One to Watch: Spyderco Chaparral in FRN
Tony Sculimbrene 09.27.17
Let’s be real–2017 has been one of the best years in the knife world ever. Benchmade has not just made a comeback, they have returned from wandering in the design desert riding on a golden horse. Spyderco has released a ton of good blades, including two knives with Maxamet, both under $200. GEC has delighted traditional fans. CRKT has stepped up its designs with a price-friendly take on the Hi Jinx, a pair of new Fieldstrip blades, and a bunch of stellar collabs with big name custom makers. This is not just the Golden Age of Gear, this year has been an embarrassment of riches for knife fans.
But among this positively huge wave of awesome stuff, careful observers noted an incredibly promising blade among the Spyderco lineup at Blade Show. Very little has been released about it, but people who attended the show have gotten the word out: Spyderco is making an FRN version of their Chaparral folder.
This might not seem like a big deal. In fact, it might look like a step backward from the perspective of the enthusiast crowd. The reality is, however, that this knife could be one of the best combinations of performance and value in the knife business. The rumor is that the FRN Chaparral will come in at less than $100. If that is the case, people looking for a “good knife” should first look here. For folks with dozens of blades and TFFs with MokuTi inlays, the FRN Chaparral isn’t (though should be) for you. This is a knife oozing with mainstream appeal.
The bones of the Chaparral make it one of the best knives in the Spyderco lineup, which, given how good Spyderco is at making blades, makes it one of the best production folders in the world. First, and most notably, the Chaparral has as thin a blade stock as I have ever seen on a knife. Coming in .08″ thick, the Chaparral’s CTS-XHP blade cuts and slices like a dream. Add to this amazing blade a great size, right around 2.75″ (well clear of the 3″ mark that many states use as the upper limit for legal carry), and you have a real winner. The wire clip and finger choil help out.
But thus far all of the Chaparrals have emphasized the “gentleman” part of the “gentleman’s knife” equation. The first run sported a laminated G10/carbon fiber. The second run has titanium handles with an interesting machining pattern. The third ran titanium again but this time with a stepped pattern. The fourth Chaparral ran a material called Raffir Noble. None of these knives were exactly “get ’em dirty” blades. But with FRN, one of the lightest, cheapest, and most damage-resistant materials used in knife handles, the Chaparral’s great size and features are finally being married to a handle designed solely for use. Not only does the FRN make the knife a bit more rugged, it also makes it lighter. Speculation points to a weight of less than 2 ounces.
In an age with a tidal wave of awesome gear, the possibility of an FRN Chaparral is intriguing. Be on the lookout. It’s coming our way soon.