Spyderco C113 Caly 3 Revisited

July 1, 2020

I recently dusted off my trusty Caly 3 the other day and clipped it to my waistband. I admit it’s been a while since I carried this knife. You know how it goes. A new knife arrives and you just have to try it out, then another comes in and the cycle repeats itself. I try to make it a point to deliberately pick up some of the older knives this year and give them another round of EDC. That is what I did with the Caly 3 and -spoiler alert- this design can still go toe-to-toe with the latest and greatest knives.

If you’re looking for a detailed review, check out my article from 2007. I just felt like putting down a few thoughts after revisiting my G10 & VG-10 Caly 3 after a week of carry and use.

VG-10
Spyderco has really been expanding their steel selection lately, and the afi market seemed to have embraced high-performance steels lately. And that’s great. I just know that it’s not necessarily for me. I prefer stainless steels, there, I said it. I am the SpyderCollector after all. I love using and carrying my folding knives, but I also like to collect them. And my inner-collector likes to be able to enjoy his knives looking nice. I don’t mind the patina on a cladded blade, but not so much on the entire blade. I don’t mind sharpening my knives either. And with VG-10 I get all the performance I need in the suburbs, and then some. Don’t get me wrong, I love playing with ZDP189, S90V, S110V, HAP40, REX45, Maxamet etc…, and I’m very much looking forward to the new SPY27 steel, but VG-10 does everything I need to do. And it’s easy to bring it back looking like new.

Perfection
After a week’s worth of carry and use, I’m simply left with the impression that the Calypso/Caly 3 pattern might just be the perfect modern pocket knife for the suburbs. It’s lightweight, extremely sharp, very practical, sized just right for practical use and it doesn’t seem to scare non-knife people as much. With that full flat grind, even when the edge is dull, the blade is so thin you can still make a good cut. The lock is ambidextrous and the clip is removable, so I get to have a great left-handed knife.    I just can’t find any objective faults with this knife. Personally, I consider the Stretch 2 to be my favorite Spyderco utility folder. Now, if there would ever come a Caly 4, I wouldn’t mind if it had that same drop point pattern blade.

Check out the specs and history of the C113 Caly 3 at Spydiewiki.com.


Spyderco C71 Salsa Revisited

May 24, 2020

The Spyderco Salsa is one of those oddball designs that just can’t get any respect. However, what many ‘presumed’ knife guys call a ‘weird design’ is often an attempt to create something new. That is no different with the Salsa. It probably was Spyderco’s first true lil’ big knives. A full sized folding knife that tried to hide in plain sight from non-knife people.

The Salsa was introduced in 2002. Looking back, it’s no surprise that it arrived when it did. Right after 9/11, many strict knife laws were introduced. Knives had to become smaller. This is a challenge for many knife makers. However, Spyderco has been working with the issue of public perception of (their) knives since the beginning. The Spyderco round hole allowed for one-hand opening as quick as any automatic. It was no accident that the blunt-tipped Mariner was introduced before the Police model. Many people thought these fast opening (and fiercely serrated) blades looked ‘scary’. The C09 Co-Pilot was introduced in 1990, and was intended to be a knife one could take anywhere, even on an airplane. Times have changed, but Spyderco never stood still. And I feel they were better prepared than most knife companies for the post 9/11 knife world.


Width for length
What makes the Salsa a little big knife to me at least, is the fact that it compensated a lack of length, with width. It sports a 2,5 inch long blade. But that blade is literally as wide as a Military. Why? Easy, it makes the knife cut better than a narrower blade. The same goes for the handle The Salsa is as substantial and easy to grip as a large folder. The Salsa actually looks remarkably similar to the famous Lil’ Temperance 1 and 2 (and 3).

Clip
The C71 was also one of the first Spydies with a wireclip. It wasn’t the fold-over type many prefer now. The Salsa doesn’t carry deep in a pocket, but that only makes it easier to draw. Also, the wireclip is much more ergonomic in the hand for use, adding to the ‘working- aspect’ of the design.

Steel
Looking back, the steels the Salsa was offered in, do not seem very spectacular. However, ATS 34 was considered a premium steel at the time. AUS-8 on the aluminum versions was understood to be a cost saving feature, but that still nothing to sneeze at – at the time the Salsa was introduced.

 

Looks
Another interesting feature of the Salsa is its friendly looks. The rounded tip, those friendly round curves, big opening hole and bright colors. The aluminum version could be had in bright blue, green or red (and grey). What else is small, round and has big eyes? Right, puppies and babies. I have no doubt the Salsa’s round shape and big opening hole were conscious design decisions. They’re functional and make the knife look like a very non-threatening tool to many non-knife people.

Overall
The Salsa truly performs like a much bigger knife, and its looks evoke a much smaller knife. The design, however, never really caught on. It enjoyed a fine 2 year production run, which is usual for many new designs in the Spyderco catalog. But it ain’t no ParaMilitary 2, in terms of popularity and sales. For the aficionado, the Salsa offers a few nice touches. The Titanium version was the second folder, after the ATR, to feature and integral compression lock, as well as a cobra hood. The profile, and feel of the handle, is almost the same as the venerable Lil’ Temperance. Another interesting first for the Salsa was its country of manufacture, Taiwan. The Salsa set up many things we enjoy today. The 2020 Spyderco catalog features many very refined smaller knives that perform like much bigger knives. Granted they aren’t as wide as the Salsa was, but the performance is there.

The Salsa is a very capable high performance tactical folder that happens to look like an unassuming pocket knife. If you get a chance to try one out, I highly recommend it.

Check out the specs and history of the C71 Salsa at Spydiewiki.com. Read my first review of the Salsa in 2004, and a little ‘classic spotlight’ article I wrote in 2014.


Spyderco FB05 Temperance Revisited

April 25, 2020

I recently found some old video from a few years ago, of my Spyderco FB05 Temperance. This is truly a classic Spyderco fixed blade design. I edited the clips together and decided to dig out my Temperance for another round of carry and use during this lockdown.

Looking back on the design, I think the Temperance was part of the so-called ‘tactical kitchen knife genre’ that arose in the late 90s and early 2000s. Internet-famous knife aficionado Joe Talmadge coined the term when he collaborated with knife designer Trace Rinaldi on the TTKK, or Talmadge Tactical Kitchen Knife. I can’t recall, nor seem to find, any detailed explanation on the design philosophy right now. But what I remember is that the compact TTKK was designed for fine cutting and slicing, with a comparatively thin edge supported by a wide full flat grind. The handle was both comfortable in use, but also secure and grippy enough for ‘tactical’ use. A multi-carry kydex sheath rounds out the package for this very sharp and practical fixed blade design. The FB05 seems to follow that design philosophy to a T (emperance?).

Blade
Spyderco’s early fixed blades stood out in the market at the time, by offering very practical compact or mid-size designs with relatively thin edges. The FB05 is no exception. This knife really doesn’t differ too much from my kitchen knives, the blade is a bit thicker, but not much. The cutting performance is amazing, definitely on par with my finest Spyderco kitchen knives.

Handle
The handle is another story in itself. It is a true 3D-design FRN handle, with divots to facilitate grip changes and a butt cap provides a very secure ‘shelf’ for your thumb. Even after all these years, I think it’s an amazing design. It’s hotspot free and extremely secure for a locked-in grip, but also able to freely change grips. You’d imagine this was some sort of huge computer designed project, right? Wrong. From talking to Sal Glesser about his design, I learned he carved this design from wood. Amazing. I can barely plan out an article from scratch in my mind! I can’t imagine being able to create such a handle design simply by whittling it out of a piece of wood.

Temperance 2
The Temperance 2 is a great design in itself, but it’s bigger and heavier than this classic. And the 2 also doesn’t feature a handle with those (in)famous ‘grip change divots’. Some people might wonder about the handle, and how far the tang goes in the FB05. I understand the tang extends about halfway into the handle. This also contribute to its lack of weight. What I gather from Spyderco, is that they’ve never seen any actual customer problems with this type of tang. Still, customers seem to prefer a more robust ‘appearance’ in a fixed blade. I figure this explains the full tang design for the Temperance 2.

Classic
If you’re looking for a compact lightweight fixed blade that is a wonderful cutter and slicer, and not just a steel axe to split wood with, the Temperance is a great design. It’s a true classic and I don’t think we’ll see something like this again.

Read my first review of the FB05 Temperance, or visit SpydieWiki to learn more about the design, background and variations of the Temperance fixed blade. If you like to learn more about the original TTKK design, I suggest checking out this excellent review on zknives.com.


Review: Vintage Spyderco C24 BlackHawk Folder

February 15, 2020

What’s the current SKU number for new Spyderco knives? It’s up there in the C250s right? Could you imagine a C24? That would almost have to be some sort of stone-age Spyderco right? Yes, that’s right. However, the C24 is more than just an old Spyderco. It still is a viable EDC folding knife. But there’s more. The BlackHawk offered a few features we still appreciate today. Without the Blackhawk, we wouldn’t have the C41 Native (5) or the C210CF Rhino.

I got this vintage Blackhawk from someone’s collection. The knife had seen some very light use, and appears to have been stowed away in favor of a newer knife. The overall finish and condition appears pretty much like it came from the box.  I cleaned off a little tape residue, rinsed out the handle and pivot, dried it and applied some lube. Five minutes on the Sharpmaker put this beauty back in action again.

Performance
The action is still good, but the BlackHawk requires more frequent lubrication than, say, my current production G10 Native 5. The lock-up on the C24 is still very good. The lockbar and blade don’t line up as flawless as on a current Native, but it’s still reliable and functional. Edgeholding isn’t anything to write home about, it is GIN-1, but I like softer steels. VG10 is probably my favorite steel; I rotate a lot so edgeholding isn’t a practical consideration, and it’s oh so easy to sharpen and it always cleans up looking like new. As an added bonus, the GIN-1 blade is as stain resistant as they come, without delving into LC200N or H1 territory.

Spyderco C24 BlackHawk

Clip
Unfortunately, the C24 features only one clip mounting option: tip-down. Luckily, the clip is mounted way lower than most people prefer these days. As I prefer IWB carry, it means I can easily grab and draw this folder for chores and such. The checkering on the aluminum handle is still very sharp and grabby.  Aluminum adds a bit more weight than we’re currently used to. For practical purposes, the aluminum BlackHawk feels heavier than a G10 native, but a lot lighter than a steel handled Delica.

Spyderco C24 BlackHawk Spyderco C24 BlackHawk

Proto-Native
What makes the BlackHawk especially interesting, is that it is very much a ‘proto-native’. Sure, it has a slightly upswept clippoint blade, as opposed to the Native’s spear point design. And the C24’s handle tapers down towards the end, but the Native used to have that as well. I realize that no Native has ever been made using a handle made from aluminum. However, the BlackHawk’s overall profile is -very- similar to the Native. The 50/50 coil was first introduced in the BlackHawk, and made famous in the Native (and Calypso designs).  Size-wise, the C24 is also very similar to the C41. When you hold and use the BlackHawk, it’s obvious, it feels just like a Native.

Spyderco C24 BlackHawk

Overall
The C24 BlackHawk appears to have been reasonably successful for Spyderco. It was offered between 1994 and 1997. In 2002, a small run was made using existing parts. Three years appears to be a standard lifetime for a new design in the Spyderco catalog. To date, there haven’t been sprint-runs or exclusives based on the C24 BlackHawk. I think this is a shame actually, as I really like this medium-sized trailing point design. The fine tip and curve definitely has its place in practical cutting chores. It explains the success of the current production C224CF Rhino. I can’t help thinking Spyderco was sure the Rhino would do well, due to the experience of the BlackHawk some 25 years earlier.

Check out more details of the Spyderco C24 BlackHawk at Spydiewiki.


Spyderco Steel Handles

January 13, 2020

I know, steel handles are sooo 1990 right? They’re heavy and slippery and just ‘too old’ As a handle material for folding knives, steel is not cool these days. It’s kind of surprising to see that Spyderco still carries a few steel handled variants in its line-up. As a modern EDC aficionado, I’d like to make a case for steel handles. I still see a rol for the steelhandled folding knife. They might be old but not obsolete.

History
Spyderco’s first folding knife was made with a steel handle, the C01 Worker. Subsequent models like the Mariner, Police and Executive etc… all used steel as a handle material. In the early 1990s, polymer molding came on the scene, which resulted in the lightweight Delica and Endura. The Golden company also introduced steel handle variants of the Delica and Endura in the mid-nineties. I also recall the Native 2 in all steel in the late 1990s. In the mid to late Nineties, G10 became king of the handle materials. Titanium also surfaced but it was still rare to see in a production knife. Rumor at the time had it that titanium was just too rare and expensive for use in production knives. Still, Spyderco held on to steel for some designs. In the early 2000s, the Scorpius and original Stretch came out with a steel handle or steel frame with Kraton inserts. Still, G-10 and molding become more prominent and preferred by customers. And titanium finally became a more regular sight in knifeshops in the 2010s. These days, customers definitely seem to have moved away from steel handles.

Traditional high quality
Nevertheless, Spyderco maintains a few steel handles in its line-up: Delica, Endura, Ladybug, Police, Dragonfly, Harpy – the classics. Mind you, these older designs have been tweaked and updated with boye dents, steel, lock and clip updates. These ‘traditional’ Spyderco designs are still very functional. In the early Amsterdam Meets, I recall Sal relating that it’s easier to make up a prototype or first production run in steel, before investing in a much more expensive mold for FRN handles for example. Also, I recall hearing that the type of Steel Spyderco uses for a handle is what other companies use for their blades!

Engraving or polishing out scratches
I figure most people who buy a steel handled Delica do so because they’re traditionalists who prefer a more ‘classic’ look, and more heft to the knife in use. A nicely finished steel handle also allows for engraving or embellishment; Santa Fe Stoneworks mostly use steel handles as a canvas for their stone onlays. Also, a scratched up steel handle slab can be brought back like new, with some very fine sandpaper and polishing compounds. You could maintain the finish yourself if you wanted to.

Easy to carry
However, I still see a more contemporary benefit to keep a steel handled folder or two in my rotation. They carry oh so comfortably inside the waistband. I know the objections: “steel is too heavy”. Well, how do I explain this. Many Spyderco designs weight a certain weight on a scale, but in the hand or pocket they ‘feel’ differently. It’s the same for me with these steel handled folders. The ‘big’ Police actually is easier and lighter for me to carry than a Chinook 2, Mamba or Tighe Stick for example.

Better grip than you’d think
But a steel handle is way too slippery! Well, like many things that are said online, the truth is a bit different. First, the finished surface or a brand new Spyderco steel handle, is not smooth as glass. Sure, it’s finely and smoothly finished, but there is a bit of traction when your hands are dry. These handles don’t come with a mirror polish from the box. Second, Spyderco is known for their ergonomic designs. A Police, Dragonfly or Scorpius handle has curves in all the right places. And those curved handles, combined with the hump in the blade, absolutely keeps your fingers off the edge in use. One of the biggest benefits for me, is that steel handled knives are nice and thin. Together with their smooth finish make them very easy to carry inside the waistband. I can carry a Police easier than a thicker but smaller FRN or G10 Native 5 for example. And with a Police, that’s a lot of edge by comparison. This comes especially in handy when wearing a suit and a good belt.


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.


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.


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