Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Unboxing: Spyderco Urban Knife Review

Big, big fan of the Spyderco design aesthetic; some very well thought-out knives at price points from cheap to mid range. If you're spending £25 or £175 the knives represent very good value, (even better value in the USA where prices are 30-40% cheaper) and the choice of steels is enough to satisfy the most anal collector discerning enthusiast.

As ever my choices were determined by:
A, the second hand market (contrary to popular belief there is a limit to the amount I'll spend on toys kit)
B, the time I have to put into watching the second hand market. I've missed a few bargains, this catch was not the spec I really wanted but the price was about what I wanted to pay.

In folding knife design what I really like are 'integral or frame locks' (like the Subcom F) but in the UK this most ingenious of safety features is deemed to make your knife 'weapons grade' and is therefore only permissible with 'good reason' and good reason is to be determined by a costly visit to the local courthouse.
Unit of Measurement .270
As is so often the case, restriction has led to innovation, with many makers seizing the opportunity to provide a 'street legal' knife for our EDC needs. Spyderco have been leaders in this field with the UKPK (UK Pen Knife) and the Urban both being slip-joints i.e held open but not locked open - just like a traditional penknife. Blade length for UK pocket carry is restricted to 3 inches (75mm) and the Urban comes in at 2 and 9/16ths (65 mm) with the whole knife only 6 and 1/16ths (154 mm).

The Urban is made in Japan with VG10 blade steel and G10 for the handle. Although the Spyderco-rati deem the made-in-Japan models to be second fiddle to the USA made knives in terms of finish, as users they are the same.

I already own a VG10 bladed knife (its the centre section of the laminated Fallkniven F1's blade [Reviews here] ) and while it's one of the more difficult steels to sharpen, when you get there it really takes and holds an edge.

I'm going to be using a Spyderco Sharpmaker (review here) to care for it.  I've had the Sharpmaker for a few years now and I'm even happier with it now than I was when I got it. The Sharpmaker sets the angle between stone and blade. As its Spyderco/Spyderco the angle of the stones is 20/20, perfectly set to the blades grind. I'll let you know in part two how easy a blade it is to maintain.

First impressions:
Neat and Petite - Not ideal for slicing a whole ham, but perfect for sausage or biltong
Well Made - The fit is good, all the parts are tight, some of the surface finishs could be better
Excellent Materials - VG10 is a great knife steel, and the handle's G10 is totally uniform
Good Value - Just that little bit nicer than the cheaper knives, almost as nice as knives twice the price.

Looking forward to some thorough field testing

Your pal