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Spyderco Mantra 2 – Pure Flipper Workhorse !

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The Mantra 2 is Eric Glesser’s design and is one of a kind Spyderco as its blade’s hole is only here as a trademark. Your only way to flick the knife open is the flipper invented by Kit Carson at the end of the 90’s. There is no hump. It’s a very slick knife.

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There is a lot of edge on this blade/handle ratio as there is no choil too !  Not your typical Spydie huh ? (Apart from the autos destined for Militaries and LEO, you won’t find that in Spyderco Catalog.)
All of these makes the Mantra 2 a compact design with a deep wire pocket carry. A solid R.I.L. lock , an ergonomic handle and a full flat ground CPM M4 blade. This powder metalurgy super tool steel once introduced on Gayle Bradley’s designs has proven to be one of the best in strenght and edge retention.
So the Mantra 2 is a very powerful package which can withstand punishing and be easily washed under tap water thanks to its all open handle design (no back spacer).
Its strange nose seems here to strenghten the tip of the blade. Again with Spyderco, aesthetics come  second in their knives.

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The lock is wearproof and reinforced  with steel. All engineering details has been thought to get to the ELU a reliable heirloom tool.

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Dwarfed next to my K2, I use my M2 for mondaine chores including eating in a plate. M4 has no stain yet BTW.
It’s not the kind of knives which raise any eyebrows in the sheeple crowd which is good nowadays. It’s low profile apart from its flipping opening. There it could almost look like an auto. There is no way to open it in a softer way but to use both hands. It works also.

The deep carry clip doesn’t make it very fast to draw compared to the Wolfspyder for example. But it disappears in your pocket and is very stealthy, perfect for an EDC.

Edgewise I have found mine a little on the thick side. I will thin it even if CPM M4 can a bear on a stone.  Nothing serious there.

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All in all the Mantra 2 is a very unique design. A compact tool with a lot of applications.
Again this is a gentleman knife with the power of a much bigger knife.
Eric Glesser has provided another very clever design with the best material available and a great attention to details. This is not a safe queen but a compact and slick workhorse.

And FYI a portion of sales of the Mantra is donated to The National Parkinson Foundation.

 

Spyderco Ray Mears WolfSpyder Collaboration

When I’ve heard about the collaboration between Ray Mears and Spyderco, I was really excited. Ray Mears !! I knew his show since the 90’s and his gentle way to walk in the beautiful English countryside and doing a lot of thing with a short fixed blade.

Wait a minute ?! A short fixed blade in the UK ?! Is that forbidden by UK laws ?
But Ray’s knife was a tool to do things, to create shelter, to elaborate traps, a cutting tool used for construction, for cleverness… not for fear and destruction.

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At the last Minimeet in Amsterdam I was able to play with a prototype of the coming Wolfspyder. I was not impressed. Almost disappointed : it was a very short knife with a big notch in the handle asking for my thumb to find a linerlock… without any liner lock. Oh yeah, it was a very goofy handle at first sight… And a thick edge on a short blade…

Eric Glesser was hosting the Meet alone for the first time and he was giving a lot of informations about this design : how Ray Mears has contacted Golden and how they have decided to join force. The best ‘in house’ lock being the Compression Lock, it was an immediate choice. Now the folder needed to be used in the way Ray uses his knives, so it needed to be tough, solid, reliable and ergonomic.

Ray Mears Woodlore was his first attempt in the knife designing world. Alan Wood was the maker of his short fixed blade with scandinavian grind. The result was a no non sense design of a versatile tool. (Spyderco also got their own Bushcrafter knife vaguely inspired by the Woodlore craze…)

To my own knowledge the Wolfspyder will be the first folding knife designed by Mears, so I figure this is a very personnal attempt. He had time to think about what he wanted in a folder. So this a knife of maturity.

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The result is absolutly fascinating if you know the philosophy behind Woodlore Inc UK’s premier School of Wilderness Bushcraft: using knowledge to live from what the wilderness offers.
In the past years, I had noticed in his TV shows that Ray Mears was often using a Suedish folding knife (a Fallkniven 3 inches folder) instead of his famous Woodlore fixed blade knife. It was funny as I remember how Peter Horstberger (Fallkniven’s CEO) was not advising to use his folding knives for cutting wood… (When his Fallkniven U2 was released…)
Anyway, Ray Mears was counting now on a full flat ground folder as his main EDC in the wild and on the show. But now he was going to Golden: the ‘Temple of Full Flat Ground Folders’ to get his own design refined and produce and we got…. A scandi grind folder !?
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OK. Scandi means hard use for me. The blade offers some thickness to almost its point. Its edge goes deep when push cutting and trimming wood and the cuts can stay shallow for creating feather sticks.
But as much as I love S30V, will the choice of that steel be the best « sharpening friendy » choice ? CPM S30V is one of the rare steel made for knives but Bushcraft tools tend to be more on the “carbon steel” side. O1 is the tool steel found mostly.
Scandy grind, if you don’t create a new bevel, can be a bear to sharpen as S30V a big carbid vanadium steel is very resistant to abrasion and you need to keep the original geometry to remove a lot of metal.
I dont think I will get a good result with my Japanese water stone.
Diamonds will be S30V scandi ground best friend. But then, will the cratches ruin the finish ? Oh well… I’m really looking forward to watch some Woodlore video showing us how to… ;-)

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Back to the Wolfspyder intriguing design. As odd as the handle looks, it is eventually a pleasure to hold. The unusual horns are perfect for a resting thumb, even the pinky got its own place ! The integral guard works great, you can firmly hold your knife, your hand won’t slip on the blade. It works edge down in hammer grip but also it works great edge up.

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The compression lock is hidden/integrated/nested in the G10, this is Spyderco’s usual ‘tour de force’ they know to achieve since 1995 on their C36 Military’s liner lock …
The G10 green colour is dark and perfect for a UK offspring tool. The back of the handle (where the lock is) does not bit your hand when using the knife hard. It was my main concern since the Paramilitary compression lock was sometimes really painful when used hard without gloves on. Which means the Wolfspyder can be used harder, with more power than the Paramillie !

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For my own confort I have sanded and rounded all the G10 edges. Also the back of the blade as I don’t have plan to make fire this way and my sore thumb was asking for that improvement. Now the edgy back was designed to scratch some ferro rod… I prefer to push cut with my finger on a rounded back blade like on the Sebenza.

The Wolfspyder again oozes quality from all its pore. The action is smooth. There is zero play in any direction. It’s heavy in your hand, well balanced… it screams to be used.

Once clipped to a pocket, the knife rides high compared to my recent wired clipped Spydies… But odd enough, eventually it makes quick draws so easy! The fingers find their way around the handle and the thumb ready to push open the holed blade in the same motion. Easy and fast for tip up carry knife. This is not a southpaw friendly knife BTW.
I close the blade using momentum and inertia. The relatively heavy blade is perfect for that. I release the compression lock and with a quick wrist movement it closes.

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On my Plastic Bottle Butt test, the Wolfspyder was not the best performer. The grind is a little to « wedgy » for pushcutting through thick plastic. But I was able to pass through. When my Swick, my Manta 2 and of course my Nilakka were able to cut through it easily. Again, that particular grind is primarily made for wood tasks.

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All in all, I’m very satisfied with that purchase. It’s a very well thought EDC companion imagined by a gentleman who got only two knives designed and made in 30 years, the Wolfspyder being the second to my knowledge. At least Mears is not Bear with a collection of low end tools mass produced for his TV fan. And this UK designed knife is proudly made in the Colonies: Golden, Colorado, Earth !!😉
So the Wolfspyder is finding its gentle place in my front pocket, easing my craves for new bold designs, asking to be used in the wild even if I carry it in the city. Have a knife, will travel…

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Patrick Bonetta’s Tactical Paring Knife

Patrick Bonneta

Usually I use my “tactical” knives in the kitchen but this time it is exactly the other way around… This is a kitchen knife ready for “tactical” situations thanks to its great ergos and its kydex sheath worn as a neck sheath.
It was all made by Patrick Bonetta. Patrick is a old friend from Ed Schempp, Fred Perrin and is living the neighborhood!

Patrick Bonetta

He is first known for his incredible skills at sharpening kitchen knives for famous chefs around the world like Alain Ducasse, Jean Louis Nomicos and Palace like Le Bristol, Le Crillon, le Royal Monceau, le Taillevent

He’s also a designer, a blade smith and legendary epicurian.
His first dream was to be a knifemaker then he has found that there was a real lacking in the way knives’s edges were kept. In fact, not many of so called “grinders” are able to understand how to get all blades really keen but Patrick is one of them. This is a rare talent and this is very very special knack.


There is a timeless aura in his workshop which used to be the one of his grand father.


His paring knife is light and razor sharp. To eat a good meat with a blunt knife is blasphemous and a serrated edge will ruined everything!

Patrick’s Commandements are simple: never lend your knife and you don’t break bones with a paring knife.
Now all cooks want everlasting sharp knives and this is not a reality. So, to get them sharp again is mandatory.

My knife is light, well balanced. Its 4 inches very thin blade is tapered, flat ground and comes with a very nice convex edge made of classic knife steel CroMoVa cryo tempered.

The steel used is gentle under the stone and easy to maintain really sharp.

This is a great combo in a very light package. Perfect to snatch in a voyager bag were every grams count !
It’s also easy to carry around the neck in a camp where it will be really useful for every cooking duty.
The handle is in paper micarta, mince is burgundy. Patrick as drill some hole for a better grip when unsheating the knife with wet hands. They work great holding the blade flat on a board.

What a cheer joy to cut vegetables and meat with such a great little buddy. Its polyvalent blade can be used for a wide range of kitchen duties and there is a guilty pleasure to use it also as a steak knife !

POCKET LEGENDS OF THE FALL FEAT. SPYDERCO SCHEMPP BOWIE ~ C190CF

Today is the day the world mourns David Bowie.
It’s the perfect time to talk about another Bowie and another hommage: Ed Schempp’s Folding Bowie.

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I have met again Ed at the Police National shooting range at avenue Fosh, Paris, in November. It was some kind of a mini knife show hosted by Patrick Bonetta, coutelier and keen master in sharpening. Both old friends were showcasing there their last knives, from kitchen to law enforcement duty. (Patrick will be the subject of my next articles BTW, the man desserve an entiere book !!)

Immediately Ed introduced me proudly to his last Spyderco collaboration: his bowie. What a gem !
The knife is simply oozing quality from all its pores: brass guard integrated bolster, carbon fiber handles…. a smoooooth opening. The beautiful symmetry once open and the gentle angle between the blade and the handle are trademarks of Ed’s designs we enjoyed so much on his Tuff and Persian.

This is not the first folding Bowie in the Spyderco catalog. Remember the Slysz Bowie ?
And I’m really a sucker for bowie shape blades. They got belly and they are pointy.
So deciding to put my Nilaka at rest for a while, immediately Ed’s Bowie got a ride in my front pocket.

“It has been made to be worn as a much smaller knife” Ed told me.

And he was right, the wire clip is so well designed that the knife disappears and ride deep in the pocket. It won’t be as quick draw friendly as the C36 Military, for example, but it is so discreet in this days of low profile mania.
Once open, the beautiful blade is impressive. Narrower than his Navaja but elegantly theatrical !
Again this is a Gentleman folder destin to be used served by an ‘almost” full flat ground thin blade.
At 2.5mm thick, far are the days of the 4mm hollowground Starmate (pictured here in the Gayle Bradley review).
I was not impressed by the initial factory sharpening and since I have thinned its edge to more akeen result. It was done patiently as CPMS30V is not the easiest steel to let its molecules go away…


The bottle bottom tests are now passed with flying colors. Even the mineral water bottle, thinner and easier to collapse).
The natural angle found in the Kukris is again a nice plus even with a short knife. Ed is a farmer and he creates and builds tools for his ranch.
The integrated guard was a technical requirement which is cleverly accomplished. My first knife ever was a small bowie and its guard was a PITA. I was 5 year old and I knew this knife was not well designed…
On Ed’s Bowie, the guard is nicely “anchoring” the hand as a thumb rest for example. All is smooth and gentle under your fingers. Even in hammer’s grip the small guard doesn’t come in the way.

Reverse grip either.

So if you want a small folding bowie with a great attention to details, a nice belly, a slick and smooth action, the C190CF can be your choice.
I enjoy the brass bolsters and its soft texture contrasting with the woven carbon fibers. It’s a very sensual tool with the handle resting securely in my palm avoiding any lose of grip.
Back in the 90’s they were some very long conversations on the forums about how reliable the linerlocks were. In this bowie, the handle is very rigid and the lock very well executed in Taichung. The knife has passed my tests including the carpet test which was not easy with the Spyderco Tuff. I absolutely got zero concern about the lock on this one. I got zero play lateral or vertical even with white knuckles. It is stout.
This is another ‘home run’ from Ed and another very clever hommage to a legendary design. Once in the pocket it is very addictive.
Also used in the plates, the knife is elegant and do not raise any eye’s brows even in the restaurant. A great steak knife !

Some size comparaisons:

Two worlds but equally great usability. Eric Glesser Manix 2 lightweight in CPM110V is a Nasa dream.


Two Bowie brothers as the Slysz’s was invited for the picture.


Another pocket Bowie, this one made by Xavier Conil.


With the Mighty K2.


With Fred Perrin’s Streetbowies father and sonny Streetbeat.


My good old Benchmade BM806S. Another slick design wich has proven to be reliable in all situation.


With my very first knife purchased at Thiers in 1971 ! Yes it was a Bowie too !


With my good old rehandled Carbon V Cold Steel Trailmaster !


Fred Perrin custom Bowie La Griffe from the 90’s !

Couteaux des Sorgues Anniversary By Xavier Conil

I had written an article on the Couteaux des Sorgues back in March 2012.

We all know the film “Legend of the Fall” directed by Edward Zick with Brad Pitt, Anthony Hopkins and Aidan Quinn.
Or at least, as a knifenut you should know that movie as the character played by Pitt (Tristan) is a carrying and using a Bowie knife through the movie and his Iron Mistress is to him what the vibranium shield is to Capt America…😉
Anyway great movie, big drama, nice music… and adapted from a novel by Jim Harrison. You need to read his books. Especially his early works including the formentionned Legend.
And digging in Jim Harrison work , I have found out that he was (and still is) a huge fan of René Char.
You don’t know René Char poet and writer ? You think poetry is for sissies ? TO quote wikipedia: Char joined the French Resistance in 1940, serving under the name of Captain Alexandre, where he commanded the Durance parachute drop zone. He refused to publish anything during the Occupation, but wrote the “Feuillets d’Hypnos” during it (1943–4), prose poems dealing with resistance. The man was legend.
Let me tell you something: I’am a warrior and a poet. A warrior because you have to live and a poet because eventually you have to die.
Poetry is mandatory. Written with ink or blood, it is what makes us human being “specials”.

The great René Char was living in Xavier Conil family street. He was also their friend and never the last to share a meal or a story with them. Xavier was born around men of legend. His father was a collector of knives and Xavier got his first folding knife “Canif” when he was 8.
BTW “Ca-nif” the French word for folding knife (used to whittling feathers to write poems) hence… “k-nife”.

Xavier has been a bladesmith since 1995 and really gifted one. The man got a knack for bringing beauty into function.
On that, his “Le Pointu” is a perfect example of friendly EDC Born In Marseille knife.

Now Xavier and his good friend Laurent Monnier are releasing a special 20th Anniversary edition with an ebony handle and a very clever pocket sheath.

The sheath is clipped to the lip of the pocket and a gentle push pops the knife out. Very clever and gives you a “One Hand handling Legal Knife” always on the ready. And this blade is always “incredi-belly” powerful on wood !!

Le COUteaux Des SOrgues

PEKKA TUOMINEN IRON WOOD PUUKKO – A glimpse at the Northern Woodlord.

Pekka Tuominen Spyderco Puukko

Pekka Tuominen Spyderco Puukko

Pekka Tuominen Spyderco Puukko

Pekka Tuominen Spyderco Puukko

As you can notice the blade of the Puukko is not tapered like the Nilakka. It’s a real different animal to work with.
More strength to the tip for example.Even if I had never got any issue with the folding version which is one of my sharpest (if not the sharpest) of all my knives. The Puukko is in the same category in term of push cutting.
Also you can notice how its cousin, the Urban Hunting Knife II looks huge compare to that lil’ Northern Woodlord. Again Pekka’s Puukko is destined to be sheeple friendly. For the Finnish, this blade lenght is more than enough.
It’s a gentleman bushcrafter and it screams to be used ! And Spyderco S30V bring a very stable edge in my own experience.
I’m planning to keep that Puukko in a zero edge (when I had gently convexed my Nilakka…) and I will be confronted at one moment to the water stone. More to come soon !!:-)

SPYDERCO TATANKA C180G – FIRST GLIMPSE AT THE BUFFALO

Tantanka

So here it is that new In House design of a super folder. Sal Glesser’s signature is engraved near the spyderhole. God, this is an heavy contender (A stainless steel backspacer!!) and a huge folding knife but, once open, it’s surprisedly well balanced despite its general weight which is really well distributed. A grin has appeared on my face…
This new Power Lock provides a zero vertical play experience. This knife in its action feels like a Mercedes Truck !!
The look and sound are really really nice. So far so good. What a massive MF !
The unlocking action is smooth and easy. This is a major difference with Cold Steel’s big Triadlock which can be a PITA to unlock…

Tatanka
The blade is much more beautiful in “person” than on any pictures. The false edge is stunning ! Not Spyderco best steel (CPM 3V comes in mind for massive blade), not the best grind (Saber grind is really “weapon oriented” in my book) but the impression of reliability is there. The Tatanka could be used to remove a tire and break a door. The 4mm thick blade is designed for penetration and would easily find its way through kevlar layer. Of course it came razor sharp even if the edge is not as thin as the recent K2 and Slysz Bowie.

Tatanka vs K2

Could it be some kind Super Police folder ? Indeed, compared to the Spyderco Police, the Tatanka got a lot in common. The saber ground (OK, the classic Police got an hollow ground though) the mass…the false edge… Is it a LEO wet dream coming true ? Could be.

My first glance feeling is that the Tatanka is more Police and Military oriented than a K2 for example. Farid huge folder is lighter, thinner with almost the same edge length in a shorter handle, thinner edge and better steel… But again perhaps experience will change my POV.
So yes, the Tatanka looks IMHO like a tool for the SWATs: a massive, pointy reliable, well balanced folding tool. Now in the right hands it certainly could be a great SERE folder. The kind of knife used by Helicopter pilots for survival. (I’m thinking at the ESEE 5’s design, for example or the AlMar Sere folders…). This new Power Lock seems beefy enough for light chopping (despite the disclaimer in the box…) but this is something I’m going to test soon.
Anyway after the K2 and the Tuff, it’s always good to see Spyderco producing strong reliable locking Über folders. They are so useful in the woods, the camps and the action fields.

Also beware of the big spyderhole, mine was so sharp than I cut my thumb on its edge. I have used sandpaper to remove it. Ouch !🙂