Since the Mini Manix is a virtual look-alike of my beloved Li’l Temp, I didn’t hesitate to get two right of the bat. The profile of the Mini Manix is a lot like the Li’l Temp: same leaf blade shape, similar length and a similar tough hard-use design. For the purpose of this review I’d like to compare the two.
The Manix 80mm is also known as the 83mm, but I prefer the name coined on the forums; so from here on it is referred to as the Mini Manix. The Mini Manix probably has one of the fastest production cycles I’ve seen to date. A very first concept model was shown at the Amsterdam Preview show in March 2005, and the first models shipped in December of that same year. Spydies usually take a little longer to fully mature before they are released into the wild.
The Li’l Temperance is famous for its ‘putty-like’ handle. It is light and melts in your hand. Furthermore, the handle is very secure and I can’t imagine ever dropping it or sliding my hand from the handle in any direction. The Mini Manix is not that lightweight, nor does it have the same finesse in 3D handle design like the Li’l Temp does. Still the Mini Manix offers a full grip and above average grip security.
Gripping the handle before the choil, I can fit all four fingers of my XL-size hand just right. Using the choil, the handle is plenty large. The Mini Manix’ handle is a brick compared to the Li’l Temp. A smooth edged brick, but a brick nonetheless. It has to be because the design was intended to be lefty-friendly, so both sides of the handle were made symmetrical. The handle is no match for the Li’l Temp’s 3D design. But the Li’l Temperance is an exception to many Spydies that way. Compared to most other Spydies, the Mini Manix is just as comfy to grip.
There is no busk on the handle, but the Mini Manix is very thick and the G10 is of the usual ultra grippy variety. A busk would be nice, but it’s not necessary. Plus, adding a busk would compromise other features, such as ease of carry and acquiring a quick and easy grip on the clipped knife. The Li’l Temperance with its finger grooves does offer a type of busk, so theoretically it is the more secure handling knife. This is an important feature for MBC aficionados. It is so sloppy to drop your knife during sparring. Trust me, I know ;-).
The action is silky smooth on both of my Mini Manixes. The Li’l Temp uses a compression lock, which is as smooth as the finest linerlock for opening and closing. I would have expected the Mini Manix to be rougher to open because of the higher tension generated by its locking bar. Surprisingly enough, the Mini Manix is as smooth to open and close as a Li’l Temperance. However, the action did get a little rougher after I used my PE Mini Manix for a couple of weeks and washing it out without oiling. The action became rougher because the locking bar needed a little oil. A drop or two of Tuffglide and the smooth action was back again.
The weight distribution is a little different on the Minis, when compared to its full-size predecessor. The Manix was pretty dead in my hands for MBC applications. The Mini-Manix’ balance on the other hand is very nice. It moves light, fast and snappy. In this respect, it resembles the Li’l Temperance again.
The Li’l Temperance doesn’t have a choil, which makes it a little less desirable from a utility viewpoint. For the mundane urban utility stuff my knives get to do, a choil is much appreciated. It is excellent for those finer things, like peeling fruit or cutting out articles and the like. So the Mini Manix gets extra points for its choil.
The clip on the Mini Manix is reversible for the (correct 😉 ) tip-up position for left- and right-hand carry. One important thing to mention is that none of the clip screws were dipped in loc-tite. So the clip-change was ever so easy and cosmetically pleasing, as there was no chance of stripping the screws in any way. The clip is high, but not too high. I don’t like the UKPK’s high clip mount as it leaves me with little knife to grip from a pocket or waistband. Not so with the Mini Manix. And there are plenty of screws there for added grip.
However, the Mini Manix clip is no comparison for the feature rich clip of the Li’l Temperance. The Li’l Temp boasts holes to aid in gripping and grip changes. It’s nice and wide and really becomes part of the knife with no sharp corners to pinch the hand. The Mini Manix uses a stock clip that is found on many other Spydies. For most people it works well, but some find this type of clip uncomfortable to work with. To me, the current Mini Manix clip is OK. But mostly because it is reversible for lefties. The Li’l Temp is strictly intended for righties, although I find it OK for left-handed use.
The S30V edge holding has become what I expect from this steel in a Spydie. In my subjective opinion S30V holds an edge better than VG-10, about 3 to 4 times longer. But I never let my knives go really dull, so YMMV. The serrations on my CE Mini Manix are a bit different. It looks like someone found a way to provide sturdy but sharper points on the teeth by lowering the scallop. Interesting. Performance is the same as the teeth on my Li’l Temp.
An edge-up grip is very secure and comfy for all types of fine and rougher utility work with the Mini Manix. This is a bit trickier with the Li’l Temperance because it has no choil and the edge comes so close to the handle, compared to more traditional folders. During food prep, a slight inconvenience with the Mini Manix came to the surface. That huge wide blade, that offers such a thick blade (yet sharp edge), is not exactly the right tool for fine turning cuts. The wide blade doesn’t turn as easily as my Calypso. The Li’l Temp is also not really suited to this type of cutting, but the blade spine is more tapered, so it is a tiny bit thinner. Other than that, the Mini Manix is fun to use and it plain works. There’s plenty of curve on the edge to use it on a cutting board, and the short blade is easy to control.
The grip serrations on the spine above the hole on the Mini Manix did prove useful in the kitchen. My wet hands found ample grip. In regular MBC type cutting on the dummy with dry hands, these serrations help to just plain glue the knife to my hands. The Li’l Temp has no gripping serrations on the spine. But this is because it doesn’t need them for grip. The 3D grip design helps to settle the knife in the hand in various other ways. For example, the butt of the knife rests securely in the palm of my hand during thrusts.
The large bump on the choil of the Mini Manix sticks out a bit, from the rest of the body. Not only does it make a really nice guard, it also helps to ‘find your way around the knife’. I liken it somewhat to a trigger. My index finger finds that trigger and quickly settles in the rest of the fingers and palm. It could be a little more smoothed out for comfort, but I like how it works. The Li’l Temp has no choil but a separate guard.
The Mini Manix feels just a bit heavier than a Li’l Temperance. In my case, I like to carry a pair of Mini Manixes, one PE for everything that needs cutting and a CE one which edge is reserved for all types of emergencies. You do feel it when carrying two Mini Manixes at once. It’s not a bad feeling though, and it certainly doesn’t drag down my pants. The Li’l Temp is made of G10 with only thin steel liners. In addition it is a very open design, versus the closed lockback of the Mini Manix. I imagine that carrying two Li’l Temps would noticeably more lightweight. However, that would not be as comfortable since the Li’l Temp is a right-hand-only design.
In the end I really like my Mini Manixes, because I can comfortably carry and use two at a time, because of the excellent clip options. The wide thick blade offers an amazingly sharp blade, just like my beloved Li’l Temp. The grip security is similar to the Li’l Temp as well, but the Mini Manix is a bit more ‘blocky’. When purposely squeezing the Mini Manix’ handle you feel a few hotspots. In practical use this discomfort did not pop up. The Mini Manix’s opening action is as smooth as the Li’l Temperance, but requires a little more oil for maintenance. Other than that, the Mini Manix is the same all-round sturdy design. Excellent for utility, strong and lively enough for MBC.
It seems like someone took notice of the fandom that the Li’l Temperance has acquired last year. I remember a couple of Mini Manix requests, but much more requests for a Li’l Temp. With the Li’l Temp II still in a concept-stage, the Mini Manix is an excellent alternative to hold us over until my dream Ti integral compression lock SE Li’l Temperance with a full set of divot holes arrives.
The bottom line: 1 Li’l Temp still beats 1 Mini Manix, but two Mini Manixes beat 1 and even 2 Li’l Temps. I’m happy with my Mini Manixes to wait for the next generation of Li’l Temperances to arrive.