A few years ago, I received the LionSpy as a gift and this was a great way for me to discover this Lionsteel/Spyderco collaboration that the online knife community was raving about at the time. I’ll cut straight to it, the LionSpy will never be one of my EDC favorites, but I certainly appreciate the gift and it will remain a cherished part of my collection. Everything I didn’t like about the LionSpy, however, seems to be corrected in the Lil’ LionSpy! And the Lil’ LionSpy certainly is one of my EDC favorites!
The main features I didn’t like about The LionSpy, as a carry folder, are its: weight, smooth surface, pocket clip and high upswept tip. To me, the LionSpy is too heavy for comfortable EDC. The knife’s handle is finished too smoothly for my taste, as I sometimes have difficulty getting a proper grip on the knife that has resulted in a cut finger or two. Furthermore, the clip is too pointy for me. It pinched my hand and tended to rip up jacket and vest liners when the knife was carried IWB.
On the plus side, I do like the rotolock feature. It’s easily accessible and it works. I also appreciate the G-10 and titanium hybrid handle. The workmanship to meld these two different materials in one solid handle, is superb. I also liked the Elmax blade. It doesn’t stain in my uses and it keeps a good edge, and I’m still able to sharpen it again with little difficulty. The extremely rounded profile of the tip and the thickness of the blade don’t result in a very sharp tip though. However, I’m confident the blade and tip are really strong. Still, The LionSpy is not quite as good for slicing out an article or coupon from newspaper print as, let’s say, my Military. More importantly, my LionSpy is a treasured gift so that in itself makes it a really nice addition to my collection!
Improvements over the LionSpy
With the LionSpy’s experience in the back of my mind, I wasn’t terribly enthused when I first saw the Lil’ LionSpy. That is, until I picked it up. The smaller folder shares that strong and stylish hard-use folder concept with its big brother. However, the Lil’ LionSpy is lighter, has a better clip and is easier to control. The Lil’ LionSpy is, to me, on par with such ferocious folders like the Lil’ Temperance and the original Mini Manix. Only, it’s more refined. The blade’s tip is a tiny bit tipped downwards, creating a more useable tip, compared to the larger LionSpy. Also, the pocket clip is a close copy of the Spyderco hourglass design, which makes it a top notch clip right away. The Lil’ LionSpy is just plain easy to clip on, and very ergonomic to work with. The jimping on the blade and the pattern on the G-10/titanium handle are a bit sharper compared to the LionSpy. This, together with the smaller size and weight, make the Lil’ LionSpy so much easier to control for me.
The smaller handle of the Lil’ LionSpy fits my hand just right. It shouldn’t be any smaller or else I couldn’t get a proper four finger grip. The roto-lock is still easy to access and operate for me. The wheel turns easily on my sample. And the lock-up, with or without the roto-lock, is very solid.
The knife doesn’t cut as smoothly as such dedicated slicing designs like my Caly Jr. or Nilakka. Still, the Lil’ LionSpy is no slouch. For my suburban EDC tasks, it’s an impressive cutter. Apart from performing all the mundane mail & package opening, food prep etc.…, the knife seems to beg for tougher chores. I did some mild to medium prying with the knife and the knife wasn’t affected in any way.
The greatest downside –to me- of the LionSpy design is that rounded smooth G10 and titanium handle surface. The upside of this feature is that it makes for very comfortable IWB carry. This is the same reason I still keep a few full SS handle knives in my carry rotation, they’re easy to carry as the smooth handle surface lets your clothing slip by while you move. This can be a bit challenging if you’re carrying a knife with a rubbery handle or very sharp G10. Another advantage of those vintage Spydies with SS handles, is that they are wonderfully thin. I can carry a Spyderco Police all day and not notice it’s there. Back to the Lil’ LionSpy; it carries very nicely and it’s good and easy to draw.
I don’t read much about the Lil’ LionSpy and that’s a shame. Perhaps many knifeknuts are put off by the LionSpy, which wasn’t very popular in the end, I think. Please reconsider the Lil’ LionSpy as it’s a very nice folder. As part of Spyderco’s Little Big Knife line, the Lil’ LionSpy is definitely up there with designs like the Lil’ Temperance and Mini Manix. I feel it’s a modern interpretation of that type of folding knife design. The Lil’ LionSpy differs from these two venerable designs in that it feels a lighter, smoother and more refined.