Pros: Blade Sharpness, Sheath/Scabbard, Handle Material, Blade Material, Materials, Weight, Overall Quality, Finish
SPYDERCO'S BILL MORAN FEATHERWEIGHT
Ediitor's note: This review was submitted in the 1990's and so some features of the knife may have been moditfied by the manufacturer. Also, references to Bill Moran as a "living legend" no longer apply since Mr Moran passed away several years ago. He is still a legend in our industry, however. Spyderco is a company whose name is synonymous with one hand opening lockblade folders. They have built their reputation on building some of the best working folders out on the market today. Some of those folders have been designed with some input from today as most respected knifemakers. Among these individuals who are associated with Spyderco is Bill Moran, a living legend in knifemaking one, if not THE most respected individual in the knife industry. The mention of his name conjures up some of the best hand crafted fixed blade hunting and camp utility knives. His extensive knifemaking knowledge and expertise has been tapped by Spyderco to introduce the FB01 Featherweight fixed blade, the company's very first fixed blade offering. The Featherweight features a 3 inch long upswept trailing point blade that is flat ground from 1/8 inch stock of fine grain VG-10 stainless steel. The blade is very attractive with its mirror polished finish and the mirror polished convex cutting edge (also referred to as a Moran edge). Which leads me to the next point -the convex edge is scalpel sharp! This is one blade that would shave your arm bald with very little pressure, and makes the hair go flying off into oblivion! Yup, VERY sharp indeed! The Featherweight's 4 inch long handle is very comfortable and ergonomic, made of lightweight Zytel® with inlaid polymer rubber inserts to enhance user comfort and grip security. Upon picking the knife up, you can feel the inlaid rubber's slight tacky feeling. The handle sort of sticks to your grasp. One of the things I like about the handle is the rounded profile. The ovalized shape of the handle conforms best to the hand with no corners. The knife really feels as if an extension of the user's hand. And for a good hardworking fixed blade companion, this is what one needs to look for. You got it here with the Spyderco Moran Featherweight! FEATHERWEIGHT IN ACTION The 8 inch overall size of the Moran Featherweight means that the knife is big enough to tackle most tasks inside and outside of the home yet remaining a somewhat compact size for ease of handling and carrying around on your belt. The sheath that accompanies the Featherweight is a heavy duty, stitched and tanned leather cross draw sheath. Most of the knife is concealed within this sheath, save for 1/3 of the handle that sticks out so you can unsheathe the knife. One of the tasks in which I undertook with the Spyderco Moran Featherweight was using the knife in the kitchen, mainly as a utility knife. The deep belly of the trailing point blade (formed by the upward sweeping curve of the cutting edge) makes the knife a totally effective slicing instrument. I spent a great deal of time with the Featherweight in the kitchen, slicing up produce in preparation for meals and even trying the knife out on meat. One technique I found that will make cutting through food easier at times is to use a simple rocking motion since the cutting edge has that sweeping upward curve. This motion in conjunction with the extreme sharpness of the blade will produce a clean cut with very little effort. I have absolutely no complaints about performance of this knife in the kitchen setting! It definitely can match true blue kitchen knives cut for cut! Judging by the performance of the Featherweight, I do not hesitate to say that it is an ideal fixed blade to take along with you camping to handle the all the food preparation chores. Though I didn't have many opportunities to use the knife outdoors, I did try it out on whittling a hardwood limb. The edge quality really shined here the blade bit into the wood like a Rottweiler on a T-bone and produced some big shavings. Regardless of how much pressure I exerted on the handle, there was no discomfort felt. The blade's mirror polished finish serves as a dual role: to boost the aesthetics of the knife and for ease of keeping the blade clean. The slick surface, a direct result of the polishing process, makes it highly resistant to most liquids. Submerse the blade in water, take it out, and watch the water bead up and roll off like water off of a duck's back. Not to mention, the slick surface makes the knife cut smoother as well. Sometimes I found that cleaning the blade after use only called for a rinse under running water and to wipe the blade dry. This ease of cleaning is a definite boon when using the knife in the field, where it can be difficult at times to maintain the cleanliness of your blades. Plus, the highly reflective finish can double as a makeshift mirror, should you need one! The handle is one of the things that makes the Featherweight easy and a joy to use. The handle swells to accommodate the palm, which makes it feel as though the handle has been molded to fit your hand precisely. The overall rounded shape of the handle makes it much more comfortable to hold than other fixed blades whose handles are more square or rectangular in profile. For security and comfort, the handle sports inlays of polymer rubber. There are two large inlays on the sides of the handle and one small spot on the thumb rest. Throughout the evaluation period, I was able to maintain a non slip grip regardless of whether my hands were wet or dry. The handle is one such area in which Moran's knowledge of knives is quite evident. The accompanying sheath is very well made. The tanned leather sports the familiar fat spider logo with the words "Spyderco Moran" prominently emblazoned on there. The cut outs on the back side allow the user to wear the sheath as a cross draw style across the front of your body, withdrawing the knife using your right hand. While this method of carry is already comfortable with me, I tried to carry the Featherweight on the belt around the back of my body with the handle poking out so I could still access it with the right hand. This way is also comfortable but you'll have to reach around a bit farther to grasp the handle. Another method of toting the Featherweight around which I found to be quite comfortable too is to stick the sheathed knife into the back pocket, handle sticking up. It rides quite comfortable this way too, because the sheath is quite thin. I used this method to carry the knife with me if I was working inside the house and didn't feel that belt carry was necessary. CONCLUSION The Spyderco Moran design Featherweight FB01 is a definite winner in my book. It is definitely a well engineered, very nicely made knife. It is big enough to handle a lot of tasks, especially those involving food preparation. I am very impressed with the ergonomics of the knife. This is a knife that when you pick up, you don't want to set it down! A using knife? Yes, an efficient one at that and is no slouch in the aesthetics department with the mirror polished finish blade and cutting edge, along with the curvy handle. Bill Moran is one of the living legends in knifemaking, and the prices for his hand made knives are way up there. So this is a great opportunity to purchase and own a piece that he had direct input on in the design phase. Kudos to Spyderco for mass producing this maker's design for all to enjoy!