Endura and Calypso Jr., a different review?

Nov 13, 1998
It's not often I get excited about the DESIGN of "ordinary" folders. However, two of Spyderco's recent (re)designs have really got my attention. Somehow, they seem to get something essential just (about) right. And all this in their non-custom line.

The two folders I'm talking about are the '98 ENDURA and the CALYPSO JR. I won't bother you with personal carry preferences (and the changes that these two have brought about, e.g., the Endura quite unexpectedly replacing the BM AFCK as my "primary carry folder"), but let me just mention a few things.

The '98 Endura. At first look, it's like a sparrow in a flock of GREAT TITS (it's Parus Major, 'talitiainen' in Finnish, couldn't resist the temptation of using capital letters, sorry); ordinary, unexceptional, even "grey" in a deep sense of the word(s). Like the girl next door you'd never thought to become your wife; there were/are so much more interesting things around! But then you met HER, married/purchased her (excuse the connection), and started to live with her. Day by day you realized more and more of what a GEM you've got. Something in her seemed to be JUST RIGHT.

If the HANDLE of the Endura were thicker (more hand-filling, yeah), it would not allow the knife to seat as tightly in your jeans' front pocket(s rear edge, where the seam precludes *any* inadvertent openings, which really aren't a problem with back-locks). Much thinner it couldn't be. If it were narrower (a "lower profile", like in CS El Hombre), your grip wouldn't be as sure as it is. Wider isn't necessary. Ah, the "much too coarse" texture of the grip? But if it were smoother, you'd need a handle of a different shape to get a secure grip. The blade? Glad you asked, but let's go to the pivot/lock and the clip first.

Nothing exceptional in the PIVOT: usually tight enough, but it varies from exemplar to exemplar, not possible to adjust it yourself (which is a pity), the whole thing flexes a bit if you try hard, etc. But it does smooth out with some use; the two Enduras I have open easily *sans thumb* and they do not express noticeable play at the pivot. The tension of the backlock spring varies a bit, too (and with it the ease of opening with a flick of the wrist), but even the softer-springed one has no intentions of unlocking itself under any reasonable pressure, twisting, etc.

The CLIP is Endura's forte (along with some other Spydie models). Butt-end (which some old liner-lock aficionados, like me, still may find distracting), removable, reversible (to the other side, still butt-end), and all this without some fu**ing special screwdrivers! A coin will do, thank you. (The clip is too long, for most uses, and of a wrong shape, as in practically ALL folders today.)

And the BLADE (I'm speaking here about the plain-edged version. I have the serrated one too). Again, nothing really exceptional, except perhaps ATS-55 steel. But nothing outright detrimental, either (which is an asset for a skeptic). Could, of course, use a bit more belly, a few degrees less angle at the secondary bevel, maybe (just maybe) a flat grind, and perhaps a less pronounced hump at the back; but not, of course, at the expense of the shape of the handle and the overall performance of the knife. Not a real "slasher" ('cutter', that is), nor a real stabber. Agree, but do you really know what you need of a knife tomorrow? I don't. That's why I'm more than satisfied (though never happy) with good compromises.

But does it PERFORM exceptionally well in some respect? No, I think not. It really doesn't excel in anything. Nevertheless, the '98 Endura is my pick for the "most versatile and functional low priced folder of the year".

... continued ...

The CALYPSO JR., in turn. I'm sure you have all read Joe Talmadge's "another review" of the knife (http://www.knifeforums.com/cgi/Forum18/HTML/000178.html; see also Dexter's first impressions about the Calypso line in http://www.knifecenter.com/knifecenter/spyderc/x034.html). Not much to add. Except something about the HANDLE's design/material synergy. Polished micarta is very slippery (or you ain't sweatting/lubricating your folders). If the Calypso's handle weren't exactly as it is (thickness, general shape, finger choils), it would be a disaster (just try, in your mind, to put the same material/finish on an Endura, or to a heavy-use "tactical" folder). Only with this kind of a shape can you securely wrap a (light-to-medium-use) folder in slippery micarta. That must have taken some courage. And the BLADE. Joe called it "a gentleman's scalpel". The profile of the blade is nothing new; see the Dragonfly, for instance (I bought the *shape* of the Calypso blade a year before its introduction :). What *is* new is the EXCEPTIONALLY NARROW SECONDARY-BEVEL. It's almost a single-bevel flat-grind blade! At the middle of the blade, between the edge and the spine, the Calypso must have (proportionally) considerably less steel than, e.g., the Dragonfly or almost any other folder. That's what makes it scalpel-like and easy to resharpen. And it is a courageous move in a standard production folder indeed!

A PERFECT "gentleman's scalpel"? No way, could think of several improvements. But they'd all be small, almost insignificant. The Calypso Jr. is my pick for the "sub-3"-bladed utility folder" of the year.

Gentlemen/ladies. I've been in a somewhat affirmative mood above. I apologise. That won't happen again (today :). You (may) know that usually I am rather a skeptic. The fact that I got excited about the two Spyderco knives might tell something about the very objects. I really don't get excited easily.

SPYDERCO, are you reading this? WHO'S RESPONSIBLE (for the design of the Calypso Jr. and/or the design/redesign of the Endura)? A deep bow to you, folks.



[This message has been edited by Markku Huttunen (edited 23 November 1998).]
Markku --

You picked the two Spyderco knives that I carry daily these days, the Calypso Jr. and Endura '98. I am in strong agreement with you on the merits of these knives. Both are absolutely incredible -- in fact, in my opinion, they are incomparable at this point -- for the respective niches that they fill.

A couple things to mention. You say that the Endura doesn't excel at anything, but rather is strong all around. That's true, but having just spent the morning in the garage doing more knife tests, I'll mention that the Endura in some categories does surprisingly well. If a extraordinary-performing knife gets a 10 at a specific task, the Endura gets a 9 on a nice array of tasks, and at least 7-8 on most everything else.

About your comment for improving the Calypso Jr. Can you elaborate? Other than maybe rounding out the point over the thumb hole, I'm not sure there's much else I'd change. Oh yeah, I got it, switch to steel with better edge-holding characteristics. ATS-55 would be a nice step up, but I'd love to see this knife in 440V.

Joe, sorry I couldn't reply instantly (I'm offline weekends, with some rare exceptions).

I may have exaggerated a bit in saying that the Endura doesn't excel in anything. Surely it does surprisingly well "in [many] categories", as you point out. Does your Endura (still) have the original secondary edge, or have you (already) reprofiled this one, too? I put Lansky-20-degrees on mine and left it quite coarse (green). Works fine. Could you, in turn, elaborate on how the Endura specifically fared in your famous "garage" tests?

About "several IMPROVEMENTS" TO THE CALYPSO Jr.. Rounding out the point over the thumb hole would be one. Reversable clip (perhaps ála 98 Endura) could be another (and I could do without the golden Spider-logo). Mixed feelings about the tip-down vs. tip-up thing, though. Third would be 3 mm longer blade (which would fit in the handle). Fourth could be a bit more belly, though the original may excel in some tasks (and more belly perhaps wouldn't fit in). And finally, adjustable pivot might be nice, though the original does seem very well done. No firm opinions about the steel yet. If the knife sees a lot iwb carry, for instance, I wouldn't want to sacrifice *any* corrosion resistance. And as I probably will sharpen this ("scalpel") quite often, easy sharpenability is also a must. Any significant differences between the ATS-55/440V vs. the AUS-8 in these respects?

BTW, do you or ANYBODY OUT THERE happen to know, who at Spyderco designed the Calypso Jr. and/or redesigned the 98 Endura?


Markku --

Regarding the endura98, your post was incredibly well-timed. I saw it literally an hour or so after testing a new folder (stay tuned for review!), in one of the "infamous garage tests"! Whenever I test a new folder I test it against at least one -- and usually several -- other knives. In this case, the endura was one of the "control" knives. With my edge on it -- not thinned, but 400 grit up front and ~250 grit for the last inch -- it kicked some serious butt! The edge was a touch too thick to do outstanding on whittling, but for all slicing tests it did really well, and the ergonomics were great. That's why I was kinda enthusiastic about it when I responded to you. Once I thin it, it should do well on whittling as well.

Your point about the blade on the Calypso Jr. being able to be a few millimeters longer is a good one, I would love to see them fill up the handle a bit better also.

Hey there Joe,

It would cool to see a review of a Calypso Jr thrashing... just for kicks!

I did review the Calypso Jr., it's on the Knife Reviews Forum on www.knifeforums.com. The summary is, it kicked some serious butt. A thin flat-ground blade is one of the best all-around cutters going, and the Calypso has that, along with great ergonomics, great looks, etc. It's not a hard-use knife, I've been thinking of it as a "gentleman's scalpel".


What lubricant do you use on your calypso? Will solvent type lubricants like break free and rem oil soften and/or disolve the micarta? I've been reluctant to use anything but pure silicone oil.


Since I occasionally use my Calyspo Jr. for cutting food, I strictly use heavy mineral oil, which other than food oils (e.g., olive oil) is the only thing I feel good about injesting in small quantities. It works fine for me and I don't have to worry.