring quite the same acrobatics to achieve an even sharp edge as some. The blade is a middle-of-the-road 3.5" and completely sterile on the show side. 

The steel is the venerable S35VN, an upgrade from S30V that performs well and is easy to maintain. I personally prefer higher vanadium steels but this will be a great steel for most users. 

The pocket clip is similar to other deep carry clips in the ZT lineup and hides almost the entire knife deep down in the pocket. (if your most used pants don't look like this your not a real knife guy, sorry to break it to you)

The whole knife is larger than I was expecting. I don't know why but I was thinking this was a smaller knife. It fits well in the hand and it built exceptionally well. I am pleasantly surprised by the ZT0220. More organic than a lot of ZTs designs yet unmistakably ZT in it's contruction, the ZT0220 is sure to be a hit. 


Zero Tolerance ZT0456

Nick Clayton

The ZT0456 is a collaboration between Zero Tolerance Knives and Dmitry Sinkevich from Belarus build in Tualatin, Oregon.  Sinkevich has designed several Zero Tolerance models (the 0450 and 0452cf etc)  as well as several Kershaw models. (product page here)

The 0456 is a departure from Sinkevich's other ZT designs with it's short and stout build. The other designs have been more long and slender. The departure shouldn't be surprising to anyone familiar with Dmitry's custom work. The entire knife is only 7.7" in overall length with a 3.25" blade while weighing a hefty 6.6oz. 

The knife is constructed of two slabs of titanium. The handles are nicely milled and provide a nice angular aesthetic that works well and feel good in the hand. The milling is present and even on both sides. 

The lock features a stainless lock insert (as the flipper gods intended). And the action is smooth and fast. It is actually one of the smoother ZTs that I have handled. The flipper tab is well designed and points the user to the "push-button" method of deployment. It is possible, however, to use the "light-switch" method with just as much success. The knife uses Kershaw's KVT caged bearings for smoothness. 

The 0456 features several treatments that help to break up the stark grey finish of titanium. They come in the form of a blue pivot, pocket clip, and backspacer. The sample I have is pre-production so the color is a bit off on the pivot but ZT assures me they are working on it. 

The pocket clip will look familiar to anyone who owns a ZT0450 or ZT0808 save for the blue anodizing. The backspacer runs almost the full length of the spine of the handle and is very attractive. 

The blade on the 0456 is sheepsfoot style with a swedge that looks great and is made from Carpenter's CTS-204P (data sheet here). 204P is a highly wear and corrosion resistant steel. It is in the top tiers of knife blade steels and should serve you well. The shape of the blade really inspires confidence. It is stout but tall and should excel in most EDC tasks. I prefer this style to the traditional wharncliffe due to this having a more robust tip. 

Overall, the 0456 is a compelling package. There are several knives that come to mind when handling this knife and one of them is the Les George designed ZT0900. Now, I know the 0456 is larger but they are both knives that punch above their size (I would place knives like the Spyderco Techno in this category as well). After having handled and owned many of Zero Tolerance's products, the 0456 is right up there with the best of them. 



Zero Tolerance ZT0804CF

Nick Clayton

The 0804CF is a Todd Rexford design built by Zero Tolerance Knives in Tualatin, Oregon and based of Todd's Gamma custom. (Product page here)

Todd Rexford's past collaboration, the 0801, was one of my favorite ZT knives of all time, (He also has designed several Kershaw models) so suffice to say, this is a great design. 

Rexford is known for his clean straight lines and work that is among the top tiers in the custom knife world (I have seen them sell at auction for as much as $20,000 to collectors). The 0804cf is no exception. With clean purposeful lines, the knife is attractive and utilitarian at the same time. 

The handle is composed of one side carbon fiber, and one side titanium. The carbon fiber show side is liner-less (there's really no need for one) and creates a lighter-than-expected feeling in hand (5.1oz). There is a cutout for the pocket clip for those lefties out there. I would have liked to have some kind of filler tab but I know that's nit picking. The pivot is adorned with the words "USA MADE". I don't mind it but I have heard some people offer criticism, which is fair, you can't please everyone with something like that. 

The titanium locking side is DLC coated to match the all-black aesthetic of the knife and it really does look good. There is a stainless lock insert, as there should be on a Ti flipper and the pocket clip is a machined titanium and really looks great on the knife. It is, of course, DLC coated to match. The backspacer is a machined aluminum and is, you guessed it, black. Back in the day, I would have called this knife "murdered out" but I'm more refined than that now. 

Rexford is known for his attention to detail and the flipper on this knife is very well laid out. First off, it's in the proper geometry. I feel, in this day and age, proper flipper geometry should be a given but I have been let down by offerings from other companies that shall not be named. Secondly, there is a unique aspect that I have noticed on a few other knives, like the 0900, where there is traction cut into the flipper tab both in the "push-button" and the "light-switch" positions. This leaves the preference up to the owner and allows for easy manipulation either way. 

The action is, as you would expect, very well tuned. The blade pops out with authority and locks up solid every time due to the use of Kershaws caged bearing system known as KVT. Speaking of the blade, it is a nearly 4" long (3.9" to be exact) piece of CTS-204P (data sheet can be found here), a very high wear resistant and corrosion resistant super steel. The shape is a classic drop point and should perform very well in a large number of tasks. The blade is tungsten DLC coated but this is really for design purposes as the steel does not need protection from corrosion with it's 20% chromium content. It looks great, so I have no complaints. 

The knife does sit a little high out of the pocket but I don't mind that in a larger knife. The mur... all black design helps keep things discrete enough despite that if you are concerned. 

Overall, I have to say I am very enamored with this knife. The clean straight lines, the blacked out aesthetic, and the flawless execution have created a compelling package. 

Spyderco Rubicon

Nick Clayton

The Spyderco Rubicon was a surprise to me. Upon it's release, I had written it off due to it's high price tag and lowly S30V steel (for the price that is, I know S30V is just fine). Even when handling one in a shop, I was unconvinced. It took me a while but now I understand. I not only understand the knife but it has helped me understand something about Spyderco as a whole; Spyderco doesn't so much make "collaborations" as much as they make production versions of customs. Looking at the features and design of the knife, along with some of Spyderco's own language on this and other models, I don't think they get in the way of the maker's vision very much. It is more that they take a design and make it. If they can't, they work on it till they can. Case in point is the new Brian Tighe design the Tighe Stick. They stated that they have had that design for years and only now are able to produce it true to Brian's design. That is what makes the Rubicon so attractive to me now. I don't see it as a Spyderco designed by Peter Carey so much as I see it as a production version of a Peter Carey. Anyway, let's get on with the review. 

The knife is a short and stubby. I am able to get four fingers on the handle but just barely. The scales are carbon fiber on both sides and are nicely rounded for comfort and polished to a high sheen. They are very attractive and a highlight feature of the knife. Additionally, the orange g-10 on the pivot and backspacer really set off the knife. The finish on them is top notch as I've come to expect from Spyderco's Taichung factory. 

The pocket clip is a custom design. It holds the knife in just fine but it's not my favorite. I appreciate the effort put in here, though.

The liners are titanium and the knife is held open with a liner lock. If I had one complaint, it would be that there is no cutout to allow easier access to the lock bar. It's a minor complaint though as unlocking becomes easier with practice and there is traction cut into the lock to allow for a better purchase. 

The blade shape is quite unique. The best way to describe it is a modified spear-point with a recurve. The blade is fairly short at just about 3" but it is wide. The grind is a double hollow grind that works well and adds to the look of the knife. There is a modest tip that could be a little pointier but it works fine. 

The blade rides on bearings and is very smooth. It doesn't quite drop free on it's own but, for a small knife, it is very good. The flipper tab is expertly designed. It is set up to guide you in which way to use it as it is flat and directional with traction cut into it. The detent is fairly mild but the knife fully opens every time. If the detent were any stiffer, It would be too difficult to operate the lock. It is well balanced. 

As I see this knife as a production version of a Peter Carey custom, it is fantastic. I think they nailed the execution and design. I don't know if the knife holds up on it's own as a pocket knife, for me, but there is no doubt it is a very nice piece. 

Zero Tolerance ZT 0600

Nick Clayton

The Zero Tolerance Knives ZT0600 is a limited edition model designed by R.J. Martin. The knife won collaboration of the year in 2012 from Blade Magazine but while I think it is the closest production knife to a custom R.J., it's not really in the same league. That should really go without saying but I feel the need to express it in light of this review. I'll explain later. 

The 0600 is a big knife. I mean really big. It's got a 4.25" blade and it weighs in at 7.3 oz. The size and weight wouldn't be a huge issue if it weren't for a few things that I'll get into later. The blade stock is equally as hefty at 4.8mm on my calipers.

The grind is a hollow grind with a recurve and is distinctly R.J. Martin. The blade steel is B75P which is a powdered version of BG-42, a ball bearing steel.  

The handles feature a really nice 3D machined diamond pattern that I like a lot in comparison to, say, the 0560. The presentation side in inlaid with carbon fiber and I find the whole look interesting and elegant.

The handle is also sculpted to provide a good feeling in hand. While this knife is big and heavy, it is easy to hold. 

The knife features a sculpted Ti clip that could use a bit more tension, especially for a knife this big. It does a good job of keeping the knife where you want it though. 

The 0600 also features a full titanium backspacer that is milled to match the traction at the butt of the knife as well as a cutout for a lanyard. I think there is a few ounces in this piece alone. The execution is there but it does not match both sides of the frame evenly, being a bit more raised on one side than the other. 

The knife features a bearing system for the pivot and it is quite smooth. That combined with the heavy blade stock let the blade freely fall on it's own weight. This might also be due to the relatively light lockbar tension and detent. This knife was made before ZT moved to the stiffer detent they are using now and, in my opinion, it could use a bit more detent as the action of the knife is not that great. The heavy blade and weaker detent don't really allow it to rocket out. A few pain points for me are the flipper tab and the back of the knife right under the flipper. The tab itself has no traction cut into it at all. This makes it slippery if you're not paying attention and I've slid off it a few times. Under the flipper, there is no jimping but the frame is cut harshly on the inside and, being that the blade is so thick, creating a large gap between the slabs, your finger goes down into the gap and it doesn't feel great hitting the harshly cut handle scales. 

The frame does not feature two screws on each side but rather just one side for the handle. The reveals a rather rough tap for the screws and looks unfinished. I will probably take a deburring tool to it or sand down the inside just to finish it a little better. 

Overall I am disappointed with this knife. An R.J. Martin custom is one of my grail knives and I was hoping that this would be close enough to keep me from wanting too hard (a custom R.J. is in the thousands not hundreds of dollars) but alas, it has not. I think with some tweaking, this knife would be fantastic. Looking ahead, it seems ZT has stepped away from features like custom milling and moved more toward good basic designs. The 0392 was one of the best production knives I've handled and that philosophy shows there. If that philosophy was applied to a R.J. design, that may do it for me. Are you listening ZT? 

Zero Tolerance ZT 0900

Nick Clayton

The ZT 0900 is an offering in a new spirit for Zero Tolerance. ZT used to be a division dedicated to the overbuilt and the oversized. The smallest knife they had at one point was the not-so-small 0350. Then last year, the company released two models that somewhat bucked that trend. The 0566 and the 0770 were two knives that were smaller and more pocket-friendly than the established group. I'm willing to bet those models were very successful for ZT because this year we have knives like the 0900 and the 0450. 

The 0900 is the shortest knife ZT has ever produced. With a blade length of 2.7", it is significantly smaller than the previous record holders, the 0770 and 0566 (both around 3.25"). The knife is interesting, though, in that it is not necessarily small. Yes it is short, but it is pretty heavy for that length (4.3oz) and is much thicker than, say, the 0770 for example. It is firmly in the "little-big knife" category. That is not a bad thing, though, as similar models (like the Spyderco Techno) have been favorites in the knife community. 

The 0900 is designed buy Les George of Les George Knives. Les is known in the knife community for his customs, "mid-tech's", and production collaborations. For the 0900 he brings his Harpy model. The blade shape is purely Les' with a simple drop point with a good amount of belly and a spine that meets a row of thick cut traction. The chunky jimping pattern is a signature of his designs. The blade material is Crucible S35VN, a fine powdered steel that is great for EDC uses. Going along with the overall theme of the knife, the blade stock is a hearty 4mm. Taking 4mm down to the edge and tip of such a small blade using a flat grind is naturally going to result in a relatively thick cutting edge and tip. Filet knife, this is not. 

The handle of the knife is composed of two titanium slabs with a frame lock cut out for right hand use. The lock cutout does have a unique pattern that adds a little something to the design. The handle is larger than the blade and enough to get a good solid grip on the knife. 

There is a little milling on the slabs that break up the flatness and It looks good. Going along with ZT's new more sterile look is the addition of the words "ZERO TOLERANCE" on the show side of the handle along with the subtraction of any markings on this side of the blade. I like. 

The pivot  closely matches some others we have seen but this one is not black but satin. In fact, the hardware on the knife is all the same satin. I prefer this to the black coated parts as it will wear much better over time. 

The action..... The action is amazing. The combination of a great flipper design, smooth pivot bearings, and lightweight blade make this a rocket of a flipper. 

With pressure, it will fire with authority and without is just as addicting. My "touring test" for flippers is if my wife can operate it. She carried this knife for weeks and absolutely loved it. Not only could she flip it, but could do so effortlessly (My wife is 5'4" 105lbs). This is one of the best designed flippers I've ever used, it's really that good.

Rumor has it that Les is working on another offering with ZT and I really hope is is a larger version of this knife. That would be a home run if this knife is any indication. I think the trend towards smaller designs is a good one for ZT. I love my 0452cf and I wouldn't trade that knife for this, but I appreciate the design and function of this knife so much, I want them to keep doing it. 

Great Eastern Cutlery #54 Tidioute Big Jack

Nick Clayton

I'll just get this out of the way; reviewing a traditional is not like reviewing a modern tactical folder, the nuances are different. The best place to find traditionals I have found is Knives Ship Free

The Great Eastern Cutlery #54 is my first real foray into the current modern traditional knife (oxymoron?). I have handled plenty of Case knives and I've never been that impressed with them. Since that was my only exposure, I was hesitant to buy anything site unseen. But when I got this knife in, I immediately knew it was different. 

The knife is pretty large, about 4" closed, with the blade coming in about 3" long with 2.75" of usable cutting edge. It's fairly heavy too but that is par for the course with traditionals. I like the weight though, it gives it a great balance toward the handle and you know it's in your pocket. 

The scales are dyed camel bone and are beautiful. They have a nice yellow to orange fade that is really nice. The bolsters were nicely polished (I've dinged them up a bit) and everything on the handle is finished very nicely. 

The knife comes with two blades opening from the same side both made of 1095 steel. 1095 is a carbon steel but I like the way it behaves. Easy to touch up and maintain, it will developed a patina over time. The first blade is a spear-point profile and the second a clip point. Both start life around 2.25mm and reduce to .68mm-.65mm near the tip and about .4mm behind the edge. I don't normally measure these specs but it's worth noting how thin the blades on these are. I was cutting some fruit with it and the ease in which the blades cut was addictive. 

The pulls are hard, not too bad but they take a good amount of force. They are both nice and smooth to open though and include a half-stop. They are nice and centered and once open, there is no movement. Very nice. 

I can say that I have been really impressed with this knife. My interests have been peaked and I already plan on picking up a few more. I've really got my eye on the Indian River Jack that is coming out later in S35VN. 

Zero Tolerance ZT 0452cf

Nick Clayton

The time has finally come. The 0454 was a groundbreaking knife for ZT and the knife community. It caused a stir unlike anything I saw or have seen since. With such a fever surrounding it, it should come as no surprise that ZT released not one but two new knives based off the 0454 design. The first is the smaller 0450 and the next is the full size spiritual successor the 0452cf. 

The knife is very slim for what you are getting. This knife reminds me of a Spyderco Military but without the hole, a better blade to handle ratio, a clip on the correct end.... OK scratch that, it's nothing like the Military. But it is nice and thin. 

The 0452cf is a lean long knife. With a blade length of 4.1" it is the largest blade I own in a folding knife. The shape is a nice classic drop point with a full swedge. The blade is fairly short, however, giving it a thin, sharp, and long profile. The grinds have all been left polished and the flats stonewashed. This two tone look is not as pronounced on this design as some of the others but it does not detract from the attractiveness. 

The steel is CPM-S35VN, a standard of the knife industry at this point. The move to S35VN from Elmax is a smart one. It allows them to get more knives into the hands of the customers while not losing any appreciable performance. The edge was very sharp and the point is nice and well.. pointy.

There is a run of traction on the top of the spine as well as the front when the knife is closed. That section is clearly for aesthetics only. The flipper tab is perfectly shaped. Allowing for either method of deployment. 

The handle consists of Titanium on the lock side and a carbon fiber scale over a liner on the other. I wish I could tell you what the stonewash was like on mine but as you can see, mine has already undergone a unique anodized finish. The Liner side is the same carbon fiber used on the 0562cf and it works well in it's appearance as well as provide decent traction. It's a nice balance.

The pivot is straight of the Kershaw Ruby and really fits this knife's look. It is coated black in the recesses and polished on the surface. 

The lock features a stainless lock insert that has become par for the course on new ZTs. The lockbar is short and provides good lock engagement but is still easy to release. 

The action on the 0452cf has been the subject of much discussion recently due to it's strong detent (another feature par for the course for new ZTs). I find it perfectly dialed in on my example. I can light switch or push button the flipper tab and it opens every time. The knife is very smooth and will only get smoother as it breaks in. 

This knife was long awaited for me. I missed out on the OG 0454 and I am glad to see this in the lineup. The knife is long and sharp but sits well in a slacks or jean pocket. This one of my favorite knives that has come out in recent years and I highly recommend it to anyone who likes knives in this category. 

Chris Reeve Knives Sebenza 25

Nick Clayton

I have a sorted past with Chris Reeve Knives. A bad experience with their warranty almost made me swear them off forever. However, thanks to the Sebenza 25, I came back around. I'm glad to own a CRK piece again as I do believe he still sets the standard for production quality in the knife industry (even as companies like ZT continue to challenge that title). 

The 25 is a bit of an amalgamation; a hybrid of design and feature of two other CRK knives. The first being the venerable Sebenza 21 and the  second the aggressive Umnumzaan.  The 25 shares its profile and overall aesthetics with the Sebenza family but the guts of the knife are all Umnum.

The blade profile is a classic drop point but differs a bit from the 21 in it's execution. The stock used is thicker than the 21 and the same as the Umnum. This gives the 25 a bit more heft on the blade as does the grind.

The grind on the 25 is what CRK refers to as a high hollow grind. If you did not measure it, you would swear it was a flat grind. I prefer this blade to that of the 21 or the Umnum as it give the classic shape of the Sebenza but more to work with. The blade steel is CPM-S35VN, a great edc powdered metal steel. S35VN was actually developed jointly by Crucible and Chris Reeve. 

The 25 comes standard with double thumb studs. This is a nice feature for all the lefties out there and they are indeed easily accessible from both sides. The jimping cut into the blade is sharper than that of both the 21 and the Umnum but, again, I prefer the 25's as it provides excellent grip without any discomfort. The pattern is a repeating set of threes that is a nice touch. 

The 25 I have sports the micarta inlays. I like the extra width it provides as well as the break up of solid titanium that would otherwise dominate the flat surface. The handle shape is unique to the 25 in that it includes two finger grooves. I find that they fit my hand well and do not cause any hot spots during use. The handle slabs are also thicker than the 21 which, in conjunction with the thicker blade, give this knife a much more robust feel in hand than the 21 or even the Umnum in my opinion. 

Contacting the blade tang is not raw titanium but a ceramic ball. This ball also acts as the detent for the knife. This system was first introduced in the Umnumzaan and, from my experience, is a superior design than raw titanium. I don't have to worry about the soft titanium wearing against the hardened steel. 

The 25 is an incredibly smooth, strong, and beautiful knife from Chris Reeve Knives. If you are on the fence, you might at well go ahead and get one (you can always sell it later and not lose too much off what you payed).