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Survive! Knives GSO-5.1 - comparison to SYKCO 511, SRKW RatManDu, Cattaraugus 225Q

Discussion in 'Knife Reviews & Testing' started by chiral.grolim, Aug 26, 2013.

  1. chiral.grolim

    chiral.grolim Universal Kydex Sheath Extension Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 2, 2008
    Survive! Knives GSO-5.1

    Guy Seiferd's Survive! Knives is growing - he now has a few dealers, production is increased though delays are still common - patience required!:cool:

    One of his latest offerings was the next generation GSO-5.1 (pre-ordered 2/25/2013, delivered 8/21/2013 ):

    [​IMG][​IMG]


    Length: 10.62" OAL = 5.73" blade (5.37" cutting edge from heel to tip) + 4.72" handle + 1/8" extended pommel
    Blade Height: 1.5" = 0.55" saber flat + 0.91" primary-bevel (down to 0.69" in the sweep) + 0.04" edge bevel
    Thickness: 3/16" spine down to 0.020" edge shoulder (0.040" in the sweep for increased durability) , ~5 DPS primary bevel and 14+DPS edge angle.
    Weight: 11.2 oz knife + 3.75 oz sheath.
    Materials: CPM-3V steel @ 60Rc, canvas micarta scales (other options/colors available)
    Standard Price: $239.00 + 15.00 s/h = $254.00 USD

    The saber-grind drop-point blade is CPM-3V steel hardened and tempered to 60RC by Peter's Heat Treat in PA for edge-retention (higher than D2), strength, and impact resistance (95J per Charpy C-notch, almost 2X that of A2, almost 3x that of D2).

    The tumbled/stonewash finish is beautiful, the edge is evenly ground to an aggressive 320 grit, ~15 dps edge only 0.020" thick behind a 0.040"-wide bevel, thinner than the recent GSO-4.1 batch. Some 4.1 users complained about the thick edge while others expected it for a "hard use" blade. By thinning the edge on a longer knife, Guy is pushing for increased cutting ability. One could still knock the shoulders off and bring the edge thinner, but this is intended as a "hard use" tool - geometries much lower increase the risk of edge failure due to impact and lateral stress.

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    CPM-3V evinces impressive corrosion resistence for a "non-stainless" tool steel, but bare steel will evince surface spotting if not cared for (as I experienced with my GSO-10). Guy coats all of his bare-steel knives with a thin layer of mineral oil before shipment. He also offers DLC and FDE coatings that are said to be very durable, do not significantly increase 'drag', and may prove beneficial for those in high-salt and humid environments.

    [​IMG]

    As on Guy's previous offerings, the perimeter of the blade retains the marks of laser-cutting. The edges are champhered for comfort, my preference, so they won't throw sparks from a ferro-rod but Guy offers as a service to cut a spine ferro-notch for those that prefer to not carry some other scraper. ~1" of the spine also features the same 1/8" groove/plateau thumb-jimping found on the GSO-4.1 and Necker, sharp enough at the ridges to catch skin for good retention without being uncomfortable.

    [​IMG][​IMG]
     
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  2. chiral.grolim

    chiral.grolim Universal Kydex Sheath Extension Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 2, 2008
    The scales of this specimen are rough-finish black canvas micarta, providing excellent retention. Guy is working on increasing the variety of handle options available. The handle is well-contoured laterally to fill the hand with a taper near the ricasso, palm-swell, and pommel flare.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2013
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  3. chiral.grolim

    chiral.grolim Universal Kydex Sheath Extension Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 2, 2008
    he handle is also contoured vertically, with more width than the GSO-4.1. The extra width and length make it much more comfortable in hand than the GSO-4.1, and better suited to extended hard use. I'll expound on this later. The spine is still quite flat with only a slight heel-drop similar to the GSO-4.1. The integral guard extends only ~3/8" upward for an easy transition into the large finger-choil allowing a very comfortable 'choked' grip...

    [​IMG][​IMG]
    [​IMG][​IMG]
    [​IMG][​IMG]
     
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  4. chiral.grolim

    chiral.grolim Universal Kydex Sheath Extension Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 2, 2008
    For those who despise large choils, Guy also offers the GSO-5 which sports the same length cutting-edge as the 5.1 but reduces the choil to the standard notch, making the knife ~3/4" shorter overall. Personally, I prefer the choil and extra length on a knife of this size. GSO-5 image from BladeHQ website:
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2014
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  5. chiral.grolim

    chiral.grolim Universal Kydex Sheath Extension Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 2, 2008
    This GSO-5.1 batch slightly modifies a previous design, incorporating Guy's hidden lanyard-hole beneath the jimped pommel-extension, and it expands that hole to accept a larger piece or doubled-over cord-lanyard (though I still had to remove the scales to install mine). The scales are removable for easy customization and maintenance, the tang beneathe is oiled as well. The 3 substantial press-fitted bolts+pillar accept a flat-head screw-driver or simply a metal washer. Note again Guy's dedication to aligned screw-heads ;) I don't know if Guy uses Lok-tite when securing the screws, but I had to crank to get these off (not a bad thing :thumbup: )

    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
     
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  6. chiral.grolim

    chiral.grolim Universal Kydex Sheath Extension Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 2, 2008
    The sheath that accompanies the GSO-5.1 is high-value KiahDex! Available in an increasing variety of colors from Survive! Knives or direct from sheath-maker Kiah (website http://www.kiahdex.com/ and subforum http://www.bladeforums.com/forums/forumdisplay.php/833-Kiahdex-Sheath-Systems). I don't know how Guy and Kiah began their business relationship, but his is some of the BEST (read "high quality, innovative") kydex work I have ever come across. The ambidextrous sheath features the now characteristic full-blade drainage-channel, integral thumb-ramp, webbing-slots, a well-formed 'mouth' to readily accept the guard, and has smooth, seamless edges - :thumbup::thumbup::thumbup: It also includes a MOLLE-compatible kydex G-clip which, for me, works best slipped onto a pocket.

    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    It is rumored that part of the recent orer delays were due to Kiah's own production difficulties. If this is the quality one can expect from him for a Survive! knife, the wait is worth it! Well done, Kiah.
     
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  7. chiral.grolim

    chiral.grolim Universal Kydex Sheath Extension Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 2, 2008
    Unexpectedly, the GSO-5.1 sheath aligns perfectly with the MOLLE-back and pouch available from ESEE! It also fits the small Spec Ops Combat Master sheath.

    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
     
    Pàdruig likes this.
  8. Ruudr

    Ruudr

    564
    Jul 1, 2010
    Very nice review! You mentioned all of the important points I think. I have the 4.1 great knife also. Thinking of buying the GSO-5. With the new coating.
     
  9. chiral.grolim

    chiral.grolim Universal Kydex Sheath Extension Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 2, 2008
    Before discussing cutting performance and ergonomics, there are a number of production knives on the market with similar design and intended function to compare this particular knife to. From my own collection of tools I present 3 USA-made models - Scrapyard Knife Company 511, Swamp Rat Knife Works RatManDU, and Cattaraugus 225Q.

    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2013
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  10. chiral.grolim

    chiral.grolim Universal Kydex Sheath Extension Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 2, 2008
    Only the last is out of production, Cattaraugus having closed its doors in 1963, but MANY are available second hand in varying conditions. This model was produced for issue in the US military in 1942 and saw use in World War II along side similar models from Case, Pal, Kutmaster, Ka-Bar, and Queen City. Some history can be found here: http://www.usmilitariaforum.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=31346

    The steel could be 1095 or O1 or 52100, it really isn't known but the satin finish has shown surprising resistence to corrosion for a tool-steel in my use. This specimen is in particularly good condition, bequethed to me from the estate of WWII pilot Rudolf Benton.

    The gouges in the leather handle are evidently factory intentional to enhance retention.
    [​IMG]

    Some measurements:

    Length: 10.6" OAL = 6.1" blade (also 6.1" cutting edge from heel to tip) + 0.1" guard + 3.9" handle + 0.5" extended pommel
    Blade Height: 1.3" = 0.75" saber flat + 0.53" primary bevel, 'micro' bevel at the apex
    Thickness: 0.177" spine down to 0.025" back 1/16" from the apex, 10-DPS primary bevel angle.
    Weight: 11 oz

    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
     
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  11. chiral.grolim

    chiral.grolim Universal Kydex Sheath Extension Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 2, 2008
    The blade is straight point with an unsharpened swedge to enhance penetration, a meager 'blood-groove' fuller that may function more for aesthetics than any real weight reduction, and a WIDE saber-flat which presents the knife as an early quintessential "sharpened prybar", so much so that it was rumored to have been specifically designed for openning crates :p It is a beast. :cool:

    The knife has a flat "zero"-grind (no secondary bevel) but I have stropped a micro-bevel to maintain the edge during use. The thin 10-dps apex penetrates easily - good for carving and shallow cuts - but thickens to the full 0.177" approximately 1/2" from the apex, reducing its efficiency on deep cuts but lending significant lateral strength to resist damage from prying and chopping.

    The 1/2" ricasso isn't large enough to comfortably accommodate a finger from my medium-sized hands, it isn't champhered, and the wide guard further dissuades users from a "choked" grip. The knife is very well balanced, right below the guard.

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    The short 4" handle is composed of stacked leather washers around a substantial hidden stick tang. The shape is quite round (1.3 x 1.05" in the swell) and contoured to fill the hand. The central gouges improve retention under adverse conditions (cold, wet) to keep the knife from sliding back&forth in hammer and ice-pick grips, but the high circularity (0.81) allows for excessive twisting, NOT a good feature in a "hard use" combat tool :thumbdn:. Also, the guard and pommel restrict the variety of hold-positions available on this short/stout handle.

    There is a radiused transition from the handle to both the single-guard and the pommel :thumbup:, and the pommel is composed of thick steel washers with a "waffle"-face for use as a hammer, where it performs better than most other knives I've seen, including the Kabar USMC and also the GSO-5.1.

    [​IMG]

    The Catt225Q was issued with a nice basic leather belt-sheath that carries the knife edge-forward on the right-hip (or edge backward on the left ;) ).
     
    Pàdruig likes this.
  12. chiral.grolim

    chiral.grolim Universal Kydex Sheath Extension Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 2, 2008
    Swamp Rat's Ratmandu (bussekin, RMD) has remained available from "the Swamp" longer than any other offering, presumably due to popular demand. Variations / custom models with different blade profiles, grinds, finishes, handle scales, etc. can be found (the Swamp has a "custom" division and appears at knife shows around the country). Mine is a standard "CG" (combat grade) model with black canvas micarta scales and tanker grey coating (to match my Rodent Solution and HRLM also from the Swamp):

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    Length: 10.7" OAL = 5.6" blade (4.9" cutting edge from heel to tip) + 5.1" handle (including extended pommel)
    Blade Height: 1.38" = 0.44" saber flat + 0.88" primary-bevel + 0.06" edge bevel
    Thickness: 0.188" spine down to 0.03" edge shoulder, 5-DPS primary bevel and 15-DPS edge angle.
    Weight: 9.5 oz
    Materials: SR101 steel, canvas micarta scales
    Standard Price: $138.95+14.95 = $153.90, USD sheath not included.
    http://www.swampratknifeworks.com/
     
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  13. chiral.grolim

    chiral.grolim Universal Kydex Sheath Extension Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 2, 2008
    The standard RMD features a saber-grind clip-point blade that excels at drilling and prying. The large choil is 0.88" in diameter, easily accommodating a gloved finger and extending the usable handle length another 1.1" to allow a "choke" grip right to the edge. However, the intergal guard between handle and choil is ~0.5", not as comfortable wedged between fingers in the forward grip as the GSO-5.1. The knife is well balanced, right at the index groove below the guard.

    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
     
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  14. chiral.grolim

    chiral.grolim Universal Kydex Sheath Extension Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 2, 2008
    What the RMD is best known for is the handle which I already described in relation to the Swamp's HRLM knife in my review here: http://www.bladeforums.com/forums/s...comparison-to-BRKT-Bravo-1-amp-Swamp-Rat-HRLM

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    The rough-finish canvas micarta has grooves cut all along the scales - especially helpful for gloved use. The handle is of uniform width but is countoured along belly and spine in a way that "melts" into the hand for increased comfort. The handle is longer to accommodate larger hands, and the heel drop enhances retention and the comfort of advanced leverage at the pommel. The pommel is rounded for comfort in a variety of grips (no flare), the tang extended for easy lanyard attachment and careful pounding.

    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
     
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  15. chiral.grolim

    chiral.grolim Universal Kydex Sheath Extension Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 2, 2008
    SR101 (Swamp Rat version of 52100 ball-bearing steel) has impressive toughness and edge retention ... but I have no comparative values. Bussekin are known for getting the best out of the steels they use. SR101 is rust-prone, but the blade coating is very durable though it noticably increases drag on deep cuts. Swamp Rat offers satin "LE" versions.

    The Swamp prides itself on making the "greatest value among the toughest knives in the world. In the world of hard use knives, Swamp Rat Knife Works stands out with cutting edge designs, high grade materials, unmatched production quality and proprietary heat treating protocols." (quotes from their website).
    I brought the edge-angle down to 15-dps from 20-dps in the belly and an absurd 30-dps 0.06" thick in the sweep. I am not sure why they allow such obtuse edges to leave the building, but it is not uncommon. If you do not specify a low edge-angle when you place your order, expect to do a LOT of sharpening. Alternatively, you can ship the knife back to the Swamp and have them sharpen it properly. Like all of Busse Knife Group, the warranty covers "any and all unintentional major damage for life. Period."

    The bevel geometry (as modified) is fairly common in this knife-style: 5-dps primary grind, 1" wide, 15-dps 0.030" edge bevel - sufficiently robust to handle most hard use while sufficiently thin to handle most cutting tasks. The FFG models will evince MUCH improved cutting performance, or one could grind the primary bevel down as in this video:

    [video=youtube;pH2xKkAMi6w]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pH2xKkAMi6w[/video]

    The RMD does not come from the factory with a sheath, users must make their own or buy one elsewhere, many suitable options are available. This one was purchased through Scrapyard (sold for their old Scrapper 7 knife), insert modified to retain an RMD.
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2013
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  16. chiral.grolim

    chiral.grolim Universal Kydex Sheath Extension Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 2, 2008
    The Scrapyard Knife Company (SYKCO) 511 was their first "11-series" release and is still available.

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    From the specs, it is a close cousin to the Swamp's RMD:

    Length: 10.0" OAL = 5.5" blade (5.13" cutting edge from heel to tip) + 4.5" handle
    Blade Height: 1.34" = 0.34" saber flat + 0.9" primary-bevel + 0.1" edge bevel
    Thickness: 0.20" spine down to 0.06" edge shoulder, ~4.5 DPS convex primary bevel, ~15-DPS apex angle.
    Weight: 6.3 oz
    Materials: SR101 steel, Resiprene-C handle
    Standard Price: $89.95+14.95 = $104.90, USD sheath not included.

    Like the RMD, the 511 came to me from the factory with an absurdly obtuse edge, brought down to ~15-dps. With the slightly convex primary bevel, the blade is thicker than the RMD, the edge-bevel ~2x thicker and wider where it meets the primary bevel. The 511 bevel geometry is more like an axe than a knife, built for strength and durability against substantial abuse, but low on cutting performance.
     
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  17. chiral.grolim

    chiral.grolim Universal Kydex Sheath Extension Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 2, 2008
    The most common criticism of the 511 is not the edge geometry but the handle size. From the top of the guard to the base of the pommel is only 4.5". With the substantial "bird's beak", the belly grooves fit tight on a medium hand only 4" across. Because of this, the knife feels as if it were designed for a child or woman. Also, the factory choil isn't large enough to allow a "choked" grip, has a sharp "beard", and the guard doesn't taper into the blade. However, Resiprene-C is easy to modify - using a knife, sandpaper, and a dremel-drum to enlarge the choil, this 511 is ready for duty!

    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    Resiprene-C is impressively durable and provides excellent retention as well as insulation from heat/cold and impact shock. It is also light-weight! That 3 oz difference between the 511 and RMD is quite noticable. But while the RMD balances right at the index-finger groove, the 511's stick-tang makes it slightly blade heavy, balancing in the choil. Despite this, the light weight makes it quite nimble in use. The handle is contoured both vertically and laterally, with a dropped heel and a valley to accommodate the inner pads of the hand.

    The SYKCO 511 doesn't come with a sheath from the factory. This one is in a short Spec-Ops Combat Master.
     
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  18. chiral.grolim

    chiral.grolim Universal Kydex Sheath Extension Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 2, 2008
    As previously mentioned, all of the above knives have similar design and intended function. The 5-6" blade-length and 10-11" overall length offers more reach and leverage than a smaller knife, the latter effected by the 3/16" thick blade stock and saber-grind. The Catt225Q offers the widest flat but not the thickest, which is more important for lateral prying, but all three are plenty thick for their length and the force-level they are likely to encounter.

    The extra blade-length of the GSO-5.1 vs RMD & 511 is quite noticable, more than I expected, as is the extra blade width and weight. But while the GSO-5.1 is larger and ~5 oz heavier than the SYKCO 511, the primary grind is ~2x thinner lending vast superiority in cutting performance through any medium thicker (and stiffer) than thermal paper. Both will shave hair and cut thin curls from a stick or piece of paper, as this only requires a reasonably intact apex and edge thin enough to penetrate the material. Both knives are sharpened at the same angle, but it is not the angle that cuts, it's the thickness or rather the lack of it. The GSO-5.1 passes through thick cardboard almost as easily as through thin paper, it cuts deep across the grain into hardwood that the 511 can barely penetrate. "Cuts like a demon" is a common phrase in these circles - the GSO-5.1 evinces the meaning in the phrase!

    But what about the RMD which has nearly identical cutting geometry? Performance would be almost the same except that this RMD is coated with a very thick, durable crinkle-coat that drags on deep cuts and collects debris. Removing the coating (or getting an LE model) and bringing down the bevel thickness slightly would certainly improve cutting performance, but SR101 is not as corrosion resistant as CPM-3V and, again, i am not sure if it is as tough...

    Some may note that the Catt225Q as presented has the lowest angle and thinnest edge, but this edge is actually rather fragile, and the lack of a back-bevel means that it quickly widens, the 'cheeks' tend to wedge in material on deep cuts in a way that the other knives do not, reducing penetration depth and requiring increased force to complete the cuts. That said, it still performs better than the 511 on most cuts, and the lack of coating lets it slide more easily through materials than the Bussekin presented here. But it is no match for the GSO-5.1.

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
     
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  19. chiral.grolim

    chiral.grolim Universal Kydex Sheath Extension Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 2, 2008
    Tip Work:

    [​IMG]

    Ergonomics:

    These knives feature enlarged choils that act as a finger groove to allow a close 'choked' grip in finer tasks or where increased power at the heel of the blade is required, and each is balanced well-enough to perform like a smaller knife as needed.

    As mentioned before, the SYKCO 511 is slightly blade-heavy, but its light weight mitigates this. The handle is soft, malleable, provides excellent retention, is shock & temperature insulating, is contoured ... but it's too small. For my medium hands, the modified enlarged choil and tapered guard are almost necessary to provide a complete grip, particularly when gloves are worn, and then the knife balances very well indeed. The light weight and shorter length make it easiest to carry, the handle keeps it pleasant in winter. I would recommend this knife for younger/smaller users, esp. if lacking experience as the geometry can endure all manner of rough (ab)use.

    The Catt225Q also suffers from a short handle, but is worse because of how wide the guard and small the choil - it cannot be as comfortably 'choked'. Added to this is the roundness of the handle. I discussed the problem with circular handles in my GSO-4.1 review. The Catt225Q is a worse shape than the Bravo 1 for maintaining edge control under adverse conditions, but it is not as slick. The SYKCO 511 handle is so small, my hand struggles to grip it.

    But the RMD and GSO-5.1 have wider handles, enough to provide a full grip with contouring to accomodate the shape of the hand and enough thinness to maintain edge control even in adverse conditions. The GSO-5.1 handle is 0.87" thick in the swell, 1.26" wide. In the index it is 0.64" x 1.05". Those ration are 0.69 & 0.61 respectively. The RMD ration are 0.554 in the swell and 0.735 in the index groove. Both are easy to manipulate even with a light grip in adverse conditions (cold, wet, tired, etc.). Comparing the two, the nod goes to the Swamp Rat for its lighter weight = nimbler in hand, but it is also shorter so the comparison is not entirely fair. It is also less wide, but that is an added difference in profile.
     
  20. chiral.grolim

    chiral.grolim Universal Kydex Sheath Extension Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 2, 2008
    There is another important point about ergonomics to be made here. The RMD is only contoured vertically - spine to belly - but is also the only handle featuring a palm "pocket" contour along the spine. As mentioned in the GSO-4.1 review, this handle design, which it shares with the HRLM, "melts" into the hand in a way that the GSO-5.1 handle, despite its excellent lateral contouring (which the RMD lacks) and enhanced heel-drop (compared to the GSO-4.1) does not. For a knife this size, allowing the hand to fit around it comfortably puts greater emphasis on the vertical contours than the lateral, as long as each avoids sharp corners, which the GSO-5.1 certainly does. The GSO-5.1 is very comfortable to hold, to use, to use hard and for extended periods.

    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    [​IMG][​IMG]
     

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