Good day everybody,
although I have posted a few short comments since my subscription last January, I had never posted anything long and did not introduce myself - so today I thought I would use the reception of my Manix Backlock a few days ago to post a few observations.
Looking back in time, I realize that, while I had many different knives in the course of my life I somehow always came back to Spyderco. My first Spydie was a Pro Venator I bought a Sunday in 1997 or 1998 in an antique arms sale back in France, from a guy who had a table full of odds and ends - with the Pro Venator calling my name. Ever since, and while I have bought and used my share of other brands, I always had Spydercos without it being a conscious decision. I guess the shapes, fits, finish, general quality and sharpness always appealed to me, as well as the fact that the generally flat profile of the Spydies makes it easy to clip them on a jean pocket and forget them.
So I bought a Manix 2 Knife Center Exclusive CF/Cruwear last January to replace my good old Manix 2 G10/154CM that I gave away to a deploying soldier of my family last year. I came first to this forum to find a way to solve some unusual roughness of the CF handle on the Cruwear and hung around ever since.
While the CF/Cruwear is a perfect Manix in all respects and I did not really
at all need another one, the announcement of the Backlock Manix 2 proved too difficult to resist - I had to have one! Although I mentioned above the flat profile of most Spydies that allow for an easy carry in a pant pocket, because I am full of contradictions I was also always attracted to beefy sturdy knives which explains that I own, among others, a Benchmade Adamas, a Brous Silent Soldier G10 or a DPX HEST - then a Manix with a thicker handle and blade was not to be passed!
Manix Backlock and Cruwear side by side
, on Flickr.
Disclaimer: I do not consider this post to be a complete review of the Manix 2 Backlock, these are just some random comments from a guy who owns or has owned three different versions of the Manix - in the hope it might be useful to those who might be tempted to pull the trigger on the Backlock version.
Yes the Backlock is thicker than the Cruwear version. The blade is thicker, although it remains very reasonable and is well below the thickness of the DPX HEST for example. The wide handle girth is more obvious, both visually and in feeling: the large handle makes the Backlock extremely comfortable in the hand, it fits like a glove.
The feeling of comfort is reinforced, in my opinion, by the smoothness of the G10 and the absence of jimping, joined to the light chamfering of the G10 scales.
G10 smoothness: I am used to grippy G10 handles, destructive of jean pockets; the surface of this one is less aggressive, barely grippy, just a tad less smooth than the CF of the Cruwear version. Very nice.
Jimping: I have seen comments on this forum calling the jimping of the handle on the Manix 2 "superfluous". I have to disagree, because I like the looks it gives to the knife and because I am not using my knives long and hard enough that the handle's jimping would cause blisters on my palm. Still, it is obvious when you manipulate both versions that the Backlock would be far more comfortable for hard work than the Cruwear, both due to the wider handle and absence of jimping (again, as I don't live in the wilderness and do not stab to death and skin a Grizzly bear every day before breakfast, that's a minor point to me - but a valid one nevertheless).
Finally, an empirical observation in relation with the thicker handle: wearing at this time adjusted jeans, I can say that when I clip the Cruwear on my pocket I forget it is there. Not so much with the Backlock: because of the girth of the handle, I am always aware it is there, I can feel it. It's not the weight, it's the thicker handle. Probably this feeling will disappear when wearing looser jeans.
, on Flickr
While we're on the subject of the handle, a comment on the absence of liners. Ordering the Backlock I somehow concentrated on the thicker handle and blade and paid no attention to the absence of liners. I realized it when I received it. So we have two massive slabs of G10 making the scales, each one a tad short of 4 mm thick (that's 0.157 in. for you Yankees). We all know about the rigidity of the G10, and my take on this one is that, liners or not, this knife is not going to bend under stress (more on that at the end). In addition, the handle is mounted with a back spacer solidly fixed with two Torx screws at the back of the handle, all the best for general sturdiness.
(My only beef with the Cruwear version is that the back of the handle is mounted only with that lanyard tube press-fitted with the CF scales; I would largely prefer nice stand off pillars fitted with Torx. What if you have to disassemble the knife? How do you disassemble the scales without damaging them where they are press-fit with that tube? How do you put them back together with that press-fitted tube? End of rant).
LOCKING and ACTION
I have no idea if it is true that Spyderco worked out an improved version of the back lock with the Native 5 and now this Manix 2, but I can say that the knife locks with a sharp, resounding and authoritative "shlack" that reminds me of the locking of my late Strider SMF (of course it is a frame lock, but I mean it as a compliment, that beast would lock like a gun bolt).
Once locked of course, no blade play whatsoever as is customary with Spyderco.
Same quality closing, with a detent both strong and mellow; no risk to see that knife opening itself alone (I tried, shaking it like mad, and it did not budge).
On par with what I read and experienced about the 40 Years Native 5, the blade rotation is rather stiff upon receiving the knife. No flicking with that baby, you need to push the blade with your thumb (in my case) all the way to the locking position. Same on closing: where my Cruwear is silky smooth and closes by gravity without effort, the Backlock's blade does not move a bit upon unlocking; if you have only one hand available you will have to push the blade spine against your leg or something.
I tried to play with the pivot tension and went nowhere: there are two Torx screws, one on each side, and trying with the one bit I had moved nothing at all; I suspect there may still be some Loctite involved here? At the very least you will need two Torx bits to accomplish anything.
No big deal for me: I don't flick my knives, and I am sure the pivot will break in and smooth up with use, maybe also with a drop of lube if need be. An added incentive to use the knife a lot (I do).
, on Flickr
So of course the blade is S30V which is fine by me. I smile these days when I see people on various forums disparagingly comment on S30V not being a super steel etc.. 15 or 20 years ago S30V was all the rage, it was a steel especially created for knife making, every maker worth his salt had to use it and S30V knives were notably more expensive than knives using run of the mill steel... and I don't think the S30V's qualities have disappeared ever since...
Some years ago I wanted to buy the S30V version of the Manix 2, since I had "only" the 154CM version - although I was perfectly happy with the 154CM issue which was sharp as hell, especially after I got myself a Sharpmaker... Somehow I never got arounf to buying the S30V version and I am kind of compensating today
Needless to say, and as was his Cruwear brother, the Backlock's blade is perfectly centered, with a nice even grind and scary sharp to boot. No need to comment further.
, on Flickr
...merging the subjects of rigidity, strong lock and blade quality, both the Backlock and the Cruwear before him were subjected to the "Spanish aged sheep's cheese test" (since I did not have a Grizzly bear at hand): Spanish sheep's cheese, aged 15 months (the one I prefer) is a compact block of hard dry cheese, especially resistant on the outer rim where its "skin" is; to cut off a piece of this cheese from a 10-cm block (4 inches more or less), in particular close to the outer part of the block, I need to stand above the block of cheese and exert a very strong downward pressure with the knife, half pushing and half slicing, to get the piece I want. As you can imagine, and owing to the quality of the two knives, both passed the test with flying colors, again and again; in particular: no flexing or bending at all. On the cutting side, I did no notice a difference between the Cruwear's blade and the thicker blade of the Backlock.
To me the Backlock Manix lives up to the expectations placed on it. I could not identify a weak point, be it in construction quality, functionality or ergonomics (I do not count the stiffness of the blade action as a weak point) - just be prepared to pocket a knife that may be thicker than your current Spyderco.
I hope these simple observations will be useful to some of you who are still on the fence as regards buying the Backlock version.
Ready to tackle the grilled Sea Bream
, on Flickr