Do you want to drive an Electric Ferrari Dino ? Like Maranello would provide some Danny Wilde’s Persuaders car with the last computerized engine ?
Maranello, no. Maniago, si !
This picture found on https://forum.spyderco.com/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=87264&start=40#p1442735
shows is all. You can make a vintage lockback folder with a ball bearing driven pivot. And suddenly your understand the Spy Opera is a nostalgia flick opening knife.
The Spy Opera is a version of Lionsteel Opera “spyderized” which means:
adding a spyderhole, a clip, a topnotch hype steel… It’s the difference between a BMW Series 3 and a BMW M3. Also the price has been multiplied by 3 compared to the modest Lionsteel Opera in this rendition.
Taxes for importing to US a European made knife is not stranger to the high prices.
At the first glimpse, the micarta handle, the decorating screws, the beveled and rounded lockbar and spacer: this is a looker, but is the Spy Opera a keeper.
In my case, no, as it belong to my friend Geoffrey from Normandeep.com (a diver’s shop in Normandy near Omaha Beach) who was gentle enough to send to me some of his personal knives we wanted to review. Thank you Geoffrey !
He told me he has bought this knife and was not expecting to be surprised by that quality.
He’s true. The action is stellar. certainly the smoothest lockback I have ever used. Just a little smoother than the Native V or the Siren.
Now we know why: a ball bearing instead of washers.
A great detail about that knife is the total absence of any vertical bladeplay. This is the plague of lockbacks in my book and the Maniago folder is rock solid.
Ball bearing are great for fidgeting and smooth action but could be tricky in sandy or muddy environment. But the Spyopera is destined to be some gentleman folder for the US residents and typically a hunting folder for the Italian.
That shape of blade, that long handle, it is typically what my friend Valter would love for hunting and skinning. He would be especially keen of that M390 blade as hare’s skinning is especially hard on blade.
For that take a look at the Walker C22 in ZDP189 or his Native in CPM110V he has used for many hunting seasons.
Follow the link for the articles with Valter and his hunting dogs:
Holding the knife with the blade shocked his its way to use and the ergos of this knife are just perfect for that. The rounded handle is contributing to avoid the boxy feel you can have with a Native Lightweight for example. Our hands love rounded shape and once you get used to it its is very hard to go back.
Now the handle won’t be easy to clean. Some parts are pinned and not screwed together.
Example found on the forums:
So, the need for short folding hunter’s knives with high retention blade is real for hare’s hunter and I can really the design of the SpyOpera shining in that niche.
The sharpness is OK but if it was not Geoffrey’s knife, I would have thinned the edge much more. I have tested on the butt of a 1,5 liter Coke’s bottle and it has been stuck twice, not able to pass that test (which is not that easy as the plastic collapses under the pushcut).
With a little deshouldering of the edge using diamonds, it would be a lightsaber. I have donc that with the Urban shown or my Para3 in M390. Out of the box the factory edge is just OK but again this is not my knife so I won’t touch it. Of course zero bladeplay while using the Spy Opera harder on a cutting board during that test.
So who is its designer Massimo Salice Sanna AKA Max ?
“Massimo Salice Sanna: after starting make knives in 1993 as a hobby, soon his passion became a real job and day-to-day activity. Well known for his accurate touch and the eye for details, he is considered one of the first knifemakers in Italy: he was noticed and therefore chosen by LionSteel for his precision and attention to design and mechanical features of the knives he makes. The Opera model was born in 2006, followed by other product families – Daghetta, Mini and Skinner. Currently, new designs and projects are under way to be put into production soon.”
Says Lionsteel’s site.
Max Opera pictured with another Made In Maniago M390 folder with rounded spine and liners: the Clap. designed by Bob Terzuola.
Once thing I do not like, and this is purely personal and is the absence of Ricasso. I know I often calls it a “choil” as Spyderco Ricassi are often half mooned like a choil but ou understand this is the place you can put safely your index finger on the blade, as the start of the edge.
In Sal Glesser’s designs they act like a lower quillon with the hump of the spyderhole acting like a upper quillon. Sal has reproduced the quillons of a boot dagger on his folding designs: the Military being the first example.
This design found of the Military (or the Slipjoint Urban pictured) transfers the force directly to the blade, without impacting the pivot which still is the most fragile part of a folding knife, the weakest link !
When you cut with a Millie, it is like using an antique folding knife where the handle was mostly a folding scabbard and the knife was hold like a razor. You cannot do that with Spy Opera when the slipoints designs by Sal like the Urban for example bring you that great security of holding the knife by its blade. But again the lockback is so sturdy on this Maniago’s knife you can confortably rest your thumb on the hump and your index finger on the micarta’s handles.
So the Spy Opera is a fidgeting, beautiful jewel, high quality Italian design gentleman (and lady) locking folding knife. It is easy in and out of the pocket. The attention to details is stunning. It is flawless. It got a real 70’s flavor. It is like a Ford T turned into a Hot Road to me: lovely but not for everyone. Good thing is: you can really fall in love with it as your main EDC.
Edit: thanks to JD for the heads up=> I meant “Hare” not “Heir”. 😀