I'd like to thank Doeswhateveraspidercan
for gifting me this knife and giving me the opportunity to enjoy/use/review this knife. This knife has been my #1 most wanted knife since it debuted but it likely would have been a while before I got around to it so THANX MUCH dude I really appreciate it. Also props for having the longest screen name on the forum lol.
There will be rambling so if you're not into this sort of thread and wanna tl:dr it that's fine. To sum it up, 1) It's the beefed up premium version of the Tenacious that I've always wanted, 2) It's the best new design Sal has made IMO, 3) It's one of the best SE options available, 4) This may actually dethrone the Military for me.
I'll start with construction, because as soon as I got the knife and started fondling it, I saw things that you can't see in pictures and realized there's a lot more going on underneath than some might realize. I'm always interested in the construction of a knife and this one has a couple details that aren't obvious from pictures, and these little details are what puts it over the top for me.
First thing I noticed was how the scales are drilled rather than fully skeletonized to reduce weight. More so than that, I noticed how the scales have been machined not just to nest the liners into them, but to match up with the holes in the liners so that when everything is assembled, the inside of the handle is completely smooth so there aren't any grooves or crevices for crud to collect (compared to a Para 2 for example). For a Salt/ocean oriented knife this is a fantastic idea and will make cleaning the knife out much easier without disassembly. I really enjoy details like this.
While I'm not completely in love with the black and yellow, it is pretty cool how the layers show through in the machining. It also seems like the yellow is dyed from the outside, because the inside layer looks like natural/jade G10 to me.
The second thing I noticed upon taking it apart is the internal stop pin. I had no idea this knife used one and I love it. It's an additional load bearing point and I think every knife should have it regardless of lock type. That said, I really prefer the ones that have a solid pin in the blade tang and grooves cut out of the scales, rather than a groove cut out of the blade and a stationary pin in the handle. I don't care for excessive machining on the blade tang because it could weaken it. However, this one is only partially machined through the tang, compared to others like the Southard that have a groove milled all the way through the tang. No doubt this extra machining adds to the cost, and these are the sorts of things you can't see from promotional pics. It also has one of the largest pivot pins I've ever seen in a Spyderco, and all the screws use the same size T8 screws, though I would have liked them to use a larger torx size. Also of note is the change to a floating stop pin, though you can't see it from the outside as it doesn't protrude through the scale like it does on the latest version of the Military.
Also of note, they've defintely moved away from red loctite (at least in Taichung), but this white stuff seems every bit as strong as the red to me. It took quite a bit of torque to get these screws broken loose, but no soldering iron/hot water/hair dryer/witchcraft was needed to break them loose and nothing stripped. Can anyone confirm that ALL the hardware on this knife is LC200N, or did they use some other highly corrosion resistant steel for the hardware? If the screws are indeed LC, then maybe they have a higher hardness than your typical screw head which 1) could be why they went with a smaller torx size and 2) could be why they didn't strip despite being quite tight.
Lastly I didn't get pics but I noticed that the lock tab and surrounding areas where the tab is laser cut out from the liner have been rounded off/smoothed by hand after the initial laser cutting. I assume this is to remove burrs and prevent any issues with sticky lock action? I've never seen any additional machining/sanding done on any other compression lock liners like this knife has.
This is an area I knew just from pictures that I'd love this knife. It may seem fairly vanilla at a glance, but that's exactly what makes it so good. There are no finger grooves to force your grip so it'll fit every hand unless you have ridiculous bear paws (as you can see my hand fills out the grip). It doesn't have a finger choil because it doesn't bloody need one
. The grip and blade grind are situated so that they compliment each other. Your index finger is as close to the edge as you'd have with a choil, but without sacrificing any edge length.
The handle hooks down below the edge at your index finger and creates a guide for material to slide along when cutting and a sufficient guard to keep your hand from slipping forward. My one complaint here is where the first serration is ground, there is a notch where there isn't any sharpened edge at all, and this does seem to snag a bit when making very deep cuts. I plan on rounding off and sharpening this notch so that there's sharp edge all the way back to the handle. This doesn't appear to be an issue on the PE versions as it seems the edge is ground all the way back to the plunge line.
The rest of the grip, well your mileage may vary. I think I'm going to start calling it the Banana Spyder. I'm not exactly excited for yellow, but I've come to appreciate it for Salts and I've even stopped dying them black (my two Dfly's and Spyderhawk will remain yellow/orange). The only part of the scale design that really bothers me is the black spot in the middle, it just stops the flow of the pattern. I get that the pattern changes directions but I feel like the pattern could have been addressed better but that's the artist OCD in me coming out. There's no doubt it makes for a unique and special model in the Spyderco lineup and I hope we see more machined scales in the future, regardless of color options or patterns. The tops of the grooves are actually polished G10 yet they still provide a good amount of grip without being pocket shredders.
I was a bit surprised at the almost complete lack of jimping though. With there not being any tacticool finger grooves, I am surprised they didn't go all "Manix 2" with the grip and put jimping all over the place. Despite this, I have used the knife with gloves, with wet hands, and even deliberately covered my hand in lard to see how well I can still grip the knife and it went about as good as you can ask for under those circumstances. It's worth considering that as a ocean/dive oriented knife, people may be wearing some type of gloves that reduce fine motor skills, so a neutral shaped grip is a good choice for the intended use and it's sculpted in a way that still proves a secure grip.
Lastly I've gotta point out a small fit and finish detail. There are no sharp edges anywhere on this handle, and I mean none. They have radiused everything, even the insides of the scale edges, the edges of the lock tab, the edges of the liners that show at the top of the pivot/grip area, in fact the only hot spot I can feel in use is from the clip. This is one of the best "folding fixed blade" designs I've ever handled. It's nearly as good as the D'Allara 2, if only it had 3D contoured grips (can you imagine a FRN Lightweight version of this knife with 3D/bidirectional textured contoured scales????). Overall the fit and finish is excellent throughout.
The Blade, Steel, and Serrations:
This part will obviously only covers this version of the knife but the serration aspecs should also apply to the sheepsfoot version.
Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but is this not the first and only SE offereing from Taichung? Seems to me that either Spyderco are listening to the complaints about deep serrations vs shallow serrations, and/or Taichung just got the right serration pattern from the start because these are excellent. Excellent
. This blade glides over the Sharpmaker rods smoother than any other SE knife I've sharpened, especially considering this knife had never been sharpened so it's not like the edge has been "broken in".
To put this into perspective, here's the edge compared to my SE Military which if I remember right is from 2009:
Also note the teeth are rounded from the factory, compared to the much pointier teeth on the Military. Pay attention to the top shoulder of the serration grind and not the actual teeth themselves, since both knives have been sharpened. If you look at the top edge/shoulder of the grind, you can see how pointy the teeth on the Military originally were and how rounded the Caribbean teeth started out as.
By comparison, the Military's serrations are quite deep and curved more, so when you run it across the rods the blade does a lot of "bumping" and almost feels snaggy. The Caribbean is significantly smoother and more fluid feeling as you make passes along the stone. This makes it much easier to hit the entire curve of the serration, and makes getting a sharper edge much easier and it really shows because I'm able to get this knife sharper than any SE blade I own, even without doing the Dremel power stropping (come to think of it, I need to give that a try). I tried both 30 and 40 degree settings, but the edge hit on the shoulder of the bevel on the 30 slots. In the past I've preferred my SE blades to have a bit more PE at the tip, but as I've gotten better and better at sharpening SE I don't feel the need anymore. This blade only has about 3/8 PE at the tip but it should be enough to do fine detailed work. Here you can see where the marker rubbed off on the shoulder of the bevel when trying the 30 degree slots.
I've used the knife to cut boxes, some nylon rope I had laying around (need to get some manilla), some vines/branches in the back yard although they haven't had much chance to grow back after I murdered them to death last fall with my Spyderhawk, and some various weights of paper from phone book and printer to thicker art oriented paper that borders on being card stock. Edge retention is going to be an ongoing observation as I use and sharpen it more, at this time I don't feel I've used it quite enough to have a fair comparison against H1/SE but suffice to say this is the biggest area I've been curious about so I will definitely get back to this thread as I use it more and get a feeling for how SE/LC compare to SE/H1. I wish there were a more comparable knife in H1 that I could compare it to, because blade grind and behind the bevel thickness may be enough to sway my opinion when slicing things. A Pacific is probably the best blade shape to compare it to but I can't imagine the hollow grind will slice as well as this FFG.
The blade shape is great. I did initially want the sheepsfoot version, because they're one of my favorite blade shapes and I think overall it's a better looking knife, but I'm finding that the leaf shape is definitely more versatile and the belly is shallow enough and the point is low enough for my liking. I wouldn't mind if it had a few more degrees of negative blade angle though. The spine is curved enough at the tip to give it a bit of extra strength without making it borderline blunt like the Pacific. I've had no problem penetrating boxes to cut holes.
Spyderco list the blade thickness at 3.6mm which seems like a nice middle ground to me. It's stout enough for hard use but thin enough to slice decently. It may even be about as thin as they can go with a compression lock and still have a reasonable amount of lock travel life. Speaking of lock travel, this one engages right around 30% or so, not too early and not too late. I feel like this is maybe the first compression lock to also have an internal stop pin? It's the first that I've owned at least so I'm interested in how the lock will wear over time. When I had it apart I did apply some Phil Wood bearing grease to the pivot and detent like I do all my knives, and the resulting action is amazing.
The blade seats closed with a satisfying soft "dink". I've seen comments about the detent being on the weak side but this one seems pretty reasonable to me, I have to give it a very strong wrist flick to get the blade to open with inertia, and it fails more often than it works. Also consider that I have grease on my detent ball which is no doubt in the detent hole, so a dry detent ball will likely seat stronger than mine. The thumb hole is juuust slightly covered by the handle when closed but since the hole is generously sized I haven't had any issues opening it, both with bare and gloved hands and it flicks open with authority.
Comparison pics and glamour shots:
Most of you have probably skimmed for the pics anywhere so lastly here are a couple comparison shots with similarly sized knives.