Journalist Reporter Filmmaker Author Photograph Sharpener...
"Turn and the world turns on, we're riding out with the dawn
All fired up again like a thousand times before
Beneath the blessed sun and the coming day
And the years don't change a thing - the rush remains the same
And I feel like a knife, these days are calling
I feel like a knife, sharpened like steel
Touched by the hand of the gods on these golden mornings
I feel like a knife for you."
"KNIFE" Justin Sullivan 1991
For two decades, Jur was a close friend of mine and an enthousiastic partner in the sharpest crimes. His knowledge of the world cutlery was as keen as his blades. He was so full of energy, generous in sharing his knowledge and knives…
He was always running, going fast forward like his time was running out, so maybe it was time, to turn the ship around and find some peace for his soul.
RIP my dear friend.
“Spyderco is deeply saddened to announce that our European Sales Representative, Jurphaas van Rietschoten, passed away on April 22, 2022. A native of Amsterdam, The Netherlands, and a retired Chief Master Sergeant/Warrant Officer in the Royal Netherlands Air Force, Jur began representing Spyderco in 1994. In the 28 years since then, he has been a critically important element of our international sales efforts and the “face” of Spyderco in Europe.
Jur had an amazing historical knowledge of Spyderco and of knives in general. The passion and enthusiasm he brought to his work was a direct reflection of his incredible zest for life and his genuine love of people. Fluent in several languages, he was also an expert interpreter whose unique style and spirit shined through in everything he did and every life he touched. Jur was truly one of a kind and the Spyderco Family will never be the same without him.
To all those who knew Jur, we ask that you please take a moment to wish him peace and remember him in your own way. We know that your friendship meant the world to him, just as he meant the world to us.“
This Red Real Steel Luna is a special edition made for Heinnie Haynes in the UK. You can find other colours and even a titanium version. Its D2 blade is thin and got a great geometry and it costs, in its G10 version, less than half of the UKPK in LC200N. It is a beauty in its own right. The fuller gauge running on the top of the blade looks like a torpedo launcher.
Beautiful yes but the luna shows some real “weakness” toward the UKPK design. Let see why…
Both design got a choil which gives you a real security as both knives are non-locking designs. They are slipjoint folder knives. But where the UKPK got a very positive blocking mechanism, the same kind found in the Many Wasp. the Luna got a very soft system, making the choil mandatory for secure action. In fact compared to the UKPK, when cutting into something, the Luna’s blade is easily closing on your fingers. This is not pleasant.
The fuller on the Luna’s blade is not one hand opening friendly when the UKPK is opened with a flick.
In the pocket wear department, both have deep carry clips which are perfect for discreet carry. The Luna’s clip is actually well thought.
No, the main issue with the Real Steel slipjoint is purely mechanical. It is much too soft to be reliable despite the use of a choil and the choice of making it a two hands opening folder is tedious. The Luna with a stronger spring would be really some much better knife to consider but it seems that designing a good modern slipjoint, a reliable tool, is not an easy task and Spyderco has a real winner with its UKPK.
Prologue: “Seeing what I believe.” On one of the social networks an happy owner of a new Spydiechef in LC200N steel (like the UKPK) was displaying some pictures of his new acquisition. And there go the comments, mostly to congratulate him and share experiences… when I have noticed some young guy’s: “Too bad this knife is provided with a steel softer than the wooden board it is displayed on.” I thought to myself: could LC200N have a reputation of being soft ? Immediately I have checked the Rockwell of Spyderco’s LC200N found on various sites and apart the LC200N Mule being at 56 HRC, it is known to be currently at 58 HRC. So I have asked to young guy (very proud of its REX45 collection) what LC200N knife he has had such a bad experience with, sharing with him my own mostly excelelnt experience with LC200N I own. After a very long passive-aggressive answer from him (we know how people are such a d1ck with a keyboard under their fingers…) about how he was so knowledgable by just watching videos on youtube he then wrote me that he had never owned any knife in LC200N. So eventually this guy was pissing on the parade with zero knowledge of the subject. It is typically the kind of behavior we can notice on the social networks those days. Some so called “experts” don’t believe what they see but only they only see what they believe. The armchairs specialists are long disappeared and here comes the arrogance of the “believers”. This is the plague of our time: not being your own source. Not checking twice. And not experiencing first hand what is put as a statement. This is some kind of Reign of Assumptions with its digital garden where flourish fake informations in all subjects. This is not something to be taken lightly. And the only cure is being your own source then read, check and cross opinions.
Anyway… Is LC200N as soft as wood ? Certainly not. It is even much better than H1 in terms of edge holding. (H1 being the other steel on the Salt Serie). But H1 is excellent on serration blade, as it is getting harder during the serrating process like 67HRC. (H1 being a work hardened steel, the process that grinds the SE blades hardens the edge to 67, while the PE blades are 58.) Also you can’t have flat ground blade with H1 but you can with LC200N. So far, LC200N as 58HRC has amazed me. Of course it is not in the range of Maxamet or 20CV but it is worry free good edge holding and not chipping edge’s steel.
Also I have notice how people believe cutting wood is the ultimate edge holding challenge. Nope. Cutting clean piece of wood is not challenging in my own experience. I have found different grain of steel react on different grain of wood. M2HSS (Speedstar steel) gave me soft surface on chestnut cuts for example. The challenging media to cut through are brown cardboard for example because of sand in it. Cardboard and also great way to refresh an edge by stropping the blade on it. You can have a look at my journey in Tuscany with the Spydiechef.
Back on the UKPK. I have “unshouldered” my edge to get to a gentle convex, keeping the manufactured edge with its microserrations. I always do that when I love a knife as my favorite way to refresh my edge is using an old barber leather bought in Tuscany on a garage sale 15 years ago.
The blade stays “lock” in open position when stropping and this is much better that previous version of the UKPK like I have stated in the first glimpse. The razor’s level of sharpness is easily restored and the thin blade goes steadily into all material it has encountered. One great enemy of a fine edge is the plate under the meal. Many times I have given an angle to my knife to avoid touching the ceramic at a 90° angle. With the UKPK I have not given a shoot. I have use it as my steak knife like they were no tomorrow. Also the the yellow knife has been friendly approved by the rest of the family who has used it also on plates and stuff without any sign of pity. The edge near the point has rolled but nothing I could not fix in less than 5 seconds on a ceramic rod. Eventually the rest of the blade was mostly as razor as before. On short blades mostly the point and the very first part of the blade are used on board/plate cutting. It is also a part I have less convexed to keep some useful thickness there. Of course cutting lemons and any acid food will never bring any sign of patina on LC200N and many times I have fold it dirty when it was not just quickly rinsed under the tap. The UKPK also offers a very pointy blade which proves to be very useful in many task. LC200N being very forgiving it is sturdy enough for not having any concern about it. Of course I won’t use a slipjoint like a bushcrafter or even the great Wolfspyder but still, old timers used to go in the wood only with Swiss Army Knives or Pradel slipjoints folders and were able to use them for many camp tasks. The choil and hump of the UKPK’blade working as quillions you can apply a lot of force directly to the blade as I have also been whittling with it.
The thin spine makes it not really confortable for thumb pushing cuts though. In that game of pushcuts the Yojimbo 2 is king with its 4mm spine. But the UKPK goes deep in its cut without much pressure on the spine. Also when the blade is stuck in the wood it has no tendencies to fold on your finger like previous version of it. This is a great relief. The yellow handle looks like plastic but those FRN slabs are very rigid. There is no play and it gives you a felling of confidence in your tool. Also the “pro-sheeple” general look helps a lot when using the UKPK in public. So far it has developed zero plays which is enjoyable.
Quick draw: a friend has challenged me to open the knife using my major finger. At first I thought it would not be possible unless being Check Norris. Eventually:
But this is in Spyderdrop that the UKPK is steadily open: holding the knife by the hole and with a flick of the wrist. So it is a slipjoint with a very fast draw opening. The previous Spyderco Splijoint as fast as this one is my Pingo which can be open by inertia as the momentum of the thick blade helps a lot.
So far the UKPK has proven to be a fun knife to use. It is easy to deploy and reliable on the tasks. It can be a primary knife in the city and secondary knife in the woods and its lightness makes it easy to keep in the pocket. It will also find a place to be clipped on any swimsuit and that what makes it so unique. Fishermen will be very glad also as it is so easy to clean and to spot. The opening of the 3 screws montage on this UPKP (some other G10 UKPK got a longer spring/backspacer and 4 screws) make it a breeze to rinse. It is a Gentleman/Lady knife with an all terrain attitude and a very reliable positive semi locking system which can sustain a lot of power cuts. Really a unique gem !
“Originally developed in response to restrictive knife laws in England that prohibited the carry of one-hand-opening lock-blade knives, the UK Penknife was the trailblazer of Spyderco’s unique SLIPIT™ line of knives. Now this iconic knife makes history again as the first non-locking member of our ultra-corrosion-resistant Salt® Series.
Its full-flat-ground, leaf-shaped blade is precision machined from nitrogen-enriched LC200N steel and housed in a high-visibility yellow FRN handle. A reversible deep-pocket wire clip and fully accessible Trademark Round Hole ensure that this fearlessly corrosion-resistant cutting tool is both left and right-hand friendly.”
OK that’s Spyderco’s original topo. Eventually it is the best way to describe it. I have had a UKPK as a gift at Amsterdam Minimeet. I think it was in GIN-1 steel and the blade was in another shape. But long story short the spring was so weak it was not pleasant to use. What a great surprise on this Salt UKPK: at least the slipjoint locking system is much stronger than ever make it really a pleasure to use. Of course, unlike on his little brothers: the Urban and the Squeak the UKPK is a four finger grip slipjoint folder with the index on the choil, used as the main security.
The choil on the UKPK (like the Military C36) is reminiscence of San Francisco Gambler’s boots daggers in the 19th century which means on the force during a cut is transfered to the blade directly not the handle and pivot. It is the Roman folding knife system where the handle was more considered as a sheath more than a handle.
The blade is thin and Spyderco provide one of the highest performance in cutting experience out of the box. My UKPK cut like a razor. The performance on this one, geometry wise, are on par with Manly’s thin blades and even Opinel’s. It is not made for Midford’s fans. There is a lot of European flavour in that leave shaped blade which looks a lot like the Caly3. It is some kind of UK Caly actually.
The Blade is long and pointy and requires less force to do the job as seen on my plastic bottle butt test. It has cut right in the middle steadily right in the thicker part of the matter. With your major finger on the choil you can shock up the blade for delicate works. Really it is versatile and polyvalent. Actually it cancel my need for a slipjoint Native. 3 inches blade on a 10cm handle, when Imperial meets metrics. LC200N is a space steel which has shown great properties and not only in the stainless department. The users of the Spydiechef, like myself have found how steady the edge was kept and how easy it was to keep it fresh. LC200N has shown how it was forgiving (not chipping on mine) and ready to work long hours. A true workhorse steel !
Colour wise the yellow and black handle on the UKPK is very friendly. It looks like a scuba diving accessory. This is a knife made for going on the ocean. A real all terrain friendly companion. There is even a serrated version for the mariners with many rope and fibrous matter cutting tasks. The Salt collection is made for that: having a dirty knife in a sea salty socked pocket and not minding at all. At 48 grammes (1,7oz) this is thought a travelling companion. The deep carry wire clip is a must even to wear it inside the watch pocket of denims.
There is no play in my UKPK. The spring retention is great. The jimpings are really positive under the pulp of the fingers. It is a serious contender to the hyper polyvalent Native Salt which has got one major issue in my book: its clip and a little more toyish and “boxy” handle. I know this really subjective but the UKPK handle feels more qualitative. So here we got an all terrain slipjoint with strong mechanism and thin pointy blade. A knife impervious to the elements which can be clipped to a swimming suit and take care of oysters easily. Really the UKPK Salt is one of the best Made In Golden folder and the first Scuba Diving Slipjoint. It is even a slipjoint which makes you forget it has no lock. Highly recommended.
Since I got my Para3 Lightweight I have noticed some lateral play. With time the situation was getting worse and I was not enjoying the knife anymore. When I have discover through a picture posted on the Spyderco Fan club France that there were some possibilities to improve the situation: UK Based Heinnie Hayes was selling a titanium kit made by Titech:
As always the service at Heinni’s has been prompt and fast and 5 days later the kit has arrived.
It is really well thought. Two bronze washers were even add as bonus. (With the one inside the Para3, it made 3 and you use 2.) Spacers and titanium slabs fit perfectly and all was done easily. The centering was made by adjusting the tension of the stop pin and you can find the “sweet spot” easily by taking your time.
The Para3 lightweight is now heavier than my Para3 Maxamet but there is no more play in any direction. The titanium got nice rounded edges like the Lightweight version which is much more ergonomic and the stone washed is gorgeous. There is now a very solid feel with the knife, especially on the lateral forces. All in all I’m very happy with this Titech Scales kit which gives another life to one of my favorite Spyderco’s design.
As you can notice my old Exclusive Red Para3 needed a good cleaning anyway.
After using the Kapara all this summer I have decided to go the opposite way with a straight edge and flat handle ! And having a lot of fun with my Yojimbo2, I have decided to beat that dead horse again: “This knife has been designed for Self Defense, It would not be a great EDC, especially in the kitchen.”
All famous SD tools were issued from agricultural items, from nunchakus to kerambits and since when straight sharp knives are not useful in the kitchen ? So let’s broad the specter of usage of the good old Yo2.
The handle is flat and broad. This is a real plus for indexing the knife but also to hold it by pivot area between the thum and the index. A very commode grip when carving pumpkins or just cutting on a board.
There is a hump on the handle’s back which fills the palm of the hand making the grip secured even with very wet hands. You can notice the same shape on the Kapara‘s handle. In fact despite being flat the handle is almost all in curves and looking at the Yo2, only the very edge is straight.
The blade is short thick but broad and keen. It is shorter than a Kapara’s blade which got almost the same handle length. But this a very powerful blade, able to withstand forceful pushcuts. For that matter I have rounded the spine on mine. Personal preferences since my first Sebenza.
You can put all your weight on the spine to cut right through any matters. The wide blade goes through like in butter. Also the Yojimbo2’s blade got a certain heft. It is thick on the spinde and feels hefty hence the sensation of power when cutting. This is not minor in the pleasure of using your tool. Thank kind of weight behind the spine makes it ooze of power.
The high blade can adopt the thin geometry needed for easy slices into cherry tomatoes, a simple chore which can be tricky and is an excellent test for sharpness. Tomatoe’s skin can be tricky and rough or razor edges are their best nemesis. I also heard a lot: “The tip could be fragile.”
For the record, the Snody/Janich’s Ronin and first Yojimbo were much more thin on their tip. The Ronin being made of VG10, I had managed to break it.
To eliminate any risk I have chosen a stronger alloy on my Yojimbo2: CPM M4 and so far the needle tip is as pointy as Day One.
For that kind of jar, the easiest way to open it is by making a hole right in the middle of its cap. When I want to use the jar again, I will use more force or if stuck a twist of a leatherman’s flat screwdriver under it lips to balance the pressure. With the Yo2, I have been able to remove staples in wood planks and even drill into hard wood which mean torsions for the drilling. No certain I would try that with S90V but S30V heat treated in Golden is strong enough for knife shores. The CPM M4 used here is just peace of mind even on thin sharp knives. Gayle Bradley has also chosen that steel for the exact same reason: strength. But a knife will never replace a screwdriver apart perhaps for the infamous Ed Schempp’s Tuff.
Once broken, I have been able to regrind the tip of the Ronin which has been one of my favorite big little fixed blade.
The blade shape allow the Yojimbo2 to cut on a board but also the Wharncliff shape protect the edge from any contact with plate’s ceramic. Only the pointy tip get in contact ! It will make deep scars in your wooden planks if you are not careful.
Wharncliffs are great for whittling and also rope/string cutting. There is no belly for the cut material to run away. They will be less handy as skinning knife where belly blades are mandatory.
The absence of real choil is not an issue. The place of the thumb on the “hump” gives a lot of controlled power. As you can notice the flat handle around the pivot is wide and this is a real nice place to land your thumb. So it is great for indexingand always knowing where the edge is. On the opposite concept side of the cutlery world, an Opinel (great knife by the way) with its rounded handle need a double check to know where the edge is as the handle can turn in your grip). So this “thumb landing strip” around the pivot which is especially wide on Yo2 is a great asset for using this SD knife as an EDC tool. (You can also notice than despite a single spot, I have not been able to get a real patina on that CPM M4 blade.)
In conclusion the Yo2 is really a great workhorse and should not be restricted to Martial Bladecraft. Also the more you use your knife in everyday life and the more your build your motor skills about deploying and closing the blade. The heft of the blade helps a lot for that. Use your Yojimbos hard and you will be surprised how they can handle any tasks !
The YO2 in the words of Michael Janich: “When I designed the blade for the Yo2, I took a lot of inspiration from the Manix2, both because I like the way it cuts and because, as a Golden-made product, its manufacture respresented a known core competency for Spyderco. Combining a partial hollow grind with a thick, strong spine provides a great balance of edge geometry and strength. Moving the point up towards the blade’s centerline moves it toward the thicker part of the blade; however, if the hollow grind runs parallel to the edge all the way to the point, the resulting point thickness is functionally the same as what you get with a wharncliffe.
The wharncliffe blade excels at cutting because it cuts with full power all the way to the tip. An acutely angled tip also provides superior penetration with minimal effort.
From a utility standpoint, the Yo2’s tip is analogous to an X-Acto knife and is excellent for detail work. The heel of the blade, closer to the handle, is extremely strong and more than capable of tackling most cutting chores for which knives are appropriate tools. In general, if you focus on using the part of the blade that is most appropriate to the task at hand, you can perform a wide range of cutting chores without a problem.
Having designed several wharncliffe blades now, I have also been privy to the warranty repair claims concerning these blades. In all honesty, broken tips are rare. The ones that do come in typically come with a story that begins “I dropped my knife on concrete/a hard tile floor….” or “I know I shouldn’t pry with a knife, but…”
Like a box cutter, a wharncliffe cuts with both power and finesse because of its straight edge. If your style of utility knife use actually focuses on cutting, it will serve you well. If your utility knife use focuses on prying, digging, or using your knife as a jack handle, buy a knife that is better suited to that type of use–and don’t expect it to cut very well…
My love for the Native exists since 1997. I have written many reviews about its different life but since the Native 5 Lightweight, I have been waiting for the right blade/steel combo to write again about it. Here we go, again, with pleasure.
Being spoiled by REX45 wonders and all the spring runs and supreme designs unleashed by the Golden Spydermen, I habe bought a Native 5 Salt just in case. And kept it in its box.
it is “that” good. I mean who would not dream of a rustproof alloy with great edge retention and toughness ? First time I have held a Lightweight Native, I have been baffled by the engineering tour de force. It was almost a decade ago. So light (that the purpose) but also so solid: zero play, vertical or horizontal and smooooth. But I love heavy EDC like the PPT. I was more attracted by full liners Natives. Here is my review ten years ago: https://nemoknivesreview.com/2011/09/30/spyderco-native-5-the-revenge-of-the-lockback/
So for the first time, with that Native Salt I was carrying and discovering the lightweight Native on an EDC basis.
First thing I did not like was the clip. So I have ordered a titanium black one to Blade4sell (which seems to be renamed Screw4you now) on the Bay.
Second thing: the yellow handle (sorry, the injection-molded, fiberglass-reinforced-nylon handle) feels like it was made by Lego. It is blocky. Eventually it has grown on me. Compared to the beautiful smooth Kapara, the handle of the lightweight Native is anchored in my hand even with wet or greasy fingers and palm. This is a huge plus in the workhorse/easily indexing department.
Of course the Native Salt can be used as a diving folding knife, especially in its serrated version. It is another “don’t bother to clean me” knife like only Spyderco is able to propose. You can take it to the beach: salt and sand won’t jam it. No need to rinse. That’s always amazing me. My very first diving knife 40 years ago was orange with rust after only one dive. The Yellow color also is great to spot it under water and it so sheeple friendly, I have named my Salt: Pastis !!
Of course I have convexed the edge to suit my needs. LC200N heat-treated by Spyderco is not bringing a chipping edge. The Native is already known to be a great cutting tool with great ergonomy, it is just my personal touch.
The locking mechanism is easy to operate with zero play. This is a luxury in the lockback / backlock systems with smooth free fall blade once release. Smooth ! Golden seems to have a special knack with their Native lockbacks in term of tolerance and engineering. Great job !
So what do we got there ? A lightweight knife with a hyper solid locking mechanism and impervious to the elements. It is a knife destined to follow you to the edge of the world ! The Native 5 Salt is an instant classic. Perfect EDC or even better: ACEdc. All Conditions Every Day Carry.
The wonderful Native Chief is in my own opinion one of the best Spyderco knife available in the 20’s. Compared to the mighty C36 Military you can notice how beautiful its design is thanks to its absence of hump. We also know its lock is one of the strongest if not the strongest in the Golden’s line. The handle would break before it gives in. The Chief is a boss. A flagship ! An instant classic !
Looking back to the other knives designed in the 1990’s you can notice the same elegance. Sal Glesser was no stranger to the design of the AFCK as he was first contact by Chris Caracci who wanted a Police with a liner lock.
Eventually I have decided to mount a flatter deep carry clip. Black is perfect to make the knife disappear.
The REX45 provides really an hungry edge steel. You feel it under your thumb. Also the patina has risen slowly, strawberries were helping a lot. The cuts are ultra accurate and the Chief fits in the role of an office knife perfectly. It is really a pleasure on the board for delicate duty. I was amazed one precise the Chief is and how easy I could prepare raw meat and vegetables with speed. Sometimes in the kitchen you need to go fast.
It is also very elegant as a silverware knife. And ketchup with hot meat helps that natural patina which protect the metal. The simple elegant design makes it a breeze to rinse under the tap. No skeleton liners which can accumulate dirt or rust ! The Chief is a true working knife: easy to get dirty and easy to get cleaned.
The solid point is perfect to pierce and get thrust into hard material with zero chipping or bending. I have pierced metal caps for example: zero damage. Rex45, again, is really forgiving and perfect for that kind of thin pointy blade.
It was easy also to get the handmade/homemade convex razor’s sharp: only leather stropping was used. It is really pleasant to be able to get a shining vorpal edge that way.
The placement of the lock makes it easy to unlock while cutting hard material. Naturally I have shocked the knife higher on the blade. There is no hot spots (no hump) there and it is eas to control strong and powerful deep cuts. No play has been noticed. The Golden lock is just perfect. The Chief got a very aggressive look. Let say it is very impressive. It looks longer than it is. Not a sheeple friendly knife even if it is gorgeous, its savage nature oozes from its pores.
My testing is on the pause as my long awaiting Kapara has landed. But I will go back to the Chief soon as the honeymoon with the Down under folder will be over.
The beautiful/gorgeous Kapara got an exclusive version. Kuddos to DLT Trading and Alistair ! Exit the carbon fiber handle, enter the grey G10, beautifully 3D honed and the CPM20CV alloy blade. Strangely it feels a little bit heavier, than the previous version, in the hand and it is pleasant. Well it feels more dense than the carbon fiber’s version.
And patience was the name of the game. It was sold out in 24 hours and eventually, it has taken 21 days to reach Paris. Flying under the radar has a cost…
First thing first. That Kapara factory’s edge was just a perfect razor but the geometry was not at the same level as…. the Manly‘s… Some gaffer to protect the knife from scratches and diamonds get into play. The idea is not to touch the factory edge which is perfect but just to erase the edge’s shoulder by gently convexing. As usual…
After 20 minutes, I was able to be polish on leather. CPM20CV is known to be easy to polish. Now let’s go in the kitchen:
The tomatoe’s skin is a great test also flying hairs on my arm… Radish were just too easy. But this is a knife made for fruits, so it is very precise as an office knife. It is also very stainless. No fear to use it in the sink and in the water.
Eventually the knife was able to cut through the bottle’s but.
So, now, let’s the game begins, more to come soon.
“It’s been a long road Getting from there to here It’s been a long time But my time is finally near…”
Yes, it has been 22 years (since 1999) that we have been waiting for the Native Chief to be produced.
Sal Glesser said:
In 2008: “We only made one prototype. The model never went into production.”
In 2017: “The Native “Chief” has been on hold for some 15 – 20 years. I imagine we can get it to queue if there is demand. I’ll watch the thread. The Shaman is designed to be 3.5″ blade length which is legal in more places that the Chief’s 4.0″ blade.”
In 2018 “Working on the refinements for the 3rd prototype. We work on roughly 20-30 designs at any given time…. We’ll use a Golden back lock.” Then… “I’ve been carrying a “Chief prototype. A 20 year old “sal” design with modern “Eric” mods.” had written Sal Glesser in March 2019.
As shown on Eric Glesser video “Native Chief Breakdown”, the prototype looks a lot like the finale version.
Here is also a video from Wouter (Spydercollector) presenting the production sample:
Also, knowing the Vanilla version released in 2019, all made in their new facility in Golden Colorado Earth, was in S30V, waiting for a Sprint Run was mandatory in my case. I got my eye on the Rex45 Chief before even to be able to get the Tree Rex Shaman. Rex45 seems to me a great steel for such a “toothpick”. Last year I had the chance to get a Tree Rex and my experience with that alloy made the wait of the Chief even longer. You can read my thoughts about CPM REX45 here:
To quote Spyderco’s site: “Crucible® CPM® REX® 45 is a super-high-speed particle metallurgy tool steel enriched with large volumes of cobalt, tungsten, molybdenum, and vanadium. Its high cobalt content increases the steel’s attainable hardness and enhances the positive properties of the steel’s other alloys. The addition of vanadium promotes the formation of vanadium carbides, which provide high wear resistance, fine grain size and increased toughness.“
CPM Rex45 is just great: no chipping, pleasant to keep ultra sharp with only some leather + compound stropping: a great super steel. Just be careful with its dust with 10% of toxic cobalt, better be safe than sorry.
OK, my Chief was expected for the first of April, hence the name “Joker”. The slim shade and the burnt orange color scales also inspired me… (Certainly not the Joachim’s or Jared’s crappy interpretations, much more Ledger and Bolland.)
Back to the knife: stretching in length the Native is a beautiful result. Since the Native model people were asking for a longer version and a shorter version, they have been heard.
Right out of the box, the Chief felt very angular: sharp edges on the scales, gritty G10, and a lot of hot spot on the choil/ricasso and the blade spine. My Mandy City felt the exact opposite and it cost me a third of the Chief Price. So I was a little disappointed. It was not love at the first sight. Luckily , I know my Spyderco for a looooong loooong time and get my sandpaper ready.
I have send it under the tap to avoid any G10 dust which are really toxic for the lungs. Now the handle is suiting my taste.
The last experience I got with thick all-G10 construction knife in the Spyderco Family was the great Manix 2 Lockback (sold for 99 euros !) which was a great hard working folder.
The G10 slabs are much more thick than with the steel liners construction. Quoting Sal: “Actually Eric and Tom went over this model with the engineers for quite a while before making the decision to make it liner-less. We’ve done a lot of experimenting lately and you can see a lot in the many different designs and options. It surprises me that some would think to make decisions on values without any experience. if we screwed it up, we’ll fix it, but we don’t screw up often considering the many envelopes we’re willing to push.”
Compared to the Police:
You can compared thick G10 and thinG10+Liners.
As with the steel liner’s knives, there is zero flex and zero play, horizontal or vertical. It is like a vault. (My old Benchmade AFCK BM800HSS got titanium liners and flexes a lot.) G10 is a really solid material. They even makes stealthy fixed knives with G10 blades… A steel liner could also bend and warp, not a thick G10 slab IMHO. Also the Cold Steel Recon folders are steel linerless and Cold Steel’s Recons are known for their sturdiness. I got an XL Recon and the lack of liner is really not an issue. The blade, helped by two bronze phosphorous washers, chutes free when unlock which is very reliable and easy to learn to put back the knife in the pocket. It is done smoothly and fast. It is a very secure way to close your knife.
Let’s not forget: a one hand opening knife needs to be a one hand closing knife. The best example is using a knife at the top of a ladder: you want to be able to get the knife back in the pocket easily and safely.
I’m not a huge fan of the hour glass clips founded on the Native 5 and the Delica/Endura/Paramillie/Para3. It has been immediately replaced mine with a Blade4sell small titanium clip. Let’s do a family photo:
On the Shaman (“made to be a fairly heavy duty folder. Simple, but stout.” according to Sal), the Chief, the Native and the Lil’ Native my favorite clip is that last one.
The Native family is the no “hump” clan of the Spyderco Catalog. The Chief is co signed by Eric and Sal.
Back to the Orange Chief, I was not really pleased also by its edge geometry. I felt it thick behind the edge. Even if the knife was razor sharp out of the box, it could not pass my plastic bottle test which consist in cutting the butt of a soda bottle by the center which is thicker. The thin Manly City was able to do it right out of the box, as were able my Swayback, my PPT or even my Delica too for example… The champions being the Michael Walker and the Nilakka. It is a matter of “deshouldering”, convexing the edge as always.
Diamonds are super steel best friends.
And now it is able to pass the test. 🙂 But let’s do it again for good measure.
Once thinned with diamonds, I usually strop it for a nice shining results. So far I need more elbow grease but it slowly get better and better.
Also the choil was very sharp to my taste. A little diamond filing and it was much more finger friendly.
So far, the Chief is a slim knife but destined to be very polyvalent. When the Shaman is very outdoors oriented, the Chief finds its place also in the kitchen. It takes time to built a natural patina on Rex45 but it will come later after some fruits and hot meats.
The orange scales make it very table’s friendly too, despite its very pointy shape which could make sheeples nervous.
In a plate nothing force you to keep the edge perpendicular to the surface. I have found REX45 being hard to dull on plates anyway. It is a very easy going steel.
Another easy going steel is K390 found in the Police Model. You can see it is a tad longer than the Chief with also a thinner stock blade.
The Chief is elegant and certainly one of the most beautiful design in the Spyderco scuderia. Their backlock is so solid, the handle will break before it. Sal Glesser knows that making a longer version of the Native was not as simple as a sketch on a drawing board. You can watch the video at the end of this article about that.