I can’t remember waiting for the arrival of a new knife with as much anticipation as I did this week for my new Spyderco Smock. I received it yesterday and this morning it is back in its box. My disappointment is almost palpable.
There is nothing materially wrong with the knife. Fit, finish, alignment, operation, all are perfect. In my opinion Spyderco upheld their commitment to quality but went astray from their commitment to functionality, to design from the edge out, for the user to have a tool that enhances particular types of cutting requirements.
The Spyderco Smock is so packed with technical innovations and enhancements that someone forgot that it is supposed to be a knife. The handle, for example, is a long, blocky assemblage with ergonomics so slight as to be unnoticeable. One’s hand naturally seeks the large cut out, which isn’t positioned well as a choil but is there to accommodate the button that actuates the compression lock. (A technically interesting but functionally unnecessary feature requiring design considerations I don’t find acceptable.) Grasped this way the clip presses into the palm. This is tolerable for occasional, light use, but very irritating for longer and harder cutting sessions. There is no provision to move the clip to the pivot end to get it out of the way.
Held in this “natural” position there is still a long distance between one’s forefinger and the beginning of the cutting edge, necessary again to accommodate that button. The blade, or ricasso, button clearance is shaped more like a fish hook than a finger choil. It does work as a choil but it’s forward bottom edge is sharp, constantly warning you to be careful. It is not secure like the finger choil on my Para 3 for example. And, it would seem, is a catching hazard during certain cutting motions.
The Spyderco Smock’s uncertain and uncomfortable handle belies the thick blade stock and high hollow grind that calls out for tough and sustained cutting tasks. The beautiful slope of the blade from spine to tip where it meets the thin edge portion of the blade says, yes, I am a slicer too. Nice! But whomever decided to dump the perfectly serviceable Wharncliffe straight cutting edge in favor of that long, meek belly did the knife no favor.
Inclusion of the compression lock - superb. Lanyard or fob hole - a good addition even though the Anti-Fobs will scream. Peel ply carbon over G10 - fine. Ball bearings at the pivot - only there to enhance the flipping action. I must admit to being somewhat of an anti-flipper snob. I don’t like them. They are unnecessary and require compromises in knife design that over-complicates pocket knives. The only “flipper” design I have felt belonged on a knife is that on the Ikuchi. Would that I still had mine.
The second detent which is there to help the knife stay closed when you want it to stay closed is a very useful enhancement.
The Spyderco Smock is a pale image of Smock’s original design, sporting some useful and not so good design elements. It seems an answer to a design question that was never asked.
I think Smock’s original design is both esthetically handsome and practically useful in way’s Spyderco’s rendition avoided. To have brought Kevin’s design components together in a reasonably priced production folder would have been greeted with much more enthusiasm than this Spyderco expression has done. Create a handle shape that Spyderco is known for, ergonomic and secure, suitable for a knife’s intended purpose. Keep the button actuated compression lock, give the knife a full flat grind Wharncliffe blade, make a real finger choil that is naturally part of the grip and reduce the overall size by 20%.
Disappointed in Colorado,
Last edited by MichaelScott
on Mon Apr 06, 2020 4:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
What doesn’t kill you will make you stronger. Except infantry. Infantry will kill you.
“Gentlemen, bring out your men.” — T. J. Jackson, Second Manassas, 1862