Spyderco 25th Anniversary Delica and 40th Anniversary Native 5

July 9, 2017

An anniversary knife is a special treat for collectors, if they’re done well. Spyderco did it right by carefully selecting the right design and adding some unusual features you won’t find in an ordinary production knife. The 25th Anniversary Delica and 40th Anniversary Native 5 are, in my opinion, more than just ‘cool commemorative knives’.  I’d like to think both knives are also interesting expressions of this wonderful knife company at two different points in its impressive, but still recent, history.

History
Spyderco celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2003. This occasion was celebrated by the release of the C76 Anniversary Delica. Wait wut?! A Delica designated C76 instead of C11? I don’t know why the number was changed, just accept it. The C76 was only made for one run of 500 pieces by Moki, one of the very best Japanese knifemakers. All the knives were individually numbered. The Delica makes sense for this celebration. It’s been a watershed design for Spyderco that helped bring their unique design to so many happy knife users. Even back in 2003, there had already been three generations of the design as well as many different production variations.

At the time, the knife’s MSRP of $529, 95 was the highest price Spyderco ever had to ask for a knife. It caused some online complaints, but that died down quickly. Try to find one now, good luck! That pretty much says it all. I never got one back in 2003, it was too rich for my blood at the time as I needed to finish my studies first. After entering the workforce for a few years, I managed to come across one at an offer that was too good to pass. It’s been somewhat of a grail knife for me.

If I recall correctly, the C41CF40TH 40th Anniversary Native 5 was formally announced at the 2016 Amsterdam Meet. The knife was released in September of the same year in a run of 1,200 knives. The Native 5 has, at least in my opinion, become the new flagship knife for Spyderco. It might not be as ‘exciting’ a design as say a Nirvana. The Native 5, however, does features an excellent design with superb construction and impressive fit & finish. Furthermore, in its FRN incarnation, this new Native still qualifies as a working knife for many people. Just look at Eric when he talks about the Native 5 at a show or meet. He is rightfully very proud of the quality and usability Spyderco is able to offer with the Native 5.

Wait huh? A 25th anniversary in 2003 and a 40th anniversary in 2016? Who’s doing the math here at Spyderco HQ?! Easy there, it’s like this. In 1981, Spyderco made their first knife, the C01 Worker. But the company start back in 1976 when it made the portable hand, a device used e.g. for making precision electronics. Later on, Spyderco made sharpening products and that led to the development of the first one-hand opening clip carry folding knife we all love so much. I ordered a 40thAnniversary Native 5 as soon as possible and have been pretty happy with the knife in my collection. It’s definitely a different kind of knife than the C76, but more on that later.

Blade
The 25th anniversary Delica features a hollow ground VG-10 blade with a mirror finish. Other than the mirror finish, it’s the same blade you would find on a FRN Delica 3. The blade is 74mm long, 2.5mm thick and the edge is around 63mm long. It’s nicely finished with very even bevels and even the edge has been sharpened very precisely. Mind you, this was before Spyderco started to use a sharpening robot on selected models. I’ve only used this blade to open a few gifts at Christmas. And that’s probably all the workout it will ever get. This is a very rare piece that I’m very careful with.

 

I feel, the 40th anniversary Native 5’s blade got a nicer treatment than the C76. This time the production steel (CPM S35N) was replaced by something special: Thor™ pattern Damascus steel from the Swedish firm Damasteel® (who apparently used this steel to celebrate their own 40th anniversary in 2016). The Thor Damascus was made from layers of RWL34 and PMC27 steel. The blade is flat ground and finished pretty much like a regular Native 5. A distinctive feature on the blade, apart from the Damascus, is the laser engraving denoting this to be the 40th Anniversary knife. Some feel the engraving is too garish. I think it matches well with the Damascus swirls. More importantly, this is an anniversary knife. And, overall, this Native is kind of ‘subdued’ and without the engraving it could very well be a ‘regular’ sprint run. So I’m personally OK with this engraving. In addition, attendees of the 2016 Amsterdam Meet got a Damascus hole cutout from this very knife!

 

Handle
The C76 handle is a real treat for collectors, as it features a Damascus bolster handmade by master smith Ed Schempp! The Damascus pattern features the Spyderco bug logo in a web pattern. A very striking and welcome feature for this anniversary Delica! In Ed’s own words: …To get the 40 some pounds of bolster material for the twenty-fifth anniversary knife I forged about 450 pounds of steel in primary billets, The forge scale loss was about 15% the balance was to cutting and grinding. This project took about three months of forging and labor. I think that gives you an idea to why the material is expensive….

 

Ed did end up with some ‘spare’ bolster material which ended up in the hands of some collectors and Spyderco afi’s, as Damascus tiles. This stunning bolster is mounted in a stainless steel handle frame that’s also the base for genuine honey colored jigged-bone scales. I really like how both the bolster and handle scales are natural materials that differ from knife to knife.
The clip was left off this wonderful handle. I bet the mounting would’ve been problematic for the horn material. Oddly enough, for a knife that has a striking ‘classic’ look, the more modern boye dent was added to the locking bar. I think the ‘dent’ doesn’t fit the design cosmetically, but it was a defining Spyderco feature at the time.

The 40th anniversary Native has a wonderfully striking handle made from solid carbon fiber with a machined fluting pattern. Spyderco had been working with the fluting process for a few years at the time of this knife’s release. First with the titanium handle Military, and later on a titanium handled Native 5. They never managed to produce these ‘fluted’ knives in large quantities though. I did see a prototype carbon fiber fluted ParaMilitary 2 at one of the Amsterdam Meets. And I think it’s very nice to see this type of handle released for the first time on the anniversary Native 5. As cool as the fluting is, it also makes the knife kind of subdued, which to me is a bit odd for a knife that celebrates a momentous occasion.

The Native features a regular stainless steel hourglass clip. I think this knife could have used a bit more ‘wow’; one more accent that makes this more of a celebration knife. And I think the clip could have been that feature. Now, I’m certainly not a knife designer or maker. But if it were possible, I’d love to have seen a Damascus clip or another twist on the clip to make the knife stand out a bit more. I do appreciate how the 4-way clip mounting invites you to actually carry and use the knife. Something that the C76 definitely doesn’t do.

Boxes
When it came to the packaging, again, the anniversary Delica got a nicer treatment with a special cocobolo rosewood box. The 40th Anniversary native was shipped in a zippered pouch. Sure, the pouch is more practical to actually use to transport your knife etc.…. but that cocobolo box just ‘pops’ in my display case!

Conclusion
I love both of these very special anniversary knives. Studying them a bit further I get the impression that they both reflect their main designers very well. I’ll go ahead and assume that Sal Glesser, co-founder of Spyderco, was the main driving force behind the C76. And I would like to assume that Eric Glesser, Sal’s son who is succeeding him as head of the company, headed the C41 anniversary project. I have no factual info to support this, but please bear with me. Sal, together with his wife Gail, started the Spyderco company from scratch, working and traveling out of a bread truck for years, and they built it into the respected knife company it was in 2003 (and still is). Considering where they came from, it makes sense to go all-out with the C76. The anniversary Delica’s design almost seems a tip of the hat not only to the Delica, but also to the many custom makers that have helped Sal and Gail learn even more about knife making. This Delica very much has the look and feel of a classic custom knife.

The 40th Anniversary Native could be interpreted as a much more modern product. It is the design of someone who is proud of the Spyderco history, by evolving the classic C41 Native design. But also someone who is very committed to modern production and design, using a carbon fiber fluted handle. The C41 is a look into the future of knife making. This future involves modern production methods and materials for sure. But knife making only has a future when the knives are used, hard, and that might very well have been a motivation (conscious or not) for the C41 to have a much more practical –and therefore subdued- design. You could actually use this fine folder. The production run for the C41 was more than twice as big as the C76. This primarily reflects the growing popularity of Spyderco knives since 2003, but perhaps it also invites actually using the knife. With Eric at the helm, building on the work of his parents and the many people that have and still make up the Spyderco crew, I am positive we’ll see quite a few celebration knives to come!

There you have it, one fanboy’s appreciation of the anniversary knives of his favorite brand. Are these knives must-haves for a casual fan? Heck no. I did try to give an amateur analysis of these knives and how they, at least in my opinion, reflect the company at different times in its very respectable but still recent, history. I do actually use these knives on birthdays etc.… they only open a gift or two and that’s it. They make for nice conversation pieces too. Most importantly, I appreciate these as cool collector pieces. I have an anniversary of my own coming up, I’m turning forty soon. Guess which knife I’ll be carrying!


Spyderco 2017 Production Sample – Martin Genzow Hatchethawk

March 8, 2017

IIRC, the Genzow Hatchethawk featured a polymer handle that had an aluminum rod all the way through it. The hawk seemed very light and well-balanced to me, but I’m not exactly an ‘axe-guy’. Perhaps my fellow meet attendees could chime in with some additional info on this design? Unfortunately, we did not manage to collect any measurements on the Genzow Hatchethawk.



Spyderco 2015 Production Prototype – Walter Brend Mamba

March 13, 2015

I’ll admit I stopped mid-sentence when I saw the Mamba for the first time. This is, to me, a very impressive bold design. I’m not sure if I have a specific cutting task for the Mamba, but I don’t care. I will own one! This was a big bold folder. The flipper barely needed a push to let the blade just fly out. The Mamba’s blade features satin finished flats and the hollow grinds were coated in TiCN if I recall correctly. This bladefinish refers to the fact that Walter Brend is famous for his polished blades. Since such a polish could not be achieved in production, the choice was made to coat the hollow grinds. The handle consists of a hefty titanium frame covered with full carbon fiber handle scales. The knife really locks in the hand, in every edge-out grip. The knife felt surprisingly light and well-balanced. It certainly was a fist full of blade. Simply awesome.

spyderco_amsterdammeet2015_productionprototype_mamba

spyderco_amsterdammeet2015_productionprototype_mamba_blade_1

spyderco_amsterdammeet2015_productionprototype_mamba_blade_2

spyderco_amsterdammeet2015_productionprototype_mamba_blade_3

spyderco_amsterdammeet2015_productionprototype_mamba_handle

spyderco_amsterdammeet2015_productionprototype_mamba_clip

spyderco_amsterdammeet2015_productionprototype_mamba_pivot

spyderco_amsterdammeet2015_productionprototype_mamba_inhand_1

spyderco_amsterdammeet2015_productionprototype_mamba_inhand_2

spyderco_amsterdammeet2015_productionprototype_mamba_standing_2

spyderco_amsterdammeet2015_productionprototype_mamba_standing_1

spyderco_amsterdammeet2015_productionprototype_mamba_spacer

spyderco_amsterdammeet2015_productionprototype_mamba_halfopen

spyderco_amsterdammeet2015_productionprototype_mamba_lock

spyderco_amsterdammeet2015_productionprototype_mamba_clipside

Overall Length: 24 cm / 9.45 inches

Blade Length: 10 cm /3.94 inches

Closed Length: 14,5 cm / 5.71 inches


Spyderco 2013 Production Sample – Ed Schempp Equilibrium

March 6, 2013

For a complete story on the origin on the Equilibrium (and the Balance), check out Ed Schempp’s explanation on YouTube. The knife was easy to open and close. I liked it a lot. This one went straight on my wishlist.

Click for a full size image in a new window

Click for a full size image in a new window

Click for a full size image in a new window

Click for a full size image in a new window

The specs we measured for the Equilibrium are:

Blade Length: 4,8 cm / 1,88 inch
Overall Length:  12 cm / 4.72 inch


Added 2011 Prototype Overview to the ‘Prototypes Section’

May 14, 2011

The title pretty much says it all; I organized all the 2011 prototypes from my site in the overview below. I have permanently added it to my Prototypes Section. I’m amazed some of these are already out (e.g. Navaja and Dragonfly Salt), and even some that weren’t even shown at the Amsterdam Meet (e.g. Schempp Rock)!

2011 – Spyderco Production Prototypes
Videos are included on most of the prototypes´ pages

Des Horn Folder, Yojimbo 2Ed Schempp Balance SS, Chaparral CF
  

Dragonfly H1, Native 5 G10 & Fluted Ti, Manix 2 FRN, Ladybug Tattoo
  

Dyad Sprint, Updated Spring for FRN Slipits,  Squeak, Ayoob Sprint
  

Lum Tanto Sprint, Szabo Folder, Military Fluted Ti, Junior, Navaja
  

Tuff, SpyLeone, Vallotton Folder, Pygmy Warrior, Carpenter, Techno
  

Manbug, Southfork, Puukko, Delica Damascus Sprint
  

2011 – Byrd Production Prototype

Tern Slipit

2010 – Spyderco Production Prototypes


Spyderco 2011 Prototype – South Fork

March 12, 2011

This fixed blade design by Phil Wilson may not look very impressive, but it is when you pick it up. The knife reminded me a lot of the Temperance fixed blade, but more of a utility and camp variant. The blade is around 5 inch long and the knife was balanced  very nicely. Unfortunately, I missed most of the explanation of this model, so I’m not sure about intended materials etc….I will be keeping a close eye on the development of this design into a production model.


Reorganized my 2010 Prototype Info

February 7, 2011

While thinking about the upcoming shoot of new Spyderco production prototype knives for 2011, I noticed that my prototype page needed some cleaning up.

In all the excitement of getting the pics,videos and info out as soon as possible, it all got kind of cluttered. I added some organization by adding pics of the various parts in the report. I also combined all videos in one new page. See the changes below, and permanently on the prototype page.

It is starting to get crowded on that page, but I also know that I rather scroll a bit more than have to keep clicking to find the info I’m looking for. I’ll have to think about future changes to the layout of the page.

I intend to post all 2011 prototypes one knife per post, and to combine all info, pictures and videos of the same model in one post. That way, it’s easier to navigate between  the different prototypes. I’m thinkin about adding a little Bug knife this year, to add a bit of scale and perspective to eache knife’s size.

2010 – Spyderco Production Prototypes
Pictures, Videos and Descriptions

Part 1:
Ed Schempp Balance, Jason Breeden Rescue,  Kiwi slipit, FRN Manix 2

  

Part 2:
Matriarch Sprint Run, Grasshopper, Native 4, Damascus Delica Sprint

  

Part 3:
Caly 3.5, Chinese Folder Carbon Fiber, Chinese Folder Extra Large,
Super Leaf, Sage 3, UKPK FRN, UKPK Titanium, UKPK Carbon Fiber

   

Part 4:
Shabaria Sprint, Paramilitary 2, Fred Perrin 3-1/8″, Jens Anso Zulu,
Laci Szabo Folder

  

Scoop: Dialex Junior Concept Model
  
 

2010 – Production Prototype Videos
Click here to see all the videos I shot of the prototypes. Including the Ed Schempp Balance, Sage 3, Paramilitary 2, Caly 3.5, Manix 2 FRN, Fred Perrin PPT, Jens Anso Zulu, UK Penknives in FRN/Ti/CF, Matriarch Sprint run and the Bob Lum Chinese Folders.
  


Spyderco 2010 Production Prototype Videos

March 25, 2010

At the 2010 IWA Show in Nuremberg Germany, the Spydercrew was kind enough to help me make these videos of the new production prototype knives. The sound quality sometimes lacks, but I´m working with a regular consumer camcorder on a busy showfloor. The videos do help to get a better idea of the knife´s dimensions and how it works. Of course, the expert explanations are priceless.

Bob Lum Chinese Folders

Matriarch Sprint Run

UK Penknife FRN, Titanium, Carbon Fiber

Jens Anso Zulu

Fred Perrin Folder 3 1/8

Manix 2 FRN

Caly 3.5

Paramilitary 2

Sage 3 Blackie Collins

Ed Schempp Balance

Dialex junior Concept Model

Below are two more videos that don´t deal with production prototype models, but are nonetheless very new spydies.

Flat Grind Delicas & Enduras

Carbon Fiber Family


Spyderco Amsterdam Meet 2010 Report – Prototype Pictures – Part 3

March 9, 2010

Caly 3.5
Another pleasant surprise was the Caly 3.5 prototype, a Caly 3 with a 3,5 inch blade. I realize 0.5 inch is not a huge difference compared to the Caly 3, but the heft and feel of the knife is definitely different. For me, a 3,5 inch blade is just right for all my cutting chores. The materials and country of origin are the same as with the Caly 3. I liked it, kind of a more slender Stretch 2, but with a ‘bigger’ (wider) blade. This one is going on my wish list.

Bob Lum Chinese Folder Carbon Fiber
Sal had been dropping hints on the forums about a carbon fiber Chinese Folder, and the prototype did not disappoint. This is a wild CF pattern but the surface is glossy and shiny, which doesn’t really come across in these pics.

Sal had an interesting story to share about this carbon fiber. It is unknown how this CF is made, but it is suspected that it was made with a special rotary weaving machine at Toyota. IIRC, Toyota started out making sowing machines, and they also made industrial versions to weave laminates for their cars. A youtube clip was release some time back that showed such a rotary weaver at work, making a carbon fiber weave, but it was pulled shortly after by Toyota. It is a proprietary method.

 

Bob Lum Large Chinese Folder
For someone like me, who is obsessed with Chinese Folders, this was quite a change. It’s big! At least for a Chinese Folder. The blade length was about 4,5 inches. Both the handle and linerlock have been beefed up to support this blade. The clip can be mounted on all 4 positions. The main purpose of this design must have been a folding camp knife. It did feel a bit clunky in the hand, the balance wasn’t quite what I would like. Perhaps the liner will become skeletonized to create a slightly blade-heavy folder. I’m kind of curious to see what the outdoor crowd will think of this knife.

Super Leaf
From the Lums it’s a small step to the successor of the Super Hawk, the Super Leaf. Now this knife may look a bit clunky and boxy, but the grip and balance is just right. This was one sweet handling folder. Don’t change a thing, I’ll take it as is. It’s kind of like an improved original large Manix. The edges on the handle are nice and rounded. The construction looked pretty good; thick blade, compression lock, thick liners and thick G10 slabs. It looked like a tough folder, but it was a lightweight in the hand.

I kind of hope that a serrated version will be made. It is possible. The Super Leaf was made because of customer requests when they saw the Super Hawk, which in turn was made because of customer requests on the forums…

Sage 3 – Blackie Collins
I absolutely did not expect to like this knife so much as I did. The same went for many of the attendees I talked to about this knife. This is one sweet handling, slick opening/closing folder. The Bolt Action Lock is very smooth and positive, no blade play in any direction. Furthermore, it’s completely ambi. I was operating the lock with two fingers, like a bolt lock, but a fellow spyderknut showed me that it works just as well when you operate only one of the knobs. You don’t even ‘force’ the action to the opposite side of the handle, when you operate the lock one-handed in this fashion.

The knife was originally designed by Sal, who was going for a mix between a Native and a Caly 3. It is a very practical design, and since this is the first true ambi lock it’s going high on my wish list. I really recommend this Sage.

UKPK Slipit FRN
The goal of this line of FRN UKPK slipits is more or less to put quality spydies in the hands of people all over the world who will actually use it. Oddly enough, there aren’t many people who use their e.g. Howard Viele Phoenix knives as hard as they should ;). This FRN slipit really reminded me of the original Delica 2. It’s very –very- lightweight, very pointy and an edge that’s ground thin and sharp. The stonewash finish is similar to the Manix 2 and the surface finish on the FRN handle comes close to actual G10. This is definitely a working folder.

I love the burgundy drop point version, that I found in my goodie bag. The action is not as tight as on my G10 UKPKs, so that is something to take into account when considering this folder. The UKPK slipit FRN is easier to open…and to close. The choil prevents any cuts, but personally I’d like to see the action a wee bit tighter. I’ll experiment with some tightening of the pivot in the next few days. The smooth action makes playing around with this knife a very addictive though.

UKPK Slipit Titanium
Yeah! Let’s get some NASA-type action on these UKPKs! The titanium is thicker and heftier than I expected. The opening and closing action is just right for me, not too easy and not too tight. The ti handle makes the UKPK feel like a ‘serious’ knife. The knife seemed a bit thicker than the regular G10 versions.

UKPK Slipit Carbon Fiber
A more ‘classy’ interpretation of the UKPK was this CF version. The CF is more shiny than the CF we’ve seen on the ZDP Caly 3 or the Native 4, but it’s still not as shiny as my sprint run Delica 3. The dimensions and feel seemed exactly the same as my G10 UKPKs. I need more paper for my wish list!

To be continued… (I’ll probably need 2 or 3 more days to finish all uploads)


Spyderco Amsterdam Meet 2010 Report – Prototype Pictures – Part 1

March 7, 2010

This year was the biggest meet to date, both in the number of models that went through my hands and in the number of attendees. I believe around 75 people attended this year’s meet. It’s always great to see how easy all these ‘strangers’ connect to each other through their common interest in Spyderco knives.

This year, I added a small acrylic bug in some pictures to give you a better idea of the relative size of the prototypes.

Ed Schempp Balance
This model has been on my radar for the past two years when it was still a concept model. There will be a limited run with a carbon fiber handle, as shown here. The regular production model will feature an all metal handle with a Chris Reeve type integral lock, much like the spin. I love this little cutter. It feels like it’s bigger than a Jester but smaller than a Kiwi. It really locks in the hand, definitely as must have for me. I suspect this knife will work great around the office; opening mail, cutting out articles or peeling some fruit for lunch etc…

 

Jason Breeden Rescue
This knife will have a VG-10 blade and it will be made in Japan. The G10 for the handle btw, will be shipped to Japan so the knife can be assembled there. Incidentally, when the reverse happens –when parts are shipped to Golden for assembly- Spyderco generally won’t mark the knife as ‘made in USA’. This Jason Breeden model has IMO a similar heft and feel as the Captain. It may seem a little blocky, but it feels pretty good in the hand and it’s lighter than it looks from these pics.

Kiwi SS Slipit
Apparently the Kiwi was originally intended to be a slipit, but it just couldn’t be turned into a slipit in the original size. This version is a little bigger than the original kiwi, leaning towards a Delica size, and it’s a slipit. The slipit action was a bit rough on this prototype. I suspect it will become smoother when this Kiwi becomes a production knife, but Spyderco is looking to a ‘rougher’  opening action for this slipit so that it complies with ‘ flick-laws’ of some countries.

As a side note, in some countries the G10 Delica was not qualified as a ‘ flick-knife’ because customs could never flick it open (when held by the handle). There is simply too little steel in the blade –and weight- to swing the blade out with any force.

Manix 2 FRN
I have to stop here for today, but I decided to stop with a nice surprise (at least to me). This is a Manix 2 with a clear FRN Handle. The Manix has gone through quite an evolution, and it’s still evolving. The original goal was to create a ‘ small’  tough and do-all folder. The original Mini Manix was too heavy for most users. The Manix 2 has incorporated some major refinements: less weight, bigger lanyard hole, the lock (and opening action). This FRN version is a lightweight alternative to the Manix 2.

This prototype was a tiny bit ‘squeaky’ in the handle, when it was tightly gripped, but I’m sure that will be solved in the production version. This handle turns the tank-like regular Manix 2 into a lightweight. It feels very light in the hand with all the heft going to the blade. The see-through is a cool feature. It turns a ‘tactical folder’ into a techno-gizmo and conversation piece. The ergos were very nice. FRN is always softer to the touch than G10 slabs and steel liners, and this FRN handle was no exception to the rule. According to Eric this FRN Manix 2 won’t be as strong as the regular model, but not by much.  

To be continued…