Spyderco C125 Ed Schempp Khukuri Revisited

December 11, 2019

A funny thing occurred to me a few months ago. I posted a few images of my old Spyderco C125 Khukuri, designed by Ed Schempp. A lot of people didn’t know what it was and some questioned its practical use. I was surprised to learn this design had been ‘forgotten’. Most critiques of the design were ill-informed judgments, based on a picture, from people who appear to mostly appreciate knives on how they ‘look’. Straight folders might look great, but they’re more awkward to work with than a folding knife with a negative blade-to-handle angle. The knife world needs more practical ergonomic designs like the C125.

When the Khukuri came out, I got one straightaway. Meeting Ed Schempp in person at the Amsterdam Meet was very enlightening. I clipped on the C125 and started conquering the many cutting chores and challenges one encounters in the suburbs! I was very impressed. You can still check out the review I wrote at the time. I will admit that new designs got the better of me, and my love of Spyderco has led me to a life of carrying new knives when they come out. I also don’t sharpen very often; I just grab a different knife. Still, sometimes I’ll revisit an older design. And the Ed Schempp designed folding khukuri felt right at home in my hands again. A drop of oil and a few strokes on the corners of the white stones of my Sharpmaker made the khukuri good to go again.

 

Use
The folding khukuri is a joy to use. The blade is perfectly in line with the bones in your forearm, which makes cutting easy and controlled. The surprise is for many, is that this ‘extreme’ angled blade works in any grip. Choking up on the blade to cut out a coupon or something, no problem. Turning the blade over in your hand, for an edge-in grip, to peel a potato or apple, no problem. And it folds up great too. Trust, me the folding Khukuri carries just as easy as any other Spyderco and the ergonomics will surprise you. The only request I’d make for an improvement is a thinner handle design. Ed’s customs are wonderfully thin, and feature beautiful damascus steel of course.

Looks vs Use
It’s great to see so many new knifecollectors and aficionados coming out. Social media channels like Instagram and Facebook have helped spread our wonderful hobby in amazing ways. However, as a “grumpy old man”, I notice that these visually-driven platforms have a logical disadvantage. Many new knife collectors tend to focus more on ‘looks’ (and likes of course), than the practical use of the knife. So, when Spyderco makes a ‘weird’ looking knife, try to keep an open mind. Don’t judge it in a second on its looks and scroll away. Imagine holding it in your hand and how it would fit and work. Try to check one out at a shop or show too. Remember, Spyderco knives are usually designed in the dark!

Check out specs of the Spyderco C125 Khukuri at the Spyderco.com website, and find out more details and background information at Spydiewiki.


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.


Spyderco 2019 Production Samples Overview

April 22, 2019

I’ve updated my prototypes page with a thumbnail overview of the new production samples, which Spyderco unveiled at the 2019 Amsterdam Meet. For completeness-sake, here it is as well in one overview. The posts behind the thumbnails contain both photos and video.

2019 – Spyderco Production Samples and Concept Models
Photos and First Impressions


Police 4 Lightweight, Endela, Dragonfly 2 Emerson Opener


Dragonfly 2 Wharncliffe, Small Efficient, Emphasis


Sage 5 Lightweight, Native Chief, BaliYo


Byrd Harrier


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.


The case for backlocks

January 13, 2019

Does any knife ‘aficionado’ still consider backlocks when buying a new folding knife? There doesn’t seem to be much interest in them, on social media at least. Sure, I understand it. The old venerable backlock can’t compete with the current wide variety of newer and stronger locks. Many modern lock offer more strength, comfortable unlocking, wow-factor and more. However, most cannot easily be unlocked one-handed, with gloves. The backlock might not be the newest, strongest or easiest to operate, but it’s still the ticket for when you work a knife with gloves on.

Personally, I don’t care much which lock is on my folder. I’ve been using so many over the years that my muscle memory can easily transition between linerlock, backlock, and compression lock etc. Strength is not my main consideration for a lock either. After all, I know how to use a knife and my experience using knives hasn’t shown any need for extreme lock strength. My main concern for locks is that they’re reliable, i.e. not defeated by pocket lint and lock up easily each and every time. Another feature I look for in locks is that they’re ambidextrous, since I’m mostly left-handed. So for me, backlocks work just fine.

Another feature of the backlock to consider, is its history. Many quality knifemakers have been making backlocks for a long time. Much longer than most other locks on the market. What’s my point? A backlock from a quality maker is remarkably consistently made. I can still see different levels of lock engagement in linerlocks, integral locks and compression locks. Backlock? Every single one, from Spyderco at least, locks up great the same way straight from the box.

I realize the backlock isn’t the newest or strongest lock on the market today. However, they are very reliable, very lefty friendly and … the best lock to operate when wearing gloves.


Spyderco UK Penknife: and old concept ahead of its time

October 21, 2018

I own this knife for 10 years now, and lo and behold; high-quality slipjoints are back in style these days. Lionsteel is making them, Chris Reeve Knives is making one and according to my Instagram feed, the genre is also doing very well for custom makers. Especially for designs that echo the patterns of yesteryear when a lock on a folding knife didn’t even exist. Why has this design become cool again?

Spyderco developed the UK Penknife in 2004, simply to accommodate their UK customers who were facing new knifelaws limiting the carry of locking folding knives. What made this development process especially cool, was that UK forumites helped design this knife. In return, they were offered a special engraved UK Penknife that said ‘UK Penknife design team’.

In 2008, the design was slightly refined (opening/closing was smoother) and offered in two blade-types (droppoint and leaf shape), and multiple colors G10 (foliage green and orange). That is when I stepped onto the UKPK train, so to speak. I was pleasantly surprised that this slipit was just as useful as my locking knives. And ever since, I add a Spyderco Slipit to my pocket when I’m traveling to countries with stricter knifelaws, such as on this woodswalk in the forest near Bastogne, Belgium, during last year’s vacation trip.

Spyderco has been making slipits in some form since the introduction of the UK Penknife. This year, the slipit design has become en vogue with other brands. Why? Sure, knifelaws haven’t gotten much more relaxed in the world since 2004, but I think it’s something else. I think more and more knifeknuts are discovering that they rarely ‘need’ a lock. To me, it is a special (small) kind of joy to just open, cut and close your knife without having to unlock it. Try a slipit, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.