Spyderco IWA 2018
Tony Sculimbrene 04.17.18
Unlike a lot of companies, Spyderco often debuts its latest and greatest to a single individual, not a horde of people at SHOT or Blade. For years, knife knuts have depended on Wueter aka Spydercollector to get the word from Golden at a European outdoor show call IWA. This year was a little different as a lot of the stuff shown to Spydercollector was first seen at SHOT, but there were some new gems and new looks at stuff shown in January. The whole reveal process, by which an enthusiast spreads the word, is a reminder that as big as the outdoor gear and the knife business has gotten, these are still small companies with personal connections to their customers. Thanks to Spydercollector for the use of all the images in this article, he gave me permission to use them personally. Go check out his site, it is a veritable treasure of knife pictures and videos.
The theme with this year’s Spyderco line up is really a focused on listening to fans. The collaborations and the designs that are the foundation of the Spyderco line in 2018 are all fan favorites–flippers, compression locks, and highly original customs. That theme continues with the stuff shown at IWA.
Black Snow Customs has been making the Sabotage for a while and it is bold lines captured people’s attention on Instagram. With a huge blade (more than 4 inches) and an unusual blade shape, the Sabotage was a social media darling. The quality of the knife has meant that its looks have stuck around as people have been blown away once they got one in hand. The Spyderco collab seems to have a high end finish as well. According the Spydercollector, Eric Glesser had to warn people when they handled the knife that the pivot was exceptionally smooth. The blade steel appears to be The handles are orange G10 and the knife is made in Taichung Taiwan ensuring a high degree of consistency and quality. The steel was unspecified on the show sample.
The Paysan made it to SHOT, but it was not part of Spyderco’s regular showing, coming out here and there from Eric’s pocket. This knife looks to be the pinnacle of Spyderco production–it will have the highest MSRP ($519) for any Spyderco (though, when adjusted for inflation the Jess Horn and the Klotzli Michael Walker were more expensive). It is another Peter Rassenti collab, a follow up to his Nirvana from a few years ago. The Paysan has a bit more unusual blade shape, a reverse tanto/modified sheeps foot design. Like the Nirvana (and almost all Rassenti designs) the Paysan is an integral. With a 3.8 inch blade of S90V steel, this is a big knife with amazing features. Rounding out the Taichung Taiwan package is a lockbar insert designed to eliminate the biggest complaint folks had about the Nirvana–lock stick.
Spyderco Alistar Phillips Collab
Unlike a lot of the collabs in the 2018 line up, this one is a bit unsung. It lacks the punch you in the eyeballs styling of the Sabotage and the gee whiz production tricks of the Paysan, but what you get is a very, very solid design. With a 3.5 inch blade and a slim handle this knife looks a lot like some of the Stretch precusors line the Venator or the Pro Venator. In fact it bears a striking resemblance to the old school Spyderco Ocelot, albeit a quarter inch longer in the blade. The knife is a compression lock and unlike the Ocelot it has a half and half finger choil. The knife is also a Taichung made blade. The steel appears to be S30V on the show sample.
Lil Native Lockback
The compression lock variant of the Lil’ Native has been out for a while, but for those that like a smooth spine and the familiarity of a lockback, Spyderco showed off the Lil’ Native Lockback. Like all knives in the Native line, this is a Made in the USA blade, one of the few in the 2018 catalog. It seems to have the same tiny but stout build quality of the original Lil Native and the same steel (S30V). Its not the most exciting knife shown at IWA, but a natural and solid iteration of an already iterated design. This approach has led to a lot of Spyderco’s success.
Spyderco McNees Collab
Jonathan McNees has made a lot of cool and creative knives, many of which feature a thumb hole opener. That is bound to attract Golden’s attention. The collab shown at IWA was positively tiny–smaller than the Dragonfly, which is, itself, a tiny (though functional) knife. The knife is a titanium framelock with a textured disengagement point on the lockbar and a hammered pivot (which is still a torx fastner, its just dressed up). The knife is made in Taichung Taiwan and runs CTS-XHP. The blade length is a miniscule 1.53 inches.
Dropping these folders (or in some cases, giving them a more prominent place to show them off) has made it clear that Spyderco is the company to beat for 2018. My favorite of the new stuff is the Sabotage. Its not a design I would probably carry, but it is a very cool “statement” piece. Given their past release schedule, I would be shocked if all of the knives shown at IWA come out in 2018. We are likely seeing 2018 and part of the line up for 2019. Either way, Spyderco has really put out a formidable array of blades. They have the low and the high end covered, although what constitutes “low end” for Golden has changed since their MAP readjustment. They have a ton of collabs with big names, collabs with lesser names, and a slew of in-house stuff. The third wave of the Golden Age of Gear has just started and between Spyderco and Benchmade alone, we are looking at a wallet busting year for knife nuts.
For more on the Spyderco 2018 (and beyond) line up, here is a run down of their showing at SHOT 2018.