Normally I carry a Para 2 or Military with me. Love their high quality feel, the ergos, full flat grinds, the blade shapes etc.
I've owned a few Salt folders since they came out. SE Tasman Salt which is my dirty job knife, the knife that cuts things I don't want to use a "nice" knife for. PE & SE Pacific Salts, which were also beater knives mostly used for manual labor jobs like roofing, landscaping etc.
Lately the Pacific Salt has made its way into a general EDC role. It's stopped being my ugly beater knife and has become my go to daily carry.
Kind of wondering why it took me over half a decade to make that call.
I love big blades but I like light folders. The Millie has been my gold standard for years, being 4.5oz with a 4 inch blade. The Pacific Salt is an anorexic 3oz! with a 3.812 inch blade, even more impressive than the Military.
The ergos are great, feels like my Police 3 with no choil and a chunkier handle. Love how rounded the corners are compared to more squared off G10 / Ti. The Endura 4 handle never worked for me, never understood if the first finger contour was meant for one finger or two, with neither really feeling right. This handle, my hand knows exactly where to go and is locked into place every time.
Great action on it. Large 14mm opening hole that's totally exposed when the knife is closed, very easy to open. Worn in backlocks are smooth, smooth smooth. Depress the lock release with my thumb and swing the blade shut with my index finger in the hole, closing one handed just as easily as it opens.
Most importantly, the blade. H1 rustproof goodness. Took some modding to get what I wanted out of it, I'll admit. Removed the hump near the tip for better penetration, since I prefer pointy tips like the Military. The saber hollow grind was much too thick for me, so I flattened out the hollow which gave the blade profile reduced drag in cardboard etc. Next I reduced the edge angle significantly. Lucky for me H1 grinds very easily, and this took very little time to do by hand. I did a very rough job that could definitely be more even, but this is my beater so it doesn't matter to me. It cuts.
I honestly wasn't impressed at all with edge retention and sharpness on this PE Pacific Salt, so much so that it was my main reason for never EDCing it. Over time I've realized I get a much sharper edge on it when its thinned out (Me or the steel? I have no idea), and that edge retention has improved as well. I don't know if the edge retention is because of the supposed work hardening nature of H1 or because of my changes to the edge geometry, but I find it acceptable now. I'm getting it hair popping sharp where before smooth shaving sharpness was next to impossible for me. Edge retention feels just a bit under my VG10 folders, which is better than it was initially.
It's weird, with VG10 and S30V I get them plenty sharp at factory edge angles and see good edge retention, I just don't like how much force it takes to cut thicker materials. With H1 it wasn't just about cutting efficiency, I needed to thin out the edge and grind it down before I could get the knife as sharp as I wanted. I've noticed this with all of my PE H1 knives so far. Spending a few minutes on some DMT bench stones and completely removing the factory edge just seems to make such a big difference with H1.
For a while I was running coarse edges on my H1 knives to help combat the low edge retention. My initial impressions were polished edges lost their bite on H1 very quick, and I was left with a glossy edge with no bite. The coarses edges would hold working sharpness for much longer, because even after the bite of a fresh sharpening wears off, the edge still has some aggression left in it instead of being smooth and rounded.
The past few weeks I've been experimenting with more polished edges again, using the Pacific Salt and aqua Salt as my testers. Pacific Salt I've been using a DMT fine stone to finish the edge with (1000-1200 grit I believe), then stropping twice per side. The Aqua Salt I've been taking up to Spyderco UF bench stone (8000 grit?) then stropping 5 times per side. I've been pretty happy with their performance so far. Honestly couldn't tell you if I just sucked at sharpening them in the past or if the years of use and re-sharpening has made a difference, but either way the more polished edges are working better now.
The Aqua Salt has been getting tested in controlled cardboard and rope cutting sessions, going back and forth between the polished edge and an edge finished with a DMT XX coarse stone. The latter definitely retains slicing aggression during a cardboard or rope cutting trial for longer periods of time, but the polished edge holds up better than my old impressions led me to expect. For general use I'd choose something in between the two extremes (250 grit vs 8000), but if I knew I had an unusual cutting task coming up, I could go in either direction to optimize it as needed.
The Pacific Salt has just been seeing EDC usage. Edge retention has been no issue at all. The most cardboard I cut in a usual day is about 10-15', so EDC knives don't get tested hard there. I'm the kind of guy that's going to touch up my EDC when it can't shave, so sharpening frequently is no issue for me, it just needs to get through a day or two without getting so dull it won't scrape off arm hair. The Pac Salt is doing that. The level of polish (DMt fine) is working well for me in an EDC role, and I don't see myself changing it any time soon. Most of my other EDC knives are S30V, and that I'll take up to the spyderco UF stones every time, but I like a lower grit finish on H1.
The rust proof nature of this knife is a really big deal to me. I'll manage to rust DLC coated stainless Spydercos even. Imagine how much you'd sweat biking 100 miles in 95-105 degree weather. Now imagine having a Spyderco clipped to your waist band while you do that, and think about what all that sweat exposure is going to do to the liners, the blade, the stop pin, the pivot bearing etc. This is one example of the ridiculous situations my folders can go through. Having a knife that is 100% impervious to things like that is a really, really big deal to me. My Para 2 needs a deep cleaning in the pivot after something like that, even with that DLC coating.
It's also just nice for peace of mind. Say I'm at work, hands are covered in oils, and I need to cut something. If my Para 2 is clipped to my pants, I'd wipe my hands off, maybe wash them first. Can't always do that. Pacific Salt, idgaf, I just grab it and get the job done. I know I can just dunk it in a tub of hot soapy water, swish it around a bit, then blast it out with some water and its good to go. No worries about a little water being in between the G10 and liner, potentially rusting. No worries at all.
I've been spoiled by higher end knives. I've gotten to slice cardboard with a CF/S90V Military. I've seen what an 8DPS ZDP189 Stretch cuts like. I EDC'd a thinned & convexed CPMD2 Millie for years. But this ugly, inexpensive Spyderco has become my favorite knife recently. Now that I've got the quirks worked out of the edge, I've gotten to enjoy its qualities. 3oz, nearly the same blade length as my Millie, and rust proof? That's a hard combo to beat, even for Spyderco
Planning to order one of the newer versions with the hourglass clip and finer jimping. If anyone knows who I could send it to for a full flat grind, I'd love to know!
2019 update - Here is that same Pacific Salt after cleaning up the blade grind: