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New threats to spyderco's FRN market?

Nov 30, 2000
About 2 weeks ago, I was looking to buy a new lower end knife (~$40-50) to use as a beater knife. I have lots of knives in ATS-34, CPM440V, etc, so I wanted a lower end steel that I wouldn't be afraid to scratch, stain, etc.

I looked at getting another endura, to carry on my left side (I have a pre 98 one that I love, but can't reverse the carry). I also looked at the native, the delica, etc. - basically the FRN lineup of lockbacks from spyderco.

To make a long story short, I ended up buying a CRKT large KFF. Why? Because I found one for $15 cheaper than the best price I could find on the endura, and I had heard good things about it. I recieved it yesterday, and pretty much, it's a very nice knife. While I don't love the steel (AUS 6), its very easy to sharpen, and I honestly don't worry about chipping it.

I'm a pretty hardcore spyderco fan. I carry at least one spyderco every day. I have many. If I won the lottery, I'd get as many CF spydies as I could get my hands on.

My concern is this: With some of the foreign manufacturers starting to produce higher quality products that don't suck as much, is spyderco going to be chased out of the FRN handled market? Just to name a few manufacturers that have been getting positive reviews: Timberline, Outdoor Edge, CRKT. While clearly spydie's quality is MUCH higher than any knives from CRKT, etc, many consumers won't be able to tell the difference at the same price range.

What direction is spyderco going to move in? Are they going to compete with the chinese manufacturers, or are they going to start producing higher end knives, and reduce the number of lower end knives? Are CRKT and the others cutting into spydie's market share?

I don't want anything bad to happen to spyderco. If spyderco were to collapse, I'd probably immediately max out all my credit cards trying to stock up. Is this a real threat? If so, what can be done? What does everyone else think?
-- Rob

PS - I think my next few purchases are going to be FRN spydies, just so I don't feel like such a traitor. :)
Never another FRN Spyder. Hmmm. Imagine such a world. A feeling of calm and happiness comes over me... ;)

(Seriously, Sal, I wish you as big a share as you can get in every market you can identify!)
Hi Baraqyal. No shallow question, to be sure. And it is no doubt a concern.

I can share some thoughts with you.

"Real" value does exist within the product, IMO. The Endura cost more to make than the Kasper, and not just in country of origin. Using better steels just cost more.

I might add that in steel, the maker does make a difference. (because a different foundry can mix up the chemicals does not mean it is necessarily the same stuff). There are quality steel makers and "less expensive" steel makers.

The lock strength on the Endura is greater than the Kasper. This cost more to do as well.

R&D costs to test batches, breaking the locks, testing edge angles, etc.

In the last analysis, I believe the answer to the question will be in the numbers of ELUs that can discern the difference, appreciate the difference and are willing to pay the higher price for the reliability and safety.

In your case, you chose not to. Maybe you will be disappointed in the daily peformance of your choice, maybe not?

If your "beater" is the only knife you have with you when a poentially dangerous "need" occurs, will it serve?

If we have to reduce the performance quality in order to compete with the "less expensive" competition, we probably won't. If the market doesn't want or appreciate what we put into the product, then we have a difference in values. If I make a knife, it's going to be safe, reliable, ergonomic and perform well, or I won't make the knife. I still have to live with myself and my own values. A knife, like an automobile, has built in potential danger. A maker of such a product, IMO, must be responsible.

Hope that helps.

As a relatively recent convert to fandom of Spyderco, and a semi-collector of CRKT knives, I believe the single greatest problem that Spyderco faces is the number of FRN-handled knives with no liners.

While I believe that many knife knuts are appreciative of good, lightweight knives, I also believe that a large number of knife consumers associate heft with quality. There is something oddly reassuring about the solid feeling of say the CRKT KFF. The handle design feels very good to a large percentage of people trying it out. It is a handsome knife. Tho I now would prefer say only one liner, or a nested half liner, and better steel in the bargain, I believe a great many people will continue to buy that particular model, extremely happy with the knife.

In my own limited experience, steel blades sliding directly against FRN scales can prove a bit frustrating. Lubricants seem to have little effect upon the movement process. Lots of working the action, until the FRN is apparently reduced slightly in size seems to be the answer. There are several CRKT models with 2 steel liners, that are far smoother and easier to open than competing Spydercos. The KFF has a particularly smooth action for its size and price point. The LUS and the Tighe Tac both have great-feeling, smooth actions also.

I believe that the design elements necessitated by the Spyderco hole result in appearances that put some folks off. I know that until I finally decided to try a Spyderco, after reading such glowing praise of them from so many on the forums, that I basically felt the overall appearance was poor. That was my Walker Ltwt. It is funny how once one uses the hole, and the knife, that the usefulness of the hole compared to studs, and the inherent quality built in naturally make their essences known quite quickly. I purchased at least 5 more Spydercos within say 45 days of buying my first Spydie.

I believe Spyderco will prosper, Sal. I cannot express how important the role you play in customer service affects me. I believe that the purpose inherent within your designs, and the quality of the knives will continue to impress people, and cause them to buy Spydercos. I also, of course, strongly wish that would prove true, but believe it will, without any pessimism.

Best of luck to your great company!

I own the KAsper as well. It seems a very good knife for the money, but I would prefer an Endura to one every day. The lock is better on the Endura and one important thing. The steel, ATS-55 at a 'beater' price! None of that cheap and cheerful 6a stuff!

IMVHO CRK&T need to upgrade to a better basic steel. I just plain old dislike 6m/6a. Yes I can and enjoy sharpening, no I don't want to find my self with a dull knife in the field!

I hope Spyderco remain one of the leading stars in the industry.

I like the look, the ergonomics, the build quality, the materials, the ethos and the price point. Oh and I like the CEO as well!;) , Lol! Seriously this kind of hands on customer service and friendly advice is like goldust to us Formites. Where else can you hang out with the top dogs of knife companies? Ok a couple of places, but I like it right here!

Cheers Sal!
I don't foresee any danger to Spyderco's FRN lineup from other companies' offerings. For example: The Endura and Delica. These knives have been with us for ten years and are still going very strong. In fact, to me, when I think "Spyderco," these are what enter my mind first. These knives are tried and true, and may be on the way to being as ubiquitous to the public eye as has the classic Buck 110.

I also own a small CRKT KFF. It's a fine knife, but I find I don't use it much. I think for all-around use, the Endura or Delica have far better edge geometry, and I personally find the Spyderco design characteristics to be good-looking. It's a distinct look that characterizes Spyderco quality.

CRKT is a good company but I feel some of their knives are better than some of their others, definitely. As for a beater knife, I've said it before...IMHO the Endura is the knife I use for many cutting chores I don't want to mess up other knives on...yet I am proud to carry the Endura as well because it has a beauty all its own.
Great point. Spyderco created the FRN market single-handedly (there were earlier FRN models from another company, as I recall, but the endura/delica are what made it take off). On the other hand, there are lots of companies now making excellent FRN-handled knives at competitive prices. I think we'd be foolish not to look carefully at all the wonderful options we have these days!

That said, I'm simply not impressed at all with CRKT's liner locks, and the LAWKS is a solution only if the user isn't under stress. The higher-end marketplace is realizing the problems with the liner lock as a format in general, but at the low-end the sexiness of many of the new FRN-handled knives may more than make up for the fact that they are liner locks. So my gut feel is that even as higher-end knives continue to move away from liner locks, the low-end will remain a liner lock redoubt.

I could go down the list of other companies with FRN-handled knives, and tell you exactly why I still value the delica/endura above all. But, by and large, it's an individual decision and judgement call. There are some killer FRN knives out there from various companies, all with different tradeoffs.

Well, fortunately for me, I always carry more than one knife. If I have to do something dangerous with a knife, its going to be with a spyderco.

I've been playing with the KFF for a few days now. Sal, you're absolutely correct about the lower quality steel. The AUS 6 blade is no match for any of my spyderco's. It's super easy to sharpen, but it's also super easy to dull. I think that my AUS 8 endura holds an edge significantly better.

As for ergonomics, I think the endura is better as well. The grip is nice on the KFF (at least for my hand) but after using it for a while, I've found that it becomes uncomfortable during hard use (once again, at least for my hand). The LAWKS is nifty, and makes me feel much more confident in the lock. Unfortunately, the way the LAWKS is shaped forces the knife to be held at more of a flat angle so my thumb can be comfortable. I'm not sure if this is intentional, or because I have very long thumbs.

My biggest complaint about the KFF is the weight - 7.4oz! Weight wise, I could just about carry 2 endura ltwt's and a dragonfly for the same mass.

My verdict is this: The KFF is nice, but it's still miles away from a Spyderco. The quality looks nice on initial inspection, but after use, the difference shows. I used to do crazy stuff with my endura that would probably constitute abuse according to the warranty - from cutting beer cans in half to sawing through a 2" branch. My endura is still going on strong. I certainly won't be able to do anything like that with the KFF, nor would I want to.

Now, of course, the trick is to educate the knife buying population to this fact. Sadly, not everyone can afford the G10/Micarta/Carbon fiber handled CPM 440V/VG10/ATS-34 bladed Spydercos; I think it's important to keep Spyderco quality available in the $60 and under range. I just hope that consumers will be able to tell the difference.
-- Rob
Bugs3x wrote:
"I believe that the design elements necessitated by the Spyderco hole result in appearances that put some folks off."


I really don't think this sentiment can be underestimated. Consider the large market of guys out there who carry and use quality knives. The vast majority of those average Joes (i.e. non-knife nuts) are not about to go near a Harpy, Cricket, Dyad, Shabaria, Ayoob, Chinook or Gunting. Frankly, to a lot of folks (including yours truly), they're ugly as hell. I can appreciate their appeal to a select audience of fans, but I would imagine that affordable "mainstream" knives such as the Delica and Endura put most of the bread on Spyderco's table and always will.