FRN/Lightweights: I just can’t get into them

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mad german
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FRN/Lightweights: I just can’t get into them

Postby mad german » Sat Oct 03, 2020 5:20 am

Hi guys,
I picked up a Para 3 lightweight the other day. After getting home and really looking at the knife and playing with it a bit, I had to return it. I just can’t get into the FRN models.

Is there anyone else who feels the same? I love all my Spydies (G10 and CF scales), and really wanted to like the lightweight Para 3, but it seemed like an “imposter” of the “real deal” Para 3.

Just curious if I’m the odd man out in this train of thought.

Cheers!
MG
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araneae
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Re: FRN/Lightweights: I just can’t get into them

Postby araneae » Sat Oct 03, 2020 5:54 am

Try carrying and using one for a week. They aren't the imposter, they're the nearly indestructible, lightweight real deal version of their unnecessarily heavier cousins. They're often more comfortable to use as well IMO.
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Re: FRN/Lightweights: I just can’t get into them

Postby Wdr65 » Sat Oct 03, 2020 5:55 am

I can’t speak for anyone else but I’m the exact opposite. FRN is my favorite with FRCP coming in second. I prefer light weight knives and haven’t broken FRN in 18 years of using it so far.

Now specifically on the Para 3 lightweight I’m not a huge fan. Something about it’s balance point with the shorter handle is off. Not in use but in opening. I’ve dropped both of mine when opening which I don’t recall ever doing with another Spyderco. I imagine the G-10 version is less prone to this due to the weight of the scales.

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Re: FRN/Lightweights: I just can’t get into them

Postby mikey177 » Sat Oct 03, 2020 6:21 am

In my opinion, the Sage 5 LW feels more solidly put together than the Para 3 LW. I also prefer the Native 5 LW to the Para 3 LW.

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Re: FRN/Lightweights: I just can’t get into them

Postby TkoK83Spy » Sat Oct 03, 2020 6:29 am

I'm like you, I don't care much for frn...but, I do have to say in my opinion and a few others that I've read...knives out of Seki, that frn is just different than knives out of Golden (which are my personal favorites). At one time I had a Manix LW, Native LW and Para 3 like you but I ended up selling 2 of them and gave the other to my brother in law.

I just recently got the DLT Cruwear Delica and something about that frn I actually like. I carried it all last week and determined it's going to be a keeper. I actually have 3 knives out of Seki, the other 2 I just don't carry that often because of size and craziness (Dragonfly and Matriarch)
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Re: FRN/Lightweights: I just can’t get into them

Postby Albatross » Sat Oct 03, 2020 6:38 am

TkoK83Spy wrote:
Sat Oct 03, 2020 6:29 am
I'm like you, I don't care much for frn...but, I do have to say in my opinion and a few others that I've read...knives out of Seki, that frn is just different than knives out of Golden (which are my personal favorites). At one time I had a Manix LW, Native LW and Para 3 like you but I ended up selling 2 of them and gave the other to my brother in law.

I just recently got the DLT Cruwear Delica and something about that frn I actually like. I carried it all last week and determined it's going to be a keeper. I actually have 3 knives out of Seki, the other 2 I just don't carry that often because of size and craziness (Dragonfly and Matriarch)
Exactly. I really don't like Golden FRN, but Seki does it right. I think it helps that Seki is still using liners too, giving a more rigid, hefty feel.

My Para 3 LW feels like a toy. Sure, it's strong enough, but I prefer the feel of the G10 Para 3. Lock engagement feels and sounds more solid on the G10, opening and closing is smoother, there are more aftermarket options for clips or scales, and the balance is just right. To me, the LW is blade-heavy and feels more like a toy as a result. Now, that's not to say the Para 3 LW is a bad knife, it's not, it's just not one of my favorites.
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Re: FRN/Lightweights: I just can’t get into them

Postby p_atrick » Sat Oct 03, 2020 7:55 am

That's the great thing about Spyderco. I really like the Seki FRN and there are lots of choices for me. But there are plenty of non-FRN knives that are just as good (if not better) as well.

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Re: FRN/Lightweights: I just can’t get into them

Postby bearfacedkiller » Sat Oct 03, 2020 8:01 am

Spyderco tries to make something for everybody so it would be pretty unlikely that you would like everything they make.

I am a Spyderco fanboy through and through yet they make things I don’t like.
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Re: FRN/Lightweights: I just can’t get into them

Postby steelcity16 » Sat Oct 03, 2020 8:03 am

The Seki FRN knives are my favorite knives in the Spyderco lineup. I don't care as much for the Golden LWs. The Endura, Delica, and Straight Spine Stretch are all great, well built, solid folders and what you will find in my pocket 99% of the time these days.
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Re: FRN/Lightweights: I just can’t get into them

Postby cycleguy » Sat Oct 03, 2020 8:05 am

I'm the exact opposite, but I'm sure others feel as you do. To me, FRN is the real deal when it comes to Spyderco, and the other materials are just knock offs when it comes to Seki models.

I never did take to the Para 3. Its size attracted me but there are others in this size class I like much better.

Pecking order: 1) Delica 4 FRN, 2) Sage/Sage LW (this is a very close 1 & 2).

All you can really do is try them and figure out what works for you.

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Re: FRN/Lightweights: I just can’t get into them

Postby Evil D » Sat Oct 03, 2020 8:28 am

I dunno I thought I was strongly in the G10 camp until I just got this Rock Jumper.


Also I think it's important to separate "FRN models" from "lightweight models" because to me they're very very different. Spyderco may even call the Delica a lightweight but it does have two steel liners, vs other knives like the Native 5 lightweight that doesn't have any steel liners. When you compare the two in regards to strength, I don't see where the FRN knife with nested liners is any weaker than a G10 knife with nested liners if all other things are equal. I'm sure at some point one of the two (FRN vs G10) may be stronger than the other but by the time you find that out you've probably destroyed the whole knife anyway. Comparing either of those to a linerless lightweight is a bigger difference for sure.


Anyway, this Rock Jumper takes me back to my first Spyderco which was also FRN (and also a true linerless lightweight) and there's a bit of nostalgia for the texture of molded FRN. Maybe it's just something different since most knives I buy are G10.

One thing I will say about the two, is if it's on a knife that I have any interest in modifying the handle shape, then I strongly prefer G10 since I can grind it and reshape it and make it look factory made. With FRN you can't really change the shape very much while keeping it factory looking.
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Re: FRN/Lightweights: I just can’t get into them

Postby Sharp Guy » Sat Oct 03, 2020 8:38 am

We all have our preferences and you don't have to like everything Spyderco makes. I happen to like the LW models. But I also really like the G10 & Ti models. I guess I'm easy to please
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Re: FRN/Lightweights: I just can’t get into them

Postby JonLeBlanc » Sat Oct 03, 2020 8:51 am

My first impression of FRN came from a Benchmade, and it didn't leave a good taste. But Spyderco's FRN is leaps and bounds better, and now I own a few. Only the gravitational wave from an imploding star will collapse that stuff!
My collection so far: 52100 Military (2); 52100 PM2 (2); 52100 Para3; Stretch2 V-Toku; KnifeWorks M4 PM2; BentoBox M390 PM2; BentoBox S90V Military; Police4 K390; S110V PM2; SS Delica AUS-6; Wayne Goddard Sprint VG-10
Wish list: Hundred Pacer; Sliverax; Mantra; 52100 PM2 SE; Kapara

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Re: FRN/Lightweights: I just can’t get into them

Postby Notsurewhy » Sat Oct 03, 2020 9:22 am

I thought frn/lw models felt a little cheaper at first, but the more I've used them, the more impressed I've been with how did and durable they are. I like other materials too. Micarta, G10 and carbon fiber are nice, but I own more frn than any of those.

Metal handles on the other hand... I'm not a huge fan.

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FRN! FRCP! FRN! FRCP!

Postby RustyIron » Sat Oct 03, 2020 9:40 am

mad german wrote:
Sat Oct 03, 2020 5:20 am

Just curious if I’m the odd man out in this train of thought.



Yes. You're the old man out ;-D

Same thing happened at the old folks home when the whippersnappers started winning matches with aluminum framed 1911's. And their dentures were really a-clackin' when the young riders threw their aluminum framed bikes in the recycling bin and showed up on race day rockin' carbon fiber. Dump those old legacy knives on eBay, brother, and join us in the 21st century!

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Re: FRN/Lightweights: I just can’t get into them

Postby Wartstein » Sat Oct 03, 2020 9:53 am

One advantage I experienced with FRN knives that gets mentioned rather seldom (but still does by "reviewers" who really use and carry their knives, see here for example (at about 6:15; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vFL6MHQw4xw&t=600s)):

- Compared to G10-knives the FRN models are less of pocketshredders.

This is most likely not due to the FRN material itself, but more to the specific design of Spydercos FRN knives:
The part of the pocket clip that actually secures the knife lands on a very smooth spot on the handle (Spyderco logo):
Now when pulling a folder out of the pocket, obviously the point where the handle on the inside is pressed against the clip on the outside rubs along the garment of the pocket all the way of the knife out.
G10, at least in my pretty extended experience, is clearly more abrasive than the smooth "landing spot for the clip" on FRN knives, and so the latter do destroy pockets less.
Top three going by pocket-time: Endura 4 in VG 10/Micarta-scales; Stretch 1 in VG 10; Endura 4 in HAP 40

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Re: FRN/Lightweights: I just can’t get into them

Postby Wartstein » Sat Oct 03, 2020 10:00 am

Added to my post above:

Though G10 is not a deal breaker, in my use FRN is clearly superior:

- FRN makes a knife a bit lighter
- FRN handles usually are more countoured/chamfered, while G10 handles tend to be more blocky (of course there are exceptions in both directions)
- Bidirectional FRN is grippier than G10, while (see above) still less of a pocket shredder
- As has been mentioned already: I think linered FRN is by no means "weaker" than linered G10 (maybe in theory the one or the other might be less durable, but that has no practical implications at all)
- UN-linered FRN /FRCP is still more than strong enough (no use and abuse so far could even remotely kill my Pac Salt or Manix 2 LW)
Top three going by pocket-time: Endura 4 in VG 10/Micarta-scales; Stretch 1 in VG 10; Endura 4 in HAP 40

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Re: FRN/Lightweights: I just can’t get into them

Postby aicolainen » Sat Oct 03, 2020 10:09 am

I don't have a favorite handle material, I just want materials and texture that is suitable for the application.
Seki and Taichung FRN is in my estimation very good.
I've only had linerless Seki models, and I have never had any reason to doubt their ruggedness.

I have only one model from Golden with "fancy plastic", that's the Native 5 Salt. Some say its's FRCP, but it's listed as FRN.
I can't say it doesn't do the job, but it's not even close to the perceived quality of Seki and Taichung FRN. I just don't like the feel of it, and it has truly kept me from trying out other FRN models out of Golden.

Now, as I said, the Seki FRNs are good, but if I can suggest one Spyderco knife to change your mind about FRN, it would be the Chaparral LW. You will not mind the FRN, it oozes with quality.

Image
From top: Benchmade Bugout (good plastic*), Native 5 Salt (fair plastic*), Chaparral LW (plastic fantastic*), Dragonfly 2 (great plastic*).

*These ratings are VERY subjective

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Re: FRN/Lightweights: I just can’t get into them

Postby vivi » Sat Oct 03, 2020 10:12 am

When I first started buying Spydercos I felt the same way. Fully lined G10 models felt much more sturdy and premium.

Over the years the FRN lightweights have won me over due to their performance. I bought a few salts when the line first launched, starting with a Tasman and Pacific 1. I bought them as beaters, generally pairing the SE Tasman with a more expensive knife like a C95 Manix, G10 Police 3 or G10 Military.

Eventually I came to a point where I preferred the lightweight, rust proof salts over the more premium feeling models.

Even with non salt models, FRN often has an advantage. FRN Enduras are more comfortable and grippier than the stainless version. FRN Police 4's are more comfortable and grippier than the G10 version. The liners being hidden by the FRN scales also helps prevent them from rusting, which is usually tougher for me to avoid than blade corrosion.

Of course I can still see why someone would prefer a fully lined, G10 / CF / Ti scaled knife.
Current carry rotation:

Pacific Salt 2 LC200N | Manix XL M4 DLC | Aqua Salt

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Re: FRN/Lightweights: I just can’t get into them

Postby Wartstein » Sat Oct 03, 2020 10:15 am

aicolainen wrote:
Sat Oct 03, 2020 10:09 am
......
Now, as I said, the Seki FRNs are good, but if I can suggest one Spyderco knife to change your mind about FRN, it would be the Chaparral LW. You will not mind the FRN, it oozes with quality.
........

Very true.
It will also change what people might consider a "lightweight" knive (necessarely) has to be like:
Said it before, the Chap FRN, despite its overall thinness, is built like tank: steel liners, steel lockbar, steel backspacer and the FRN slabs on top.
And yes, it feels like top quality and perfect fit and finish
Top three going by pocket-time: Endura 4 in VG 10/Micarta-scales; Stretch 1 in VG 10; Endura 4 in HAP 40


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