Tag Archives: CPM M4 High Speed Steel

Military C36PIN Part II: Ghost’s edge.


It has been 3 months since my Millie in CPM-M4 has landed in my pocket.
I believe it’s time for an update about it since it has been used a lot.

It is my first “new handle” C36 as mentioned here in my previous post.

Is there any change in my end line user experience ? Not really apart loving the new stop pin and the larger lanyard hole. It was easy to clean in the previous version, now it is easier and I clean it a lot as it’s used in the kitchen.

Smoothness ? As usual. The main break is the strong detent and the strong liner lock. It is open in a breeze with the major finger or by spyderdrop. The factory edge has been kept for almost three months. I have decided to refresh it at mid July and now the next step has been passed as I have convexed the edge to suit my need in cutting hard plastic (mainly bottles) before recycling.
There is no vertical or horizontal play and the liner has not moved since I got.
It’s a very very solid lock up !

Again CPM-M4 is my friend. In edge holding but also in refreshing by stropping on leather. The thin point of the blade has been used for delicate cutting on hard materials and it has been very reliable in that role. Choking up the blade gives a very nice whittling tool too.

In the kitchen the knife has been confronted to meat processing: chicken, turkey, rossbeef but also sausages hot or cold, fish…

The pointy point has been used to open a lot of hazelnuts: meaning twisting the blade to open them.
The favorite test in sharpness is how it cut tomatoes. This is a tricky fruit as it skin doesn’t have a lot of support from its flesh.

The Millie has also been used almost daily as silverware confronting its edge to hot and acidic materials. The patina did not come easily and no pit has been noticed. I use some nano oil or some olive oil to keep it in good shape, depending of my needs. Olive oil being less toxic of course.

I have invested in a titanium clip for deep carry. I have mounted it but for an unknown reason the pivot was much less smoother after. I think it is due to tolerances a the screw seems to be in some kind of tension but once removed the Millie was smooth again. Eventually I have found I love the original steel clip which is smoother to draw than any beadblasted titanium. But after sanding the titanium clip and bending it for less spring force on the pivot it was perfect for deep carry.

Today it was the opportunity to get rid of the factory edge and start a new chapter with a gently convexed edge. I have used sand paper on my old leather belt. Starting with 500 and finishing with 1000. I like a “rough” feel on my working blade. It comes from scratches and patina and it gives a lot of character but my pleasure is in a mirror finish edge.


On this model, the Jade or Natural G10 gives a very sheeple friendly look to that relatively big EDC knife. Of course it has been sand also to preserve my pocket lips. I have just kept the original feel/aggressivity of the G10 around the pivot as it is where I put my thumb.

Military C36PIN CPM M4 Exclusive Run — Ghost in the Machine

For a funny reason I give name to knives I keep. It gives them more personality. For a strange reason all my C36 Military got name starting with G like Glesser.
My Military Sprintrun CPM Cruewear is “Gandalf” because of its grey handle.
My new Military with Natural G10 (or Jade G-10) and CPM M4 blade will be name Ghost. It’s an exclusive run for Blade HQ.

This is the first time I got the chance to handle the new version: no spacer, bigger lanyard hole, bigger screws… My first Millie “Glesser”, back in 1996 was already a new version with CPM440V (S60V) and the three screws clip. 21 years later here is what I consider the apogee in this design: a blade alloy I really love and a “light” construction.
Gandalf and Ghost weight almost the same: 124g versus 123g on my cooking electronic scale. This is a light package with a lot of cutting power.
I also love the fact that the Jade handle makes it very sheeple friendly and less “military”.

Since I have reviewed the M390 CF version and the Titanium handle version.

Now I have really convexed the grind on Gandalf for wood working.
But I wonder how it will compare to CPM M4 on Ghost.
It will be the subject of another review.

Zero Tolerance ZT0770CF – Fast and Furious.

I love my Spyderco mantra 2.
Great engineering, ergos and materials. An attention to details and a signature: Eric Glesser. He is a perfectionist and a clever one. But I do hate one thing: the trademark “little” hole. A place to catch grim and hard to clean on the field.

Why don’t you just print a circle instead to drill into the blade ? The trademark hole is even on my Spyderco fixed blades…
Anyway, the Des Horn was a first step. A second step is the ST0770CF.

I was in need of a “blind” folder. I mean a folder without any hole or thumbstub or disk.
The Real Steal Megalodon was on my list: with its beautiful lines like a Sukhoi 27, M390 steel….
But then the Zero Tolerance caught my eye through all its great reviews.

ZT knives were always synonym of heavy fat ground knives à la Strider. Not something I would enjoy as EDC.
Unless I start to follow a special project around the ZT0770in M390 and especially a version in CPM M4 (ended with 69 dollars of international shipping fees).

So I went to “La Coutelerie Tourangelle” famous for their good prices, great shipping fees (5.9 euros with tracking in France) and total absence of communication…. 😉 Just kidding, even if they are mute like a brick wall, they delivered a great service world wide.



The ZT0770CF got no name. Its blade is beadblasted. This is a user not a safe queen.
The assisted opening is strong and seems reliable. I have found some people were able to remove the spring easily and even order another bronze washer. But my idea was to have a spring making my flipping secure and complete.
Many times my flipping was not 100% on my Southard on my Domino…. and it was frustrating.
So no ball bearing on the ZT but a strong spring. Again if you don’t like it, you can remove it.
I love it.
It is positive and definitive. SCHLAKK !! It’s open.

Now if you don’t want to be noticed you can open it against your leg, halfway and with a gentle flick it is open.
All is silent.

Balance wise, the ZT is perfect: the Carbon Fibers handle is so light. There is a black spacer, beautiful and very scifi. But the point of balance is just behind the pivot ! Perfect.
The knife is “alive” in your hands.
The texture of the carbonfiber is smooth but matte. Just like my sanded G10 handles. There is enough blade to open the knife like a gentleman folder. It won’t jump from your hands, the spring is not “that” strong.
There is a detent you can also feel at the end of the blade course.
The action is smooth, enough smooth to have the gravity works fine when unlocked.
This is a beautiful knife with a great attention to details.

The liner lock is thick and nested. Easy to operate. The detent ball is visible. Everything is in place.
The jimping on the blade is not to aggressive. The jimping on the flipper is more aggressive but do not come in contact with finger once open.

The guard is very cleverly thought. The position of the pin and the jimping on the flipper. It’s a clockwork !
Closed or open, there is no hot spot on the ZT0770CF, all lines flush together: very impressive.

The pivot screw is beautiful and despite its exotic look just need a torx to be unscrew. You can rest your thumb on it, it works like my Calypso’s screw guard.
The CF handle is renforced by nested liners and despite being light the construction is very solid.

Ergos are great. I mean they suit my four fingers. I already loved on my Mantra how the flipper served as guard once the blade open. Here on the ZT the guard in integrated with flipper like on the Domino but more pronounced. I really love that configuration.

The ZT got a particular blade: high flat thinly ground with a kind of sheepfoot shape. It works.
You got some belly near the pivot and a straight edge near the point, something between a Spyderco Positron a stretch Cricket.

It cuts aggressively and pass my plastic bottle bottom with force and ease. Eventually I find the ZT’s blade is simply gorgeous, all in curves… The belly near the pivot will give a lot of power for pushcuts into wood.

I love Elmax since my Lionspy. I remember beating the crap out of it and it was really forgiving: no chipping and great sharpness.
Also I’m in love with a Squeak in Elmax with titanium handles for a year now and this pure little Italian wonder will be review soon.

Elmax is such a great knife steel. No chipping, edge stability, ease of maintaining. What not to love ?



The black clip is short but made for deep carry. This is a very low profil configuration which leave almost zero print. The knife can find a nest into the watch pocket too. We got here a very compact package and very light: a true EDC.

Great engineering all in all. Now more pictures:






Some more test once the edge is “de-shouldered”.


 

Spyderco Mantra 2 – Pure Flipper Workhorse !

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The Mantra 2 is Eric Glesser’s design and is one of a kind Spyderco as its blade’s hole is only here as a trademark. Your only way to flick the knife open is the flipper invented by Kit Carson at the end of the 90’s. There is no hump. It’s a very slick knife.

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There is a lot of edge on this blade/handle ratio as there is no choil too !  Not your typical Spydie huh ? (Apart from the autos destined for Militaries and LEO, you won’t find that in Spyderco Catalog.)
All of these makes the Mantra 2 a compact design with a deep wire pocket carry. A solid R.I.L. lock , an ergonomic handle and a full flat ground CPM M4 blade. This powder metalurgy super tool steel once introduced on Gayle Bradley’s designs has proven to be one of the best in strenght and edge retention.
So the Mantra 2 is a very powerful package which can withstand punishing and be easily washed under tap water thanks to its all open handle design (no back spacer).
Its strange nose seems here to strenghten the tip of the blade. Again with Spyderco, aesthetics come  second in their knives.

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The lock is wearproof and reinforced  with steel. All engineering details has been thought to get to the ELU a reliable heirloom tool.

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Dwarfed next to my K2, I use my M2 for mondaine chores including eating in a plate. M4 has no stain yet BTW.
It’s not the kind of knives which raise any eyebrows in the sheeple crowd which is good nowadays. It’s low profile apart from its flipping opening. There it could almost look like an auto. There is no way to open it in a softer way but to use both hands. It works also.

The deep carry clip doesn’t make it very fast to draw compared to the Wolfspyder for example. But it disappears in your pocket and is very stealthy, perfect for an EDC.

Edgewise I have found mine a little on the thick side. I will thin it even if CPM M4 can a bear on a stone.  Nothing serious there.

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All in all the Mantra 2 is a very unique design. A compact tool with a lot of applications.
Again this is a gentleman knife with the power of a much bigger knife.
Eric Glesser has provided another very clever design with the best material available and a great attention to details. This is not a safe queen but a compact and slick workhorse.

And FYI a portion of sales of the Mantra is donated to The National Parkinson Foundation.

 

Spyderco Air – Popping Sharp ! by JD

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:

 
Spyderco Air by JD
 

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.

Spyderco Air by JD

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.
JD

Gayle Bradley 2 years after – The Workhorse of outstanding performances.

Two years ago in March 2012 I have ordered and received overseas within 5 working days my Spyderco Gayle Bradley.
I knew at first glance this knife was going to be a hit. You feel it in your hand and in the way it’s operate.
Back then, some people were “blocked” by the fact it was made in Taiwan and were nagging about the fact it was not made at 100% in the USA, simply forgetting that Seki was also importing knives into the USA and since Spyderco’s first success Sal Glesser have been able to build a plant in Golden Colorado to start a local production.
Also some forumites, like myself, have been wasted their time, throwing pearls to the swines, explaining Taiwan is NOT North Korea….
But despites those “retards”, everybody able to hold a GB were going “WOW !!!”
This knife is incredibly smooth and well finished. Oh the gorgeous liners… Some friends who are also in business with Taichung told me each parts of their knives are marked and numbered. We are almost in jewelry.

Two years ago, this is my favorite hard used folding knife: why ?
Answer: outstanding performances thanks to:
its hollow grind is thin and gently convexed. The steel is great. The GB is one the best push cutter in my collection (with the C22 ZDP Walker which is a true state of the art!).
Another great asset: the chunky heavy (I got the first batch more on that later) handle.
This square handle give you a great grip for turning/twisting the edge during the cutting to remove matter, the kind of abuse the Gayle Bradley blade can withstand easily thanks to that great CPM-M4 steel!

On hard materials, the GB is the King. You control the cuts. You feel the blade making constant thick chips of removed platic/wood…. The hidden choil give the control and the “feedback”/feel of the hardware during the hard cutting. Many times you think: it won’t do it but… it does, steady and smoothly separating matters. I have noticed how the edge near the choil is usefull and got a lot of applied force for hard matters cutting. This is the same bonus you got with the small Spydie Michael Walker design. Those “hidden” choil give you a lot of leverage near the axis. You can push with all your weight on that portion of the blade, it will separate matter smoothly.

So after two years of constant use: no rust or pitting on the non stainless steel blade. No blade play what so ever. And the lock is still at the same engagement as new.
I was not able to chip /damage the handle. I was taking care of it enough not to have the liners scratched (the blade is scratched though on its sides but it gives caracter to the knife)
My GB is one of the first batch, the liner of the first version are not skeletonized and it helps a lot to rinse and to clean under tap water. It makes it a little butt heavy but I like it that way… Also the clip was so tigh I was obliged to sand the carbon fiber to have it loose. But since that first adjustement, my GB did not change a bit.
I was even able to keep it sharp with only ceramic and stropping. The edge is thin and is easy to realigned. It’s especially forgiving, like a well tempered carbon steel and with the incredible perf of a high tech alloy. I have also used the handle liners to break glass and I was glad they were exposed that way.
This is the knife I put to the test each time I got something “hairy” to cut, something, I’m not certain I can do it with a knife. And each time the Spyderco Gayle Bradly was able to do it with ease and each time I have try another knife just to check if it was able to do it as “easily” but no. The only contender is the C22 and it’s not a workhorse but a gentleman knife.
Really you can be surprise has how the GB get through wooden knots and with a twist of the handle your break the branch with no damage. The edge goes deep and the blade is resilient. What a knife !

Nemo Sandman Gayle Bradley

Nemo Sandman Gayle Bradley

Nemo Sandman Gayle Bradley

Nemo Sandman Gayle Bradley

Nemo Sandman Gayle Bradley

Edit of 20th of may 2012:
I have found those words of Gayle Bradley on the Bladeforums some times ago and I really think this is something to read:

“First of all, thank you for your interest in my Spyderco collaboration. I thought I would address some questions I have read on the forums.

I chose a hollow grind because it gives you a thinner edge with less resistance to the material being cut. The blade material (CPM M4) is so tough and strong it will allow for a very thin edge and still have ample strength for a rough use knife. (My competition knives have an edge thickness of about .014 before the sharpening bevel is ground.) The blade has belly from tip to ricasso for better cutting ability in most cases. The tip is slightly thicker for additional strength. The handle is large enough to accomodate any hand size and most types of grips. Some dimensions not covered in the spec sheet are: liners are .068; blade is .120; thickness is .517. Because of the size of the knife and thickness of the liner material, I chose carbon fiber to reduce weight and add furher strength. One last thing about CMP M4, it is not stainless, but I have found that applying silicone to the blade will prevent most corrosion and stains.

Thank you for your interest in my work-horse design and your trust in Spyderco knives.

Stay sharp, Gayle Bradley”
Nemo Sandman Gayle Bradley

Spyderco C134 Gayle Bradley: the Beauty + the Beast

The Beauty:
“The “hump” in the blade is there to house the opening hole. If Gayle submerged the hole, you couldn’t access it without a large cut-out and Gayle designed it with no cut-out.” (Sal Glesser)
Spyderco C134 Gayle Bradley
I have ordered last week to a Canadian seller on Ebay (great service from The Great Knife Shop BTW, 7 days door to door from Canada to France!) the C134 which I was inamored with since I ever saw it on the Spyderco catalog.
It was love at first sight.

Three Amigos:
AFCK M2 STARMATE GAYLE BRADLEY
Top is a BM800HS the infamous AFCK in M2. The first “tactical knife” with non stainless steel blade to caught my eye 12 years ago… It was like a space age design with grand dad blade knife !
And also my good old Starmate (#776) which has been in Hell and back and is still as solid as ever (thanks to his eccentric pivot adjustment)…

The GB is simply the smoothest out of the box. The other experience of Spydersmoothness was from my C123 Captain followed by my Paramilitary…
The fit and finish are top notch. This is a custom knife experience: elegant and hightech. Really the Taiwanese craftmen behind such a jewel are true gems and they honor Spyderco by their attention to details and their quality of production. They are jewellers !
Spyderco C134 Gayle Bradley
Sal stated that this liner lock would be as solid as a Reeve Integral Lock. (quote: “The lock is .072 thick at the interface. I would guess it’s at least as strong as any Reeve Intergral Lock (frame-lock)we’ve tested, and probably stronger. “) I believe him ! The thin blade, the gentle belly, and the deep hollow ground give a unique “pocket lightsaber” experience. You can whittle some hairs !!! And that incredible CPM M4 High Speed Steel at a RC of 65 ! This is going to be fun !!!
Gayle Bradley is to the knifemaking what Ferrari is to Formula One: performance oriented. The very nice and grippy CF handle give a real motorsport feeling. Mr Bradley is really welcom in Sal Escuderia, as we know how much Mr Glesser is in love with high performance cars ! (Eeven the “Spyder” from Spyderco comes from that love of racing and performances!)

The handle is square and heavy but I love heavy butt knives and square handles. My everlasting love for the Sharpfinger pattern always reflected that.
The balance is perfectly centered under the middle finger. The knife feel very alive and agile in the hands. It screams to be used hard !
Spyderco C134 Gayle Bradley
I also love how the choil is integrated to the handle. It’s almost invisible. The grip is really secure and I don’t have any concern about the blade to close on my finger or to have my hand slip on the edge even with wet hands.

Sukhoi27 comparaison
Mostly Spydies got a an angle at the pivot which creates an arc like in the Millie, the UKPK…or the Benchmade AFCK…
Or are more straight like the Starmate, the Police…
The heart of the Gayle Bradley (where you hold it between the thumb and the index)got a very pronounced changing of direction which breaks the general line of the knife. (The Marlin, the Harpy got that too but it’s an angle necessary to start the sickle blade shape.) The GB is the first Spyderco which got that “crank” line which can be also seen in the beautiful Sukhoi 27 profile.
This could explain the fantastic ergos of that knife.

Also as in the Starmate concept, the straight design of Gayle Bradley’s knife offers you a very confortable reverse grip or “edge up” grip. I’m also a big fan of drop point blade on a folder. This one would a great hunter knife.
Spyderco C134 Gayle Bradley
The Ti Millie may be my Spydergrail but the Gayle Bradley is my Dream EDC !
The C134 is a beast of a workhorse dress like a gentleman slipjoint. Another little big knife by Spyderco with elegance and reliability.
Oh, and I can open and close that knife with my right and my left hand with ease: there is areason why you can change the clip position after all !

cheers
Nemo

Now a quote for the designer:

First of all, thank you for your interest in my Spyderco collaboration. I thought I would address some questions I have read on the forums.

I chose a hollow grind because it gives you a thinner edge with less resistance to the material being cut.
The blade material (CPM M4) is so tough and strong it will allow for a very thin edge and still have ample strength for a rough use knife. (My competition knives have an edge thickness of about .014 before the sharpening bevel is ground.)
The blade has belly from tip to ricasso for better cutting ability in most cases.
The tip is slightly thicker for additional strength.
The handle is large enough to accomodate any hand size and most types of grips.
Some dimensions not covered in the spec sheet are: liners are .068; blade is .120; thickness is .517.
Because of the size of the knife and thickness of the liner material, I chose carbon fiber to reduce weight and add furher strength.
One last thing about CMP M4, it is not stainless, but I have found that applying silicone to the blade will prevent most corrosion and stains.

Thank you for your interest in my work-horse design and your trust in Spyderco knives.

Stay sharp,
Gayle Bradley

Here are all the information about C134 on the Spyderco catalog
Gayle designed it to be a monster cutter but it has some subtle refinement that appeals to everyone. (Joyce Laituri – Director of Marketing and Public Relations at Spyderco Inc.)
For Gayle Bradley’s Bladesports site it’s here
Quote:
Speaking of Gayle Bradley, Congratulations on his new collaboration with Spyderco. We’ve been using CPM M4 for our cutting competition knifes, and here is a chance to have a taste of that steel for everyday use. We’d like to Thank Spyderco for their generous support of our organization.

UPDATE 18 months later:
the GB is one of those knives which never left my EDC rotation.
After one year I can state that:

– this is one of the easiest knife to close and to open fast. the access to the lock has never been an issue to me and really I close it fast with confidence.

– I was not able to have rust or a real patina despite using it in the kitchen on near the see. I got some sort of grey patina but nor more no less.

-The not so pronounced choil has never been and issue and never my hand was not at least “anchored” to the handle even when wet. The hump of the spyderhole prevented any slippery.

-CPM M4 is a wonderful steel, I was even able to eliminated a nasty edge burr on a bidet !!! 🙂 (an italian bathroom is plenty of ceramic !!!!)

– My first batch GB is heavier than the new but this heft was usefull when I was probing a wall.

– I was not able to scratch anything on the handle, but the blade while cleaning it with some dry scotchbrit. No big deal.

– CPM M4 is really strobing friendly. Some compound can make magic. Mine is kept razor…

The GB goes in my pocket when I need a hardchore workhorse I can trust for any chores. The thin hollow ground blade has proven to be really usefull even for some bushcraft duty where FFG are queen.
Really this one of the fastest folder to open (spyderdrop in my case, smooth and controled) and close even with gloves. (I really still do not understand the rent and rave about the recess liner accessibility…).

Those were my two eurocents. Your mileage may vary but this is mine.

Cheers
Nemo

Pictures taken in june 2011:
Gayle Bradley, Shabaria, Le Pointu, carbon fiber
Gayle Bradley, Shabaria, Le Pointu, carbon fiber
Gayle Bradley, Shabaria, Le Pointu, carbon fiber
Gayle Bradley, Shabaria, Le Pointu, carbon fiber
Cpm M4 blade and sausage