10 Of The Best Spydrco Knives By Great Independent Knife Designers

Spyderco is famous as an inexhaustible source of knife designs. It seems like they come out with a dozen new knives every week, and while it’s fun to watch them pump out new stuff all the time, the volume makes it really easy to miss a few gems, especially when all you hear is how great the new color for the Paramiltary 2 is. One of the ways they create innovative,new designs is to team up with independent knife makers and run limited series of incredibly high quality knives. This results in some great Spyderco knives that are often overlooked.


Schempp Bowie Knife

Schempp Folding Bowie Knife

  • Overall Length – 8.45″
  • Blade Length: 3.72”
  • Blade Steel: CPM S30V stainless
  • Designer: Ed Schempp

Designer Ed Schempp set out to basically make a portable version of the iconic bowie knife. The result is the Schempp Bowie, which sports a very hard S30V stainless steel and a handle made with a combination of G10 and carbon fiber. The reverse clip is designed to make the knife ride deep in your pocket, which might make it a little harder to pull out, but definitely makes it feel more comfortable. Normally I’m skeptical of a fixed-blade design turned into a folder, but I’m intrigued by the ingenuity of the handle materials and the angle it comes to flipped out. I think this would be a neat option for backpacking and bushcraft.

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Techno Titanium Plain Edge

Spyderco Techno Titanium Review



  • Overall Length: 5.98”
  • Blade Length: 2.55”
  • Blade Steel: CTS-XHP
  • Designer: Marcin Sylsz

You might call this the mini Slysz Bowie. The overall design is the same (Sylzs definitely has a trademark style) and even the steel is almost the same with just a little more toughness but a little less edge retention. The biggest difference is the size, being shorter by about an inch. That might make it less versatile for some, but it’s nice to have this design with a blade under the three-inch mark. It makes for a good discreet carry around the house or work. So if you like the Sylzs Bowie but want it in a 6 inch package, this is a good fit.

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Brend-Pirela Mamba Folding Knife

Brend Pirela Mamba Folding Knife Review

Joel Pierla and Walter Brend designed folding knife

  • Overall Length: 9.25”
  • Blade length: 3.77”
  • Blade Steel: CPM S30V stainless
  • Designer: Joel Pierla/Walter Brend

This large, upswept folder is a little more in keeping with Spyderco’s wild aesthetic. Designers Walter Brend and Joel Pirela made this thing to open fast and cut smooth. That’s why they put ball bearing washers in the pivot handle and coated the blade with a black titanium carbonite and a satin finish. It might look kind of wacky (at least to those not used to Spyderco knives) but it’s the result of some careful ergonomic thinking that made this knife grace incarnate.

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Southard Folder

Spyderco Southard Folder Review

  • Overall Length: 7.96”
  • Blade Length: 3.46”
  • Blade Steel: CTS-204P tool steel
  • Designer: Brad Southard

This is Brad Southard’s first collaboration with Spyderco (you’ll be seeing him again in a moment), and he kept things fairly conservative. It has a G-10 handle with a CTS-204P hollow grind steel blade. The whole design has a very smooth, classy feel and the ball bearing washer keeps the flipping motion smooth as silk. At first sight, actually, it looks a bit like something Benchmade would make until you get down to the tool steel blade. Truth is, you just don’t see something this rustic from either knife company these days. It’s about as solid and good-looking a flipper as you’ll find anywhere.

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Positron Flipper

Spyderco Positron Folding Knife Review

  • Overall Length: 6.98”
  • Blade Length: 3.01”
  • Blade Steel: CPM S30V
  • Designer: Brad Southard

Brad Southard tackled this flipper after designing the Southard Flipper. First glance shows the Positron as essentially a smaller version of the Southard Flipper with about an inch of difference between the two models. Closer inspection will reveal a harder steel blade and a carbon fiber handle that makes it a little heavier but also more heavy duty. It’s basically a slightly modified version with fancier materials. For my money, I prefer the tool steel version, but I suspect fans of Spyderco will find the carbon fiber and S30V blade more in line with their comfort zone.

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Nirvana Folder

Spyderco Nirvana Folding Tactical Knife Review

  • Overall Length: 8.63”
  • Blade Length: 3.75”
  • Blade Steel: S90V Stainless
  • Designer: Peter Rassenti

The Nirvana Folder has a little more thought put into its dress code. Designer Peter Rassenti made the handle design out of single piece of stained glass to get the fragmented pattern you see. The actual material of the handle is titanium, though, so it has a solid, light feel. The blade is made from S90V stainless steel , which is a harder variation of the S30V steel you see dominating this list. That means it will hold an edge a lot better. In fact its edge retention is probably better than just about anything else you can find right now, but it also takes a lot of time and patience to sharpen. But materials aside, I’m tempted to classify this as a gentleman folder. Looks were definitely a priority here, and that strange combination of handle pattern and cubist shape kind of works.

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Slysz Bowie

The Slysz Bowie is an independently designed Spyderco knife.

  • Overall Length: 7.79”
  • Blade Length: 3.42”
  • Blade Steel: CTS XHP stainless
  • Designer: Marcin Sylsz

Another Bowie tribute, but this time by Polish designer Marcin Sylsz with a simpler build. The handle is made with titanium plates and a similar pocket clip to the Schempp Bowie, but the body style is more full bellied for those that just like to have a chunk of handle in their hand. That in combination with a near-perfect flat grind make this a surprisingly traditional bushcraft blade. Personally, I think it’s one of the best knives on this list, but I’m a sucker for strong, simple designs.

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Fixed Blade

Street Beat Micarta

Spyderco Street Beat Micarta Fixed Knife Review

  • Overall Length: 7.2”
  • Blade Length: 3.5”
  • Blade Steel: VG-10
  • Designer: Fred Perrin

This classy fixed blade came to Spyderco through French designer Fred Perrin, a martial artist and former commando with a penchant for brutally efficient tactical knives. The Street Beat is a modestly sized tactical knife with a blade made from tried and true VG-10 steel, and a lightweight micarta handle (which is more or less the same as G-10 just without the texture). The design features a finger choil to protect the hand and the sheath is equipped with a G-clip that lets you wear the knife anywhere you can fit it.

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Street Bowie

Spyderco Positron Fixed Knife Review

  • Overall Length: 9.38”
  • Blade Length: 5”
  • Blade Steel: VG-10
  • Designer: Fred Perrin

People liked the Street Beat Micarta so much that Spyderco brought Fred Perrin back for another round of designing. This time he went for something a little bigger and came out with a bowie knife. It’s quite a bit bigger with a 5 inch VG-10 blade and an overall length of nearly 10 inches. It also features the same finger choil for hand protection, but this knife should also be easier to grip than the Street Beat because the handle is an injection molded FRN with rubber inserts. So in terms of grip, this is probably the better tactical knife, but I think I still prefer the easier size and shape of the Street Beat.

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Bill Moran Upswept

Spyderco Bill Moran Upswept

  • Overall Length: 8”
  • Blade Length: 3.8”
  • Blade Steel: VG-10
  • Designer: Bill Moran (kind of)

Technically they didn’t partner up with a custom knife maker for this knife. The Bill Moran Upswept is more of an homage to one of the great fathers of modern knife making, but it’s still a great knife and a great way to honor a man who helped shape the way knives are made today. The Bill Moran Upswept is made with VG-10 steel and a FRN handle weighted to match the blade so the whole knife has a very balanced feel. It’s one of the few knives by Spyderco that would be ideal for hunting.

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