The black & purple combo on this DLT Trading exclusive C101 Manix 2 still mesmerizes me. It’s fun to photograph, or to put on video. Check out my earlier article on this incredible folder.
This is my second ‘two cents’ of things I like in my Spyderco knives. For this entry, I’d like to share my preferences in pocket clips. According to the Interwebz, wireclips are really popular and you should always seek out a custom clip for your Spyderco knife ;-). While I totally get the fun in customizing your knife, I prefer to use stock clips. Spyderco invented the pocket clip on a folding knife, and has made it into an art form. They also learned many lessons about clips in their 40+ years of design and manufacturing experience. Here’s a rundown of the types of Spyderco clips I like.
My main mode of carrying a Spyderco folding knife, is inside-the-waistband at 3 and 9 o’ clock. Your experience and preference might very well differ from mine, especially if you carry a clipit in your front or back pocket, inside a boot or on the lapel of your shirt (yes, I’ve seen people do this very successfully). Here’s just my personal take on pocket clips.
4-way hourglass clip: the evolved ‘standard’ solid pocket clip, found in the Delica and Endura and many more. If given the choice, and if it matches cosmetically with the color scheme of the folder, go with the ‘all stainless’ version, as the black will wear from your clip. I really like this type of clip, it works, is comfortable in the hand and very durable.
Foldover wireclip: a wonderful low-profile carry solution, found on the UK Penknife, Urban and SpydieChef. This type of clip makes the folder almost completely disappear from sight, and they very comfortable in the hand. However, a knife that’s this deeply tucked away is also harder to pull from your pocket or waistband, since you often pinch-grip the clip and opposite handle scale to draw your knife. This pressure on the clip makes it harder to get the knife out. More importantly, and why I don’t particularly like this type of clip, is that there’s always a bit of side to side play that annoys me. I don’t dismiss a folder on the basis of the wireclip alone, but it’s not a plus to me.
Wireclip: this is an older variant of the wireclip, found on the Dodo and lightweight Manixes. I love this type of wireclip. It leaves a bit of handle for an easy draw, the round wire is comfy in the hand and they are solid. No side to side play in these wireclips.
Custom clips: some Spyderco custom collaborations feature custom clips. A clip designed to fit the knife. Now these may look good cosmetically, but often they just don’t work right for me. They’re either too small, or sharp to the touch, or don’t clip the knife to your pocket as good as a standard issue hourglass clip.
Three screw old school clips: found on vintage knives and new sprint runs, like the Calypso jr. They work great, they’re not as ergonomic to the touch as an hourglass clip though.
Barrel bolt clips: found on many lightweight folders such as the Gen 2 Delica or Gen 1,2 and 3 Native, as well as the Gen 1 Matriarch. Performance-wise they’re the same to me a three screw old school clips. I did appreciate how easy it was to change the clip for lefty-carry with just two coins.
Lil’ Temp 1 and 2 clip: found on the … Lil’ Temperance 1 and 2 folders and the original ATR. These clips received some criticism online at the time, for being too large and that they could damage your pocket. I never had any issues with these clips tearing up my jeans though. And I really like the feel of these clips in hand. I also never had a problem with the clips’ size, due to my preferred IWB carry mode. Another reason I like this clip design, is that it uses 4 screws to keep it in place instead of 3. I snagged my clip one time and it was bent horribly out of alignment with the handle. The clip was still solidly stuck to the handle though, and I could carefully bend it back and it still works fine today.
Integral FRN clip: found on the lightweight Dragonfly 1. I don’t like this design at all as I never found a sample that actually clipped to my pocket or waistband with any proper tension. The ergos in use are great though. You’re not likely to find a Spydie with and integral FRN clip anymore, as Spyderco abandoned this design many years ago. Apparently, the main problem was that many people broke them too easily.
Kraton covered clips: found in some vintage Spyderco folders like the Hunter and Civilian. This would give the user a more solid non-slip grip when deploying the knife and a more comfortable non-slip grip in use. I’ve seen them wear and come off as they’re basically glued into the clip. The concept however, can also be replicated with some skateboard tape. I did this way back when I was into the whole ‘tactical’ thing. It worked really well and they could be easily replaced. The bad thing is that, well, this abrasive tape works really well at being abrasive. It would scratch up my belt and wear on pockets, and table tops when I slid the knife over etc…
When I first got into knives, in the early nineties, I did my best to find the coolest ‘baddest’ ninja-spec-ops folding & fixed blade knives I could find. Naturally, I picked up plenty of knives with black coated blades. After a while, I moved away from that completely. Now, after more than 20 years, I got my first folder with a black blade again: the DLT Trading exclusive C101 Manix with a cruwear blade and purple G10.
What got me was this amazing cool color combination of the purple G10 and black DLC coated blade. I really like that color combination. The liners are coated as well, inside and out. In fact, the only part of this knife that is not coated are the edge and the part of the tang that interacts with the ball bearing lock. I also like the aesthetics of the laser engraving that comes out white on the DLC coated blade.
Apart from the good looks, I was also drawn to this knife because of the cruwear blade. I’m not a big fan of tool steel blades. Partly because I don’t need -or have a big interest in- the increased cutting performance, but also because these steels are prone to rust. The DLC coating should protect it from any rust, and I only have to maintain the edge and uncoated tang near the pivot. I also figured I’d try and see if this coating holds up to use. The main reason I got away from coated blades in the nineties, was that they would just scratch up in use and lose their coating. So far the knife has seen a little use around the house and it the coating has way outperformed the ‘paint’ that was used 30 year ago. 😉
Check out the SpydieWiki page for the C101 Manix for more information on its specifications and production history.
The C242 Ikuchi is unlike any other Spyderco folding knife. Not because it is a flipper, or even a front flipper (The C42 Viele was first in my opinion). It is unique because it has such a narrow profile. The Ikuchi is also a fidget fan’s dream, but it is a true working pocketknife that also carries as easy a pocket lint.
The first generation of the Ikuchi was a disappointment to me. I read reviews from people complaining that the wheel was too tough to operate. This was not a problem in my sample. What was a serious problem, was the fact that this very sharp up-swept tip rode too high in the handle when closed. I’d poke my hand frequently when trying to pull the knife from my pocket or waistband. My CQI-ed sample of the Ikuchi solved this problem. I no longer get cut by the closed blade. The wheel does need a deliberate push/pull (depending on your technique) to operate, but it’s also very smooth.
I’ll admit the fidget factor of the front-flipping Ikuchi is high, very high actually. To date, I haven’t been able to handle this folder without ‘spinning that wheel’ at least once. But the slender curvy blade works great too. It’s very easy to work that tip in the crease of the flap on an envelope, to cleanly slice it open. Another advantage of such a narrow blade (compared to most spydies), is that it offers increased control for detailed cuts in an edge-in grip. Peeling fruit is a joy with this blade.
There is one disadvantage to a slim blade like this. A narrow blade doesn’t offer a whole lot of ‘real estate’ for that full flat grind to come to a really thin edge. The blade on the C242 is by no means some kind of blunt chisel, on the contrary. But there are thinner blades and edges in Spyderco’s line-up.
S30V is a well-known entity. It cuts well and doesn’t rust in my suburban use. I barely developed a little dull spot on the edge, from breaking down a lot of thick cardboard boxes. It was child’s play to bring the edge back. Just a few swipes on the white stones of my Spyderco Sharpmaker was all that was needed.
The handle features a slight curve that really helps make it a very ergonomic folder to carry and use. I’m not a huge fan of the G10 & Carbon Fiber laminate, but it does offer a bit more grip than full carbon fiber. Don’t get me wrong, if this one is ever offered in a full carbon fiber version, I’ll go for it. But I will admit this laminate looks nicer than black G10 for this particular design. A nice design touch is the hole in the handle. It lines up perfectly with the hole in the blade (which is there purely for trademark purposes).
The wire clip is the perfect complement to this thin classy folder. It almost makes it look like a pen in your pocket. As with all wire clips, there is a little flex or play when you move the clip from side-to-side. It’s inherent to the design and doesn’t affect the clip’s grip on your pocket or waistband. This side-to-side play is also the reason I am not a big fan of wire clips. However, I was happy that the clip was easy to switch to my preferred left-handed carry position.
I usually stay away from labeling a particular knife as a real collectible or a good investment. Mainly because I feel that you should only buy a knife because you really like it. That way, you’ll never be disappointed. The C242 however, does offer a few unique features. The Ikuchi is perhaps the second design in Spyderco’s line-up to be designed as a one-hand opener without a functional opening hole. The C27 Jess Horn was made with a depression in the blade for one-hand opening. The Ikuchi has its serrated wheel for one-hand opening. The absence of a functional opening hole allows the blade to become a lot narrower. At least a lot narrower than most other spydies. I will admit the C27 Jess Horn, as well as his other designs, the Des Horn and most of Frank Centofante’s collaborations feature very slim blades as well. The C242, however, takes this slim profile and extends it all the way through it handle design. The combination of the front flipper wheel, extremely narrow profile and the absence of a functional opening hole, make the Ikuchi a really unique folder in Spyderco’s production history.
Overall, the Ikuchi is a wonderful folder. I also think it’s remarkably versatile. If you’re a die-hard Spyderco collector, get one. The C242 only features a trademark hole in the blade, and has a slim and narrow profile that is rarely seen in Spyderco’s line-up. If you mostly use your knives to fidget with, that serrated wheel on the C242 is just what you’re looking for. If you’re looking for a gentleman’s knife? The Ikuchi is a very stylish and low-key design that will ride nicely in your suit pocket. If you’re just looking for a practical EDC folder that’s both compact and full size at the same time, the C242 can fit that role really well too. I mostly like the Ikuchi because of that unique -to Spyderco- slim design. And that front flipper is just plain fun to fidget with.
Check out the SpydieWiki page for the C242 for more information on its specifications and production history.
Spyderco was an ‘early adopter’ of online discussion forums. The first forum opened up on BladeForums.com in the 90s, where Sal and several SpyderCrew members would answer questions from fans. More importantly, they asked for feedback which led to several new products and product improvements. In 1999, Spyderco introduced one of the first, if not the first, forum knives for BladeForums.com. A forum knife is usually a variation of an existing design. It shows appreciation to the forumites and -through its sales- help support the forums. Around 2002, Spyderco started their own discussion forum on spyderco.com. And not too long after that, Spyderco offered a new forum knife every few years. The 2018 forum knife, a modified C81 Paramilitary 2, was the last one offered to date.
Spyderco initially offered the PM2 in S30V steel and a black G-10 handle. Since then, Spyderco has offered a few variations in its catalog. But I won’t even start to try and list the many more variations of the C81 as dealer exclusives and sprint runs. The 2018 forum knife however, still managed to offer something new: a grey G10 handle with a stainless steel laser engraved inlay and a CPMS90V blade.
The 2018 Forum Knife never seemed to get much appreciation. And you’ll rarely see the knife in any Instagram post these days. I don’t think it’s the knife’s fault. It’s just that there are so many dealer exclusives out there of the PM2, and they still keep coming. That way, it’s hard to stand out with a forum knife design. I like it, as I like all the forum knives.
Some might say the forums are done, with the rise of other social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. That might be true, but I still enjoy it and appreciate that there are so many different online platforms where knifeknuts can meet each other and discuss, share and celebrate this ‘weird’ hobby of ours.
Marcin Slysz is an amazing knife maker. His knives are very functional, they work great, and they have a very clean look. After the very popular Techno and Bowie designs, many fans were eagerly anticipating the release of the C211 SpydieChef. I was one of them. I finally took this knife along on a recent camping trip as my only folder, so as to give it a proper workout. The SpydieChef works as good as it looks, but I think it needs a longer blade and serrations.
There is no doubt this is a really great everyday carry folder. I love the thin handle and the smooth titanium scales are great for IWB-carry. The blade shape and grind make the C211 an impressive slicer. And the positive blade to handle angle make for very ergonomic cutting; especially on a flat surface, like a cutting board. Using the SpydieChef to open packages, cut strings or break down cardboard boxes went as easy as you could imagine. The LC200N held up quite well. Even when the edge seemed to lose its shaving sharpness, it continued to cut very well. It was no challenge at all, to bring that sharp edge back again.
Folding kitchen knife
I’m not opposed to using a ‘folding kitchen knife’. For many years, my go-to kitchen cutlery for camping trips have been a serrated Police 3 and an XL Lum Chinese Folder. I’m also no snob worried about ‘rust’ on these knives. I just use them, and wash them afterwards with water and soap and dry them off. When I come home, I briefly check the inside of the handle and pivot and apply some oil. I haven’t had any problem with dirt or corrosion in these knives for the past 10 years.
Now, onto the chore the SpydieChef was designed for: food prep. The ergonomics were designed to excel in cutting on a board. And the entire knife is almost rustproof, with its Titanium handle and LC200N steel. The SpydieChef certainly slices and dices with the best of my regular small kitchen knives. However, with its 3.5 inch blade, it is a bit on the short side. Sure I use smaller folders for food prep all the time, in a pinch or for testing. But for a purpose-driven design like this, I’d like to see it with a larger 4 inch blade. This way, it would still also work for EDC.
Apart from another half inch of blade, I -really- missed serrations. Cutting fresh bread and rolls in the morning was an embarrassment. The C211 just couldn’t ‘grip’ into the crust while slicing. Sure, I could ‘stab’ the bread and then cut my way into a slice. But that doesn’t even come close to the fine job my serrated Police 3 usually does on trips like these.
The C211 SpydieChef is an awesome folder, no doubt. It’s a great everyday carry utility folder with a few added features. You can take this folder into the water without any worries. In that respect it’s nice to have a more ‘classier’ knife option for EDC as opposed to the FRN H1 Salt series. In addition, the C211 is a very nice folding paring knife. In my book, it’s not the definitive folding kitchen knife. For that role, I’ll stick to my trusty serrated Police 3 and (plain edge) Lum Chinese folder XL. The latter is –to me- nicer to use despite the less ergonomic blade/handle angle, because of its wider and longer blade.
Check out the specs and history of the C211 SpydieChef at SpydieWiki.com.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?).
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.
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.
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.
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.