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Spyderco Knives: Ergonomic, Functional Tools for High Performance.

Spyderco knives are different; some even say they are peculiar. Their once radical innovations are now so common that most people don’t realize Spyderco introduced one-handed opening, serrations on a folder, and the pocket clip. Their knives are all business with no fashion flare. At Spyderco, they do one thing over and over again—design ergonomic, functional tools that consistently deliver reliable, high performance.

In a million-dollar testing facility, they check every detail and look for new manufacturing techniques and materials. They measure edge retention with a CATRA machine, rust development with Q-FOG, and check opening and closing forces. Each design is evaluated for stress, wear, and the optimal heat-treating of quality, performance-enhancing steels and materials.

I got to spend some time with Michael Janich and the experts at Spyderco. I have used a lot of knives in my life. Spyderco’s functionality and toughness always appealed to me, and I carried one for years. Now, a more educated consumer, I can appreciate their inner beauty, too.

First up is a flat, lightweight, titanium-handled folding knife with a high-performance stainless-steel blade and a Reeve Integral Lock (R.I.L.) mechanism. The Slysz Bowie™ (sounds like swish) is a Marcin Slysz design. The Bowie-style blade features a long, straight clip point with a radiused spine. It is precision ground from Carpenter® CTS® XHP powder metallurgy stainless steel—a state-of-the-art alloy that combines the enviable performance characteristics of D2 with a higher degree of corrosion resistance. The blade is full-flat ground for exceptional edge geometry, and includes a section of “jimping” (knife-speak for grooves) on the thumb ramp for enhanced control during use. For easy one-handed operation, it also includes Spyderco’s Trademark Round Hole™.

The handle of the Slysz Bowie is constructed from two gently radiused titanium scales, one of which forms the basis for its sturdy R.I.L. mechanism. The butt end of the handle features a unique G-10 spacer with two sections of strategically placed jimping to further enhance the knife’s grip texture and aesthetic appeal. A reversible deep-pocket wire clip supports left- or right-side tip-up carry and rides low in the pocket for maximum discretion.

The Rubicon™ is a Peter Carey folder. The blade is precision machined from premium CPM® S30V® powdered metallurgy stainless steel. The integral flipper generates leverage to open the blade when powered by pressure from the user’s index finger. It uses ball-bearing washers around the pivot to provide a fast- and smooth-opening blade. The blade is deeply hollow ground primary bevel and flat-ground swedge for great edge geometry and point utility.

The Rubicon’s handle is built on a framework of skeletonized full titanium liners that provide exceptional strength to the knife’s LinerLock mechanism. The thick liners are covered with three-dimensionally machined solid carbon-fiber scales. The titanium pocket clip supports right-side, tip-up carry for easy access.

The Spyderco Assist Black Blade is a lightweight folder for fire/rescue professionals. The blade is coated in non-reflective black carbon nitride with a patented lift-and-pry (blunt-nose) shape made from high-carbon VG-10 stainless steel and loaded with teeth. Most if its 3 3/8″ (86mm) cutting edge is serrated with the last inch at the tip left plain edged.

Above the one-hand-open hole is a metal cap that guides the thumb over the hole for quick, by-feel opening that doubles as a textured leveraging platform for your thumb during cutting. There is a wavy pattern cut out of the top of the blade and again along the handle for controlled rope cutting. You can put a rope in the groove (between the partially open blade and handle) and can squeeze the blade shut, slicing and trimming rope in a controlled movement without fully exposing the cutting edge.

The handle is black, lightweight fiberglass reinforced nylon (FRN) with a survival whistle built in. A reinforced wire pocket clip attaches through the handle on either side for left- or right-hand use. A clever and functional retractable and replaceable carbide-tip glass/ice breaker is housed inside the handle, exposed when the closed blade is squeezed into the handle, retracting when pressure is released.


Spyderco’s Schempp Bowie is Ed Schempp’s take on the classic American bowie design. The broad profile, long belly, and concave clip point of the classic bowie pattern are formed from CPM® S30V® powdered metallurgy stainless steel. The high flat grind and full-thickness spine provide strength and low-friction edge geometry.  The Spyderco Round Hole™ ensures swift, positive, one-handed opening with either hand.

The handle is formed from skeletonized full stainless-steel liners, carbon fiber/G-10 laminate scales, a solid steel backspacer, and classic brass bolsters. The bolsters form an integral double guard and are mated to the scales with a meticulously machined dovetail joint. The classic “coffin-shaped” handle has a slightly “dropped” angle to allow a natural wrist angle during use. A reversible deep-pocket wire clip provides instant access and exceptionally discreet tip-up carry.

The Spyderco Endura has been around since 1990, and is still a bestseller. Spyderco has constantly tweaked ergonomics, refined blade steels, and fine-tuned their performance, finally arriving at the latest incarnation, the Endura4.

The fiberglass-reinforced nylon handles are molded with bi-directional texturing for traction and improved ergonomics. The dual skeletonized stainless-steel liners make the knife stronger, adding sturdiness and rigidity.

Their VG-10 blades are flat saber-ground, with a stronger tip and larger 13mm opening hole. Added to the blade’s spine is slip-resistant jimping. The four-way clip lets you carry tip-up, tip-down, left- or right-handed.

Another special feature of the Endura4 is the availability of a matching trainer (also known as a drone). These are non-sharpened knives designed for the safe practice of Martial Blade Craft (MBC). They let the user learn deployment/retrieval techniques, perform drills, and develop confidence and muscle memory without bloodshed.

The trainer is identical in weight and size to the ‘live’ model. Holes are drilled into the blade to enhance the balance, and the unsharpened tip is tapered, removing unnecessary bulk. Like all Spyderco training models, the Endura Trainer has red handles designating the knife as non-sharpened.

Now I understand why they say, “Those who know carry Spyderco.” You can get your own Spyderco HERE.

Featured image: Sptderco Advocate; Images courtesy of Spyderco

About the Author /

Mark Miller is a former Customs Agent and a Green Beret who served in Afghanistan and a number of other live fire locations. A student of firearms and shooting, he is an FFL and a SOT. The guiding philosophy of his life is that terrain and situation dictate tactics and the enemy always gets a vote on any plan.

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