Review: Spyderco Des Horn

At the 2011 Amsterdam Meet a few knives stood out to me. One of them was the Des Horn Folder and it went immediately to the top of my mental wish list. After using it on and off for the past seven months, the Des Horn has become one of my regular carry knives. I am left-handed when it comes to utility folders. No, I don’t have some special version of the Des Horn that was made with a left-handed linerlock. Yes, the tip seems awfully thin and fragile. No, the tip hasn’t snapped off yet. The main thing that made me like the Des Horn folder was its high ‘stickiness factor’. It almost seems to stick to my hand and pocket because I just plain like this folder a lot.  

Going over the sleek folder and playing around with it a while during the 2011 Amsterdam Meet, proved that it could be a real nice left-handed folder. How? Well, I place the tip of my left-hand ring finger in the opening hole and flick the blade open as if I were flicking away a cigarette. The blade just flies open. I must have done this hundreds of times since I got the knife over seven months ago. The linerlock hasn’t moved visibly and the lockup is still just as tight as it was on day one.

Blade

I’m not a big fan of wharncliffe blades, but I certainly appreciate for what they can do. The Kiwi has always served me well around the office. In my experience, the only place a Wharnie doesn’t work well is on a cutting board or a dinner plate. With one exception. Cutting out a coupon or article with the Des Horn’s sleek S30v steel blade is like racing a formula 1 car over the thin paper. It’s like pointing a laser over the tabletop. The tip slices through the paper like it isn’t there. I do miss not being able to properly use the knife for food prep. I prefer droppoints for that chore, not wharnies. Beyond that, the straight edge and needle-like tip have their uses. The Des Horn is great for all sorts of controlled cuts. It excels in opening bags, packages, envelopes etc…. It’s also probably the best folding fruit knife I’ve worked with to date. My wife certainly appreciated my enthusiasm to prepare fruit snacks for our kids and to help peel the potatoes for dinner.

Looking down on the blade’s spine, you’ll notice the blade stock gradually thinning to a needle tip. Combined with the blade’s acute profile, it makes for an extremely sharp tip. The corners on the blade’s spine are acute, but not sharp. When it did become time to sharpen the blade, my kiwi-experience kicked in. I only use a Sharpmaker and it takes a bit of technique to preserve that needle tip on a wharncliffe. During the sharpening strokes, I prefer to drop the heel of the blade slightly and never let the tip slip off the stones. I also recommend going slow and only use light to moderate pressure when sharpening the blade on the ceramic sticks.

Handle

The handle is made from G10 and the surface is polished smooth. The decorative striping adds grip and lots of great looks. I love how the lines from the handle extend into the blade. The grooves in the blade have a function too. If I happen to miss the hole when trying to deploy the knife, I can just push against the grooves to open the knife. The Des Horn Spyderco collaboration has a smooth handle and not a hint of finger choil, guard or serrations on the spine. And no, I never came close to cutting myself because of this. That could be due to the fact that the handle tapers down to a narrow tip, it’s a mirror image of the blade’s profile. This helps to anchor the knife in the palm of my hand. The butt end can be a bit sharp, but I only notice that in a reverse grip with my thump ‘capping’ the handle.

Fit and finish

Is there anything these Taiwanese makers can’t do? There are miles between the production of the Perrin folder and this Des Horn masterpiece, yet both are made well. A full flat grind or a hollow grind? No problem for the good folks in Taichung. Function is flawless and the fit and finish is simply great. I do see that they’re not quite up to Moki standards. Looking into the inside of the handle I notice the gaps between the blade and the handle. The washers are a bit thick. From a cosmetic point of view, I’d like to see closer tolerances on the pivot of this knife. However, I realize that it would make the knife that much more expensive.

Conclusion

This is a pretty knife and it works great. Although I haven’t damaged the tip with use or the occasional drop, it’s not a hard-use outdoor folder. It’s a great choice if you’re looking for a lightweight EDC gent’s folder. It’s an excellent urban utility folder. By the way this is the second Spyderco to feature a tip-down wireclip. The Meerkat was the first. However, the Des Horn is the first Spydie to use the pivot bolt assembly to anchor the clip. And if it wasn’t obvious yet, this is also the first Spyderco with a non-left/right reversible wireclip. But it doesn’t matter to me; I can open it faster left-handed than my right-handed friends with their right hand. Moreover, thumb-opening this folder isn’t half as much fun as flicking it open like I’m doing right now.

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2 Responses to Review: Spyderco Des Horn

  1. Nice article, thanks for the details! Really considering purchasing one of these.

  2. […] Viele’s closest current spydie is the Des Horn folder. The Viele’s blade and grind is a bit thicker, and the production tolerances aren’t as tight as […]

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