Showing posts with label Spyderco. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Spyderco. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Spyderco Three Way


There are few knives better known in the knife community than Spyderco’s Endura and Delica.  Introduced in 1990, they have always been in the top ten sellers at Spyderco.  But there is a new contender, the Endela.

Delica, Endela, Endura
A full serrated Endela flanked by a Delica and Endura.

Spyderco’s Delica was the first tactical knife I ever owned.  I owned lock backs prior to a Delica, but never one with a clip or engineered for one-hand opening.  The ability to consistently open a knife with one hand which would lock open was amazing.  From camping to community theater, in fact any daily activity, these knives made an impact. 

Police, fire and military all tended to carry an Endura or Delica.  They were strong, lightweight (compared to the other popular “tactical carry“ knife of the time, the Buck 110), easy to open and economical.  The steel retained its edge reasonably well and could be quickly sharpened with the Spyderco Sharpmaker, which I still use.  Both knives still retain the properties of strength, ease of operation and performance.

Long before 9/11 Delicas quickly found a home with airline travelers.  You simply dropped them in the tray with your car keys and pen, and they were returned on the other side of the metal detector almost always without a comment.  Even the partial serrations were not of any real concern.  I typically carried two while my wife carried her Delica.  I use to sit in mid-flight and cut open my in-flight snack.  That makes me feel nostalgic.

As a purveyor of edged steel, I am more than qualified to state the obvious:  No matter how well designed, no knife or series of knives is perfect for all users.  One only has to look at all the available glove sizes to realize that.

The Delica and Endura are the Baby and Papa Bear that drunk blonde, Goldie, finds when she breaks in to a fairytale home in the woods.  So what fills that middle spot?  Consumers asked for a bigger knife that was smaller than the Endura.  Spyderco found an answer, the Endela.

Daily lab chores, opening packages.  The blade was very controllable.


Let’s do a three way head-to-head with the new addition to this family of edges, the Endela.

Feature
Delica
Endela
Endura
Open length (inches)
7.13
8.1
8.8
Blade length (inches)
2.88
3.4
3.8
Blade thickness (inches)
0.09
0.12
0.13
Steel
VG-10
VG-10
VG-10
Grind
Saber
Flat
Saber
Clip
4-position
4- position
4-position
Weight
2.5 oz.
3.1 oz.
3.6oz
Cost (MSRP)
$120.00
$123.00
$125.00

As you can see, the Endela looks a little like the middle child.  The blade is about a half inch larger compared to the Delica, but 0.4 inches smaller that the Endura.  Blade thickness is pumped up by 0.03 of an inch, but its 0.01 inch thinner than the Endura.  You’ll see that trend in the other knife parameters too.  The Endela is a noticeable step up from the Delica, but almost a twin to the Endura.



Frankly, the Endela seems to be an answer in search of a question.

The Endela comes only as the flat grind blade, which seems to be super-hot on with consumers right now.  Both the Delica and Endure can be found with similar flat grinds.  Both the Endura and Delica can be obtained with a plain edge, a partial serration and full serration.  The Endela sports either a plain edge or a full serration.  

The full serration has amazing cutting powers.  Packing straps, seat belts, heavy rope all come clean to its power.  The little defensive edge training I have taken strongly suggests I don’t want to be cut by a Spyderco serration.

The Endela market, according to Spyderco, is for those of us who want a larger knife than a Delica, but smaller than an Endura.  Hence the mash-up.  Not the most original, but…..

opening packages, daily chores, sharp knife Endela


The difference is in the feel and use.  I like the Endela.  It feels good in my hand and if I was a first time buyer, I’d get an Endela. 

It will be interesting to see if it’s in the 2021 catalog.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Chinese Lum


Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

I thought I would do something in green to commemorate the saint that drove the snakes out of Ireland and caused so many others to see them.

It was October 2002 and Knives Illustrated published my very first knife article. It was about the green handled Spyderco Lum.  I wonder what I would say now if I was writing the article.

Knife illustrated
2002 cover with my article, and no, I didn't make the cover.

I’d tell you more about the steel.  Its Japanese steel designed by Takefu Special Steel Co. Ltd aimed at Japanese chefs.  But since the steel is cooked with 1% carbon, 15% chromium, 0.2% vanadium, 1.5% cobalt, and spiced with 0.5% manganese and 1% molybdenum, it was soon popular with many knife companies.

Spyderco Lum folder


At the time it was a super-steel but now is considered simply really good steel.  It compares well with ATS-34 and 154CM but the higher vanadium levels produce smaller grain size and better stain resistance and toughness.   We’re talking edge retention improvement here.  Spyderco told me the hardness was in the 58-60 Rc range.  The blade was offered as a plain edge as mine was or fully serrated.

The blade is a flat grind with a tapered leaf shape associated with many of Lum’s designs.  The green Almite-coated handle is chamfered to soften both the looks and provide a comfortable grip.  The knife is set up for right carry with an option to alternate between tip-up and tip-down.  I’m a big fan of tip-up carry so I never changed it.

Back of Lum folder, spyderco




Almite is an anodic oxidation process of aluminum with very good hardness.  

Bob Lum was born and raised in Astoria, Oregon and between hunting and fishing and his work as a freelance photographer he developed a keen eye for blade shapes and edges.  He started making knives in October 1976 and is considered the popularizer of the "tanto" style which he based on older classic Japanese style.  The interest in tantos has not faded.  They have generated a love-hate interest in the knife community and will remain an important blade option. 

spyderco lum
Bob Lum's chop.  A nice touch of class.



Lung cancer took Bob on December 4, 2007 at age 64. 

Shakespeare wrote “..the good is often buried with their bones.”  He is wrong in this case.  Many of Bob’s designs and sketches are still being uncovered and sold to top end knife companies.  His son and wife are involved with producing his ideas and you can find them at http://www.boblumknives.com/welcome.html




I still carry my Lum.  It has become a dress knife and I wear it for weddings, funerals and anytime I need to notch up my attire beyond business casual.  Spyderco still has Lum designs, but if you want a green Lum Chinese folder, you’re in for a search.  Good Luck!



Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Spyderco Autonomy VS Hogue EX-A01

Alright ladies and gents!  It’s the match you have been waiting for.  In this corner is The Hogue EX-A01 automatic knife and in the opposite corner we have Spyderco’s auto knife:  Autonomy!

Spyderco has autos? 

I’ve been told that Sal, doesn’t like autos but when he’s asked to make one for US border guards or the Navy, well he just can’t say “no!”  I understand this on several levels.  When your country asks you to step up, how could you say no?  And if you say no, how would that affect your business long and short term.

rescue Automatic switchblade
Spyderco's Autonomy


The Autonomy was developed by special request for the Navy’s Rescue Swimmers.  The original version had a bright orange handle, but soon other military and paramilitary organizations wanted one.   The knife comes with only a rounded tip and a fully serrated Wharncliffe blade.  What I think is totally cool is the knife is designed so you can wash out the coil spring and re-oil it without disassembling the knife.  In fact, you can replace the spring without disassembling the knife.  More on this later!

I don’t have too much information about Hogue’s EX-A01.  I know Hogue better for pistol grips, but they began life as Hogue Tool and Machine started by Guy Hogue.  Like any good company they looked at their corner of the market and saw where they could expand.  In 2009 they teamed up with Allan Elishewitz to make knives.  The auto comes in two blade lengths, 3.5 and 4 inch.  They have a variety of blade shapes and styles as well as handle materials.

All in all, both knives are very cool.

Spyderco utilizes H-1 steel for the 3.75 inch Autonomy blade.  H-1 has an established reputation for laughing at salt water.  It is also an austenitic steel which, according to Spyderco, work hardens as you sharpen it.  This gives you a slightly softer spine and a hard edge.  This is the classic design on samurai swords, hard edge and softer blade.  The blade has a black DIC coating (Diamond-like Coating) to assist anyone who must worry about light discipline.  That doesn’t mean Madam Fifi uses aluminum chains instead of steel.  Of course if reflections are a problem, I’d recommend taking a black magic marker to the silver spider logo and serrated edge.

Automatic knife switchblade
Hogue's EX-A01


Hogue’s 3.5 inch blade is made of 154cm steel which they cryogenically treat.  Being a martensitic steel it goes through a complicated cycle of phases while cooling.  These changes are temperature and compositionally related and are driven by diffusion of carbon.  By carefully chilling this steel the manufacturer can push the ferrite and austenitic phases to form the harder martensitic phase.

Don’t get any ideas about trying this at home.  You could warp your blade, crack it or turn a perfectly fine steel into crap.  Just a word to the wise.

The Hogue blade has a black cerakote finish with protects it from scratches and other minor damage.  Some cerakotes have properties that make them less visible in infrared vision.  The blade can be described as a tanto harpoon style.  I’ve never been afraid of sharpening tanto blades; just sharpen both edges as independent edges.  You’ll be fine.

spoon clip automatic knife
The clip lets the knife ride low in the pocket.  What you carry should be only your business.


Both knives feature large buttons, but the Autonomy has a very large and protruding button that will grip your skin or the material of your glove, including dive gloves.  Both place the safety where I like it, next to the activation button.  I like the idea the safety can be deactivated and the knife opened by rocking your thumb backward and forwards.  That way your grip doesn’t change as it must if the safety is on the knife spine.

While both knives have clips that can be changed, the Hogue is designed to be tip up or down, but right side only.  The Spyderco is right or left, but tip up only.

So at the bottom of round four here’s the box score:

Property
Hogue
Spyderco
Blade Length (inches)
3.5
3.75
Blade type
Harpoon Tanto
Serrated rescue
Grind
High V
High V
Blade Steel
154CM
H-1
Spring Stiffness
Good
Stout
Pocket Clip
Spoon
Wire
Clip Versatility
Tip up only L or R
Tip up or down, R only
Handle Material
6061-T6 Aluminum
G-10
Special Features
Course gimping
Oversize lanyard hole
Weight (oz)
5.55
5.35
Price Suggested Retail
$250.00
$349.95
Made in
USA
USA


Both knives have been described as flat grind, which is incorrect.  Both have a shoulder making them a high v-grind.  Both are about the same weight but the black G-10 Autonomy is significantly more expensive as compared to the rescue orange handle.  This might be Spyderco’s way of saying they don’t want to sell the tactical black to the public.  Just my thoughts.
The button-like object is the spring housing.  Easy to clean and oil.  Note the generous lanyard hole.  


Both can be found with better pricing if you shop around.

Spyderco sells a service kit “including a module wrench, protective blade guard, Torx wrench, two replacement kick springs, thread-locking compound, a spare pivot screw, and step-by-step illustrated instructions.”  After all you could be stationed where parts and mail service are only a dream.

Frankly, my needs are best met by the Hogue auto.  The serrated Autonomy blade has limited functionality.  It rips through straps, belts and rope.  But it doesn’t do very well cutting firesticks, my steak, cardboard and so many other daily functions.

Head to head rounding the last turn
Rounding the last turn in this mile and a half course, head to head and winner is......you the consumer.


The winner of this match is…,  well, I carry two knives and one is a full serration and the other plain edge.  I would be happy to pocket either.  

Monday, July 4, 2016

Re-sharpening

masking tape tricks
You can barely see the serrated steel edge, the rest is protected by the masking tape
I don’t normally cover the side of a knife with tape to protect it from touching the sharpening stone.

This is a little different case.  It belonged to my mother-in-law who no longer needs it and my wife isn’t sure where it’s going.  She has one and is quite happy with it.  Most of the relatives have one.  Yeah, we gave them as Christmas presents.  She may want to sell it as a used knife. 

I don’t have any problem selling used knives, especially one I know its history of use and abuse.  This bread knife needed a little touch up, and I wanted to ensure a nice appearance. 

Most serrated knives are a chisel grind.  The serrations are cut into one side only.  Sometimes you’ll find only a tiny bevel to remove the wire edge.  When you sharpen a serrated knife you end up with a wire edge along the straight side.

This is easily removed by drawing the knife flat over a fine stone, if you don’t mind the surface scratches.  Enter stage right, masking tape on the blade right above the top of the curve forming the serration.

Since I use a Spyderco Sharpmaker, removing the wire edge calls for me just lifting the blade from flat on the edge of the fine stone a degree or two and back stropping.

I got a nice resharpened edge and protected the finish.  I recommend this to anyone who needs to resharpen a dressier knife.

More 2016 Blade Show news:
By now most of everyone should know Spyderco is one of my favorite knives.  They were the first ones I carried.  The one my wife first carried.  I published my first article about a Spyderco.  Not only that, but I think for the money they are great knives.

I understand Spyderco is coming out with an all new line of kitchen knives.  New steel and new handles, it sounds pretty radical.  My friend at Spyderco tells me she is thinning out her kitchen drawers to make room for the new knives.

Also spied in their prototype display were two throwing knives.  I’ve never seen throwing knives at Spyderco.  I suspect, if throwers come to be, we will not see them until January at the 2017 SHOT Show.  2016 is half over and they and everyone else is still delivering and promoting the new 2016 product.  Most of the magazines already have articles lined up for the rest of the year.  To introduce something so radically new might be missed completely by busy editors and layout demands.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Switchblades

Switchblades. Auto knives. Push button knives.  Flick knives.  No matter what you call them, fully automatic knives have an undeniable appeal.

They aren’t new.  The first ones were made in the mid 1700s.  Following the U.S. Civil War, knives became factory products made in quantity. 

Knife sales increased thanks to the internet of its time, the catalog and advertisement.   In 1892 George Schrade invented the first really practical auto knife.  We’re still re-inventing the auto knife.  The Blade Show featured the so-called dual mode and hidden auto which could be opened manually or automatically with a hidden release.

HK duel mode knife
HK's dual mode Scorch.  Open like a manual knife or use the hidden release.  And it's made in the USA!
So far so good!

In search of more readership, Women’s Home Companion published an article in 1950 about switchblades called “The Toy That Kills.”  Did you hear that sound?  No, it wasn’t the click of a knife opening.  That was the opening shot of the war on knives.

The image of a hoodlum standing in the mouth of an alley smoking a cigarette, wearing a black leather jacket, and shockingly tight pants with an Italian switchblade in his back pocket and dating your daughter was too much for our legislators.  Especially when their wives began to think these Hollywood romantic bad boys were cute!

In 1958, The Switchblade Knife Act was passed making the sale of auto knives, but not possession, illegal.  Many states also passed laws banning autos, dirks, Bowie knives, short swords and butterfly knives.  The U.S. is not the only nation in the world that feels their citizens can’t be trusted with a knife much less one that opens by pushing a button. 

Traveling overseas with almost any of our ubiquitous knives could land you in jail.

Let’s zip forward to today.

Since then some states have passed knife rights laws to allow their citizens to buy, sell and own autos.  We have groups like Knife Rights and AKTI to thank for that.

Two of my favorite knife manufacturers package their autos with dire warnings about the proper documentation needed if you return your auto for service or warranty work.  With many states making it legal to own autos, I wanted to know how these companies would treat legal autos in need of service.

Spyderco requires a letter (on letterhead!) stating you are authorized to possess one of their autos and a restricted item return form.  They will not return your knife to you without all the paperwork.  They really don’t like autos and currently only carry one at the request of the U.S.Coast Guard rescue swimmers called the Autonomy.

This policy will remain in effect regardless of state laws, so if you own a Spyderco auto, unless you’ve got current paper, don’t bother sending it back.

Not that I blame them.  Several years ago when imported butterfly knives were banned, Spyderco was making them here in the U.S.  One part, that little latch on the bottom of the handle, was imported from overseas.  They had paperwork from Customs saying it was okay and legal.  All the lawyers on both sides were in agreement.  It was all good.  Then ICE decided the little latch was contraband, seized the shipment and all the other knives associated with the shipment.  People almost went to jail and fines were levied.  It wasn’t very nice.

I’m actually surprised they even make an auto given the complexity of the legal system.  We tend to think of the Federal government as a great monolithic organization.  It often acts as individual organization and has little if any interest in cooperating with other departments.

My next stop was Benchmade.  They make a fine line of autos 

Benchmade Auto AFO II, a great automatic knife.
Benchmade's AFO II.  They upgraded this knife two years ago and it really performs!

and this year have introduced more covert autos in which the blade can be opened like a manual knife, or pressing a hidden button springs the blade open.  Look at the gold class 7505 Sibert or the black class 5400 Serum if you’re interested.

They too have restrictions on sending autos back.  You cannot send it back via the post office and you must have or sign their Auto Opening Knife Acknowledge form available on their website.  Benchmade recommends you take your auto back to a registered Benchmade dealer and arrange to have them ship it back for sharpening and tune up. 

Just in passing they suggest you send any of your Benchmade knives in every two years for resharpening and overhaul.  You paid for the service when you bought the knife, you should take advantage of it.

It doesn’t matter if you have a CCW, or if your state allows autos or if your old unit/department passed them out like sticks of gum.  Each vendor has different rules that they think will keep them out of legal trouble.

Is this right?  Frankly what do I know about the law?  I don’t even write radio dialogue for lawyer commercials.  Find out what they want and work with them.

Still want an auto?  I don’t blame you.  I like them too.  If you carry one, just keep your wits about you.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Spyderco vs.?????

The expression “It’s a poor knife that cuts only one way” has found its way, with some minor modification, into detective fiction, adventure romances, and science fiction, just to name a few.  I’ve even pointed out to students that a tactical flashlight points in both directions. 

But the Spyderco Civilian is a knife that cuts only one way.  It comes with a special note.

Here’s the text.  As an ‘abridger’, my apologies for any misrepresenting the sentiment behind Spyderco’s statement.  

“Spyderco has traditionally maintained what we call the “White Hat” position.  …that the future of mankind in the world must lie in cooperation and greater socialization.  …We recognize that a knife ... can be used (solely) to defend oneself…(but) we have never produced such an item.  Spyderco … caters to the law enforcement personnel on a worldwide scale.  They would be the good guys, or ‘White Hats’.  It has been requested that we … provide an effective last-ditch defense in assisting the “White Hats.”

The Civilian model is the first of several folding knives designed and produced as a law enforcement back-up defense weapon.  The Civilian model was not designed to kill. … It is designed to ‘hit and run’ in a self defense situation.


Spydeco's Civilian Pouch
I unwrapped the package and found, to my surprise, this collector-grade pouch.

While it’s true the Civilian isn’t designed to stab, it is designed to make an ocean cut.  With the reverse-S shape and the tremendously powerful Spyderco serrations, anyone you cut will be cut deep and wide.  It’s also well established that many effective targets on the human body are just under the skin.

The Civilian and its ilk (the Matriarch – versions 2 and Lil’) aren’t the only Spyderco folders that focus on the grittier side of self-defense.  The P’kal has very strong roots in self-defense as does the Yojimbo 2.  But only the Civilian was designed solely for self-defense.  It also comes with a tag that amplifies its purpose:  “Notice – This knife was not designed to be used as a utility knife.  Its unique design will not support everyday use…”


the Civilian on the pouch



Why does Spyderco feel it’s necessary to include this statement?

I don’t know.  It could be legal preemptive boilerplate; maybe it’s an attempt to assuage personal feelings that such things are still necessary in this world.  Maybe it is guilt from knowing that no matter what you attempt or intend, someone will misuse it.

Let’s get to the Civilian’s specifications:

  • Size closed                          132 mm*
  • Blade Length                      104 mm
  • Clip                                        Right side only, tip up or down
  • Blade                                     Hollow ground VG-10
  • Handle                                  Steel reinforced G-10
  • Edge                                      Do you have to ask?  Spyder-Edge!
  • Thickness                            10.4 mm
  • Cost                                       I’m not sure how to answer that.  When push-comes-to-graveyard, what’s your life worth?  If you never need it, what’s it worth to have your grandkids inherit the knife and wonder what kind of freaky stuff were you into?  The more conventional answer is it retails for $280.

The only Spyderco folder made specifically to cut people
The only Spyderco folder made specifically to cut human flesh.  The Civilian.

Do you need one?

This isn't a typical, "If I don't have one, I must need one" answer.

I just sold one to someone who, because of his job, will be going into dangerous surroundings.  Because of his job, he can’t take a firearm, nor will there be guards surrounding him.  He feels this knife might stand between the grave and his returning home. 

I, on the other hand, took his Civilian out of the soft-sided pouch it comes in and opened it.  The Spyder-Edge glittered like jewels set in silver.  The reverse-S blade has grace and flows outward from your hand.  The insulating G-10 is warm to the touch and the handle naturally finds a sweet spot in your grip.  My thumb, trained from decades of using Spydercos, found the hole without any thought on my part.

I made a few air cuts.  The Civilian almost seems to anticipate your movements before you do. 

It’s a work of art, lovely and f@^king scary as hell.




*Yeah, it’s metric.  The only four places in the world still using the English system are England, Liberia, Myanmar and the US of A.  Let’s get with it!