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"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
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.
Here is my Orange pictured here in Canterbury the 11th of November 2011…
(For a change, I will sometimes add some review I have made on Casio and Garmin gears through the years. Watches, like knives are EDC, after all.)
That GMW5600 Orange, I brought it back from NYC (bought Friday the 13th of may 2011)… It was my first Tough Solar Multiband6 Square. I love the watch so much I bought later the combi bracelet from Keith. It immediately replaced my much loved GW2000, an aviator Gravity Master totally analog. I was stunned by its crisp display, and its Art Deco case which goes so well with Manhattan architecture. Funny thing I bought it only for 75 dollars, half the price. The seller in China Town had mixed up with another one (a GW6900), not solar and not atomic. Lucky me. 10 years ago, that Square was then my main working watch. My Orange was not a Lemon. 😉
In my field of work then, I was obliged to write down “time stamps” a lot through the day, so, the digital display was perfect for that. Easier than analog hands. Also the GWM5600 was ultra light on the wrist and not as bulky as my usual G’s. I could not noticed it under the sleeve.
Also I love the big digits. Before STN technology, they were very crisp. The atomic feature was able to sync every night in NYC and of course back in Europe even when worn. The stopwatch was able time up to 24 hours with no current time display. (This issue will be corrected 7 years later with the GMWB5000) The countdown timer is only a 60 minutes but: 1- you got the time displayed. 2- you immediately (at a glance) notice this is the CDT by its display and its 1/10 digits running backward. Certainly I would have love another timer with a 99 hours amplitude. But I have found this 60 minutes 1/10 of sec CDT very enjoyable to use and loud enough. So I may be one of the only happy users of this 60 min CDT. But again a 24hours CDT without the time displayed in the small windows would have not been as useful as this one. (This issue will also be corrected 7 years later with the GMWB5000)
The Tick Tox’s composite bracelet has always been a must for that kind of watch. So confortable ! Now on the new GMWB5600 they are easy to find but back in 2011, you were obliged to order them apart in the UK.
The matte part were metallic and the checked part were resin. The 3159 module can be found in a bunch of Solat Atomic squares even on the Japanese Domestic Market GW5000 with DLC screwback.I really loved that GWM5600 which was a near perfect tool watch for my use ! So much I have been using later GW5000’s and GMW-B5000, the steel Squares. Very low profile high quality G’s. On module 3159, the level of battery is displayed, but this is not the case on the new Squares, which are using a Bluetooth App for monitoring. The new Squares also got the time displayed in their 24 hours countdown timer and this is really handy. The steel versions of those new Squares also got STN LCD and screwback Diamond Like Coated (DLC) cases.
The solar tech mastered by Casio is a no brainer. It works and it works for much longer time than any battery. E.g. my old Raysman from 1998 is still alive of kicking. It is 23 years old. The case’s resin has rotten but it is still works. So this is a reliable tech on the very long run.
Not pictred but after two hours bathing in the sun it was back to 75% charge.
Here is my GMW-B5000G1. The backlight is now a LCD. On the Orange it was still a “Indiglo” technology.
G-Shock are ultra solid even if some people are afraid, shampoo and soap could ruin them… A recent destruction test has pushed a cheap G-Shock until 800 meters deep with no damage. The glass has broken at 1200 meters.
In the G-Shock realm, Squares are true classics. Not too bulky. Accepted on every wrist, even George Clooney wears a GW-5600 in the Coen Brothers’s Movie “Burn After Reading”.
I have been wearing “Squares” since 1983 actually. Real tool watch. You wear them and forget about them. Atomic time is assuring you to have exact time on your wrist as the watch manage to contact an atomic clock every night. The fun thing is also, at night the watch falls asleep. This power saving feature makes it very “alive”. If the solar panel detects zero light and it is late, it goes to saving mode.
Wow, this review goes in all directions. Sorry… To understand that here is a list of my Casio watches through the years:
I have had the chance to try on a GWM-5000 all Titanium at the G-Shock Store in Paris. But I could not imagine spending 1600 euros in a Square. Its main difference, without taking count of the all titanium construction is a sapphire crystal and a glossy bezel. The B5000G1 is exactly the opposite: matte bezel and glossy case… Gorgeous but too much expensive to respect the “tool watch” concept of Kikuo Ibe IMHO… Here are the wrist shots of my squares through the years: The Orange, The GW5000 Black, The GW5000 Vanilla, the GMW-B5000D Silver, The Titanium GMWB5000TB-1 (tried in shop) and the GMW-B5000G1 all black with positive display.
Like the Orange, the GW5000 or the B500G1 got that low profile, that black robe which makes it stealthy with a clear and crispy positive display. It goes back to the root of the very very first G: a black digital tool watch, low profile and hard as nails.
This a Mail Call/ Show and Tell. The in-use deeper review will unfold in the coming weeks but as a knife’s fan, this City is just stunning.
Yes, Manly has done it again ! After the Peak, the Comrade, the Wasp… All great knives made in Sofia ! Yes, the knifemakers of Bulgaria have done it again: another wonderful knife !
What is the Manly’s game level in cutlery: A solid backlock with zero play. A wonderful geometry totally focused on performance: they are really sharp ! CPM S90V heat treat in the rules of the art. Clever ergonomy and deep carry clip. Smooth action and drop chute… All of that at a great bargain ! My S90V City cost me 63 euros with their 20% winter discount. By the way their shipping cost is still at 5 euros and in less than a week it has gone from Bulgaria to France with DHL. In a time when S90V sprint runs can be found around 250 euros or more. This is not only a bargain: this is a must have.
When the Peak has been released, I have started to ask a shorter version to Manly people. Cleverly they have first been focused in proposing a 3 inches not locking knife: the mighty Wasp. All of those stories can be found in my reviews about that company of perfectionists: https://nemoknivesreview.com/?s=Manly
The handle: this is a four fingers handle even when not using the ricasso. It is confortable, filling my palm, the jimpering on the back of the blade is not too aggressive. It is a pleasure to hold the City in your hand. It is not a light knife (93 grammes), there is a little of heft which is also really pleasant even if the nested liners (a tour de force which is not only reserved to Spyderco) are skeletonized. A steel spacer makes the handle totally flex free. The blade is perfectly centered. Just handling the Manly City and my mind goes: wow !
Yes, they are perfectionists because the city is not a shrung Peak it a whole new knife. Making a short folder asks for a lot of thinking and a tabula rasa state of mind. A great proof of clever engineering is the placement of the thumb stud. It is completely out of the way when cutting. Also the City can easily be opened two hands and that stud removed if your juridiction banned one hand opening knives.
The City is also proposed in 3D G10 like mine and the ergos are just stunning. It fits my hand like a glove. For the Southpaw, two little wrenches are provided in the box. You can also reverse the thumb stub for the other side of the blade. So you are not forgotten: the City is totally ambidextrious !
The action is smooth. Not Spyderco Lightweight Native smooth though but the blade once unlock drop chutes gently on the ricasso. Zero risk to get cut. When the knife is unlock the blade movement is silky but there are a little gritty feel when the lock push on the pivot. It is easy to cure: a little oil and moving/wanking the blade back and forth for ten minutes. It wears the parts just enough to get it to a much smoother action. No big deal. Not the same story with the Spyderco Siren which has cut my finger at first try, huh ? No vertical or lateral blade play. Knowing the backlock system is the most tried and true reliable and solid of all the lock: this is a hard working knife deep in its DNA. Oh and for compulsive sharpeners, like myself, there is a nice sharpening choil !
Mine is in CPMS90V but there is also a version for 50 euros in 14C28N (a great razor stainless steel equivalent of AEB-L which should be also a pleasure to strop on leather)… Manly also propose multicolored G10 variation and 3D shape. You got the choice !
The Blade is a drop point with a very powerful feel: it is wide full flat ground on a 2,7mm stock. This is pure performance oriented ! The thin geometry makes it easy on any job: cardboard, wood, plastic. I have tested on hard dry chestnut wood and it went deep and steady, making nice chips. Knowing how great the heat treatment was on all my previous Manly, there is not reason to get concerned: they know to do it. S90V is a uncanny alloy which stays sharp for a very very very long time. It is Sal Glesser’s favorite hightech steel and I think it is still. For more info: https://nemoknivesreview.com/tag/s90v/
As you can notice the bottle’s butt test was passed with flying colors because of the Manly infamous thin geometry. The edge out of the box was razor level.
The G10 is grippy but on the smooth side: zero risk for the pocket to be destroyed. No need to send it. Keeping looking at it in details: Manly has really made an eye candy. There is no hotspot. Also when closed the talon of the blade flushes with the handle. No hard angles when closed (looking at you Cold Steel’s folders…). Again this is Manly’s attention to details ! I love the big bead blasted pivot and hardware.
The bead blasted deep carry pocket clip is also beautifully designed it is the same as the clip introduced on the Wasp and the Peak. I would have preferred a flat screw but this is really nitpicking.
Let’s picture the City with some of his brothers and cousins as you can notice Manly made in apparence simple tools like our grandfathers would have loved: they are made to cut and be reliable.
“I like performance for money. Like the Manly knives, but also the Urban. Not bling-bling but real cutting power!” JD.
The City is providing the same blade length as the excellent Para3. All in all, the City is an all terrain folding knife. There is even a lanyard hole, go figure ! 😉 It would be a great hunting knife: a drop point skinner. It would be also great for bushcrafters: Ray Mears is known to use those kind of short folders (made by Fallkniven). For my Italian hunters in Tuscany: the City is perfect for hare’s hunting. It can be an urban friendly solution but the powerful thin blade is afraid of nothing, you feel it asks to be a workhorse not a church’s knife. So really, kuddos to Manly for this little big knife !! It took me by surprise ! In a time when S90V sprint runs can be found around 250 euros or even more. This is not only a bargain: this is a must have if you really love knives. So clearly, yes, I got a huge crush on this excellently designed pocket knife !
Edited the 24th of March 2021: Since Manly Knives do not answer to any messages and emails and was not respecting their customer’s requests, Si I had really recommended caution when ordering from their site. (See the comments and Knife Lover issue with them. I have tried to help him with no success.) I will edit that review again when I will have a positive contact from Manly. Is it the Covid crisis ? I don’t know, but for now, without any answer from Bulgaria, you are warned to order knives from Manly’s site with caution.
Edited the 25th of March 2021. Manly has answered to Knife Lover. “Thank you for contacting us.
First and foremost, we sincerely apologize for any inconveniences caused due to the delay.We would like to inform you that we are working in reduced capacity due to Covid 19. Today your order has been provided to our forwarder A1post.Here is a link to follow the shipment… “
So, case closed. Manly is alive and kicking, still providing excellent knives at very fair price. (Even their shipping cost is fair) but are they are running on skeleton crew, it could be a little longer than before in the ordering process, so don’t worry.
How a 26 dollars Chinese folder would behave when I usually EDC a mighty Spyderco Swayback which is sold… 10 times the Penguin’s price ?
OK. Let’ try it. The order was made through Massdrop and the knife has arrived some weeks later. The QSP box is well made and thick.
The knife looks very well made. The action is smooth… That denim micarta is so nice ! Wait a minute ? What is this company’s name again ? “QSP is located in YangJiang where is known as its knife industry. QSP team has been in the line of OEM/ODM knives manufacturing for more than 10 years. We have decided to created our own brand ” QSP ” in 2017.
QSP stands for Quality, Service, Price. There are 2 series for choice: BUDGET FRIENDLY and PREMIUM SERIES. QSP knife is adopted precision working procedures, such as water jet, vacuum heat treatment, CNC machining, CNC grinding…etc. Each QSP knife has been seriously inspected before shipping.“
Talking about quality: that blade is perfectly centered as you can notice. Talking about engineering: the construction is completely open and there is no back spacer: so easy to clean. Wait a minute: the liners are not skeletonized: VERY easy to clean.
This is a knife you want to use in all dirty situations possible with zero after thoughts. But look again at those liners how smoothed and shiny they are ? Much attention on a “cheap” knife.
Even compared to a mightly powerful Yojimbo 2: the QSP folder has almost as much edge length in a much smaller package.
Beautiful micarta slabs, just gritty enough to be pleasant and secure in my hand. Perfectly centered blade. All angled chamfered… For once I don’t have to do it myself. Should I say it again: 26 dollars !!!
It feels solid in my hands. There is no Ricasso but a sharpening choil but a little quillon is available to avoid any cuts when closing the blade: very clever engineering.
As you can noticed it cuts through plastic bottle butt with ease.
See how clever the design of the deep carry clip is. You can put it on each side of the knife. I only regret flat heads screws which would have made that clip design perfect.
The screws are already positioned on the other side. Again look at those polished liners. The more polished the less they would rust. A workhorse well designed again.
The liner is perfectly engaged. Steel liners wear more slow slowly than titanium liners.
The blade is high saber flat ground as I was able to scratch it much too much easily but convexing is also easily made.
In fact the Penguin’s blade screams to be convexed or zero ground. The D2 steel is air hardening a tough cookie and the favorite of many hunting knives makers like Bob Dozier: its edge is naturally toothy and a coarse finish is prefered to cut into flesh and skin. Mine has been polished on leather and it is really cutting well ! I’m surprised how hungry the edge feels under the thumb. The advantage of Wharncliffe blades is that you mostly wear the point when cutting on hard materials, so the sharp edge is suppose to stay sharp for a longer time.
It is a great companion in the kitchen not the best like a Spydiechef but it is honest. It feels great in the hand, a little on the heavy side but it is pleasant. I really enjoy the feel of the micarta. This is really a knife you can use in the garden, in the kitchen, with your toolbox. The action is incredibly smooth and you also use two hands to open it around sheeples (non knife people). The stubs catch the thumb with some edge on them: so the opening is easy. The detent is a little on the hard side making the blade flying open like an assisted opener.
The Penguin is also very much the knife you want to carry when someone needs a knife and you don’t want to handle them your favorite 300 dollars titanium toy. The best thing with the Penguin is looking at your friend using it and be amazed. Then when you mention the price of it… this is the second effect.
So what do we got here ? A very well engineered folding knife with high quality control for the price of 3 packets of cigarettes ? This is not a bargain: this is a must have ! Kuddos QSP for that great move.
I have contacted them and their were gentle enough to answer me fast during the week end:
“Currently, we have 7 versions of Penguin for choice, i.e. QS130-A : D2 blade, brown texture micarta handle QS130-B : D2 blade, denim micarta handle QS130-C : D2 blade, green micarta handle QS130-D : D2 blade, red micarta handle QS130-E : D2 blade, CF overlay G10 handle QS130-F: D2 blade, brass handle QS130-G : D2 black stonewashed blade, brass handle We are now thinking about a premium version in 154CM blade and Titanium handle.”
The McBee is one of the smallest Spyderco ever produced but as they said “Proof positive that function is a matter of design, not size.” It is in the Dog Tag size. Jan Dirk has written about his Dog Tag here. Go figure the McBee got only a 39mm blade ! It really looks like someone has snapped the tip off your knife at first. After all it is what the quartermasters used to do aboard their ship to prevent the use of sailors knives for fighting. After all this another of Geoffrey’s knife and he is running a diver shop. (www.normandeep.fr). He is a Sailor too.
The Reeve Integral Lock is almost an overkill for such a short designed tool, but it works well. As you can notice its open back makes it a breeze to clean. I have found the clip very stiff and hard to pass on the lip of a pocket. But at least it is securely clipped.
Once held, it is looks two fingers knife. The ricasso creates a natural guard and the McBee is anchored to your hand by the index and the major. Now you just need to twist it and…
Voilà ! This is the way to hold it and to use it. Now it is a three fingers knife. The Index is resting on the spine of the blade and the handle is held by the major finger and the ring finger, thumb on the side near the pivot. As you can notice every finger are falling naturally in place. Now it works great. Powerful slashes, here we go ! This is a knife which works like a boxcutter: the point and the first centimeter of the blade will be in use. It can zip along cardboard with force like a good short wharncliffe will. Since the Yojimbo or the Swayback, will all know how powerful those straight edges can be.
Does it mean the McBee can also cut on a board ? Of course !
If it was my own knife, I would have thinned that CTS XHP edge a little more. The Swayback got a thinner more aggressive geometry and the McBee desserves the best.
See how this little guy is well designed ? It is a real capable little working knife and a true titanium jewell too !
When Geoffrey from http://www.normandeep.com has sent to me is Spyderco Amalgam to test and review, he had already reground the shape of the blade from drop point to clip point.
Here is a picture of the original:
Geoffrey made a beautiful work. He was even able to create an almost sharp false edge. I understood his project and also the distance of what I loved in a folding knife. I rather use a tool than a weapon and his Bowie Amalgam was really tilting the balance toward the weapon side of that knife.
First thing first. The Brian Lai’s brainchild is a knife which can be flipped and is equipped with a compression lock. It can also be open with its generous spyderhole with a push of the middle finger or the thumb. It is a fidgeting configuration after you have found a way to avoid the flipper’s return through the lock. You need, like on the Shaman, to get your index finger out of the way when closing the knife. The action is smooth thanks to ball bearings equipped pivot and the knife is light and well balanced.
Once open it is really a knife which get a very confortable grip. The flipper once deployed is half hidden in the lower quillon, and the blade could not close on your fingers. There is zero play. It feels very solid, very tactical hence the beautiful bowie blade Geoffrey wanted to grind from the massive utility drop point blade.
Since he wanted to sell it. We have made an exchange (he will get my Siren, as he is a diver and own a diver’s shop near the D-Day beaches in Normandy) and I will finish the customization to my liking.
The first thing I have noticed is how thick the blade was to my liking. So, I have “unshouldered” its edge and decided for an aggressive convexing.
As you can notice, there is nothing fancy in my equipment. A Double Stuff 2, an Fallkniven DC4 and some lansky bali diamonds. Also some sandpaper and my old leather belt.
Some compound for erasing all the scratches I have made and polishing it all.
The first test on my wallnut rod were stellar. The Amalgam is now able to shave and also able to cut deep. The large finger choil/ricasso is great to choke up the blade.
Also I have decided to mount a deep carry pocket clip. A black one for a low profile.
One of my goal has been also to round completely the false edge Geoffrey has painfully created as I use the spine of my blade’s knife to push with the thumb of my left hand. Now it is rounded like a Sebenza’s spine which was the first design to introduce me to that confort.
So here we are, ready to test the Amalgam. The Amalgame is on ! Stay tune for another post.
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”. 😀
I have bought that folder in Bruxelles. I was attracted by the steel and the style. I love Bob Terzuola’s design and he was the master who has taught to Sal Glesser (Spyderco) and Les de Asis (Benchmade) how to make a good liner lock.
From those lessons were produced the BM800 AFCK and the C36 Military.
So where does MKM Knives come from ?
MKM is a merge between Viper, LionSteel, Fox and Mercury.
They all come from Maniago, Northern Italy. The knife capital of the south of Europe. MKM stands for Maniago Knife Makers. This MKM Clap is made by LionSteel.
The MKM Clap is a delicate gentleman’s knife, designed by Bob Terzuola. Everything is smooth about it. All corners are rounded. It is even branded on its blue spacer.
And you open it with the flipper that you can remove if you want to look like a gentleman and open the knife with two hands. After all, this knife comes with a torx key. As such the MKM Clap suddenly becomes a knife you open with two hands making it legal in many places in Europe. Because of the ball bearings around the pivot the action is smooth.
When opened the blade is locked by a linerlock. Beautiful details are the blue collar around the pivot, the blue backspacer and the blue pocket clip.
Beautiful titanium clip, huh ?
It is in the size of a gentleman folder easily compared to the Fulcrum Falcon.
The Falcon is much more ergonomic as you can notice. Curved are good to the hand. The Clap is designed by Maestro Terzuola. He knows how to make straight feels like curves.
The shape of the blade is breath-taking. A drop point shape with harpoon fin on the spine and a compound grind with fuller. Quite the mouth full, but in reality it is a combination of cool shapes and features you rarely see together. But I hated the transition between the flatground point and the hollowground… so I have worked on it. To be continued.