Review Spyderco SmallFly 2 – quick review (build quality issues...)

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Nov 20, 2007
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32
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I pre-ordered one of these from KnifeCenter but then found Southern Edges had one in stock a bit later so bought this from him (first time using that shop too, good experience). I also picked this one up ( (like my Spyderco Janisong I recently posted a mini-review of here) because I like knives I can fidget with, and this is another good fidget spinner-type knife for me.

Here's a quick video of the first 'new' opening I mastered on it. I might literally be keeping this knife because I think this trick is so cool and I can't easily do it on my other balisongs lol. It's the super light weight, small size, and those circular 'spydieholes' you can more easily grip on the SmallFly 2 that does it I think (this trick is usually done by holding the latch which my fingers don't like to do properly - yes, I suck at doing tricks fyi ;). ...these same reasons (mostly handle size but also weight) are also why this knife doesn't flip nearly as well as my other full-size Balisong / Butterfly knives, but this is more of an EDC type knife so that's perfectly fine in my eyes.

Imgur album with pictures, with COMMENTS on a bunch of photos (which I'm going to regurgitate -and expand on a bit- below as well):


So this is totally tongue and cheek, and not really a negative of the knife, but I'm going to post what I initially thought anyway! ...I wanted to take this pic a little further away since the first time I opened the knife and looked at it from a normal viewing distance of maybe 18" away, I had to do a double-take – was that a scratch on the blade of this brand new knife? It wasn't lasered-on like the Spyderco logo on the opposite side, it didn't have thicker lines like the marking my Janisong has – it was extremely thin and seemed to be scribed (i.e. scratched) into the metal, and I literally thought it was damage to the blade... But no, it's just the designers initials... Weird choice in my eyes but it's probably just my personal preference (and it IS cool that the designer is so proud of their design that they want to sign it!).
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Play isn't bad for a small G10 knife in my limited experience (I've only owned all-metal Balisongs before like BRS AB and Benchmade 87/85)... No tap either. Very cool to see right out of the box.
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...BUT, and I'm sorry to say this, but when that (even super slight) play can make the latch hit the bare G10 and literally cause damage to it in the very first FIFTEEN MINUTES of owning it... which you just know is going to get worse over time (this pic was taken literally 2 hours after UPS dropped the package off), I would consider that a pretty large design flaw.

**Edit after a couple more days of owning: the design of the latch, with G10 sandwiched on both side of the latch cut-out, also makes the latch NOT open on occasion. It seems to be because depending on the angle you're holding the knife, if you're not squeezing perfectly straight-in on both handles, but cocked/angled just a little bit, this will make the latch touch/rub one side of the G10 and it gets squeezed and binds there and will NOT release. I find this happens with my left hand a ton more than my right (dominant) hand for whatever reason (probably hand strength and dexterity is better on my right hand).
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Here's a close-up of the missing/damaged G10 area - this is as close as I could get with my phone, looks a little worse in real life when you look at it, but that's definitely a chip (or simply worn) out area on the scales, and is actually damaged (albeit slightly less) on the opposite side now as well.
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These following pics show the pretty bad fitment on this knife. I don't mean to be harsh, this is literally my 6th Spyderco I've owned (if being a 6-time repeat buyer doesn't tell you I'm a fan I don't know what does!), but I have to say that even my ~$40-50 clone knives from China have better fit than this. This area is one of the worse with this spacer sticking out more than a bit. I'm kinda at a loss of (nice) words, but this is simply shoddy manufacturing and/or quality control. Sorry Spyderco, but there's just no nice way to put that. The opposite sides spacer is sunk-in instead btw. This isn't the type of fit and finish you expect of a USA-made knife with a $300 MSRP.
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3x red lines are showing this same type of QC issues on a couple different areas (red circle is damage from the latch). You can see in this same pic how some of these same exact areas on the opposite side handle are just fine (others not so much on that other side as well...), so this wasn't some weird design/manufacturing choice or anything.
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This is the steel liners of the SmallFly 2. I have a feeling this is perfectly normal as I saw this same rough, scratchy, 'finishing' on the steel liners of my Spyderco Janisong as well (which is made in a totally different factory in a different country: Taichung)... but still not cool in my eyes. People on YouTube immediately saw it on the very few videos about this knife currently online, and they mentioned it in the comments as well, so it's not just me who is bothered by this on a higher-end knife.
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Couldn't capture this on film, but the edge is slightly off-center (not by a lot, it's really OK, but I know that some people are fanatics about that so I did feel I needed to mention it). The other issue i don't have a way to picture is how I had to loosen one of the handle pivot screws to get the handle to drop free and sway a couple times like it should. Someone on JerzeeDevil said these run on bushings (I haven't taken mine apart to verify), and I AM still learning about Balisongs, but I thought you are supposed to be able to tighten the screws all the way on a bushing knife and STILL have the handles swing free and not bind... like that's one of the positive benefits of the bushing design, but maybe I'm wrong about that. Quick fix and now swings freely so hopefully a moot point.


To end, this (and the Janisong last month) are literally the first Spyderco's I've bought in quite a while (still have several from years ago as I like the brand) and BOTH this SmallFly 2 AND my Janisong have issues right out of the box. And we're not talking about 1 or 2 ever-so-slight "nobody would ever notice in a million years" type of things... it's MULTIPLE areas, with parts (like the spacers) that stick out enough from the knife that you feel them every single time you handle it, things like a small chunk of the handle scales wearing off nearly immediately after you open the box. As more of these get released to the public others reviewers will probably (unjustified in my eyes) probably complain about how badly this flips compared to a full-size balisong... but I think that's a moot point – the purpose of this knife in my eyes is to have something small you can EDC and not have it be huge in the pocket, be super light, but still have a decent blade steel and a very usable blade shape, and STILL have a bit of fun with by flipping it (just not like in a competition setting lol)! Just by its size alone people should know it's not solely for flipping which is why I didn't comment much on that part of it. But anyway, just have to say that I'm very disappointed with the SmallFly 2's build quality, and combined with the Janisong's issues I just experienced, has really turned me off a lot from buying Spyderco again.

For full disclosure I have to say that I wouldn't even had mentioned ANY of this on a $40 knife, or even a $80 or so knife (but heck, I do feel like I have to mention that all those ~$40ish USA-made Kershaw's we've given my family members through the years were ALL pretty darn impeccably manufactured and running strong years and years later still...), but we're talking about a $210 knife with a MSRP of $300, manufactured in the USA none-the-less... makes me really think what's going on the factory floor of that company...

To end on a more positive note (well, I'll try my best): what do I like about this knife? Why am I still keeping it? (well, tbh, I kinda have to keep it since I only had a 3-day return window and I literally --design flaw or not-- damaged that latch area in the first 15 minutes of checking it out so can't return it now anyway...) BUT I really DO want something in this form factor, and there's really nothing else like this on the market. I also LOVE the blade shape - I'm a sucker for a full flat grind. I LOVE how when the knife is closed you see most of the bare blade which is different than any of my current knives. I LOVE that simple 'latch' drop trick! I LOVE that it comes with a pocket clip as I'm having a heck of a hard time carrying my HUGE Benchmade 87 in it's slim sheath in my pocket (kills me to even grab my keys from that same pocket as the knife takes up so much space!). I LOVE a balisong with a spring latch (even if you can't close it in the open position which does bug me) - I literally returned my Kershaw Lucha and sold my BRS Alpha Beast 3.0 primarily because they didn't make very good EDC's since neither of their latches would 100% reliably drop free, the Lucha doesn't come with a latch, and you can't buy a latch for the AB separately either. Would I recommend the knife to anybody right now? No. Not at all. But if they clean up the QC I think this would be a very good knife to own (but only time will tell on that).
 
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Dergyll

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Feb 24, 2021
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To think I shat my pants out of excitement for this thing and waited a year for it. Maybe that's why the release was quiet lol.

Great review, I think I will keep mine (when it comes. Comon Knifecenter where my SF2 at...) probably for the same reason, and because I sunk too much time into it...
 
Joined
Nov 20, 2007
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To think I shat my pants out of excitement for this thing and waited a year for it. Maybe that's why the release was quiet lol.

Great review, I think I will keep mine (when it comes. Comon Knifecenter where my SF2 at...) probably for the same reason, and because I sunk too much time into it...
I'm honestly at a loss about the QC. Not even a single post from the Spyderco fanboys either (like commenting if they've experienced similar issues on this knife or others as they've probably owned a LOT more of these as I have lately). ...and I posted this on JD and YouTube as well and not a peep there either, and I KNOW there's a ton of big Spyderco fans...

This is two stinkers from Spyderco in a row... and some of their more expensive models to boot (we're talking ~$60 more than the popular and definitely not bottom-barrel Paramilitary 2's...).
 
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Dergyll

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Feb 24, 2021
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Maybe it'll get "CQI-ed" out after your feedback, who knows!

But then I'll have to buy the new one and try and peddle this one away in the exchange...sucks :p
 
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Nov 20, 2007
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Forgot to update this post as well (I actually finally joined the Spyderco 'restricted' forum the other night and posted the same).

What I found out last night was the round tang pins on the blade, which traditionally nest inside a rounded/concave cut-out area inside the handles (is this called the "tang cup"?, are NOT resting inside that rounded cut-out in the SmallFly 2's handles. It seems to be misaligned by a great deal, and they're only hitting the very edge of that cut-out concave/rounded area. They are misaligned in not only 1 spot, or 2, or 4, but in ALL 8 positions (2x pins, 2x sides of the knife, in the open AND closed position = 8). If this is by design I do not know, but I honestly can't see it being designed that way, or why even bother machining matching concave areas into the steel liners of the handles if the tang pins aren't going to hit inside that area but just outside (i.e. misaligned)? And yes, even when it's closed and the latch tightened (which does put more pressure on the knife, which might make it flex enough to get those tang pins/cups aligned), it's still mis-aligned even when closed and latched.

The below pictures are what I mean. I only took 3 shots but you get the idea – the tang pins are not nestled fully inside the tang cups like they should be, and you can tell how little contact they're actually making by the super small size of those wear marks I highlighted.

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This is how tang pins/cups are supposed to work FYI - the round tang pin is matched up to the tang cup, so when the knife is open or closed the tang pin sits perfectly inside the tang cup - they're a mirror image of each other with no gap. You can see how the SmallFly 2 isn't working this way. (image from BalisongCollector.com)

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This was literally the last straw with this knife. I contacted Spyderco and although butterfly knives are legal in my state they will NOT let me send the knife to them since they will not mail it back to me since I'm not MIL/LEO or a First Responder. They suggested I contact the dealer I bought it from, which I told them I'm already outside of the 3-day return period, but they suggested maybe (if the dealer agrees), I send the knife to the dealer, then the dealer sends the knife to Spyderco (then back to that dealer, who then has to mail the knife back to me).

I'm going to write Southern Edges next (hate to bug them for Spyderco's problem!), and this is really just adding insult to injury, but I don't know what else to do. Kinda don't even want a replacement knife now (if that was even offered), as the overall design (i.e. the latch itself) is just going to damage itself within the first couple times I use the knife (AND not open 100% of the time like I described/pictured above either).
 
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Sal Glesser

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Dec 27, 1998
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Hi TriChrome,

Thanx for your input. If these things really bother you, you should contact customer service. I'll alert them to your thread.

sal
 
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No reply on the Spyderco forums since Tuesday Sal, so I'm just going to copy and paste in here what I wrote there so this topic is kept up-to-date as well:

Sal, you wrote in the other topic [i.e. here, on Bladeforums] "If these things really bother you, you should contact customer service". Just wanted to comment on two things about that. First, and you very well might have missed my above post if it wasn't approved and visible when you wrote the above, but per your customer service I'm not able to [normally] return the knife since I wouldn't be able to get it back since I'm not a MIL/LEO (even though these are legal in my home state). I would have to do 4 different shippings through the original retail store (then to you, then back) to get the knife back to me... I also returned it to the dealer who gave me store credit so this is now a moot point.

The second thing I want to comment on (as kindly as I can - I'm really trying my best, honest), is when you say "If these things really bother you", and I could totally be taking this the wrong way... but that statement literally means that some people wouldn't be bothered by issues like these. That got me thinking about who would NOT be bothered by the knife damaging itself in the first 15 minutes and onward? Who would NOT be bothered by being able to feel uneven handles every time you gripped the knife? Who would NOT be bothered that the MAIN structural element of the entire pivot open/close system of the entire knife (the tang pins sitting properly into their tang cups) isn't aligning properly? ...because I really can't think of anybody who would NOT be bothered by things like this... so I'm kinda at a loss about your statement...

Again, sorry if I'm being harsh, but even if we put the finer/smaller finishing details aside (which again IMO should NOT be present on any $300 MSRP knife...), even if we chalk up the tang pins/cups not aligning as a one-off as well (although another rare owner of these - since they're not widely available yet - has also noticed a similar, yet not quite as bad as mine, issue with his as well he just posted about above), there's still the engineering/design flaw of the latch which can't be fixed by your warranty department no matter how wonderful I assume they are as they're not going to redesign the knife and send it back to me lol (and again, another user has noticed damage on their G10 by the latch area as well, so it's not just me).

Anyway, since I returned this knife there's really not much more I can comment on as I'm kinda out of the game as I don't own the knife anymore. Just wanted to share my experiences, and see if anybody else had similar issues - and I hope Spyderco takes some of these issues into consideration and improves upon the knife... because it really kinda needs it, and I'm glad to hear you say that your company is constantly trying to improve – as a new product to your line-up, and you haven't produced a balisong in years, I can't think of a better product to start with than the Spyderco SmallFly 2 ;)
 
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