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

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Spyderco 2016 Production Sample – Native 5 40th Anniversary

March 13, 2016

In a way, the Native 5 40th Anniversary knife has been teased about for a few years by the Spydercrew. We have seen a few concept models with fluted carbon fiber handles before. I’m very happy that now we’ll finally have a go at a (limited) production knife with this type of handle! The knife felt very light in the hand, and the Native 5’s great ergos were enhanced by the contoured handle. The blade is stunning. I’m usually not big on Damascus blades, but this one looked great. The pattern seemed very well defined to me, and it actually seemed to have a few different shades of color when I tilted the blade in the light. The laser engraving looks nice and sharp too. It’s a stunner, and I’m happy I got my pre-order in. I advise you to do the same ASAP. This will probably become a highly collectible spydie in the future!

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Specifications
Overall Length: 17,7 cm / 6.95 inches
Blade Length: 7,6 cm / 2.98 inches
Blade Thickness: 3,1 mm / 0.12 inches
Weight: 77 grams / 2.7 ounces


More practice with the new lightbox

February 11, 2015

I was happy with my results so far, but I wanted to get more practice with the new portable lightbox and set-up for the Amsterdam Meet pictures. It helped to work out some kinks and what to look out for when shooting the photos.

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Spyderco 2014 Production Sample – Native 5 Lightweight

March 10, 2014

The Native 5 Lightweight was a nice surprise, as I didn’t remember seeing this version last year. The handle has no liners in it, but there are little steel ‘barrels’  with threading in the handle, for a positive lock-up of the clip screws when you want to set up the clip for e.g. left-handed or tip-down carry. This one’s definitely on my wish list.

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Spyderco Fluted Titanium Native 5 Impressions

August 11, 2013

After the 2013 Amsterdam Meet, the Spydercrew gave me a familiar red and black box as a ‘thank you’. The box turned out to contain an -amazing- thank you that I simply have to show off. My only response was ‘you’re more than welcome!’, before I started to drool uncontrollably all over this brand new fluted ti Native 5. After that, it became a safe queen until I decided to give this knife a proper workout a few months ago.

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Because of the challenges in production, it took a long time before the fluted native made it to distributors, dealers and collectors. The knife does seem to be trickling down the distribution chain now, even if it is in very low numbers, judging from the sparse pics and reviews on the forums.

Use
I’ve carried and used this Ti Native for the past couple of months and my use of this knife won’t constitute ‘hard use’ in anyone’s book. I have used this titanium folder like many fellow urbanites will probably use a pocket knife: peeling and cutting up fruit, opening envelopes and packages, and cutting off the occasional loose thread. I also used the Ti N5 as a paring knife in the kitchen, to give it a better workout. And at the end of the month, I used the Native 5 to cut down a stack of cardboard boxes for the recycling pick-up. I didn’t baby the knife, but I also didn’t go out to baton through tree trunks or try to cut bricks. The fluted Ti N5 performed beautifully. It’s an awesome pocket knife, period.

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Handle
The titanium handle scales are slightly radiused and become thinner when they reach the bottom edge of the handle, i.e. the part of the handle you’d wrap your fingers around in an edge-out grip. The grip on the fluted titanium handle is very good. I found it very comfortable and it didn’t create any hotspots during longer cutting chores. The edges of the fluting were not sharp on my sample. The titanium N5’s handle is probably just as thick as the G10 N5. I don’t have calipers on hand but comparing the two side by side seems to show  that both handles are equally thick. The titanium N5 doesn’t use liners, so in pictures it might seem a lot thicker than the G-10 version.

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Fit and finish
The Ti Native’s fit and finish is just spot on perfect. I can’t detect anything close to resembling a flaw in the fit and finish. If you’re really nitpicking, you’d notice the edge grind on one side starting one millimeter past the start of the heel of the blade. Then again, that’s a part of the blade I’d probably have trouble reaching with my Sharpmaker stones anyway. Furthermore, I’ve also noticed this on the blade of my G10 Native 5. The N5’s blade is perfectly centered, the lock-up is solid as a rock and I can’t detect any flaws in the ‘fluting’.

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Weight
As an EDC knife, like Yablanowitz noted in his review, I also think this titanium handle is a bit too heavy for what I’m used to in a spydie this size. It’s definitely not too heavy; it rides just fine clipped to jeans or IWB. Carrying it clipped to loose fitting slacks, however, could be annoying. The titanium Sage 2, for example, is a much more lightweight piece. But that one isn’t as nicely finished as this folder. The production tolerances for this Golden USA made N5 seem to be tighter than the excellent knives made in Taichung.

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Overall
This piece is, of course, mainly attractive to afi’s. From a purely functional point-of-view, you’d be just as well served (if not better) with the lighter G-10 N5, that’s even easier to obtain. However, black G-10 doesn’t give as much satisfaction or bragging rights, as that bright fluted titanium handle. It’s an awesome pocket knife – truly a centerpiece in my collection.

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Spyderco 2012 Prototype – Native 5 Fluted Titanium

March 5, 2012

Another familiar model was the Native 5 with the fluted titanium handle. I still think it looks and handles like a champ. The handle scales also ´replace´ the liners in the G10 model. Although visually it makes the ti scales look thicker, to me at least, I pretty sure the overall thickness is the same as the G10 model. I really like this Native variant and hope it gets made soon.


Spyderco 2011 Prototype Video – Native 5

March 19, 2011

 Eric Glesser goes over the design and construction of the upcoming Native 5. Eric explains not onle the main features of the knife but also points out some of the challenges in design and construction. Both the G10 and Fluted Titanium Native Prototypes are shown.