A Spyderco FB04 Streetbowie have been my “travel knife” for more than a decade. By travel knife, I mean the knife I toss in a bag, not a knife a carry on my person. Some tool I can need while in a camp, or kitchen. No a fast and easy access knife. Ah, the Streetbowie, with its a flat ground VG10 blade and secure handle, its lightweight for a maximum lenght of cutting power, it’s such a great companion in the woods or in some friend’s kitchen, backyard or hunting grounds. It’s easy to hide in your bag before to hit the road and easily kept clean and sharp in any situation from the mountain, the rain forest to the salty sprays of the ocean. It’s light but performance oriented: 127 cm (5 inches) of steel for only 104 grammes. Yes, this was a real high performance tool.
As the FB04 was a little to big to be carried on your person even if it’s can be easily forgotten once in your coat’s pocket. IMHO Fred Perrin loves efficiency toward esthetism (even if he’s highly capable to forge and create true jewels). His trademark is a sharp steel secure by a strong grip and… basta ! In that case, the FB04 is (was) for me one of the best light medium size fixed blade to hit the market ten years ago. He got all the hight tech materials I loved from the FB01 Moran. And Fred, as he thought it “tactical oriented”, wanted it light because he knew how any grams you carries counts in your burden when your are a soldier. Back then, some non-users but “armchair specialists” were nagging and complaining about the hidden tang designed handle and how fragile the knife could ever been compare to a full tang (they also forgot how the Scandi knives and puukos share that design, how many people ‘really’ counts on them on everyday tasks.). Anyway…
Then, years later, came the Spyderco FB15 Streetbeat. A a full tang this time! A shorter version with 3,5 inches blade and almost the same weight. This time, the 4mm tang is flat and visible between two micarta beautifully polished slabs. The package gave a strong impression when holding this stout little knife. The Streetbeat sits its weight in the hand when the Streebowie is perfectly balanced at the index indent.
Another improvement IMHO is a slight recurved blade which is also a true signature of Fred Perrin custom knives.
Both knives are a joy to use in wet environnement and with slippery hands, even if the Kraton slab on the FB04 always add such a security it was also used as a diving knife. The ‘Beat’ is more appealing by the beauty of its handle though.
The ‘Beat’ thanks to its short bowie blade gives you a lot of power when cutting on a board. The force is directy transmit toward the belly of the blade and you surprisely find easy to push cut through hard materails while holding the knife at 45°.
VG10 is really forgiving and easy to maintain beyond razor. With their 4mm thick blade the two Street Sisters are really strong. The flat grind permits a lot of control on soft and hard matérial. It’s very easy to maintain them with only some leather stropping. Also VG10 is really stain resistant. Spyderco, Al Mar, Fallkniven use this steel with great results. It’s perharps not the most incredibly high tech alloy but it is one of the rare steel made for knives. So the ELU can maintain it sharp without investing into a backstand.
The Streetbeat, like the ESEE Izula, give you the possibility to carry a fixed blade instead of a folder. Of course what is fixed can be broken but it’s much stronger and also easier to clean. In theory. Also carrying a little fixed blade gives you more confidence in your tool and got some kind of “romantic” dream about it.
The excellent design and look of the Streetbeat makes it almost a gentleman little fixed blade when the Streetbowie got something more “toolish” with less charm, like some kind of hightech diving knife (which it has been also used as). Both are knives which stands years of use and their reliability and ergos makes them instand classic. The VG10 alloy is also a great stainless steel: I could never had it rust or stain and it’s really easy to keep and obtain a very sharp edge.
Now the sheaths are another story. I never complain about both plastic sheath as I never carry them on a belt but inside a pocket or inside a bag. I don’t do fast draws with them. But some better quality kydex sheaths can be mandatory for both to avoid any rattling and secure the knives while carried upside down. Again, a fixed blade is often judged by their sheath and both desserve a particular attention in that domain for belt or up side down carry.. Fortunatly they are plenty of talented sheath makers.
The main pleasure in using both knives come when used hard in harsh condition: you know you can count on them.
And yes, there is always some kind of guilty pleasure to carry a lil’ fixed blade on your person. Don’t know why… 😉