Autonomy review/impressions

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Evil D
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Autonomy review/impressions

Postby Evil D » Tue Dec 26, 2017 9:32 am

You can expect this to get long winded so if this isn't your thing, you've been warned.
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It's a little soon to give a true review since I've only had the knife a couple days now, but the blade is quite similar to my D'Allara 2 so I believe I already have a fair idea of what to expect, so the majority of the impressions part will be about the lock/action and the ergonomics.

So, let me start by just rambling a bit. Spyderco are obviously not an "auto brand" since their thing is the thumb hole opener. That's really a shame in a way because they obviously know what they're doing. Unlike the flipper ordeal, where some might say their flippers have been so-so, it seems that when they decide to make an auto, they throw down with the best of them.

Now, a bit of disclosure, I can't say I have the most experience with automatic knives, so my opinion there isn't worth much. I have however had a whole slew of assisted openers, which have a similar action at least. I'm sure there are some differences and expectations regarding the button and how smooth and easy they are to operate that I can't really have an opinion on. What I can say is, being a newcomer to autos, the button design is so intuitive and easy to find, I can draw the knife from my pocket while multitasking and not even looking at the knife, find the button, and deploy the blade without any effort...basically the same as you would open a thumb hole knife that you're very familiar with. It's easy to see that Spyderco and/or the U.S. Coast Guard put a lot of thought into the design and wanted it to basically be "idiot proof" in function, and believe me I'll put the idiot part to the test ;)

I suppose I'll try to break this down into some parts...

The Blade...
I guess we'll start with the easiest part. I have to say, this is one of my favorite Spyderco blade designs to date, and there was only one real surprise that I missed when researching this knife, and that's the thickness, or rather the thinness. The blade is advertised on Spyderco's site as 2.9mm and 3mm on some other vendor sites. Compared to a Manix 2 blade (3mm) it is definitely a little thinner, and compared to a Dragonfly (2.5mm) it's just slightly thicker. It feels more like 2.75mm to me. For some reason I was expecting a 4mm blade and this was one detail that got by me. When it comes to SE blades, I really prefer them to be on the thin side especially with H1 due to the hollow grind, which usually comes ground very thick behind the edge/serrations. Compared to my D'Allara, it's ground noticeably thinner, and I like that. I don't need to pry with this knife, and I'm sure it's still plenty thick enough for hard use in an emergency. I like that it has a bit of negative blade angle, and it has a generous amount of PE at the tip which I find very useful (I wouldn't mind if it had a wee bit more actually).

The Safety...
Well, it has a safety. Not much more I can say here because I doubt I'll ever use it, but it's a nicely done safety compared to some that I've seen on assisted opener knives. It has a nice button that has plenty of traction so your thumb doesn't slip off when moving it, and it has a nice tactile and audible feel when moving it. It doesn't feel like it can accidentally get engaged or disengaged, which I think is the most important part. I don't feel the least bit concerned about it accidentally opening in my pocket, because it takes deliberate force on the button to initiate opening.

The Firing Button/Lock/Action...
This is a really interesting part of the knife for me. It looks like it works sort of like a compression lock. I really like how the button doubles as the fire and unlock, as opposed to having an additional unlocking liner or something. This means the unlocking is just as intuitive as the firing. My only complaint here, and this applies to pretty much every auto/assisted opener, and that's that you have to physically force the blade closed since there's a spring that is always working to open the blade. My go to method here is to fold the blade against my thigh just like I would do back in the day when I carried Case slip joints, and the end result is pretty similar. One thing I've noticed is there's an odd notchy/gritty feeling when the blade is closing against the lock button. That's kinda hard to describe...basically if you press the button ALL the way in, the blade pivots very smoothly (impressively smooth) but if you just press the lock in enough to disengage the lock, then let off the button and push the blade closed you can feel the blade riding on the lock button or something and it's a pretty terrible feeling. The lock bar/button has a lot of force behind it so you really feel that through the blade if you don't have the button pressed in while closing. The coolest part of this knife might be that the spring assembly can be replaced/serviced without taking the entire knife apart. That's really handy since taking a knife completely apart out in the field is asking to lose parts. It's also cool that Spyderco sell a spring replacement kit, so you don't have to deal with mailing them a restricted item.

The Clip...
It's a wire clip, not much to write home about here. I do like wire clips, but honestly I think this one should have had an hourglass clip. It isn't the lightest (5.35oz) or smallest knife, and I feel that once weight and size increase, the clip really should be an hourglass clip. I don't see why this knife didn't come with the titanium Salt clip. I may also swap the clip out for a deep carry wire clip.

Construction/Fit & Finish/Disassembly...
This knife is built like a flippin tank. As I mentioned before, the blade may not be the thickest, but the grind is only about 50% high so most of the blade is full thickness, and H1 is a fairly bomb proof steel that can be bent quite far before it will snap. There's a lot of meat in the tang around the pivot too. The liners are full and not skeletonized, and the handle is on the thick side compared to most (which I love). I found it interesting how far inward the handle scale screws are compared to most knives that have the scales crews right at the edge of the handle. This no doubt makes the handle less likely to flex. In total there are six pillar/screw points throughout the knife including the pivot and lanyard tube, so flex is a non issue. F&F wise I can't find a single flaw throughout this knife, It may be that because this knife was originally intended for the Coast Guard, Spyderco really went above and beyond to make sure the knife was flawless in every way. I've sort of gotten away from DLC blades despite my love of how they look, because I often grind on the spine and change the shape of my blades, but the overall blacked out theme is pretty striking. The only part of this knife that isn't coated black is the blade stop pin, I would assume because any wear of the coating on that area could result in a change in lock up and induce blade play. Speaking of blade play, there isn't any, and the centering is perfect. I will say though, the pivot is far tighter than what you'll find on a thumb hole opening knife and the blade is nowhere near loose enough to fall shut with gravity, even if the auto spring weren't in play. It's quite easy to over tighten the pivot screw and prevent the blade from firing all the way open, and the sweet spot between full opening action and zero blade play is pretty small. I haven't had mine apart yet, but there's a nice thread on BF showing the inner workings https://www.bladeforums.com/threads/aut ... y.1448444/

Ergonomics...
I think I'll end this with ergos. You might know by now how much I loath finger grooves, so it came as a surprise to me how much I like the grooves on this knife. Finally a knife with finger grooves actually fits my sausage fingers. Apparently the grip was designed for gloved use, which happens to fit my bare hand just right. The grooves may be a little wide/big for people with small or skinny fingers though, so the whole issue with finger grooves does go both ways. For my hand size however, it feels fantastic. My hand is so locked in place with this knife, it's as if I squeezed a lump of clay and Spyderco designed the grip around it. The handle is on the thick side but also not very tall in height so you can get your fingers all the way around it in a full fisted grip, and your hand just locks in place. There isn't any jimping whatsoever on this knife so the overall feel is really smooth, but this knife isn't coming out of your hand even if you're covering in blood/grease/oil. The grip feels good in saber and Filipino grip. This knife would be a great candidate for a non auto version with a larger thumb hole, it's an all around amazing design and it's a shame that not everyone can own/use one. It would be really interesting to see the lock tweaked a bit so that it worked on a manual opening knife, I dare say I like the unlocking action even more than a compression lock, though other people may not want a large button sticking out of the handle for unlocking purposes.
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Re: Autonomy review/impressions

Postby mattman » Tue Dec 26, 2017 9:12 pm

Nice! You finally got one!

Great review, also... Keep us updated as you carry it. (I don't carry mine here in NY...)

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Re: Autonomy review/impressions

Postby xceptnl » Wed Dec 27, 2017 9:20 pm

Glad to see you got one David. I can echo your feelings about Spyderco and it's Autos. When they decide to make one, they put it down properly. My Embassy is also a button-lock auto and has a similar gritty feel (as almost every auto of similar construction has in my usage, including some really nice Protech Godson models).

Are the liner's recessed into the G-10 or are they surface mounted like most of the Japanese / G-10 models?
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Re: Autonomy review/impressions

Postby Evil D » Thu Dec 28, 2017 4:42 am

xceptnl wrote:Glad to see you got one David. I can echo your feelings about Spyderco and it's Autos. When they decide to make one, they put it down properly. My Embassy is also a button-lock auto and has a similar gritty feel (as almost every auto of similar construction has in my usage, including some really nice Protech Godson models).

Are the liner's recessed into the G-10 or are they surface mounted like most of the Japanese / G-10 models?
They're full liners like you'd find on a Manix 2.
SHARPEN IT LIKE YOU LOVE IT, USE IT LIKE YOU HATE IT
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Re: Autonomy review/impressions

Postby Larry_Mott » Thu Dec 28, 2017 7:09 am

Now, i have never handled the Autonomy, but pretty much all autos with that type of mechanism/release feel a little like the first gen. Glock trigger.. I guess it's a feature and not a bug :)
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Re: Autonomy review/impressions

Postby Evil D » Thu Dec 28, 2017 7:38 am

It's really a non issue unless you only hold the button in just long enough to disengage the lock. If you hold it in while closing the blade you don't feel anything. I'm curious if it'll smooth out over time.
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Re: Autonomy review/impressions

Postby SpyderEdgeForever » Mon Jan 08, 2018 5:35 pm

Great, excellent, well-done review. Thank you!

If you were to design an alternate version of the Autonomy, what design features would you put on it, David?

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Re: Autonomy review/impressions

Postby Evil D » Mon Jan 08, 2018 5:50 pm

SpyderEdgeForever wrote:Great, excellent, well-done review. Thank you!

If you were to design an alternate version of the Autonomy, what design features would you put on it, David?
Honestly I wouldn't change a thing except make it PE. I think I'd even be ok with H1. I might give it a more aggressive wharnie tip like I did on my Rock Lobster but otherwise I really like it.
Last edited by Evil D on Fri Jan 12, 2018 6:19 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Autonomy review/impressions

Postby holeshot » Thu Jan 11, 2018 10:14 pm

Evil D wrote:
SpyderEdgeForever wrote:Great, excellent, well-done review. Thank you!

If you were to design an alternate version of the Autonomy, what design features would you put on it, David?
Honestly I would change a thing except make it PE. I think I'd even be ok with H1. I might give it a more aggressive wharnie tip like I did on my Rock Lobster but otherwise I really like it.
I agree, I'd get a PE in a heartbeat. That being said, I still really like my Autonomy in orange. :)
"No matter where you go, there you are"

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Re: Autonomy review/impressions

Postby Evil D » Fri Jan 12, 2018 6:22 am

holeshot wrote:
Evil D wrote:
SpyderEdgeForever wrote:Great, excellent, well-done review. Thank you!

If you were to design an alternate version of the Autonomy, what design features would you put on it, David?
Honestly I would change a thing except make it PE. I think I'd even be ok with H1. I might give it a more aggressive wharnie tip like I did on my Rock Lobster but otherwise I really like it.
I agree, I'd get a PE in a heartbeat. That being said, I still really like my Autonomy in orange. :)
I agonized over orange or black for a long time. I really just want a black handle/satin blade combo so I can wharnie grind the tip without ruining the DLC, but fortunately the blade already has more point than most sheepsfoot blades have. I probably could live with orange but I went with black since I use this one for work and I'd like it to be more subdued.
SHARPEN IT LIKE YOU LOVE IT, USE IT LIKE YOU HATE IT
~David

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Re: Autonomy review/impressions

Postby holeshot » Fri Jan 12, 2018 8:58 pm

Evil D wrote:
holeshot wrote:
Evil D wrote:
SpyderEdgeForever wrote:Great, excellent, well-done review. Thank you!

If you were to design an alternate version of the Autonomy, what design features would you put on it, David?
Honestly I would change a thing except make it PE. I think I'd even be ok with H1. I might give it a more aggressive wharnie tip like I did on my Rock Lobster but otherwise I really like it.
I agree, I'd get a PE in a heartbeat. That being said, I still really like my Autonomy in orange. :)
I agonized over orange or black for a long time. I really just want a black handle/satin blade combo so I can wharnie grind the tip without ruining the DLC, but fortunately the blade already has more point than most sheepsfoot blades have. I probably could live with orange but I went with black since I use this one for work and I'd like it to be more subdued.
I'd take a black without issue. I went with the orange thinking it was more inline with the Coast Guard version. I wish I was one of the folks who received one of the knives that went out from the factory by mistake without the lock, but I still love the one I have. :)
"No matter where you go, there you are"

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Re: Autonomy review/impressions

Postby Evil D » Fri Jan 12, 2018 9:16 pm

holeshot wrote:
Evil D wrote:
holeshot wrote:
Evil D wrote:
SpyderEdgeForever wrote:Great, excellent, well-done review. Thank you!

If you were to design an alternate version of the Autonomy, what design features would you put on it, David?
Honestly I would change a thing except make it PE. I think I'd even be ok with H1. I might give it a more aggressive wharnie tip like I did on my Rock Lobster but otherwise I really like it.
I agree, I'd get a PE in a heartbeat. That being said, I still really like my Autonomy in orange. :)
I agonized over orange or black for a long time. I really just want a black handle/satin blade combo so I can wharnie grind the tip without ruining the DLC, but fortunately the blade already has more point than most sheepsfoot blades have. I probably could live with orange but I went with black since I use this one for work and I'd like it to be more subdued.
I'd take a black without issue. I went with the orange thinking it was more inline with the Coast Guard version. I wish I was one of the folks who received one of the knives that went out from the factory by mistake without the lock, but I still love the one I have. :)
I took the lock out of mine. It kept getting engaged in my pocket somehow.
SHARPEN IT LIKE YOU LOVE IT, USE IT LIKE YOU HATE IT
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Re: Autonomy review/impressions

Postby tvenuto » Wed May 09, 2018 3:43 pm

Nice review. Have this model on the way when a great deal popped up. Not really sure where or when I’ll use it but I couldn’t pass it up.

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Re: Autonomy review/impressions

Postby Evil D » Wed May 09, 2018 3:47 pm

tvenuto wrote:
Wed May 09, 2018 3:43 pm
Nice review. Have this model on the way when a great deal popped up. Not really sure where or when I’ll use it but I couldn’t pass it up.

I've barely put mine down. It's my go to work knife and I've really come around to enjoying serrations, so much so that I'm thinking about having one of my Sliverax's serrated.


I did mean to report that it has opened twice in my pocket now and I cut the crap out of myself the latest time. It's my fault for removing the safety. I also believe it's because I had been carrying my beard comb in the same pocket and having something hard between the lock button and my thigh was enough to press the button, because I haven't had any issues with it opening otherwise.
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Re: Autonomy review/impressions

Postby tvenuto » Wed May 09, 2018 3:52 pm

Well for me it’s legal to own but not generally considered legal to carry (vague law wording) in public.

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Re: Autonomy review/impressions

Postby Evil D » Wed May 09, 2018 3:55 pm

tvenuto wrote:
Wed May 09, 2018 3:52 pm
Well for me it’s legal to own but not generally considered legal to carry (vague law wording) in public.

That sucks. KY is pretty loose about knife laws but my concealed carry permit covers me regardless.

Personally I'd be ok with this knife being a manual opener too. I love the design overall, and really being an auto wasn't a big selling point for me but it's useful. I could live with it being a manual if it just had a bigger thumb hole.
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Re: Autonomy review/impressions

Postby tvenuto » Wed May 09, 2018 4:04 pm

Yea it’s super dumb. It’s legal for me to carry as long as it’s not concealed and I don’t “have intent to harm” someone. So to me if the pocket clip is exposed I should be fine, but that’s far too vague to risk. Also MD is a “we pretend to issue but we’re actually not going to issue” state, or else I’d certainly have a CCW.

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Re: Autonomy review/impressions

Postby tvenuto » Fri May 11, 2018 12:24 pm

I’m literally giddy with anticipation on this one, not sure why. I promise to post pics/review once I acquire, which looks like it’ll be Monday unfortunately. I’ve never even visited the restricted forum before and now I’m regularly refreshing here (like I do for the general forum).

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Re: Autonomy review/impressions

Postby tvenuto » Sat May 12, 2018 9:03 am

Ok, so the Autonomy came early. I'm as giddy as a school-girl. A school-girl with an absolute beast of an auto knife. Spyderco hit such a home-run with this design. I'd be surprised if the Coast Guard, upon handling the Autonomy, didn't just look up and say: "So, do you guys make boats?" About to be free:

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So, I know people say don't buy knives on Ebay, but I've had very good luck and I've been around long enough to spot a fake. I also know the difference between screaming deal and too-good-to-be-true. So, I used my Ebay-scored Ouroboros to unbox the Ebay-scored Autonomy. I had been on the lookout for the Ouroboros for a long time, but the Autonomy just kind of showed up and was a good enough deal to take the chance on. Pic of it with the Ouroboros, 4Sevens Quark, and cup o' chicory joe:

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Sometimes when you open a knife for the first time you get that amazed chuckle. I thumbed the safety back, pushed the button and the knife slammed open. This is what is meant by "fired with authority." In fact this knife could have easily been named the Authority. Everything about it screams solid/quality/details. Pic closed with Quark:

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I get the same closing experience as D, if I depress and immediately let go of the button the closing action is gritty. I'm sure this is due to the locking mechanism dragging on the DLC. If I keep it depressed through 60-90deg, then the closing is butter smooth, and the spring doesn't resist unduly. Pic of the button side:

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In hand, it's very comfortable and feels locked in. I didn't notice the lack of jimping, and I'm a big jimping fan. I have smaller "large" hands and for me the finger cut-outs are just slightly too spaced out, and my pinky is more on a hump than in a groove. However, this would be great for gloved use, and I would think it'd make a truly indispensable ski rescue tool, as it could be easily opened and closed with gloved hands. The safety and button are in natural places. As mentioned by others the safety has a great positive feel to it, but isn't hard to toggle. The liners are beautifully mated to the scales, and I cant say enough how this thing exudes quality. Down the middle:

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So, although this might not be the most practical knife purchase ever (legal to own but potentially problematic carry), I'm 100% happy I jumped on this one. I will echo D's sentiments that I would absolutely purchase a manual version, and it's a shame that few people will get to experience this design. So, well done, Spyderco, I'm sure that all the service men and women who are in harms way feel a bit more confident with such a quality piece of gear by their side. Some pics with another super high quality H1 piece:

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Re: Autonomy review/impressions

Postby The Meat man » Sat May 12, 2018 9:19 am

Nice write-ups tvenuto and D! Since automatic knives have been made legal to own/carry/use where I live I would love to try out this one.
- Connor

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