By October 24, 2005

Spyderco Knife Chronicles / Cricket Review

My father taught me some very important things during my childhood: hold doors open for ladies, say “please” and “thank you,” the rules of gun safety, and always have a pocket knife. Thanks to the incredibly stupid security laws enacted after 9-11 I can’t always take Dad’s advice, but for the rest of the time I’m in meatspace I carry a pocket knife with me.

I’ve gone through a lot of them, starting off with a knife very similar to this one when I was 10 years old:

Good luck giving a 10 year old kid a knife these days, they’d put them in the electric chair. But I digress.

I carried your traditional thick red Swiss Army knife for a very long time. I never used anything other than the tweezers and the big blade. Although sometimes during my ISP tech support days I would imagine taking out the leather punch and jacking stupid users in the neck with it. Or maybe the corkscrew.

While working at Eddie Bauer I found a rebranded Spyderco Ladybug in the return bin. We got all kinds of cool stuff that way — customers would return things from the catalog that we would never stock in our retail store. I picked it up for like $5 after my employee discount, and thus began my love affair with Spyderco.

At the time I got the knife, one-hand openers were pretty new on the market. Spyderco featured a large hole atop their specially shaped blades. You put your thumb in the hole at a 90 degree angle and make a reverse “C” motion. The blade opens in a snikt! and you’re ready to open a new package from ThinkGeek or fend off a gaggle of terrorists. The Ladybug featured the infamous Zytel plastic handle, which has little nubs in it so that you don’t fumble with the knife if your hands are cold or wet.

The Ladybug did its job well — mostly opening boxes in the stockroom — but you can’t be manly packing a knife called the Ladybug. Some of my friends with Cold Steel brand knives had clips on the sides and were hanging their knives inside their pockets. This was particularly attractive to me, as I hated digging around in my pockets for my blade.

I started looking for another Spyderco model to replace my Ladybug, and I discovered a bit about the company’s history.

Spyderco is a Japanese company who rose to notoriety in the law enforcement and rescue industries. Their most famous knife to date is their Police model, which is insanely huge. It’s over nine inches long open. Here’s an all stainless one next to some other knives, what appears to be a Glock 19 9mm pistol, and probably the ass-end of a shotgun or AR-15 stock. Credit to gunblast.com for the picture.

Spyderco is also well known for their EMT/medical knives, most notably their Rescue. Note that the Rescue doesn’t have a traditional knife point: this is so that EMTs and the like can cut seat belts and clothes without having to worry (too much) about jabbing their patients.

Anyway, Spyderco knives are backed by a lifetime warranty and are made with three different types of blades: plain, serrated (called the SpyderEdge) and a mix of the two. If you’re looking to buy a knife, I heartily recommend the plain edge. Sharpening the serrated blade is a bitch. They are often found in all stainless or plastic Zytel grips, although sometimes the grips employ interesting materials. My first Cricket featured a now discontinued grip that was sort of a rough, non-slip metal finish.

Speaking of my Cricket, it was the first Spyderco knife that I bought at full price. And at the time, what a full price it was. Making $6.25 an hour at Eddie Bauer meant that I had to cough up over a day’s pay for my Cricket. I am pretty sure I was down a renter in my house in college, and money was tight.

Like I said earlier, the original Cricket I had featured a discontinued grip, but this picture is fairly close:

I loved that knife. Mine was a plain edge. It was perfectly sized, and the clip seemed even more revolutionary to me than the one handed opening mechanism. It made the knife a lot more accessible than putting it in your pocket or having to wear a belt pouch. The leaf-shaped blade was attention getting, and everyone liked it. The Cricket transitioned with me to Timberland, where I eventually gave it away as a parting gift when I graduated from college. The Cricket was great, but I was interested in something a little bit more … aggressive.

The Native 2 was my first all stainless steel knife. It seemed cool to have an all shiny knife, and I kept with that thought process for two more Spydercos. Sure, it was hard as hell to keep ahold of it when your hands were wet, but an all steel knife puts out a pretty wicked glint in low light.

The Native 2 had a blade just a touch over 3″ long and was 7″ long when opened. It was almost twice as big as my Cricket, and was easily three times heavier.

The Native was a great knife and I still have it to this day. In fact, with the exception of my Ladybug and my original Cricket I still have all my knives.

As you can surmise, the Native was a borderline stabbity-stab type knife, and by then I had acquired my Virginia concealed carry permit. I was worried about carrying an illegal weapon more so than ever, and while Virginia would allow me to carry two handguns and fifty rounds of ammunition between them I couldn’t keep a knife with a blade longer than 3″ on my person. The Native 2 gave way to the smaller Dragonfly, which was my first Spyderco with a serrated edge.

I thought the serrated edge would be great for opening and cutting boxes. It sure was. It was also hard as fuck to sharpen, and I have to admit that I became frustrated with my attempts to sharpen the individual teeth. I carried the Dragonfly for about a year or so. The size was much better, and even though I disliked the serrated blade I found myself buying another one with my next knife — the Dragonfly was a little boring, coming from the big ass Native 2.

I bought the Harpy because I had my eyes on it and its smaller sibling, the Merlin, for quite some time. It was quite wicked with its curved hawkbill blade. The Harpy was also another “big knife,” about the size of the Native 2. The Dragonfly didn’t have the tactile satisfaction of the bigger Native, either in heft or in the audible “click” when the blade locked. It also didn’t have the smooth opening action of my Cricket. The problem with the Harpy I could never find it for less than $100. That is, until I found them on closeout at an online knife store, where I picked it up for around $55.

I carried the Harpy until about a year ago. It was thinner and lighter than the Native 2, although I’m so used to my 2nd Cricket so much now that the Harpy seems very heavy. The Harpy was indeed a wicked blade. It has gotten, by far, the most reactions out of bystanders. Some negative, some positive, all exclamations.

Fast forward to my most recent acquisition. I guess I wanted something lighter and less audacious than the Harpy. However, Spyderco’s newer knives didn’t really interest me. I went back to the Cricket, this time with the plastic Zytel handle.

And so we come around full circle. It’s still the same great knife I had almost nine years ago. Very lightweight, compact shape, and while it does raise eyebrows it’s because people think it’s unique, not because it’s scary. The action on the Cricket is the smoothest and easiest out of any Spyderco I’ve ever owned, and by this summary you know that’s a decent amount. Lady Jaye liked mine so much during our move that I bought her a stainless steel one that she carries with her. There are fewer things sexier than seeing a woman with a knife clip on her back pocket 😉

If you’re looking for a dependable, easy to operate and high quality pocket knife, you can’t go wrong with the Spyderco Cricket. In fact, I’m going to make it my first recommended product for the gift giving season. If you know someone who could use a pocket knife — and Pop says that’s everyone with a heartbeat — then check it out. I recommend Knifecenter.com, although to get the plain edge Cricket you may have to buy from somewhere else. I bought my Zytel plain edge from them, but they seem to be out of stock right now.

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4 Comments on "Spyderco Knife Chronicles / Cricket Review"

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  1. seeyo says:

    I’m a big fan of my Myerchin Offshore Crew pocket knife. Did a lot of research on rigging knives before I bought it and it seemed pretty well recieved. Not sure if it would meet your reqs though Doc, as it lacks the belt click. On the plus side though you do gain the marlin spike to help loosen those unruly knots or poke the eyes out of those unruly zombies.

  2. configuratrix says:

    Hey what do y’all think of MY knife? (see icon)

    A tad on the small side perhaps, but it came in handy cutting some balloon strings for a co-worker today, and … it was FREE!

  3. drfaulken says:

    Not bad, but it’s the kind that sinks to the bottom of pocketses. I give it a few extra points for having tweezers, which are very important. Does it have scissors, also?

  4. configuratrix says:

    Yup, and a file, and a little loop so it can go on key rings.