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.