A star is born! A look at the Spyderco Alcyone by JD

At the end of the 2017 Spyderco meet in Amsterdam we received the Spyderco Polestar. A year later, at the the 2018 edition of this event, we were presented with its smaller brother the Alcyone. Nemo gave his example to Pascal who wrote and excellent review of the name of the knife, and his experiences with the it during his use.  Here I will present my experiences with this knife.

I have reviewed the Polestar before.  As the Alcyone and the Polestar are made of the same material and share many features, here I will focus on the things that I noticed to be different.

To start with the biggest and most obvious difference: the size! The Alcyone comes with a 7,4cm (2,9inch) blade where the Polestar’s is 8,4cm (3,3inc). This makes it more edc friendly for me. I have carried it in the waistband comfortably for a month at the moment of writing.

The design is quintessential Spyderco. Put is next to other knives that have been designed by Spyderco’s founder Sal Glesser, and the family resemblance is unmistakeable. Sal puts a lot of attention into designing knives that work great in the hand, and he definitely succeeded with the design of the Alcyone. It feels pleasant in the hand and offers a lot of control while cutting. Both in normal edge-out as well as edge-in grips, like when you are pealing something. Good stuff!

New the edge on my example was not very good. It could not push cut receipt paper and only slice it with difficulty. So it needed to be resharpened before I could carry and use it. The edge was also thicker that I liked. Edges on new production knives often are. (Though overall the edges on new Spyderco’s have become a lot better at this in recent years.) So I took out the well used extra course DMT Diamond hone and set to work. After the thinning I refined it on the diamond side on the Fallkniven DC4. I was not hard to put a head hair splitting edge on the knife this way. Now it cuts very well! In use the BD1 steel blade has proven to hold and edge well and be easy to keep sharp.

The Alcyone had a noticeably stiffer action out on the box than the Polestar. The Polestar could be middle-finger-flicked from the get-go, not so the Alcyone. Opening the blade with the thump though was easy to do. Putting a little nano oil on the pivot and the detent ball made it a little smoother. The biggest difference though was made when I unscrewed and re-tightened the pivot and handle screws. After I did that the knife became noticeably smoother and it became possible to middle-finger-flick the knife. Which is a lot of fun!

I also took the knife apart. Not something I often do but I was curious to see what for a effect it would have on the smoothness, and how difficult it would be to do. It proved to be an easy operation but did not have more effect on the smoothness than releasing and re-tightening the screws had had.

The Alcyone has proven to be and excellent edc in the month that I carried and used it. A great design that just needed a little t.l.c. to shine at its full brightness!

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Manix 2 Lockback C101MBGP2 — Native 5.2 Grand Daddy !

This version of the Manix is equipped with one of the strongest lock ever produce by Spyderco in a light package. We are touching here a “Knife of Excellence” and one of the best Eric Glesser’s design. Sadly it is discontinuited in 2019 but this is also the last chance for you to get an absolute fabulous workhorse at a great price. Mine came for 99 dollars…

Can you imagine better bargain for an all made American knife of high performance ?

The operation of the lock goes deep in the notch while unlocking.
And the G10 is factory smoothed (I have used 800 grid to get it even smoother later)  and the action is perfect. Lockback lovers can only fall deeply in love with this one.

The pivot screws are huge even compare hardchore folders like the Yojimbo2 and it is only a part of the enhanced strength of this version as also the blade is a little thicker than normal Manix 2 version.

Here the blade thickness is 0.145″ (3.7 millimeters)
against the usual Manix  thickness of 0.125″ (3.2 mm) !!
Half a millimeter in black thickness is a simple way to have a stronger blade.

G10 is extraordinarily strong and with such thick scales this version of the Manix do not need any steel liners which can rust or get dirty too easily, especially if they are skeletonized !! So this thick G10 use is a great plus in my book: the Manix 2 Lockback is easy to clean and easy to check for grim … It’s a plus for hunters which use their knives in the fiels were hair and blood can get inside the handle. I should also mention than this one, like all my Native 5 got ZERO vertical play and his so smooth it is fun to flick open.
Also don’t forget you can make stealth fixed blade (even Fred Perrin made Balisong’s blade and handles) only with G10: this is a real solid material.
Here the blade is made of S30V. Spyderco knows how to heat treat than steel so this is a no brainer.

The plain stell back space and thick G10 slabs of the handle are just wonderful to avoid blisters. This is where you recognized a tool you can use hard without hand sore.
The balance of the knife is also improved with this full G10 construction, the sweet point is just under the second horn of the handle not the one of the choil, the other further back.
Well it is a lightweight linerless handle construction, fine-textured G10 scales and a stainless steel backspacer ! There is no lateral movement. You know my favorite expression “built like a tank“… so here we go !

The tolerance and the QC are really high. The action is smooth and the blade locks with a firm “KLAK!!”

As you can see, as much as I love the Shaman design, this Manix 2 is the true daddy of the linerless G10 version of the Native. Again a very solid and light EDC.
In both the ergonomy is at its zenith: large choil, no jimping madness the handle spouses your palm.

Both are made in Golden, Colorado, a plant with now very high tolerance and excellent quality control: the blade is perfectly centered.

So what do you got here ? A incredibly solid and versatile outdoors knife ! Easy to clean and maintain, rock strong locking system and of course the full flat ground leaf shape blade which is a must in cutting control. Strong lock, stronger blade, great ergos… This is really a shame this knife is discontinuited …

“We were sanding in the rain – like we invented sanding
There’s a light in the sky from a million street lights
And we danced all the steps from all those old time movies
Rolling down the hill with laughing hearts…”

 

 

Morakniv… in the wilderness of my garden

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In my latest review, Pear of Cydonia, I got surprised by the chemical reaction when cutting quinces with the Morakniv ; immediately the quince’s juice and its high concentration in tannins combined with carbon steel blade lead to dark traces on the fruit and accelerated the blade’s patina. Many thanks to Max Wedges for his explantations:
Now quince is high on Tanins, & the “1095” steel in the Carbon is high on Manganese… thus black staining. (Natural “bluing”… like on O1 that has even more Manganese) I never use Carbon with Quince, or Pumpkin (funny “sardine” taste”).

So I had stopped testing the knife in those conditions. That was frustrating and is why I have extensively used it this morning in the tamed outdoor wilderness of my garden!

The Morakniv Pro C is classified among the Construction Knives by the manufacturer. By construction they refer to building worker professionals like electricians, carpenters, roofers… The knife is comfortable in the hand even when applying force. The blade grind is a Scandi type (or Zero ground Saber) and the steel in this case is the Carbon steel that needs to be kept dry and is subject to patina. For more information, best is to go to their website and view their page Pro C .

Step 1: easy stuff. Pose with the metallic mosquito, partly laying in sage and on the dried stems it just cut. It was very easy and fast to cut the stems taken as a handful. Pro C was really sharp and gently pushing through was sufficient.

Step 2: getting a bit tougher. The Mexican orange bush. Pro C cuts these thicker stems very easily. More than just a decent cut, you get a cut with de scent!

Step 3: larger diameters and the stems are getting tougher. Pro C does great bevel cuts in Kerria given it’s a bit tricky as the exterior is hard whereas the center is soft and foamy. By the way bevel cuts is the secret to keep flowers longer in a vase because it does not crush the canals in which the water circulates (unlike when using a shear).

Step 4: Small branches from a birch and from a Blue Ceanothus. I use the Latin name because I cannot find the English translation. In French: “Céanothe Bleu”. Here it was necessary to use both hands and the toughest was the Blue Ceanothus because the branches were dead and hence very dry and hard. So the right hand holding the grip and the left pushing the blade’s spine. The spine being not grinded, but polished makes it soft when pushing the blade with the thumb; no sharp edges. The scandi shaped blade reveals its power here; it sinks into the wood while always being in control.

Step 5: The wood gets harder. In one case I have cut dead and dry rose bush branches and equally dry bamboo. In fact, Pro C is really a workhorse both in a controlled push configuration (rose bush) and in a fast yank against the bamboo. In both cases the result is very neat and we are not in the hands of… defeat!

Step 6: we now know that in Pro C, “C” does not only stand for Carbone… and no I did not cut my neighbor’s cat!

In summary I have been really favorably surprised by this knife’s capabilities. Once all these tests done, the edge needed to resume its initial state and the Carbone steel is one that makes that a friendly task.

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Pingo Blue C163PBL K390 Exclusive Edge Matters Edition

My first (black) Pingo was almost 6 years ago. Since, Pascal has reviewed his (orange) Pingo… in his entertaining review Pingo Star !
I got the opportunity to get a very rare beast: a blue Pingo with K390 steel blade and studs to mask the tiny trademark hole and protect it from lint.

First I have noticed is the very firm and strong spring in this one, much stronger than my previous version. It is not the easiest opener with stud which is good as it keeps up its legal character: this is a two hands opening knife which can be open with a painful thumb. 😀

Now about the steel K390 is known to me as a friendly steel. I call it an hyper steel !

CHEMICAL COMPOSITION
C Si Mn Cr Mo V W Co
2.47 0.55 0.40 4.20 3.80 9.00 1.00 2.00

The numbers are talking for themselves !!
This is not a stainless steel with carbides forms from Vanadium, Tungsten and Chrome (which is not used for stainless purpose here)…
It will get a patina very quick on daily use (especially eating and cutting meat) and this patina will protect the steel even better. It will show some character in its legality.

What a beautiful tool ! It will be a beater as he name will be Bluebeat !

“Gazing into the heavens on a night as clear as ice
We held our breath
As a new jewel glistens in the Belt of Orion
Out to the west
And parked up on the ridge between all the different lands
I feel I’ve always been here
Do we go back to the city, back to the lights
To the unforgiven world or on into the night
Where there’s always something new to fall in love with
Searching after something new to fall in love with
There’s always got to be something new to fall in love with…”

Bluebeat New Model Army.

So again Spyderco has provided a non locking sub 3 inches spyder with one of the best super “engine” available hence the fun of using it hard!

It can disappear in the watch pocket. There is no reason to leave it behind !

Of course I needed to convex the edge a great deal as I know how stable this alloy is on thin edge. So no fears in making a real blue razor from it.

Back to the Tusk!

Before the Spydiechef, the Tusk has been the first Spyderco with LC200N blade.
This one needs to get back to sharp after being used by Pascal since his first review.

From Spyderco:
“The original concept of the Tusk was conceived by Sal Glesser in the early 1980’s. More than 25 years later, his son Eric picked up the project and made it a reality, creating a truly extraordinary multi-function mariner’s tool. The Tusk’s handle is precision machined from two slabs of solid titanium. One end houses a Plain Edged blade ground from LC 200 N steel—a nitrogen-alloyed tool steel that offers extreme toughness and superior corrosion resistance—and locks open via a sturdy Reeve Integral Lock (R.I.L.) mechanism.

At the other end of the Tusk’s handle is a 300-series stainless steel marlinspike, which features a unique round-to-square cross section for increased leverage when loosening knots. A milled slot in the marlinspike’s body and the gap between it and the handle also serve as shackle keys for unscrewing and tightening threaded shackles. To allow the marlinspike and its shackle key to withstand extreme leverage during use, it locks securely in place with Spyderco’s patented Ball Bearing Lock™ mechanism containing a special ceramic ball. Constructed entirely of highly rust-resistant, state-of-the-art materials, the Tusk literally began as a tool that was ahead of its time, but whose time has now come.”
This is something of a “heritage” knife for Spyderco (i.e., the father’s idea, and the son’s design)…

The blade’s saber grind is not on the thin side but it can get a little better with diamonds. The Tusk is like a Ferrari hence its high price. I do believe it was also some tests for the Taichung factory. Some kind of high prized yachtman tool.

On the Amazon.com dumb side of their site: because of the ceramic ball lock they have add a message:
“WARNING: CHOKING HAZARD — Toy contains a marble. Not for children under 3 yrs.”

The shackle key is a little on the small size and did not work with all the shackles Pascal had on his boat. Also we were able to force close the marlinspike with our bare hands. The ceramic ball lock-up for the marlin spike is free floating and, therefore will not form any wear spot while in use and, is very smooth in operation. It also seems I cannot reproduced that lock failure now…Perhaps it was dirty or something ? Anyway…

It does not make the Tusk spike dangerous for hard use (the spike got a choil) and it can get a lot of utility from board to starboard… And yes, it’s almost addictive to untie an dry salty knot with it hence the handy clip to keep the Tusk close.

The tusk is a handy tool to loosen knots without having to cut the rope or cordage and forget about any corrosion in salty environment.
It’s also a crew knife that would deploy its blade with ease, and remain locked open under any aggressive uses while under way.

Yojimbo2: swapping the blades back and forth.

My project when I had ordered the Jade Yojimbo2 was to swap the blades with my Carbon Fiber / S90V Yojimbo2, to make a vinegar patina and enjoy a unique CPM M4/ Carbon fiber Yojimbo2.
Yeah well…
I have done it but the patina.

Here is the result. But you know what… As great as the CF handle is… this Jade version got something really special. I love the smoothness I have obtained by sanding the natural G10 and the action is smoother than butter.

So I have swapped it again. It was very easy.
What I can notice about this “sterile” experience is how well adjusted those Golden spawns can be. In both configurations the action was smooth as glass and the blade perfectly centered. It’s a joy to dismount and put back together.
So it’s just me, in the end, seeing the deep carry clip going esthetically much better on Jade natural scales and the heft of the BladeHQ special edition being more appealing to me. Also these transparent slaps help a lot for a non threatening aspect of a very pointy knife. I have already used twice in public place without being noticed…
So back to the start after some nano oiling and putting some fresh blue loctite on strategic screws: pivot and clip. Great knives easy to maintain clean even in the inside.

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From The Edge To The Point Since 1995

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