When I first got into knives, in the early nineties, I did my best to find the coolest ‘baddest’ ninja-spec-ops folding & fixed blade knives I could find. Naturally, I picked up plenty of knives with black coated blades. After a while, I moved away from that completely. Now, after more than 20 years, I got my first folder with a black blade again: the DLT Trading exclusive C101 Manix with a cruwear blade and purple G10.
What got me was this amazing cool color combination of the purple G10 and black DLC coated blade. I really like that color combination. The liners are coated as well, inside and out. In fact, the only part of this knife that is not coated are the edge and the part of the tang that interacts with the ball bearing lock. I also like the aesthetics of the laser engraving that comes out white on the DLC coated blade.
Apart from the good looks, I was also drawn to this knife because of the cruwear blade. I’m not a big fan of tool steel blades. Partly because I don’t need -or have a big interest in- the increased cutting performance, but also because these steels are prone to rust. The DLC coating should protect it from any rust, and I only have to maintain the edge and uncoated tang near the pivot. I also figured I’d try and see if this coating holds up to use. The main reason I got away from coated blades in the nineties, was that they would just scratch up in use and lose their coating. So far the knife has seen a little use around the house and it the coating has way outperformed the ‘paint’ that was used 30 year ago. 😉
The C242 Ikuchi is unlike any other Spyderco folding knife. Not because it is a flipper, or even a front flipper (The C42 Viele was first in my opinion). It is unique because it has such a narrow profile. The Ikuchi is also a fidget fan’s dream, but it is a true working pocketknife that also carries as easy a pocket lint.
The first generation of the Ikuchi was a disappointment to me. I read reviews from people complaining that the wheel was too tough to operate. This was not a problem in my sample. What was a serious problem, was the fact that this very sharp up-swept tip rode too high in the handle when closed. I’d poke my hand frequently when trying to pull the knife from my pocket or waistband. My CQI-ed sample of the Ikuchi solved this problem. I no longer get cut by the closed blade. The wheel does need a deliberate push/pull (depending on your technique) to operate, but it’s also very smooth.
Blade I’ll admit the fidget factor of the front-flipping Ikuchi is high, very high actually. To date, I haven’t been able to handle this folder without ‘spinning that wheel’ at least once. But the slender curvy blade works great too. It’s very easy to work that tip in the crease of the flap on an envelope, to cleanly slice it open. Another advantage of such a narrow blade (compared to most spydies), is that it offers increased control for detailed cuts in an edge-in grip. Peeling fruit is a joy with this blade.
There is one disadvantage to a slim blade like this. A narrow blade doesn’t offer a whole lot of ‘real estate’ for that full flat grind to come to a really thin edge. The blade on the C242 is by no means some kind of blunt chisel, on the contrary. But there are thinner blades and edges in Spyderco’s line-up.
S30V is a well-known entity. It cuts well and doesn’t rust in my suburban use. I barely developed a little dull spot on the edge, from breaking down a lot of thick cardboard boxes. It was child’s play to bring the edge back. Just a few swipes on the white stones of my Spyderco Sharpmaker was all that was needed.
Handle The handle features a slight curve that really helps make it a very ergonomic folder to carry and use. I’m not a huge fan of the G10 & Carbon Fiber laminate, but it does offer a bit more grip than full carbon fiber. Don’t get me wrong, if this one is ever offered in a full carbon fiber version, I’ll go for it. But I will admit this laminate looks nicer than black G10 for this particular design. A nice design touch is the hole in the handle. It lines up perfectly with the hole in the blade (which is there purely for trademark purposes).
Clip The wire clip is the perfect complement to this thin classy folder. It almost makes it look like a pen in your pocket. As with all wire clips, there is a little flex or play when you move the clip from side-to-side. It’s inherent to the design and doesn’t affect the clip’s grip on your pocket or waistband. This side-to-side play is also the reason I am not a big fan of wire clips. However, I was happy that the clip was easy to switch to my preferred left-handed carry position.
Collectible I usually stay away from labeling a particular knife as a real collectible or a good investment. Mainly because I feel that you should only buy a knife because you really like it. That way, you’ll never be disappointed. The C242 however, does offer a few unique features. The Ikuchi is perhaps the second design in Spyderco’s line-up to be designed as a one-hand opener without a functional opening hole. The C27 Jess Horn was made with a depression in the blade for one-hand opening. The Ikuchi has its serrated wheel for one-hand opening. The absence of a functional opening hole allows the blade to become a lot narrower. At least a lot narrower than most other spydies. I will admit the C27 Jess Horn, as well as his other designs, the Des Horn and most of Frank Centofante’s collaborations feature very slim blades as well. The C242, however, takes this slim profile and extends it all the way through it handle design. The combination of the front flipper wheel, extremely narrow profile and the absence of a functional opening hole, make the Ikuchi a really unique folder in Spyderco’s production history.
Conclusion Overall, the Ikuchi is a wonderful folder. I also think it’s remarkably versatile. If you’re a die-hard Spyderco collector, get one. The C242 only features a trademark hole in the blade, and has a slim and narrow profile that is rarely seen in Spyderco’s line-up. If you mostly use your knives to fidget with, that serrated wheel on the C242 is just what you’re looking for. If you’re looking for a gentleman’s knife? The Ikuchi is a very stylish and low-key design that will ride nicely in your suit pocket. If you’re just looking for a practical EDC folder that’s both compact and full size at the same time, the C242 can fit that role really well too. I mostly like the Ikuchi because of that unique -to Spyderco- slim design. And that front flipper is just plain fun to fidget with.
I’ve been using and collecting Spyderco knives for over 20 years by now. And I have settled on a few design features that I particularly like, and some that I dislike. Here’s a rundown of my favorite Spyderco blade shapes. I’m sure it’s not complete or correctly described, it’s just a personal list.
Leaf shape: they’ve become a classic because they work well for all kinds of uses, and often they’re also aesthetically pleasing. I like this blade shape a lot. My current favorites with this blade shape are the Manix 2 and Caly 3 family of knives. Classic favorites with this blade shape for me, are the Lum Chinese Folder and Lil’ Temperance folders.
Spear point: to me this is a relative of the leaf shape blade. I like it, but it also depends on the overall design to me. My favorite folders with this blade shape are the Native designs, and oddly enough to many I’m sure, the Jot Singh Khalsa. Purely as a collector piece, I’d recommend the Ed Schempp designed Euro Edge, such an impressive spear point design.
Drop point: I learned to really appreciate the drop point in the Stretch design. It is amazingly useful. I’ll admit its looks take a little getting used to, but try one out for a few weeks and I’m sure you’ll like it. My vintage drop point picks are the Wegner and Ocelot.
Bowie: I love it, but slightly more for its aesthetics than actual use. Don’t get me wrong, I love my Blackhawk and Reinhold Rhino as very practical carry folders. I can do pretty much of all my regular cutting chores with one. But that Bowie blade shape, especially in a design like the Chinook, make me ‘feel’ like I’m using a cool fighter. 😉 There’s a reason I asked Ed Schempp to create a special left-handed custom version of his iconic Schempp Bowie. It works great and looks awesome.
Clip point: a variant of the clip point is that typical original Spyderco blade shape. You know, like in a Delica, Endura, Military etc. Most people, especially when they’re more visually interested in knives than functionally, think these are ugly knives. The beauty becomes apparent in its use. There a reason Spyderco is still around after 45 years. Sure, the one-hand opening, clip carry, serrations, sharpening savvy, high quality production and good people all matter. But if this blade shape didn’t work, Spyderco simply would not have succeeded like it did. This blade shape is just plain practical. If you place your thumb on the ramp behind the opening hole, the tip becomes a natural extension of your thumb. Turn the knife over to an edge-in grip for peeling fruit for example, and you can ‘anchor’ the ‘hump’ between your index and middle finger. You get a very ergonomic grip for this cutting chore thanks to the hump. You can also easily extend your index finger along the straight spine for fine cuts. It just works really well, once you get over ‘the optics’. And once you figure that out, it actually becomes a very good looking blade shape. One downside of this blade shape can occur when a thinner blade is used. Combined with a distal taper, the tip can get very thin, making it vulnerable to breaking. But this seems to be a rare thing, especially in current designs.
Wharncliffe: looks very interesting to me, and it’s much more practical than you might think. My main office carry is the venerable Spyderco Kiwi. I also like the stylish Des Horn a lot.
Sheepsfoot blade: like the wharncliffe, it’s a lot more useful than you might think. I tried carrying a Rescue jr. for a long time and loved it a lot more than I expected. Still, I missed a nice sharp point after a while.
Hawkbill: looks intimidating, but I’m not a fan. I haven’t encountered many cutting chores that required this design. I still admire the skill needed to make folders like the Matriarch and Civilian though. I did some informal cutting tests, and a sharp hawkbill will not snag cutting through denim or clothing. At least not nearly as much as you’d suspect. For that reason, I like to keep a Cricket or Dodo around. Their cutting power is very impressive for their size.
Tanto: meh, loved it as a kid dreaming of spec-ops folders, but now not so much. I will admit the Lum folding tanto is still a beauty to behold, and with the slight curve in the edge makes it a bit more practical to me. I did learn of one interesting and peaceful use for a tanto blade shape. Back in the day, I think it was James Mattis on BladeForums who extolled the virtues of a tanto blade as a steak knife. With the right angle, only the tanto tip would touch the china plate, preserving the sharp primary edge for cutting.
Cutting chores In the end, it’s -naturally- all about the cutting chore; that determines the best blade shape. At the office, I mainly open mail and packages and cut out articles or photos for mood boards and such. It also has to be discreet because of the many non-knife people around me (before covid 😉 ) . A small wharncliffe is very useful and when you place your index finger along the spine to aid in cutting, it also obscures you’re using a knife at all to most casual observers. Now if I needed to punch a folder through hard dense materials all-day, I might favor a tanto or sturdy spear point blade. My other main cutting chores vary from limited food prep, breaking down boxes for recycling, and opening packages. A nice all round blade shape like a leaf blade shape and the Spyderco clip point, work just perfectly for that, in my experience.
What are your favorite blade shapes? Feel free to leave a comment.
Spyderco was an ‘early adopter’ of online discussion forums. The first forum opened up on BladeForums.com in the 90s, where Sal and several SpyderCrew members would answer questions from fans. More importantly, they asked for feedback which led to several new products and product improvements. In 1999, Spyderco introduced one of the first, if not the first, forum knives for BladeForums.com. A forum knife is usually a variation of an existing design. It shows appreciation to the forumites and -through its sales- help support the forums. Around 2002, Spyderco started their own discussion forum on spyderco.com. And not too long after that, Spyderco offered a new forum knife every few years. The 2018 forum knife, a modified C81 Paramilitary 2, was the last one offered to date.
Spyderco initially offered the PM2 in S30V steel and a black G-10 handle. Since then, Spyderco has offered a few variations in its catalog. But I won’t even start to try and list the many more variations of the C81 as dealer exclusives and sprint runs. The 2018 forum knife however, still managed to offer something new: a grey G10 handle with a stainless steel laser engraved inlay and a CPMS90V blade.
The 2018 Forum Knife never seemed to get much appreciation. And you’ll rarely see the knife in any Instagram post these days. I don’t think it’s the knife’s fault. It’s just that there are so many dealer exclusives out there of the PM2, and they still keep coming. That way, it’s hard to stand out with a forum knife design. I like it, as I like all the forum knives.
Some might say the forums are done, with the rise of other social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. That might be true, but I still enjoy it and appreciate that there are so many different online platforms where knifeknuts can meet each other and discuss, share and celebrate this ‘weird’ hobby of ours.
Check out the specs and history of the C81 Paramilitary at SpydieWiki.com, and specifically the 2018 forum edition, at Spyderco.com.
I know, buying a kitchen knife is not ‘cool’. Especially when you’re just starting out as a knifeknut, you got some big new folders to buy! However, which cutting chore do you perform the most in a day? If you’re a suburbanite like me, it’s a toss-up between opening mail and food prep. Sure, it’s great to test out that new folder in the kitchen, but it doesn’t compare to an actual high quality kitchen knife. The Spyderco Itamae series sure is the nicest expression of a kitchen knife I have encountered to date. And my most used design is the ‘small’ Petty.
When I first saw the Manix 2 sprint run in Burl G-10 I definitely did a double take. That swirling brown & black G10 looked amazing. Sadly for me, it came with a black coated handle, which is something I -personally- really don’t like. Luckily for me, the Spyderco design collaboration with Murray Carter includes that same amazing G10. It is only offered in the premium Itamae series, and not the Wakiita series that feature all-black G10 for its handles.
Super Blue My first encounter with a Murray Carter knife was this Muteki neck knife I picked up in Switzerland a few summers ago. Amazing stuff, and very sharp! These Itamae kitchen knives also feature that amazing cutting edge of that neck knife. The blades feature a SUS410 and Super Blue steel. I’ve had very good experiences with that same blade steel on the Delica sprint run from 2014. A fact I particularly noticed in the kitchen. Superblue does come with a ‘hungry edge’, it’s just a great steel for kitchen cutting in my limited experience.
Most used I certainly don’t cook big amazing meals every day, my main kitchen duty is cleaning everything up again. I just like to help out my wife while she cooks with some of the slicing and dicing. And with what we cook on average, the Petty is more than large enough. The Santoku I have is great, but to be honest, the Petty is plenty big for about 90% of the slicing and dicing I do. I’ll admit I also have the Funayuki, but it doesn’t get as much use as the petty. Interestingly, I came across an older Spyderco catalog from 1986 or so, and it explicitly states that the smaller K05 is the ‘most used knife in the kitchen’. I should have read that sooner I guess.
Tiny laser As a knifeknut it is a great experience working with a fine knife like the Petty. It’s like operating a tiny laser. And to see the patina change is just awesome. I’m not as well versed in kitchen cutlery, compared to EDC knives, but I understand that this Carter design is highly refined and appreciated by many experts. For example, the tip is designed in such a way that with repeated sharpening the tip will still be in the same spot relative to the cutting edge. How cool is that? I just can’t find a fault in the design and appreciate the ergonomics and blade design.
Maintenance Sharpening SuperBlue is a breeze on my Sharpmaker. You can’t toss this knife in the dishwasher, and I recommend storing the knife in a kitchen block or in some type of blade-sleeve, to protect both the edge and your (family’s) fingers, when they reach in the drawer.
Give it a try I know you all like the latest new folder designs way more than a simple kitchen knife. But give one a try, especially this Petty. You’ll like it a whole lot more than you think you do.
Marcin Slysz is an amazing knife maker. His knives are very functional, they work great, and they have a very clean look. After the very popular Techno and Bowie designs, many fans were eagerly anticipating the release of the C211 SpydieChef. I was one of them. I finally took this knife along on a recent camping trip as my only folder, so as to give it a proper workout. The SpydieChef works as good as it looks, but I think it needs a longer blade and serrations.
EDC There is no doubt this is a really great everyday carry folder. I love the thin handle and the smooth titanium scales are great for IWB-carry. The blade shape and grind make the C211 an impressive slicer. And the positive blade to handle angle make for very ergonomic cutting; especially on a flat surface, like a cutting board. Using the SpydieChef to open packages, cut strings or break down cardboard boxes went as easy as you could imagine. The LC200N held up quite well. Even when the edge seemed to lose its shaving sharpness, it continued to cut very well. It was no challenge at all, to bring that sharp edge back again.
Folding kitchen knife I’m not opposed to using a ‘folding kitchen knife’. For many years, my go-to kitchen cutlery for camping trips have been a serrated Police 3 and an XL Lum Chinese Folder. I’m also no snob worried about ‘rust’ on these knives. I just use them, and wash them afterwards with water and soap and dry them off. When I come home, I briefly check the inside of the handle and pivot and apply some oil. I haven’t had any problem with dirt or corrosion in these knives for the past 10 years.
Kitchen performance Now, onto the chore the SpydieChef was designed for: food prep. The ergonomics were designed to excel in cutting on a board. And the entire knife is almost rustproof, with its Titanium handle and LC200N steel. The SpydieChef certainly slices and dices with the best of my regular small kitchen knives. However, with its 3.5 inch blade, it is a bit on the short side. Sure I use smaller folders for food prep all the time, in a pinch or for testing. But for a purpose-driven design like this, I’d like to see it with a larger 4 inch blade. This way, it would still also work for EDC.
Serrations Apart from another half inch of blade, I -really- missed serrations. Cutting fresh bread and rolls in the morning was an embarrassment. The C211 just couldn’t ‘grip’ into the crust while slicing. Sure, I could ‘stab’ the bread and then cut my way into a slice. But that doesn’t even come close to the fine job my serrated Police 3 usually does on trips like these.
Overall The C211 SpydieChef is an awesome folder, no doubt. It’s a great everyday carry utility folder with a few added features. You can take this folder into the water without any worries. In that respect it’s nice to have a more ‘classier’ knife option for EDC as opposed to the FRN H1 Salt series. In addition, the C211 is a very nice folding paring knife. In my book, it’s not the definitive folding kitchen knife. For that role, I’ll stick to my trusty serrated Police 3 and (plain edge) Lum Chinese folder XL. The latter is –to me- nicer to use despite the less ergonomic blade/handle angle, because of its wider and longer blade.
Check out the specs and history of the C211 SpydieChef at SpydieWiki.com.
Back in 2016, I showed off this rare variant of the Spyderco C65 Chinese Folder, designed by Bob Lum. Not only is it a sprint run of this iconic design, made with a blue almite aluminum handle, it also demonstrates Spyderco’s engraving service at the time. The web pattern in the handle was laser engraved at the factory. I hope this little video helps to show off this amazingly cool design
The C65 is one of my favorite Spyderco knives, a personal classic, which is why I gave it a spot in my top 5 challenge. Although in one case, I think Spyderco -or one of its dealers- chose a handle color I vehemently disagree with ;-), I still think the Chinese Folder is a design that perfectly combines looks with function. This rare engraved C65 is certainly the grail in my collection of Spyderco Lum Chinese Folders.
Check out the specs and history of the Chinese Folder at SpydieWiki.com.
I’m a shallow knifecollector. I’m easy to ‘catch’. You make a good knife in a different color? As long as the blade isn’t coated, I’m in. That’s why I wanted the C127 Urban sprint run back in the summer of 2019. Why was the sprint run made? To bring AEB-L steel to the Spyderco fanbase. I know, I have a talent of missing the point. Still, I brought this slipit with me on vacation this summer, so here’s my impressions of the knife, and….the steel.
Color Spyderco rarely makes knives with coyote brown, tan or sand-colored handles. The most famous one is the tan FRN used in the Native 3 made exclusively for military personnel serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, and later in the Operation Inherent Resolve Native 5. There’s also been a tan colored Endura and a Paramilitary 2 came out this year. So when this Urban came out, I had to nab one. Because I like colored handled knives. Colors offer variety to a collector, and they always make the knife easier to accept for non-knife people.
Heritage The Urban is part of the Calypso/Caly 3 family. Don’t believe? Just lay out your Urban on top of your Caly 3 or UK Penknife etc. Line op the choils and opening holes and you’ll notice that they match exactly. That’s also the recipe to the Urban’s wonderful ergonomics. It shares the same ‘cockpit’ design as the famed Caly 3. The C154 Squeak is also part of this family by the way, it’s its smallest member.
Steel The AEB-L steel proved to be a solid performer. I’m far from a steel junkie, so when a steel is easy to maintain I’m satisfied. The AEB-L Urban did just that. It didn’t see much more action than opening packages, food prep and breaking down a few boxes, so far. It was easy to sharpen again, I got it quite a bit sharper than it came from the box somehow. One odd aspect of the blade was how it handled the sticky residue from tape that holds boxes together. On this Urban’s blade I could easily wipe it away with my fingers. Usually, I’d have to properly clean it with water and soap. The blade’s finish is probably what caused this effect. It was a funny discovery though. The knife’s action was a bit stiffer than my older regular production Urban, perhaps it needs a little break-in time.
Overall What I like about the Urban? Easy: it’s fully ambidextrous and the clip is easy to switch, it’s sized right for travel – it opens anything you need and it’s big enough to pull picnic duty, and it’s light and flat enough to carry easy in the warm summer weather IWB, and it’s a cool sprint run that makes me feel special! 😉
I recently dusted off my trusty Caly 3 the other day and clipped it to my waistband. I admit it’s been a while since I carried this knife. You know how it goes. A new knife arrives and you just have to try it out, then another comes in and the cycle repeats itself. I try to make it a point to deliberately pick up some of the older knives this year and give them another round of EDC. That is what I did with the Caly 3 and -spoiler alert- this design can still go toe-to-toe with the latest and greatest knives.
If you’re looking for a detailed review, check out my article from 2007. I just felt like putting down a few thoughts after revisiting my G10 & VG-10 Caly 3 after a week of carry and use.
VG-10 Spyderco has really been expanding their steel selection lately, and the afi market seemed to have embraced high-performance steels lately. And that’s great. I just know that it’s not necessarily for me. I prefer stainless steels, there, I said it. I am the SpyderCollector after all. I love using and carrying my folding knives, but I also like to collect them. And my inner-collector likes to be able to enjoy his knives looking nice. I don’t mind the patina on a cladded blade, but not so much on the entire blade. I don’t mind sharpening my knives either. And with VG-10 I get all the performance I need in the suburbs, and then some. Don’t get me wrong, I love playing with ZDP189, S90V, S110V, HAP40, REX45, Maxamet etc…, and I’m very much looking forward to the new SPY27 steel, but VG-10 does everything I need to do. And it’s easy to bring it back looking like new.
Perfection After a week’s worth of carry and use, I’m simply left with the impression that the Calypso/Caly 3 pattern might just be the perfect modern pocket knife for the suburbs. It’s lightweight, extremely sharp, very practical, sized just right for practical use and it doesn’t seem to scare non-knife people as much. With that full flat grind, even when the edge is dull, the blade is so thin you can still make a good cut. The lock is ambidextrous and the clip is removable, so I get to have a great left-handed knife. I just can’t find any objective faults with this knife. Personally, I consider the Stretch 2 to be my favorite Spyderco utility folder. Now, if there would ever come a Caly 4, I wouldn’t mind if it had that same drop point pattern blade.