So I went to Italy with my Tuff (named “Varicelle” aka Chicken Pox because of her handle) in my pocket.
And no back up blade but my Paul Watson Victorinox Swisschamp. So Varicelle was on duty.
My idea was: with a blade like the Tuff who needs a fixed blade ?
What possibly would bring a fixed blade over Varicelle ? A better handle ? Yes. Even if the Tuff got great ergos, it’s hard to compete with my Bushcrafter. But the Tuff is easier to carry around.
BTW in the ease of deployment department the Tuff is joining my Millie. The Spyderdrop is so easy: you grap the hole or the fuller or both…
I even started to believe the Tuff is the easiest knife to spyderdrop.
Better, I’m now able to open it with some inertia: a whipping movement from the forearm and the blade is open.
Thanks to what ? The weight of that CPM3V thick heavy blade.
So ZERO complaint about that. What a great folder for quick draws !
Now what are the advantage to have my Tuff with me instead of my Military C36 in M390 ?
Main avantage: quoting Bilbo the Hobbit: ‘Take care ? I don’t care!’
My Millie is slicer and Lamborghini which needs to be cared with love.
The Tuff is also a Lambo’. On the tractor side.
It is solid beyond records. The Tuff is care free. The edge and mechanism are forgiven.
This is an important factor. Sometimes “Orcs and Goblins” are using your “precious” cutting tools. I do not state my friends are orcs BUT I was able to see some blades ruined in a fistful of seconds by beloved ones. My father in law was able to destroy the finish of a blade in 5 seconds by just showing me how to resharp it on a flat stone !!! Go figure.
I don’t mind that kind of abuse with Varicelle. This is such a relief…
I had convexed the grind for whittling. I knew how that wonderful CPM3V steel would behave.
Good and reliable. But please, use it, be my guest. I don’t mind at all.
(I got a BRKT Bravo 1 in CPM3V. I love it BTW… That steel is tough and easy to maintain.)
So you want my knife to cut a thick pizza on a hard plate? Go ahead ! I will eventually realign the edge on ceramic later. It will cost me… 30 seconds of my time ? If the edge is really dulled. Because CPM3V is like that: forgiving and “gentle”. Only leather stropping are enough for maintaining it. No tricks.
Now let’s talk about THE LOCK.
The RIL (Chris Reeve’s Lock) is not 100% genuine as there is a steel interface. That steel interface is an real improvement to prevent lock wear and sticking lock.
BUT.There is a ‘but’.
That steel interface can transmit energy with no absorption. I mean soft titanium is sticky. Hard steel is more slippery.
A hard palm chock on my tuff’s lock was able to disengage it!!!
Wait a second ? This is the hardest use folder ? How could that happen ??
It happen like on that video:
(I had not abused their lock. I had used Varicelle for light chopping though. And I do not test my knives by doing hard spine whacks on table. It’s stupid. See the Stupid Video later…)
Now the “vicious part”:
It’s happen to me after some breaking in.
So new models should not have any problem. And it cannot be spot at quality controls.
But it can happen on a phase during ‘breaking in’. It can.
NO BIG DEAL. As all the parts of that Spyderco are engineered for tough jobs. This is not a cheap knife. The axis is monstrous ! The stop pin is HUGE ! The lock bar is strong.
But keep in mind the strength of a lock bar is not linear. It’s logarithmic ! The further the bar engages the less strenght ! The shortest the bar the thinner the range.
But this is only a part of what is happening. On a chock, forces are distributed on a different way than normal uses.
The design is not the culprit. The exact position, the angle, the surface materials combination at that very moment are the culprits.
So eventually how did I cured my Tuff ?
I have forced the lock to engage and disengage again and again. I have continued the breaking in. Until… Three minutes later (!!!) it was reliable again. Locks are working on fraction of fraction of millimeters. Since I did not have any problem anymore.
So, good news, if it ever happen to you: this is NOT a big deal. It’s just a phase. Your Tuff is a hardchore tool. Use it hard and it will do the self adjustments by itself.
I’m not able to disengage the lock of Varicelle anymore with a tap on the back of the blade. And I even tried it on a wooden table many times. Going stupid and destructive for once !
But It is now behind it. Varicelle stays locked.
So what do you got with a Stuff ?
An elegant design. A reliable tool. A forgiving edge. A fast opening folder.
Mine is convexed and her edge can be back to razor with twenty strops on a leather belt. Yesterday I have cut and process a small tree with her. The heft of the blade is great for light chopping. The convexed edge is great of a choke up wood carving. It cuts deep and with ease.
As convenient as my Lionspy, the Tuff is more forgiving but also very sheeple friendly just by its original looks.
Mine has been used by sheeples with… pleasure. Beyond the “Why are carrying such an heavy knife” to “Please, give my your knife !”
Varicelle is not threatening. Exotic perhaps but not threatening.
I have witnessed kids whittling with her (that careless way kids got to cut wood and cut into mud afterwhile). And they were happy with their results! Asking me for my knife again and again. And me asking them to keep it close and not running with it open…
Varicelle has been thrown with shuriken on a wooden board and it sticks very well.
I have open a chianti wine wooden crate in a breeze.
I have chopped three inches diameter trees.
I have eaten with Varicelle in many restaurants.
It have been borrowed from me in restaurant !
I have let children disappeared from my sight and whittling with it. Ok.
I have let my mother in law cutting beef with it. Ouch !
Anyway, the Tuff is a special knife: carrying a folding light chopping tool in a solid package is a great experience.
And knowing it won’t be damaged by clumsiness (mine or others) is a SUPER plus.
Next review teaser:
I won’t let my Manix 2 in any hands.
When The Going Get Tough…The Tuff gets going !
I have witnessed the evolution of that knife since the first prototype in 2005. The beautiful fuller was already its signature and I felt, this was a great complement to the hole for opening purpose.
For descriptions and length and weight, please use the link above.
This folder is not my first “heavy duty folding tool”, but certainly one of the most solid. The Gayle Bradley is an hard used cutter.
My Lionspy is another great contender as I have used it as a light chopper many times. But the heft of the Tuff is making that Ed Schempp designed knife a great woodman folding companion, in my own humble opinion. It’s unique.
Because I enjoy being able to process wood with some light equipment: my Cold Steel Voyager, my Lionspy and now my Tuff are able to work quick as light chopping tools. Of course it won’t replace a hatchet, a machette, a campknife. But they are a folding “attempt” to create reliable hard used knives. The new fashion in folding cutlery. Tactical means nothing. Hard used knife means everything.
My tuff has been named “Varicelle” or “Smallpox” in French. Why ? Because of its handle. All those “bubbles” give it some kind of steampunk look.
Once closed, you recognized the attention for details of Ed Schempp. Varicelle looks like a perfect oval. It’s a beautiful object even if the beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Just look at that mega huge screw pivot, that massive stop pin, that unique fuller on that thick blade, everything in this knife screams toughness.
Once open, you feel that you are holding a tool not a weapon. Even if the balance is perfect with a sweet spot under your index. This knife has been created to be a reliable companion toward the hardest situation a folder can withstand in a…. farm ! And what is useful in a farm can be useful everywhere. But, thinking about it: the most famous martial artists weapons were initiated by farm tools.
Ed told me he has cut into aluminium tanks without any damage to the blade. I don’t know wahta he was cutting but I trust him to put his blades in pace to test them. (E.G. My Persian is such a great knife BTW)
CPMS3V is a really tough steel. It’s another crucible powder steel. I love the behavior of that steel and its forgiveness toward my clumsiness.
I cherish a great BRKT Bravo and I love how its convexed edge is easy to maintain while being a true laser. Oh I love that powder manufactured steel.
It’s not stainless, but it’s a fine grain tool steel which can stand a lot of abuses.
Having the chance to carry “that” steel on a folding knife is absolutely rare. Another Spyderco premiere.
I had the purpose of convexing my Tuff as I knew how easy that tough alloy was with leather stropping.
So Varicelle has been slowly convexed. Using elbow’s oil mainly.
Eventually the blade on the Tuff is longer than the edge. Again the mighty choil is another Ed Schemp signature like on my Navaja.
You can hold your knife by the blade only, helped by the fuller and the choil, the hardest jobs can be soft on the lock and pivot.
The edge is making that knife very legal. It’s not threatening. Again you got a tool in your hand not a serial killer nightmare.
Yes, but it looks like a kukri and it perform like a folding kukri. And Kukris are famous to be the sacred weapon of Burkhas…
But again Kukris are great tools tunred into weapons. The Tuff’s designer was focus on some kind of G-Shock folder. Not a self defense device. Not a sentry removal tool. The Tuff is just a gentleman farmer’s knife designed by one.
By the way, I don’t have any problem to open it fast. I have changed the clip position to tip down carry. Now I can spyderdrop it, holding the blade by the hole and the fuller. It’s as easy and smooth as with my Millie. The heavy handle helps a lot. The lock bar can be harder than other knives. I won’t mind.
The closing is even easier than on my Lionspy. The meat of my thumb catches the lock release with ease. So I can open it fast and close it fast which is a must in safety for hard used tools in difficult environment. My tuff is reliable. Easy to put in play and easy to remove from sight.
This is all I ask from my folders.
So what do you got ? A CPMS3V folder with RIL Lock in a compact package offering great ergos while open.
Now will come the time of testing.
Stay tune for part 2.
In between convexing.
“Yasuki Hagane steel has been produced in their plant in Shimane prefecture in Japan where the high quality iron sand has been produced for making traditional Japanese swords since ancient times. These are three main premium grade high carbon steels (Shirogami, Aogami and Aogami Super) that have been used for making Japanese made field & kitchen knives. Hitachi metal is also known as the manufacture of high grade premium stainless steel, ATS-34 and ZDP-189.Blue Steel is made by adding chromium and tungsten to Shirogami (White Steel) that makes the material more durable and provides corrosion resistance and mostly used for making high-grade Hocho (kitchen knives) and outdoor knives.
Now Super Blue Steel is made by adding chromium and tungsten to Shirogami (White Steel) that makes the material more durable and provides corrosion resistance and mostly used for making high-grade Hocho (kitchen knives) and outdoor knives.”
I’ve never been interested in the Calypso. Call me names but the lock was “old”. Not the smoothest operating tool… as all lockbaks.
But the Calypso and all its offsprings got a common feature: ergonomy. A thin blade (not wide for a Spyderco after all) in a light and pointy package.
The years (decade) go by. The Caly 1.5 turns into a test platform for the Aogami Super with a first Sprint Run. I was very excited when Jur has shown me that absolutely beautiful folder. But alas to much vertical play for me and that, made me step back.
This is the problem with all back locks but with my Caracara chinese made G10 first generation. I remember falling in love with the first XL Cold Steel Clip Point Voyager… vertical Play. Massad Ayoob first Spyderco folder… vertical play. The Mighty Chinook , first and second generation ? Vertical play.
Oh you can live with that.
But I do not like a tool which got moving parts in the palm of my hand when I’m cutting something hard.
The Caly3 in Super Blue Steel got vertical play but much less than the Caly 3.5 I had tested.
Now the Cold Steel Triadlock is curing that “disease”. That’s why they are so pleasant to use and so reliable to chocks like Fred Perrin has shown us by throwing his mini Lawman repetitively (more than a 1000 throws!) without any failure or even any vertical play.
Vertical Play is a curse. I remember Michael Janich’s “Street Steel” book explaining why to go away from any lateral or vertical play in a folder knife. And I believe every single words Mr Janich is writing. Common sense is more precious than adamantium nowadays.
Ok my Caly3 vertical play is minor. And on a short knife with ergos like a boot knife this is not a major problem. I mean if the lock should ever fail (and that vertical play on locks has been noticed on very very strong backlocks) my precious fingers would be protected by the quillons on the blade: when you are holding a Spyderco folding knife, you are holding it mostly by the blade. Giving all strength and all structure stress directly to the blade not “through” a fragile channel: the pivoting handle. The C36 Military was the first to offer that “boot knife” feature. Holding the knife by the blade is something as ancient as the Roman folding knives you can find in archaeological fields. In the ancient times, the handle was considered merely as a sheath not something to hold your tool… So folding knives were used as hand razor: by holding the blade.
So about the Caly3, this means that I don’t “feel” any important play when I cut on a board for example. This is mandatory for me to trust a folding knife and sticking to short fixed blade for EDC (as you perharps know I love short fixed blade, Ian Grenier’ FIne Urban Cancelled Knife, Fred Perrin’s Lagriffe, my Izulas, My Newt Livesay NRG, my wonderful Fred Perrin / Spyderco Streetbeat and my great BRKT Bravo1… (chich is not that small after all).
Ok, the Caly is sheeple friendly. It got a thin, short, not threatening blade and this Sprint Run got also a grey G10 handle and a stainless steel back spacer. It doesn’t scream “TACTICAL KNIFE!!!” like the mighty Cold Steel Recon 1 XL CLip Point… So I can use it in the plate in a restaurant. nobody notice it and it makes the difference as a matter separator.
The Caly3 clip is the wire clip and this is the masterpiece in the clipping design industry. I got the same of my Sages, my Techno, my Slipits, my Pingo, my Dodo, my Chaparral and they are simply the best. Nothing can get close to it. It may look cheap. But they are the best in low profile, and ease of pocketing. (Let me hammer that the clip of the Southard being the worth of all Spyderco’s clip ever made IMHO.)
The Sprint Run of C113 got a non stainless steel blade. This is something to experiment. I love my 1075 and 1095 and my M2 blades to get stain. A patina is a must IMHO. It gives character and low profile to a bad reputation tool. I first enjoy patina on my 1095 Schrade Sharpfinger almost 20 years ago… The blade feels “natural” to react to oxygen and acids… It gives “beautility” to a very personnal tool.
Now the Grey G10 gives also some kind of beautility to the Caly 3. Mine is dirty and I love it that way.I got Fifty shades of grey… (and with the Games of Thrones fans I should score…)
So what to not love in the Caly3 ?
Even closed that folder featuring Sal signature is radiating honesty and confidence. I remember reading an article about a man saving his baby boy from a mountain lion attack with a Spyderco Caly 1.5 knife. This means confidence in your tool.
My Caly3 is reliable. I can trust it when I need it to cut deep and fast. And I can trust it to get stains in warp speed too. No surprise there. Like an Opinel in carbon steel you know how to clean and oil it to keep it far from rust.
The Caly is pointy. Much more than a Techno. It got almost more edge length than a Native.
Ho, there is something I love: the bulging pivot screw on this sprint run. The pivot screws is falling perfectly under your thumb when cutting horizontally. About ergos the knife is held in full grip like a much bigger knife. On the handle, there is place for four fingers even without involving the choil.
The Caly3 is not a all screw construction and …. I don’t mind. I got no plan to dismount it. I have cleaned it by rinsing it under hot water tap.
It so far so good.
Now about Super Blue. I have re-profiled the blade as I was expecting much better sharpness. no the edge is thin and convexed but still… I got a much better sharpness feeling with my AUS8A blades (Cold Steel Voyagers, Recon1 and Code4) or the CPMS3V on my BRKT Bravo 1…. I need more mileage on Super Blue Steel to crown it. So far it could be 1075, I don’t feel the difference.
So guess what ?
More on patina and old timer steel in the 52100 serie…
I was already in love with Cold Steel Recon 1 Tanto. The the Spear Point came. Same greatness in construction, perfectly balanced, mega solid triadlocklock, amazing ergos and razor sharp thin hollow ground blade. This is a beast of a knife !!!
But this time I wanted to have it less “Recon” and more “Workhorse”. So good bye black paint… Same treatment as on my old Izula:
got a lot of knives since the 80’s. I have tested a lot of knives since 1995.
You mileage may vary but like everyone I got my favorite regarding pure cutting power, ease of resharping, ergos…
For example the SPyderco Bushcrafter is one of my joy to use in the wood. My 1990’s ATS 34 Sebenza has proven many time to be reliable in the worst situations.
I’m amazed by my Paramilitary S90V edge holding capabilities.
For push cutting in wood, my Blue Dodo has always a phenemonal performer, the S shap thin edge is getting deep.
Then the thin Michael Walker and the Gayle Bradley have been demonstrating all their power on hard plastic and delicate works.
And after stropping the Cold Steel Recon 1 blade to a dangerous whittling hair level, this big folder is breaking my own records. I was able to cut through the thick butt of plastic bottle twice in parallel cuts with ease. The handle is so confortable, I can apply a lot of strenght and the hollow ground powerful blade separate material like in butter.
I’m really realy impressed and will continue my testing.
I have received this knife for my B Day from The Knife Connection. (Excellent service as always.)
This is the version without the “Hump” and I have chosen a weatherproof leather sheath. “…a genuine Bark River Sheath features heavy, top grain cow hide leather and Bark River Knives’ waterproofing treatment called Extreme Environment Protection. The EEP treatment features include: Water Resistant, Mold Resistant, Mildew Resistant, High Temperature Resistant, Will Not Dry Out. Unlike other treatments, EEP goes completely through the thickness of the leather leaving no room for water to damage your sheath. The finish can be maintained indefinitely with Obanuf’s Heavy Duty Leather Preservative. The treatment is guaranteed for 1 year, but should last for years.”
Beautiful convex grind. Excellent balance.
This knife is screaming to be used.
“The Bravo 1 Field Version takes the Bravo 1 to a new level of versatility for those looking for a superb outdoor knife. Whether you are field dressing large game, battoning wood or building a shelter, the Bravo 1 Field Knife will handle your chores with ease & beg for more! As a direct descendant of the Bravo 1, the Bravo 1 Field Knife builds on the sterling reputation of the Bravo 1 by providing a tough, great handling field knife that is sure to please the most descriminating outdoorsman/woman!”
Now this is a serious contender to me beloved Spyderco Bushcrafter as it has more momentum due to its weight behind the edge.
More later but enjoy the pics:
Cutting frozen chicken breast like butter.
The first thing wich stands out in this folder is how flat and confortable it is to pocket. This is the kind of knives you totally forget once clipped.
The second thing is how easy it is to put in action. The oversize hole and the relatively heavy butt handle and the smooth action make it a great spyder drop opener if your carry it (like myself) with the clip mounted near the pivot. The grap the hole between the thumb end the index and in a fluid motion the knife is open in your hand, ready for any chore.
Now the thin blade is a laser. Again the thin cuts through all materials submitted to it with ease and, good news, the little vertical play of the backlock seems to have disappeared with the breaking in and the constant use. Now the knife feels rock solid. Also the thin edge on the thin blade doesn’t need a lot of force to cut deep.
The ZDP 189 edge seems to lose its hair popping sharp sharpness fast but the working edge seems to last forever. Another good news, leather bely and compound is enough to bring back the hair popping edge in a matter of seconds. So far I was not able to ruin the edge: no chipping, no bending, no excessive dulling. My edge is polished and convexed and it cuts, cuts, cuts:
Some very hard cardboard tube is no match for the Stretch thin blade.
Also I got no discoloration or pitting on a ZDP189 blade which has been used a lot in the kitchen. It has been cleaned by rinsing under water and wipe just after.
All in all the Stretch is an incredible high performer. It’s relatively long blade makes it really useful for a wide specter of chore and his polyvalence will be hard to match. This is really great folder to EDC.
Since I had received my Bushcrafter for 2010 Xmas, the knife has been always in use.
I really enjoy small fixed blades and this particular one has turned to be another little big knife.
In the 90’s I have been reviewing with Fred (Perrin) another little big blade: the Fallkniven F1 in its first solid VG10 incarnation. This is the kind of small tool with some heft in your hand, giving a sense of security and reliability. The Fallkniven F1 is now a legend in travelling knives. Well, the BushcraftUK feels that way in my hand but better than this it is also offering some uncanny cutting performance: the zero scandi grind cuts like a laser and it is very very addictive.
But fragile. I was able to micro chip its factory edge just by being me: clumsy… Bones, stones, sand… are not thin edge friendly. But the good thing is that I was able to gently convex my edge to keep it luch more stable. Removing a chip on a zero ground edge means time consuming before to see some result, unless you don’t want to “respect” the zero grind. Also sharpening the edge on ceramic can be frustrating as you scratch the mirror polishing badly. Good thing, with some elbow grease it’s back to mirror again. O1 is not stainless. But I did not let a patina to develop but on the handle where the hand leave natural moisture and the steel is now grey.
As I was not planning to use the back of the blade to produce sparks, I have gently rounded the edges and this heresy to the Bushcraft Gods gives me a lot of thumb’s confort when I’m pushcutting into hard materials.
Really the BushcraftUK is the king of my woods.
Because it’s compact enough to be pocketed in my coat. So I got it on me. I never had it attached to my belt. I love the leather sheath I never got any issue with it. Mine is still like new as I have been using the brown sheath from my second for a while. Perharps I will try to find a kydex sheath for it as I do transport the knife in my bag more than on myself. Now for the knives works in the wood, the size of the Bushcraft suits me. I’m able to use it for light chopping and batonning without any care. Hence the chipping…. But again, the Bushcrafter has never let me down. Better it’s my favorite in his category.
Since I had ever seen Ray Mears on television back in the 90’s I felt I was not the only one to enjoy little fixed blade for their reliability in the wood. One of my first “bushcraft” was a Glock knife back in the 80’s. Broke the handle. Glue a compass in it…
Things I did not with the Bushcraftuk is: throwing it, cutting concrete intentionally and open oysters… but I have removed nails from wood, batonned through hard plastic, use it in the rain, in the snow, on the sea shore… With a little care I was not able to have rust pits on O1.
The weight and the high sharpness do wonder in the woods. Every chores are quick jobs. And this is exactly what that blade is for: energy’s economy and confort in use.
Back home I usually check the edge and do some leather stropping to have it back to mirror polish. No oil have been used to protect the blade. I use it everyday outside or in the kitchen so I keep it sharp and clean.
I got many kitchen knives. The Bushcraft will not replace them but the scandi grind is great on hard cheese, bread and meat. I rinse it after and dry it immediately. No more no less.
Even if I enjoy the flatness of my Stretch or the squareness of my Southard, on that hard used small fixed blade the rounded ergonomic handle is simply my favorite since I have had made a bokote handle on my Cold Steel Trailmaster. The black G10 after two years of constant use looks and feels like new. G10 is an incredible tough material. But the Bushcrafter is my first “blister proof” knife. Even my beloved H.E.S.T. required the use of gloves but not the Bushcrafter. I have removed the lanyard as I was not able to find something which suited me yet. Especially when I used the knife in the mud, blood… Again lanyard are great on pictures but I don’t like them in use. I don’t like to feel moisture trapped in it.
What would I change ? Sorry Sal but I do not like the hole in the blade. For one reason: I need to clean it and oil it or it’s unhygienic and a rust magnet. I would had prefer some kind of circle, even as big as a folder hole than that. I understand it’s a signature but…I would had preferred something easier to clean.
For two years the BushcraftUK has proven to be unique in my collection. Incredibly confortable in the hand and sharp and tough and strong in the field. It’s all business. The amazing South Fork has not yet been able to kick it out of my bag. I plan to use it with the Stretch and my good old Tramontana Machette as combo. I’m not a lumberjack after all, am I ?
My M390 got a very thin factory edge and I was able to maintain mainly by stropping on leather. it cuts like a laser.
Compared to my new Stretch the difference was hug. The C90 with a thinner blade got a thick edge. I was not able to measure it but it’s a good 40°…
So I have decided to convex the edge of that thin full flat ground blade, even if ZDP 189 is a bear to sharp.
My first step has been with Lansky diamond pads for eliminating the shoulder of the thick edge. I was able to do it with out scratch the flat of the blade.
Then I have stropped the blade on leather with white compound until I got a mirror finish.
The performance is night and day. I will check now how the ZDP189 convexed edge will behave, but I had applied the same treatment with a Michael Walker which is now used every week end as a skinning knife. Anyway, I have been able to cut through a plastic bottle’s butt is one pushcut. My C90CF is now laser sharp. As sharp as my Gayle Bradley but certainly not as strong. We will check that later.
Talking about sharpness. The jimping is really sharp and hurting the hand. Again diamonds has given me the possibility to eliminate those teeths. The new version of the Stretch got better jimping, the same as those applied on the choil.
So now, my Stretch is ready for more tests, tonight it will tomatoes slicing time.
Oh yes it cuts…
For twice these last months, I was considering myself being able to announce my best “EDC ever”. After the Sage 2 Sebenza inheritance, the “hard to get razor” rare Spyderco Paramillie in S90V, the megasharp little Michael Walker, the solid and forgiving Gayle Bradley, the wonderfully engineered Native, the minimalist friendly Pointu, the chopping solid Lionspy, the Techno which is a pure flawless stout companion and lately the Spyderco Southard which is such a great flipping friend served by a crapped clip. I love all of them and I considered myself spoiled. My case is closed.
Now what would be Sal Glesser favorite EDC ?
I knew the Stretch was a special project developped by Sal “in house” for his own needs and I was able to notice how the Stretch was continuing to continued into a Spyderco classic, providing one of the best high tech steel into a lightweight package: the discontinuated C90 and C90BL and the new Green Arrow: C90PGRE.
“The C90 Stretch started as a pet-project lockback knife design. Spyderco’s owner and chief designer made it for his personal use, incorporating features he wanted. He wanted high performance blade steel with edge retention super-powers for outdoor cutting: things like wood, rope and anything encountered in the wild. It had to work equally well indoors on cardboard, mail and fingernails. He sized it so it wouldn’t scare non’knife people and made it look slick on the off chance he’d someday have to wear a suit.”
Isn’t it exiting ? The Spyderpapa has invented a knife for his own needs and no one else. Remember, the famous C36 Military has been design for his son Eric for example… But this very C90 has been designed for no one else but Sal. “The Stretch has been a 25 year work-in-progress and we’d like to continue to make it better. The ZDP FRN version finds a lot of my pocket time.”
So I got now the great opportunity to pocket a Stretch. This one is the one with the handle in peel-ply carbon fiber, with a four-way clip, left/right-hand and tip-up/tip-down and a full flat ground blade of solid ZDP-189.
Quoting my friend Wouter: “Stretch II is IMO a perfect knife for the connoisseur. Its looks might be plain, the blade might seem too thin, but for the knowledgeable knife enthusiast it’s a very impressive folder.”
Ah, ZDP 189 ! I like it on my Rockstead Higo but I love it on my C22CF. On both knife I have been able to cure its chipping with ease and to convex gently their edge. Here we got a 3mm thick blade on a very thin handle: pocket easy. Despite his hourglass clip the Stretch could be the father of my Chaparral. A gentleman folder with an outdoors purpose. The Stretch is incredibly thin and oozing quality. No blade play. Smooth opening. Extraflat design. The Stretch got a James Bond’s appeal.
Mine, after twenty strops on my leather belt is now sharp as my Bushcrafter. So time to test it and to fall in love again.
But quoting Spoonrobot: “Writing about a specific hobby always brings some inherent problems, there are only so many ways to praise a folding knife. I recently made the mistake of declaring a knife “the sharpest out of the box I’ve ever seen.” Only to have the next two knives prove to be even sharper. This makes it quite hard to be taken seriously, so in light of this I’ve decided to make slightly less grandiose claims when describing my newest slicey thing.”
Part II: improving the Stretch’s edge.
Using the Southard is a pure pleasure.
Because you got a thin edge and a thick spine.
The full belly has proven to be hard to mistrust. It’s a curved guillotine.
Cardboard sheaths are cut like with a lightsaber, tomatoes are slices thin, rabbit’s bones are cut with no chipping even wooden wine boxe from Burgandy are open with a twist of the handle.
The thick handle is really confortable for hard and long period of work. I cannot find any hot spot in this knife especially since… I have removed that awful clip.
It’s look like folded metal sheath. It’s pointy and will pierce my pocket instead, it’s shiny, sharp and will keep my knife on an high profile while clipped to my pocket.
The Southard is so nice without its clip.
Since I have Steve Rice from STR’s Backyard knifeworks who has gently sent to me one of his beautiful Lowrider’s clip he has especially invented for the Southard and a Southard part 3 is in preparation.
For now on, my C156 is clipless and this is a pure wonder. The Carpenter version of M390 has proven to be absolutly reliable as CTS 204P is really a great steel. No chipping so far. Stay razor sharp for a week long. Easy to strope on leather. Easy to maintain on ceramic.
But clip are an issue on a lot of flipper. Check the Massdrop Falcon for example.
You can see there is a lot of attention to detail. I love how the blade flush with the handle, especially near the pivot. I love the No Spin construction. The absence of any play in any direction. This folding knife looks more solid and beefy than my Sebenzas !
The flipper is acting as a guard. But its all rounded so choking up the blade is possible. The asymetrical handle’s slabs/liners are not a big deal as they are providing a very comfortable experience.
As you can notice the blade of the Southard got something special. It’s full belly but also it seems like the tip is able to catch the cutting material. Like the last centimeter toward the tip is a claw. When I cut with my Southard I can feel all the length of the edge being in use. This is really something unique in that edge design. The blade cuts with ease without any drift. Like the Spyderco Dodo.
Yes, the Dodo is one my favorite whittling knife. Not for fine work but to cut a rod from a tree. The continious curves in the Dodo edge make it a great matter separator. The Dodo was able to cut into hardwood with less energy than any of my knives. The belly and the geometry of the Southard are in the same league.
Now the thick spine is a pleasure for my thumb when I’m doing powerful pushcuts. I can choke up the blade beyond the flipper and work with all my weight. Thanks also to its thick square handle I do not need gloves like with the Lionspy or my Sage 2.
So my mileage with that flipping beauty so far is exceeding my expectations. It’s even hard for me to enjoy my Techno or my Tuff or my Persian: the Flipper is really addictive and beyond the gimmick there is a really thoughtful design in that Southard.
Easy to use. Confortable. Easy to clean.Easy to keep razor sharp.
The Southard is also an eyecandy.
Anyway, mine has been used daily, in the plate, the kitchen, the wood, the boat, the city, the car, the office, the field, the dirt, the rain, the sea… It cuts. Stay sharp. Is easy on my palm. Is nice in my eyes.
No clip, more clip.
The Techno clip is really the best. The Techno is the only SPyderco folder which is absolutly flawless IMHO.
Fred Perrin and Jerry van Cook ?
CTS 204P is easy on white ceramic and the edge is kept on the popping hair sharp level.
Eye candy when closed too !
“One of the most advanced Spyderco folders ever produced.”
dixit Spyderco on their site
OK let’s give a look.
Oh no, I’m in love again. I really thought the Wonderful Techno would be the Ultimate EDC, even beating the amazing Michael Walker and the great Gayle Bradley and the Legendary Military and the perfect Native 5 and…. but the Gods of the Hole in The Blade got their own way.
Why ? Tell me why ?
Why the Southard is not two inch longer and would loss its portability? At an hair under 8 inches (202mm) open and 114 mm closed (great blade/handle ratio BTW) this knife is not unforgettable once clipped: you forget it even when not clipped. Worst than that, I’m able to carry the Southard in my watch pocket.
Arrrgh. Brad Southard, if you hear me, I hate you for this amazing design.
And thank you. Thank you for giving us that pointy shiny clip with high visibility. Thank you ! At least you have left something to improve. Lucky us.
This clip is a joke actually.
The knife could be also a Spyderjoke. Go figure:
This the first Spyderco to be not advertised for its ease of opening with its hole. “Don’t use the hole ! It got a flipper ! ”
OK as far as I’m concern the only Spydercos with useless holes are their fixed blades but the SPOT, SWICK… inspired by Fred Perrin’s Lagriffe.
So “Don’t use the hole as primary opening device… use the Flipper”.
In France Flipper is a dolphin. For Spyderco it’s a pedal. Some Dolphin are also pedal but only during le Tour de France and this is another story.
OK let’s talk about its blade. Have you notice its belly ? From the tip to the flipper, the edge does a beautiful arc. It means, cutting power.
The blade is 4mm thick but its edge is thin. This means a lot of cutting power. I was able to cut through hard plastic with the same ease as my Gayle Bradley. this is impressive.
The flipper, once the knife is open offers a guard to your finger erasing any fears of lock failure.
The lock ? A Reeve Integral Lock with some refinement like a system to prevent over bending the lockbar. Very clever.
Lets’ talk about smoothness. With its wide ball bearing pivot the action on the flipper is smooth and only the friction of the lock bar seems to brake the movement. It’s not as smooth as the Gayle Bradley but it’s at least as smooth as the Lionspy and much smoother than the Tuff, both R.I.L. folders.
Taiching is again showing how they hare great in manufacturing. The blade is dead centered and everything is perfect but the clip.
There is one detail I love: no stop pin. The stop pin is hidden near the axis. With its open handle the Southard is a breeze to clean.
The absence of hump of the hole makes it a beauty. With its very uncommon blade mixing drop point and sheepfoot… with the back of the blade offering a thumb space to rest. All angle are smooth but the G10 gives a great grip.
The Southard is a pure hardecore folder. You feel you could thrust it with full force. The flipper/guard will prevent any slippering and lock failure.
This is a knife wich express itself in your hand. Perfectly balanced. It’s fast and easy to put in use. Really this is something to experiment by yourself. This is not a big knife but with its 1/1 handle ratio it’s all business.
The steel is one of the latest powder metallurgy Über Alloy made by Carpenter the CTS 204P. The kind of monster steel with almost 2 percent of carbon. For now the knife is so sharp, I was able to cut cardboard with the ease hollow ground blade desserve. I was laos able to stumble on a stable.
And…. zero damage to the edge. As far as I’m concern I’m quite impressed by the new generation of Powder Steel.
Now the handle is a little on the squarish side. It’s thick as there is a brown G10 liner over a liner of titanium. This asymetry could be a show stopper for some but actually I like the way the handle fills the palm of my hand. The knife is anchored. I will see in the next review if there is any hot spots… I already spot one: the clip !
The Persian carpet, even the most beautiful got all a little imperfection. For one reason, only God can create perfection not humans.
This is the meaning of that clip.
This piece of shining metal has already tried to pierce my denims pocket… and it hurts my palm. This is the only imperfection of the Southard who’s desserved better. BTW a dremel should be able to round that pointy tip on that prehistoric clip…
But this is true. My Techno, for example, is absolutly flawless. Nothing to sand on the handle. Everything is perfect.
And the Southard got a Perfect Flaw. But you forgive everything to such a Flipping Beauty.
The C156GBN is the kind of folder who can make you sold all your other knives. It’s ‘that’ great.
Peekaboo in the pocket watch… no clip used.
I had asked my Dutch friend JD to write a review of the Spyderco Air. He’s a big fan of small blades. From the classic slipoint to the most modern design, he’s always seeking for the best geometry in cutting. Through the years he has developped an wide encyclopedic knowledge in cutlery but also has proven to be the best free hand sharpener I have ever met, being able to enhance any edge to a very high level of pure performance. Here is his review of the Spyderco Air:
I have had the Air in my possession for 4 months of which I have carried it for about two. When I first got it I liked the knife overall but thought it was too thick behind the edge and found blade finish a little rough. Since then I have thinned out the shoulder of the edge, so now the blade flows from the back to the edge in a slightly convex curve. The first halve centimeter from the edge is now just a little thicker than on an Opinel in the same area. I consider the blade grind on Opinels to be a benchmark of a thin, very well cutting, folder blade. I used an extra course DMT diamond stone for most of the shaping. It was then cleaned up with sandpaper. The edge was finished on an extra fine DMT stone. It how has a fine jet toothy edge that will easily cut phonebook paper, shave arm hair, as well as be grabby enough to bite into and cut plastic packaging material.
I tried sharpening it with the brown Spyderco ceramic hone. A hone that I have good experiences with sharpening other (Spyderco) knives. But found that for this knife it was not the right tool for the job. It polished more than it ground and so was right for the shaping part of sharpening. The M4 steel the blade is made of is quite wear resistant compared to, for instance, VG10, a steel Spyderco uses in many of its popular models. M4 is not stainless.
I use the Air to cut up an apple in the evening, to cut a piece of cheese or to get liverwurst from its plastic packaging. It also works well for opening up a kaiser roll and putting butter on it for lunch (butter with the back of the blade). It work great for the usual edc tasks of opening packages and cutting paper. With use, mostly thanks to the apples, it has developed a nice dark patina.
The handle feels good in the hand. No sharp points and, thank goodness, no jimping! Only when you push hard on it does the open construction become a little uncomfortable.
The Air opens and closes smoothly. The linerlock on my example has moved a little past the middle of the locking ramp. Slightly further then when new.
The detent is strong enough to keep the knife savely closed in the pocket.
In the pocket you hardly notice it, it is so light and compact. I have not missed a pocket clip at all! I think on this knife a clip would compromise the ergonomics of the handle to much.
The more I carry this knife the more I enjoy it. Thinning behind the edge make all the difference! It has transformed the knife from okay to a great cutter.