Tag Archives: M390

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 https://forum.spyderco.com/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=87264&start=40#p1442735

shows is all. You can make a vintage lockback folder with a ball bearing driven pivot. And suddenly your understand the Spy Opera is a nostalgia flick opening knife.

The Spy Opera is a version of Lionsteel Opera “spyderized” which means:
adding a spyderhole, a clip, a topnotch hype steel… It’s the difference between a BMW Series 3 and a BMW M3. Also the price has been multiplied by 3 compared to the modest Lionsteel Opera in this rendition.
Taxes for importing to US a European made knife is not stranger to the high prices.

At the first glimpse, the micarta handle, the decorating screws, the beveled and rounded lockbar and spacer: this is a looker, but is the Spy Opera a keeper.
In my case, no, as it belong to my friend Geoffrey from Normandeep.com (a diver’s shop in Normandy near Omaha Beach) who was gentle enough to send to me some of his personal knives we wanted to review. Thank you Geoffrey !
He told me he has bought this knife and was not expecting to be surprised by that quality.
He’s true. The action is stellar. certainly the smoothest lockback I have ever used. Just a little smoother than the Native V or the Siren.
Now we know why: a ball bearing instead of washers.

A great detail about that knife is the total absence of any vertical bladeplay. This is the plague of lockbacks in my book and the Maniago folder is rock solid.

Ball bearing are great for fidgeting and smooth action but could be tricky in sandy or muddy environment. But the Spyopera is destined to be some gentleman folder for the US residents and typically a hunting folder for the Italian.

That shape of blade, that long handle, it is typically what my friend Valter would love for hunting and skinning. He would be especially keen of that M390 blade as hare’s skinning is especially hard on blade.
For that take a look at the Walker C22 in ZDP189 or his Native in CPM110V he has used for many hunting seasons.

Follow the link for the articles with Valter and his hunting dogs:

https://nemoknivesreview.com/tag/valter-nencetti/

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”. 😀

Para 3 blades swapping on New Year’s Eve

I got two Para3: a M390 Lightweight and I got a Maxamet Copper handled.
The Lightweight is so good,  I wanted to use the 70 HRC blade on that plateform.
Nothing wrong with M390 which is just a great EDC steel with stellar performances but staining steels are part of DNA.
After watching Nick Shabazz having the same idea and filming it, once the novelty of the M390 faded away, I have decided to step ahead. It was really easy to do it but for the stoppong pin of the lightweight (Torx 6) which was dismounted with two tools as it was turning inside the handle.

Easily disassembled copper scales.

Now mounted on the lightweight handle.
For more about disassembling a Para3 lightweight here is Eric Glesser’s Video.

Here we go: two excellent knives. As you can notice they are users.

I have been able to thin the edge of the M390 when the Maxamet refused to give away any particules…

The Spyder logo is golden on the M390 and black on the Maxamet.

Perfectly centered blades on both and smooth action with no lateral play.
Here my Little Red Hoodie ready for tonight 24 oysters opening.

Happy Saint Sly everyone !

Maxamet being more denser it has add 3 grams on the scales.

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Para 3 Lightweight DLT Trading Exclusive – C223PRD – My Little Red Riding Hood !

It is light, it is red and it is cute and can skin a wolf or granny’s apple ?
DLT Exclusive M390 steel blade on the Para 3 Light plateforme has hit the old continent after NOT taking any shortcut… It was stuck in Paris airport for a week !Action is perfect. The blade is centered. Drop chute works perfectly. This DLT Trading Exclusive is clicking all the right buttons as I was not really excited to test this knife without some spicy exclusive steel.
Bringing the compression lock to the FRN is a Tour de Force Eric and Sal can be proud of.
At 69 grammes it bring a very strong little big knife into the “pocket and forget” realm.
This is going to be a very Sheeple friendly knife thanks to its red scale and deep carry clip.
I love high performance blade on FRN. My Manix Lightweight is a CPM 110V version and my favorite holiday knife as it is easy to put in a luggage and keep its sharpness for weeks.
This is Little Red Riding Hood is destined to de-throne it. Less moving parts, easier to clean. Very impressive quality !
And M390 heat treated by Spyderco is a sure value since 2012 ! :-)More to come soon as right in the pocket it goes ! Riding !“But Grandmother! What big teeth you have,” said Little Red Riding Hood her voice quivering slightly.My own copper Maxamet Version is just a really heavy weight.SO LIGHT…
“The better to eat you with, my dear,” roared the wolf and he leapt out of the bed…Deep carry clip and excellent lanyard hole placement.

Real Steel “Megalodon 2017” RS9611 – Enter The Dragon !

RS9611 Real Steel Megalodon

Again I got a really great bargain and service from my favorite Ebay retailer: Caledon2 Whole Sale Knives and Swords. Kuddos to them to beat record in shipping each time, mine arrived 4 days before its ETA.

I have found this Real Steel Megalodon 2017 model while browsing for a sturdy flipper three months ago.
Eventually I have found the Zero Tolerance ZT0770 as the Megalodon was not available. But I was caught by the beautiful lines and the materials used in this model. Chinese knives production are getting better and better and Real Steel is the new kid on the block in high end cutting tools.

According to https://chinaknives.blogspot.fr (Thanks Wayne for the head up!)

The brand was created in 2013 by the same people who brought you Sanrenmu knives.
Those folks saw the factory, that produced good quality OEM knives for American companies and cheap, but well made budget “original” design knives and thoughty it could be something bigger.
At first, they based on the same designers, that produced Sanrenmu original knives, the most known of them is Liang Gang, that designed some of SRM’s best known models. That is the reason that some of RealSteel’s designs look a lot like the Sanrenmu models (probably are the same, but with different branding).
Their breakthrough (in my opinion) came when they started working with Huang Liang Zhi, better known by the name Carson (Tech Labs). His designs were well known to the people who are interested in Chinese knives, but the quality of his knives is incredible, and second to none (maybe except some of Kevin John work).
Together they made an aluminium version of the Carson Griffin and also released his boiling flipper design under the name Megalodon (probably just put RealSteel logo on the Carson made knife).
There has been some conspiracy on YouTube lately, claiming that Carson has sold his knifemaking factory to RealSteel, but that information was proven to be wrong and was just speculation of one specific Youtuber with big imagination. Carson himself took a photo with his knives to prove this wrong.”

According to Real Steel:
“At the request of many of our fans, we have re-dedicated ourselves to the Megalodon. However Realsteel would not be Realsteel if we were satisfied with a simple relaunch of the old model. We have taken the strengths of the original megalodon on the basis of your feedback and renewed every single component. The result is a megalodon, which at first glance looks like its predecessor, but in reality it is surpassing its predecessor in its blade steel, in its finish and in many other details. This makes it interesting not only for users with the highest demands, but also for collectors.”

The Meg is destined to be a flagship. Mine is numbered  “474 “and come in a very nice box with its certificate and the name of the knifemakers: Carson Huang and Mr Li in the city of Huangao on the Yellow Sea, facing Korea. Funny to see how many people are thinking the late Kit Carson who invented the flipper is behind this one.

I knew M390 mainly from that incredibly great Spyderco Military Sprint Run.
For Jim Ankerson: “M390 even after 550 cuts it was still not getting noticeably harder to cut the rope, after 600 cuts it was still pretty easy and it would still slice paper clean…” he said in a test versus ZDP189 7 years ago.
So M390 is something of a super steel which, if well heat treated, can beat records. Again Jim Ankerson tests makes M390 ahead of many competitors for rope cutting.

The clip is not has good as my Mantra 2 or ZT0770 but it does the trick despite a very unorthodox design made to get caught in the lips of the pocket. There is a warp in the clip look which combined with the gap in the handle can make the pocket insertion tricky. The G10 version doesn’t have this issue.

Anyway, the Megalodon handle is some kind of work of art. It shows how the industry has progressed in machining titanium. Though it is not as impressive as the Slycz Bowie handle … But beautiful curves and clever design which made the illusion of a longer blade compared to its handle. It’s a very sleek piece of cutlery.
You got all the last gizmo in the knife industry. The Integral Lock is renforced again wear and has a security to avoid bending the spring too far for example.


There is milling on the inside of the scales making the full titanium handle very light and the knife is very well balanced once the blade is deployed.

The action is incredibly smooth thanks to its “Pin Bearing”. Kevin Cleary in his great video on 7th minutes explain it. No balls but pins. Simple as that.
The action is as smooth as the Rubicon 2 which means a really really smooth experience. Better than my Mantra 2 and quieter than the ZT0770 spring assist authoritarian opening.

The 3,5mm thick beautiful full flat blade is a razor right out of the box and the edge is thin. With 10 cm long this is not a short tool but it carries quiet well.
I have start to thin the edge further and you can see pictures of the process on our Facebook Group here.

The full open design of the handle makes it easy to rinse after use and I really think this Chinese flipper is made for being used in the wood with no afterthought. China is making now great “separators of matters” for the money, from the Spyderco Polestar, the Byrd series and now to the Real Steel high ends top of the notch folders, I think, after “Made In Taiwan”, “Made In China” is soon going to be a quality label.
But yet they are really shy about that.
“Real Steel” are word in English not Chinese.
And nowhere on the knife you will found “Made In China”  or  “Huangao” written…
Shyness versus China ?

To quote Gary W. Graley on his review on Bladeforums. on the difference with G10 version:

“I did end up getting one of the Ti versions, also a very nice knife, VERY smooth flipper and solid lockup,
Some differences between the G10 and this Ti version

Price, yep, you knew that was going to be there, it’s quite a bit above but with that you do get needle bearings for the pivot mech, Ti frame lock and M390 steel, all add up to be worth the extra price tag

the blade is a smidgen longer than the G10 versions

the blade grind is slightly thicker and as you can see ground a bit different, I am getting about .023″ at the edge bevel where the G10 I’m getting about .017″ so that’s a good bit thicker, but, it is still pretty thinly ground compared to a lot of folders out there, it does cut well.

Handle, the thickness of the handle is thinner than the G10, and of course being Ti it is a little smoother, but the contours provide adequate grip, I do like the thicker G10 handles myself though.

Overall, these are BOTH excellent value knives, highly recommend either one.”

The blade is centered.




Comparaison with other classics.



Comparaison with my 1996 Sebenza.


With the Spyderco Slysz Bowie.


With my CPM Cruwear Military.


With the mighty K2 !


a very Steampunk clip.



It cuts the Coke bottle butt with zero issues but it could and should do better.
Reprofiling is on its way here.


Sprint Run Spyderco Military C36 with M390 Steel

Imagine a C36 Military with Carbon Fiber handle instead of G10, dual liners when my old Millie in CPM440V got only one and a black aluminium back spacer… now Imagine the chance to test the best steel in the Sprint Runs manufactured in Golden…
Ah, the C36 is available for little time in a limited edition with M390 steel and peel ply carbon fiber… the Cheetah of military folding knives is back with a vengeance.

Spyderco Military with M390 Steel

Lightweight. Incredibly light so you forget it once it’s clipped to your pants.
Lightweight is a luxury. The choice of the materials and the refinements of the design since 1995 has kept the feather weight of this big knife.
Soldiers needs to control how much they carry. The millie is a good friend for them.
And a good friend for the hunter, the bushcrafter and the voyager.

Spyderco Military with M390 Steel

Again the C36 offers you a very pointy blade for a strong blade. This is polyvalence. The point of needle with the power of a big bad full flat ground blade in the best steels available.
No surprise this knife is a classic and even if a Military II will be produced one day, Eric Glesser at the last Minimeet in Amsterdam told me the Original Millie will be kept.
In all my Military I only saw one broken tip. It was the very first one in CPM440V (S60V) we reviewed with Fred Perrin and he was able to reground it.

Spyderco Military with M390 Steel

The big hole is perfect for Spyderdropping. The knife is open with an elegant movement and close in a breeze with or without gloves.

The quillons, created by the choil and the hump behind the hole, give all power to the blade without to go through an handle “interface”. This gives a lot of control. You are able to cut hard and quick. But also by choking up the blade you can whittle and do some precise works. This is where a Millie shines compared to for example my Lionspy which got heft and strong cutting power and certainly a stronger lock.
This is a question of choice. The nested liners in the carbon fiber handle is such a clever invention to keep an extra flat a incredibly solid tool. The balance point is just

Spyderco Military with M390 Steel

All in all, that Sprint Run is a second chance for those who could not pull the trigger on the S90V / Carbon fiber limited edition of the C36 some years ago.
Now S90V is a really strange steel. My Paramillie in S90 V is kept sharp as I don’t want to fight with diamonds to get its razor edge back. S90V do not want to lose any atoms.
One of my C36 Military came with a very keen edge. I think it’s around 20°. I was able to goes to vorpal dangerous sharpness only by stropping it on leather. I would not be able to get the same results with my equipements unless I got a lot of time on my hands.
So IMHO M390 is not S90V but so far it looks like a excellent alloy. Better than S30V in the way it keeps its high sharpness once polished (And I love to polish my edges). More to come later on a longer run. But this steel is going to be a very strong contender in the race to super powder metallurgy steels.

Spyderco Military with M390 Steel

What a pleasure to pocket a C36 again.This is an EDC which knows how to be forgotten until you need it and the range of use of this Classic is wider than many knives even many spydies. A long blade. A long handle. A research in excellence for 17 years by Sal Glesser.

Many Spydies are little big knives: short knives with great power. This one is a long knife which knows how to be light like a shorter folder. And looking at it you can be delighted by its exquisite lines in all its unique engineering details. A must.

Spyderco Military with M390 Steel