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Small, effective, but heavy
on January 8, 2013
Lansky's PS-MED01 looks very much like Smith's Pocket Pal, which I have used and recommended as a good kit item for blade repair and quick sharpening of most blades. But the Smith has a plastic body while the Lansky's is metal, so the Lansky is heavier.
The Lansky is also longer, which means that its tapered diamond rod is longer as well - a good thing. As with the Smith, the tapered diamond rod can be pulled from its stay and rotated 180 degrees to a locked open position for use as a diamond file (sharpening hard to reach items, serrations, etc.). The Lansky rod's longer length gives advantage in use.
The Lansky's length afforded mounting an almost 2 inch length of exposed ceramic bar on angle to the sharpener body. This ceramic bar has a rounded-point cross section to engage and sharpen most serrated edge scallops; of course it can be used as a ceramic rod to fine-sharpen any edge as well. I've done both with good result.
The Lansky, like the Smith, also includes "Vee" sharpening notches of carbide (for edge repair or sharpening a rough-use edged knife) and of ceramic (for easy fine sharpening to a good edge). These Vee's are set at 40 degrees compound, which means the sharpening surfaces are at 20 degrees from the center line of the Vee; this is standard for a sharp, yet strong edge. Not all knives have secondary grinds of 20 degrees, however. You may be blunting a knife with a super fine bevel of 15 degrees, or only grinding away at the bevel shoulder of a "hard use" knife with bevel of 25 degrees.
Caution using these Vee's - the body is metal versus the Smith's plastic, so take care not to press downward strongly when using a Vee; these are meant to be drawn through, not sawn through.
All in all, The Lansky Blade Medic is a more useful field sharpener than the Smith Pocket Pal, and would serve well; but it would likely ride in pack or kit, not in pocket due to weight and size (as would the Smith, too, for that matter). The difference between them is weight versus increased usefulness; this is a user preference. I've given the Lansky 4 stars only due to its weight (I'd give the Smith 4, too, due to its lack of a sharpening bar surface).