Cliff Fox (KU4GW)
I only own one paddle now, a single lever Vibroplex Deluxe Vibrokeyer that was left to me in the will of W4CUX Bill Worley of Alpharetta, GA when Bill passed away December 29, 2012 from pancreatic cancer. Bill and I worked a weekly 80 meter sked for almost 4 years prior to him getting sick. We got to be really great friends over all the QSOs we had and I still miss him. Bill also willed me a Hendricks PFR-3A 3 band QRP rig he built from a kit with attached W5JH Baby Black Widow paddles and a 10 watt SMT resistive dummy load. I gave away my old MFJ-564 paddle and had a K8RA P2 paddle for a while, but never really liked it all that well.
As far as straight keys I've owned quiet a few, but my J.H. Bunnell Navy Flameproof I bought from NOS (New Old Stock) from the J.H. Bunnell Company is my most favorite. I had a Begali Camelback for a while I liked the best, but after mounting the Navy Flameproof on a 1/2 inch (1.27 Centimeters) thick steel base that W4CUX Bill made me in his machine shop it completely changed the feel of the Navy key for the better! It was like a totally different key altogether after mounting it on the steel base! I liked it so much better I sold the Begali Camelback because I never used it anymore. Over the past 20 years I've also owned a Lionel J-38, a J-37 Mae West, a U.S. Army J-5-A, a Bulgarian Military "Coffin" key, and a German Junker. I liked all of them, but none as well as the Navy Flameproof. Below are a few photos of a few of the keys I've owned and the three I still have. I only have two straight keys now, the Navy Flameproof and a Czech Army key I picked up for $25 at the 2013 Dayton Hamvention. It was a NOS key also still in the box and wrapped with some type of light brown paper. W4KRN Karen was selling them and she had a slew of them at the time! I'm partial to straight keys with enclosed contacts because they don't need the contacts cleaned and they're a lot quieter. I use to wake my wife up in the wee hours, God rest her soul, with the loud clicking the Begali Camelback made, but never with either of the keys with enclosed contacts.
That's about it from here. I would like to comment that, for the price, MFJ-564 is a very good key and is pretty much a copy of a Bencher BY-2. The only difference is on the BY-2 the part behind the paddles the spring hooks to is round, but on the MFJ-546 that part is square in shape. The difference in price is huge!
Cliff - KU4GW
4SQRP # 536