What makes the Southard better than almost any other knife..

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Evil D
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What makes the Southard better than almost any other knife..

Postby Evil D » Mon Sep 22, 2014 4:50 pm

"Disclaimer* "almost any other knife" is a very loosely used phrase ;)

This is of course just my opinion and I don't expect anyone to agree. However, consider that:

1) this opinion is based off of owning and handling quite a few knives in the catalog

2) this opinion is despite the fact that I didn't like the Southard whatsoever when it originally came out

3) consider the competition it faces for me to feel this way about it

Basically, my love of knives really comes down to what I feel is excellence in design and engineering, and I feel the Southard really hit the nail on the head in 3 categories that really sell a knife for me. And when I say this, it will no doubt sound like I feel the opposite about other knives, but that's not at all the case..."all good, just different" as Sal has said, these are just some of the finer points that make this knife so amazing to me.

First, are the ergonomics. I can't wrap my mind around how something so seemingly simple and "vanilla" feels so right in my hand. The longer I own it and handle it, the more things seem to make sense to me. For example, it has no 50/50 choil, which is one of my typical go-to qualities in knives that I want. Despite that, I've never got the feeling like my hand is disconnected from the blade as I do with some knives that lack a choil. Also, I love how the flipper doubles as a guard. Then there's the lock cutout, which amazingly doubles almost as deep finger choil, since your index finger wraps around the handle and nests right into the cutout for the lock tab, locking your finger in place. Because of this, the rest of the handle is smooth and lacking any kind of finger indention, yet I've never had an issue with it slipping out of my hand. Then the grip options...it feels as good in a saber grip as it does Filipino grip, which is amazing. You can choke up with your thumb on the spine of the blade and gain both force and control when carving, etc. Apart from the wide/deep jimping on the spine near the pivot, there aren't the usual "tacti-cool gimmicks" that a lot of other knives have, and yet it comes off just as capable in your hand as say, a Manix 2 or Para 2. So in the end you get elegance with performance...it's the proverbial iron fist in a velvet glove.

Next are the aesthetics. While I do lean towards form following function, there is just enough style and class in the design that it has a certain classiness to it without seeming stuck up and too much like a fancy letter opener. The entire thing reminds me of a machined engine part...strong where it needs to be strong, and stylized everywhere else. My only real complaint here is the asymmetric thickness in the scales, which admittedly drives my OCD through the dang roof. I would be SOOOO HAAAAAPPY! if they'd just make it with Ti on both sides in the same thickness and ditch the G10. I've even come to like the brown G10...I think it works very well with the gray of the Ti. I wouldn't be heartbroken if it were black, but nearly all of my other knives are black so it's a nice change. If it weren't brown, I think my choice colors would be some shade of gray or dark blue. Perhaps the biggest thing that roused my attraction to this knife was the overall shape, both when opened and closed. When open, the blade has a wonderful negative angle, which I very much like in a knife, yet the blade has just enough belly to allow you to make cutting board cuts without any issues. When closed, the blade is almost entirely enveloped by the handle, which takes me back to older knife styles I grew up with, and I think gives a much cleaner look than a large thumb ramp sticking out of the handle.

Lastly, there's the blade, or more specifically the blade to handle ratio. This is a quality that probably makes up 50% or more of why I love this knife so much. While I don't really prioritize blade to handle ratio, and it doesn't stop me from buying a knife if I like it, it is definitely something I very much appreciate and I feel it's a sign of a great design, when you can squeeze as much blade as possible into a given handle length. I also acknowledge that part of why this is possible is due to the lack of a 50/50 choil, which gives it an advantage over other designs. This is something that you really need to experience in your hand for it to really sink in, because reading numbers doesn't really emphasize how great this design is. Just look at this pic...

Image

Notice, that the blade is only about 1/4 inch shorter than a Military, yet the entire knife is a whole 1.5 inches shorter. You still get your entire hand on the grip of the Southard, and you only give up 1/8 inch of cutting edge vs. the Military. What impresses me even more than that, is that when you hold those two knives in your hands, the Military feels like a huge knife...even if you choke up on the choil, the blade feels massive (for a folder). When I hold the Southard, the blade feels much more manageable and compact, despite only being 1/4 inch shorter and despite that this 1/4 inch is consumed by the choil on the Military, so you have nearly the same length of blade sticking out of your hand, but the Southard still feels smaller and easier to use. Also consider that with that 3.46 inch blade on the Southard, you get a legit 3.46 inches of cutting edge...so you give up no cutting edge to choils, etc. If that's not enough, the two knives are only .1oz different in weight (the Military being the heavier knife), so for the same carry weight you get a much smaller package, with only 1/8 inch loss in cutting edge.

Now, I don't mean to pick on the Military, it just happens to be a nice stark comparison. If I were in a situation where I had to use gloves, I would absolutely opt for the Military. However, for EDC I don't see the longer handle of the Military being at any advantage except for maybe reach if you were in some situation where that was important. Considering how much more compact and easier on pocket space the Southard is, it's the clear winner in the "Military sized blade" folder market.

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Re: What makes the Southard better than almost any other kni

Postby Molle Ninja » Mon Sep 22, 2014 5:20 pm

I really want to buy one, but I've been disappointed by Spyderco titanium frame locks before. I can't stand sticky locks. My Chokwe has it bad, and my Techno has it a tiny bit.

Can anybody report flipping it TONS with no stickiness in the lock? I love the aesthetics of this design, but really wish it had a steel insert in the lock bar like the Domino/Dice. I know it's hardened, but still.

Would Spyderco treat a sticky lock as a warranty issue?

Sorry to derail, but I want to share the love and I need to be sure before I order one.

Thanks!

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Re: What makes the Southard better than almost any other kni

Postby Screwdriver » Mon Sep 22, 2014 5:27 pm

Interesting.....

I got a Southard a month or so ago, and at first, I was a bit Meh about it. Most of my original opinion had to do with the actual cost and perceived value. The cost seemed excessive compared to other knives in my collection.

But after EDC'ing, it is starting to be one of my favorite knives from any brand. It feels like it was made for my hand more so than any knife I own.

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Re: What makes the Southard better than almost any other kni

Postby tvenuto » Mon Sep 22, 2014 5:28 pm

I'm with you on all of these points. The southard has the seemingly magical ability to shrink when closed and expand when open. Also, it has almost the identical edge profile to the Manix XL, with of course being a much smaller overall package. Although they very much look different, the southard could be mistaken for the Yojimbo 2 with your eyes closed. The Yo2 is also comfortable in both of the grips you mentioned, and has a way of nestling back into your palm. Both of these offer a different feel to the more "standard" dual grip spyderco ergos (forward pinch in choil/rear with thumb on ramp).

My only gripe is that jimping is too rounded, and is little more than a warning track. I much prefer the more "gear like" jimping of knives like the Manix/PM2.

Edit: Just found the post that I made with some photo comparisons: http://www.spyderco.com/forumII/viewtop ... d+edge+940" target="_blank
Last edited by tvenuto on Mon Sep 22, 2014 5:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: What makes the Southard better than almost any other kni

Postby Screwdriver » Mon Sep 22, 2014 5:31 pm

Molle Ninja wrote:I really want to buy one, but I've been disappointed by Spyderco titanium frame locks before. I can't stand sticky locks. My Chokwe has it bad, and my Techno has it a tiny bit.

Can anybody report flipping it TONS with no stickiness in the lock? I love the aesthetics of this design, but really wish it had a steel insert in the lock bar like the Domino/Dice. I know it's hardened, but still.

Would Spyderco treat a sticky lock as a warranty issue?

Sorry to derail, but I want to share the love and I need to be sure before I order one.

Thanks!
My Southard does not have a sticky lock, but did a little when I first got it. Disengages as cleanly has any steel frame or liner lock I own. I do have a ZT 0550 with the steel insert and it sticks more then the Southard ever did.

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Re: What makes the Southard better than almost any other kni

Postby Able Dog » Mon Sep 22, 2014 5:34 pm

I have no issues with lock stickiness with my Southard. I've honestly spent more time flipping the knife than cutting things with it. The carburization on the Ti lock face is very effective at preventing wear and stickiness. So far, the lockup on mine hasn't budged and is very solid.

As far as why I like the Southard more than other knives in the price range, it is the attention to detail as much as the practicality/function. The fact that the lock face was carburized, the steel washers that maintain tolerances between the ball bearings and liners, a gorgeously stonewashed blade, and a consistently elegant design are fairly unique to the Southard (at least in the 250 price range).

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Re: What makes the Southard better than almost any other kni

Postby farnorthdan » Mon Sep 22, 2014 5:39 pm

Great analysis David, I lusted after the southard for the longest time and just could not bring myself to drop the coin for one, finally one day I just decided I couldn't live one more day without one and pulled the trigger. Probably one of the best knife decisions I ever made. I absolutely love my southard and you put the reasons why into words perfectly. My only complaint about the southard is the pocket clip but thats an easy fix, I just haven't been able to find a replacement clip for mine yet.

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Re: What makes the Southard better than almost any other kni

Postby Sequimite » Mon Sep 22, 2014 6:17 pm

The Southard and the Forum Native were the only two knives I bought last year and it has become my favorite. Let me add a few points to Evil D's.

I usually park mine in my back pocket, but when in the front picket it takes up less space than my other Spydercos. The tip works as well as my Paramilitary or Caly 3.5 for cutting out a paper pattern but is stronger. The belly, like the Rock Lobster is ideal for food prep. The thick hollow ground blade does not bind like a FFG. The FFG is great for many things but I've been surprised how often I prefer the Southard, even for my ubiquitous apples. It gives you the maximum blade at the common 3.5" legal limit, the same reason I prefer my Lil' Temp when in 3" territory. And although it goes without saying, I love to flip this knife.

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Re: What makes the Southard better than almost any other kni

Postby PayneTrain » Mon Sep 22, 2014 7:15 pm

Great read, a lot of great points! I lusted after one for a while before finally scoring a good deal on a second hand Southard, and it lived up to all my expectations and then some. For high volume knife use days, the choice is usually the Southard. In addition to all the original points, I'll add that the flipping action is amazing to say the least and makes this knife such a pleasure to use. The blade comes out reliably, effortlessly, and locks up every time, and it goes back in just as easily (my lock doesn't stick). It's so easy to deploy, use, and put away it's like having a retractable claw. In this regard it's rivaled only by the Sage 3 among knives in my collection, and maaaybe the PM2. There's nothing more satisfying than a tool you can use without even looking at it.

And don't forget materials! Worry free titanium that slides right out of your pocket, a real super steel that doesn't like to rust or dull, and nicely textured G10. Seriously it'd be easier to list what I don't like about this knife, and even those points rarely disqualify it for the day. One would be weight, but as long as I'm not wearing gym shorts that's not an issue. Two would be the hollow grind, but that only matters if I'm chopping onions or slicing cold smoked brisket. Three would be...um...that I didn't get one sooner? So I guess you could say cost, but even then you get such a nice piece it's worth the money.

That's about it. Every other detail is pretty much fantastic. Seriously, pick something and I'll gush over it. I'm definitely with you on this, D!

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Re: What makes the Southard better than almost any other kni

Postby gbelleh » Mon Sep 22, 2014 7:29 pm

I agree with most of your opinions. But there are two things that keep the Southard out of my pocket as it is now. The pocket clip, and the cutting performance. Something has never been right with my Southard's edge. I have at least 5 Spyderco ti frame locks with no steel inserts, and none have ever been sticky. My ZT0560 sticks pretty badly though.
:D :spyder:

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Re: What makes the Southard better than almost any other kni

Postby senorsquare » Mon Sep 22, 2014 8:14 pm

gbelleh wrote:I agree with most of your opinions. But there are two things that keep the Southard out of my pocket as it is now. The pocket clip, and the cutting performance. Something has never been right with my Southard's edge. I have at least 5 Spyderco ti frame locks with no steel inserts, and none have ever been sticky. My ZT0560 sticks pretty badly though.
Those things can be fixed. :D

Image

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Re: What makes the Southard better than almost any other kni

Postby Evil D » Mon Sep 22, 2014 8:17 pm

gbelleh wrote:I agree with most of your opinions. But there are two things that keep the Southard out of my pocket as it is now. The pocket clip, and the cutting performance. Something has never been right with my Southard's edge. I have at least 5 Spyderco ti frame locks with no steel inserts, and none have ever been sticky. My ZT0560 sticks pretty badly though.
The part about the edge not being right, I did notice that it took a few sharpenings before it really got as sharp as I expected. It had an initial "gummy" feeling that I would relate to sharpening 154CM. After the first probably 3-4 sharpening jobs it behaves more or less like S30V on steroids. The blade is also pretty thick behind the edge compared to many knives, which combined with the hollow grind and thick blade don't make for the best slicer. If I were to change anything, it would be the grind, that's for sure. Otherwise, if I could get it in FFG/S110V I might never carry another knife so long as I live.

That said, I haven't really carried my Southard much since getting my S110V Manix 2. That knife is a serious contender for top dog in my collection. The weight really has me spoiled, but I do miss the flipper.

Also tvenuto, I agree that it does somehow remind me of a Yojimbo 2 when in your hand, most likely because of how the guard feels against your index finger and the fact it has no thumb ramp and feels so good in Filipino grip. I also relate it to my modded Rock Lobster quite a bit.

And as for the clip, I hated it initially but two things have slowly changed that...1) I rounded the point down some so it wasn't so dang sharp and I contoured the screw end to match the shape of the handle better, and 2) I realized that if you wear pants that have slanted pockets (like Dickies or Dockers, etc), the shape of the clip just under the screws pretty closely matches the slant of those pockets, and just seems to carry nicer because of it. That said, I do plan on buying a Ti clip eventually, as well as Ti standoffs if I can find the right size.

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Re: What makes the Southard better than almost any other kni

Postby gbelleh » Mon Sep 22, 2014 8:20 pm

senorsquare wrote:
Those things can be fixed. :D

Image
Yeah, that's more like it!
:D :spyder:

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Re: What makes the Southard better than almost any other kni

Postby zhyla » Mon Sep 22, 2014 9:01 pm

I never noticed the blade/handle ratio before. I like the shape of the southard, I'm sure I would love to carry one but the price is a but too dear. A steel frame and S30v steel would probably put one in my pocket but plenty of other knives in the sea...

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Re: What makes the Southard better than almost any other kni

Postby Liquid Cobra » Tue Sep 23, 2014 12:08 pm

I bought the black Southard and carried it for a week or two but then had another knife come in that bumped it out of my pocket. I had started carrying it again a few weeks ago and it's really grown on me for a lot of the reasons you've mentioned David. It's not as comfortable in my hand as I would like, but that's ok.

I do prefer the look of my black one over the original. Any plans on getting the black one?
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Re: What makes the Southard better than almost any other kni

Postby victorf » Tue Sep 23, 2014 12:44 pm

Thought about a Spyderco flipper few months back, settled on the Bento Box Domino Sprints.

A little background. 1996 Started EDC my Benchmade Titanium liner lock AFCK, up till retirement after 39 years with DOD as a Nuclear Toolmaker in 2009. Over the years, lock stickiness worsen along with increased engagement.

Carburize mating surface will not do much in the long run. Softer of the two will still end up as the sacrificial element. That is just nature of the beast.

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Re: What makes the Southard better than almost any other kni

Postby bh49 » Tue Sep 23, 2014 1:09 pm

Without of doubts I am in minority here. I never liked the knife and never had intention to buy. I was able to handle and play with it on the knife show and didn't start to like it after. Plus for me it is seriously overpriced. I paid much less for ZT561, but I wouldn't buy Southard even with $100 off street price. Of cause I can be wrong. This is just personal perception.
Evil D wrote: First, are the ergonomics.
I found ergos to be OK, but not as great as Persian, Para, Native5, Calys. But everybody's hand are different
Evil D wrote: Next are the aesthetics.
I found Southard to be even uglier in person than on the picture. I hate the blade shape.
Evil D wrote: Lastly, there's the blade
Blade to handle ration is good, but 50/50 choil is a must for me. Also 4mm thick hollow grind doesn't sound like a good slicer for me and I cannot imagine that it will slide an apple better than Caly3.5.
Steel is good, but I have para in the same steel.

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Re: What makes the Southard better than almost any other kni

Postby Brock O Lee » Tue Sep 23, 2014 2:34 pm

I can see why you like it so much EvilD. I have thought about getting one a few times in the past, but I just could not commit.

Biggest deal breakers for me other than cost is the thick stock and hollow grind. If it was FFG and thin behind the edge from the factory I would have owned one already. To land that knife in South Africa will cost me about $400, I'm just not prepared to spend another $50 for a regrind on top of that.

This should not be an issue, but the blade break someone else reported because of the large internal stop pin cutout is also nagging a bit in the back of my mind...
Last edited by Brock O Lee on Tue Sep 23, 2014 2:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What makes the Southard better than almost any other kni

Postby Brock O Lee » Tue Sep 23, 2014 2:41 pm

Double post
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Favourites at the moment: Military 204P, Spydiechef, Sage 2, Pits, Heinnie UKPK, Native Cruwear, Chaparral Ti


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