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.

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.

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!

Spyderco 2017 Production Sample – Caly 3 HAP 40

March 1, 2017

The Caly 3 in HAP 40 will be a sprint run that was announced in the 2017 Spyderco catalog. In that respect, this knife wasn’t a huge surprise to see at the meet, but it sure was nice to see and handle it in person. The knife itself is a somewhat of an ‘old friend’ to me, and I’ll be sure to add this variation to my collection of Caly and Calypso designs. The forest-green G-10 is a nice color variation, that I don’t see too often in Spyderco folders.


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Overall Length: 17,8 cm / 5.59 inches
Blade Length: 7,8 cm / 2.28 inches
Blade Thickness: 3 mm / 0.11 inches
Weight: 88 grams / 3.10 ounces

Spyderco Caly 3 Damascus & Carbon Fiber Sprint Run

November 5, 2012

As a long time fan of the Caly/Calypso Jr./UKPK design, I simply ‘had’ to get this Caly 3 sprint run. I am definitely not disappointed. Contrary to the earlier Damascus Delica sprints, this one could be an actual user.

The Damascus blade looks excellent, I love the dark wavy lines. It also doesn’t hurt that this is a stainless VG-10 damascus, so it´s good to go for EDC in my book. The fit and finish are excellent: the action is smooth, good self-close on the blade, excellent tight lock-up and the bolster is seamlessly mated to the carbon fiber handle. The blade is centered too on my sample, if that’s something you care about.

I had one little problem with the knife. It was tough to change the clip for the ‘right’  left-handed carry position. It was tough to get the screw assembly out of the handle. The tolerances are so close, that I had trouble pushing out the bolt-part of the clip assembly. Once it was out and fitted for left-handed carry, I noticed the clip didn’t entirely want to touch the handle. It took me a bit of bending and fitting, before I managed to fit the clip for my preferred carry position for the Caly 3. Ideally, you’d want a clip change to be a ‘drop-in’ affair and not a session of bending and fitting. Still, I got the coolest left-handed Damascus/CF spydie on the block now ;).

Overall, this edition of the Caly 3 is a nice tribute to the designer, Sal Glesser, and the wonderful craftsmen in Japan who made this knife. It’s been great to see this knife evolve from the original Calypso Jr. with stainless steel or micarta handle.

The stainless steel Calypso Jr. was a great start, although it never saw much pocket time. I always felt this folder was too heavy for its size.

The micarta Calypso Jr. is a great lightweight folder. Still, too bad about the right-hand-only-tip-down clip and the fact that I only managed to score one with a serrated edge. The FRN Calypso Jr. was a wonderful revelation for this lefty, well over ten years ago.

The Caly 3 and UKPK models are wonderful evolutions of the Calypso Jr.; getting rid of that sharp cusp on the blade’s spine and adding better blade steels and handle materials. Together with the Delica, the Caly 3/UKPK model is my favorite 3-inch Spyderco utility folder. This damascus & carbon fiber sprint run is an awesome edition for us afi’s. It’s a great pocket knife with plenty of bragging rights. I’m sure this one won’t get any cheaper in the next few years.

Review: Caly 3 PE & SE

April 9, 2007

I have a soft spot for the Calypso jr. design. Back when I was noob collector, my mantra was “if it’s expensive it must be better”. And indeed the more expensive the knives got, the better they usually were. The epitome of the folding knife to me for a long time was the Sebenza. The sharpness and slicing power of the knife was amazing. Then I got a Military and discovered that a good knife can be had for fewer bucks. The Military also had way better ergonomics for me but that’s a different discussion. However, my main cutting needs are for smaller chores for which I prefer to use my left hand. I got an FRN Calypso jr for that role. I figured it looked a lot like the Military so it had to be good.


I was right and though I prefer tip-up carry now, I’m always interested to see the next Caly jr. incarnation. The Mini Manix is my favorite carry folder right now; apart from its functional qualities it’s just a plain ‘cool’ piece of cutlery. It is a bit bulky sometimes. So that aspect, combined with my long love affair with the Calypso design, caused me to pull the trigger on the Caly III.

Quick history
The Caly III is basically a UKPK with a lock. The UKPK started as an initiative on the British Blades forums, and it was long thought to be a sprint run of sorts. However, it was so well received that Spyderco not only included the UKPK as a regular production offering, it also added a version with a lock, i.e. the Caly III. The Calypso jr. pattern is pretty much considered as the ‘challenge coin’ for true knife afi’s. Even on many non-spyderco forums, the Calypso jr. is highly regarded as THE modern pocket knife. Its size is just right for unobtrusive pocket carry (with or without clip), the flowing lines offer a comfortable grip and that thin flat ground blade is as sharp as the proverbial scalpel.

The Caly III differs from the original (FRN) Calypso jr. on a few aspects. The handle on the Caly III is bit slimmer and longer. It feels different; I dislike the slimmer handle but the increased length is nice. The Caly III doesn’t fill the hand as nicely as the Calypso jr. On the plus side, the new Caly III is made with G10 handle slabs! The G10’s surface definitely helps to keep a good grip. The surface of this Japanese made Caly III is less rough than the G10 Golden models with their notorious out-of-the-box sandpaper surfaces. So far, with a few weeks of pocket carry, the Caly IIIs G10 has remained nicely grippy. The worn in Caly III G10 is a little less aggressive than the excellent worn in Golden G10 handles.


The UKPK uses S30V for the blade, but because the Caly III is made by the Japanese makers for Spyderco, it has a blade made from VG-10. That’s no problem for me. As I noted in my ZDP Jess Horn review, VG-10 is my favorite blade steel. I’m happy to note that the Caly III upholds the Calypso jr’s reputation of laser-scalpel-sharpness. Furthermore, the cusp on the blade of the Caly III is rounded off and the ramp has a small strip of fine jimping for extra purchase in use. The sharper cusp of the Calypso jr. never posed any practical objection, as it never pinched my leg during carry or my hand in use, but it’s always nice to see sharp edges (non-cutting edges that is) removed.

The action on the Caly III is really smooth! The pivot adjustments were spot on, on both my knives (PE & SE). The blade travels in and out of the handle, as if it’s rolling on glass. I’m not sure if the infamous phosphor bronze washers are used on the Caly III. The action also remained smooth after I washed and oiled the knives a few times.

As much as I like wire clips, I’m a bit disappointed to see the UKPK’s clip on the Caly III. This type of fold-over wire clip is intended for discreet carry. It works wonderfully, as intended, but at the cost of ‘retrievability’ and ‘travel in the clip’. For me, the Caly III is buried a bit too deep in the waistband or pocket. I inevitably grip the clip itself to draw the knife, thus increasing tension on the clip and making it a bit tougher to draw from a pocket. Another aspect is the side-to-side travel in this type of fold-over wire clip. At first I thought that I didn’t fasten the clip tightly enough, but it is inherent in this particular version of the wire clip. You will have some side-to-side travel in the clip of the Caly III, no matter how hard you try. It is a cosmetic concern, as my carry and use in the past few weeks haven’t caused the clip to loosen and the knife didn’t fall out of my pocket. It stayed put just as well as other clips.


The Caly III is actually a nice alternative to the Mini Manix. For regular chores, you don’t really need the tough lock or bulky design that the Mini Manix has. And if someone were to ask me for the best ‘pocket knife’ today, then I’d either suggest the Delica 4 (for novices) or the Caly III (for people who know a bit about knives). The size and ‘feel’ is just right for all tasks you can expect from a pocket knife. The clip can stand to be changed to a Dodo or Poliwog type wire clip, in my opinion. Still, that doesn’t take away from the fact that the Caly III is a really refined piece. Every little, curve, nook and cranny on that knife is in just the right place. I still prefer the Mini Manix, mainly because of the ‘cool’ factor, but I wouldn’t feel ‘under knifed’ with my pair of Caly IIIs. The Caly III has a steady place in my carry rotation, and they’re back-ups to my Mini Manixes. When I feel like traveling lighter, but still carry a serious non-FRN knife, the Caly III is the one I’d reach for.