Chinese Clone of the LionSpy


Hello World!

Lion Steel from Italy and Spyderco from the USA have teamed up to propose a very interesting folder, mostly based on the SR-1 (a large integral folder with titanium or aluminium handle and a tool steel large bellied blade), which includes the famed hole for deployment and a half-titanium half-G10 body. Therefore it’s no longer an integral but the two sides join (almost) seamlessly in the middle, creating a very nice handle which is, also, lighter than a full titanium affair. The Chinese knife makers have seen the piece and judged that they could produce something very similar for a fraction of the price…. Rigthly so, it seems.


The Chinese clone is a very very close match to the Spydie. However, the original made in Italy thing is plagued by many fit and finish problems (mostly in the form of mis-aligned blades, uneven joint between titanium and G10, scratch marks on the titanium parts, stop pin protruding on one or the other side and poorly ground blades with a bad convex secondary bevel, a great idea often improperly executed). No such things are present on my piece.


The knife is a rather large piece at 173.7g and a 20.5 cm overall length. The blade is about 9 to 9.5cm long, but with a very high profile and a semi-full flat grind, it remains a great slicer despite the very thick 4.5mm spine. The steel of the blade is advertised to be Elmax, which I doubt strongly, and I suppose that it’s more likely 9Cr18MoV, a very good steel quite akin to a slightly improved 440c (good hardness, good toughness, great corrosion resistance).


The size of the knife doesn’t prevent it from being a good EDC since it’s very easy to carry thanks to a deep pocket clip, reversible and offering strong retention. It was way too tight when I got it, but its simple conception (steel spring) allowed me to simply bend it until it had the right tension/retention for me.


All parts are very precisely adjusted and the general fit and finish is really very good, the Rotoblock works perfectly, never closing accidentally or opening when you want it closed, while being easy to operate.



No unfinished edges are to be found anywhere and the only “unrounded” parts are the hole and spine of the blade. They are not “unfinished” but simply not very rounded. Which is good for striking a fire starter on the spine and for maximising traction when deploying the blade, but it might be a tad uncomfortable when opening.


The operation of the blade is “smooth” but tight. What I mean is that there is a certain continuous resistance to the opening motion. It feels good, you can flick it open (with a bit of wrist movement) but it won’t fall back in place under its weight, even if you shake the knife. However, being a bronze washers pivot, it’s bound to become smoother and smoother with time.


Blade centring is almost perfect and the knife comes with a full package including a nice quality pouch in soft grained leatherette with a thick padded plushy interior and the tool for adjusting the pivot and the special screw setting the pocket clip in place.


Overall, I was very pleasantly surprised with what I got, and I foresee that I’m going to EDC this knife rather often as the blade profile makes it a good all purpose utility knife and the contoured handle is very comfortable and a good size for my hands.



17 Comments Add yours

  1. Hans Lindgren says:

    Seems like an improved knife compared to the Lion/Spy collaboration knife
    Time for me to look around for it 😉
    Thanks for the good review

    Liked by 1 person

  2. steveknife says:

    I really like the shape of the blade. Interesting comparisons, will be looking to see how well this is distributed.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I just received it
    Awesome folding knife!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Franz says:

      The more I have it the more I like it… it’s clearly among my top five preferred knives that I have/had, and at the moment the one knife that I carry the most!


  4. Mark Gray says:

    I ordered one from Aliexpress. I chose to get the carbon fiber scale version for $89.


    1. Franz says:

      I’m sure it’ll be just as good as the G10 version (if not better) and (normally) it should be lighter, too.
      Just tell us what you thing of it when you get it!


      1. Mark Gray says:

        Will do… Might be a couple weeks though.


  5. Mark Gray says:

    I ordered one from Aliexpress. I chose the carbon fiber version for $89.


  6. Mark Gray says:

    I forgot to holler back at ya…This thing is unbeleiveable…I cannot tell the difference bettween this and the real thing (except the carbon fiber)…It makes you wonder if They are outsoucing to china and just say they are making them in Italy.


  7. Mike Milano says:

    I cant seem to find it on aliexpress’s web site. Do you happen to have a link or exact name its under. Thanks


    1. Franz says:

      It seems not to be available on Aliexpress any more. Still, you can find it on DHgate (where the pricing is often not as consistent as on AE but the rules regarding knifes are far less restrictive: sellers seem to prefer that second platform).
      I’ve looked this morning and found this link for example (I’m not endorsing that seller in any way, it’s just the first I found).

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Julian says:

    Hi franz,

    can you tell something about edge retention on this model? i think about buying one since the real lionspy is gone now and prices are skyrocketing . the seller i found on dhgate claims that is elmax or 7cr and i doubt it’s elmax and 7cr probably won’t make me happy 🙂
    your assessment would be greatly appreciated.
    kind regards

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Franz says:

      Hi Julian,
      I’m not absolutely sure about the steel, the edge retention seems good (but given the amount of knives I have and the lightness of use I expose them to, I guess most steels would be OK with me provided they’re better than 5Cr15MoV…). As I said, 9Cr18MoV is the likely steel used in this one (doesn’t rust/pit like D2, and seems marginally easier to sharpen than D2 as well, but not so much that I’d suspect a lesser steel.
      I’ve asked twice about these sort of knives and most times the sellers were adamant “it’s really Elmax… ” but the price makes me doubt it very much. Like the M390 knives at less than $100…
      7Cr it could be, with good heat treatment, that might actually be very serviceable!
      Best regards,


  9. Julian says:

    thank you for the answer!
    as a steel snob i probably have to risk it since i missed the “real” one for reasonable prices.
    i really was looking for the carbon fiber version but somehow it’s gone unfortunately


  10. Julian says:

    sorry to bug you,
    two more questions:

    are the logos laseretched?
    and steel wise i asked all sellers what steel, of course it’s elmax 😦
    i’d be ok with something like d2 or 440c maybe even 9cr18mov but 7cr is not really reliable hardend over 54hrc – that’s swiss army knife level – for such a beautiful made clone imho that’s not on par.
    what do you think what steel it realistically could be?
    haha, crazy mind is going a mile a minute about such stupid stuff


    1. Franz says:

      Yep, I guess it’s 9Cr18MoV, it looks like it, and a rather well heat treated one, as well, for all I can tell.
      And the markings are laser etched or a similar marking technique, not painted. at least for what I can tell on cursory inspection!


  11. Julian says:

    thank you for your thoughts.
    i couldn’t resist i just ordered one – i’m very curious how the knife’ll be!
    waiting is the hardest time 🎶


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