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Spyderco Police 3 Full Review (Photo Heavy)

Discussion in 'Knife Reviews & Testing' started by Vivi, Feb 24, 2010.

  1. Vivi

    Vivi Banned BANNED

    Dec 4, 2005
    Spyderco Police 3




    The Spyderco Police 3 is an update to one of the longest running Spyderco models. It is made with G10 handles and full length skeletonized steel liners. The blade steel is VG10 with a full flat grind and jimping for the thumb ramp and index finger choil. The knife features a backlock and 4 position pocket clip. It is held together by torx screws so that one can disassemble the knife for cleaning or modification. Here are the specs from Spydercos website:

    length overall 9 7/8" (251 mm)
    blade length 4 3/8" (111 mm)
    blade steel VG-10
    length closed 5 9/16" (141 mm)
    cutting edge 4" (102 mm)
    weight 5 oz (140 g) [Mine weighs in at 4.84 ounces with the reprofiled edge]
    hole diameter 1/2" (13 mm)
    blade thickness 1/8" (3 mm) handle material G-10

    Compared to a Military and Endura:




    The Police 3 is brilliant in regards to it's ability to be comfortably carried despite it's unusually large size for a folding pocket knife. The knife is very thin, and is narrow in it's width, making it easy to reach into your pocket with the knife clipped compared to wider knives like the Spyderco Manix or a Kershaw Junkyard Dog. While the knife isn't particularly light compared to some of Spydercos other offerings, the weight hasn't ever been an issue for me when carrying the knife. Compared to a stock Military, which is about an ounce lighter, the Police seems to go unnoticed in my pocket a lot more easily. It really is amazing how comfortable such a large knife is in the pocket. The Police 3 is one of the most comfortable carrying knives in my collection, despite it's large size. There has never been a time where I wished I was carrying something smaller and lighter.

    The handle is drilled for tip up and tip down carry, for both left and right hand carry. When carried tip-up, there is about an inch of knife exposed, a little less when carried tip-down.


    The ergonomics of the Police 3 are very good. I find the finger grooves to be well placed and contoured well, and overall the knife has a gentle curve that makes the knife feel very natural to hold and use compared to a straighter design.

    The handle is very spacious. I have larger than average hands and the handle feels very roomy, which is a nice change of pace from smaller knives that sometimes make my hands feel cramped. Wearing thick, winter gloves it's very easy to get a hold on the knife and use it as you would with bare hands.

    One thing I've come to appreciate about the handle that's kind of unique is that is allows me 3 different using grips (Not counting reverse, pikal etc.). I can grip it in the choil for more control over the blade, I can grip it with my index finger in the cut-out just behind the pivot bolt for a general use grip, or I can place my index finger and middle finger in the contour just behind that cut-out for a further back grip. The latter most grip is useful for me because I find myself using my large folders to sometimes hack away overgrown thorn patches when walking trails at parks and in the woods, or when I have a bad throw when playing disc golf. It's nice to have a handle that comfortably accommodates such use, as most folders this would be uncomfortable or my pinky would have nothing to hold on to. Gripping the Police 3 like this, there is still a tiny portion of handle sticking out past my pinky. I know this part might sound silly to some people but for me it's a practical aspect of the way I use folding knives.





    The Police 3 features a backlock, Spydercos most common lock. The lock released is positioned in the middle of the handle, making one-handed closing simple. To close the knife from saber grip, I simply move my index finger into the right side of the opening hole, depress the lock release with my thumb, close the knife half-way, then move my fingers out of the way and finish closing the knife.

    The resistance of the lock against the blade is stronger in my Police 3 than in any of my other Spydercos. When I first purchased the knife, it was fairly stiff to open. Like all backlocks it's smoothed out over time. I've been using the knife for a year now, and it's much easier to open and close. What also helped is me taking the knife apart and polishing the pivot area, something I do to all my folders that have screw assembly. I also thoroughly cleaned the insides, then lubed the pivot area with a few drops of mineral oil. This makes a huge difference with folding knives.

    The lock release features a boye dent cut-out to make accidental released more difficult.

    The lock has been 100% secure in the year + that I've owned and used the knife. Not a single failure of any sort. Trying to intentionally disengage the lock in various real world grips, squeezing as hard as I can, my efforts have been futile.

    Having taken the knife apart I've seen that there is a lot of metal to metal contact with the lock mating surfaces. Very confidence inspiring. Spyderco makes a solid backlock.


    The Police 3 is a very easy knife for me to sharpen. The steel used, VG10, grinds fairly easily compared to higher wear resistant stainless steels like S30V and ZDP189, but is heat treated hard enough that it does not show a tendency to excessively burr when forming the edge. It takes a little longer to grind a fresh edge than a Swiss Army knife, or knives in H1 or AUS8.

    The steel takes a very fine edge easily. VG10 exhibits a very good balance between ease of grinding and resistance to excessive burring. Taking the edge to a high polish on the Spyderco ultrafine stone, followed by a loaded leather strop, the edge will easily whittle individual hairs and push cut circles in thin receipt paper.

    While the factory geometry was very good compared to other knives in it's class, I did reprofile the knife as I do with all of my knives. I currently have the knife at roughly 8 degrees per side with a 15 degree per side microbevel. Using this configuration, touching up the knife is an extremely quick process that can be accomplished in less than 10 strokes per side on the UF stone. There is extremely little steel to remove when honing the knife, utilizing microbevels. After long cardboard cutting sessions I can take an edge that will not shave and get it hair popping sharp in about 30 seconds, easily.

    I find the blade shape, with it's gentle curve and shallow belly is an easy shape to sharpen. This is signature Spyderco styling, and is one of the reasons I prefer their knives. I find a gradual, gentle curve easier to sharpen than a blade that has a straight edge for the first couple of inches, then curves towards the point. The motion used in sharpening the Police 3 just feels very natural to me.

    Cutting Performance

    Factory edge profile:


    The Police 3 has me very pleased with how it cuts.

    From the factory the edge was pretty thin. I never measured it but I would guess it was ground a little over 15 degrees per side or about that angle. The blade is full flat ground and 3mm thin, compared to the 4mm blade stock of the Military. I appreciate the lack of that 1mm of steel, as I feel less resistance when slicing cardboard and quartering apples.

    As I previously stated I've reprofiled the edge to roughly half the angle it was, coming to 16 degrees inclusive with a 15 degree per side microbevel. The knife cuts extremely well, clearly outperforming various brands of kitchen knives with their factory edges both in sharpness and it's ability to penetrate materials with little effort. At the very edge, the blade is thinner than a factory Opinel, and the steel outperforms it in various aspects outside of geometry.

    The edge has been stable under a variety of uses, such as carving wood, slicing cardboard, being used like a paring knife, cutting rope, slicing plastics, opening packages and other EDC chores.

    Curious about edge durability, I started cutting things I typically don't use my knives for. Push cutting through various cables, like a computer power cord, the edge showed no damage even under magnification. When whittling the brass rods from a Spyderco sharpmaker, I did manage to get microdamage that was visible under 60x magnification but not with my naked eye. Same case when I used it to whittle the edge off a 52100 Mule. Again this isn't real world, realistic use, I was just curious how the thin edge would respond to such use, since regular use failed to damage it in any way. The next time I feel the microbevel isn't so micro anymore and I take the edge bevel to my DMT fine stone, I plan to drop the bevel by another degree or two and aim for 12 degrees inclusive with the 15 degree microbevel.

    For a true EDC I find the Police is hard to beat. As much as I like the Military, the thinner blade of the Police outcuts it where geometry is concerned and carries better. I'm a huge fan of the Caly / UKPK line, but to me this knife is more versatile. Works in a pinch to clear trail and slash thorns out of the way better than a Caly, and does food prep much better, but still carries quite well. Fits my big hands exceptionally well too.

    The tip has a more rounded shape compared to the old Police, which has bothered some users. I've never felt like this knife lacked piercing ability, with how thin the tip gets, so I've left it as is. Speaking of tips, here is a tip comparison between a gen 4 Endura, Military and Police 3


    When the knife was released, I knew I'd end up owning one. I was really into ZDP189 at the time (One of my favorite steels) and was kind of disappointed to see this knife was "only" getting VG10. In retrospect I have to say that VG10 is a great steel and I'm happy to use it. It doesn't hold an edge as long as ZDP189, and I think it needs to be a touch thicker, but it still performs very, very well. The edge holding has never been an issue. Since reprofiling the knife to it's current thickness I've actually been impressed by how well it holds an edge for "lowly" VG10. Never again will I complain when a Spyderco comes out in "just VG10." I've come to appreciate it.

    Last edited: Feb 24, 2010
  2. Vivi

    Vivi Banned BANNED

    Dec 4, 2005

    On the way to Virginia to visit a friend and watch him put on a Dubstep show, I stopped by Newgraham knives which is where I originally purchased the knife. The visit only added 4 hours to the drive :D


    I was very impressed with the store. The cases were beautiful, and the selection was very impressive to see face to face. Me and my friend who traveled with me were joking before hand how the staff is going to hate us, because we wanted to handle pretty much every Spyderco they had that we didn't currently have in our pockets. Not only did they let us handle all the knives we wanted, but they even handed us knives of their own volition for us to check out. It was a welcome change to asking a minimum wage teenager who looks annoyed if you can handle just one more knife.

    Another thing I wanted to touch on was the size of the knife and use in public. A lot is said on the subject of being discreet with knives around those who aren't as into them as we are. I have to say that in the year I've owned the Police, I have not had one single incident with anyone questioning my knife or giving me odd looks for using a "large knife." I don't flick my knives open or mock stab with them, or anything silly like that, but I do openly use them when something needs cut. That's why I carry it, after all. I've used the knife in various workplace settings (ATM repair center, pizza delivery) and co-workers commented about how sharp it was, and would ask me to cut things for them when the dull scissors we had wouldn't open a package for them. My girlfriend, friends, parents etc. have never raised a brow. Cutting an apple at a public park or trimming packaging materials up at the post office has never bothered anyone as far as I can tell.

    I'll update this thread later on with photos of the reprofiled edge and maybe a video of the knife in use. If anyone has anything in specific they want me to cover with photos or videos let me know.


    The Police 3 is one of the best large folders on the market in my opinion. I see it as less of an overbuilt tank-like large folder like others in it's size are, but rather as a practically designed every day carry knife for people with large hands or a preference for longer cutting edges. Every aspect of the knife is well engineered, made of quality components and performs very well. I have nothing bad to say about this knife. If you like large folding knives, this is one you should consider.​
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2010
  3. Splat


    Nov 19, 2006
    Great review and thanks for it! I really liked the ergos of the Police but its blade is too thin for my liking. It is a beautiful knife though. Spydercos are a class unto themselves. I wish you continued good luck with it. :thumbup:
  4. spoonrobot


    May 1, 2004
    Very nice. Glad to see your back behind the keyboard. :thumbup:
  5. xtestifyx


    Feb 4, 2010
    The closest dealer that carries more than one Spyderco knife is North of Orlando...2.5Hours per one way. Darn
  6. powernoodle

    powernoodle Power Member Gold Member

    Jul 21, 2004
    I'm a fan of the Police 3 as well, and have plain edge flavor. I'd like to grab an SE as well. The Police 3 is a "big" knife that carries very well for EDC because of its thin profile.
  7. Joshua J.

    Joshua J.

    Feb 27, 2005
    Great review Vivi.:thumbup:

    While I love the Police 3 as is, a ZDP-189 version would still get me very excited.
    Waved ZDP Police 3 even more so.:cool:
  8. Alann45


    Jul 4, 2009
    Nicely done! :thumbup::thumbup:
    Moved the Police to a higher spot on my want list.

    The look at New Graham was also nice...love those folks.
  9. shangchi108


    Aug 28, 2007
    Great review.
  10. Gramps


    Nov 17, 2002
    .....another of your many fine reviews...thank you Vivi !

    - regards
  11. Sal Glesser

    Sal Glesser Moderator Moderator

    Dec 27, 1998
    Very nice Vivi. Thanx much.

  12. resinguy

    resinguy Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 19, 2006
    Great review. :thumbup:

    maybe you can bring that one to the lunch?
  13. sitka


    Dec 25, 2009
    Nicely done. I am glad there is still life in what is becoming a classic design. Old school serrated Police Model has been my EDC for over 20 years with just a couple of hiatuses. Nothing like an afternoon in a well stocked blade store or at a knife show.
  14. DennisStrickland

    DennisStrickland Banned BANNED

    Jun 24, 2009
    vivi thanks for the intensive review . having used a police since the early 80s i attest to the quality. having carried many tacts of all brands the police still is champ for a large blade in a slim package.wish i had held on to some of the all black ones from 80s & early 90s.
  15. dewingrm


    Oct 23, 2001
    A waved Police 3 is my dream knife! I'd even buy it in VG10.

    Excellent review with great pics. I really want another Police model and this review didn't make it any easier.

    Thanks Vivi

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