Concept: 3 out of 5
Execution: 4 out of 5
Yeah, but: This review may cost me money.*
The Long Version: Of all of the knives that I own, there are two that emerge as strong favourites any time I need to do actual work. One is the 3" clip-point Voyager, and the other is the Spyderco Native.
The Native has an unusual leaf-shaped blade; some will call it "spear point" but only one side is sharpened. The cutting surface is about 2.5 inches long with a continuous curve, and there's a finger choil toward its base. Coupled with the short but broad handle the knife has an exceptional grip for my average-male-sized hand, and the patented round hole in the blade makes for a natural hold when choking up for fine work. When closed the gentle curve of both the handle and the rear of the blade makes it easy on the pocket. The metal clip is strong enough, and can be mounted on either side of the handle at the butt-end of the knife. The plastic handle is textured on both sides.
When coupled with the unsexy but reliable lockback mechanism, the end result is a very solid and serviceable knife. The curve of the broad blade gives it tremendous cutting power for its size, while the false edge gives it a fine point. Most of my work is breaking tape and boxes, and the belly of the Native works even better than the secondary point of a "Tanto" blade design. The extremely aggressive serrations are part of that, but I might be willing to trade my fully-serrated model for a 50/50 split edge. Perhaps I'll just buy a second plain-edge model and be done with it.*
There's only thing that I've changed on my knife. The square-cut thumb rest on the top of the blade is fairly agressive, so I took a Dremel to mine and rounded off the sides a bit. It makes the knife a little more pleasant to hold. Aside from that, I'll touch up the plain edge of the CPMS30V blade with a diamond stone occasionally, and have used one of Spyderco's ceramic serration sharpeners a couple of times over the past eight years. Otherwise the knife has been completely maintenance-free.
I have only one complaint about the Native, and it really has nothing to do with the knife. Prominently stamped on the blade is "Golden Colorado USA Earth". While the all-embracing wholism is a nice change from the Manly Man atitude and weaponized lawn implements of Cold Steel and their ilk, the last time I felt the need to specify my planet as part of my address I was in kindergarden. Sure, Spyderco is proud that the Native is made in America from American steel – hence, I hope, the name – but their enthusiasm is too easily mockable. There's a lot to be said for understatement.
updated 12 aug 2011: *sure enough, I've talked myself into a new plain-edge knife. It's not a Native, but it is a Spyderco. My review of it is here.
last updated 12 aug 2011