Pros: Lock Type, Handle Material, Handle Feel, Ease of Opening, Pocket Clip, Weight, Lock Ease of Use, Blade Material
This knife has it all, great blade geometry, great ergonomics, light weight, and superb steel...all at an extremely reasonable price. The flat ground leaf shaped blade is an excellent slicer, yet retains enough material behind the edge to be very strong. The point seems to have the control of a wharncliffe, but the piercing ability of a spear point. It's an excellent balance. It excels in the kitchen in any task you'd normally break out your paring knife for, yet it strong enough to beat up in the garden or shop. The spydie-hole can be used like a thumb-stud to open the knife with ease, but unlike a thumb stud, it does not get in the way when slicing or sharpening. The knife itself is well thought out and has some great ergonomic features. It comes from the factory with a right-side tip-up carry pocket clip that I like. It's reversable if you'd like to carry on your left side. The clip itself is attractive, light weight, and allows for good concealed carry, but doesn't sit the knife so deep in your pocket to where it would be difficult to draw it out. The handles have an aesthetically pleasing texture that sticks to wet and slimy hands(I just used the knife to trim some chicken in the kitchen and had no problems with the knife slipping). The handle scales themselves are a nice dark blue FRN. Don't let you think this knife is fragile because it lacks full steel liners(one knife I'm aware of had the blade snap when abused rather than a handle-failure. The handle is plenty strong and does not flex). The handles are TOUGH and the knife has figure 8 shaped steel reinforcement inserts around the pivot to the stop pin rivot. The FRN does make for an extremely light knife that's also easy on the wallet. The knife opens with a little teamwork from your thumb and your wrist. Once out, you get the feeling of complete control. Not only is there texture where it's needed, but there is a generous finger-stop in the handles and an additional choil milled in to the blade for choking up to hold in an almost pinch-grip to hold the blade between the index finger and thumb. What would a knife review be without some mention of 'jimping"? This knife has it in spades on the spine of the knife and handles. My thumb naturally indexes to direct forward and downward pressure on the blade and has no feeling that it will slip anywhere under hard use our thrusting motions. The handle itself is shaped nicely to fill the hand with a pronounced hook near your pinky to lock it in your hand....again, with more jimping molded into the FRN handles near along the pinky-hook. The ball lock is great. It's ambidextrous and similar in use and feel to the benchmade axis-lock. On mine, it's easy to draw back the lock with my thumb and index finger to flick the knife closed. On my brother's knife(the same one) his lock spring was more stiff and may require snipping a coil or pretty extensive break-in to feel like mine out of the box. My knife also has more lock engagement than his. In any rate, the spyderco ball lock requires some extra force to pull back when compared to the axis lock, but is just as easy once your fingers toughen up a bit. It's simple and quick to both flick the knife out and to flick the knife closed with one hand while your other hand is busy with another task. The blade steel is the real news with this knife. S110V has 2.8% carbon, 15.25% chromium, 9% vanadium, 3% niobium, 2.25% molybdenum, and 2.5% cobalt. When put together in crucible's particle metallurgy process, this makes for very finely and uniformly grained steel that has exceptional corrosion resistance. The big news is that this steel has a LOT of carbides in it. It's loaded with the very hard vanadium carbides, but also benefits from the niobium and chromium carbides. This makes this VERY wear resistant steel. Once you form an edge on it, it's going to keep it long into the future with minimal maintenance. At the 63HRC where sal is treating these blades to, it's going to be hard to find any steel except perhaps k390 that will hold an edge as well. From the factory, it was pretty sharp with a decently uniform and even grind...but knife-nerds will likely desire better. Be prepared to put some elbow-grease in to sharpening this thing. That excellent wear-resistance means you're going to have to use diamond and/or silicon carbide stones. Regular stones just won't cut efficiently to put a good edge on it. Even with diamond stones, you're going to need to really work to chase the edge down as fine as you can. Stropping takes a while, so do the stone-work necessary to reduce the burr a bit before jumping over to the strop. The only real negative I have is that the pivot was adjusted really tight from the factory. With the lock fully drawn back, the blade had some significant resistance to opening and closing. It was not like my s30v PM2 that just swings like a pendulum. It was also slightly off-center, but I've never really cared about that unless it interferes with the function of the knife. I adjusted the pivot a bit and now it's much slicker, but still has no play when locked open. This bumped the camo s30v PM2 and my cpm-m4 contego out of my pocket as my current edc because of how light it is, how great the ergonomics are, and how great the steel is at keeping an edge. I am very pleased with it and would absolutely buy it again for the price listed. Spyderco really brought their a-game by putting out a knife with these features at this price-point. There's a reason it's hard to find this knife in stock anywhere.