“Is that a shark in your pocket, or are you just toting an inconspicuous self-defense weapon?”
RIGHT ON BOTH COUNTS, wastelanders! Behold, the Cold Steel Pocket Shark. This is basically a super-durable, super-thick (tough and girthy) permanent marker designed to be used as a yawara (a.k.a. “koppo” or “pocket-stick”) in self-defense. If you read my review of the Vat19 Inkless Metal Pen, you’ll remember that I also suggested that pen(cil) might function better in this role than in the one it was intended for – but if a combative writing utensil is what you’re shopping for, you can’t get a better purpose-built inconspicuous yawara than this. I’m really not sure what it has to do with sharks – I’d have called it the “MARker” or the “Markoppo“. Somebody gets paid to come up with this shit… why not me?
Why a yawara, and why inconspicuous? A yawara is a weapon designed to act as a force-multiplier in hand-to-hand self-defense situations. (Might as well start counting hyphens now.) A force-multiplier is something that takes the force of a strike – for example, a hammer-fist – and multiplies the impact on the target by localizing the energy into a smaller, more focused area. For example, if I laid four 10 lb weights out across your back, you’d probably feel just fine… hell, it might even feel good. However, if I stood a single 40 lb bar on end in the middle of your back, the same exact amount of weight would suddenly be pressing on a much smaller area, and the materials of which you’re composed would have a much harder time resisting. Now, imagine if I picked up that bar straight in the air as high as I could, and slammed it down HARD on that same damn spot! Now you get the idea!
In practical application, you essentially grip the yawara in a hammer-fist or flashlight grip, and JACK the hell out of your opponents eyes, face, and other soft, fleshy targets such as under the chin, the neck, ribs, kidneys, jugular notch, below the xiphoid process, under the armpits, or in any major muscle. If you don’t believe this would be effective, try this little experiment: make a fist and pound on your thigh as hard as you think you can without injuring yourself. Now, grip a marker or other yawara-esque device in your hand and using the blunt, rounded end, do the exact same thing with the exact same force. Enjoy your bruise, dumbass.
Many people carry a length of acrylic or wood for this purpose, often attached to their keychain, wrapped in paracord, or sporting finger loops for a more secure grip. The problem with all this is that these things can be immediately identified as a weapon because they serve no other purpose. A marker can easily be explained away as a writing utensil, and no one is going to bat an eye. In fact, before I got the Pocket Shark I carried a large, heavy stainless-steel twist ink pen with one end tapered for use as a stylus. I carried it on airplanes and into court houses, and never once had anyone question it. A seven inch acrylic post with paracord finger loops is going to raise some eyebrows.
So, in the spirit of being “gray” and inconspicuous with our force-multipliers, I made a few modifications to my Pocket Shark. Hopefully Cold Steel will take some of these constructive criticisms to heart and consider “graying down” their black marker (and maybe renaming it the Markoppo!… a boy can dream).
My first suggestion isn’t one of grayness, but one of practicality. The lid doesn’t snap onto the other end during use as it does with most markers. So, when using the marker, you have to put the lid in your pocket or set it aside. This is actually very annoying if you actually USE the marker, like I do. It wouldn’t be too hard to design a small bevel around the butt-end of the marker that the lid could fit onto snugly. It wouldn’t even have to snap on, or fit too far on… just enough to hold the lid while I’m writing.
As big a fan as I am of Cold Steel, they’re a fairly well known company, and any security guard or cop that pulls a Cold Steel product out of my pocket is immediately going to consider it a weapon. Not only that, but the name “pocket shark” and the mean shark face printed on the end of the marker are aggressive, and would immediately raise eyebrows if I’m trying to pass this off as a regular marker. I hit the white lettering with some fine grit sandpaper and it came off in seconds.
Lastly, if I do have to hand my marker over, the first thing someone is going to do is try to pull the lid straight off. When they fail to, the aforementioned eyebrows will again get raised. I admire Cold Steel’s intention in making the cap a screw on – they took every possible step to make this the most durable marker on the market. However, the walls of the marker body and the lid are so damn THICK that it’s already far more durable than it needs to be, and making the lid a snap-on doesn’t compromise this at all. I sanded off all the threads on the marker body, leaving only the top thread. Now, when I push the lid on, it slides straight on with a zip-tie sound, and stays snugly in place until I pull it straight off again. Yes, I’ve removed the marker in this photo – we’ll get to that later.
So, how does it write? Like a fine-tipped felt marker! It’s finer than a sharpie, and thus a bit smoother in use. I actually REALLY like this thing as a pure marker. The heft makes for an easy relaxed grip, with the ability to choke up onto the smaller internal neck for detail-work. “But what happens when the ink eventually runs out? Do I have to buy a whole new marker!?” Fair question, wastelanders, but no worries – The Post Apoc is on your side, and that’s why we figured out that you can simply swap the marker out when it runs out, or if you prefer a thicker line, a colored marker, or even an ink pen for daily carry.
First, just grip the internal maker as far down on the neck as you can with pliers, but avoid damaging the threaded collar which is part of the body. Squeeze hard enough to get a firm grip, but not hard enough to crack the marker shell and risk breaking it off inside the body – then you’d be screwed. The teeth on my pliers marred the internal marker shell a bit, but not enough that I couldn’t stick it right back in there later – but this won’t matter if it’s out of ink, or if you’re not planning to use it again. Once you have a grip, just rotate it back and forth while pulling it out slowly. Trust me, it will happen.
As an example, I decided to replace the black marker with a broad-tipped green magic marker. Compare your prospective replacements to the one you pulled out for sizing. No, sharpies don’t fit. The magic marker was almost the perfect size, but I wrapped it in a couple layers of electrical tape to ensure a snug fit.
So, do I recommend buying the Cold Steel Pocket Shark? Not only do I recommend buying one, I personally bought THREE: one to gray-mod for this review and for daily carry, one to replace the sharpie at my desk, and one for my ink pen mod that I’ll carry and use at work. Remember, when buying this, or anything else I’ve reviewed, from Cold Steel, make sure to tell them that ThePostApoc.com sent you. Maybe eventually that will actually help you out, but right now it only helps me… okay not really, but maybe someday