Knives are as specialized and highly developed as any other tool, and also like any other tool should be chosen to fit the job at hand. If you’ve ever been to a cutting industry trade show, or even a good sized local weekend gunshow, you’ve undoubtedly noticed the huge variety of types, sizes, colors, steels, blade shapes, and makers that produce knives. It’s a huge market and there are many companies that cater to it, with quality ranging from fantasy wall hangers that would embarrass even a velvet Elvis painting, through cheap junk steel blades and imported rip-offs of otherwise good designs. If you don’t keep up on what’s going on it can be hard to choose a decent knife that’s both made of quality materials that will stand up to hard use and do the job you bought it to do. Fortunately, there are names in the biz that you’re pretty safe with as far as quality goes, and the rest is just a matter of selecting which model you need from their “tool” lineup. Spyderco has long been one of those names with their innovative line of very affordable one-handed folding knives, but they also carry several medium-sized fixed-blade models and small pocket folders.

Looking beyond the five dollar check stand special at the QuickieMart can run into some serious money, but if you want function and dependability you certainly do get what you pay for.


Street Beat
Designed in collaboration with Fred Perrin, a custom knifemaker with a French Commando and martial artist background, the Street Beat is one of Spyderco’s top of the line models at a suggest retail of $254.95. Not within everybody’s budget, admittedly, but here’s what you get for all that lunch money: 3 ounces of beautifully crafted VG-10 stainless steel and black Micarta that rides compactly on a belt in its synthetic clip-on sheath and fits your hand like it was made for it. A full-tang clip-point pattern, the 3.5-inch flat-ground blade features jimping along the top rear spine for thumb control, there are two lanyard holes (one conventionally in the handle and the other just under the jimping), and a very unusual deep finger choil positioned behind the blade rather than in it. The Micarta slabs are perfectly mated to the steel and comfortably rounded, the choil acts as a finger guard and adds control, the handle contours allow double duty for either routine cutting functions or backup defensive use, and the adjustable TekLok polymer clip on the sheath allows carry in five different positions. For plainclothes or off-duty wear, the Street Beat’s expensive, but buy it once and it’ll see you through to retirement.


Big blades, even folders, are understandably hard for many people to get into, and they do tend to bulge in pockets. If keeping your own particular pockets on a weight reduction program has discouraged you from carrying a utility knife, consider Spyderco’s Kiwi. This little cutie is the latest version of the model, also in VG-10 stainless, and currently with dark gray carbon fiber handle inserts. Built along the concept of the older “gentleman’s knife”, the non-gender specific Kiwi also works great in a purse, briefcase, gear bag, or any other place where a small 2.38-inch hollow-ground Wharncliffe straight edge blade travels easily. The unconventional profile includes the trademark Spyderco thumb hole in the blade that replaces the old fingernail slot for opening the knife, two finger choils to position the handle in hand and resist slippage, a lanyard or keyring hole, and a lockback lever. Expensive for a small pocket knife at $199.95, the diminutive Kiwi shows excellent workmanship with extremely well-mated lines and perfectly fitted handle inserts, locks tightly with zero blade play, unlocks and closes smoothly, and comes with a brown suede pocket “protector” pouch to keep it from getting dinged up. Another “buy it once” proposition.


Aqua Salt
Bigger fixed blades are more the province of SWAT and other uniform assignments that allow for open carry without attracting any more attention than SWAT activities normally do. Bigger blades for specific tasks provide more utility but they also don’t lend themselves well to concealment. In high humidity areas and salty environments where such carry is acceptable, blade steel becomes an issue, and Spyderco has it covered here with their Aqua Salt in H1 steel. H1 is formulated with nitrogen, replacing the small carbon percentage commonly used in many knife steels, specifically to not just resist rust, but to render rust impossible on those models that use it. The Aqua Salt is a larger 4.7-inch hollow-ground fixed blade available in either plain or serrated edge built for saltwater use, with a fiberglass reinforced black nylon textured handle and a multi-position sheath made of the same material. The blade’s 0.13 of an inch thickness keeps weight down to 4.2 ounces while retaining enough strength for most light to medium uses, the serrated edge zips through cords, cables, ropes, straps, and so on with much less effort than the plain edge, and the handle is aggressively patterned to hold still in the hand when wet. At $179.95, SWAT, Harbor Patrol, Fish and Game, and any other uniformed assignment that needs an open carry lightweight knife capable of handling corrosive jobs might want to consider the Aqua Salt.

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