First post on these forums, I wanted to share my early experience with the Brouwer, delivered last week.
I've had my eye on the Brouwer for a few months based on the specs (<3" blade, weight, thinner stock than the Native series) and aesthetics (slim looking carry, subtle blade shape, humpless design, green instead of ho-hum black). Never had a chance to handle one, but I saw all the reviews etc. and remained enamoured. Finally bucked up some $ and pulled the trigger.
First impression is - the Brouwer feels "soft". The lock-up is relatively quiet, the motion is smooth and subtle, and the blade deploys best with a deliberate full thumb sweep. You have to keep your middle and ring finger off the lock-bar when opening or you will have a bad time, so the light grip while opening contributes to the delicate feels.
The Brouwer compares well to the Lil' Native and Native 5 LW, both of which I have owned and enjoyed. The primary drawback with Lil' is the tankishly thick stock relative to the blade length that makes deep cuts a chore. The Native 5 has better ratio, but the grip is so specific, it locks you in on the choil. The distal taper on both L'N and N5 introduce cutting depth sensitivity. The Brouwer stock is slightly thinner, and the blade is the same thickness almost all the way to the tip, so I find cutting through thick cardboard easier anywhere along the cutting edge, without so much bias towards the tip.
Holding the Brouwer is a pleasure, open or closed. The asymmetric scales are texturally interesting to my fingers, making up for the less-fidgety deployment and lock mechanism. The Brouwer carries slim and compact in the pocket (relative to N5 for example), and the mass feels solid and reassuring. In use, the forward choil is smooth and comfortable, and I can choke up or back without losing any grip. The handle is lower volume than the N5 or PM2, so my hand can really wrap all the way around and make the knife feel at home in my palm.
Piss and moan all you want about the clip, the spoon fits perfectly in the hollow of my hand. Shallow carry leaves plenty of butt-end to grab from my pocket top. It doesn't need to be _that_ shallow, but I don't feel the urge to replace the stock clip.
This is my first titanium frame-lock and it doesn't have the same SNAP or SNICK of back, frame or compression locks. I'm sure it's adequate, but not quite so beefy and reassuring as other lock types. Likewise the internal stop pins running in a groove don't appear as burly as a frame-mounted stop pin. Again, I'm sure it's fine, it just makes the knife feel more subdued in comparison to more plain-spoken designs.
The Spyderco literature says this is designed "as a serious, everyday-carry cutting tool" and "substantial enough for challenging cutting chores". This knife makes me think of a luxury SUV. It is beautifully made, smooth riding, hefty and comfortable. It claims to have the chops get down and dirty, but I am unlikely to press it into "hard-use". I'll keep it in my pocket as (sub)urban pocket jewelry and enjoy the design and craftsmanship of such a well-made piece whenever I have the opportunity to cut my kids' apples or reduce cardboard to strips.
Past: Dragonfly, Air, Rhino, Lil' Native, Caly Jr. SB, Brouwer, Chap LW, Para 3 LW, Native 5, ‘Chef, Mantra 2, PM2, Smock, Advocate
Present: Para3 Maxamet/52100, GB2, Military Rex45/52100/204P, Police 4, Bradley Bowie, Province
Future: Stretch K390
Regrets: Para 3 Cruwear, Kapara