Nick Shabazz

Nick Shabazz

Gear Reviewer, YouTuber, and Generalized Jackass-of-all-trades

Hey Everybody, Nick Here!

And today, I’ve put up a website to serve as a hub for all of Nick Shabazzdom.

If you haven’t yet, you should absolutely check out my Channel on YouTube, and make sure to check out my Instagram page where I post regularly, and you’ll get sneak previews of what’s being tested, carried, and reviewed now, along with the occasional live stream. Also, check out my Patreon page, where I give early previews of reviews and sell reviewed gear, and where you can support my reviewing, if you value the time I spend on the channel.

Finally, make sure to check out Knife Gripes with Nick Shabazz, a series with KnifeNews where I complained about issues which I’d like to see fixed in the folding knife world, as a resource that new knifemakers can use to avoid common pitfalls that tend to annoy gear geeks. And of course, keep an eye out for my opinion pieces on KnifeNews, which I used to write from time to time.

Thanks so much for stopping by, and for all of the support I get from the community at large!

One other note: I do not have an assistant, and do not have somebody who “arranges product reviews”. Always contact me first, using Instagram or either of the addresses below, if you’d like to confirm that I’ve reached out.

Frequently Asked Questions

About the Nick - How to Send Nick Gear - Gear-related questions

Do you have a list someplace of everything you’ve reviewed?

Why yes, yes I do. I’ve got a Google Sheet right here with a list of every public review, as well as links, my gem/junk rating and some basic stats. Check it out!

How can I contact you, Nick?

If you need to contact the Nick by email, for some weird reason, nick at nickshabazz.com will get you there. I also check my Instagram DMs, but email will get a faster response, and I’ll probably just ask you to move over to email!

If you’re looking to send me gear for review, thanks! Check out the Sending Gear Section of the FAQ.

If you’re looking to ask me for a watch, pen, or knife recommendation, check out this answer right there.

You haven’t answered my email/DM, Nick!

Yep, that’s probably true. Sorry about that! The thing is, though, I get more emails and DMs each day than I can possibly answer, particularly recommendation requests and “Hey are you gonna review the ____!” and “Do you want to borrow my ____?”, and there are days where I barely even get to open my email for the channel, and when I log into instagram to find 36 new messages by the time I’ve had breakfast. So, even messages from generous people offering gear or saying kind things may languish in my inbox for a while before I get a chance to respond. It’s nothing personal, and I do appreciate your message, I’m just drowning over here.

Do you sell t-shirts, mugs, or other merchandise?

Actually, yes, I do! Thanks to my buddy Ari who’s serving as my Merchmaster, I’ve been able to set up a store on Teechip full of Nick Shabazz branded merchandise. Anything purchased there will support the channel directly, so I very much appreciate it, but like Patreon, it’s completely optional.

Are you on any forums or other social media?

In addition to YouTube and Instagram, I’m on reddit (/u/nickshabazz), posting in /r/knifeclub and /r/watches. I’m “NickShabazz” on BladeForums, WatchUSeek, and the Spyderco Forums. I’m no longer on Facebook, because it’s vaguely evil and I wasn’t using it anyways, and I’m only barely on Twitter, but I don’t post there very often, and don’t respond to messages, so it’s about the worst way to get in touch with me.

What do you do for a living, Nick?

Not YouTube, that’s for sure! This is just a project, driven mostly a love of gear. I’m a scientist, actually, as my day job. I talked about this on video once.

What do you look like? Why don’t you show your face on the channel?

Oh, what the heck. Here’s a recent picture of me.

To answer the question, I don’t show my face on the channel mostly because I want to keep my work and play separate, because you never know when your next employer may be a serious zombie knife enthusiast. But at this point, it’s become an inside joke on the channel, and let’s face it, you have seen my face. But I very much appreciate that my viewers respect my privacy, and allow me the ability to keep work and play separate.

How can I support your gear reviewing habit, Nick?

Thanks for asking! The best way to support what I’m doing is to like, share, and recommend my content on YouTube. This gets the word out, and provides some (very some) ad revenue.

If you’d like to support me in a more financial way, go to my Patreon page and set up a donation. Finally, if you’d like, you can buy some Nick Shabazz Merchandise, whose proceeds will go straight to the channel.

But, honestly, one of the best ways to support me is to be kind to a new reviewer on YouTube or elsewhere. Find a small channel you love, and donate some cash, some gear, or some time to help them out. There, you’re doing good for the whole community, rather than for one random jackass.

Do you accept Bitcoin donations?

Absolutely. My bitcoin address is 3GJZRfYAMARFxpCX6VvH9vpnG6GpnD4iCJ, and I’ll happily accept blockchain-based support. I’m also happy to accept other forms of Cryptocurrency, just email me. #NotTheBrilliantSatoshiNakamoto

Wait, you had that item on your Instagram months ago, but there’s no video up? What gives?

Because work on the channel has to happen on weekends or after work, and I’ve often got loaned gear I need to get home, I write and film content whenever I can. This means that often, I film more content in a week than aired last week, and this leads to a backlog of un-aired reviews. This means that even when work takes over my life, I’ll still have new content on schedule. But it also means that it might take a while for a review, particularly if it’s not a new release or highly-requested piece, to actually come to the “front of the line”. If you’re particularly interested in seeing review X ASAP, let me know and I might bump it ahead a bit!

Wait, you used to have a video up on X, but now it’s gone! What happened?!

I’ve been reviewing for almost three years now, and I’ve learned a lot. Both about gear, and about reviewing. As a result, there have been some videos that I’ve decided to pull after some time. Sometimes, I’ve come to think the review is unfair after I learned something new. Sometimes, my views have changed enough, or become more nuanced, such that the original video doesn’t reflect my current opinions. Sometimes, a video becomes obseleted by a more recent follow-up review, or is just plain out-of-date. And sometimes, honestly, I just decide that the video just wasn’t up to my standards, and so looking with fresh eyes, it needs to get pulled. So, don’t worry, it’s just a jackass who constantly over-analyzes his own work.

What’s with the green corn-cob looking gas station knife, the Z-Hunter?

What is goodness without evil to define it? The Z-Hunter is a knife I picked up at a local gas station for a video about ‘inexpensive’ vs ‘cheap’, and it is… an experience. But that little Z-Hunter has since contaminated its way into my heart, and what started as a quick joke turned into long joke, and eventually, into an unofficial symbol for my channel.

How to send gear to Nick Shabazz for review

If you’re looking to send me gear, I really appreciate it. My time is very limited, so I’ve had to get very choosy, but here are the details!

I’m a random person and I want to loan or donate some gear to the channel!

That’s awesome of you, thanks! The wonderful problem is that now, in December 2018, I’m officially drowning in gear. Between review samples, new purchases I’ve made for the channel, and the simple fact I’m now doing my best to hunt down the best, I’m finding myself with way more reviews to do than I have time for, so I’m having to be very selective about new gear.

As a result, paricularly given that I can’t guarantee timelines anymore, and given that I can’t guarantee factory-fresh conditions, I’m generally not taking new loans outside of exceptional situations.

Donations are easier, as I don’t have to worry about getting it back to you in a reasonable time, so if you’re looking to donate something to the channel, feel free to shoot me an email letting me know what you’re thinking of sending along. Please don’t be offended, though, if I turn your donation offer down. Although I’m always grateful, if I don’t have the time to do the item justice on video, or I don’t feel it’s a good fit for the ‘gem hunting’ direction, it’d just be ugly to take your item and provide no entertainment in return.

And of course, this is not personal, at all, and I truly do appreciate the fact that you’d offer. That said, you should absolutely consider looking around at some of the other great reviewers on YouTube, and making the offer to them, as loans are the lifeblood of new reviewers, and you’ll be doing them a huge favor.

I make gear and I want to send you my products to review on YouTube!

That’s also awesome of you, thanks! But first, I want to make sure we’re on the same page: I owe it to my viewers to provide an honest and fair review, and every review I make looks at the Good, the Great, the Bad, and the Ugly of whatever’s on my table. There’s also a chance that I simply won’t have the time, or that I won’t be interested in your particular item(s), but know that regardless, I appreciate the offer.

Also, note that if you use the phrase “influencer” or offer me money in exchange for a positive public review or ‘social media campaign’, I’m going to groan audibly as I delete your email. Seriously, guys. Just no.

For transparency, I’ve posted my full review disclaimer online for you to read, so we’re on the same page before you even open an email.

If you’re still interested in sending something along after reading that, shoot me an email (nick at this website dot com) letting me know you agree to the review disclaimer terms, but more importantly, describing what you’ve got and why I’m going to love it. Then we’ll take it from there.

One other note: I do not have an assistant, and do not have somebody who “arranges product reviews”. Always contact me first, using Instagram or my official nick at this website.com address, to confirm that I really reached out.

I make gear and I’d like you to do a ‘stealth review’ or consult for me!

Sure! Stealth-reviews are fun. The basic idea is that you’ll send a piece of gear or prototype, I’ll use it, carry it, handle it, and then talk directly to you, and give my impressions, either in a video, a text file, or a phone call/skype call. This will include the Good, the Great, the Bad and the Ugly, and what I’d highlight to somebody thinking of buying your gear. Basically, you’ll find out what I’d have to say, without an actual review going live, and without any mention or discussion on YouTube or Instagram. I’m also happy to focus and opine on specific areas of concern.

Of course, You’ve seen a bunch of these prototypes and early-production models on my Instagram and YouTube… oh, wait, no you haven’t. Because I treat any of these reviews as confidential. Seriously, I take your trust seriously, keep prototypes safe when not under consideration, and have never leaked details about unannounced pieces. If you have concerns, I’m willing to sign a limited NDA, but this is something that would require more discussion, and probably a bit of additional compensation for the legal complexity involved.

Because these take considerable time that I could be spending on reviews for my channel, I now have to charge an hourly rate for stealth reviews and consulting, but new makers will be given a break. Email me and we’ll figure something out!

What’s the very best watch/pocketknife/pen??

This is really tough one, because everybody’s got different needs. The best watch for a Scuba diver is very different than the best watch for a CEO. The best pocketknife for the desert is quite different than the best knife for Detroit. Your needs will determine what’s ‘best’, and there’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ choice.

If you’d like to know what the very best gear for my particular life is, find the latest videos in my Collection Overviews Playlist. I can’t afford to keep a large collection, so the gear that sticks around is the best-of-the-best for me.

Why don’t you review…

Counterfeit or Clone Watches and Knives: Look, counterfeiting and ‘cloning’ is just plain ugly. Not only are fake or ‘clone’ goods bad for the knife and watch industry, promoting companies that rip people’s work off and fool less saavy buyers, but they’re also not much good to review, either. So you’re unlikely to ever see a ‘clone’ or counterfeit watch or knife on my channel, and several brands have been banned for producing them alongside their more unique pieces. Not a big fan there!

Audiophile Headphones: I’m a Sound Guy, and I love headphones (Sennheiser HD650 at home with a Schiit Jotunheim Amp, HD598 at work with a Headroom Micro Amp/Dac). But reviewing them on video is really kind of weird. Because so much of what brings people joy is the subjective tone quality that’s really hard to convey. So, as much as I enjoy sound, I review from a functional basis, and that’s just plain hard with high-end audio.

Fixed Blade Knives: I talk about this here, but basically, small fixed blades don’t make much sense for my life and knife usage. They’re great, and absolutely have a lot to offer, but they’re just not my speed.

Balisongs/Butterfly Knives: I’m just not that coordinated! So I’d be more a danger to myself than to boxes and envelopes!

More Automatic Knives: In California, automatic knives over 2" are illegal to carry, and frankly, automatics don’t do much for me anyways.

Handmade Custom Knives: I talked recently about why I’m (mostly) done with custom knives, but long story short, they’re just not much fun to review, not very useful to watch as reviews, and they’re very expensive. So, I’m leaving that to passionate collectors, and focusing on production and CNC-made small batch knives. One or two might slip in from time to time, but they’re never going to be a focus.

Overseas Microbrand Knives: I do review some overseas microbrands (e.g. Ruike, Real Steel, Bestech), but generally speaking, I wait on new brands until they’ve a) been around for a while, b) got a solid distributorship and repair base through actual knife dealers (rather than relying on international drop-ship sites or Amazon), c) I’m seeing good signs of quality and consistency in a series of models, and d) they’re not selling any clones or ‘homage’ pieces. Yes, that’s a high bar to clear, and I’ll often make exceptions for new designers working with established factories, but I’ve been burned before, both on companies that disappear or change names just a few months after reviews, and on companies that make poor quality or inconsistent knives. I’m sure I’m missing gems by having this higher bar, but when each review is a few hours of my life, I’d rather focus on established brands with a reputation for quality, where gems are more likely to be found. Feel free to let me know if you’re having great experiences with a brand, though, so I can build up data.

Brand X, Y or Z: More likely than not, it’s just that I’ve never had any of their gear on my table. Only a few brands are “banned from my table”, and that’s usually because they’re regularly doing something I find deeply ugly, like regularly and needlessly using proprietary screws, or producing “homage” or clone pieces based on other people’s designs, acting hostile towards the community or towards myself personally, or just producing junk (which isn’t cheap enough to be entertaining).

Firearms, Brass Knuckles, Fidget Spinners, Kubatons, Lanyard Beads, Spin-tops, Survival Gear, etc.: This one’s easy - I just don’t have any passion for these products. So, reviewing them is no fun for me, and I can’t do a great job of it, so the reviews would be no fun for you. Sorry!

What tools do you use to disassemble and maintain knives and pens?

I’ve put my most commonly used tools into a personalized Amazon store, along with a selection of other gems. If you’d like to pick them up, and support me, this is a great way to do it.

Can you recommend me a knife/watch/pen that…

Let me stop you right there: The answer is “probably not”, and I’m really sorry about that.

You see, I get 10-15 recommendation requests per day by email, Instagram DM, YouTube comment, and otherwise, on top of all the other messages. I kind of hate that it’s gotten to this point where I can’t interact with everybody directly and help people out, but the simple fact is that I’ve got way more correspondence than I can answer on a regular basis while keeping this as a side-gig, rather than a full time job.

Even if each request only takes 4-5 minutes to ponder and respond, that adds up, and considering that everything I do for the channel needs to happen in my free time after work, it’s tough to lose time I could spend writing reviews or preparing new content, which everybody gets to enjoy. So, I just can’t respond to these straightforward recommendation requests. If you feel like your request is really exceptional or unusual (“I’m going into space next month in a Soyuz capsule, and I need a pocketknife which can…”) and might make an interesting video, feel free to send it along, but please don’t be offended if I can’t get to it.

The best way to find something I would recommend is to check out the Nick’s Gems Playlist on YouTube. It’s kept updated with all the latest stuff, and every piece of gear on that list is something I love, and would recommend to any viewer who asked. If you find it on that list, it’s among the best in the business, and absolutely is worth checking out.

One other option is to drop into an “Ask the Nick” livestream on Instagram or YouTube. I can’t get to every question there, either, but you’ll have a better shot at it, and that way, it’s something that other people with the same question can benefit from. And finally, because they’re supporting me and helping to make the channel possible, Patreon Patrons at higher levels get special perks, including the ability to talk to me one-on-one about gear on Skype or another service, and to get specialized recommendations based on their collections and needs.

So, again, I’m sorry, and I wish I had the time to answer everybody, but this is one class of question that I just can’t keep up with.

Will you review the new [knife/watch/pen] from [company]??

Maybe! My Patreon patrons have made it possible for me to preorder more new and interesting gear, and this is a wonderful thing. But the simple fact is that there’s way too much gear coming out for me to keep up, and not enough time to review it in. More importantly, I’m finding myself increasingly tired of the treadmill. Of chasing gear without a compelling ’Why?, and of examining mediocre gear which was released simply so that the maker would have something else to release.

So, as my time becomes less and less, I’m finding myself focusing more and more on excellent gear. I could spend 2 hours writing, prepping, disassembling, filming, and editing a review of something that’s flawed, just because it’s new or from a popular maker, or I could take that time on something that’s truly excellent and exciting instead.

But with that said, if you’re interested in something new, particularly if you’re hearing it’s truly amazing, feel free to shoot me a quick email (“Hey, I’d love to see a review of the new X Y or Z”), and if there’s a ton of demand, I might make it happen!