Tag Archives: phil wilson

Spyderco Police C07GP4 – The Steel Cheetah.

I remember one of the very first advertising of the Clip It collection of Spyderco. The Police was presented in its stainless handle serrated edge version of that time (80’s…) and it was written something like: “Pure Performance” … The cheetah is a good example of incredible fast and lean animal and as this knife, it is thin and light and totally performance oriented.

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The venerable Police model designed by Sal Glesser is at its 4th version. Born in the early 80’s it is now part of Spyderco’s Legendary knives. I remember seeing some models with “Pride Integrity and Guts” engraved on their blade: they were the very first. This knife can be spotted in so many Hollywood movies, mostly in the hands of bad guys and even in the excellent classical Spike Jonze’s musical video for the Beastie Boys: Sabotage ! The stainless serrated hollow ground blade was really catching the lights hence it’s success for a dramatic entry in various films !

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I was never a real fan of the first 3 versions of the Police models even if I recognized it has a valuable tool. In my book, the Tantaka was the true heir of those years. The fourth version caught my eye as it was promoting a new steel the KC390.

Many times I had noticed some vertical play on “Made In Japan” folders from Spyderco and decided to buy one if only I could test it before.
But this one came from a Massdrop sale and I was very happy to get one with zero blade play in any direction. Mine feels solid and knowing how strong a good backlock is, this flat long folder is really impressive. So it was about time to review this venerable classic folder which is delivered with a plain edge only and K390 … but why choosing a “staining “steel high performance steel when the Police as always been serrated and stainless ?

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“We make quite a few designs for the Law Enforcement market at this time, so the design for Police use is (not?) necessarily the case anymore, like it was in 1984. I designed the Police 4 to include what I would like in a knife, more than what a LEO might like. It’s still a kissing cousin, and large for most people. I widened the blade, enlarged the hole and selected a steel that I like to use. The design’s success in the marketplace is unknown at this time. But I get to have one. ” Sal Glesser on Spyderco Forums in 2016.

 

Also the blade is perfectly centered. The construction is the same as my Endura and Delica, sandwiching the steel liners with the handle material. Here it’s black G10 on skeletonized liners: the knife doesn’t feel heavy at all but very well balanced and fast in the hands.

The long flat blade is still intimidating while deployed. Let’s see some comparaison pictures. Notice the black could of forming patina in the middle.

Here with Ed Schempp’s Bowie which is one of the best blade/handle ratio folder in the Spyderco collection, full flat ground versus high saber flat ground. The Bowie has been convexed to my taste. The large choil on the police is confortable though.

Here compared to the wonderful Manly Peak, another thin backlock lightsaber. The Manly has not been really convexed; it is really thin ground ! With its S90V blade, better edge/handle ratio and zero blade play construction, it is a real contender to the fourth version of the Police.

They share the same thin stock blade. The Manly (on the right) is even pushing the envelop a little further by proposing hidden nested liners for the same handle thickness.

It is obvious the Delica and the Police are sharing the same DNA even if the Delica main difference is the absence of real choil to choke up the blade. I have both in tip down carry position for easy spyderdrops opening. Here is the Knifecenter special edition of the Delica.

The Delica still got the Boy indentation on the lock when the Police is now leaner. This raffinement has never made a real difference to me. The spring on the Police model is quite strong actually so no worry about unlocking it will chocking the handle.

Here you can notice how longer the Millie handle is compared to the Police. Also the belly of the Millie is much more pronounced. I think now the Police 4 has been also designed to be used while wearing gloves (one of the Military plusses). Both finger holes are equally wide with a very pronounced blade’s hump. The Police’s choil is even wider than the Millie’s !

Also the Military blade is thicker as is its handle. The Police is perhaps more “urban” oriented: it is a large folder easy to wear with any suits.

Here you can admire how the Police is a steel cheetah: lean and mean. The clip was mounted that way and I was tempted to add a deep carry clip but eventually, the spyderdrop is the more handy way to open that large folder so the clip is now mounted near the pivot.

This thin blade enhanced by a great steel (K390) is pushing that venerable model to new heights. We are far from the serrated hollow ground model of the 80’s which was respecting special requirements from the LEO. “It was designed to have an as large as possible blade built into a thin, equally sized handle. Because of this, Save and Serve professionals continue buying the Police Model as an essential tool for their trade.”
From Spydiwiki.

It is a flat and elegant design with a very clever purpose: to insert easily the knife inside the pocket when tip down carried.

Some sanding was required to get the handle even smoother for easier pocketing.
Aerodynamism is one thing, pocketodynamism is another.

Again, never breath that dust it is toxic for your lungs.
“”The benefits of G-10 as a handle material are many. It can support a building, be drilled and sawed. It’s doesn’t retain heat or cold, shuns chemicals, discoloration and peeling. “

And that makes it long folder which can easily be pocketed. Carried tip down, the handle shape pushes my wallet away  when inserted and allow very quick and positive spyderdrop openings. They are four positions to mount the clip on the Police since the 3rd version in 2008.

Next step, with some diamonds, it was time to reprofile the blade to a Manly Peak level and to thin the edge by “deshouldering”. Not an easy task as K390 is a bear to sharpen.

The occasion to picture the blade before to scratch it.

The light reflections on the blade shows it has already started a mild patina while being stored.

K390 develops naturally a beautiful patina like storm clouds. Here is the Police with my Pingo and Urban.

Funny how it is hard to catch on photography but the Urban got the convexed grind I want to achieve for the Police. Both knives are signed by Sal Glesser’s logo.

I have check how the patina was easy to remove before going back to sharpening.

Here you can see the dust formed by the diamonds of a DC4.
K390 is a very wear resistant steel…


Here what Phil Wilson said about it in the Spyderco Forums:
“I have been using K390 from the start ever since it was introduced by Bohler and I got some small samples to try. A bit of history is that it is the European version of CPM 10V but not the exact chemistry (about 1% less V plus small addition of a few others). That is because the CPM 10V chemistry was protected by patent at the time. If you check the K390 data sheet it claims that the bit less V gives K 390 a little boost in impact toughness. It also can be heat treated at a lower temp. than 10v. So it is pretty much the same as the A11 grade but different in a few small details. It is hard to tell the difference between CPM 10v and BU K390 in the real world in my experience. I like both grades and they are the base line (along with Vanadius 10 and K294) from which I measure wear resistance. The 5 chrome is there to make them all air hardening among other things and does not contribute much to corrosion resistance. It is going to make a killer knife in the new offering and be another classic. Phil”

So slowly it is deshouldered but I will be obliged to go back to the blade later. It is, for me, like painting a ceiling… I always come back for another layer… 😉

All right, the performance are already promising. The plastic Bottle Butt is as thick as the blade itself but it has been able to got through it right in the middle. Again, zero blade play on that huge folder: very happy.  Same punition for the bottle neck. The Police shows how powerful it is and that the recipe of “thin blade + super steel” is always a winner for high performance knives. More to come, as this one is going to be user !

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I have mounted a deep carry clip from Blade4sell.

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SPYDERCO SPRIG FB37GGR — Phil Wilson Bird & Trout Companion.

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Bird & Trout knives are small thin fixed blades, lightweight sharp knives able to process a bird or a trout. Those knives got of course no chopping purposes and no bushcrafting purposes but we have found the Sprig by Phil Wilson to be a reliable wood companion.

I already knew Phil Wilson as a knifemaker and clever metallurigist for his writing on CPM420V (S90V) back in 90’s. He was the first to provide fillet knives for people who process salmons all day and was measuring the edge retention of this new powder steel back in the past century.  His results were outstanding: the S90V steel was able to process much more fish than the normal stainless steel used on that time (440C ?). He was also able to heat treat them to 60HRC and higher. Bringing the powder steel edge to uncharted territories long before people were spoiled with S30V and S110V and Elmax…
When Phil Wilson did edge holding test, lower Rockwell numbers yielded much poorer edge holding in real world use. High hardness prevents rolling and blunting of the edge, a major cause of loss of sharpness, even though the steel has very high abrasion resistance. His blades do have very high soak temps, oil quenched followed by deep cryo in liquid nitrogen but he did not have any problems with chipping as he considers the use for his S90V knives to be only for slicing.  (source Bladeforums).

To quote him:
“Edge holding will be proportional to hardness to a large degree. Experience with CPM 10V, S90V, and 3V showed me that, with a particle-based steel, the hardness can be pushed a little higher up the Rockwell scale and still retain enough toughness to prevent edge chipping. (CPM S60V is the exception; it has it’s best qualities at about Rc56.) This is because the particle-metallurgy-based steels have a very fine grain structure.”

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Let’s quote Phil Wilson about knife making and steel testing to understand the way he design knives, this is from an article he wrote in 2002 about the coming of S30V then new to all 15 years ago:
” I chose to make a fillet knife because, in my opinion, it has the hardest work life of any knife. Use around salt water will reveal a fillet blades ability to resist corrosion in a short time. Edge holding is tested quickly when cutting through scales and bones and working against an abrasive cutting board. A fillet knife must have a thin, flexible blade to ride over the rib bones during the fillet cut. A brittle steel will soon chip out or break under such use. A fillet knife also makes a very handy kitchen blade. It’s a natural for boning a chicken breast, slicing prime rib, or filleting out a grapefruit. Kitchen knives are left wet on the counter and bounced around in a drawer with other utensils, which is another pretty severe test for a new steel.

In addition to the fillet knife, I made a simple slab-handle semi skinner with the new S30V, and two other [nearly identical] knives from CPM S90V and 3V. This effort would give me a fresh comparison on the heat treating, grinding and finishing of all three steels. It would allow me to do some cutting and edge-holding tests against the new grade. Does the new S30V meet the challenges? The answer is yes, and I’m willing to bet that it will be the favorite steel of many knifemakers in a short time.”

— August issue of Blade Magazine in 2002 —

So as you can see Phil Wilson knows his craft and was testing those new particle-metallurgy-based steels to their limits. No surprise Jim Ankerson and Sal Glesser are huge fans of Wilson’s knives.

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The Sprig is not the first Spyderco edition of Wilson knives. The South Fork FB30GB was the first. This design combines very high cutting ability, point penetration and grip ergonomics into a very high performance working knife, to quote Cliff Stamps test of the custom original version. Strangely I was never able to bound with the South Fork when with the Sprig it was love at first cut !!

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First thing was the handle. The rounded Sprig handle is much more confortable in my hand when the South Fork feels more square.  The Sprig is nested in my palm very very confortably and I can cut i wood for long time without any hotspots noticed. It’s important for a fixed blade. With folders there is often some kind of compromised due to the folding of the blade into the handle, but for fixed blade the confort during cutting needs to be optimum hence the Mora’s handles compared to any thick edged squeleton tactical gadgets.

The Sprig is great on wood, even with its factory edge. It is ground thin in Taichung and is able to get to work right out of the box. The belly also helps a lot to push cut fibers acting like a guillotine edge. So really this knife can be used for bushcrafting purposes which are not implemented hard drilling in wood or batoning. The thin point is wonderfully handy and not made for snuff Russian tests.

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But for cutting wood and whittling the Sprig is even better than the South Fork or the Gayle Bradley Bowie and Junction, because its edge is so thinly ground.

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I had used some diamonds on it but it was not really necessary really. Just a compulsive attitude of mine when I got too much time on my hands… S90V is a legendary steel. I already quote Phil Wilson’s articles in my Paramillie 2 review.

“Crucible Materials Corp has introduced three winning steels in the past 10 years: CPM S90V, CPM 3V, and now CPM S30V. CPM 3V is still the undisputed toughness champ, even surpassing some carbon steels such as A-2. Originally known as CPM420V, S90V was introduced as an upgrade for S60V (originally called CPM 440V), and met all the targets of improved corrosion resistance and toughness. It has the reputation of being hard on heat-treating equipment and is a bear to finish, but is still the best edge-holding stainless steel going.”

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Easy to carry in my denim pockets with its kydex sheath, the Sprig is not really bigger than the Sliverax. The sheath is well made and flat enough to be packed in any Go-Hunting bag. So it’s very easy to bring him along for a walk in the forest or near the sea as S90V is very stainless.

I was really surprised by the cutting abilities of the Sprig. It really caught me by surprise.
The drop point design is useful even in the kitchen , so the Sprig will suit hunters as much as cooks and also it will take a very serious place in any expeditions needing a reliable cutting tool which you won’t need to sharpen every hours.

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You can find a lot to read and learn in Phil Wilson’s site here:
http://www.seamountknifeworks.com/articles.htm

Spyderco C127PGY Urban K390 – Lil’Grey Alien armed with Hyper Steel.

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Mostly knives company gives the best steel to there flagship models but again Spyderco create the surprise in bringing a 1200 pieces sprintrun of their lightweight Urban slipjoint folder with the best of the best of the cold tool steel: the Austrian Swedish-made Bohler K390.

The steel is a third generation powder steel and to quote them:
“Just as mountaineers need the best equipment to conquer the highest peaks, it‘s essential to use the best materials for your tooling to ensure trouble-free production and achieve outstanding tool life. Three reasons why BÖHLER K390 MICROCLEAN is highly cost effective: Extremely high wear resistance, excellent toughness and very high compressive strength. The high-performance powder-metallurgy steel BÖHLER K390 MICROCLEAN is a reliable solution for your difficult cutting, die-cutting and cold forming operations, and it has a very good track record for applications in the plastics industry.”


Phil Wilson has been using it and he’s known for getting the best of super steels.
“I have been using K390 from the start ever since it was introduced by Bohler and I got some small samples to try. A bit of history is that it is the European version of CPM 10V but not the exact chemistry (about 1% less V plus small addition of a few others). That is because the CPM 10V chemistry was protected by patent at the time. If you check the K390 data sheet it claims that the bit less V gives K 390 a little boost in impact toughness. It also can be heat treated at a lower temp. than 10v. So it is pretty much the same as the A11 grade but different in a few small details. It is hard to tell the difference between CPM 10v and BU K390 in the real world in my experience. I like both grades and they are the base line (along with Vanadius 10 and K294) from which I measure wear resistance. The 5 chrome is there to make them all air hardening among other things and does not contribute much to corrosion resistance. It is going to make a killer knife in the new offering and be another classic. Phil”  On the Spyderco forums.

So one of the best steel is available on a slipjoint the C127.
It’s almost the same cockpit as the Squeak, the blade is a tad under three inches with a full flat ground blade. The backspace is in stainless steel and is used as main spring and the handle are FRN: fiber reinforced nylon. A generous choil gives you security as the blade cannot close on your finger. It’s the same idea as on the C36 Military you hold the open folder by the blade so there is less stress on the pivot. The hump and the choil work as the quillons of a boot dagger. It means also you can give a lot of power into your cuts.

The C127 is modest. This is not the K2. The Urban is a gentleman knife legal in many places. If it was a car, it would not be a Landrover but a Mini.
But here the Mini is turned into a mini Cooper with a very powerful prepared engine as the steel is the chore of the knife.
Again steel is nothing without a good heat treating and without a great geometry adapted to the steel.
And my C127 arrived with a very thin edge. The Maniago naufacturer seems to be very good lately in the way it provide good edges to its blade. Like the Elmax Squeak I was able to cut through the bottle butts with ease and control. The knife cut precisely with not a great amount of force, this is always a pleasure to fill the thick center crossed without the rest of the bottle to collapse due to too much strenght.

Now K390 is not stainless and it suppose to develop a patina. This is good news as it will gives to the knife a lot of character by turning it full grey !

It’s not the first time that Spyderco equipped his FRN knives with the best exotic super duper steel. It was the case with CPM110V on the Blue Manix 2 FRN and the Blue Native FRN . K390 is going also on another flagship: it will equiped the 4th edition of the Police Model. I had the chance to handle it yesterday at the Minimeet and this is going to be a great big folder with a lot of cutting power (Full flat ground large blade) on a sturdy construction (I just regret the did not bring the Power Lock on the Police model, but this is just me…).

For my European fellow have found easily the knife for 77 euros shipping included.
You can use the search functions and do your math and have the chance to try K390 on a very low profile plateform.
I have since mounted Cuscadi Carbon Fibers on this little gem.