Spyderco Air Gayle Bradley Review

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Uke
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Spyderco Air Gayle Bradley Review

Postby Uke » Sun Sep 30, 2012 7:49 am

Hello all,

I was very eager to get my hands on this little guy as I'm such a big lover of the original Spyderco Gayle Bradley. I think it's quite a hard thing to sit on this side of the Atlantic, biting your nails as you watch all those shiny new Spyderco boxes being opened in the States! :) Well mine finally arrived last week and here are my thoughts...

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Stats from Spyderco:

length overall: 5.96" (1.51 mm)
length closed: 3.41" (87 mm)
blade length: 2.55" (65 mm)
blade thickness: 0.089" (2.3 mm)
cutting edge: 2.37" (60 mm)
blade steel: CPM M4
handle material: Titanium/Glass Fiber
weight: 1.3 oz (37 g)

First off, I know this might be pretty obvious to say, but goodness me is this light! In fact it is lighter than a Spyderco Kiwi by more than 10 grams! The name 'Air' is very well deserved. In fact it is so light that it almost felt 'fragile' when I first picked it up, however, this is not the case at all and it feels like a miniature version of it's bigger, rugged brother...just as sturdy and well finished, albeit a lot smaller!

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This light weight comes from the design and materials...skeletonised titanium liners with silver twill glass fibre scales. This also makes the Air one heck of a looker! After going over this knife with a fine-toothed comb I've got to say that it is quite simply exquisite. The fit and finish from Taichung is yet again flawless...blade perfectly finished and centred, lock up rock solid, action smooth, I can't fault anything in the example I have.

The silver twill glass fibre:

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The texture of the scales is pretty much that of carbon fibre. It's smoother than G10 but still grippy enough for your hand not to be sliding around. The material does have a translucent quality when the scales are viewed down their clear (well, misty) sides and the inside of the handle. One of the features that I really loved about the original Spyderco Gayle Bradley were the proud liners and the Air has them too. It doesn't take away from the comfort of the handle at all but somehow gives the knife an extra air of quality. I'm not sure if there is a functional reason behind this aspect of the design, but it sure looks lovely. And this is where the Air really shines...being a darn lovely looking dress knife!

Here she is open and closed:

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It's a great size and shape to slip into a suit pocket, it's such a shame that in the UK we can only legally take a slippie out to dinner or the theatre, as this would be the perfect knife for such occasions. A number of people have expressed concern that the Air doesn't have a pocket clip. I myself am quite happy without the clip, but if the Air is to get one in future, I would think it deserves a specific clip design of it's own, to fit in with it's very unique lines and appearance. I think the standard wire clip, whilst being perfectly functional, would take something away from this knife's appearance.
Last edited by Uke on Sat Nov 04, 2017 5:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Uke
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Postby Uke » Sun Sep 30, 2012 7:49 am

Here are some size comparisons with well known Spydies...

The Air next to the original Gayle Bradley and the UKPK:

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The Air with a ladybug:

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Here is the knife in-hand compared with the UKPK:

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The Air is very comfortable in the hand and gives you a lot of control over that lovely Wharncliffe blade. There is no lower choil so watch those fingers don't slip! As this is such a small folder though, I doubt it will be tackling any real heavy duty tasks so this isn't a huge issue. There is a gentle thumb ramp over the Spydie hole to secure your grip which works well. Now, this ramp is completely smooth and guess what I'm going to say next...I would have liked jimping! :) I know, this is a light duty EDC in the 'gentleman's folder' category, but I have only been using this for a week and already I've had a couple of occasions where I would have preferred a bit of extra security under my slippery thumb. I don't think jimping here would detract from the looks of the piece and it is just so functional. I find the jimping on a knife as tiny as the Ladybug very useful so would certainly appreciate it on the Air.

Just as with it's bigger brother, the Air features a linerlock...

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...the blade opens like a whisper and the lock up is solid as a rock. The Air's lock is particularly interesting as there are two handle cutouts to access it...

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...the first, larger cutout is placed perfectly for you to access the Spydie hole for smooth opening. This cut out is very nicely finish, sliding seamlessly down through both the scale and the titanium liner like a slice of layered birthday cake! The lock can be disengaged using this cutout, although that is actually what the smaller cutout is for...and it works really well. The extra leverage offered by contacting the lock bar this far forwards makes closure a breeze. The jimping here also makes a world of difference, catching your thumb as you drag it across the lock bar. The only gripe I have is that as you are so far forward it's pretty easy to give your thumb a little nip as the tang of the blade closes on you. I've actually developed a little patch of rough skin on the corner of my thumb as I've been catching myself so much this last week :rolleyes: As with most things though, it's all about technique...I'm getting better at it :)
Last edited by Uke on Sat Nov 04, 2017 6:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Uke
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Postby Uke » Sun Sep 30, 2012 7:50 am

And what is that lock keeping secure? This lovely slice of CPM-M4 that's what:

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As with all the Spydies I've had out of Taichung, the blade is fantastic with a lovely even grind. It's a Wharncliffe style shape with a nicely done swedge. The one and only thing I'd like to see change on the Taichung Spydies is the process they are using to apply the logos and lettering...it has a raised texture as opposed to the smooth markings from Golden, Seki and Maniago. The logos are flawlessly executed, its just every time I wipe the blade down the markings catch my cloth, ripping it up and catching strands of material and fluff! A minor point I know, maybe I'm on my own on this one! :)

Anyone that's used M4 before knows what a lovely steel it is. My Air came from the factory set at just under 40 degrees inclusive...I took it down to a straight 30 degrees inclusive (my GB and my M4 Manix 2 hold really well at this angle without a micro bevel), couple that with the thinness of the blade and this thing is just devilishly sharp! No signs of patina yet, but then I do wipe it down religiously after each use!

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It just falls through tomatoes, leaving paper-thin slices:

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Speaking of paper:

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A bit tuggy on arm hairs after a week of use, but still shaving sharp:

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Overall the Air was well worth the wait. For me this is a near perfect dress knife and is just exquisite as an object in its own right. Despite it's delicate appearance and light weight the Air feels as tough and sturdy as it's larger sibling and I'd say it's a must have for any Gayle Bradley fans.

Here they are together again:

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Well I think that covers most of my thoughts on the air. I hope someone finds this review useful!

Cheers for now,

Uke.
Last edited by Uke on Sat Nov 04, 2017 6:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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ChrisR
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Postby ChrisR » Sun Sep 30, 2012 8:37 am

Thanks for the review - that's one lovely knife :)
My spydies: Squeak, Tenacious, Terzuola, D'Allara, UKPK CF peel-ply pre-production, UKPK CF smooth pre-production, UKPK G10 orange leaf-blade, UKPK FRN grey drop-point, UKPK FRN maroon leaf-blade, Bug ... all PE blades :)

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Postby indie_dave » Sun Sep 30, 2012 8:52 am

love the pics, especially the mirror reprofile. wish i could do that!!

will need to lookup forcing patina; mine's browning at the spyderhole after a week of light carry.

wonderful design; fullsized Bradleys now on my wishlist too
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Uke
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Postby Uke » Mon Oct 01, 2012 5:10 pm

indie_dave wrote:love the pics, especially the mirror reprofile. wish i could do that!!

will need to lookup forcing patina; mine's browning at the spyderhole after a week of light carry.

wonderful design; fullsized Bradleys now on my wishlist too
Hi mate, the mirror reprofile isn't too tricky. I used a DC4 diamond whetstone to change the angle, but the mirror polish was achieved pretty easily with just the Spyderco Sharpmaker, working slowly up through the medium, fine and ultra fine rods and then a final few stokes on a leather strop with some Starkie Blue compound.

Uke.

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Postby defenestrate » Mon Oct 01, 2012 5:17 pm

Great review and probably my #1 choice for a gentleman's knife if I had the budget for it.
I drink, and I cut things.
-er, me, by way of Tyrion Lannister

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Postby 1623 » Mon Oct 01, 2012 6:35 pm

Uke wrote:
Image
I had a thought the other day that if for some reason I had to give up all but a pair of my Spydies, which duo would give me everything that I could possibly need or want? Well, this photo is exactly the conclusion that I came to. For me, these two diverse beauties would cover every chore, dress code and circumstance that I could think of.

Thanks very much for your review and excellent images.
-Jodi

It's not just in my head, it's in my heart.

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IG-88
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Postby IG-88 » Tue Oct 02, 2012 3:25 pm

Uke wrote:The silver twill glass fibre:

Image

The texture of the scales is pretty much that of carbon fibre. It's smoother than G10 but still grippy enough for your hand not to be sliding around. The material does have a translucent quality when the scales are viewed down their clear (well, misty) sides and the inside of the handle. One of the features that I really loved about the original Spyderco Gayle Bradley were the proud liners and the Air has them too. It doesn't take away from the comfort of the handle at all but somehow gives the knife an extra air of quality. I'm not sure if there is a functional reason behind this aspect of the design, but it sure looks lovely. And this is where the Air really shines...being a darn lovely looking dress knife!
The woven fabric is the top layer and there is no protective resine layer over it like ont the Cento Memory, I have the impression the scales on the Air will be less wear resistent. I tried to make some comp shots:

Image

Image


What is your impression on the Silver Twirl's durability?
Current EDC: Techno, Squeak, Southard Flipper, Caly 3.5

New Arrivals: Chap3, Domino, Sage 3

2014 Wishlist: Yo2 CF, Deviant Friction, Tatanka, Tusk, Firefly

Oldies Wishlist: Delica CF PE, Civilian CF PE

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Jazz
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Postby Jazz » Tue Oct 02, 2012 5:50 pm

Very nice knife and review. Unfortunately, I won't even consider it unless it gets a clip. Linerlock free in pocket is not cool.

- best wishes, Jazz.

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Postby Douglas » Tue Oct 02, 2012 7:54 pm

I like this design so much that I periodically consider breaking my no compromise on left-handedness rule to buy it. I won't, though.

I promise to buy a proper left-handed version if it were made, however.

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Postby Igi964 » Tue Dec 11, 2012 12:15 pm

My Air arrived yesterday. Great EDC, compact, light, elegant, M4 wharncliffe blade. It looks so beautifull. I simply LOVE this knife.
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Holland
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Postby Holland » Tue Dec 11, 2012 1:35 pm

Thanks for the review! I would like to pick one of these up, but not sure how i feel about the wharncliffe blade
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Postby DeathBySnooSnoo » Tue Dec 11, 2012 1:54 pm

I find that a Wharncliffe blade as a gent's folder works well. I'm not a fan of the Wharnie as an EDC blade, but for light work like you would use the Air for, it is perfectly good.
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Chipped Karambit
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Postby Chipped Karambit » Tue Dec 11, 2012 3:39 pm

I cannot believe i didn't see this before. This is an AMAZING review. Thorough as well.

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INFRNL
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Postby INFRNL » Sat Dec 15, 2012 12:39 pm

Thanks for the great review. Ive been eyeing this one since it was first announced, just haven't given in yet. Since I'm at work 6 days/wk, I do not have much need for a gentlemans knife. This will definitely go into the collection at some point though. Thanks again for your time on this review
CF Balance, CF Caly3 ZDP, Caly 3.5 SB, CAT 440C, Chaparral, Orange Jigged Damascus Delica, Blue Jigged Damascus Delica, BRG Delica ZDP(SOON TO BE G-10!), FG G-10 DragonFly, Gayle Bradley, 2012 Jester, H1 Ladybug Salt Hawkbill w/G-10 scales, Tan Manix 2 M4, MoonGlow Manix 2, C22CF Michael Walker, BRN Millie XHP, Native 5, PM2, All Black PM2, Gray PM2 20CP, Blue PM2 M390, Sage 1, Sage 2, Sage 4, Terzuola, CF Stretch ZDP, UKPK Drop Point

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Postby jackthedog » Sat Dec 15, 2012 12:58 pm

Very nice photos of a great knife.

I used mine to break down some rather heavy boxes and it performed very well for such a lightweight knife.


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