Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Spyderco Tenacious

I’ve known about Spyderco for a long time, and have in past owned a Delica and Rescue. (I’ve also lusted after the Military and Civilian for a long time.) The company has a well-deserved reputation for being an honest, forthright, and fundamentally decent company in the knife industry.

Their knives fall into an interesting position in the market. They offer a range of products, featuring a variety of materials, design features and price points. They seem to occupy the centre of the market – not the most high end, and certainly not the low end of the market. Everything they offer is solid and very functional. Their prices are certainly not outrageous, but they recently decided to offer some knives in a lower price point, but with no compromise in quality.

The Tenacious is the result.
If this hadn’t been a gift, I likely might not have bought it at all, given the fact that it’s made in China. Spyderco isn’t on a head long rush to transfer all their production to countries with lower labour costs and less stringent environmental standards. They’re still producing many of their products in the US and Japan. What I think they are doing is trying to offer a range of products at a variety of price points, entering into the lower end price point, and yet still offering very high quality. Their stringent quality control sees to it that what is coming out of China is indeed a quality product.

The blade is leaf shaped, similar to many past Spyderco offerings. A bit wider than some might like for certain tasks, but personally I like the shape a lot.  It’s flat ground which I really like. 8.6 cm long (3 3/8") and 0.3175 cm (1/8") thick. The shape of the tip makes it very strong. The flat ground (which I really like) blades cutting edge starts right out of the handle, and gently swoops up to the tip. 
It’s also available in a fully and partially serrated version as well.

One aspect of the wider blade is that it makes for a wider package when folded. 4.5 cm (1 ¾") at its widest point makes it considerably wider than any other folders I have. The knife is generally pretty meaty in every regard actually. 11.3 cm (4 ½") long in its folded state, it juts out a bit on both sides from the edges of my fist. When unfolded it’s 19.7 cm (7 ¾") long.
I wish the edges of the SpyderHole (which is 1.25 cm (½") in diameter) in the blade were rounded off just a little, but that’s just being nitpicky. It allows for a good solid grip for the thumb. Its position in relation to the pivot, allows for quick and fumble free opening and closing.

Another feature that I really like is the jimping on the back spine of the blade. Deep grooves that allow thumb placement, with the confidence that it won’t slip off.

The makeup of the blade metal similar to 440C, but not quite. The name of the steel in China is 8Cr13MoV. {.8 Carbon, 13 Chrome, less than 1. moly with vanadium} It tests in a range with Aichi
s AUS-8. It’s not an ubersteel, but it is very serviceable. With a proper heat treat, it goes a very long way. Very rust resistant in its finished state, and relatively easy to sharpen.

The blade pivots between two phosphor bronze bushings and allows for a very smooth opening. After a year of use it’s become a bit stiff, but it’s nothing that a bit of BreakFree won’t solve. 
The handles scales are made from G-10, an epoxy and fiberglass resin compressed under tremendous force. It also doesn’t shrink or expand due to humid, dry, cold or wet conditions. The texturing on them is quite subtle, and the edges are nicely rounded, making it comfortable to hold long term.
Beneath the G-10 handles are skeletonized steel liners. It’s strong without a lot of excessive and unnecessary weight. The liners form the locking mechanism. About a millimeter and a half thick, it forms a very strong lock, requiring some pressure to disengage. The jimping on the liner lock is prominent. This serves not only to allow good thumb purchase on it, and tactile recognition, but it also serves as a grippy choil. The handle is only cut away for access to the liner lock on one side, essentially the right side. It can be used left handed - the clip certainly allows for that - but ultimately it is meant for right handers.  
Being open at the back, it makes cleaning the knife much easier. If it was to be used for field dressing game, washing all the blood out would be fairly straight forward. The knife is assembled with hex screws so it can be disassembled if any really in depth cleaning is called for.
One feature that I think is absolutely fantastic, is the ability to position the pocket clip in four different spots. The scales are pre-drilled, around the lanyard hole and around the pivot screw. Right or left handed, tip up or down. This is valuable not only depending on if you are indeed right or left handed, but also if you prefer to carry a knife in a front or rear pocket. To position a knife without the edge of a pocket serving as a stop to prevent the blade from accidentally opening, is exceedingly dangerous. This ability prevents that. The ability to position a clip in one of four places is a feature that I wish every knife manufacturer would offer. Kudos to Spyderco for offering this simple but elegant option on this knife. (I have mine set up for right handed carry, with the tip up.)
The pocket clip has a nice shape and grips the pocket, waist band, etc. really well. I wish it was black or at least bead blasted rather than the polished steel that it is now. But again, that’s just minor quibbling really.
The weight is 115 g (4oz). Quite reasonable.

The Tenacious was very sharp right out of the box, pretty much shaving sharp. I honed it a bit and that only improved its edge. I’ve been using it for a year now, for everything from cutting cardboard boxes (which it does very handily), all sorts of food prep, batoning through wood, making fuzz sticks, cutting cord and rope, slicing open bags of cement, and field dressing a grouse and 2 trout. It’s done all of those things with aplomb.
Used it to slice through some branches and it went through them like buttah!
For the cost, I don’t think you could find an equal quality knife in that price range.  You can find it online for about $35US. (!) 

Like I said, a very good price for a very good knife. If you’re on the hunt for a quality knife, but don’t want to spend a lot of money, certainly consider the Tenacious.

I like the
Tenacious a lot, but I’m inclined to get the smaller version, the Persistence as well. The size of this one, while it fits my hand perfectly, might tend to freak the sheeple out a bit. Something a little more low key might be a better idea in some circumstances.

The cord used for the fob is close to 50 years old. Nylon cord from a pair of RCAF anti-G-pants, it was used in lacing that ran up the interior of the pant legs. The bag that the pants came in said “Irwin Air Chute Company - 1961”. I tied it in a king cobra knot and finished it off with a skull bead I had.

The above fob finally wore through where it went through the hole, so I replaced it.

And I just wanted to give an update since I posted this review. I’ve carried it and used it every day since, and I still love this knife to bits.

Another update: I’ve never sharpened this knife. And it is still insanely sharp. And I have cut up a looot of cardboard boxes with it.

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