Thanx much for the great review, kind words and pics. Appreciate.
I received a Spyderco Street Beat from a passaround thread that is currently closed, so I won't taunt any of you that would love to try one because, unless a new passaround starts, you can't . This is my first review I've done, so bear with me if the format is bad. I also am also following in the shadow of Lava_Lamp, who reviewed this knife first.
Background Information on the Designer
Fred Perrin is a Parisian knife maker. He has designed many blades, including large fixed blades, neck knives, balisongs, and collaborated and inspired knives for some of the big knife companies: Emerson Knives, Cold Steel, Boker and Spyderco and produces both fully custom and mid tech knives. Perhaps his best known design is the La Griffe which Spyderco, Emerson, and Boker collaborated to create production versions of. Beyond this talk of knives, Perrin himself is a rather accomplished man: a former French Army Commando, former bodyguard, national Tae Kwon Do champion and a European full contact stick-fighting champion. In sum, the man knows, thinks, lives and breathes self defense, and this shows through in his products.
Flat Ground VG-10 Blade
7.188 inch overall (183mm for you non-Americans)
3.5 inch blade (89 mm " " ")
Micarta Handle with lanyard hole
Boltaron (kydex alternative) sheath with repositionable G-clip
3.2 oz (92g)
The knife overall is rather small. It feels heavier in hand than it actually is, due to the balance of the blade. This knife is what I expected (more on that later).
Light Cutting Tests
First, a confession. I have drooled over this blade for years, never being able to justify purchase because it was unsuitable for my location and jobs. Nevertheless, it was a blade I eagerly anticipated, and was already a fan from afar.
To give myself a little more objectivity, I tried to review it alongside two other knives, both similar in various ways: My spyderco police g10, essentially my favorite production folder, and ironically as Lava_Lamp alluded to it in his review, a Schrade Sharpfinger (I bought it just for this review!):
The Spyderco police uses the same steel, is from the same company and came flat ground as well; I assume the heat treat is the same so the two blades should be similar, although I freehanded my own angle onto the police, probably around 22 degrees inclusive, which gives it a rather nice slicing edge. Also, it has a nice choil in the handle, though nowhere near that of the Street Beat. The Sharpfinger is cheap: made in China of inferior materials and quality, it was literally about 1/10th the price. Besides the cheaper production the knives are quite similar. It is worth pointing out that Mr. Perrin is on record as being a big fan of older Sharpfingers (when they were made with better materials) so it should be no surpise. In fact, these two designs have dominated my attention for a small fixed blade.
Anyway, my tests were not as extensive as I would have liked, but offer some insights. One of the first tests I did was a push cut into cardboard:
Unsurprisingly, the police did the best, with a longer 4" blade and actually being sharpened to the standard of someone the cared about knives. The Sharpfinger and the Street Beat were actually about the same sharpness: I sharpened the sharpfinger a bit but lowered the angle substantially (taking off significant amount of stock further up the knife) as well as reducing the stock on the unsharpened portion of the blade. The Street Beat actually came to me... well, I cringe to say it, but not impressively sharp. Not a butterknife by any means, and the point retained needlelike acuity, but certainly not up to my sharpness standards nor what factory spyderco standards I experienced. At any rate, I conducted the test again between the sharpfinger and the street beat, and this again resulted in a slightly deeper cut by the sharpfinger. (I took the knives out of the picture unfortunately, but the cut on the right is from the sharpfinger).
However, this slight dullness could be seen as something of a blessing for my uses: I wanted to put the two designs head to head on an equal playing field; with the plastic handles, uneven grind, and who knows what "stainless steel" blade, the Sharpfinger would come out a loser without actually testing things like the edge geometry and blade shape if it went head to head with the street beat in factory new condition.
My next task was to cut up a pineapple for some company I had over. . I initially put the Police in the competition, but realized this was unfair, so left it to the other two knives. Again, competition was fierce, but with a slight edge to the sharpfinger. Perhaps part of this was because the thinner blade slides under a excavated slice of pineapple easier.
However about this time I realized that the blade shape of the Sharpfinger was better suited for the tasks I was performing. For slicing and penetration, the upswept blade of the sharpfinger leads to a more dramatic dropping of the blade about an inch from the tip, almost creating a belly that would lead to more dramatic slicing. After the initial belly, performance was about the same, if not perhaps slightly under the modified bowie shape that Perrin chose for the street beat.
Satisfied, I decided to forgo cutting heavier materials, due to the passaround nature of the knife and not wanting to ruin it for others.
The Boltaron sheath is a kydex alternative. Honestly, I have never had a kydex sheathed knife before, so have little to compare it to. However, I carried it in waistband at the 3, 4, 6, 7, and 9 o clock positions. The knife was comfortable for most of the time and concealed quite well, especially considering that I tend to wear more athletic, tighter fitting clothes than many other members here. I did not get a chance to test it out in hip nightclub jeans, but believe it would do ok as long as the jeans are not skin tight and there is a shirt or jacket to accompany it. The length of shirt is a greater concern, as I found my t-shirt would occasionally ride up and expose part of the handle. Here, it becomes apparent why micarta was chosen: though I am partial to g-10, I think micarta is a better choice for IWB carry as g-10 would more likely rub and create a rash unless you wear a sufficient undershirt. The sheath rattled slighty while playing with it, and I think it would be a concern if carrying inverted. I would recommend getting a different sheath for anyone who has a street beat, but this is more a testament to the knife rather than a condemnation of the sheath. I feel the street beat is so easy to carry (where legal) and so handy, that any owner who carries it will either want a sheath made for a particular position that used smaller studs and be smaller overall, or a sheath that allowed for horizontal carry. I would love to try horizontal carry on this knife and believe that this would make carry even easier for dressier, tighter clothes. Otherwise, the sheath is well designed; part of the choil is exposed so you can get a firm grip on the knife before withdrawing, and part of it is held in the sheath for security.
Feel in Hand
So, this is where I will gush about this knife. I loved it in hand. One of the most intriguing aspects for me was the deep, deep choil: I absolutely LOVE choils, basically the deeper the better. Absent a guard, a choil has always been something I look for in a knife, and part of why I love the spyderco police I have. This design feels great in hand, the choil makes any forward grip rock solid, I had absolutely no fear of losing my grip on the knife despite the fact that I feel most micarta is inferior to G-10, it didn't really matter because the grip was so secure. One thing that others haven't commented on: the choil has some subtle shaping to it, and it almost coaxes your hand into a saber grip. I absolutely loved this subtle angle on the back end of the choil, it felt absolutely natural to me and screamed to me that Perrin has fenced before. The choil almost feels like a trigger: you can pull the knife down with a twinge of the index finger, and makes the knife feel very lively in hand.
The con to this is that the subtle angle to the back of the choil makes reverse grip not as comfortable. It is still wonderfully secure and the choil helps lock up the knife, but it clearly was intended for forward grip rather than reverse. Hopefully this photo shows the slight awkwardness of a pinky in the choil.
Also noteworthy is that the handle is just a tad small for this grip (the hand in the photos is wearing a medium size mechanix glove)
The jimping on the knife is terrific: It's deeper than most files, and extends surprisingly far up the back of the knife; this encourages slightly different grips to place the thumb at various points, though this obviously was intended for people with larger hands. Very secure, and a nice touch.
The micarta was nicely finished though not my typical fare, however this is a great choice in my opinion as the micarta looks classy enough that you can pass this off as almost a gentleman's paring knife. I like this because if I'm in a situation where I don't need my knife to look gentlemanly I generally go for a huge chopper: most of Perrin's custom and mid tech work are more roughly finished, but this gives them less ability to blend in to a civilized environment. If I can carry a fixed blade but it's this small then I would like my knife not to look too much like a Rambo knife.
(Edit) Clarification note: I've seen people refer to "3D handles" in other reviews, and wondered what that meant. For me, it could refer to the slight indexing of the choil, but really the part that struck me was the handle swelled outwards at the middle on each side, as opposed to being a flat slab of Micarta. This shape, as others have noted, is rather pleasing and makes the hand feel more full.
The street beat is a terrific little knife. It epitomizes the "little big knife" for me: it is small, and carries easily, but the wide blade and full tang makes it feel very secure for everything short of ridiculous chopping, batoning, and prying. I found it very useful and unobtrusive whether I was wearing running shorts, jeans, dressier shorts or even pajama bottoms (yes, this knife was so much fun I wanted to see if it would keep up with agoraphoic mall ninjas; it did fine). The handle is a little slick but is almost not an issue because of the huge choil in the knife. One of the things I've always admired in so many of Perrin's designs are how he makes the index finger an integral part of securing and maneuvering the blade. Testing side by side with the Sharpfinger, the blade profile on the sharpfinger may give it slight advantages but I would trade them any day for the handle (and choil! To me, heaven would be a bottomless choil!) and overall design of the street beat. Sharpened up to the standards (or maybe even lower) than I've taken my police to would make the blade feel amazing. Some searching shows that Sal Glesser, CEO of Spyderco talked about bringing the inclusive angle on his own street beat down to 15 degrees inclusive, which would make this blade simply astonishing.
Nitpicks include the sheath and the price, which approaches the price of cheap customs. I assume part of it is that the streetbeat is a lower volume piece, the micarta handles are costly to machine, the clearances appear to be very tight, and perhaps royalties to Mr. Perrin. The cost/benefit is an important consideration to many people, and perhaps the math is less clear to most people because of the relatively high price. Personally, this passaround reaffirmed that someday I will to own this knife, but I currently have other needs in a small fixed blade for edc (salt water resistance), so I will probably look for a cheaper knife with more corrosion resistance I won't mind buffing rust off. I believe any owner of a street beat owes it to themselves to get a custom sheath for the knife set up more for their particular needs to truly get the most out of this knife.
Look forward to further reviews from the rest of our passaround. I took the 'beat to my sharpmaker for a few minutes and while I didn't bring it back to shaving (short on time), it certainly felt sharper than before I touched it up.
I also received a UK Pen Knife in the passaround, and didn't really play with it all that much. I can say that the knife was a featherweight, almost as light as a heavy pen and I liked the wire clip. I didn't want to be responsible for resharpening (I tend to make blades ugly before I make them sharp) so I can't say much about the gin-1 steel, which was the most interesting part for me as I haven't had a knife in Gin-1 before. Sadly, I am heavily prejudiced against slipjoints, slipits, or any non-locking folding knife, so I admit I didn't give the knife much of a chance, especially compared to a knife I enjoyed as much as the street beat.
I would like to offer my sincere thanks to Frank K. and Spyderco (especially Sal, who helped start my knife obsession).
Last edited by Zero_Time; 11-25-2011 at 06:56 AM.
Thanx much for the great review, kind words and pics. Appreciate.
Thanks guys. I'm a little embarrassed as I left some formatting, grammatical, and other errors in the piece from earlier drafts and changing my photo host (writing a LONG review on a website makes it easy to overlook errors).
Last edited by Zero_Time; 11-24-2011 at 04:10 PM. Reason: Been writing too many papers/reports... self-editing fail
Thanks much for the detailed review and photos!
My 2 cents on the Street Beat for whatever it's worth - great Bowie blade shape and full flat grind, nice hand filling grip and choil that really locks you hand in. The grips are smooth, but I think that is as it should be for a concealable blade so it won't catch on clothing (the choil/integral guard and handle shape is what makes the handle secure, texturing alone won't help much if you don't have these and won't make up for a lack of proper egros if they are not there).
Out of the box sharpness on the passaround knife was right up there with the best of Spyderco's Japanese made knives, having been out on a short passaround on another forum it has seen some use.
Fresh from Spyderco, the sheath was a little on the tight side when I sent it out, but a few people have said it is now a little looser than it should be, this is the first Spyderco Boltaron sheath that I have seen that was not just right; I don't know, this might just be a rare sheath that is not quite up to snuff.
Personally, I would prefer a handle that is angled and curved (more like the sharpfinger's) but keeping a hand filling secure grip profile instead of a straight handle.
Thanks again and happy Thanksgiving!
And thank you to the other man who made this passaround possible! I agree with the majority of your takes on the street beat. The boltaron sheath was cool, but I was probably a little put out that it didn't allow me to try out horizontal carry or angled (35 or 45 degree carry), so I probably was a little more critical than I would be otherwise. It worked perfectly for the carrying I did, and certainly felt secure: again, I personally think that both factory kydex and boltaron sheaths are bigger than necessary for concealed carry, especially after I saw this post that offers some idea into what the custom sheath world can give:
A custom design I would drool over (at least, I would love to try a mockup in hand before committing) would be a sharpfinger with a subhilt (choils wouldn't work with a curved handle and still be low profile) and swelled/3-d handles... The Cold Steel mini tac skinner is close, but it still is a ways from what I'd like...
And I hope you AND Sal had happy thanksgivings! I gave thanks for getting a chance at the street beat!
Nice review. Makes we want to hunt down a Sharpfinger -- maybe one of the USA made ones from a while back...
Good point about the sheath. I have always liked the sheaths that Eric (Normark on the forum) makes over at On Scene Tactical.
Not my pic, I lifted it from Eric's site:
I also wish I had got a sharpfinger when they were still made in the USA, seemed like everybody had one before Schrade went under.
What is really needed is a 4 inch and 7 inch version
Well god bless Bladehq for making me aware of it, spyderco is going to rerelease the streetbowie! Finally I can get my hands on this incredible heavy duty work blade.
I actually contacted spyderco the day I heard, and they said that it's past the prototype stage, it's definitely going out but probably won't be available till 2013. However I'm freaking stoked because to me it is the ideal law enforcement duty blade. Light, sharp, large, affordable, great shape, great steel, etc etc etc. Everything Sal Glesser knows that a blade needs.
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