Beautiful New Blades! … ‘Cause Something Always Needs Cutting.
More knives, you ask? Oh, yeah! And it’s not like these are “second string” blades or “also-ran” designs compared to those featured in the print edition. There just wasn’t space on paper for all of `em. And remember, I had to limit coverage to seven makers, and there are lots more fine brands out there with dozens of new designs. It’s a tough job. I promise I’ll try to check out as many as I can, but clearly, I’ll need help. I think I can count on you guys to pitch in with that – can’t I? Meantime, enjoy!
Many Al Mar knife owners find the dimensions and geometry of the Eagle design to be perfect for every day carry, and, it makes a lot of sense to train your hand with essentially one folder you routinely rely on. It’s the same principal as with a handgun: You might own several with very different operating characteristics, but you’re wise to focus your training on the type you carry constantly.
You saw the new Al Mar Eagle HD in the print edition, and we referred to the Eagle Ultralight, so I just wanted to show you yet another member of the Eagle family: the Eagle Classic, this variant adorned with honey jigged bone scales. The Ultralight and HD are equipped with Al Mar’s low-profile reversible pocket clip, which attaches through the lanyard hole. The Classic, like this one, is designed to be carried in a pocket rather than clipped to it, an arrangement which can be handy sometimes. So, it’s “clip-less,” but otherwise has all the features of its brothers: a full 4″ AUS 8 blade, strong Al Mar front-lock, dual stainless steel thumbstuds, and the fit and finish that makes Al Mar knives the definitive bridge between high-end production knives and handmade custom knives.
If you snooze, you lose, and I snoozed and lost. If I had known Spyderco was bringing out a 2nd generation update of the Michael Janich-designed Yojimbo folder, I would have been in line for the first production run. It sold out in two days. But, by the time you read this, they should be back in stock and shipping — and I should have mine! I have one of the originals, and I think it’s one of the most agile, utilitarian and under-appreciated designs around.
In the photo on the left, on the top is an original Yojimbo, and below it the Yojimbo2. This is the knife which pioneered use of the Wharncliffe blade profile in tactical folders. Mike, always focused on martial knife use, realized the potential of the blade, especially in the Filipino knife-fighting styles he was studying and teaching. There are no meaningless movements or stylistic postures involved, just socially serious cuttin’, and he designed the Yojimbo as the perfect folder to do it with. After years of reflection – and a lot more lessons learned – he had the opportunity to redesign it, and the knife at bottom and right, the Yojimbo2 is the result.
Improved ergonomics give a more secure and flexible grip following the natural contours of the hand. This ensures both maximum surface contact and positive control using the thumb-forward grip. The scales are textured G-10, and the 3.11″ blade is premium CPM-S30V, hollow-ground for increased mass and stiffness and improved point strength. The pocket clip is four-position so you can carry it tip-up or tip-down, clip left or right.
Yes, the Yojimbo2 can do a lot of different cutting tasks well, but Mike makes no bones about its real character: It’s a straight-up personal defense knife. At the end of this Web Blast, read more about Mike, the Yojimbo2 and Spyderco’s new OpFocus program.
Let your memory off leash for a moment, think about, and you’ll remember a dozen occasions when you sure could have used the features of SOG’s new BladeLight. Look close and you’ll see three LED’s mounted in the forward edge of the handle right alongside the blade. There are three more on the other side. Powered by two AAA standard alkaline batteries which produce 34-37 lumens of soft white light exactly where you need it, they allow you to cut close and precise in the dark or under low-light conditions. The output of the LEDs is even tuned to reduce shadow effect and keep the view of what you’re cutting clear and bright.
The LED’s and batteries are contained in the glass-reinforced nylon (GRN) handle, and push-button circuitry lets you employ the light whenever you wish, even when the blade is folded into the frame. And don’t worry about wet conditions shorting your light: It’s rated IPX-7 for resistance to immersion.
The 3.9″ blade is 9Cr18MoV with a hardness rating of Rc. 58-60, so this sucker’s big enough and tough enough for some heavy demands. It is 9″ overall when opened and weighs 4.3 ounces. The BladeLight comes with a nylon pouch and a lifetime warranty.
From CRKT, here’s another winner from the father-son design team of Pat and Wes Crawford, and ain’t their new Natural Cocobolo pretty? These guys really know how to dress up a big, heavy-duty working tool into a beautiful package.
Big? Yup; 9.25″ long opened and 5.25″ closed, it weighs 9.9 ounces. A lot of that weight is the 0.15″ thick 8Cr13MoV steel blade, which has a nice high hollow grind and a satin finish on a profile they call a “Crawford Marauder Clip Point.” Using the ambidextrous thumbstuds, just give the blade a nudge and CRKT’s “Outburst” assisted opening system takes over. It’s a frame-lock design, and has a single-position pocket clip on the right side.
Deep finger grooves help you hold onto this bruiser, and the cocobolo handle scales with G-10 bolsters are as easy on your hand as they are on the eyes. Dang, this is a handsome knife! The Natural Cocobolo should be available when you read this, and if it’s not, you can sign up on CRKT’s web site to be notified when it’s rolling out.
If you’re a hardcore hunter or a dedicated backwoods wanderer, and you’ve always wanted a genuine Puma-bladed knife but couldn’t quite break the “bucks barrier” to buy one, check out the SGB Elk Hunter Stag shown here. You get the German-made diamond-proofed blade without the big price tag because it’s assembled in China with Puma materials.
And the SGB is a very versatile design. The tough, easily-sharpened 440A stainless blade is a hollow-ground drop point, 4.2″ long with an overall length of 8″. The scales are true, naturally-dropped stag, giving you both the classic looks and a full, comfortable grip. Weighing seven ounces, it comes with a ballistic nylon sheath and a pleasing price.
Kevin and Heather Harvey are the husband-wife knifemaking team called “Heavin” at Heavinforge in South Africa, where they specialize in what you might call “exotic grinds” like the radial hawkbill blade on the Baby Bat shown above. Now, they don’t do these grinds for their unusual looks, though that attracts a lot of customers, but really, because they work, producing an extremely aggressive cutting arc. Boker USA noticed their work, tried their original BAT folder, and wisely, signed `em up!
The big Bat was an instant hit, but with its 4″ blade and 8″ overall length, buyers asked for a more modestly sized version, and they got it. The Baby Bat has a 3 1/8″ blade of 440C stainless, and at 3.6 ounces it rides comfortably clipped into a pocket. The overall length is 7.2″, and the handle scales are nicely textured G-10. Hey; it’s okay; you’re allowed to buy it just because it looks cool — and you still get a really efficient little cutter.
SPYDERCO SPECIAL EXTENSION:
Mike Janich, designer of the Yojimbo2, demonstrates the correct
grip for this personal defense folder.
Many of you know the name Michael Janich already; personal defense consultant and trainer, martial arts expert and very creative yet practically-focused knife designer. He’s no stranger to the pages of FMG Magazines. I’ve known him for about eight years, and have come to really appreciate his skills. During that time he has worked both free-lance and on contract for some major outfits like BLACKHAWK!, and his knife designs have been produced by several makers.
Mike is now on the staff of Spyderco as their Special Projects Coordinator, and his efforts will be mostly dedicated to their new OpFocus program. Here’s what he told us about his Yojimbo2:
I designed my first production folding knife in 1997 as a member of the original design team for the Masters of Defense (MOD) knife company. That knife, the Tempest, was a reflection of what I knew about knife design at that time. Although much of my knowledge was based on years of training and experience, a lot of it was also based on “conventional wisdom” — the information that everyone “knew” was right because it had been repeated so many times.
For example, I chose a Bowie-style blade because its curved edge, or ‘belly’ supposedly increased cutting performance. The clip-point profile placed the point of the blade on the centerline of the knife to maximize penetration during a thrust.
While there is some logic to these features when used on a large fixed-blade knife, they do not work nearly as well on a small folding knife — the type most people carry on a daily basis.
Around 2000, I had the opportunity to design another knife for the Spyderco knife company. Rather than creating another variation of what I thought I knew, I started with an open mind and the goal of getting the greatest performance possible out of a small blade. I took every knife in my personal collection and began a lengthy series of cutting tests. I also took a hard look at the knives used most often in professional and industrial application. When I was all done, I was convinced the Wharncliffe blade was the ultimate blade profile for high-performance folding knives. It became the heart of my first Spyderco folder — the Yojimbo (Japanese for “bodyguard”).
The original Yojimbo folder was very unique and unusual for its time. While some of the people who bought it immediately understood its cutting power, many did not. The secret to the Wharncliffe’s extreme performance is its straight cutting edge, which always cuts with full power all the way to the point—just like a box cutter or utility knife. Knives with curved cutting edges actually lose power as the cut reaches the tip, especially if the arc of motion of the hand and the curve of the blade run parallel. When they do, no real pressure is applied into the target. The Wharncliffe’s straight edge also guarantees an exceptionally sharp point and outstanding penetration in soft targets.
When I accepted a full-time position with Masters of Defense/BlackHawk in 2004, Spyderco discontinued the Yojimbo to avoid a conflict of interest. However, the concept of a Wharncliffe-bladed tactical knife continued to gain interest. Original Yojimbos soon became valuable collector’s items and many other knife companies began to introduce tactical Wharncliffes as well.
In 2009, I joined Spyderco as a full-time employee. One of my first assignments as their Special Projects Coordinator was to design a new “signature” knife. My immediate thought was to bring back the Yojimbo, but incorporate the many things I had learned since I designed the first one. The result of that effort is the new Yojimbo2.
To put it simply, the Yojimbo2 is a compact, concealable folding knife that is optimized for performance as a personal-defense weapon, yet also makes an extremely functional utility tool. It is made in the USA at Spyderco’s factory in Golden, Colorado exclusively from US materials.
The heart of the Yojimbo2 is its Wharncliffe blade, which is ground from CPM-S30V stainless steel. It features a partial hollow grind that provides amazing edge geometry, yet leaves the blade full thickness at the spine for increased strength and mass. The back of the blade features a smooth, curved thumb ramp that is designed to encourage the user to brace his thumb on the back of the blade. This grip, taken from the Filipino martial arts, makes the knife a natural extension of the hand and allows the user to cut with both power and accuracy.
The Yojimbo2’s handle is constructed with stainless steel liners that are “nested” into machined G-10 scales. This type of construction makes the knife thinner and increases its strength. It also allows for an open-backed style of construction that makes the knife extremely easy to clean and maintain.
The lock on the Yojimbo2 is an improved version of Spyderco’s patented Compression Lock. Like a liner lock, the Compression Lock uses a spring locking bar integral to one of the handle liners. However, instead of the ramp on the blade facing toward the butt of the handle, it faces up — toward the back of the handle. When the blade is opened, the lock bar moves onto the blade ramp where it is trapped between the ramp and the stop pin. When pressure is applied to the blade in an attempt to close it, rather than just trying to flex the lock bar, the pressure must actually try to crush it between the ramp and the stop pin. This amazing lock is not only one of Spyderco’s strongest lock mechanisms, when released it allows the user to close the blade without placing his fingers in the path of the edge.
The Yojimbo2’s handle is drilled and tapped in four locations to accept the pocket clip, thus supporting tip-up or tip-down carry on both the left and right sides of the body. Tip-up carry positions the knife so it can be quickly drawn and immediately indexed for one-handed opening, while the tip-down carry positions provide low-profile “deep-pocket” carry.
The ergonomic handle shape is scientifically designed to fit the contours of the human hand to provide control and to allow the user to easily manage the impact shock of full-power cuts and thrusts. Like a good concealment handgun, there are no heavily textured surfaces or sharp corners on the Yojimbo2.
The first production run of the Yojimbo2 was released in late 2011 and sold out in less than a week. Additional production is scheduled for the Spring of 2012, but it already seems that the Yojimbo2 has found an audience that appreciates its qualities as a state-of-the-art personal-defense folding knife.
Here’s another look at both sides of the Yojimbo2. Okay; enough, huh? Time to order one of your own…
With dozens — or hundreds? — of knife models in the Spyderco inventory, it can be difficult and time-consuming to sort through them all looking for knives of interest to, let’s say, “serious users.” Both to make that task easier for us, and to specifically direct their energies on those hard-use blades, Spyderco launched their “OpFocus” program. Here’s a brief on that:
More than 30 years ago, Spyderco single-handedly defined the modern “tactical” folding knife. The dynamic combination of one-handed manual opening, a pocket clip, and the extreme cutting power of a serrated edge quickly made our knives the tools of choice of armed professionals, duty-bound personnel, and defense-minded citizens.
Since then, both Spyderco and the knife community have matured and our groundbreaking design innovations have become standard features on most modern folding knives. Spyderco has also expanded the breadth and depth of our product offerings to meet the needs of the full spectrum of knife users. However, in the process, we have never lost touch with our duty-bound customers.
To best meet the needs of military and law enforcement personnel, security professionals, first responders, and defense-minded civilians, Spyderco is proud to introduce our OpFocus™ catalog. This catalog presents the majority of our product line with a focus on the features that are most relevant to operational needs. This “operational focus” allows end users to quickly compare and evaluate our products to choose the knives and accessories that best fit your mission and training goals.
To embellish on that a bit…
Serious users of tactical products understand and appreciate the history behind those products. That’s why all savvy knife users have a special appreciation for Spyderco and our role in revolutionizing modern knife design. The OpFocus catalog is a means of making our time-tested, field-proven products available to operationally oriented end users in a focused, easy-to-use format. Duty-bound personnel and defense-minded civilians typically know what performance criteria they’re trying to meet when they buy a knife. The OpFocus catalog provides a perspective of the Spyderco product line that allows them to understand and evaluate our knives in the context of their needs and make educated decisions very efficiently. It’s exactly as its name implies—a view of Spyderco’s industry-leading products with an operational focus.
In addition to the catalog and marketing program, OpFocus also has a parallel professional purchase program that allows duty-bound end users (active-duty military and law enforcement personnel and qualified first responders) to purchase our products at a substantial discount. This program is Spyderco’s way of ensuring that these professionals have access to the best cutting tools available at the most affordable prices. It is also our way of thanking them for their service to our community and our nation.
To learn more about Spyderco’s OpFocus program, to request or download an OpFocus catalog, or to view an interactive on-line version of the 2012 OpFocus catalog, visit www.spyderco.com/opfocus.
I hope this has been informative for you, folks. Now I have to go check out some more – KNIVES! And, maybe a new gun or two… The thankless, dreary work never ends here — and I’m sorta glad it doesn’t. Connor OUT.
By John Connor
For more info: www.americanhandgunner.com/product-index and click on the company name.
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