The unveiling of the Phoenix concept model at the IWA show in 2007 (for me at least) was a mouth watering experience to say the least. The curves and lines really grabbed my attention. A year later when the Phoenix got into the production prototype stage, pretty much everyone I saw handling it seemed to have a hard time giving it back. To me, the Phoenix is one of those knives you really enjoy using, carrying and admiring.
There have been reports that the first batch of Phoenii was a bit disappointing; some had sticky locks and scratches all over the bolsters. My sample came from the second batch and the lock is just fine and the only scratches on the bolster are the ones I put there myself. 😉 Overall fit and finish is great, on par with the Kopa series. From a user point of view I dislike the sharp corner on the end of the handle, as well as the ‘points’ that are created by the bolster when the knife is closed.
The Phoenix looks pretty but it is certainly no fragile safe queen; the blade is relatively thick and stout. The tip inspires confidence and it has held up perfectly to all my chores so far. There is no blade play I can detect. The blade opens very fluently and once locked, it is fixed solid. The deep choil and curved handle offer a firm grip (edge out, tip forward). The clip also seems very solid, moreso than a regular clip on a Delica 4 for example. The handle is sufficiently versatile, but only in the various edge out grips. For edge in grips, the curves and choil get in the way of a proper grip. A 100% user oriented design like the Caly III is much more user-friendly in the various grips you need for different cutting or scraping chores. The knife cuts like the best hollow ground folders I own. It doesn’t compare with my Stretch II, UKPK or Caly III, but the Phoenix does offer a thicker tip and blade compared to those models. After a few cardboard boxes and meals in the kitchen, the Phoenix wouldn’t shave anymore, so I sharpened it. I noticed a tiny uneveness in the angles in both edges so I took out the diamond rods to fix it. That turned out to be a good thing. The diamonds rods were followed by the regulare grey and white stones and to finish it off I took out my UF stones. The edge on my Phoenix not only looks nice now (full mirror polish versus the factory edge) but it’s really scary sharp. That deep hollow grind and VG-10 make for one sharp edge. The gradual hollow grind of my sharpened Phoenix glides through cheese much better than a Native for example.
A significant piece of bright white handle sticks out when the Phoenix is clipped to your pocket. On the plus side, this makes it really easy to draw but it also draws attention. If you don’t like that, and you are set on this carry position then move on to another knife. Titanium is wonderful stuff but it’s easy to scratch, especially when it’s not coated, like on the Phoenix. If you carry this knife you will scratch the bolster, period. Luckily, because the titanium is soft, it’s also relatively easy to fix those scratches. I’m getting good results with silverpolish, but I’m sure any of the regular polishes (like Flitz) will work great as well.
As you might gather from my comments so far; I don’t think the Phoenix will knock my Stretch II from its place as my alltime favorite folder. If you’re looking for a pure user, look further in the Spyderco line-up. The different features that make the Phoenix such an attractive folder also prevent it from being a better user-design. The curves, titanium bolster and ‘pointy bolster’ add to the Phoenix’ looks, but become a bit of a hindrance after a few days of carry. I really hope that future runs fix the sharp corner on the end of the handle. It must have been a feature that Howard Viele insisted on being there. If it were properly rounded, I’d like the knife a whole lot better. It would make the knife more comfortable to hold in various grips and it would be better for my pockets. <br><br>
However, everytime I take my Phoenix out I pause to admire it. The knife works and it works well. It could have been a better folder if the design was tweaked a bit (see comments above). There are very few knives in my collection I enjoy putting in my pocket so much as I do with the Phoenix. Those looks do go a long way.