Spyderco - Bob Terzuola Starmate C55, review

Nov 25, 1999

Spyderco - Bob Terzuola Starmate C55


This nice photo by SPYDERCO.
The other photos are mine, by far more modest.

When I received this knife I have prepared to see an exotic blade steel CPM 440V with tremendous edge retention and I couldn't wait the moment when I could test it.
Some words about my test. I have some branches of old cherry tree which was cut down about three years ago. Wood became very hard and dense; I'm testing plain blade edge retention whittling these branches across wood fibers. I'm testing knife shaving abilities on the hair on my arm or leg after each 20-30 cuts; 3-5 cm thick branches are used for tactical folders and fixed blades and 2-3 cm branches for smaller knives.
C55 Starmate was shaving sharp out of factory box and it lost shaving abilities after approximately 350 cuts. This result could be comparable with most ATS-34 blades but I expected more.
I resharpened knife to a minimally less sharp angle consecrating 0,1-0,2 mm of edge width. GATCO EdgeMate sharpening system was used for this purpose. I noted that sharpening required less effort than I expected and steel on the edge was slightly warped up even working on fine grit stone. Finishing edge with fine hone I obtained shaving sharpness, then I tried again.

Now edge retention was noticeable better comparing with ATS-34 blades. After more than 500 cuts I was tired noticeable, my arms and legs were shaved from hair almost completely, branch was trimmed about 5 cm but blade still was able to shave. May be this shaving wasn't the gentlest but it shaved!
Additionally I noted a bit more difficulties to restore shaving abilities than before. My favorite extra-fine grit stone could do nothing with this blade within acceptable time and effort limits. It's a Polish natural whetstone in black color, very fine (grit 1500 or even more), very dense but not too hard. I don't know what kind of mineral it is. GATCO ceramics coped much better with this steel, but the best results I obtained using DMT Double Sided Diafold (fine/extra fine grit).

This difference between first and second test could occur (in my opinion) because factory knives are power-sharpened. This may cause steel slight local dehardening, exactly in cutting edge. After hand resharpening edge retention becomes better, I noted it on many knives I tested.

Next my impressions are very, very positive. Here are the points of my fascination:
[*] Exceptionally elegant blade and handle shape. I read about Bob Terzuola and Sal Glesser discussion and how Bob T. accepted the challenge to make "pretty" knife with hole, clip etc. Starmate is a goal in this matter! http://www.spyderco.com/spyderco_news.cfm
[*] High functionality and excellent ergonomics. I tried to operate this knife with and without gloves, in dry and in wet hand and I found this knife very user friendly.

[*] Knife handle fits my medium sized hand very comfortably but I have impression that man with a bit bigger hand also wouldn't have any handling problems. Working hard during edge retention test I didn't experience any unpleasant effects on my hand.

[*] Smooth action and perfect locking device. The blade's slanted surface which matches locking liner has double beveling. That basically prevents liner's overtravel possibility in almost any imaginable circumstance. I don't think it could change in result of mechanism natural wear.


[*] Locking mechanism very pronouncedly locks also closed blade and prevents unwanted opening. It's especially important for tactical folders with large heavy blade, which can be opened unintentionally as result of violent movement.

[*] Very impressive relation between weight and dimensions.
[*] Excellent edge retention after resharpening.
[*] Although this knife isn't fully ambidextrous the opening hole is available for left hand also. I'm always paying attention to this matter because in a lot of situations even truly right-handed user might have to reach the knife with the left hand.

The points of my doubts and my propositions:
1. I noted that approximately 2 millimeters of locking liner width are staying above the matching surface of blade. If this part of liner would be removed with slight curve it would allow to make a cutout for the forefinger in rear scale. It might be a bit smaller than cutout in front scale but it would provide two positive results:
[*] Knife handle would obtain more "no-slip-forward" shape.
[*] Opening hole would be available for left hand at its whole diameter, it's important for gloved hands.
2. It's an excellent idea to insert the locking liner into G-10 scale, but why this is a single liner? Don't you think it is a disproportion in strength between rock-sturdy 4-mm thick blade and handle with single liner? Of course second liner would add some grams of weight but it would make the handle much stronger and more adequate in strength to blade.
Here is my proposition how to make the opposite liner in very light form, only to "catch" together pivot pin, stop pin and spacer screws. Think it would noticeable improve handle's strength with minimal weight addition.

Additionally opposite liner would allow to make pre-drilled holes for clip replacement onto another side for left-handed users.
3. I would like more if belt/pocket clip would be black coated like on new Delica and Endura.

4. I would like if the version with non-glare (bead blasted or Ti-Ni coated) blade finish would be available.

Resuming: really nice knife, true tactical and utility folder in one piece. I'm sure it will remain one of my favorite knives for a long time.
Note: this was written in the beginning of September'99. Now, almost half a year later I can say certainly - it is really one of my top rated tactical folders and excellent companion for my duty Glock 19.

[This message has been edited by Sergiusz Mitin (edited 02-05-2000).]
Great review.You're really getting good at this.I can't wait fot the next one.
Nice evaluation on a great collaboration.

I believe the new knives coming out have the black clip. I ordered a replacement black clip from SFO for mine ($3.95 plus shipping at that time)

I am considering getting out my Dremel tool to make the choil/ambidexterous modifications that you mentioned. Just so hard to make that first grind.

Cleverly Disguised As A Responsible Adult
Great review. You're dead on about the hole. Mine's modified by Drew Gleason for the cutout on the back scale, and the liner is brought down accordingly. It's also been textured. This modification has precisely the benefits you mention.

Another modification was a slight widening of the hole and chamfering around it's edges.

AKTI Member #A000832

"That which does not kill me just postpones the inevitable."
Good review, Sergiusz, thanks for sharing. BTW, I don't know why people think this knife is ugly. It's not!
One hell of a review, I've got 2 in the post and can't hardly wait even more.
Someone voted the T and the renegade as the ugliest Spyders of all time...shows there's no accounting for taste I reckon!!
Excellent review!! I just won one on E-Bay and am looking forward to its arrival even more.
Keep up the good work.
Another excellent review! Sergiusz, once again you are right on the money. I would love to resd some of your gun reviews sometime.

"Those who trade essential liberty for a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
- Benjamin Franklin