Review: Dragonfly PE FRN & SS

As I grow older, and starting to wear suits more frequently, a new challenge presents itself. What knife is suitable for those more fancy family or job related occasions? Easy, a Dragonfly. I’ve had my eye on this model for some time now, and now I had a perfect excuse. The lines on this knife are very smooth and elegant, a very pretty knife indeed! Both the SS and the FRN model are discussed on this page.

One of the first concerns in considering any folder in this “sub-compact” size range is the grip. Can you grip it safely for light and medium utility tasks without slipping off the handle? The choil works great for this. The Dragonfly has the same ‘horizontal handle’ design as on the Lil’ Temperence and Jester models, but thinner. When gripping the knife pointforward/edge-down, the knuckles of your fingers are more or less oriented horizontally. Contrary to this handle design is the set-up of the Navigator/Meerkat line, in which the pinky is oriented in a different direction than the other fingers in the point-forward/edge-down grip.

The SS handle is a little slippery, that’s the nature of the beast. The cusp prevents your hand from slipping up onto the blade in light cutting tasks. However, the SS handle is slippery enough for me to refrain from everything beyond peeling fruit and steaks in a restaurant, for example. The FRN model’s grip tends to be grippier and warmer to the touch. Longer term cutting, e.g. continuous light wittling, again shows the SS handle weakness, which is also its greatest strength. The steel is unforgiving, it does not ‘move’. Light sore spots occur on my hand during light but continued wittling on wood. The FRN is better, as it seems much more rounder and ‘flexible’ to the touch in sustained cutting tasks. Still, I don’t see these micro cutters as serious heavy duty knives in which long term grip comfort is mandatory. The grip is safe and comfy in both models for small to medium cutting tasks.

The funny thing is, that I used these knives as a ‘regular’ 3 inch bladed Delica when I first got them. Cutting ability for peeling apples or potatoes is on par with said Delica, or even a little better. The smaller blade will let you cut more precise with the point leading the cut, and then there’s that full flat grind ofcourse. However, when trying to mindlessly cutting a piece of fruit in half, I noticed some blade missing. The blade lenght is simply to small the divide matter with the same technique as the 3 inch blades I habitually use. Still, you can cut ‘around’ instead of ‘through’ the medium, to put it in a more abstract way. The opening holes are 10mm in diameter, which is the minimum I accept for a primary/secondary folder. The hole is large enough for my fingers to open the blades fluidly. But I can imagine them to be too small for other people. I didn’t notice much difference in edge holding between the ATS-55 in the Dragonfly II and the AUS 8 in the FRN model.

These knives are irregularly carried by me, on special occasions when something more stylish is needed for ‘distinguished’ cutting tasks in public. When one appears dull, the other one gets a touch up as well. The out-of-the-box edge correlated pretty well with the 40 degrees (inclusive) on my 204 Sharpmaker, so I am happy. I find it annoying when edges are thinner out-of-the-box, so that even a 30 degree angle won’t match up. I prefer to be able to sharpen the entire edge uniformly, or add a 40 degree edge on a thinned out 30 degree edge. It’s purely cosmetical, but I like to see that fully polished or coarse edge when looking at a nice blade in the proper “light-angle”.

The clip is where it should be in such small folders, set up for tip-up carry.I heartily dislike tip-down on “sub-compact” spydies, like on the Navigator/Meerkat series. I gave away a Navigator mainly for that reason, although I really liked thathandle (excellent grip!). For me, there’s just too little exposed handle to pinch in order pull the knife out and fluidly roll it in the hand to open the blade. My hands think it’s very awkward to draw and open the tip-down Navigator, so out it went! With the Dragonfly, I can “cap” my index finger over the handle at the pivot end, fluidly retrieve it, and open it in one easy motion. I still like the look (and handle design) of the new Meerkats, maybe I’ll get one for clipless pocket carry or neck carry via a concealex sheath.

The clip on the SS version was removed. I like to carry knives in pairs, and with this combo the SS Dragonfly does lefthanded utility duty. The clip is right-handed only, and the whole steel handle is entirely too pointy to carry comfortably by simply putting it in my left-side waistband using the clip. Instead, I removed the clip and added a lanyard or more precisely a fob. Carried in the pocket, the small folder is easily retreived using the fob. Besides, in those public occasions I take the knife out, people seem less surprised to see a little folder coming out of the (traditional) bottom of a pocket rather than the top of a pocket or waistband.Getting more holes drilled and tapped into this folder, in order to turn it into a left-handed knife, would take away from its looks. Plus, that would create three more opportunities for gunk and lint to get in the handle and never come out! The clip on the C28BK is plastic, just like the older Enduras and Delicas. The tension is a little on the loose side, if you’re used to steel clips, but I have yet to lose the knife. The FRN clip is actually more comfy and ‘de-horned’ if you will.

With their full flat ground blades, tip-up clips, and 10mm opening holes, these little knives are perfect EDCCs (EveryDay Classy Carries). The C28 is a very fine little folder to take out of your pocket and use in public, on those fancier or ‘black tie’ occasions. The C28BK also fills a nice little niche, mainly because of its handle. The FRN is grippier and warmer to the touch than steel. While it is not tested or considerd in-house by Spyderco as an MBC model, it is a well built tool. As such, it conforms to my ‘folding La Griffe’ theory. The FRN Dragonfly is a good folder for me to open quickly and make others ‘let go’ in a lethal force situation. Furthermore, its dimunitive size is an asset when hiding the blade in a more traditional duelling encounter, with an armed opponent. Not that I would choose the Dragonfly as a duelling tool, although a bad guy with a sense of humor should appreciate it. Its main disadvantage, size, can be turned around through stealth. Think of it as a hidden claw.

One Response to Review: Dragonfly PE FRN & SS

  1. […] always liked the Dragonfly design, but I only started ‘loving’ the small cutter when the ‘2’ design came out. A […]

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