Site Translator

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Spyderco Swick: Wickedly Nice

If you’re a guy, chances are the very first time you see the Spyderco Swick, there’s that visceral “Wow! Pare ganda nyan!” (“Wow man, that’s cool!”) factor that’s going to be turned on. You find yourself being drawn uncontrollably to touch it and slip it into your grasp. You then realize that that was somewhat of a bad idea since you feel you don’t want to let go of it ever. It feels THAT natural in your hand!


The Swick is a diminutive fixed blade manufactured by Spyderco Knives of Golden, Colorado in the US. As any knife and gear aficionado knows, this company has a lofty standing built on the excellent designs and performance of its knives. The word “cutting edge” definitely applies to them as well because of their innovative use of modern, hi-tech materials and superior grade metals for their blades. Most importantly, a lot of the standard features that we see in the more contemporary folding knives today were first introduced by Spyderco.


Mine is the first production run of this knife and I’ve had it since 2004. Primarily designed for neck-carry mode, it’s a small, bare metal fixed blade devoid of scales or any other attachments. The benefit is that it lessens the weight and the bulky imprint effect when clothing is worn above it. It does have a small hole drilled on the handle’s butt which I think would be for a lanyard. The blade’s shape based on how the spine narrows to a point is called a wharncliffe design. Personally, it’s a very functional design. It has a cutting edge of 2 1/8" encased by friction in a kydex plastic sheath. A ball chain is also provided to wear around your neck. I replaced this with military cord to vary modes of carry, such as strapping it around your backpack’s strap.

The first time I held it, I was a bit surprised that it did have just a hint of heft without really being noticeable. I suppose I was thinking it weighed like air since it was very small. This was not really an issue since in the long run, being too small while being extremely light might work against it, which is reminding you that despite its size, you are still wearing a blade.

As I’ve alluded to earlier, Spyderco is known for the famed ergonomics of their knives. Hobbyists describe that they design their knives “in the dark” to limit the complication of visual bias. I don’t know how true this reverence for design is but they certainly are right about how good it feels in the hand. Its pistol-shaped handle strongly mimics a forward grip and it has a hole for where the trigger housing that nicely fits your index finger in. The added benefit is the retention it affords. It’s like having your own animal claw!


S30V, the stainless steel it’s made from has had a lot of expectations going for it. This was steel specifically designed for cutlery by Crucible Particle Metallurgy also in the US. Not even a decade old, this recently developed wonder steel was said to combine the functional attributes of structural strength and edge-holding. Yes, I remember how sharp it was when I drew it out of its sheath the first couple of times because it sliced some pieces of the sheath itself! It shaved my hairy legs too. I was able to carve on wood with this thing and even execute some irregular shapes and details. It’s certainly a delight to have a sharp knife when doing these tasks. The blade sharpness also held for a very long time even after many cutting chores on various items.

That being said, there’s going to be a sticky point that I have to mention. After sometime, the cutting edge suffered noticeably large chips. This was a big letdown for the much lauded S30V steel. To be fair though, many things in the manufacturing process could’ve contributed to this. Moreover, some more knowledgeable on cutlery also advised that this damaged layer would gradually harden as you cut and resharpen more. And it did get better as time passed, though the steel did become a bit of a chore to sharpen-up using just a regular flat kitchen stone.

One could easily classify this as a self-defense weapon than a utility knife, but I think this would be looking at it narrowly and missing its fullest potential. I could imagine emergency professionals or those involved in hazardous occupations would appreciate such a design.

Lastly, as I sometimes wear it next to my skin in neck carry, it did have some slight rusting spots. Maybe it’s my acidic sweat coupled with the humid tropical environment that caused it? It just takes a bit of care with an oily rag to deal with this.


This is certainly a very specific knife design that may not suit everybody. Its design might also be restrictively alarming to bring it out in public. The price point is also a bit high for non-knife enthusiasts.

The sad part though is that it is no longer in production although Spyderco has at times launched variations of this knife briefly (termed “sprit runs” for these short and limited production items). There was even a fantastic second generation version, the Swick II, which is the embodiment of what I secretly wanted in mine. See for yourself, it’s bigger (which I wanted) but now with a leaf-shaped blade. It also has holes drilled should you opt to attach scales on the handle.

(Swick II photo from

If you search diligently in the web though, you might just chance one on some online retailers.

· Very well-designed
· Excellent edge holding
· Multiple carry modes (if you’re creative enough)

· Discontinued (!)
· Initial chipping of the cutting edge
· Price point: on the higher end
· Slight rusting/tarnishing issues

Personal Preferences:
· Already realized in the second generation model

No comments: