Cliff, you are one of the most knowledgable people out there. I really value your opinion. I hope you are kidding. Spyderco has got the best production liner locks going on the Military and Starmate. 440-V steel, while not as tough as some others, holds an edge like it is going out of style. The Military is one of the best production knives bar none.
"Those who trade essential liberty for a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
- Benjamin Franklin
The liner on the Military was very unstable for me. I could not use the knife at all as it unlocked in my hand. At the very least, the liner should be recessed and smooth. At best replace it with a better locking system.
440-V steel, while not as tough as some others, holds an edge like it is going out of style.
CPM-440V is very abrasion resistant. However that does not equal high edge retention for knife blades. Without the necessary strengh and toughness the edge will blunt quickly by deformation and/or fracture as has been reported many times on the forums.
On a smaller folder I can see CPM-440V as they will be used for more delicate work. The Military is the heaviest folder, it makes no sense to give it one of the most brittle steels around. Spyderco has softened it to reduce the brittleness but this then makes it much more likely to impact and roll.
My Military was examined by Spyderco customer service who did some work on it and pronounced it fit. So when I got it back it was not a lemon or defective in any way. However it was still not stable and would unlock under pressure.
However it needs to be considered that there are some that don't think white knuckle or spine whack tests are necessary and are abusive to folders. I am not one of them. There are also people who believe you should only do light work with folders and not put any lateral stress across the blade or piviot and not do any impact work with them. I am not one of them.
The Military does have a nice cutting geometry though.
I had heard a lot about problems with the locks on older ones, but these types of problems were supposedly corrected with the latest Military. I can only say that the lock on my newer one works as well as any liner lock can; it's certainly rock solid.
As far as CPM-440V goes, I think the jury is still out, but there is obviously reason for concern. It may be that 440V is simply too brittle for a folding knife blade steel. However, I'd like to see some more testing on it and experiences with it before any final pronouncements are made.
Anyways, I don't think it's possible to substantially improve the Military's overall design. The general proportions, ergos, blade geometry, etc. are all perfect in my humble opinion.