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.