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Plain Edge Merlin

Mar 19, 1999
Sal, as promised, my review of the Plain Edge Merlin. I hope it is acceptable. If you think I missed something, please let me know.

A short while ago, Sal mde me a deal on a Plain Edge Merlin I have wanted and Spyderco has been considering. 1st part of the deal was a charitable contribution to the Children's Hospital of Denver, by me. The 2nd part was a review of the Plain Edge Melrin. Again, by me. It appears I got the best end of this deal. Thanks Sal, Iv'e got some other knives I would love to have, if you want to do the same deal.

Obviously you have to compare the Plain Edge Melrin with the serrated Merlin. Guess what, there different! I don't mean one has serrations and one doesn't. This Plain Edge appears to have been ground from a standard Merlin. That means that blade isn't as wide as the standard Merlin. Without pictures of this knife, which I am going to try to get, take a look at the modifications that Heyns did to his Merlin. If you carry his modifcation through the entire length of the blade, you will come up with the Plain Edge Merlin I have. The other difference is the Plain Edge is sharpened on both sides of the blade instead of one, as on the standard Merlin. Everything else is identical between the Plain Edge and serrated. The fit and finish is the same you expect from any Spyderco, excellent!

I did some cutting of day to day objects with the Plain Edge. Envelopes, paper, string, plastic... This thing goes through paper as if it weren't there. Because of the way the blade was ground froma serrated Merlin, it has a "civilian" like tip. This makes intricate or delicate cuts very easy. The tip is very easy to control when cutting through paper or other flat material i.e. foam padding. It does have it's limits when it comes to making a cut a long the entire length of the edge. I discovered that when the object being cut reaches the center of the arc of the blade, the cutting efficiency is lost. Unless you change the angle at which you are cutting. This is something the serrated version doesn't seem to have. This appears on things that require a long continuous cut like, cloth or paper.

After playing with day to day cutting, I went onto to test the knife out in a self defense role. This is something the knife was not really intended for, but many feel it is something for which it is well suited. I didn't have a lot of things to practice on, so I stayed with old clothing. I made several slashing cuts at free hanging cotton shirts. This is where I discovered something interesting I didn't think I would see. Remember what I said about the cutting efficiaency going away when the materila reached the center of the blade arc. Sam thing happened on the slashing cuts with the free hanging shirt. The Civilian like tip penetrated effortlessly. The blade cut cleanly until the cloth reached the center of the arc of the blade, then it stopped dead. This knife is razor sharp, so that isn't the problem. What I figured it to be is the same thing as making a dead blow on an object. If the blade isn't moving along the edge, the knife stops cutting. I tried it with the serrated blade. It didn't happen. I am guessing becuase of all the different angle involved with the serrations, you are always moving the blade along the edge. I know most of us will never be attacked by a free hanging piece of cloth. I just found this to be rather interesting. When I rolled the cloth up and simulated a human limb, I didn't run into this at all. The knife cut cleanly and I didn't feel the torque I usually feel when using a serrated blade in the same manner.

I am not a hunter, but a couple of my friends are. When they saw this knife, they thought it would be a great little gut zipper. they want to give it a try during deer season. That is if they get a deer.

I didn't test the steel for edge holding ability. Nor did I test the knife for it's physical strengths or weaknesses. It is made of ATS-55 and since it is basically a Delica with a Merlin blade. Most of you are aware what these Spydercos can take and what they can't. My main abjective was to compare a Plain Edge Melrin with a serrated edge. My opinion, I prefer the Plain Edge. The reason being, I don't cut a lot of fiberous material. By the way, it cut through 3/8ths sisal fairly well.

Sal, if you put these into production, will you use the same blade profile as the one you sent me, or will you make up a new blade with same profile as the serrated? If you go with the profile of the serrated, see if it wouldn't be possible to keep the civilian style tip. That is a great penetrator.

Paranoia is only smart thinking
when everyone is out to get you.