Sometimes you just keep putting things off for too long. That’s how it was for me with the Ti ATR. When they first came out, I was immediately hooked. Titanium handles don’t last long in the Spyder inventory. So whenever a new titanium model is introduced in the line-up, Spydieknuts the world over take notice! Plus, the design followed in the footsteps of my beloved Li’l Temperance. It’s a do-all-design, equally at home on the cutting board as it is on the ballistic cutting dummy. They were never widely available, but a spydieknut could get one if he really wanted. I just plain put it off for too long.
Never wait too long
Then the ATR was discontinued, but I had good hopes I could hand pick one during my visit to Golden. Alas, all ATR’s were sold out! I do believe Joyce even tried to alleviate Sal of his personal ATR for me, but he rightly said no. Back home, Jurphaas mentioned he had some(!) left. Good for me, I could hand pick a Ti SE ATR after all, I got the one with all-torx screw construction. Lesson learned, never wait to get the spydie you really want!
On to the knife. The ergos are a little less specific than one the Li’l Temp. They have to be, since the ATR is intended for both lefties and righties. So the handle has to be symmetrical. The ATR’s handle is very good for extended use, no hot spots and plenty of room to re-adjust the grip. Knives like the Li’l Temp or Native lock in your hand. That’s good too, but when you’re cutting regular utility stuff for more than 15 minutes, you start to notice that handle. Now I agree that a pocket knife rarely sees use that requires that long, but I like to use my knives in the kitchen and my wife is a vegetarian. Need I say more? Lots of veggies in my house!
The cutting abilities of the serrated edge are a little different but solid for sure. The serrations are cut a bit shallower. Visually you’d think that the edge is lacking the sharp points that VG-10 serrated blades have. The performance as I experienced is that the edge feels like a really coarse Plain Edge, but the serrated ‘grab’ and ‘aggressive’ performance is there. You can slice newspaper print across multiple scallops with the same stroke you’d use with a plain edge. A serrated blade usually slices by keeping the material inside a single scallop.
Still, on smoother materials like tomatoes, the ATR’s edge grabbed into the material for the cut just as well as say a Rescue 79mm’s serrations. I sharpened my ATR a couple of times. Not that it needed to be, but I wanted to set an edge with the Sharpmaker I can maintain. The factory angle is lower than a Sharpmaker, as is the case with most models. It took me a bit of effort to get a hair popping edge, but that’s mostly the S30V steel. Plus, I’m still a bit new to serrated blades. It was mostly a lot of checking to see if got a consistent edge angle.
On the MBC dummy the performance, as I experienced it, was in-between a Plain Edge and a serrated edge. More grab and biting into the cardboard than a Plain Edge, but passing through the target was a bit smoother than with other serrated edges. In my experience sharp serrated blades don’t ‘hang-up’ in the target, but they do give a bit more resistance. All you need is a good grip. Closed, the ATR makes for a better than average impact tool. Much better than my Li’l Temp for example, but not as good as the Yojimbo.
The Cobra hood was superb. An excellent rest for the thumb. Also for the index finger when cutting out articles for example. The detent was nice and solid. To compare my Ti Salsa; it never opened in my pocket but it does open a bit too easy for my liking. The Ti ATR stays closed with much more authority.
Carry is comfortable for this larger knife. The ‘narrow’ design (I consider the Li’l Temp and Salsa to be ‘wide’ designs) with flowing curves have a lot to do with that.
Fit & finish
The lock area has to incorporate some sharp edges. Simply because it’s an integral compression lock and the locking tab has to lock properly. My Sebenza has a pronounced sharp corner inside the handle I dislike immensely, also because of the integral nature of the lock. However, none of the ATR’s edges around the lock area are felt in any of the 4 standard grips. Excellent fit and finish.
The divot holes really help to overcome the smooth nature of the titanium, and not just for fancy twirling moves. When retrieving the folder out of my pocket, my thumb automatically finds a divot to smoothly get the folder out of the pocket or waistband. The opening mechanics are not quite as smooth or fast as my Li’l Temp or Millie but close. It’s a solid and fast opener. More so than lockbacks like my Chinook or Manix.
This knife has the smooth feel of an SS or Aluminum handle for utility work. When you need more grip, just ease back a little and let you finger tips find the divots and cobra hood. If you want to, the divots work quite well for those twirling moves as well.
I’m not too fond of the dagger shape, to me it is not visually pleasing nor do I see the functional benefits for ‘tactical’ or utility use. According to Sal, this design added strength to the tip (it certainly looks nice and thick) and at the same time it removes weight. And the fin is there to place your index finger for enhanced control. For me the distance my finger has to overcome is a bit too long for comfort. And I’m ever so addicted to full flat grinds.
The Ti ATR is a very special and functional knife, it’s quickly becoming quite the collectible. It’s big though. Mate that titanium handle to a Li’l Temp blade and I got my dream knife. I prefer slightly shorter blades in general and full flat grind leaf shape blades. Still, it’s another winner and it resides in the carry rotation. Due to its bigger size, the ATR is mainly a ‘fun’ knife I enjoy on my own time.