One to Watch: Spyderco Advocate
Tony Sculimbrene 06.30.16
You might not know this, but there is a professional cutting league called BladeSport. The idea is that competitors vie for points over a series of meets held during the course of a year. At each meet they’re required to do some pretty nutty cutting tasks. Some events are timed and others are just count-based. Including in the menagerie of weird tasks are cutting through multiple strands of sisal rope, beheading water bottles en masse, or chopping golf balls in half as they roll past you. There is even a speed competition to cut a 2X4 in half. It’s not unlike some of the Lumberjack competitions you see on late night ESPN. As a knife knut I find BladeSport fascinating–not because I am following the standings or anything, but because of the information it can give us on what really works.
Two things we know based on BladeSport results–Gayle Bradley knows a thing or two about knives, and M4 steel rocks. Gayle won BladeSport two years in a row (2006-2007, 2007-2008), and he did it using M4, one of the hardest steels on the market. BladeSport’s extreme cutting tasks place an inordinate amount of stress on an edge (and any loss in edge sharpness is the end of the game), so M4 with its high wear resistance and incredible edge retention will do well.
M4 has done well in the pocket knife world as well. I loved the Spyderco Air, Gayle Bradley’s second collaboration with Spyderco. It proved to me pretty quickly that M4 is the real deal. It may be older than ZDP-189 and much less high tech than M390, but it can hang, performance-wise, with any steel on the market in terms of edge retention. It’s clear that Gayle’s knowledge gleaned from years of making knives and competing in BladeSport led him to M4.
But until now, all of his Spyderco folders have had the thumb hole only deployment method. Things are different now because Spyderco showed off the Advocate, Gayle Bradley’s new collab, at Blade Show. And it was, for me, a highlight.
The entire knife strikes me as a very nice package–great size, shape, and steel. I am also hopeful because Spyderco has generally made some excellent flipper tabs. Lots of companies can’t seem to get this right (see: Boker Kwaiken pre-jimped flipper tab), but even on knives with screwed up ergos like the original Southard, the flipper tab was amazing. The Positron was likewise lackluster overall with a great flipper tab. Even the Dice and Domino, which are perfectly mediocre knives, have great flipper tabs. The action, thanks to bearing pivots on all four knives, is equally good.
Hopefully the Advocate will be Spyderco’s first truly great flipper. All of the ingredients are there–the steel, the designer, the shape, and that flipper tab…