I never quite intended to get a UKPK when the first one came out (I can still carry locking folders after all), but I got my first one (black) in a deal that was too good to pass up. I was pretty amazed by the notch-joint mechanism, as I never missed the lock. But the UKPK slowly got out of my carry rotation, being replaced by the Caly III. This year, Spyderco is definitely putting the UKPK back on the map for me. The fit and finish has IMO improved a bit. With knife carry laws becoming more strict around the world, the Spydercrew wants to offer –everyone- the chance to carry a high performance knife, even if you can’t have a lock.
I happened to get hold of the new bright orange and foliage green models, and I must say that these ones are a bit nicer than the original black version. The action on my black G10 UKPK was a bit stiff and gritty at first and remained like that for a while. The action on these new UKPKs are a lot smoother, straight from the box. The blades on these new models also seem to have a tiny bit more belly, and the edge is sharpened much more consistently than my original UKPK. The overall fit and finish seems to be tightened up a bit since the original UKPK’s release. The scales and back spacer on the new UKPKs feel like they’re one piece, and the blades tang lines up perfectly with the spine. On the first UKPK, I didn’t like the fold over clip design. No matter how hard I tightened it, the wire clip still had some up and down travel at the end. I think it’s inherent to the design, there are only two fixed point on the clip. On the new UKPK, there’s still a bit of travel, but much less so. I appreciate that a lot.
The performance is just as good as my Caly IIIs. One difference between the Caly III and the UKPK, is that the latter has a slightly deeper choil. This not only helps to keep your fingers safe, it also orients the UKPKs blade at a slightly more downward angle. The UKPK is just a bit more in line with the bones of my forearm, like the Schempp models, compared to the Caly III. The edges are nice and thin. For a 3 inch blade, this is a close to perfect blade shape with wonderful edge geometry. Opening the mail, or helping out with cutting up some bell peppers; the blade never feels awkward.
Apart from the cutting performance, I’ve become a bit addicted to the notch-joint action itself. I find myself constantly opening and closing the knife. It’s a strange sensation to go from having worked with a locking blade all the time, to a non-locking one-hand folder.
One aspect of these new UKPKs, that has remained the same with the older UKPK, is the procedure you have to got to switch the clip to left-hand carry. You see, the spine is actually a type of spring to prevent the blade from closing on your fingers under light pressure. All the screws that hold this spring, including the one holding the clip, are under a lot of pressure. You can’t simply unscrew the clip and shove out the screw holder to switch the clip. There’s too much pressure that makes it impossible for the screw holder to move out or in the handle. I have to completely disassemble the knife –blade and all- to switch the clip. Now, I don’t mind it, but it’s kind of tough putting everything back together – mainly due to the tension of the spine. I found that taking a micro screwdriver with a long thin shaft, and using it as a lever, helps to put the blade in (after half the handle is completely put together with clip). Then you simply add the other scale and tighten everything down.
The new (orange and green) UKPK is a definite step up from the earlier sample I have. Despite the fact that I really don’t like any lawmaker telling me I can’t protect my fingers with a lock on my folder, I’m also not too pessimistic about my knife collecting hobby. These UKPKs are exciting and effective enough to keep my hobby interesting.