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Reviews Categories | Keys & Paddles | D-117/K4 Heavy Key "Chinese Army Key" Help

Reviews Summary for D-117/K4 Heavy Key "Chinese Army Key"
D-117/K4 Heavy Key  Reviews: 26 Average rating: 4.5/5 MSRP: $75.00
Description: Telegraph Key, Heavy
Product is in production.
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You can write your own review of the D-117/K4 Heavy Key "Chinese Army Key".

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SM4XUW Rating: 4/5 Jun 18, 2009 05:11 Send this review to a friend
Nice key  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Nice little key paid $35 for it including shipping from Hong kong.

I had to cut the tension spring off about two or three turns from the bottom.
The knob have some rough edges too but not a major

This is my main key now and after twenty qso:s I am very pleased.

73:s / Klas
N2KMF Rating: 5/5 Mar 14, 2009 19:29 Send this review to a friend
A solid value  Time owned: more than 12 months
OK, I've been pounding away for about 4 years now with my K5 (brass contacts), and here are a few observations:

This key is built like a tank. It's rock solid.

When I first got it, I thought it was too heavy, but with a little experimenting I figured out that the way to operate with this key is to set the contacts to absolute minimum spacing. If you do that, you won't notice how heavy the spring is. This also has the advantage of minimizing your arm movements when sending.

One other hint: If you get the brass contact version (the cheaper K5, like mine), take a minute with the finest sandpaper you can get and just make a couple swipes on the upper and lower contacts, and recognize that you might have to do it once every few years if the key starts sounding a little "crackly". A couple swipes to clean the contacts and it's good as new.

This key, once properly adjusted, is a speed demon. I've had QSO's where people couldn't believe I was using a straight key because I was sending at 20+ wpm. A nice heavy key with the very minimal contact spacing made possible with the heavy spring is conducive to sending fast. The only trick to doing it is keep those contacts clean.

K2NCC Rating: 5/5 Jan 7, 2009 23:22 Send this review to a friend
Great for casual use.  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
It's really slightly below a 5, as the craftsmanship isn't nearly flawless. But hey, it's a military key!

I purchased the circa 1990s K-4 Chinese Military Heavy Duty Keys. Good to see the reviews at eHam before buying it, so thank you all for your feedback.

Won't move around on the desk. Great weight. Nice finish, easy to adjust, reasonably smooth movement. Looks familiar so it gives me a bit of nostalgia from my Army days. You Navy guys will enjoy it too.

The spring does offer more tension than expected.

But here's my thoughts on that: I keep my contact spacing very small. I use just enough pressure to key, but not too much that I can't lightly rest my finger on it. No pounding or loud clicks needed. A lighter responding key overcomes the need for a heavy hand. Even with this keyer you use it with one finger. My forearm tendons don't flex when I key. Anyway, my experience is limited, so I reserve the right to change my mind with new evidence.

Meanwhile, for less than 50 bucks, you can have a new CW key that, if nothing else, you'll be proud to show off!

Oh, as the ad says "Not those made by the No. 1 branch." (I'm so gonna get a t-shirt with that on it!)

OT: Hey, did you know that the fastest Straight Key sending speed is only 35 WPM? Record still standing after 60+ years!

Vy 73, de Frank K2NCC
W7JBJ Rating: 4/5 Mar 12, 2008 02:54 Send this review to a friend
Very nice key  Time owned: more than 12 months
I received a D-117/K4 key from a friend in Hong Kong a few years back. The only thing I did was change the spring. The one supplied had way too much tension. After that I find in nice to use. Nice heavy chrome base and smooth action for me. I have been using straight keys since 1957 and like this one very! Another plus is you can get one for under $30 new!

Gil, W7JBJ (celebrating my 51St year in Ham Radio!
N0UY Rating: 4/5 Jan 5, 2008 06:39 Send this review to a friend
Just What I Needed  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I bought this key used from a very nice fellow who listed it here on It was priced fairly and several pictures were provided so I knew what I was getting. After receiving it I threw the original spring in the garbage where it belonged and replaced it with something from the hardware store. The feel is much lighter now and works quite well. My fist is the only limiting factor now but this key makes even my fist seem better. Very glad I bought it.
KI6EA Rating: 2/5 Dec 2, 2007 14:17 Send this review to a friend
Very Poor Quality  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I purchaced this key (used) on ebay after hearing so much about it. Needless to say I was very disappointed after seeing the lack of quality and poor workmanship. It looks like it was built by a blind grade school studed in a blacksmith shop. The only other thing I can say about it is that "it works".
AC4R Rating: 5/5 Jul 30, 2007 18:57 Send this review to a friend
Very Nice Key  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I just got my K-4 Chinese Military key today from Morris Express in CO. There is not much i can add to the other reviews . Built like a tank, mounted on a very heavy base. This baby will not walk around on the table, for sure. The spring is a bit stiff, but I cut one loop off with a pair of side cutters and lightened it up a touch. Just finished my first QSO with the K-4, and it has a very good feel. It is a keeper for sure, and the old speed-x will have to sit on the shelf for a while. Excellent Key. Ordered it on Thurs, and received it Monday. Morris Expressed shipped it the same day, great service.

73 AC4R
K8RBW Rating: 5/5 Apr 17, 2007 21:23 Send this review to a friend
Very Good Key/Clarification  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I am probably the wrong person to be doing this review. I lived in mainland China for a year and Taiwan a total of about 3 1/2 years and have a fascination with things Chinese.

There seems to be some confusion in the reviews. What follows are my observations based on my experience. First, if you read Chinese you will note that there are actually two different keys produced in two different factories. (There may be more than two, but I have no way of knowing.) The inspection slips included with both indicate they were produced in October of 1994. Second, the ones ordered off of ebay from Hong Kong are shipped from Fujian Province, across the Taiwan Strait form Taiwan, not from Hong Kong. Third, they are qualitatively different. The ones sold by Morse Express have a spring that is more pliable and not as stiff. They are easier to use. I asked Marshall at Morse Express if he had a replacement spring for them that was not as stiff, but he said to try and cut one ring off of the bottom of the spring. What tough springs! I only managed to wreck a pair of diagonals! Instead, I finally put the springs in vise grips for an extended period to try and make them more pliable. I also tighten the springs as much as possible when the keys are not in use. It helps somewhat. Lastly, the keys sold by Marsahll seem to have qualitatively better construction than the ones on ebay.

I hope this makes things a little clearer. Thanks for reading.

de Dick, K8RBW
GM0WEZ Rating: 4/5 Apr 17, 2007 14:40 Send this review to a friend
Very good for the price  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
There are currently quite a few of these available on ebay - made in 1994 in the Changsu factory. I got mine for 15 quid (thirty USD) including shipping from Hong Kong.

It is a very good key - in my opinion not too heavy when set at minimum spring tension - just as well as it has an odd pyramidal spring that would be hard to replace.. Heavy and looks nice on the desk. Felt base. Side pins adjustable. Pre wired with cord and jack plug.
General standard of finish is not as good as a quality British/American/German manufacturer. For example, the plastic knob has a sharp edge from the moulding die, some screws loose, felt base not totally flat. But with minimal work you can smooth the knob, polish the pin surfaces, a dab of moly grease and tighten the screws and it is pretty close to something costing 4 or 5 times the price.
K5BZH Rating: 5/5 Feb 8, 2006 17:14 Send this review to a friend
Well Made Key  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
My son-in-law gave me one of these for my birthday after he realized that my Santa Claus request had failed.

The key is very well made. I love the way the knob is designed, similar to my Schurr. The key is a heavy one, that is nice. The key is pretty, somewhat unique in the overall design. My only complaint is the spring, it is so stiff the tension can't be adjusted to the level I prefer. A change in springs will likely cure this.

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