Spyderco C141 Balance

December 31, 2022

Ed Schempp was known to Spyderco fans as the designer of solid full size folding knives like the Persian, Kris and Barong when the C141 Balance came out in 2010. Contrary to those other designs, the Balance is very small, almost tiny. However, like those other designs, the C141 features the same refined ergonomics that make it work really well. I recently clipped the Balance in my pocket again and was pleasantly surprised to rediscover this little gem in my collection.

I wrote about the Balance before, and I can’t add much to those impressions from 2011. I’m mostly a little disappointed in myself that I don’t carry it more often. Alas, but that is the ‘curse’ of the collector; always seeking out a new design to satisfy both the hunt and curiosity to see if there is a better knife out there.

The Balance is a classy gentleman’s knife, especially my customized version from Ed Schempp himself. I’d love to see a more ‘pedestrian’ version, e.g., in a sprint run or exclusive, with G10 grips for example. Just to see how it would feel and work as a more regular EDC folder. The Balance is still one of the smallest clipped folding knives in Spyderco’s line-up and that makes it unique.

It’s as small as a fingernail, but you can get a solid grip on it and put it to all sorts of everyday cutting chores. If you can find one, I absolutely recommend that you try it out for yourself!

See more details of the C141 Balance on Spyderco’s website and on SpydieWiki. You can also see more photos of my customized Balance in this post. And see the C141 prototype in this post and this video.


Spyderco C41 Native 5 40th Anniversary Video

November 30, 2022

Spyderco is almost as old as I am, so I got to carry this knife for the first time on my 40th birthday. The C41CF40TH Native 5 is an impressive commemorative folding knife. Somehow, it’s both flashy and understated at the same time.

Blade

The blade is made from Thor pattern Damascus steel, from Damasteel. I find it a very interesting pattern; a vivid painting of expressive black lines on a light grey background. To me, that makes it a very cool and somewhat discreet Damascus pattern. As a bonus, all attendees of the 2016 Amsterdam Meet got a ‘hole’ cut from the steel that was used for the 40th anniversary Native 5.  And yes, that included me. 😉

Handle

The handle is a work of art too. Not only is it a beautiful linerless carbon fiber, Spyderco took the extra step to add a fluted pattern to the 3D sculpted handle. It is amazing to examine in real life. It’s also a very nice ergonomic handle pattern. Again, a somewhat understated added feature to celebrate Spyderco’s 40th anniversary.

Collection

And yes, this is one of those knives in my collection that spends more time in my cabinet than my pocket. I do carry it sometimes, and it makes for an amazing discussion piece.

See more details of the C41CF40TH on Spyderco’s website and on SpydieWiki. You can also see more photos of this knife in my earlier post on this 40th anniversary Native and the 25th anniversary Delica.


Spyderco C80 Dodo Sprint Run

October 31, 2022

Many knifeknuts enjoy shooting photos of their orange handled knives in the Fall. I’m no different. This one is a vintage sprint run from about 20 years ago, the C80OR Dodo.

At first glance, the only difference from the 2005 production model appears to be the orange G10 handle. If you look closer, however, you’ll notice that the spine of the blade and back spacer now feature a satin finish, instead of the bead blasted finish of the original production Dodos.

Blade

Some find the Dodo ‘ugly’, but I’m pretty sure they haven’t handled or used it. The Dodo just has this awesome handle design that is both comfortable and it locks securely in your hands. Now, I’m far from the authority on so-called hard-use of pocket knives, but I did use one of my original Dodos to cut out carpeting of a friend’s house and the knife was an amazing performer. The reverse-S blade shape is great for lighter everyday cutting tasks too. It’s a superb box opener to start with, and you’ll find that you can do a lot more than you’d think, like peeling fruit for example. The full size handle offers tremendous control of the 2 inch blade.

Martial Blade Craft

Those who are in to martial blade craft might also appreciate the Dodo; it is easy to deploy and features a secure lock and great handle design. I imagine the blade design makes for an excellent ‘let go device’. It reminds me a lot of the Fred Perrin La Griffe design, but folding and ‘sans’ the iconic index finger hole.

Extinct

I think it’s interesting how this design never stayed away too long. Spyderco introduced the design in 2003 and discontinued it in 2005. This orange sprint run was the first ‘resurrection’ of the C80 in 2012. It was followed by another sprint run with a carbon fiber handle later in 2012. In 2019, Blade HQ commissioned a dealer exclusive of the Dodo in M4 steel and a Jade G10 handle, followed by a serrated version in May 2022. This is one Dodo that doesn’t stay extinct for long (sorry for that pun, it’s kind of mandatory when you write about the C80 😉).

Overall

With its bright orange handle, the Dodo is not just a cool collectible. It’s also easy on the eyes of many non-knife people. Even with that ‘evil’ looking reverse-S blade shape. Highly recommended, 5 out 5 stars, as my 10 year old daughter would say…

See more details of the Spyderco C80 Dodo on SpydieWiki and Spyderco.com, or read my earlier review of the Dodo. You can also see more images of the other Dodos in my collection or check out my post about the C80OR prototype.


Spyderco C196 Mamba Video

April 20, 2022

Probably one of Spyderco’s best looking and most impractical folding knife designs, the C196 Mamba. This is a design collaboration with knife designer Joel Pirela and knifemaker Walter Brend. It looks amazing and it handles wonderfully. However, it is very thick and the corners are sharp. It’s far from comfortable to carry if you’re a suburbanite like me. And if you’d start using this knife for EDC, that beautiful TiCn coating will scratch and wear. Still, the Mamba is an amazing knife that I love having in my collection!

See more details of the Spyderco C196 Mamba on SpydieWiki, or read my review. I also shot photos and video of the original production prototype at the 2016 Amsterdam Meet.


Video: Ed Schempp Custom Bowie

February 20, 2022

About 5 years ago, I received this custom version of the Spyderco C190 Schempp Bowie.  I posted photos and my review of it a few years back. This time, I’m just shamelessly showing it off in this close-up video. I still carry and use the knife, but with care. I don’t baby it, but I certainly won’t go out of my way to see when it would break.

I think I encountered the original concept models for this amazing knife around 2013. Back then, Spyderco was showing 3 sizes of this ethnic American design. I still think they should have gone with the XL-version. The production prototype they did choose was the ‘medium size’. It’s definitely more practical. The design impressed me so much, and Ed is an amazing person and knife-maker, I had to try and get a custom version from him. I wanted a true custom, tailored to my preference. This model is pretty close to the original concept model. Except for the Mokume bolster, lightning strike carbon fiber handle scales, CPM-S90V/CPM-154 cladded blade, wireclip and oh yeah, it’s left-handed. To make it even more personal, Ed engraved my name on the inside of the handle. Well, I guess that’s also a way to stop me from being able to sell it on Ebay. 😉

See more details of the Spyderco C190 Schempp Bowie on SpydieWiki. Or see my first post about this custom knife. You can also see the original production prototype from the Amsterdam Meet in 2014, or the video I shot at the 2014 IWA Show.


The Spyderco C64 Meerkat: a boomerang Spydie

December 19, 2021

The Spyderco C64 Meerkat was originally produced from 2002 until 2004. A respectable run for a Spyderco design, but it’s nowhere near as impressive as such mainstays as the Delica, Military or Paramilitary 2. There have been, however, 4 revivals of this wonderful little big knife. One of these, is this version with a burnt-orange FRN handle and HAP40/SUS410 blade. If you’d ask me, I wouldn’t say that the Meerkat is one of my ‘favorites’, but somehow it does seem to find its way into my pocket regularly.

Let’s start with my main ‘objections’ to the Meerkat: it’s thick and it’s a tip-down carry only. That means it’s slightly more uncomfortable to carry and a little more awkward for me to deploy. But that’s about it. Features of the C64 I do like, are the lefty clip mounting option, the ergonomic 3D sculpted handle, the blade width and excellent edge geometry.

Phantom Lock

Operating the Meerkat left-handed is not easy. The phantom lock is definitely biased for right-handers. However, there’s no mechanism that cannot be learned by opening and closing it constantly when watching TV, right? My wife and kids are not always happy with this ‘training’, as the click clacking tends to ruin certain moments in movies, or so I’ve been told. 😉

Blade

On paper, the C64 is a rather small folder. In reality, the Meerkat’s blade is short – not small. The blade’s width gives the knife very impressive cutting ability. The edge is really thin, and the HAP40 makes it a very smooth cutter. So much so, that I’m not afraid to admit that I cut myself a few times. Playing with that phantom lock might have something to with it as well.

Handle

The handle features these divots all over the handle that might look a bit odd at first. Once you grip the knife, you immediately know what these ‘holes’ are for. That provide a positive full handed grip on a pretty short knife.

Lil’ Big Knife

The Meerkat is one of the earlier ‘lil’ big knife’ designs from Spyderco. It came from the ‘Experimental’ and Navigator designs. In regular production, the Meerkat lasted two years. This is a respectable production time, but not too long. I think it’s funny to see no less than 4 sprints of the C64 since its original production ended in 2003. And like that production history, the Meerkat also keeps on finding its way back in my carry rotation. In that respect it’s really the ‘boomerang design’ of my Spyderco collection. It just keeps coming back.

See more details of the Spyderco C64 Meerkat on Spydiewiki.com, or check out my previous articles, such as: an earlier review, my Meerkat countertop display, photos of the prototype of the knife featured in this article, or my impressions of the burgundy and blue sprint run Meerkats.


Spyderco C101 Manix 2 Video

July 14, 2021

The black & purple combo on this DLT Trading exclusive C101 Manix 2 still mesmerizes me. It’s fun to photograph, or to put on video. Check out my earlier article on this incredible folder.


Spyderco C101 Manix DLC Cruwear & Purple G10

April 30, 2021

When I first got into knives, in the early nineties, I did my best to find the coolest ‘baddest’ ninja-spec-ops folding & fixed blade knives I could find. Naturally, I picked up plenty of knives with black coated blades. After a while, I moved away from that completely. Now, after more than 20 years, I got my first folder with a black blade again: the DLT Trading exclusive C101 Manix with a cruwear blade and purple G10.

What got me was this amazing cool color combination of the purple G10 and black DLC coated blade. I really like that color combination. The liners are coated as well, inside and out. In fact, the only part of this knife that is not coated are the edge and the part of the tang that interacts with the ball bearing lock. I also like the aesthetics of the laser engraving that comes out white on the DLC coated blade.

Apart from the good looks, I was also drawn to this knife because of the cruwear blade. I’m not a big fan of tool steel blades. Partly because I don’t need -or have a big interest in- the increased cutting performance, but also because these steels are prone to rust. The DLC coating should protect it from any rust, and I only have to maintain the edge and uncoated tang near the pivot. I also figured I’d try and see if this coating holds up to use. The main reason I got away from coated blades in the nineties, was that they would just scratch up in use and lose their coating. So far the knife has seen a little use around the house and it the coating has way outperformed the ‘paint’ that was used 30 year ago. 😉 

Check out the SpydieWiki page for the C101 Manix for more information on its specifications and production history.


Spyderco C81 Paramilitary 2 2018 Forum Knife

December 31, 2020

Spyderco was an ‘early adopter’ of online discussion forums. The first forum opened up on BladeForums.com in the 90s, where Sal and several SpyderCrew members would answer questions from fans. More importantly, they asked for feedback which led to several new products and product improvements. In 1999, Spyderco introduced one of the first, if not the first, forum knives for BladeForums.com. A forum knife is usually a variation of an existing design. It shows appreciation to the forumites and -through its sales- help support the forums. Around 2002, Spyderco started their own discussion forum on spyderco.com. And not too long after that, Spyderco offered a new forum knife every few years. The 2018 forum knife, a modified C81 Paramilitary 2, was the last one offered to date.

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Spyderco initially offered the PM2 in S30V steel and a black G-10 handle. Since then, Spyderco has offered a few variations in its catalog. But I won’t even start to try and list the many more variations of the C81 as dealer exclusives and sprint runs. The 2018 forum knife however, still managed to offer something new: a grey G10 handle with a stainless steel laser engraved inlay and a CPMS90V blade.

The 2018 Forum Knife never seemed to get much appreciation. And you’ll rarely see the knife in any Instagram post these days. I don’t think it’s the knife’s fault. It’s just that there are so many dealer exclusives out there of the PM2, and they still keep coming. That way, it’s hard to stand out with a forum knife design. I like it, as I like all the forum knives.

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Some might say the forums are done, with the rise of other social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. That might be true, but I still enjoy it and appreciate that there are so many different online platforms where knifeknuts can meet each other and discuss, share and celebrate this ‘weird’ hobby of ours.

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Check out the specs and history of the C81 Paramilitary at SpydieWiki.com, and specifically the 2018 forum edition, at Spyderco.com.


Rare Spyderco C65 Lum Chinese Folder Variant Video

September 30, 2020

Back in 2016, I showed off this rare variant of the Spyderco C65 Chinese Folder, designed by Bob Lum. Not only is it a sprint run of this iconic design, made with a blue almite aluminum handle, it also demonstrates Spyderco’s engraving service at the time. The web pattern in the handle was laser engraved at the factory. I hope this little video helps to show off this amazingly cool design

The C65 is one of my favorite Spyderco knives, a personal classic, which is why I gave it a spot in my top 5 challenge. Although in one case, I think Spyderco -or one of its dealers- chose a handle color I vehemently disagree with ;-), I still think the Chinese Folder is a design that perfectly combines looks with function. This rare engraved C65 is certainly the grail in my collection of Spyderco Lum Chinese Folders.

Check out the specs and history of the Chinese Folder at SpydieWiki.com.