I got this knife as a gift, so you bet this is a biased review! Still this knife deservers more attention, so here is my contribution. My first impression of the Stretch was that is was a very ‘retro’ looking knife. It reminded me of the original Civilian with its kraton inlayed handle, or the older hunter models Spyderco offered in the past. And since I am always into the ‘new stuff’, the Stretch also did not appeal to me cosmetically. Furthermore, I don’t hunt and could never imagine ever going to hunt for recreation either. So what possible use could I have for such a purpose-driven hunting design?
Now, this is a very dear gift, so just because of that this knife makes it into my top three knives that will never leave my side! Furthermore, I felt that I had to give this knife a good workout, out of courtesy as well as to find out why Spyderco would release this “old-looking” knife. Since, the knife is a bit too big for me to carry and use outdoors (for me that’s the city center of one of Holland’s oldest cities) I mostly used it indoors.
The Stretch is a great kitchen knife, for this purpose it knocked my beloved Military, Paramilitary and Chinese folder of their crown. The Stretch has a flat grind, but the blade is much more polished which translates into a much sharper knife (by feel). There is hardly any food sticking to your blade. You will also feel the effect of this blade polish on more mundane things like string, potato chip bags and other every day stuff. The semi-skinner blade shape, allows you to bring a lot more edge to the cutting board, as compared to the Military or Chinese folder. The Stretch also has more point, compared to the Chinese Folder, which is better for cutting steaks. In my case, I used to be a certified butcher, I always ask my butcher not to clean my steaks since I enjoy to do that myself in the weekend, and I think I can do it better anyway 😉 ! Cutting-wise, this knife is the Calypso Sr., period.
The Stretches blade tip is thicker than the Military’s, so I used for prying and cutting the lids of heavy cardboard boxes at work, the ICT people always like to see me with a new knife. I am the only ‘suit’ in our office that occasionally comes down the ICT department to help them clean up their boxes. Well, they call it cleaning, I’m testing blades!
The serrations in the choil, coupled with the shape of the handle’s butt, make the stretch the most secure and comfortable upside down cutter of all the Spydies I own. Often you are cutting with the edge facing up, when carefully opening a package for example. This knife will do that very safely, because you thumb rests securely against the serrations in the choil. I am sure this is a typical hunter-grip, for skinning I think.
So far, you have a pretty much ideal utility folder. It’s sharp, cuts well and allows for cutting on a board and a variety of other grips, such as edge-up. In addition the handle is really comfy, despite that uncomfortable looking pointy butt-end which could be a problem for people with bigger hands than my XL-sized mitts. Reverse grip (edge-in or out) is safe and comfy. In the hand, the kraton inlays combined with an SS frame works really well; it’s comfortable and secure. Although others disagree for cosmetic reasons, I really like the four-way optional clip positioning (aka “the Swiss cheese option”).
I’m a lefty and with this size knife the vote for tip up or down should fall somewhere down the middle. My personal rule is always, when the knife’s blade is three inches and under the clip should be tip-up. Four inches and bigger, and the clip should be tip-down, for fast retrieval and opening. The Stretch has an around 3,5 inch blade and works best for me in a tip-down carry mode. And another thing, for the neophytes that always complain about longer handles for shorter blades, the Stretch blade fits perfectly in its handle which isn’t a micro-inch longer than its blade, so you don’t have to worry about so-called efficient handle to blade ratio’s ;).
One thing I don’t like about the Stretch is the way the kraton inlays feel when putting this knife in or out of your pocket.Sure, the kraton works when gripping the knife and keeping the knife in your pocket (friction), but the stuff is equally grippy when you pull it out of your pocket. Maybe for hunters who may work around a lot of fluids and grime the grip is more important than pocket carry, but for us ‘urbanites’ who are used to G10, it is not so good. Because of this the Stretch will not be my all-day carry folder. More so, because of its blade length and more importantly because it is a cherished gift I certainly don’t want to lose or damage (excessively).
My one and most important suggestion for improvement would be to replace the kraton with that ultra-grippy G10 found in the latest generation Spydies such as the Dodo and the Yojimbo. Perhaps a blue edition for forumites??!!
The conclusion, if you don’t mind the kraton for getting the knife in and out of your pocket (perfectly remedied by a sheath BTW), then get over the retro-look or “unsightly” clip-holes and get it! The Stretch’s blade geometry is in the same league of the Calypso jr., but only bigger and with a stronger tip.