I can’t exactly remember when I received the original Yojimbo knife, I’m sure it’s been almost a decade or more. What I do remember is what I thought when I opened the box—“this is one dumb-looking knife.” I must not have been the only one, as the Yojimbo was only around a few years before it was history. Fast-forward to 2005 and a trip to Gunsite where I met Mike Janich. Like many of you, I had been reading Mike’s articles for years but for some reason, did not really catch on to what he had in mind when he designed the original Yojimbo. This error was corrected during a break at Gunsite where Mike took me off to the side and explained what the Yojimbo was designed to do. It was during this short, impromptu training session that I became a fan of the Wharncliffe blade.
Nested stainless steel liners provide structural strength and form the backbone of the knife’s high-strength compression lock mechanism. Note the absence of extensive jimping to avoid unnecessary abrasion.
Like many things that are discontinued, the original Yojimbo soon became an item in high demand, costing far more than the original folder. With demand for the Yojimbo so high, it only made sense that Spyderco would reintroduce the straight-edged classic. I got the opportunity to see a pre-production prototype of what Spyderco would call the Yojimbo 2 and I was quite encouraged with what I saw. While it took longer than expected, Spyderco recently introduced what I believe will become a new classic folder with a hole in the blade.
While Mike Janich has designed general-purpose knives, the Yojimbo 2 is designed to be a tool of personal security, an item that offers peace of mind. The Yojimbo 2 is an evolution of the original and reflects the lessons he learned since the first was introduced. The most obvious feature is the Wharncliffe blade, which Mike prefers on compact carry designed for serious social purposes. A Wharncliffe blade cuts with full power all the way to the point and penetrates better than most other blade profiles. This concept is easily proven with a simple piece of paper. Hold the paper upside down with no other support and stab it with a standard blade design. You will notice the paper is pushed out of the way by the conventional blade “belly.” Try it with a Wharncliffe blade and you will witness the blade punch straight through, trapping the paper in place. Impressive!
Unlike the original, the Yojimbo 2 has a hollow-ground blade, which enhances edge geometry while still maintaining great overall blade strength and a bit more mass than the original. The updated blade shape and grind also provide a stronger point than the original, which some complained was prone to breakage. The new blade also has a concave thumb ramp to support the Filipino grip that Mike prefers and has no jimping on the spine. Mike told me that during hard impact, jimping can be very abrasive to the hand so the updated Yojimbo is devoid of jimping, save for a very small section at the top ramp of the handle indented in the metal liners.
The handle of the Yojimbo 2 is significantly shorter than the original, which was extended for use as an impact weapon in the closed position. This original grip made the first version look unconventional to say the least, and Mike told me he now feels using a folding knife for this purpose is overrated. The handle length is roughly the same as Spyderco’s very popular Delica model, which makes the Yojimbo 2 very compact and suitable for in-pocket carry if one chooses not to use the clip. The clip is four-position, as opposed to the two-position clip of the original, which allows the knife to be carried right, left, tip up or tip down. Also eliminated is the “pivot detent” of the original while the new model incorporates Spyderco’s popular hourglass clip, which is structurally superior to the original.
Deep Pocket Carry
The mounting positions of the new clip conceal the knife very well — making use of the deep-pocket carry that has become popular with many people. The clip is specifically positioned to allow the knife to immediately fall into the proper opening position when drawing and deploying the knife. When drawn from the pocket, the hand is positioned to allow a full opening arc of the thumb without any change in the grip. The handle construction consists of 420J stainless steel liners nested in black textured G-10, which provides a thin handle profile, just enough grip texture, and superior strength. The handle shape is designed to fill the hand, especially the palm, better than the original while still providing exceptional ergonomics and a solid integral guard.
The improved compression lock is one of Spyderco’s strongest locks. In addition to strength, it also helps prevent accidental closure during hard use and allows for easy closure with one hand without getting fingers in harm’s way. The Spyderco trademark blade hole is positioned to provide excellent leverage and support varied opening techniques including conventional thumb opening, “marble shooter” opening, ring finger opening and “Spyder Drop” opening. The mass of the blade also supports higher speed in manual or “flick of the wrist” openings. The open-backed construction allows for easy cleaning and reduces weight. There is no lanyard hole to maximize the length of the blade contained within the handle, as Mike is not a fan of fobs, lanyards and such.
Mike designed the Yojimbo 2 to be a fighter, pure and simple. With this in mind, I decided that an appropriate test was required. I devised a flesh-like dummy that would give feedback similar to human tissue, which comes in two basic forms…fat and muscle. My wife created a fat simulant that consists of flour, salt, water and cooking oil. This gelatinous goo was then attached to a training target along with a roast that would simulate muscle. I then covered the target with a cotton t-shirt and a large patch of denim that would stand in for a jacket. I finally stabbed and slashed the target through the intermediate material and flesh simulants.
I honestly thought the fat simulant would foul the Yojimbo’s ability to cut, but I was wrong. When I stabbed the fatty area, the Yojimbo 2 punched through the denim, cotton, fat simulant—and almost through the molded plastic target itself. Stabbing the clothes-covered meat ended with the same result, the knife sunk clear up to the grip. I then tried to break the tip…no such luck. The updated blade design is as strong as Spyderco states. I then slashed both the fat and meat through the clothing as if I were fighting with the target in a fluid situation. In this case, the plastic target stopped the blade, but the material or flesh simulants did not. If target had been real, he would have suffered a life-threatening cut.
The Yojimbo 2 is everything that Mike Janich intended it to be. It is a solid, well-built folder that will stand up to abuse and cut like nobody’s business. The improved blade is certainly, well…improved. The tip is solid and the wharncliffe blade cuts from tip to grip. I have said for many years, if you carry a gun you should carry a knife. That said, there are times when carrying a gun is illegal or impractical but carrying a folding knife is just fine. The knife to have in these situations would appear to be the Yojimbo 2. Enough said.
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by Tactical Life / Jul 1, 2012