All posts by nemosandman

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

Casio: Classic Atomic Square to Titanium Black Stealth Wealth.

Here is my Orange pictured here in Canterbury the 11th of November 2011…

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.

I have had the chance to try on a GWM-5000 all Titanium at the G-Shock Store in Paris in January 2020. But I could not imagine spending 1600 euros in a Square (back on that later). 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 Titanium Black but too much expensive to respect the “tool watch” concept of Kikuo Ibe I said to myself.
Here are the wrist shots of my squares through the years for comparaison:
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.

EDITED 17th October – 2nd of November 2021

My encounter with the Titanium Graal:
Eventually I have found a rare deal of Titanium version in La Samaritaine Casio Corner. 40% of 1590 euros !!

Lancelot is a famous knight which had the opportunity to seize the Holy Graal but decided he was not worthy and let it go. Eventually it is his son Galahad which will bring the Graal.

The same happen to me yesterday as a Casio Lancelot… 😉

For a Sunday’s walk we had decided to go to the rue de Rivoli and visit, again, La Samaritaine. A famous store in Paris closed for almost 20 years and opened after a huge restoration by LVMH.
This is a place for Panerai and Hublot watch but in a hidden plan (two actually) they are G-Shocks.
Looking at them I have found some Full Metal Square but the price surprised me. In fact they were discount them at 40% and one of the was the GMW-B5000-TB1 !

I always dreamed to have the chance to found one at a more affordable price. Be careful at what you wish ! Because it happens.
And there I am contemplating my graal.

As it was a display watch, I took my time to look at it closely as they were looking for the original box and papers and could not put their hands on it.

The TB has been in my hand for almost one hour. I had the chance to weight it, scrutinize it in all angles.

And I have discovered it felt so delicate. Like a Elvish jewel. It was really refined with its glossy bezel and golden screws and buttons. The first links of its bracelet (those which are “stuck” into the case) are as thin as all the other links when my Old Guard’s are much thicker even massive !
The lightness, the shining details all of that made a very “white shirt” object when what I love in G-Shocks is their “blue shirts” vibes.

I prefer the Christopher Nolan’s Batmobile to the Spectre’s Austin Martin if you catch my drift. I want my G-Shocks to be stealth and massive when others may prefer shiny and light.
I want my G-Shock to be thick like forged by Dwarves not to feel and look like a thin bracelet worn by Legolas. 😉

So I had to let her go and warned my fellow G-Shocker where to find it.
To each their own I said to myself.

(Not my picture)

So I have left for 10 days after warning some friends on F17 on Watchuseek about that great deal.
I went back to the store and the Titanium Black was still there with that great discount.

Now the Queen of “Stealth Wealth” was on my wrist for good. 🙂
And it was time to do deeper researches about that (production start in October 2019 and has stopped in December 2019).

According to Mrs Miho Nishimura from Casio, it was necessary to create a new mold dedicated to titanium and all a new production line has been established, so this model is made with fairly high treatment.

It is true under the touch, the feel of the case and bezel are more sharp, it is really different compared to “normal” full steel square I have owned.

According to Mr Izumi from Casio they have used double surface hardening technology of DLC plus deep hardening treatment. The same DLC as used on PR-G top of line Casio (some are at 6000 euros).

All her coloring is reproducing the original DW-5000C-1B from 1983.

It is much more subdue and stealthy than any other G I have worn but perhaps the GW5000B all black. But that last was really not easy to read as the display was not STN (Super-twisted nematic display).

I have been tempted to put the titanium case in a steel armor but the charm of the full titanium was also lacking.

After all the “tour de force” of making a case, a bezel and a bracelet all DLC coated Titanium is all the idea behind that design.

Here is a list of my Casio watches through the years:

2021 Casio GMW-B5000-TB1
2021 Casio GMW-B5000G-1ER
2018 Casio GMW-B5000D-1ER
2018 Casio PRW-7000-3ER
2018 Casio GPW-2000-3A
2016 Casio GW5000
2016 Casio GWN-Q1000-7AJF
2015 Casio GPW-1000T
2015 Casio GWN-1000C
2014 Casio PAW-1500T
2014 Casio GW-5000B-1JR
2014 Casio PRW-6000Y-1ER
2014 Casio GW-3000B-2AJF
2013 Casio GW-9400-1JF
2013 Casio GWA1100-1JF
2013 Casio GD-350
2012 Casio GW-2500-1B
2011 Casio PRW-2000-7T
2011 Casio GWM5600-0R
2010 Casio GW-2000-1AER
2008 Casio G-7710-1ER
2004 Casio UW-503 Memory 100 1990
1998 Casio DW-9300 Raysman
1997 Casio DW-6500 Skyforce
1996 Casio DW-6600
1994 Casio CPW-200 COMPASS
1993 Casio CPW-100 COMPASS
1992 Casio DW-6100
1991 Casio ALT6000
1990 Casio VDB100 (black) Touch Screen
1989 Casio JP-100 Pulse check
1986 Casio RW-100 Rotary Switch
1985 Casio DBC-610
1983 Casio DW-1000

MANLY CITY S90V 3DG10 – Excellence and Quality from Bulgaria

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:

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:

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.

Lets copy the specs from Manly:

Technical Specification

  • Model Name: CITY CPM S90V Black 3D Handle
  • Type: Pocket Knife
  • Overall Length: 17.7 cm
  • Blade Length: 7.0 cm
  • Folded Length: 10.5 cm
  • Blade Thickness: 2.7 mm
  • Weight: 95 g
  • Blade Material: CPM S90V
  • Handle Material: 3D G10
  • Opener: Thumb Stud
  • Opening: one hand
  • Lock Type: Lockback
  • Color: Black
  • Blade Color: Uncoated

    Found there:

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!”

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 !

The City will get a lot of pocket time until the chapter II of this review in some weeks.
Since then updates and photos will be done on the Facebook Group.

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.

QSP Penguin D2 – The WOW Effect Cheap Wharncliffe WOrkhorse Of Excellence

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.”

I know there is a S35VN version made as an exclusive, though but all sold out for now but QSP assured me there will more in March 2021.

So, more to come as I intend to use the Penguin hard.


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. ( 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 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.

Spy Opera Un’aria degli anni ’70

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

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 (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”. 😀

MKM Clap – Bob Terzuola’s Italian EDC.


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.

This Is The Sway ! Part 2 The Swayback Chronicles

Why the Swayback is such addictive ?
Why it always kicks my favorite folders out from my pocket since I have received it ?

The contoured titanium handle is something which is needed to be taken in consideration. In my humble opinion the Swayback’s handle makes all other tactical folders feel flatter.

The Swayback is very deceptive. It looks like a gentleman/lady folder, delicate piece of cutlery but in fact it is mega sturdy and offering a very long edge. The other folder I know in that category is the Nilakka.

Bothe very deceptive designs which are hiding their horsepowers under a beautiful hood. Both also provide a thin edge on a robust blade. So it is really a low profile EDC knife with long powerful edge.

Also there is a special mention for my faithful Ed Schempp Bowie which is again hiding his real utility under a gentle and refined design. But don’t get fooled, those are workhorses, wolves under sheep skins.

Which also means, you can display your Swayback in every situation between coffee and champagne.

There is nothing aggressive in its beautiful curves.

The thin long blade is really a sharp finger in my book. The fact the Swayback is not wide like a Shaman for example, makes it very agile once in the cutting material.

The wharncliffe got this particularity, only the point get in contact with the board or the plate where you are cutting your food. The edge is kept ultra sharp thanks to the absence of belly.

Of course the blade will be carved and the hard point won’t dull easily.

The very clever hidden choil is also something I genuinely love in this design.

A thin long blade is something really handy when cutting fruits or carving vegetables.

The straight edge offers a lot of control when cutting vegetable, oignons or even strong with the edge toward yourself. The narrow blade is easy for curved cuts. You can change direction of your cut during the cut.
It makes it also a great peeler.

Tip works great for opening wallnuts. It does not feel like a fragile Ronin’s tip.

As the kitchen and food preparation are my main battlefield in those lockdown days, the Swayback has proven to be a very reliable “couteau d’office”. When I needed more belly, I was always reaching for my Serrata.

So I had to also compared how the Swayback was behaving when whittling hard wood. Many whittling knives are wharncliffe, there must be a reason.
Lil Native S30V (reprofiled and sharpen by JD), Yojimbo in CPM M4, Swayback in CTS XHP, Nilakka in S30V and Shaman in REX45.

As I always found, steel + geometry + heat-treatment makes the blade.
Swayback’s CTS XHP got less vanadium carbide than S30V and I’m able to make it reach über razor level easily. It cuts the wood’s fibers like REX45, leaving some sort of patina on the wood.
Once in the wood it is really aggressive.thanks to its thin edge. It goes deeper than the Shaman for example which despite its reprofiling and edge thinning can not match the Swayback’s.

The Swayback’s edge has not chipped once. It has rolled under the factory edge but nothing the white ceramic of a Double Stuff has not cured easily. I have found it reacts very well to white ceramic and leather but also Jade. It is a really fine grain steel on a thin edge and the idea it to have it reached razor level all the time.

It cuts deep and with some kind of “TAK TAK” noise in its aggressiveness. It is hungry and I have been able to cut rods in chestnut’s wood in a matter of seconds. This is really impressive.

It also means the handle is confortable when cutting hard material.
Which was not a evident looking at the “swayback” of the handle butt.

Compare to my good old Para 2 there is nothing to hurt the skin between the thumb and the index. This absence of jimping is a big plus in my own experience !!

Comparing the handle’s back between the Sebenza (straight) the Spydiechef (bended).

A full titanium handle is really pleasant when you need to clean it and keep it rust free as Titanium cannot rust. The idea of Chris Reeve was brilliant has it offered the possibility even to sterilized your tools.

The Swayback shines in the Pikal’s Grip or any Reverse Grip with the edge up or turned toward the user. I haven’t found any issue when used in hammer grip in hard material but using a knife with the edge toward you is very polite and safe for people around, especially with kids running around. It forces you to refine your motor skills and to stay in control of all the cuts. Especially with a very sharp blade like this one.

Because it stays sharp for a very long time…
As the edge only encounters matters it cuts and no board or plate, so you can keep your edge fresh. Something already noticed on the Yojimbo2:
The Wharncliffe blade makes powerful cuts from tip to heel.

Eventually it is a knife you can get addicted to. In this is my case. Now my Paramillies feel so flat and square. And there is always a grin on my face when that Swayback’s sharp finger long blade goes steady in a push cut. Wharncliffe folders are really something you can get hooked to once you get used to.

Cheers !

Ed Schempp’s Khukuri – Spyderco C125

Ed Schempp is one of my favorite designer. As I have always written, the spirit of a maker oozes from his knives. Ed is a true gentleman, a cever inventor and a gifted bladesmith and all his designs got something pure and radical. His Khukuri is a perfect example.

Look at it closed. It looks so classical. Nothing particular but beware of dormant waters.

Once open you got a tool which makes love with your hand. This knife is made for your palm and finger and to be held and use and…
Well the knife is screaming to be used. It is stunning. The handle is thin and does not feel boxy. The generous choil welcomes you index.
Then you notice the angle the blade is doing with handle. This natural angle is the signature of Kukri knives used in Nepal by the famous Gurkhas. It is also a signature of Ed Schempp’s knives. Especially short knives and folders. I have seen Ed’s custom Khukuri with beautiful damascus steel using Spyderco logo as pattern…

To quote Sal Glesser: “I can do anything”, Ed Schempp, will push the envelope, often just to see if he can. I did a “hammer” in at Ed’s house. Just a bunch of knife afi’s with great skill working on a globe. But no hammers. Ed designed and built a series of miniature rolling mills so we can produce mosaic damascus pieces, each with an assignment. Ed’s my “go to” guy for Ethnic series knives. Take a design hundreds, or even thousands of year old, capture the purpose and function and re-create that in a modern folder. He studies the design, the history, function and purpose before beginning. Those of you that have studied and used Ed’s designs know what I’m talking about. True original classics, each and every one.”

What can I say more ?

Even in Icepick grip the little folder is pure ergonomy. The full flat ground blade is generous in belly and recurve bringing very powerful cuts. No need for any jimping on the spine or the handle, the knife is simply glued to your grasp.

Can you see the family’s blood, the Schempp’s touch ? The Tuff, the Khukuri, the Bowie and their long choil and angle ? Elegance and “beautility”. Oh, I dream of a Kukhuri Sprint Run because that design needs to be used again. An AEB-L version please ?
And a huge thank you to Geoffrey from who is the proud owner of my four last reviewed knives.

Kevin Wilkins Leafstorm- SPYDERCO C128G

Thanks to Geoffrey from , I have the opportunity to test various knives of his collection. The Leaf Storm is one of them.
And it was a thick bird and have bought second hand…

They are a rattle when closed and the culprit was easy to find. The previous owner has pushed to much on the lock slab…
First step: I remove the screws on the G10 side. They are long and goes into the titanium liner on the other side.

It is a very simple construction made in Golden Colorado.

The lock bar has been forced outward and has not enough tension anymore. The detent ball is even not working anymore.

By gently pressing inward I was able to give more tension to the lock. Much better !

Some nano oil drops for good measure.

And voilà. I have not put any blue lock tite, leaving Geoffrey free to do it, as it can stain the jade G10 too…

What a beautiful little critter ! It has been design by American Kevin Wilkins started as a graphic designer and art student then an art director. He moved to Berlin in the early 90s where the knife bug really sank in. By 1995 he worked out how to make his hobby a livelihood and one of his favorite designs he called the Leaf Storm, dixit Spyderco card.

It is small lady and gentleman knife that fits and carries in the watch-pocket of a pair of denim jeans. Let’s compare it with one of the best little big knife Spyderco is producing.

My Lil’Native (featuring JD’s edge) got the same size and I carry it in my watch pocket. Main difference could be the hollow grind versus the full flat grind but not for me. What I miss the most is the choil…

Because as both knives got the same blade length, the Native give the opportunity to chock up the knife and have plenty of space for 4 fingers.

The Leaf Storm got no protection with its large ricasso and could be an issue if it is sharp. And it is sharp. My pinkie could be cut easily.

With the hammer grip, this is my index knife which is now the next candidate for a flesh wound…
In my own opinion, the Leafstorm is an eye candy and a collector knife, as it is rare now, been discontinuited but the action is not smooth and gritty and the ergos not to my taste, I rather go with my little Walker C22CFPE or my Lil’Native. There is even some lock sticking as there is no steel interface… It is a little on the crude side compare to smooth Lil’Native. Golden factory has made a lot of progress since the release of the LeafStorm. Designing little folders is not an easy task and esthetics are not mandatory. The LeafStorm is a beauty but not palm friendly.