Li'l Temperance 3: A (not so) li'l review

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zuludelta
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Li'l Temperance 3: A (not so) li'l review

Postby zuludelta » Thu Mar 26, 2020 8:16 pm

I'd been interested in the Li'l Temperance 3 since it was revealed at Shot Show 2017, but one particular factor kept me from purchasing one once it became available at retail, and that was the price. It sold for around C$285 brand-new in-box at my local brick & mortar knife shop, far above what I was willing to pay for a production folding knife. I could have bought one for less online, but getting a compression lock folding knife shipped from overseas is always a dicey proposition for me given the CBSA's inconsistent interpretation of Canadian knife laws (and besides, I like to support my local knife retailers).

Prices for the LT3 have dropped since it was discontinued in 2019 however, and recently I was able to purchase a new one for about the same price as a standard Para Military 2.

I started using the LT3 as my work knife as soon as I received it.

Those of you familiar with my previous posts know that I cut a lot of heavy-duty cordage at my job, and that serrations are something I look for in a work knife. That is no longer the case as I have since changed jobs, although my current job still has me using a knife as my primary hand tool, mostly for cutting cardboard of varying thicknesses. Even more significant for the context of this review is the fact that I now spend a significant portion of my workday wearing thick gloves while working in subzero temperatures and that has important implications regarding knife ergonomics and ease of deployment.

Sal Glesser, who designed the LT3, described the knife in a 2018 forum post as "pure in spirit for the purpose-built design" as a defensive tool conceived with Michael Janich's Martial Blade Concept principles in mind, albeit one with a lot of everyday work utility as well. I can't personally speak to the LT3's merits as a defensive tool although in hand, it does remind me very much of Janich's Yojimbo 2 (the MBC standard, as far as folding knives go).

What I can comment on, however, is the LT3's characteristics as a work cutting tool. It is very compact and does not particularly attract unwanted attention when deployed (an important feature in a workplace setting). At 4 oz., it is somewhat heavy relative to its overall deployed length of 7.3" but it is well balanced and carries well both in pocket and in hand. The CPM-S30V blade is a thick 0.16" in width near the base of the spine (by comparison, the PM2's stock thickness is 0.14" and the G-10 Manix 2's is 0.12"). Still, the blade being very tall with a full flat grind means that it comes down to a very thin and slicey edge. I don't know what the LT3's behind-the-edge thickness is, but from several days of use I can say that it cuts cardboard about as well as (if not better than) the PM2 and Manix 2.

The LT3's blade is 2.9" long, shorter than the 3" blade of my go-to work knife, the Native 5 Lightweight. But because the LT3 has no finger choil and a very minimal ricasso, it actually has almost half an inch more cutting edge than the Native 5 Lightweight and has roughly the same edge length as the Manix 2, which is a significantly larger knife overall.

The LT3 has a tall (though not especially thick) handle to go with its tall blade and the extra surface area makes for a very comfortable and secure grip, not unlike that which can be experienced on the Manix 2 and Yojimbo 2. The handle is long enough to accomodate a full four-finger grip for my small/medium-sized hands and it looks like it can provide a four-finger grip for those who have large-sized hands as well (those with extra-large hands may find their pinky partially hanging off the handle). Both the Trademark Round Hole and the compression lock tab are easily accessed even when wearing cold-weather work gloves. It is also very easy to index the blade because of the additional tactile cue provided by the divot in the handle. Indeed, it has quickly become one of my favourite folding knives in terms of handle ergonomics.

The LT3 isn't perfect, however. There is a minor but noticeable degree of lock-stick in my specimen. And while the detent feels perfectly dialed-in, the action on opening and closing the knife can only be described as "muddy". I found it easy enough to "Spydie-flick" the knife open with my middle finger and of course there is no issue at all with "slow-rolling" it open with my thumb, but it takes a rather exaggerated movement to swing the blade open and closed with the lock disengaged, which is my favourite (if not a particularly safe) method for opening and closing compression lock and ball-bearing lock-based folders. The action is a far cry from that of the PM2 or the Yojimbo 2—an observation I have seen echoed by other LT3 owners in old forum posts—and it is by far the most disappointing aspect of the knife. I am not overstating things at all when I say that my Native 5 Lightweight, which is a mid-backlock that has no liners or washers whatsoever (the blade rotates directly on naked FRN scales) has a better action than the LT3 did out of the box, although I suppose this is as much due to the Native 5 Lightweight's excellent construction as it is to the LT3's flaws.

It is possible to adjust the LT3's pivot so that the blade drops shut, of course, but doing so also introduces significant side-to-side blade play, a no-go compromise for me.

The action was so muddy & sluggish that I took the knife apart to check for any grit in the pivot area and to clean and re-lubricate the moving surfaces. I also wanted to see if there were any issues with the phosphor-bronze washers and to confirm that the washers were indeed phosphor-bronze—the action was such that I wouldn't have been surprised if they were Teflon or that there were no washers at all. (As can be seen in the picture below, the washers are phosphor-bronze)
20200326_141927.jpg
After a quick disassembly, cleaning, lubing, pivot tuning, and reassembly, the action was slightly better but still muddy and the minor lock-stick was still present. In the larger scheme of things however, these don't really affect the functionality of the knife, although I suppose the lock-stick can potentially lead to instances of blade deployment lock-up failure.

Overall thoughts: As a "user", the LT3 is perfectly fine. Its ergonomics rank among the best I've experienced in the Spyderco line-up and the very robust design is confidence-inspiring. Think of it as a hybrid of the Yojimbo 2 and the Manix 2: a defensive tool tweaked and tuned to be able to serve as a full-time "very hard use" work folder. If you see one at a good price and you don't mind the fit-and-finish flaws outlined in this review, go for it.

NOTE: original post edited for formatting
Last edited by zuludelta on Fri Mar 27, 2020 1:17 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Li'l Temperance 3: A (not so) li'l review

Postby JD Spydo » Thu Mar 26, 2020 8:27 pm

That is a nice and well done review. However I loved the original 2001-2003 era Lil Temperance models so much that I just can't embrace any of the newer versions for whatever reason. If they would replicate the original models with a newer/better blade steel I would be very interested.

There are some cases where Spyderco just got it right the first time. The Lil Temperance, Ronin, Yojimbo, Impala, JD Smith just to name a few that were perfect from the "get-go" IMO.

Also the original Lil T was awesome in full Spyderedge.

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Re: Li'l Temperance 3: A (not so) li'l review

Postby yowzer » Thu Mar 26, 2020 8:45 pm

I like mine. A Seki made knife with S30V steel is a rarity... I thought the Japanese makers don't like using foreign steel?

If not for the lack of a choil and wire clip, it'd be better named the Lil' Superleaf. It reminds me a lot of that knife.

I think it was a victim of the Japan tax and the PM2 and 3 - those are also compression lock knives with G-10 and S30V in a similar size class, but cheaper, so why get the Temp unless you really like leaf blades? Shame. A FRN version would have been nice.

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Re: Li'l Temperance 3: A (not so) li'l review

Postby Halfneck » Thu Mar 26, 2020 9:11 pm

Love mine. Wanted it since I saw the prototype at BLADE.

I echo your praises for it, especially the ergonomics. The action is just fine to me, then again I've never cared about drop-close actions. I can open it quickly & smoothly using the thumb-hole. I can even Spydie-flick it if I use enough force.

My only minor (and personal opinion) complaint was the steel. Just not a fan of S30V.

Coming up on summer & shorts weather will see me carrying it less. It's petty heavy & hogs up pocket space. I'd love to see a Lightweight version in contoured FRN & and a steel like CTS BD1N - less weight & lower cost. Won't happen though as I don't think the Lil'Temp 3 sold well.

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Re: Li'l Temperance 3: A (not so) li'l review

Postby sal » Thu Mar 26, 2020 10:00 pm

Hi Zuludelta,

Thanx much for your very detailed and positive comments on the design. To be honest, it is a project in which I have more than 15 years. I designed the first one after spending time with James Keating ( Riddle of steel) and Michael Janich, (Spyderco's Special Products Coordinator) both from whom I have learned a great deal.

I changed the design to accommodate a 4th grip (Reverse Grip edge in) which I learned from Craig Douglas (Southnarc) I decided to make the knife in Seki because I wanted to make the knife in FRN, with a slight 3D handle and reduce both the price and the weight. I felt this would be an "ultimate" version of the design. I still do. The maker has been very cooperative over the development of the model. My apologies for the execution not being as smooth as the Golden made Compression locks, but we have far more experience making Compression locks in Golden. I'm sure our Seki maker will get there.

It's still a ways off as we're busy making many models these days which slows down all models. I don't expect it to be a large seller, but I believe it will serve people like Zuludelta, Halfneck, Yowzer and me. There are many hundreds of hours of thought, prototypes and development in the design. More than the Shaman.

Please be patient with the time some of my very specialized design projects take. :o I'm really O/C in some of my creations.

In what steel would you like to see the next version?

sal

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Re: Li'l Temperance 3: A (not so) li'l review

Postby Wartstein » Thu Mar 26, 2020 11:50 pm

Thanks for the review, Zuludelta! Very interesting read!

I may add the pic of the Lil Temperance from the Spyderco homepage here, for people who might not be too familiar with that knife?
(I had to look it up in order to fully remember again what it looks like).

Image
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Re: Li'l Temperance 3: A (not so) li'l review

Postby Halfneck » Thu Mar 26, 2020 11:52 pm

sal wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 10:00 pm

In what steel would you like to see the next version?

sal
VG-10 or CTS BD1N would be nice to keep the price down.

CPM SPY27 with the blue FRN might be a cool sprint.

And CTS XHP is always one of my favorites.

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Re: Li'l Temperance 3: A (not so) li'l review

Postby zuludelta » Fri Mar 27, 2020 1:00 am

Thank you for taking the time to read my review Sal, and thank you for sharing some of the details behind the Li'l Temperance 3's development. Fifteen-plus years is a lot of time to put into developing a knife design, and it shows in the final product: At its core, the Li'l Temperance 3 is a fundamentally great, purpose-driven folder design—one of Spyderco's best, in my humble opinion.
sal wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 10:00 pm
I decided to make the knife in Seki because I wanted to make the knife in FRN, with a slight 3D handle and reduce both the price and the weight. I felt this would be an "ultimate" version of the design. I still do. The maker has been very cooperative over the development of the model. My apologies for the execution not being as smooth as the Golden made Compression locks, but we have far more experience making Compression locks in Golden. I'm sure our Seki maker will get there.
I am a big fan of Spyderco's FRN knives from Seki City (particularly the Delica 4 & Endura 4) & I have faith that your Seki partners will eventually raise their compression lock execution up to the Golden standard. I am very much behind the idea of the "ultimate" version of the LT3 in contoured FRN: if nothing else, the reduction in materials cost should mean that more users will be able to experience the LT3's design.
In what steel would you like to see the next version?
The current CPM-S30V is perfectly fine with me, as I think it is a good all-around stainless steel. However, if one of the goals for the "ultimate" version of the LT3 is for it to be more affordable, then I would be perfectly alright with it being made in VG-10 or even better yet, CTS-BD1N (assuming that the Seki maker is able to work with it). I like the performance I've gotten with CTS-BD1N in the Para 3 Lightweight and the updated UK Pen Knife: from my (limited) experience, it offers excellent wear resistance for the price and has a very high degree of corrosion resistance—the latter is very important in the subzero temperatures I work in, where ice or condensation can and will find their way into a folding knife given enough time.

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Re: Li'l Temperance 3: A (not so) li'l review

Postby zuludelta » Fri Mar 27, 2020 1:05 am

Also wanted to give a shout out to Wartstein, Halfneck, yowzer, and JD Spydo for their comments. Thanks for reading the review guys, and for sharing your opinions and experiences.

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Re: Li'l Temperance 3: A (not so) li'l review

Postby ChrisinHove » Fri Mar 27, 2020 2:27 am

Mine had a smooth drop shut action, but I have spoken with others whose were ... well, poor.

It’s a great design, but the grip was just a little cramped for me.

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Re: Li'l Temperance 3: A (not so) li'l review

Postby VooDooChild » Fri Mar 27, 2020 2:29 am

I would like to add some thoughts on this knife since I picked one up after being discoed.

1. It is an absolute tank of a medium sized folder. I know that term gets thrown around alot but this thing is very much like a shaman without a 50/50 finger choil. It is robust.

2. I would have to put its compression lock in last place when compared to other examples of that lock I have. Primarily it is not easy to disengage. Mine does not have lockstick, but it is harder to disengage the lockbar tab than other comp locks. Part of this Im sure is because it has a thicker and more overbuilt comp lock tab than other examples, even the shaman. If you are ok with the blade not dropping shut then its no big deal.

3. I wish the thumb ramp was a little taller to give more purchase for my thumb. But I can live with it how it is.

4. I LOVE the clip. I think it is the biggest most heavy duty spoon clip I have seen on any spyderco. Its just like a military clip but its straight with the rounded spoon end.

5. A note on indexing.
There is a step by step instruction with pictures for indexing the lil temp 3 from forward grip to reverse grip out there somewhere. By these instructions, after opening, the thumb is placed on the divot on the lockbar side (front side/show side) and another finger (for me middle finger gives most controll) is placed on the dip in the clip and the knife is rotated into the reverse grip. Given the size of the lil temp 3 I have noticed if I do this with less than optimal controll, (under stress for instance or doing it quickly and maybe not being focused on it), this causes the edge to hit the bottom of my palm. Consistently actually, so not good.

My solution for me has been to index the opposite way. I open the knife and go into the forward grip. From there I put my middle finger in the divot on the lockbar side, which is where it is resting in that grip anyway. And put my thumb in the dip of the clip. I then index into reverse grip and this causes the spine of the blade to make contact with the bottom of my palm and will not cut me. From there, depending on whether you want edge in or out, simply depends on how you roll the knife into your grip. Roll with the fingers into a fist for edge in, or roll the knife forward with the thumb, wrap the handle with the fingers, and then replace the thumb for edge out.

I made that last part sound way more complicated than it is, but I can casually and quickly index from forward to reverse grip like this, putting the knife in edge in or edge out position quite easily. I primarily practice going into edge out.

The main point on the indexing was I found doing so in the illustrated way will cause the edge to contact my palm unless I am actively trying to not make that happen. Indexing from the other direction, where the spine contacts my palm presents no problems and I can pull it off with more peace of mind.

Sorry for the long rant.

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Re: Li'l Temperance 3: A (not so) li'l review

Postby Mr Blonde » Fri Mar 27, 2020 4:45 am

Thanks for the insightful review zuludelta! The Lil' Temp, and by extension the Temperance fixed blades, is one of my favorite design patterns. I squirreled away a back-up version of the LT3 when it was announced to be discontinued. I have patience and look forward to the lightweight version Sal mentioned.
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Re: Li'l Temperance 3: A (not so) li'l review

Postby BornIn1500 » Fri Mar 27, 2020 7:27 am

zuludelta wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 8:16 pm

has roughly the same edge length as the Manix 2, which is a significantly larger knife overall.
This is what I love about it. Looking at them both at a distance, you'd never guess the Manix 2 and Lil Temp 3 have the same edge length. It really shows how efficient the design is.
zuludelta wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 8:16 pm

the action on opening and closing the knife can only be described as "muddy". The action is a far cry from that of the PM2 or the Yojimbo 2
The Lil Temp 3 doesn't have the CQI bushing system that Spyderco has been putting on new comp lock models. I don't think the flaw is with the manufacturer. It needs those same bushings to allow the fall shut action. Which begs the question... why wasn't it incorporated in the design when the bushings were already being used in other models?

A few things to note:

A shining aspect of my Lil Temp 3 is the perfect detent, which has stayed perfect for the 7 or 8 months I've carried it.

The clip was too strong and honestly took 2 hands to both clip the knife to my pocket and get it back out. One hand to hold the material on my pocket and the other to pull on the knife. It was like a pitbull that didn't want to let go. Maybe that's great for self-defense... you'd tear your pants off while deploying the knife and the villian would be distracted enough for you to get away. Anyway, I assume it was because of the contact point sitting into the divot in the handle. It was an easy fix, though. I just bent the clip out slightly to lessen the tension.

What I'd love to see is the 3.5" version that Sal said he has a prototype of. I understand 2.9" blade was used to conform to laws in more places, but a slightly larger blade would be nice on this design. Then again, I guess I could just get a Caribbean for a similar knife with a longer blade.

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Re: Li'l Temperance 3: A (not so) li'l review

Postby Evil D » Fri Mar 27, 2020 7:50 am

The only reason I didn't buy one of these was because the Caribbean basically does everything the same for me but in a larger package and with SE and a sheepsfoot option. I'm still interested in the FRN version though (for that matter I'd be interested in the same handle treatment on the Caribbean too).
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Re: Li'l Temperance 3: A (not so) li'l review

Postby Halfneck » Fri Mar 27, 2020 8:18 am

RiddleofSteel.jpg
VooDooChild wrote:
Fri Mar 27, 2020 2:29 am
5. A note on indexing.
There is a step by step instruction with pictures for indexing the lil temp 3 from forward grip to reverse grip out there somewhere. By these instructions, after opening, the thumb is placed on the divot on the lockbar side (front side/show side) and another finger (for me middle finger gives most controll) is placed on the dip in the clip and the knife is rotated into the reverse grip. Given the size of the lil temp 3 I have noticed if I do this with less than optimal controll, (under stress for instance or doing it quickly and maybe not being focused on it), this causes the edge to hit the bottom of my palm. Consistently actually, so not good.

My solution for me has been to index the opposite way. I open the knife and go into the forward grip. From there I put my middle finger in the divot on the lockbar side, which is where it is resting in that grip anyway. And put my thumb in the dip of the clip. I then index into reverse grip and this causes the spine of the blade to make contact with the bottom of my palm and will not cut me. From there, depending on whether you want edge in or out, simply depends on how you roll the knife into your grip. Roll with the fingers into a fist for edge in, or roll the knife forward with the thumb, wrap the handle with the fingers, and then replace the thumb for edge out.
Variables like hand size & shape probably come into play. I wear L to XL gloves & have no problem indexing & shifting grip on the Lil'Temp 3. I have experienced the edge contact you mention. As you said if you do not focus on what you are doing, or fumble the shift, you can end up with some edge contact. Just something you need to be aware of. Having trained under James Keating, I find the Lil'Temp well suited to his style.

And for fun, here is an old pic of me (2nd from left) with James Keating to the right (and Kelly Worden on far left) at the Riddle of Steel.

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Re: Li'l Temperance 3: A (not so) li'l review

Postby DSH007 » Fri Mar 27, 2020 8:42 am

VooDooChild wrote:
Fri Mar 27, 2020 2:29 am
I would like to add some thoughts on this knife since I picked one up after being discoed.

1. It is an absolute tank of a medium sized folder. I know that term gets thrown around alot but this thing is very much like a shaman without a 50/50 finger choil. It is robust.

2. I would have to put its compression lock in last place when compared to other examples of that lock I have. Primarily it is not easy to disengage. Mine does not have lockstick, but it is harder to disengage the lockbar tab than other comp locks. Part of this Im sure is because it has a thicker and more overbuilt comp lock tab than other examples, even the shaman. If you are ok with the blade not dropping shut then its no big deal.

3. I wish the thumb ramp was a little taller to give more purchase for my thumb. But I can live with it how it is.

4. I LOVE the clip. I think it is the biggest most heavy duty spoon clip I have seen on any spyderco. Its just like a military clip but its straight with the rounded spoon end.

5. A note on indexing.
There is a step by step instruction with pictures for indexing the lil temp 3 from forward grip to reverse grip out there somewhere. By these instructions, after opening, the thumb is placed on the divot on the lockbar side (front side/show side) and another finger (for me middle finger gives most controll) is placed on the dip in the clip and the knife is rotated into the reverse grip. Given the size of the lil temp 3 I have noticed if I do this with less than optimal controll, (under stress for instance or doing it quickly and maybe not being focused on it), this causes the edge to hit the bottom of my palm. Consistently actually, so not good.

My solution for me has been to index the opposite way. I open the knife and go into the forward grip. From there I put my middle finger in the divot on the lockbar side, which is where it is resting in that grip anyway. And put my thumb in the dip of the clip. I then index into reverse grip and this causes the spine of the blade to make contact with the bottom of my palm and will not cut me. From there, depending on whether you want edge in or out, simply depends on how you roll the knife into your grip. Roll with the fingers into a fist for edge in, or roll the knife forward with the thumb, wrap the handle with the fingers, and then replace the thumb for edge out.

I made that last part sound way more complicated than it is, but I can casually and quickly index from forward to reverse grip like this, putting the knife in edge in or edge out position quite easily. I primarily practice going into edge out.

The main point on the indexing was I found doing so in the illustrated way will cause the edge to contact my palm unless I am actively trying to not make that happen. Indexing from the other direction, where the spine contacts my palm presents no problems and I can pull it off with more peace of mind.

Sorry for the long rant.
YES!! Thank you for expressing this so coherently! I've always wondered why they advised indexing the knife the way they do. I, like you, do it the opposite way.. because anytime I can keep an edge from being aimed directly at my hand, I consider it a good thing.

The LT3 is one of my favorites. The action on mine is not "drop-shutty," but it is very smooth and perfectly serviceable. I've never considered fidgetability a priority in a knife, so I'm perfectly happy with smooth. The ergos on the LT3 are among the most comfortable (for me) of any folding knife that I've ever handled. Truly a great knife!
Rick H.

..well, that escalated quickly..

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Re: Li'l Temperance 3: A (not so) li'l review

Postby yowzer » Fri Mar 27, 2020 12:02 pm

sal wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 10:00 pm
In what steel would you like to see the next version?
VToku2 would be interesting. MBC designs should have tough steels to take lots of abuse, right?

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Re: Li'l Temperance 3: A (not so) li'l review

Postby wsdavies » Fri Mar 27, 2020 1:48 pm

I love the Lil Temp. It's one of my favorite Spyderco designs and I own at least 75 different Spyderco. Mine is buttery smooth and has perfect lockup.

Steve :)

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Re: Li'l Temperance 3: A (not so) li'l review

Postby timlara » Sat Mar 28, 2020 2:47 pm

British Racing Green (BRG) with ZDP or K390 would be on my wishlist for the FRN model.

I don't really have any complaints on the build quality of my particular LT3, but I am a little sad that it didn't stay a Golden made model.
Tim

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Re: Li'l Temperance 3: A (not so) li'l review

Postby Sumdumguy » Sat Mar 28, 2020 3:14 pm

LC200N is the only choice. Baby Caribbean.

Not many steels I have used that were tougher than LC200N has been and it is maintenance free.


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