Lightweight knife comparison and review

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Lightweight knife comparison and review

Postby Gadgetgeek » Sat 05 Dec, 2015 1:54 pm

So this is going to be a bit of a head to head shoot out of a bunch of lightweight knives that I've used, I'll do my best to describe my uses, and give a general idea of pros and cons for each. For the Victorinoxes, I won't do a full tool review, more just the highlights so you can get an idea of how they might work for you, as there are many variants, I'll only cover the ones I own, but mention the close versions. Weights are as they are pictured, so some have cords or tags, fixed blades will be with sheath. I'll do my best to give a general retail price.
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Multi-blades:
Vic Compact 63.75g 45-65$
One of the simplest of the 94mm Swiss Army Knives (SAK) pretty much just blade, combo opener and scissors. But the other tools have their uses. With the Plus scales you also get a pen, straight pin and the usual toothpick and tweezers. The compact tends to retail higher than other larger SAKs as it contains more specialized parts that are not found on other units, the nail-file hook is exclusive, and the combo opener is not as common.

Vic Explorer 102.04g 55$
There are a few versions of the explorer, and if it can be found used, the version with the gray plastic magnifier is superior, as the magnifier lens is glass, rather than plastic with the newer one. The newer one is functional, but does not provide a clear enough focus for fire-starting by most reports. A good layout of tools for a four layer SAK, including a philips driver which may be helpful for gear repair.

Vic Huntsman 97g 40$
One of the most comprehensive and cheapest SAKs available. Scissors and a saw solve a lot of problems. I would consider the huntsman to be a true survival knife. With a little thinking, there are few problems you could not solve effectively. Sure you won't be cutting down a gum tree, but it covers a lot of bases. Like the explorer, some find the 4 layer SAKs to be too thick for tight pockets. Best for pack carry.

Vic Climber 82.2g 35$
Huntsman minus the saw, for those who don't think they will be hitting any woodwork on the trail a good choice. Cheaper option than the compact, for a small weight penalty. The super tinker is a variation, replacing the corkscrew with a philips.

Vic Rucksack 108g 55$
Much larger than the others, the Rucksack comes from the 111mm range. Larger saw, and larger locking blade make this a good choice for those knowing they will be doing tougher cutting. The lock in this case is more of a safety than a true lock, however it is very effective. Slightly lighter than the trekker, which has a more robust liner lock, and a heavier duty bottle opener/pry tool.

Vic Farmer 85.64g 45$
From the Alox (aluminum scale) range, the farmer has a thicker blade than its slightly smaller cousins, and an inline awl. For those who don't feel the need for the toothpick and tweezers, this one is a good robust option at a civilized weight. the awl also makes a great ferro rod scraper.

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Leatherman Skeletool CX 144g 110$
Simple tool providing pliers and a screwdriver bit holder, as well as a very decent knife blade. The jaws are not as robust as a larger tool, but more than enough to help push a needle through tough material or pull a tent peg. pocket clip and carabiner carry options. Main plus is ability to carry specific bits for specific gear. My skeletool has been modified by removing some of the blade tip to make it more suitable as a rope rescue knife. Cheaper versions feature a semi-serrated blade.

Style CS 41.5g 40$
Great little scissors, tiny blade that can be turned into a scalpel. carabiner to add it to a keyring or easily keep it stuck to a pack. Tweezers are an added bonus
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Folders:
Spyderco SPY-DK 53.2g 80$
Light, great slicer. This spyderco is part of the slipit line which means it has no lock. The blade stops firmly half way, and at the open position. Due to being non-locking it is realistically a penknife, which may help for carry in certain places. A non-locking folder needs a little thought, but I don't think any more than any other. Ideal for food prep, and the tip is great for those who think needles are too small to dig splinters. Not as rust resistant as the victorinox knives, but still very good. only concerns would be around salt water, and simple daily cleaning would be enough to prevent any more than surface discoloration.
Care should be taken when purchasing as many spyderco knives are currently being counterfeited, and the quality of them is very poor.

Spyderco Roadie 28.8g 80$
An ugly little knife designed to meet a proposed TSA relaxation on pocket knives on planes. That didn't happen but the roadie came to market anyway. Its light, tough, and due to its length, lack of a sharp point, and non-locking spring, its a fantastic choice for anywhere with tight restrictions. Its pretty well legal the world over unless any carry of any sharp object is forbidden. The large divot makes it easy to open even for people who traditionally struggle with nail nicks, and choil area of blade provides good control. No pocket clip, but does have a hole for a lanyard. It would even work to wear on a neck cord.

Opinel #6SS 28g 15$
The #6 opinel is the smallest that has a lock, the smaller knives rely on fiction. thin, cheap, very slicey, and once sharpened, hold a very great edge. Due to the wood handles often they need a little "tuning up" by carefully drying the handle in the sun or by some other method, then either soaking the handle in linseed oil or melted beeswax. This prevents the blade from sticking when the humidity is high. The low cost means a little more work, but also makes it great to customize. The lightest and cheapest knife on the list.

Opinel #7C arbone 33.2g 20$
Very similar to the number six, aprox 1cm longer. a good general size. carbon steel, so it sharpens easier, but needs more care.
Opinel knives also come in a kids version with a rounded tip. And all sizes come in either carbon (carbone) or stainless (Inox) And some versions have plastic handles. Of course price reflects features.

Svord Mini Peasant 43.9g 30$
Simple, large blade, and very inexpensive. This can lead to a rough and rustic look. High carbon steel which does need some care, but a knife that can take some punishment. Non-locking friction design means it should be secured in a slip sheath or some other way to prevent injury in pockets.
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Fixed Blades:
Bark river Mini Bushcrafter 96g 250$
The high end for this review. Very high quality fit and finish, ergonomics, and steel. This is the over-kill end of the spectrum for sure. Small handle would make it tough for those with anything more than small hands, but it really feels like it can handle anything a bigger knife can take. The simple slip sheath does take some care, other sheaths are available though.

KaBar/Becker BK13 47.3g 55$
Light enough to carry everywhere, tough enough to handle anything. This little thing really punches above its weight, and price. Skeleton handles are not the best for long use, so wrapping with some cord helps a bit, but if its weight you are after, this one is high on the list.

ESEE Izula 106.4g 100$ handle slabs sold separately 25$
In this case a large part of the weight comes from the handle slabs (micarta is heavy!) but its another tough little beast of a knife, In fact ESEE has a no questions asked warranty, so there is piece of mind if you do break it. A lighter option is to do a cord wrap on the handle, paracord, leather, or whatever you want really. Be warned that there are a lot of chinese fakes on the market, so buyer beware. They are fairly easy to spot by the wording of the ad, but be careful with used ones if you don't know where it came from.

Mora 2K 138.4g 40$
The official survival knife of the Swedish armed forces. This one in particular is a really tough big knife at a surprising weight. Other moras are lighter, but just as tough and cheap. pick either stainless or carbon as your preference. great option for those who don't really sharpen as they are razors out of the box, and can be sharpened very easily with just a bit of sand paper and a flat surface. The 2k is a bit more technical I guess you could say, but provides a tough woodwork section with a thinner food prep tip.


Boker gnome 68.21g 60$
Interesting little knife, not bad for a little carrot chopping but generally not much more than that. generally features g10 or micarta scales.

CRKT Keydashi 32.59g 35$
A weird one. Sheath is a steel plate that secures to the blade by a spring action. Blade cutout means its a bit of a pain to clean if cutting soft foods, such as salami or cheese. I'll give this one a run for its money and report back. As its been discontinued it might start to show up cheap (or mine might go cheap) we shall see. I'm thinking the unusual blade shape might make it good as a food prep knife for kids, as its pretty small, there is no sharp point, and your fingers don't get pinched under the handle. Downside is that its small side will make it tough for cutting large veggies.

Buck Smidgen 30.6g 25$
Mostly cutting edge, so not much for a handle. Sheath has a button that locks into the handle, which works mostly, but under very hot conditions the plastic can become soft enough to let the blade fall if shaken hard. Another one that is knocked off alot, so be careful and look for legit sellers.

From this list my top picks are Multi: Vic Huntsman due to utility and value, Folder: Opinel #6Inox due to weight and price, Fixed: Kabar Becker BK13 due to toughness, price, overall utility.
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Re: Lightweight knife comparison and review

Postby GPSGuided » Sat 05 Dec, 2015 3:07 pm

Lovely collection and thanks for the review. But, I'll have to call you Knifegeek from now on!
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Re: Lightweight knife comparison and review

Postby Gadgetgeek » Sat 05 Dec, 2015 3:46 pm

Thanks, I hope it helps. Its just a category of gear that I've been able to collect over the last few years as there is a lot of variety and low cost. But in that, I've had some duds, so I figure others might get some benefit, essentially for those who just need something to work. I'm always trying to find the best tool for a job, its just that I can get knives cheap enough to experiment with. Tents and sleeping bags are a bit higher budget bar.
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Re: Lightweight knife comparison and review

Postby corvus » Sat 05 Dec, 2015 5:58 pm

Gadgetgeek wrote:Thanks, I hope it helps. Its just a category of gear that I've been able to collect over the last few years as there is a lot of variety and low cost. But in that, I've had some duds, so I figure others might get some benefit, essentially for those who just need something to work. I'm always trying to find the best tool for a job, its just that I can get knives cheap enough to experiment with. Tents and sleeping bags are a bit higher budget bar.

G'day Gg,
Great collection and I thought I had it bad with my Stoves :lol: are you only into Victorinox in the SAK's ? as we own a couple of Wenger Soldier Pattern SAK's 72gm, tried and tested for over the past 20 + years that really "cut it :lol: " for us that I think you would be impressed with .
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Re: Lightweight knife comparison and review

Postby Strider » Sat 05 Dec, 2015 6:23 pm

I love my Victorinox Pioneer (Soldier). Though I could never bring myself to buy a Wenger.

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Re: Lightweight knife comparison and review

Postby corvus » Sat 05 Dec, 2015 8:10 pm

Why ??
Both owned by the same company :)
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Re: Lightweight knife comparison and review

Postby Strider » Sat 05 Dec, 2015 8:17 pm

I know! Have always been a Vic fan, is all :)

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Re: Lightweight knife comparison and review

Postby corvus » Sat 05 Dec, 2015 9:14 pm

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HoFZuC2dSsE this is why the Wenger is better :lol:
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Re: Lightweight knife comparison and review

Postby Gadgetgeek » Sun 06 Dec, 2015 8:14 am

I had a wenger in the past that was a great little knife. got stolen out of my locker at work. I just didn't grab any when I got my first big bunch (wish I still had access to my source, oh well.) I have a few others, like the older Vic Alox soldiers, but I don't carry them in the bush anymore. No keyring, and the saw on the farmer is worth the weight. But I agree they are a very tough knife. I have one thats marked 79, which must have been sharpened on a bench grinder, but its still as tight and snappy as the one I have from 01.

there is nothing at all wrong with the wengers, or the new wenger styled victorinoxes. I just have limited experience with them. I do like the Vic style can opener better, but the Wenger style mini-pliers are far superior, as they are a the two stage slip-joint type.

I think that as long as someone knows they are getting a legit SAK, and it has the tool set they think they might need, its a good choice. Going smaller is better, as most people won't have the grip to use something like a Champ for long, and its silly to have too many tools. I like that I can carry two that compliment each other, and the redundancy of the blades is not a big deal as it means I don't have to worry about sharpening in the field. I can also keep one for food, and one for everything else, or one in the pocket, and one stowed safely in the first aid kit.
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Re: Lightweight knife comparison and review

Postby Strider » Sun 06 Dec, 2015 9:28 am

If pure bang for buck matters, check out the Chinese manufacturers that OEM for the big western brands. Sanrenmu, Ganzo and Enlan in particular make fantastic knives. I recently purchased an Ontario Rat 2 for around $20 and have a new Sanrenmu 7010 on the way after my last one was stolen - the latter is the favourite knife ever, even ahead of the Vic Pioneer.

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Re: Lightweight knife comparison and review

Postby GPSGuided » Sun 06 Dec, 2015 10:23 am

Talking about 'lightweight'. Have you had any experiences with those titanium knives? Are they worth it in terms of price, usability and durability? I quite like my Leatherman Crator folder for everyday use while the Spiderco Paramilitary2 is too beefy for EDC.
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Re: Lightweight knife comparison and review

Postby Gadgetgeek » Sun 06 Dec, 2015 2:51 pm

Strider, Some good choices in there, I prefer to stick with the more established brands for warranty support and the like, but that's just me. I also tried to stick to the lightweight stuff as its more likely to be what most people would be wanting to carry. The Rat is a knife with a lot of history, and is very good value for dollar.

GPSguided, While I've never used a titanium knife, I feel like they are still a bit of a novelty. the properties of titanium make a poor blade, and for the cost, it seems that there are a lot of better options. Not saying that they are not worth it, but I think that to get a worthwhile blade, you are going to be shelling out big bucks. So far not too many companies have entered that market, so I'll wait until they feel its worth while. As far as size, in Canada I used to carry a full sized BM griptillian all the time. Its in storage there as I was not convinced I could bring it in or carry it, so I mostly stick with SAKs now as they have their own lawful excuse built in, as do the two spydie penknives. No hassles. But I miss being able to carry whatever I needed. I'm really hoping the aussie special PM2 happens, I'd love to get one, and hopefully they will come in at a somewhat sane price tag.
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Re: Lightweight knife comparison and review

Postby Strider » Sun 06 Dec, 2015 6:46 pm

Why would warranty support matter when you can get a top quality knife for $12 delivered? FYI these manufacturers all work as OEMs for the western brands, e.g. Spyderco, Benchmade, etc. Quality is impeccable.

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Re: Lightweight knife comparison and review

Postby Gadgetgeek » Sun 06 Dec, 2015 8:01 pm

Strider, its just me. I get that a lot of these guys have a good rep as OEMs and I'm not saying that they are not good knives. I'm happy to buy a made in China knife if its a knife I want, and from a source I trust. Its a value proposition. If I'm going to spend money on something, its going to be something I'm going use in the field. 12 bucks for a knife I know is one thing. 12 bucks for something random that I will have to see how it works, and I may or may not be able to trust reviews and reputation (Chinese companies rip each other off as much as they do everyone else) That's different. I'm expecting a certain quality, and I have to know its fit for purpose, its not just my butt on the line, I have to think about who I'm looking after as well. I also wanted to mention in my review which ones I knew were being directly knocked off as those tend to be very low quality.

I don't feel comfortable ordering folding knives from overseas, (I'm only a perm res, and even if its a mistake, I'd hate to think an illegal import might end up on some record somewhere) So for me there is a lot of factors when it comes to buying a knife. If the general consensus gets to be that the Chinese company branded knives are hitting the consistent quality that puts them on par with the big names, and I can buy them here, then I'll certainly be looking at them. Its complex and there are a lot of reasons why I stay away from them, but that's no reason for others to as well. I gotta be real honest here, there has to be a lot of extra reason for me to not buy a knife, I have to be very, very picky otherwise I'd buy them all. Right now I keep a running wishlist that that I put knives on and then ruthlessly remove until the knife has sat on the list for a year. I've got far too many already, and I still need more. Even then it doesn't always work.

The overall purpose of the review was to highlight some lightweight, easily legal, quality options for those who might not otherwise know where to look. There is a quality difference from the brands you mentioned, and whats on a pop-up market table. But from the looking, it would not be easy for the uninformed to see. For every good 12$ knife on the market there are a thousand that are not worth the scrap value. granted, that can be said at the 100$ price as well. Also, please don't try to convince me to buy more knives...... I've already said christmas shopping is done, and I'll be in the doghouse if more packages show up for me :D
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Re: Lightweight knife comparison and review

Postby robbieb » Thu 05 May, 2016 12:57 pm

Hi, thanks for the review. I've got a few of these and some others so will add some of my thoughts.

Just like to point out first that the Victorinox models shown above, the Compact, Explorer, Huntsman and Climber are all from the 91mm range, the Rucksack is 111mm, and the Farmer is 93mm, not that it really means that much, but if people are looking for them it might make it easier if they have the correct info.

The Huntsman was my first ever Victorinox, before that I had a similar Japanese copy that I lost in some rough back country chasing cows on the farm on the 4 wheeler.
I have carried the Huntsman on most of my bushwalks, and like it a lot.

I got an Explorer when in Switzerland last year but haven't used it much yet.

I carry a Cadet on my keys every day, which is from the 84mm line in Alox and is extremely slim and compact. Also to add scissors I have a Rogue, a 58mm tool, which is a Classic plus flat driver, instead of Phillips driver like the Rambler. Really good for finger nail maintenance and tag cutting. My wife got so used to asking me if I had my scissors that I bought her an Edelweiss Classic in Switzerland and she is now self reliant :)

The 58mm range is a perfect size for a medical kit or pocket survival kit and comes in many different variants. I heard a lady on the radio the other night saying she carries one in her bra...

Multitools I have are LM Squirt PS4, Gerber Dime, LM Juice XE6 and LM Surge. Out of these I'd probably only take the Juice, or the Squirt.

Of the folders you have, I also have an Opinel No. 6 in Carbone, and a Svord Mini Peasant. I agree on the slicing capability of the Opinel, so thin and sharp! The Svord is a decent blade but does require a little work out of the box to get it ready for use. So light it could be used as a neck knife and you wouldn't know it was there. Opinel and Svord Pimping is a very popular activity it seems due to how cheap they are.

I have a Buck 110 folding hunter but this is rather heavy and not very functional for bushwalking.

I have a Mora Light My Fire Knife, which whilst probably not as tough as the 2000, does have the added benefit of the fire steel in the handle. I bought mine for about $35 which I thought was a decent price, then saw them at Anaconda for $20. If they are still there I would recommend anyone to pick one up. Considering a Scout 2.0 fire steel runs at about $20 alone, the LMF knife is a great deal. Plus it is very light weight.

My thoughts are that for bushwalking in Tasmania where you're not having a fire in a national park, you don't need a big heavy knife that is capable of splitting wood. I have not yet really gotten into the bushcraft type of camping but I'm rather interested in it, throw back to the old scouting days and such
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Re: Lightweight knife comparison and review

Postby Gadgetgeek » Thu 05 May, 2016 6:42 pm

Thanks for adding the lengths in for the SAKs, I didn't think of it.

I bought a buddy the LMF mora and he quite likes it. As a backup firestarter its worth while, and will work for lighting alchy stoves if your matches or lighter die, so might be a thought. Not as tough as the 2000, but more than what most need, it would be tough to kill one.

Cutting wood is a rare thing for me, but since I think of what-ifs more than anything else, I like having extra capabilities. So far the Roadie has done 90% of the cutting I've needed for the last year, and the skeletool the last bit. One of those times was a rescue.
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Re: Lightweight knife comparison and review

Postby Gadgetgeek » Sun 20 Jan, 2019 5:13 pm

https://photos.app.goo.gl/S8k1kvwei5QmrGHa7A few new ones to add to my list with some more toys due to the change in December of 2015(wow that seems a long time ago now)
In order we have:
Mora Eldris at 85g
Decent little knife, good round handle, so I suspect it will be a good teaching knife for little ones. Very sturdy, been using it as a bait knife, though it doesn't love the salt much. I'd be willing to beat on it if needed, it sits in a decent weight category, and while its expensive for a Mora, the sheath is quite good. It certainly is an odd little knife, and not really the best at food prep, but it will get most jobs done, just might take longer.

Benchmade Bugout 53.5g
Very light, very high quality. This certainly won't be felling an ironbark or flooded gum anytime soon, but I really enjoy it. This one is my new go-to walking folder just because of its weight and overall quality. Some will not feel inspired by how the handles flex a bit, but I'm not worried, the plastic they use is very tough stuff. I find it a good size, its very usable. I'm not a fan of thumbstuds, but these ones fit my hands very well. Its very easy for me to manipulate this knife one-handed, open and close. Its not the newest super steel, and some will bristle at the price, but, its not something that I really look at first.

Benchmade Griptillian 105.3g
Benchmade classic. Too heavy for walking at that weight, but still a fantastic knife. Obviously these are not cheap, the one I have is over ten years old I think, so all in all not a bad investment.

Spyderco Native Salt 68.1g
This is an interesting one. The steel is LC200N, which is almost completely impervious to rust. As far as edge holding and sharpening, its somewhere between VG-10, S30V, 154CM, that sort of thing. This will be a fishing knife for sure, I am planning on getting another knife in this steel, and will review both as I get more experience with them. So far it seems that its almost as rust proof as H1, with that making it all but impervious under even realistic abnormal use.

Spyderco Manbug H1 28.4g as pictured
Great little knife. H1 is pretty much rust proof. Leave it in wet paddling or dive gear and never worry about it, and not even kidding, it will not rust. H1 is a work-hardening steel, so any of the Spyderco H1 knives are much better serrated than plain edged. Be wary as the H1 Dragonfly was produced in huge numbers by a chinese copycat, and its a rubbish knife. So make sure you are getting the real deal. Left this in some sea kayaking gear for a weekend and not a hint of discoloration. If someone was thinking of an ultralight salami slicer that wasn't a Vic classic, I would honestly recommend the manbug in H1 if you are a person who ignores kit.

State of the art for other things to watch for, be on the watch for more knives in nitrogen steels that are very rust resistant. Also the Titanium knives are really coming out of the custom market, and the new alloys can hold an edge without carbidization, or other treatments. Still going to cost a mint, but I would suspect a company will be producing a titanium hikers blade in the wider marketplace within the next couple years.

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Re: Lightweight knife comparison and review

Postby Moondog55 » Tue 22 Jan, 2019 12:43 pm

Great set of blades
I have a few myself but nothing like that. Nice collection.
I have some of those myself but nothing beats the SAK German/Austrian Soldier model for value in a folder on anything from Mora/Frost for value. I always have a knife in my pocket, usually the olive drab Soldier
I would like the new Soldier model tho, the saw is a bit better I think.
Ve are too soon old und too late schmart
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Re: Lightweight knife comparison and review

Postby Gadgetgeek » Tue 22 Jan, 2019 5:53 pm

Moondog55 wrote:Great set of blades
I have a few myself but nothing like that. Nice collection.
I have some of those myself but nothing beats the SAK German/Austrian Soldier model for value in a folder on anything from Mora/Frost for value. I always have a knife in my pocket, usually the olive drab Soldier
I would like the new Soldier model tho, the saw is a bit better I think.

Its a struggle, a few have been set free, and a couple more need to go to make room. Given the storage space, its easy to have more than I need, and realize. Plus, variety is the spice of life.
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Athrotaxis selaginoides
 
Posts: 1049
Joined: Sun 23 Sep, 2012 4:10 pm
Region: Queensland
Gender: Male


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