Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Spyderco vs CRKT

I like Benchmade. I like Benchmade for many reasons.

But why should I like CRKT over Spyderco? CRKT is obviously a lower grade than Spyderco...

Spyderco is obviously a quality manufacturer, they use quality materials, and seem to have a quality design. They like their design. A lot. A whole lot. Excessively. Sure they change the blade style slightly from time to time, and the offer full, partial, or no serrations... Yeah. But they've introduced some interesting designs... Like a small metal one, a small metal one with a defined grip curve, a small... pointy one... erm... Paw prints? The obligatory Resq-u knife. Something wavy. Something... er... whatever. I-can't-believe-it's-not-Ambush. But for the most part it's really just more of the same over and over again. Little tweaks here and there. A few extra lines. Like I said; it's quality hardware... It's just really uninspired. Just because you've bought the best paints doesn't mean you'll create a masterpiece, or that you won't just paint the same bowl of fruit over and over again. Not to say that the fruit bowl isn't a good painting, it's just that some people don't like fruit.

My Spyderco Ladybug deals with friction, sweat, heat, and pressure all day and asks for more. I trust it, and it's earning my respect; but that doesn't mean that I like it.

Looking at their line I see little variety, and extremely limited evolution. In fact, the only evolution I can see is the initial implementation of the choil (which I really like, by the way). Then I see a more innovative grip design in the Manix. Then I see a stronger blade design, and a more accentuated grip in the Native. Then I see the Native III with a strong blade attached to a grip that looks like it was made to actually fit a human hand. The Native III is a very functional utility blade, high-quality materials, a properly fitting grip, and a choil feature for added control. But it seems to have something that the other models don't. Is it heart? Is it creativity? Is it a flair for utility? I don't know, but they've made a good knife. It's different from what they've done before. And they know it. That's probably why they're prominently displaying on the front page of their site. I want a Native III.

While Spyderco slowly realizes that there's more to the knife world than a big, round hole, serrations, and thin grips, CRKT, a lesser knife company by most standards was doing some interesting things, some new things, and some old things with their own flair added. CRKT wasn't hung up on bringing the consumer the latest-and-greatest steel which only marginally outperforms its predecessor (which only marginally outperformed its predecessor), they were more concerned with design. Designs with purpose, designs that were new, designs that were classic, designs that were interesting, designs that were different, designs that were particular, designs that were useful, designs that were concealable, and designs that were innovative. And for less green than Spyderco. Much less. Am I afraid my CRKT is going to fall apart in my hands? No. I've mistreated my m16 (not terribly, of course), and have yet to see anything but quality from CRKT. And I've certainly yet to see anything of competing functionality from Spyderco. Does that mean I'm buying "junk" knives because I'm cheap? No. But when Spyderco comes out with a bear claw for half of what they usually charge for their knives I'll happily trot into the knife shop, and buy it. Until then; I'll be content using knives that specifically fit the purpose I'm using them for, and will lovingly give my "junky" knives a few passes of the sharpener, and continue using them with confidence.

7 comments:

PN NJ said...

Spyderco knives are well made, but CRKTs are actually designed to fit your hands. For me, that's a big deal.

BobG said...

Actually, one of my favorite knives is the large Smith and Wesson SWAT, plain edge. It has a decent blade, and the grip is the most comfortable and easy to retain that I have found in quite a while.

Josh said...

CRKT this year decided to stop making the most bulletproof knife in their lineup - the Crawford/Kasper - so they could make a bazillion more M16 variants. The Lightfoot is their best offering at the moment IMO. I'd wager that, at any given moment, most big knife shops can only stock about 60% of their current models, most of which just look weird. Many of the new models, you won't see in a couple of years. Conversely, the Spyderco Police has remained virtually unchanged for 23 years because it works. Flair's cool, but does it work? When you have a KISS close on your hand, you view that "innovative" spirit in another light.

ExistingThing said...

I'm not sure you're disagreeing with me.

In almost all things, I value function over form. Knives, however, are probably the only things where I value both the same. Especially when the form is functional. Spyderco makes great generic folders. That's it. There's little specialized about them.

I think we can both agree the KISS is really more of a novelty with limited use. You're not going to carry it as a primary, but as a backup, or something discreet where carrying a knife is not socially acceptable. CRKT makes lots of knives that would not be EDC folder. But they make plenty of other knives for other tasks and positions. Spyderco just keeps the cookie cutter going.

...IMHO... :)

Josh said...

I'm not disagreeing with you, and I'm not going to try and change your opinion about this. However, I firmly believe that "form follows function." The 'cookie cutter' Spydies may not be the most aesthetically pleasing, I'll give you that, but I can go from Manix to Native to Military and retain the same muscle memory with superior materials and construction. The CRKT's seem like solutions in search of a problem, IMO. You can't tell me the Snapfire or Snaplock or HUG or Edgie or On Fire or that half-a-sheath SideHawg thing are anything but something for some geek to look at once, put in a drawer and forget about, because they damn sure aren't utility or fighting blades.

triticale said...

If I were buying knives, I'd certainly look beyond Spyderco, but the basic slabsided Clipit I've carried for about 25 years does everything I need it for. The fact that it came set up for a southpaw is a big factor in that.

Haji said...

There's no question Spyderco generally makes ugly knives, but they have a cool ugliness to them, rather than the flat out uglyness that some other companies do so well. CRKT doesn't have a single in-house design. They do whatever is getting the most buzz on the 'net regarding the latest knife maker's design. Some of them are great. Some suck ass. All of them are made with adequately performing steel, but not great steel. They're made in Taiwan, not in Seki Japan or America. There are no top flight Chinese or Taiwanese knives that can compete directly against top flight American or Japanese knives. CRKT gives you what you pay for: decent performance at a fair price. Spyderco gives you what you pay for: premium steels, the best pocket clip design going, the best serration execution and the best patented opening system there is. That's all there is to it. Pretty fair deal all the way around, I think.