Spyderco C223 Para 3 Lightweight Exclusive Review

November 3, 2019

The Para 3 lightweight was the belle of the ball at the 2019 SHOT Show. Apart from being the first lightweight compression lock, it also featured CTS-BD1N steel that got a lot of attention. Having been around Spyderco knives for some 20 years, I knew I wanted to stay away from that first edition of the Lightweight Para 3.  I like colored knives, and black usually just doesn’t do it for me. I knew that a nice colored variant, as an exclusive or sprint run, would turn up soon enough. And here it is, the red C223PRD Para 3 Lightweight, and exclusive variant for DLT Trading.

DLT Trading has quite a few Spyderco exclusives in it stable. They all feature red G10 handles and M390 steel. The Para 2, Manix and Para 3 all received this treatment. This lightweight is a first, in that it appears to be their first FRN handled exclusive. It’s still red and also features M390 steel though. It is also the first Para 3 Lightweight exclusive to hit the market. I think we’ll see more lightweight exclusives in the future though.

Trainer
For us old-timers, it’s still a bit awkward to see so many sharp red handled folders from Spyderco. For many years, red handles were reserved for drones or training knives. The Calypso Jr. & Jess Horn lightweight sprints did come before the red C223, but they had a distinct burgundy color. It really is a strikingly different shade of red, compared to the bright red FRN of the Delica and Endura Trainers. The shade of red on this Para 3 Lightweight seems lighter than the burgundy FRN we saw before and a bit darker than the FRN handle of a Delica trainer.

First impressions
This is my first Para 3 lightweight and I like it a lot. It feels -very- light, even lighter in the hand than an FRN Native and a Lightweight Manix. The lock-up is solid, and remained so during the past weeks of carry and use. The closed blade was a little off-center but that is only a cosmetic problem.

Wireclip
I’m not the world’s biggest fans of fold-over wireclips, but this one worked nicely. The tension of the clip, combined with the smooth FRN surface that interacts with the clip, made it very easy to draw the folder from my waistband or pocket. The FRN pattern is nice and grippy, but it is significantly less aggressive than on my Manix or Native Lightweights. The rest of the Para’s grip is very familiar. This is a very solid and ergonomic compact working folder.

M390
Onto the good part. M390 steel. I’m not much of a steel junkie, as I never test blades to their limits. I do like to carry, use -and in that way ‘play around’ with various steels. I loved super blue steel for its performance for example. But I also easily switch to VG-10 which is one of my favorite steels actually.  Sal Glesser explained to me that super blue makes for a ‘hungry edge’, when I related my experience with it. You see, I kept on looking for food to cut with it. M390, in my opinion, is a ‘sticky edge’.

Cutting
Whenever I start a cut, the M390 edge stay in there to finish it. The sharpness also seems to stick around M390, for a long time.  Your mileage may vary, as my knife-uses are rather mundane. My EDC-needs rarely require more than cutting envelopes, fruit, cardboard etc.… To test a new knife I creep into the kitchen to see if I can help prepare the food instead of only cleaning up after eating it.


Overall
I’m happy to have waited for this exclusive to dive into the Para 3 lightweight. Since it’s the first of its kind, I’m sure plenty of collectors will jump on this run. So don’t wait and start saving. Something tells me, there will be -many- more exclusives of the Spyderco Para 3 lightweights.

Check out specs of the Spyderco C223 Para 3 Lightweight at the Spyderco.com website, and find out more details and background information at Spydiewiki. Also, see the DLT Trading website for this and other Spyderco exclusives.


Spyderco C241 Kapara Review

September 29, 2019

The C241 Kapara’s popularity among Spyderco afi’s is, to me, easy to explain: very practical, excellent function and good looks. If you like the performance of the Spydiechef or the Stretch, you’ll love the Kapara. Also, Alistair Phillips is one of the friendliest custom makers I’ve ever met. And my Australian BladeForums friends taught me some cools Ozzie slang as well. Being a lefty, I am the proud owner of a kackhanded Kapara!

Kapara is another name for the (in)famous Australian Redback spider. Hence the red spacer. And the Redback is Alistair Phillips’ custom folder design that eventually became the Spyderco Kapara. The C241’s original design goal was for a personal carry folder for food prep. I’d say, mission accomplished!

Blade
The Kapara’s blade is made of S30V steel, which in itself isn’t anything extraordinary. What makes it special though, is the flat grind, gentle curve and the ergonomic angle it connects to the handle. It is a very thin and finely ground blade. The C241 just sails through sandwiches, fruit and vegetables. And with the positive handle angle I can keep a full grip with my knuckles clear off a cutting board. Contrary to the SpydieChef, the drop-point tip seems more practical for non-food related utility chores. It’s a bit easier for me to ‘find the tip’ when I need a precise cut, or to dig out a small splinter for example.

Handle
The handle of the Kapara offers something you can’t really make out from pictures. The solid carbon fiber handle scales are 3D rounded, to better fit your hand. Combined with the curve in the handle design, this is a very ergonomic handle.  It reminds me of the wooden handles on some of my grandfather’s tools. Simple, practical and very ergonomic. The C241 also offers some style with that carbon fiber. And the red spacer adds a little flash as well to the handle. Why is all this visual stuff important? Easy, it helps people to want to carry it and show it off to others!

Clip
Although I’m not the world biggest fold-over wireclip fan, this one works nicely for me. There is still some handle left for me to grab and draw the knife from inside my waistband. The fact that it can be switched for a left-hander, or ‘kackhander’ as I’m apparently called down under, is extremely nice!

Compared
To me, the Kapara is very similar to the Spydiechef and the Stretch. The Spydiechef is very popular with many Spyderco aficionados, probably mostly because of its striking modern looks and materials. The fact that it’s a great rust-proof performer in the kitchen adds to its reputation. Like the Kapara, the Spydiechef is designed as a folding food prep knife. The Stretch, however, has never been a mainstream Spyderco favorite. It appears only a specific clique within Spyderco community appreciate it. The Stretch has always been my favorite Spyderco utility folder. It’s just right for my EDC uses and preferences. The C241’s profile is strikingly similar while offering a slightly more dropped edge. It does lack the high-performance steel of the Stretch though.

Conclusion
What the Kapara does better than the Spydiechef, in my experience, is being a better all-round EDC knife. And what the C241 does better than the Stretch, is to look nicer. This is not a trivial matter in the current Instagram-dominated knife community. If that helps enlighten more people to the benefits of a 3,5 inch flat ground drop-point  blade with the Spyderco trademark round hole, all the better. And I do hope people use their Kapara. That’s one of the things I like best about these drop-point designs. They are generally not too fancy or ‘visually exciting’ for most people, but they just beg to be used. And in use is where you’ll find real appreciation of a knife!

Check out specs on the C241 Kapara at the Spyderco website, and see Spydiewiki for more background information. Also check out Alistair Phillips’ website to see more of his amazing work.


Review: Spyderco C230G Lil’ Native

March 4, 2019

The Spyderco Lil’ Native backlock is probably my favorite knife from the past year, at least from an EDC point-of-view. This little folder is very useful, very ergonomic, very cool and very Spyderco in every possible way.

The C230 Lil’ Native Backlock is, simply put, a ‘baby’ version of the C41 Native. If there’s one thing that Spyderco is really good at, it’s making small folders that perform really well. Just ask anyone who owns a Dragonfly, Ladybug, Meerkat or any of their many other small folders. Spyderco sometimes calls their diminutive powerhouses ‘lil’ big knives’. Knives that measure small, but perform big. The Lil’ Native is no exception. The C230 was made in two variants, one with a compression lock and one with a mid-backlock locking mechanism. Being an old fart, I prefer the ‘proper’ backlock version as that is how Native folders have been made since the beginning. The backlock version just feels right to me, for a Native.

Purpose
I’m not sure of the precise backstory of the Lil’ Native’s design. It is likely that Spyderco made the design after customer requests. At the same time the Lil’ Native came out, the larger Shaman came out as well, and I have seen regular requests online to make a larger Native. Both offered size variants of the venerable C41 Native. Why would one want a smaller Native? For one thing, it’s a great ergonomic and functional design, and a smaller version is easier to use in public among non-knife people. Also, if you pay close attention to how much edge you actually use in daily cutting tasks, you’ll notice it’s deceptively little. Living in a modern urban environment, most of your cutting tasks can be accomplished with a 2,5 inch blade. If that’s all you use, then a more compact knife makes sense.

First impressions
The fit and finish on the knife are superb, but that’s not a surprise considering my experience with the Native 5. One new feature I like in the Lil’ Native, compared to my older G10 Native 5, is the lack of liners. The Lil’ Native is a thick and stout little knife, but it’s also very lightweight thanks to that linerless construction. At first glance, I was a bit disappointed with the stonewash finish. I usually prefer a regular satin finish. The eye wants something as well, as we say in Dutch. Although the Lil’ Native is only 15% smaller than the regular Native 5, it looks a lot smaller. In the hand, the grip is very similar to the Native 5. The Lil’ Native doesn’t feel small at all.

Working the knife
Using the knife to break down cardboard was a joy. The thick blade and ‘lock in’ handle ergonomics make it easy to just stab in a big box and slice down. I also used the little folder in my garden, pruning some plants and bushes. The handle makes holding onto the knife while push cutting through some tough branches very easy. I guess that full flat grind blade helps as well ;-). Some might say that such a thick blade isn’t necessary in a design this small. That may be, but that’s also missing the point of the Lil’ Native. Spyderco doesn’t refer to it as a lil’ big knife for nothing. The Lil’ Native’s blade is thicker than a Chaparral for sure, but it’s no Medford-type brick either. Not by a long shot. The blade thickness is the same as the regular Native 5, that’s all. And this smaller folder really does cut like a much bigger knife.

The S35V steel is a familiar performer. It’s a solid middle-of-the-road steel for me. It cuts  long enough to impress most, and it sharpens easily on a Sharpmaker. It also doesn’t rust. The past few months, boxes, zip ties, flowers, envelopes, fruit, and loose strings could not escape the edge of the Lil’ Native – it’s a very fun knife to use.

I might pay attention to the tip of my Caly 3.5 or Chaparral, but not so with the Lil’ Native. It’s a very confidence inspiring little folder. I’m tempted to share one with my cop friend, who has a genuine talent to really mess up any knife he gets his hands on.

Negatives
The stonewash finish on the blade is fine for a working knife, but I’d prefer to see a regular satin finish on the blade. Also, the clip could’ve been finished more ‘upscale’ if it were up to me. And I certainly wouldn’t mind a few more color options than just basic black, but that’s just me. If the Lil’ Native Backlock would become available in a nice S110V version with that blurple G10, I’m down for one or two. Then I’ll pass along this boring black G-10 version along to my cop friend and see how these stout lil’ folders really hold up!

 

Overall
This is a superb folder, period. I feel it’s not so much a ‘mini-native’, but more like a ‘mini-lil’ temperance’. I’m pretty sure this backlock variation won’t last long, since the market usually prefers a new lock design over something as ‘old’ as the backlock. But the lock certainly is not obsolete, and neither are the Spyderco native pattern of folding knives. With variations like these coming out, it’s proof that many people still love this proven design. If you’re eyeing the Lil’ Native with a backlock, I wouldn’t wait too long.


Review: Spyderco C41CFF5 Native 5 – S90V & Fluted Carbon Fiber

September 22, 2018

I really like the Spyderco 40th anniversary Native 5, but I know I’ll never ‘hard use’ that knife (whatever that means these days). When this very same knife in a S90V blade was announced, I took notice. This new C41CFF5 could be a neat companion piece to my anniversary knife, one that I actually would use a lot easier.  It turns out that I liked this ‘plain’ Native a lot more than just something to have on me to prevent scratching that beautiful Odin’s eye Damascus steel of the anniversary Native.

Fluted history
This knife’s main draw, for me, is that gorgeous fluted handle. I really like its backstory, or what snippets I picked up from it. Spyderco has been working on fluted handles for years, way before the C41CFF5 was conceived. The fluted titanium Military was the first knife to come out in 2011 and the handle finish and lock were tweaked several times during production. The fluted titanium Native 5 won American Made Knife of the Year at the 2011 Blade Show, but didn’t become available until 2013. Both knives were dropped from production in 2017. Sure it’s a respectable run, but the fluted titanium knives was always only available in small quantities. Was that because of a lack of interest? Nope. Apparently, they were just extremely difficult to make, in a consistent quality and on a production scale.

Still, Spyderco wanted to pursue this fluted handle design. So they turned to carbon fiber, hoping that that would be a lot easier to work with for -again- consistent quality and on a production scale. Unfortunately, that too proved very challenging. So much so that this particular knife, was cancelled during production and the finished fluted handles were used for the limited anniversary run of 40th anniversary natives. Still, Spyderco hung on and in August 2017, the C41CFF5 fluted native was released for one production run.

To date, we haven’t seen any other new fluted handle designs. I just love Spyderco’s tenacity to keep finding a way to make the design work. I’m sure that a lots of other makers would just go with a shallow engraving of a wider stripe-pattern and call it a day. This fluting itself is plentiful, spaced very close together, deep and consistent throughout the 3D handle.

Handle
The Native’s fluted carbon fiber grip is a knifeknut’s dream; the look is unique and very aesthetically pleasing and  it actually works. It offers a wonderful grip, not too smooth not too rough; just right for this office worker’s dainty hands. The 3D machining fits my hand really well and the fluting adds just the right amount of traction for suburban EDC work. It’s just a plain awesome handle, and I wish we will see more knives with this handle design. But not too much, as I appreciate the fact that this is a rare and exclusive handle design. I also really appreciated the 4-way clip option. I can set it up as my left-handed utility folder and really use it. A nice touch is that the clip-screw holes feature polished steel threads sitting just a hair below the surface of the carbon fiber handle. The unused clip screw holes tend to disappear from my notice, in the dark fluted carbon fiber.

Blade
The CPM S90V blade on a Native 5 is no stranger to me, since it was also featured on the excellent 2015 forum knife. S90V ticks off all my boxes for practical EDC: it’s flat ground, around 3 inch long, leaf shaped, thin and stainless. I realize it’s not stain-proof, just stainLESS. Yes, I like to play with the occasional carbon steel that Spyderco offers, but it will be cladded with a stainless steel. I just like my knives to clean up nicely after work. I know, I’m superficial, but I’m the SpyderCollector after all and collectors like to keep their precioussessss in good looking order. Edgeholding is just plain boring. Trimming some vines in the yard, opening mail, pitching in in the kitchen for food prep, cutting up apples for lunch – it all just makes that S90V yawn with boredom. All I can say is that with my mundane suburban uses, the edge holds extremely well and it doesn’t stain.

Fit and finish
The overall fit and finish is simply superb. I was actually a bit surprised about it. This C41CFF5’s fit and finish is just as nice as any old-school Moki made Spydie. The opening and closing action is just so smooth, and the lock-up tight as the proverbial bank vault. The fit and finish is on a new level for Spyderco in my book. I can feel the difference between this C41CFF5 Native and the much older G10 Native I own,  which –rest assured- is just fine in the fit& finish department.

Overall
I realize this isn’t a cheap folder and with this knife’s MSRP, you’re getting into Sebenza territory. I like and appreciate the Chris Reeve Sebenza a lot, and I know many purists will point out that the Sebbie has better fit and finish than any Spyderco knife. That’s probably true. But … can you get a Sebenza in S90V with a 4-way clip, and a 3D fluted carbon fiber handle that actually fits your hand comfortably in a variety of grips?  … [mic drop] … 😉

Check out more info on the Native 5 at www.spydiewiki.com


My Spyderco Top Five Challenge

June 13, 2018

Last year, I got called out on Instagram for a Top Five Challenge. The point of this challenge is to show the five favorite knives in your collection. I’m sure I’m not alone when I say this kind of challenge is not easy! I went at it from the angle of ‘my top five most used EDC folders’. No surprise, they’re (almost) all Spyderco knives.

Delica
The Spyderco Delica is one of the first knives I got, which taught me that great performance can be had in an affordable package. I have a bunch of Delicas and this older left-handed Delica 3 CF sprint run is a very refined representation of the design.

Caly 3
While the Spyderco Military introduced me to the full flat grind back in the day, my Calypso Jr. was probably carried and used more, because of its size. I used the heck out my Calypso Jr. since I only had like five spydies at the time. If only I got called out for a #topfivechallenge then, it would’ve been very easy! I’m hooked on the Calypso pattern and like the upgrade into the Caly 3 design. I have picked up quite a few variations over the years. This Caly 3 with a ZDP-189 laminated blade and carbon fiber handle is one of my current favorites.

Lum Chinese Folder
The Lum Chinese Folder is an amazingly stylish looking folder that doesn’t sacrifice much in utility value. It is perhaps the start of Spyderco’s series of ethnic folders. For me, the Chinese Folder is proof that knives can be useful AND pretty! This sample was a distributor exclusive I think, and it features a full ZDP189 blade and black almite handle scales.

Stretch
The Stretch is my all-time favorite utility folder by Spyderco, period. It’s got everything I like: right size, full flat grind, spot on ergonomics and it is 100% lefty compatible. It’s big enough to tackle any reasonable chore I have encountered over the years, and its profile is still compact and ‘social’ enough to carry almost anywhere. The second generation of the Stetch, the Stretch 2, is OK but I prefer the original. This Stretch with a full ZDP189 blade and peel-ply carbon fiber handle is my favorite of the line. I consider this Sal’s best design to date.

Ed Schempp Custom Bowie
This custom version of the Spyderco Schempp Bowie is the crown jewel in my collection. It is a recent acquisition and my first true custom knife. Ed made it to my personal preferences: left-handed, lightning strike carbon fiber handle, mokume bolster, cladded CPM154/S90V steel blade, and a pocket clip. The pinnacle of my collection!


Custom Schempp Bowie

August 31, 2017

I finally did what plenty of knife collectors have done before me; I ordered a custom knife. Mind you, not a ready-made custom knife from a webshop. No, I’m talking about a custom folding knife tailored to my personal preferences. After deciding on what I wanted, I approached the knifemaker to see if he was interested and able to make it. He was, and right away I tried putting the entire project out of my mind to ease the waiting period. The result is in, and it has surpassed all my expectations. I present you, a left-handed 100% custom made Schempp Bowie folding knife, made by Ed Schempp!

Background
The Spyderco Amsterdam Meets are not just great gatherings with fellow knifeknuts that offer an exclusive first look on new and upcoming Spyderco designs. They are also very enjoyable lectures on knife design. Ed Schempp has joined a few meets in the past. I felt his design philosophy and kind demeanor, was an awesome addition to an already great meet. He is very generous with his time and knowledge to educate and entertain everyone with tales of knife design, performance and metallurgy. I thought I knew a thing or two about knives. After meeting Ed, I knew I was wrong ;-). Ed’s work seems like a perfect fit with Spyderco, it’s focused on performance, with good steel and excellent ergonomics. The fit seems mutual, considering his long relationship with Spyderco as a knife designer for most of Spyderco’s ‘Ethnic Series’ of knives, which celebrates iconic knife designs from all over the world.

Schempp Bowie
I’ve enjoyed all of Ed’s designs with Spyderco and marveled at the custom made concept models that passed in front of my camera at the Amsterdam Meet. I knew I wanted him to be the maker of my first custom folder, and I chose the Schempp Bowie as the basis for my custom knife. The design really grabbed me when I first laid my eyes and hands on it. During the 2013 Meet, the design was still a full custom made concept model called the Frontier, and it was shown in several sizes. Spyderco ended up making the middle-sized one. In 2014, the design had evolved to the production prototype stage and it was my personal favorite of the show. For my custom folder project, I wanted the knife primarily to be ready for everyday carry and use, but I also wanted a little eye-candy.

Blade
I’m familiar with Ed’s amazing work in Damascus, such as the bolster on the 25th Anniversary Delica. However, Damascus is usually not stainless, except for Devin Thomas stainless Damascus – which Ed has used to customize a spydie or two. For EDC, I simply prefer stainless steel. Still, I wanted the blade to have some cool factor. Then it clicked. I remembered reading on the forums about a cladded powdered blade steel, combining a CPM S90V core and outside layers of CPM154 steel.

Moreover, Ed Schempp had something to do with the development of this steel, as he explained on the Spyderco forums a few years ago:

Many years ago I was bothering Dick Barber from Crucible Steel to make a USA laminate for the cutlery market. Dick and I exchanged many emails on the topic. … As a result of the emails that Dick created a file, a couple of years ago at blade I gave a recommendation for a clad steel using S90V and cpm 154 cm as an example. … Crucible made a test billet and I played with some …. Theoretically you should get a blade that is polishable and scratch resistant that is tougher than S90V. This material should be considerably less expensive to grind than solid S90 V. To ensure accuracy of placement of the core, smaller billets will be hipped, raising the price of the material. I like that this is an American made product and the first commercial laminate made in the USA.

If you’re wondering about the practical performance considerations of this cladded steel, Ed added this to the discussion:

Many of the Spyderco ELU have complained that their 420 J2 laminated blades were getting scratched in use, the clad was too soft. This is not a function problem but a cosmetic problem. The S90V CPM 154 CM recommendation was for folder blades and kitchen use. A lower Carbon clad would be desirable to gain a synergy of the two steels.

It polishes very well, better than most stainless knife steels. This laminate should outperform many of its steel competitors for their given applications. This stuff is cool and it is pretty. When you look at Halle Berry do you wonder how fast she runs a 100 yards? It is not always about performance, it is nice to have a high performance piece of steel in your pocket that you are intrigued and amazed by.

This steel would tick off all my boxes for the blade; stainless, high performance, cool factor, and extra resonance because of Ed’s involvement in the development of the steel! In addition, Spyderco has used this cladded steel on sprint runs of the Manix 2 and the Paramilitary 2. On my knife, Ed added a high polished finish to the blade and he delivered it –very- sharp. The blade is around 1 mm thicker than Spyderco’s production version. And the spine of the custom blade is slightly radiused. It’s not completely rounded like on a Sebenza, my custom Bowie still has a serviceable corner on the spine for scraping chores for example.

Handle
Spyderco describe the handle features of the Schempp Bowie folder as follows: “The classic “coffin-shaped” handle has a slightly “dropped” angle to allow a natural wrist angle during use. This subtle detail shortens the blade’s opening arc, increases cutting power, reduces fatigue, and instinctively orients the point with the axis of the forearm.” All these characteristics apply to my custom folder, but I got a few extras.

Since I wanted the blade to be mainly focused on being a practical EDC blade, the handle is where I wanted to add some ‘bling’. The concept models of the Schempp Bowie, handmade by Ed for Spyderco in 2013, featured lightning strike carbon fiber. This was actually my first introduction to the material and needless to say, I found it …striking. Spyderco’s production version features a much plainer, and more affordable, carbon fiber/g10 laminate. Contrary to the flat handle of the production knife, the scales and bolsters on my custom version are gently radiused across their entire width. This absolutely enhances the knife’s ergonomics.

Please note the colored screws in the handle. Ed purposely anodized the screws in the presentation side into a gold color matching the bolster. The screws on the clip side were anodized black matching the clip. As I recall, the screws are from the same material and the color difference was achieved by different heating levels.

I really liked the looks and function of the brass bolster on the Spyderco Schempp Bowie, but also because it echoes the traditional brass S-guard on fixed blade bowie knives. To up the ante, I asked Ed if he could make a Mokume Bolster, which was not a problem. I feel it turned out stunning!

In addition, my custom folder features slightly thicker liners and a full length spacer. To achieve the tip-down clip carry I wanted, Ed used a wireclip straight from the Spyderco factory version which was just fine by me.

Lock
Like many of Ed’s designs this custom Schempp Bowie features a solid linerlock. Mine was so solid, that the lock would sometimes stick. I lightly polished the ramp on the tang with some Flitz, and the stick was gone. Or rather, the lock-up is still rock solid but now also easy to disengage. I trust the knife for hard use, no problem. Since this knife was going to be a daily carry utility folder, and I’m a lefty, I asked for a left-handed knife. I can perfectly manage almost any right-handed knife design, but since we’re creating a custom knife why not do it ‘right’? It’s a rare treat for a lefty like myself to get a left-handed linerlock. You won’t believe how good it feels to me to operate this lock after every cutting chore.

Use
I’ve used the knife for regular EDC-type chores that one encounters in the suburbs. The most frequent cutting ‘challenges’ included opening the mail, some yard work pruning bushes, breaking down cardboard boxes for recycling, and food prep. It hardly gave the cladded steel a workout, but it is the kind of cutting I encounter. Needless to say, the edge is still very sharp. I did touch the edge up once, but that was more about me trying to see how easy it was than an absolute necessity. The knife is a bit heavier than Spyderco’s production version, but it carries like a regular Spydie in a pair of jeans. If you’re looking for a folder to wear in sweat shorts, go for any linerless FRN handled Spyderco.

Ed warned me that with carry and use some of the copper wires in the handle would work their way from the surface. He buffed/sanded the surface multiple times in different directions to alleviate this quirk, but it could still happen. He was right. Over the past six months I’ve noticed this happening three times. I carefully removed the loose wire and continued enjoying the knife. The handle still looks like new to me.

Overall
To me, my custom Schempp Bowie brings together many factors that are important ingredients in my knife hobby: a knifemaker I admire, Spyderco, American history, performance, cool features and good looks. It’s been a wonderful journey to think up this knife and Ed was a great guy to work with, although he did most of the work ;-). As you can tell, I’m more than happy with this knife. It has surpassed all my expectations and is a regular companion in my EDC rotation.

Every knifecollector probably has this dream to get a bespoke folder made completely to their wishes. I realize that my custom folder might not be a wholly original design, as it is strongly linked to an existing production knife. But that’s exactly what I wanted, and that might be just what getting a custom knife is all about; getting the knife you like. I was fortunate to actually make this dream a reality. If you ever get a chance to pursue a custom knife, I’d encourage you to go for it. My custom Schempp Bowie truly is the crowning jewel in my collection.


Spyderco Lil’ LionSpy Review

June 7, 2016

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!

lionspy&lillionspy_spyderco

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.

lionspy&lillionspy_spyderco_clip

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!

lionspy&lillionspy_spyderco_handle

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.

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Ergos
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.

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Cutting
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.

lionspy&lillionspy_spyderco_blade

Carry
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.

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Overall
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.

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lionspy&lillionspy_spyderco_clipside