A Tale of Two Hawkbills

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The Meat man
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A Tale of Two Hawkbills

Postby The Meat man » Sat Jan 18, 2020 10:53 am

Lately I've been experimenting with hawkbills as EDC folders.

My introduction to this blade shape was through the byrd Hawkbill. I was very favorably impressed with the quality of the knife. It was solid, strong, sharp. The 8Cr13MoV steel held its edge surprisingly well and was a breeze to get back to top sharpness. After carrying it for a few weeks, and having a lot of accrued Amazon points, I decided to splurge a bit and buy the next level of hawkbill - the Tasman Salt 2. SE, of course. Seki made, a bit larger than the byrd, those glorious H-1 serrations and of course totally rustproof - an improvement all around.

And yet, after a couple weeks of carry, I found myself actually preferring the $26 byrd to the $85 Tasman. I thought I would do a comparison thread to explain why.

Image

(As a preface, this is more a compliment to the outstanding quality of the byrd line than a criticism of the Seki Salts)

First, both came less-than-perfect as far as fit and finish goes. The byrd backspacer was a little proud of the handle scales (for photos see the "byrd hawkbill" thread) and the Tasman's lockbar, when in the locked position, sat a bit proud also. The Tasman has gotten a bit better with usage but it still isn't perfectly flush:

Image

Although neither issue was a big problem, I much prefer a proud backspacer to a proud lockbar. For one thing, the backspacer is easier to fix; for another, a proud lockbar means that the degree of lockup is not as good as it could be. However, as I said, neither of these flaws were deal-breakers, just something to keep in mind. (Although it's certainly more excusable on a $26 knife versus an $80 one.)

Second, the spring on the byrd is much stiffer and stronger, which results in snappier lockup, greater close bias, and less blade play generally - and gives a much more favorable overall impression of strength and security. I can hold the Tasman Salt by the handle and fully open it with a quick flick of the wrist - impossible with the byrd. The byrd also locks open with much more authority than the Tasman.

I also preferred the blade design of the byrd to the Tasman. The curve of the cutting edges are essentially identical until you get to the very tip, where the Tasman's blade tip drops sharply:

Image

This is obviously a personal preference; but for my EDC uses I found the hooked tip of the Tasman to be unnecessary and made the tip more difficult to use for fine tasks like cutting strips of paper (yes something I actually had to do the other day.) The byrd's cutting edge follows its natural progression all the way to the tip and is more suited, in my opinion, for more delicate cutting tasks - making it more versatile. Again, my personal preference - yours may vary.

Another - major - factor contributing to my preference of the byrd was the style and grind of the serrations. Here again, this is my personal opinion but it is one shared, I believe, by a number of folks here. For EDC, I prefer serrations that are less spikey and more bumpy. The spikey serrations tend to snag and tear - which may be fine if you only use your knife to cut thick rope, but for EDC, I want a smoother cut. The Tasman's serrations are much spikier and more snaggy than the byrd's.

Image

Exacerbating this problem is the fact that the Tasman's serrations are ground thicker than the byrd's. (Both, by the way, had quite obtuse chisel grinds - I couldn't hit the apex even on the 40° Sharpmaker setting.) Evil D made an excellent thread awhile back going deep into the nuances of serration design and style and I really couldn't add to what he said; I highly recommend looking it up for more information on how all these parameters interact.
Really, I wish all the Spyderco SE lineup would adopt the byrd style serrations. They are the perfect compromise of serrated aggression without being a saw.

Image

So, there it is. As I said at the start, this is less a complaint about the Tasman than it is a compliment to the great quality of the Byrd line. I will still keep the Tasman and use it (what I'm thinking is using as a backup dive knife), but for everyday carry, I choose the Byrd.
- Connor

"You live and learn. At any rate, you live."

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legOFwhat?
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Re: A Tale of Two Hawkbills

Postby legOFwhat? » Sat Jan 18, 2020 11:43 am

Great write up Connor! I didn't love my df2 HB until I reprofilled it down to the appearance of that Byrd in the photo.

I gifted some cara rescue's 2's to family and was amazed at how those sliced. My brother-in-law sent his home with me to freshen up for him and it had me wanting a couple for myself.....and now a HB :p
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Re: A Tale of Two Hawkbills

Postby TkoK83Spy » Sat Jan 18, 2020 12:05 pm

Nice write up Connor! Good read and pretty cool to see the value line come out on top here. Couldn't agree more about the shallower, more rounded serrations being better for edc use. Surprised by the lockup/detent on that Tasman.
Currently have 20 :spyder: 's in 14 different steels.

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Re: A Tale of Two Hawkbills

Postby G_shark » Sat Jan 18, 2020 12:44 pm

Very interesting read. I have both the Byrd hawkbill as well as a Dragonfly salt with a hawkbill blade. Though I like both a lot, the Byrd does get carried more often. It's my yard knife and it really does excel at that.

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Re: A Tale of Two Hawkbills

Postby Spydergirl88 » Sat Jan 18, 2020 2:26 pm

Great write-up! Always a good thing when value line knives exceed expectations
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The Meat man
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Re: A Tale of Two Hawkbills

Postby The Meat man » Sat Jan 18, 2020 3:03 pm

Thank you everyone! Glad you found it interesting. :)

Yes I really tried to like the Tasman more, especially having paid triple the price for it, but I just kept coming back to the byrd. It really is a steal for $26.

I still like the Tasman and of course in its role as a water knife it'll definitely excel, but I was surprised how nice the byrd was.

Another thing I didn't mention is that I do generally prefer liners on knives. I think that might have tipped the scales slightly in favor of the byrd.
- Connor

"You live and learn. At any rate, you live."

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willc
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Re: A Tale of Two Hawkbills

Postby willc » Sat Jan 18, 2020 3:20 pm

Excellent post!!!
I also have a Meadowlark hawkbill and it is a great knife.

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Re: A Tale of Two Hawkbills

Postby bbturbodad » Sat Jan 18, 2020 4:13 pm

The Meat man wrote:
Sat Jan 18, 2020 10:53 am

I also preferred the blade design of the byrd to the Tasman. The curve of the cutting edges are essentially identical until you get to the very tip, where the Tasman's blade tip drops sharply:

Image

This is obviously a personal preference; but for my EDC uses I found the hooked tip of the Tasman to be unnecessary and made the tip more difficult to use for fine tasks like cutting strips of paper (yes something I actually had to do the other day.) The byrd's cutting edge follows its natural progression all the way to the tip and is more suited, in my opinion, for more delicate cutting tasks - making it more versatile. Again, my personal preference - yours may vary.

I have the same feelings regarding the tip of the Tasman for EDC use and it's one of the reasons I much prefer the Lil Matriarch as an EDC hawkbill alternative.

Image

...And WOW for $26 the Byrd looks like a real winner! Thanks for sharing.
-Turbo

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Re: A Tale of Two Hawkbills

Postby JD Spydo » Sat Jan 18, 2020 6:08 pm

If I were to do this write up the title would be "The Tale of 22 Hawkbills". Actually I have had more than that over the years but I think that's close to what I have in my footlocker now as we speak.

Even though I have what some might perceive as an unhealthy obsession for the Spyderhawk model I still rate the G-10 Harpy as my all time favorite. Just the plain-Jane, Stainless Harpy is built like an anvil. And seriously I've used the Harpy model overall more than I have the Spyderhawk>> but I wouldn't ever part with either model when it's all said and done.

It sounds like you became fascinated with Hawkbill blades in a similar way as I did about 15 years ago. And I still like them. It's about time Spyderco has done a new Hawkbill at some point. I'm still keeping my fingers crossed for a fixed blade Hawkbill. But I would also like to see the SUPERHAWK return in Spyderedge. And why they never gave that knife TEETH to begin with is one of life's mysteries I'll be wondering about for some time.

Yeah Hawkbills kind of grow on you after a while.

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Re: A Tale of Two Hawkbills

Postby The Meat man » Sat Jan 18, 2020 7:29 pm

JD Spydo wrote:
Sat Jan 18, 2020 6:08 pm
If I were to do this write up the title would be "The Tale of 22 Hawkbills". Actually I have had more than that over the years but I think that's close to what I have in my footlocker now as we speak.

Even though I have what some might perceive as an unhealthy obsession for the Spyderhawk model I still rate the G-10 Harpy as my all time favorite. Just the plain-Jane, Stainless Harpy is built like an anvil. And seriously I've used the Harpy model overall more than I have the Spyderhawk>> but I wouldn't ever part with either model when it's all said and done.

It sounds like you became fascinated with Hawkbill blades in a similar way as I did about 15 years ago. And I still like them. It's about time Spyderco has done a new Hawkbill at some point. I'm still keeping my fingers crossed for a fixed blade Hawkbill. But I would also like to see the SUPERHAWK return in Spyderedge. And why they never gave that knife TEETH to begin with is one of life's mysteries I'll be wondering about for some time.

Yeah Hawkbills kind of grow on you after a while.
They really are more universally useful for EDC than most people would think. I've carried mine for weeks without ever wishing for a different blade shape. It's still a knife; you can cut things with it, even on a cutting board.

I had my eye on the stainless Harpy for awhile. If I buy another hawkbill it'll probably be that. I know this runs counter to conventional wisdom, but in my experience, VG-10 holds a serrated edge longer than SE H-1.
- Connor

"You live and learn. At any rate, you live."

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Re: A Tale of Two Hawkbills

Postby James Y » Sat Jan 18, 2020 9:15 pm

The Meat man wrote:
Sat Jan 18, 2020 7:29 pm
JD Spydo wrote:
Sat Jan 18, 2020 6:08 pm
If I were to do this write up the title would be "The Tale of 22 Hawkbills". Actually I have had more than that over the years but I think that's close to what I have in my footlocker now as we speak.

Even though I have what some might perceive as an unhealthy obsession for the Spyderhawk model I still rate the G-10 Harpy as my all time favorite. Just the plain-Jane, Stainless Harpy is built like an anvil. And seriously I've used the Harpy model overall more than I have the Spyderhawk>> but I wouldn't ever part with either model when it's all said and done.

It sounds like you became fascinated with Hawkbill blades in a similar way as I did about 15 years ago. And I still like them. It's about time Spyderco has done a new Hawkbill at some point. I'm still keeping my fingers crossed for a fixed blade Hawkbill. But I would also like to see the SUPERHAWK return in Spyderedge. And why they never gave that knife TEETH to begin with is one of life's mysteries I'll be wondering about for some time.

Yeah Hawkbills kind of grow on you after a while.
They really are more universally useful for EDC than most people would think. I've carried mine for weeks without ever wishing for a different blade shape. It's still a knife; you can cut things with it, even on a cutting board.

I had my eye on the stainless Harpy for awhile. If I buy another hawkbill it'll probably be that. I know this runs counter to conventional wisdom, but in my experience, VG-10 holds a serrated edge longer than SE H-1.
I actually prefer my SS SE Harpy over the Tasman. The blade is slightly shorter and thicker than the Tasman’s, with a more robust tip. I’ve used it for some rougher ( but not abusive!) cutting chores that, if I had subjected my Tasman to them, would probably have broken the Tasman’s tip off.

Jim

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Re: A Tale of Two Hawkbills

Postby The Meat man » Sat Jan 18, 2020 9:26 pm

bbturbodad wrote:
Sat Jan 18, 2020 4:13 pm

I have the same feelings regarding the tip of the Tasman for EDC use and it's one of the reasons I much prefer the Lil Matriarch as an EDC hawkbill alternative.

Image

...And WOW for $26 the Byrd looks like a real winner! Thanks for sharing.

I highly recommend picking one up. Byrd knives are fun to buy because we are so used to paying $100+ for knives. :p ;)
- Connor

"You live and learn. At any rate, you live."

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Re: A Tale of Two Hawkbills

Postby The Meat man » Sat Jan 18, 2020 9:32 pm

James Y wrote:
Sat Jan 18, 2020 9:15 pm

I actually prefer my SS SE Harpy over the Tasman. The blade is slightly shorter and thicker than the Tasman’s, with a more robust tip. I’ve used it for some rougher ( but not abusive!) cutting chores that, if I had subjected my Tasman to them, would probably have broken the Tasman’s tip off.

Jim
Yeah I like serrated H-1 just fine, and it is very easy to touch up (so is 8Cr13MoV for that matter), but for some reason I just don't see the extraordinary edge holding qualities it is supposed to have. Seems more prone to rolling, or damage in general, than VG-10.

Then again, people with more experience than me have found H-1 to be better so I guess take it for what it's worth. ;) To me the primary quality of H-1 is its corrosion resistance.
- Connor

"You live and learn. At any rate, you live."

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Re: A Tale of Two Hawkbills

Postby Bloke » Sat Jan 18, 2020 9:34 pm

Cool write up, Connor! Thanks for taking the time to share. :cool:

Maybe one day I’ll get over China stamped on the blade and try a Byrd myself but, don’t hold your breath, ay. ;) Ah, hahaha, ah, hahaha. ah, hahaha! :)
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Re: A Tale of Two Hawkbills

Postby bbturbodad » Sat Jan 18, 2020 9:41 pm

The Meat man wrote:
Sat Jan 18, 2020 9:26 pm
I highly recommend picking one up. Byrd knives are fun to buy because we are so used to paying $100+ for knives. :p ;)
I have $24.37 in ebay bucks that expire end of the month...for less than $2 I don't think I can pass :D
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Re: A Tale of Two Hawkbills

Postby The Meat man » Sat Jan 18, 2020 9:55 pm

Bloke wrote:
Sat Jan 18, 2020 9:34 pm
Cool write up, Connor! Thanks for taking the time to share. :cool:

Maybe one day I’ll get over China stamped on the blade and try a Byrd myself but, don’t hold your breath, ay. ;) Ah, hahaha, ah, hahaha. ah, hahaha! :)
I really think you'd like them. They're really nice knives and you could always sand out the engraving. :D

Honestly though, while I don't mind the country of origin as much, I do wish that the engravings, particularly on the clip side, were a bit more discreet. Especially the big "R" registered symbol seems pretty tacky. But hey you can't have everything. Not at $26 anyhow. :)
- Connor

"You live and learn. At any rate, you live."

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Re: A Tale of Two Hawkbills

Postby The Meat man » Sat Jan 18, 2020 9:56 pm

bbturbodad wrote:
Sat Jan 18, 2020 9:41 pm
The Meat man wrote:
Sat Jan 18, 2020 9:26 pm
I highly recommend picking one up. Byrd knives are fun to buy because we are so used to paying $100+ for knives. :p ;)
I have $24.37 in ebay bucks that expire end of the month...for less than $2 I don't think I can pass :D
There you go! Basically a free knife! ;)
- Connor

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Re: A Tale of Two Hawkbills

Postby PeaceInOurTime » Sun Jan 19, 2020 12:40 am

Great to hear your thoughts on the two models! :) I've been very tempted by the Dragonfly HB.

But, I've been more than pleased with the Byrd. I did a blade swap with a titanium Meadowlark and can't complain. Mine does have a proud lock bar to the back spacer, though.

Image


The hawkbill shape has always put me off, thinking it was only good for specialty use and terrible at everything else. IMO, after using it, that's just not the case. I can't think of any time I've wished for a different blade shape, even using it on a cutting board in the kitchen. I've been a fan of wharncliffes for a while, but the hawkbill may be my new favorite.

Thanks for sharing your experience!
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Re: A Tale of Two Hawkbills

Postby Pancake » Sun Jan 19, 2020 12:54 am

Don´t have Salt 2, but I have Pacific Salt and I have to agree, the serrations are gorund kinda deep and they are very spiky. But after some sharpenings they are getting a bit better.
I do like the Byrd Hawkbill.....I wish it comes in bigger size, like Cara Cara Hawkbill.
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Re: A Tale of Two Hawkbills

Postby Sonorum » Sun Jan 19, 2020 2:31 am

I can only say that I agree on all points and that the Byrd Hawkbill is a winner! I did a blade swap with a G10 Meadowlark and gave my dad the frn Meadowlark that was left over.
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