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  1. #1
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    Spyderco Captain short review

    I've somehow ended up participating in the current Spyderco Captain passaround, and having used the knife for a few days now I thought I would post a brief review. I joined the passaround mostly out of curiosity as to how this unconventional, not to say ugly, blade would perform in use.

    Specifications
    The Spyderco Captain is quite a chunky little knife. It's a linerlock, with a VG10 blade and black G-10 scales. The blade is 3 1/16" long and the handle 4 1/8", giving an overall opened length of 7 3/16". It weighs in at a solid 4 3/4oz. The blade is a very unusual configuration - the first part is hollow ground in a recurve for around 2", and the section in front is flat ground, convex edge of about 1 1/4".


    The Spyderco Captain in the hand

    First Impressions
    The very first impression is that the blade looks every bit as ugly in real life as in photos. This being a Spyderco, it is a very solid, well put together knife. It feels reassuringly sturdy and fits my hand well, with the G-10 scales giving an excellent grip. The overall impression is of a quality knife. It opens easily with one hand, but closing is a bit more fiddly as the cut-out opposite the liner lock is relatively shallow. The blade shape is interesting. I could visualise the recurve section being good for cutting rope, but no immediate application for the chisel nose section came to mind.


    Top to bottom: Al Mar mini-SERE 2000, Spyderco Captain, Benchmade 710, Spyderco UKPK


    Knives as above, closed for size comparison

    In use
    The very first thing I did was to re-position the clip for right hand pocket, tip up carry - my preferred configuration. The clip on the Captain allows for 4 possible positions to cover all carry permutations. (Right/left, tip up/down). Clipping it to my right pocket, I went out into some woodland and tried trimming some small branches. The recurve section made this hard work as it doesn't allow a fluid sweeping motion, and it tends to dig in and stop. I didn't find it at all suited to the job. The convex chisel nose has too small an edge to be of much practical use for this application. So it's most certainly not an ideal bushcraft knife.

    When I got home I cut some sections of rope with the Captain, and as expected it made short work of this task - the recurve section of the blade feeling very much like a hawkbill in use, and cutting rope very efficiently.

    So thus far I had established that the Captain was a better than average rope cutter, and a significantly worse than average bushcraft tool. How would it cope with my other main application, hunting? I went out and shot a deer, and gave it a try.

    After the shot, the first thing one needs to do is to gralloch (field dress) the deer. This involves making a cut through the skin and ventral abdominal wall. Although the Captain has two "points" - one where the recurve section meets the chisel nose section, and one between the chisel nose section and the spine - both are very obtuse and of no use in making an initial "nick" in the skin. I eventually got the cut started by using much more force than normal, and having done so the recurve section completed the job well enough. When back at the larder, there was more cutting work to be done removing head and legs and preparing the carcase for hanging. I did all of this with the Captain, but it was the same story - the blade configuration is far from ideal for this sort of work and the knife made heavy weather of the job. Now it may be that because I am so used to using conventional blade shapes for this job that I was using the wrong technique for the Captain. Being a stubborn and persistent individual, I completed the job using the Captain. However, it would be the last knife I'd choose to do it again - a 5 Opinel would have been much faster and less frustrating.

    Conclusions
    Well, my curiosity is now satisfied and I have reached some conclusions about this knife. I'll give the positives first, because there are some, and because there will be plenty of negatives.

    Positive features
    It's a very well made, high quality knife - typical Spyderco built-like-a-tank construction. I would have no concerns about the strength of the knife, and it's built to endure hard use and give a lifetime of service.

    Negative features

    The most disappointing aspect of this little test was that I had hoped to be pleasantly surprised, and wasn't. I am used to Spyderco knives being ugly, but have previously found that form followed function. I am forced to the conclusion that in the case of the Captain, form is for form's sake alone. Take a look at the vast range of knives on the market - it can't be easy to design something that hasn't been tried before. To me, the Captain is the answer to a non-existent problem. It cuts rope reasonably well, but isn't outstanding - a serrated hawkbill would be better. For every other application that I tried, it was better than no knife at all, but far from competent and even far from adequate in most cases. In an attempt to offer an "all-round" blade configuration, I'd suggest that the Captain is a knife that can do most things poorly but nothing particularly well. Of course, my test was subjective and relates very much to the way I use my knives - others may differ, and it may be that there is a niche for the Captain that I don't see, or need myself.

    Would I find a use for this knife if I owned it? No, I'd really struggle. It would be about the last knife in my collection to get any user time at all. If I do end up winning the knife at the end of this passaround, I'll put it up for sale immediately as I can confidently say I will never want to use it. It's not a cheap knife - it's slightly more expensive than the Manix and mini-Manix, either of which would knock spots off the Captain for all-round use.

  2. #2
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    Re: Spyderco Captain short review

    Excellent review Neill.

    The look of this thing has fascinated me for ages, and I've handled one at our Wirksworth meetup. I must admit that the aesthetics made me want to protect any small children or sensitive women who might inadvertently wander into the room, but Alick did say it was very, very good at digging arrows out of trees.

    Which is nice.

    It's always good to see reviews where real, practical tasks are attempted with the knife. Perhaps that's most important with Spyderco knives as we are always told that the function is greater than the form and we should look beyond aesthetics.

    I must compliment you on the simplicity but enormous effect of the phrase:

    "I went out and shot a deer"

    Which I think more than anything I have ever read sums up the differences that have developed between those of us who live in towns and those still in touch with how the countryside works.

    Slainte Mhath



    Danzo

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    Re: Spyderco Captain short review

    A well written review but the knife is not for me, i think it's a bit too short in the blade length , but the blade shape is very interesting kinda liks striders custom nightmares with thier interesting grinds and recurves ( what constitues a recurve a bad sharpening job or botched profile ?? ).
    I have read a few other reviews from other US forums and they say that the blade should be good for the bat for com and SD type applications and someone else said it's good for ripping through sheets of plasterboard/drywall
    Richard
    Proud Spyderco owner , Colin KC knife owner , Serrata knife owner
    Everybody's born right handed, Only the gifted overcome it

  4. #4
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    Re: Spyderco Captain short review

    Good review Trixx...it'll be on our website in a minute or two

    I got one as a birthday pressie the other week and my initial reaction was -"Oh, it's much smaller than I expected". (I find that happens a lot to me with knives I've seen piccies of... is it just me? )

    I thought it was a hefty knife of Manix proportions and that the mass of it would give it an effectiveness as a "camp knife -general chopper". But it's lightness means that's not how it works.

    In the hand I ffind the finger choil a little bit tight and not that comfy.

    So, I don't think it will be around for long and as an "unsuccessful" SPydie (a relative term) I'm going to wax it, wrap it and put it at the back of the toy cupboard for a decade . (Can't sell it as it was a personal pressie from SWMBO!)
    " I never said that." Albert Einstein.

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    Re: Spyderco Captain short review

    Danny, would you like to see the Wayne Goddard burgundy sprint run? I thought it was going to be similiar in size to the Jess Horn but it's about as big as the D'Allara Rescue!



    Neill, you too if you want.

    Danzo

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    Re: Spyderco Captain short review

    mmm...D'Allara...
    I'll pass Dan, I'm all spent out and if I see it I'll buy one!
    " I never said that." Albert Einstein.

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    Re: Spyderco Captain short review

    Quote Originally Posted by Basemetal View Post
    mmm...D'Allara...
    I'll pass Dan, I'm all spent out and if I see it I'll buy one!
    You won't. It's horrible.



    Danzo

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    Re: Spyderco Captain short review

    Great review

    I'm sure I'm not the only one reading this that has wondered just how this might work for the sort of things I might use it for (more like do whilst playing with it)
    The honesty coupled with the fact that your really using it for something you really need a knife for makes me want to send you my knives for review and I don't even eat meat.


    Infact if you PM your address I'll send you a WS kitchen knife blade I finished
    WARNING contents of this post may not be consistant with reality
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    Re: Spyderco Captain short review

    that's one ugly knife- be a bastard to sharpen as well

  10. #10
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    Re: Spyderco Captain short review

    Hello,

    I would just give my opinion on the Captain and I'm really fond of this compact and innovative folder. I like it in the woods, in the kitchen and in the city.
    The ergo are great and the uses are multiple IMHO.

    1/ the beauty is in the eye of the beholder, isn't it.

    2/ The tip is not chisel. It's flat ground on both sides. very usefull solid and sharp tip. (remembering the one of Sean McWilliams Panama Fighter)

    3/ I have found it very easy to sharp on ceramic rod.
    Very very easy: I sharp it like any other knife.

    My two cents.
    Cheers
    JM

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    Re: Spyderco Captain short review

    Nice review Trixx... thanks

    No surprises there then.

    When I first saw a photo of the Captain... it looked like it didn't know what task it was meant to do.

    Looks like it's not very good at any.


    Cheers.

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    Re: Spyderco Captain short review

    Thanks for the review Trixx

    I love the look of this thing. It's like a very concentrated joke.

    I found this commentary (below) on the spyderco website a bit back. Breeden pitches it as a modified recurve - which makes more sense

    (btw the tip, it has been suggested, is for pizzas)


    "All eyes were on knife designer Jason Breeden’s knives at a recent knife show; hypnotically drawn to a folder with a blade shape unlike anything knife enthusiasts has previously seen. The lower half of the blade was curved like a Hawkbill blade but its tip was bulb-like, perched on top the curved portion like a head on a neck.

    When someone asked the designer about it, he replied, “My designs are born from need I have experienced. I live in the Appalachian Mountains and am regularly outdoors or in water. A recurve blade has cutting advantages in water but I also wanted a strong tip for outdoor applications.” A Spyderco Round Hole was added and the Spyderco/Jason Breeden Captain came to be.

    The blade’s unusual shape in effect creates two opposing cutting angles one curving inward, one out. The inward curve holds onto what is being cut keeping it in contact with the sharp edge, ideal for downward and pulling cuts such as rope and line. The outward curved cutting edge bulges out at the blade’s tip for close in controlled cutting like skinning, whittling and horizontal slicing moving the wrist."
    Last edited by Noddy; 08-01-07 at 05:42 PM.

  13. #13
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    Re: Spyderco Captain short review

    Interesting Noddy, thanks for the quote. I'd seen similar comments on BF from the designer.

    It still looks to me like someone thought "Let's design a really unusual blade, and then see what we can do with it". If it works for some people, that's great - everybody has different needs and preferences. It's not a good fit for any of my requirements, but I'm looking forward to hearing other opinions from the passaround.

 

 

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