Chicago - a quick overview

Discuss Spyderco's products and history.
Cliff Stamp
Posts: 3852
Joined: Sat Dec 31, 2005 2:23 pm
Location: Earth

Chicago - a quick overview

Postby Cliff Stamp » Fri Dec 27, 2013 4:47 pm

Fairly small knife :


-SuperBlue Delica

Webpage :

-440C stainless steel, 0.102" stock, 0.092" choil, full distal taper
-60 grams, handle heavy (center of middle scallop)
-edge is 0.014"/12.5 dps at choil, increases to 22 dps in the tip

440C reference :

A few observations :

-no blade play
-slight movement of the clip
-all metal edges are well chamfered
-G10 is very nicely rounded
-liner has full engagement, secure under fast to moderate impacts
-clip is R/L, deep ride

F&F :

-in general high
-blade is off center
-plunge lines are not symmetrical

Sharpness :

-scrape shaves
-push cuts newsprint, 1/8" from PoH, rough
-175 (5) grams to push cut Espirit thread
-2.4 (2) cm to slice Bergia spinning thread (40 gram draw)

Those last two are under 50% of optimal on the push and 10% on the slice, the edge was likely over buffed.


The very high polish (the black parts) indicates that, ideally you want the buffing to be very light (well ideally you don't want to do it at all).

On 3/8" hemp :

-44 (1) lbs on a push
-32 (1) lbs on a 2" draw

These are low numbers, mainly a sharpness issue. Note the draw should be at a minimum half of the push or else the edge was rounded.

On 3/4" x 1/2" pine making points with heavy force (50-70 lbs) :

-Mora #1260 = 1.1 (1) slices
-Chicago = 0.8 (1) slices

The Chicago is significantly higher which would be expected because on deep cuts the mechanical advantage of the deep primary grind will show its benefit. However on shallow cutting on harder wood with lighter force (10-20 lbs) :

-Mora #1260 = 75 (5) slices
-Chicago = 210 (1) slices

In shallow cutting is it all about the edge angle and sharpness and the Mora (as a stock knife) is 9-11 dps with a finish from a Spyderco fine stone (fairly high polish, almost ideal for wood working).


It is easy to just see the difference in the shavings/chips from each knife (Mora on the left, Chicago on the right).


Easily cuts up a variety of materials :


No edge damage. On the rigid foam there is some breaking, again a sign of the less than ideal sharpness.


Five hundred cuts into pine, no issues even cutting through some knots :


There were some minor ergonomic concerns :


The knife fits into my entire hand so the front of the clip and the base of the blade both hot spot a little, but not enough to make doing the 500 cuts an issue. In contrast for example a Leatherman Crater could not do 50 cuts without concern because it isn't chamfered.

Pointing plywood is no issue, 250 cuts :


The edge is still slicing newsprint but is not scratchy and very short draws have to be used.


Now how scratched up the bevel is compared to the original state.

In short, seems to well match the description/promotion :

"Its leaf-like shaped blade effectively cuts across the board, from significant strenuous cuts like carpet and poly rope to something as simple as fingernail cleaning or scraping tape off of glass.

A deep pocket clip burrows the knife down into a pant's pocket with the tip facing up ready to carry left- or right-handed. This one is for Chicagoans or anyone looking for a city/suit knife."

The only real issues are :

-less than ideal as-boxed sharpness
-variance in edge angle would likely cause problems for some

Of course this doesn't indicate all of these knives will be like that, just this one was.

This should be a nice knife to carry and use which should be fairly friendly for even non-knife people.

Posts: 1945
Joined: Thu May 23, 2013 7:57 pm
Location: Pgh, Pa

Postby jmh58 » Fri Dec 27, 2013 5:27 pm

Kool!! Good review.. Its big brother the CAT is one of my all time favorites to edc!! John
A great rabbit chase ends with a.. BANG!!!

Son.. You need to get off the front porch once n a while!!!

Not all who wander are lost!!!

User avatar
Posts: 6779
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 10:37 pm
Location: Alberta

Postby Holland » Fri Dec 27, 2013 6:25 pm

awesome thread Cliff! thanks for the overview

User avatar
Posts: 4762
Joined: Sun Aug 13, 2006 8:37 am
Location: Mentor, OH

Postby kbuzbee » Fri Dec 27, 2013 6:42 pm

Nice review, Cliff. Its been on my short list ;) (bad pun )


User avatar
Officer Gigglez
Posts: 801
Joined: Wed Nov 13, 2013 5:22 pm
Location: Originally out of Arizona, currently live in Missouri.

Postby Officer Gigglez » Fri Dec 27, 2013 9:17 pm

Good work. Knife sure is small
Spyderco Knives (in order of obtainment):
-Tenacious, Combo edge
-Tasman Salt, PE
-Persistence Blue, PE
-Pacific Salt, Black, PE
-Delica 4, Emerson Grey
-DiAlex Junior
-Byrd SS Crossbill, PE
-Endura 4 Emerson Grey
-Byrd Meadowlark 2 FRN, PE

User avatar
Posts: 3464
Joined: Mon Apr 22, 2013 2:22 pm
Location: The zone... between the zone... between the zzooone.......

Postby DougC-3 » Fri Dec 27, 2013 9:24 pm

Respectable knife. I also like my Ambitious, which fills the hand a bit more but lacks the nice wire clip.
:spyder: :cool:
Upcoming on my spydie-radar: ? :spyder:

User avatar
Posts: 11695
Joined: Mon May 04, 2009 11:24 am

Postby Blerv » Sat Dec 28, 2013 1:31 am

Another quality review in Cliff format to add to the bank :) . Thanks for your thoughts, it hasn't made the shopping cart checkout yet but I'm digging it.
:spyder: Blake :spyder:

eric m.
Posts: 836
Joined: Mon Nov 04, 2013 4:50 pm

Postby eric m. » Sat Dec 28, 2013 6:23 am

Excellent knife, the Chicago! I love the Cat a little more though! My hands much prefer these to a Dragonfly and you can do some fairly heavy cutting. :)

User avatar
Posts: 105
Joined: Mon Nov 18, 2013 5:47 pm
Location: Ontario, Canada

Postby Leon » Sat Dec 28, 2013 8:56 pm

very thorough review..awesome :)

I was trying to pick between Chicago and Cat recently..ended up going with the Cat..absolutely love it

Posts: 3465
Joined: Tue Jun 11, 2013 10:34 pm
Location: Twin Falls, ID

Postby TomAiello » Sun Dec 29, 2013 11:41 am

**** it, Cliff, now I'm going to have to try out a Chicago!

Cliff Stamp
Posts: 3852
Joined: Sat Dec 31, 2005 2:23 pm
Location: Earth

Postby Cliff Stamp » Sun Dec 29, 2013 8:44 pm

It is an interesting little knife.

In the past I have used very large knives to do work not really suited to them, large brush blades to cut up a chicken, fillet a fish and otherwise just have fun. However it is just as enjoyable to use a small knife like this and make it primary carry for awhile.

Ok, it might not be the best for making a Rambo fantasy as you don't get to say "Hunting." in a melodramatic voice when people ask you why you are carrying it.

If it was not black it would be a little more friendly because for some reason people think black knives are more dangerous. But still it is nice to try out new techniques and stretch out your skills a little. Plus it makes for some amusing times if you get known as "the knife guy" and then you give this to someone when they ask you for a knife.

User avatar
Posts: 2359
Joined: Fri Sep 24, 2004 10:33 am
Location: RTP NC area

Postby defenestrate » Tue Dec 31, 2013 6:15 am

Good to see a knife that size put through some varied use. Thanks, Cliff.

Looks like it would be fairly easy to do different scales as the liners are full, not nested.
I drink, and I cut things.
-er, me, by way of Tyrion Lannister

User avatar
Posts: 777
Joined: Wed Aug 28, 2013 6:37 am
Location: Gloucester City, NJ

Postby this_is_nascar » Fri Mar 14, 2014 10:28 am

If memory serves, the Chicago and Cat both use the same steel, so I'm assuming that would make the Cat an even better cutter due to it's slightly larger blade. Awesome review of the Chicago.
"The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun". --- Wayne LaPierre 12/21/2012

Cliff Stamp
Posts: 3852
Joined: Sat Dec 31, 2005 2:23 pm
Location: Earth

Re: Chicago - a quick overview

Postby Cliff Stamp » Wed Feb 18, 2015 8:26 pm

While writing up some notes on the Chicago, I am reviewing some papers on 440C. Here is some of the interesting/useful materials data on 440C :


from :

"Dry Sliding Wear Characteristics of AISI440C Martensitic Stainless Steel, Dararat Arparjirasakul, Tapany Patcharawit, and Usanee Kitkamthorn"

This shows maximum wear resistance at a 150C temper (maximum hardness).

"Influence of Deep Cryogenic Treatment on the Mechanical Properties of AISI 440C Bearing Steel A. Idayana, A.Gnanavelbabub*and K. Rajkumarc"

This looks at 440C austenized at 1010C, three different quench stopping points :

-room temperature (CHT)
-dry ice (SHT)
-liquid nitgoren (DHT)

(this is conventional, shallow and deep)

after an oil quench and then followed by a 200C temper.

They look at retained austenite, hardness and impact toughness :

CHT : 29% RA, 57 HRC : 2.4 J
SHT : 8% RA, 59 HRC : 2.2 J
DHT : 6% RA, 61 HRC : 2.0 J

Note that if you are going to use an extended quench, then it is likely that you might want to look at a higher austenization temperature, but note without oil and without an extended quench that RA will increase even more, hence why 440C often has a lower hardening temperature than what say Landes would recommend to maximize apex stability as he is assuming oil/liquid nitrogen.

Cliff Stamp
Posts: 3852
Joined: Sat Dec 31, 2005 2:23 pm
Location: Earth

Re: Chicago - a quick overview

Postby Cliff Stamp » Wed Feb 18, 2015 8:58 pm

Here is one of the clearest comparisons of a high carbide and high apex stability steel, which compares 440C to an AEB-L type steel, from "Microstructure and Mechanical Properties of 0.63C-12.7Cr Martensitic Stainless Steel"


440M is what they call the 0.63C/12.7Cr steel which is in the same class as 440C. This they refer to as a modified version of 440C to remove the issues of the large carbides reducing performance.

The paper mainly shows the hardening response of both steels and notes that 440C has a harder secondary hardening, but with low tempers the 440M can still obtain sufficient hardness (60 HRC with a standard hardening).

Cliff Stamp
Posts: 3852
Joined: Sat Dec 31, 2005 2:23 pm
Location: Earth

Re: Chicago - a quick overview

Postby Cliff Stamp » Thu Feb 19, 2015 11:33 am

This is a detailed comparison of 420 vs 440C, the results strongly reflect the difference between what the steel can achieve vs how often it is used based on its cost.

Ref : ... so&tlng=en

"Corrosion and microstructural characterization of martensitic stainless steels submitted to industrial thermal processes for use in surgical tools "

This is the composition, nothing exciting :
types of stainless steel contain in their chemical
composition a maximum (% by weight) of each element
as follows: manganese (Mn) 1.00%; phosphorus (P)
0.04%; sulphur (S) 0.03; silicon (Si) 1.00%. ASTM
420A steel has the following elemental composition:
carbon (C) 0.16-0.25%; chromium (Cr) 12.00-14.00%
and nickel (Ni) 1.00% while ASTM 440C steel contains
C 0.95-1.20%, Cr 16.00-18.00% and Mo 0.75%.
This can be inferred from the phase diagrams which I noted earlier :
The peak
hardness of the 420A steel is reached at just above
the austenitizing temperature of 1050 °C.
The 440C steel has a higher hardness value than
the 420A steel at the austenitizing temperature of
1100 °C.

Here is likely the surprising part, look at the hardness which can be achieved in a < 0.25% carbon steel (420) :


Yes 440C is higher, but it is only higher by 1-2 HRC points, and both of them can achieve higher than 60 HRC.

Cliff Stamp
Posts: 3852
Joined: Sat Dec 31, 2005 2:23 pm
Location: Earth

Re: Chicago - a quick overview

Postby Cliff Stamp » Tue Apr 21, 2015 5:12 pm

A little work sharpening the Chigago as I wanted to do a few edge retention runs on pine :


The knife had been used by a few friends and had a pretty significant apex bevel :


I needed to remove this and used the Suehiro Ryu #300, it took 150 pps to remove all traces of the apex bevel and even the edge out to 13/14 dps :


Here is a curious result, here is the exact same stone used on another knife with the same edge angle :


The bevel is much darker and shows a higher polish. This is the 10V Farid, I am curious is that is reflective of the higher carbide volume of the steel which is preventing deeper scratches of the stone which is alumina based which is softer than vanadium carbide.

User avatar
Posts: 237
Joined: Fri Jan 30, 2015 8:49 am
Location: Austin, TX

Re: Chicago - a quick overview

Postby jimmyjohnjohn » Tue Apr 21, 2015 5:24 pm

Thanks much for the review.

User avatar
Posts: 139
Joined: Wed Oct 29, 2014 1:08 pm

Re: Chicago - a quick overview

Postby Tdhurl1103 » Tue Apr 21, 2015 10:15 pm

That was an awesome review. Thanks for putting in the time to do it. The steel information is, in particular, very appreciated by me. I like these types of reviews because they go way beyond, "the knife can cut things" and answers the "why and how" the knife can cut things.

The Chicago is not very visually appealing to me, however, I might pick up a Cat at some point.
Tom H

Spydernation #327
Beckerhead #284
KA-BAR Krew #27

Para 3, Gayle Bradley 1, Double Bevel, Paramilitary 2, Paramilitary 2 S110V, Sage 1, Persistence

User avatar
Doc Dan
Posts: 7819
Joined: Thu Nov 08, 2012 4:25 am
Location: In a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity.

Re: Chicago - a quick overview

Postby Doc Dan » Wed Apr 22, 2015 1:28 am

Thanks for the review. I was wondering if I should buy one. I have a Cat and it came from the factory finished better than some of my far more expensive knives from Spyderco and Benchmade. It is one of my favorite pocket knifes (I took the clip off). Because it is so inexpensive it does not get the love it deserves, but mine is a fine knife for a small pocket knife.
I Pray Heaven to Bestow The Best of Blessing on THIS HOUSE, and on ALL that shall hereafter Inhabit it. May none but Honest and Wise Men ever rule under This Roof! (John Adams regarding the White House)

"Until we meet again, may the good Lord take a liking to you."
(Roy Rogers)

NRA Life Member
Spydernation 0050

Return to “Spyderco General Discussion”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Dazen, Enactive, GarageBoy, MattM68, MSN [Bot], Oogie, Psryan255, Ratamaque, rcwill98, Spydergirl88, SteveMidwest and 31 guests