Review re-posted from Pocket Arsenal Blog.com with consent of author. I feel I have to be honest prior to beginning this review: I absolutely love this knife and this review is in no way going to hide that fact! This knife combines an extremely low weight with an...
Review re-posted from Pocket Arsenal Blog.com with consent of author.
I feel I have to be honest prior to beginning this review: I absolutely love this knife and this review is in no way going to hide that fact! This knife combines an extremely low weight with an awesome steel in a package that is surprisingly affordable. It also makes an excellent "people-friendly" option to carry alongside another knife that might appear threatening in mixed company. If you are someone who insists on carrying one of Cold Steel''s massive, 5.5 inch-bladed pocket swords but also want something light and unobtrusive that isn''t going to scare people if you need to trim a thread off of your shirt, this is a fantastic option.
Fit and Finish (9/10): I''ve seen a few examples of this model in the past couple of years, and overall, the fit and finish has been quite good. The blades, out of the box, have been perfectly ground and finished to a dull satin. I always prefer a stonewashed finish on my knives purely for practical reasons, but with a blade steel as hard as ZDP, it is going to take a lot to scratch the blade badly enough that it is noticeable upon casual inspection. There are two reasons I don''t feel I can give a higher score in this category. The first is that most of the models I have seen have blade-centering that is less than perfect when the knife is closed. The problem has always been slight and in no way affects the functioning of the knife. The other issue, which doesn''t bother me, is that the examples I have handled have all had a tiny amount of blade play when open. In my eyes, this knife is really meant for EDC-type tasks. It is plenty stout enough to slice up cardboard, but given the fact that the FRN handle has no liners, I wouldn''t pick this as my first choice for hard use, say, cutting up yards upon yards of carpet or batonning through 6 inches of solid oak. I''ve owned my personal model for the past 2 years, and it has never shown any signs of wearing out, nor has the blade play gotten any worse over time, so I am not going to penalize it too harshly for the blade play issue. This knife is tough enough to do any task one should reasonably expect it to do.
Steel Choice (9/10): I really, really like ZDP-189 a lot. It is a super hard steel that can be hardened above 65 on the Rockwell hardness scale due to an insane carbon content of 3 percent. This stuff takes and holds a razor''s edge for an unbelievable amount of time. The other thing that is worth noting is that there are very few makers who offer this steel on any of their knives, let alone at this price point. If you start looking around for knives with this blade steel, you are going to find it used primarily on knives from Rockstead and William Henry. Good luck finding anything from those makers for around 70 bucks. This steel has two possible downsides which, were it being used in a different knife, might cause me to downgrade the score.
The first potential issue is corrosion. As carbon content increases, a steel''s tendency to rust increases as well. ZDP-189 tries to combat that with a massive amount of chromium, but some have still reported rust issues with this steel. I myself have never noticed a problem, but if you think you will be exposing the knife to a lot of corrosive conditions, you could consider getting the same model in VG-10 steel, which in my experience has excellent rust resistance. If you work on a fishing boat, you could get the knife in H1 steel, which is essentially rust-proof, although there are likely other knives that would serve you better in that role. Personally, I am willing to pay the slightly higher price for a knife that, in my two years of ownership, has only needed to be sharpened twice. The other possible issue that can arise with super hard steels is brittleness or chipping, neither of which I have ever experienced with this steel. The corrosion and brittleness issues are, in my eyes, purely hypothetical, because the uses this knife are best suited for do not expose it to highly corrosive environments nor to high levels of shock or lateral force.
Blade Shape and Grind (14/15): If you think you "need" a 4-inch long blade to accomplish your EDC tasks, I challenge you to carry this knife for a week and see if it ever lets you down. The stock on this blade is quite thin, which allows it to be an excellent slicer. The first time I cut down cardboard boxes with it, it felt more like I was unzipping the cardboard than actually cutting it. This knife has a relatively delicate but precise tip that makes it a superb choice for detailed cutting tasks. The Spyderco leaf-shaped blade has been turned into a more pointed, arrow shape in the Dragonfly II. Overall, it is a fantastic choice for daily use, and I have found that the short length combined with the very acute tip and thin grind makes it superb in situations where a longer blade is simply unwieldy. This knife even does reasonably well with food preparation, although the short blade length means it may have difficulty with larger items. It would not be my first choice to cut a large sandwich in half nor to hack up a watermelon into bite-sized servings.
Design/Ergos (25/25): Yes, the ergos on this blade really are good enough to warrant a perfect score in this category, and that is largely due to the fact that Sal and his gang at Spyderco have managed something close to magic in this knife. They have managed to come up with a design that is tiny in the pocket, but, due to the finger choil built into the blade''s design, can manage a full, four-fingered grip.
Both the thumb-ramp and the finger choil on the blade have excellent jimping that is neither too aggressive nor so wimpy as to be useless. The FRN handle provides excellent grip and the pocket clip somehow never causes hotspots during use. People in online forums frequently talk about "little big knives", pocket knives that manage to accomplish tasks usually reserved for larger folders or fixed blades. Typically, people are referring to stocky, overbuilt little nuggets of titanium with thick blade stock--the Spyderco Techno is a great example of this. In many ways, however, I think the Dragonfly II is in fact a better embodiment of this design philosophy. It manages to punch way above its weight and size in terms of the utility it provides its owner.
Retention Method (15/15): It is hard for me to think of any way in which the pocket clip on this knife could be improved. Spyderco uses a variety of clips on their knives, but the wire clips are almost always my favorite. The roundness of the wire means there are no sharp edges against your hand even when gripping the knife quite tightly. If the clip ever loses its tension, it is easy to bend back the clip and reinstall it on the knife. One thing few people mention but I appreciate is the fact that the clip is retained with a single screw, which makes it easy to install and remove. This is particularly nice because, on occasions when I don''t want to have something attached to my pocket, I will remove the clip and throw on a lanyard. The knife rides unobtrusively in my pocket and is easy enough to grab with the lanyard attached. All in all, I have no complaints with the pocket clip. I suppose one could prefer the darker coloring found on the Sage 1''s wire clip, but that is really splitting hairs.
Ease of Carry (15/15): If this knife doesn''t get a perfect score here, no knife will. I routinely carry this and entirely forget that I have a knife on me. The pocket clip design means that this knife rides nicely in the pocket. The total weight for this knife is only 1.2 ounces. That is a bit more than the weight of 5 nickels. If you want to carry a pocket knife without it weighing you down, this would be an excellent choice.
Value (8/10): In many ways, this is the most difficult category in which to evaluate this knife. If you shop around, you can find this knife online for around 75 dollars. When you consider the fact that this is more than a VG-10 Endura or Delica, you have to ask how much the nicer steel is worth to you. VG-10 is a good steel overall. It has excellent rust resistance and holds an edge decently well. It takes an extremely keen edge, but doesn''t hold it for nearly as long as ZDP-189. If you buy the Dragonfly II in VG-10 steel, you can get it for around 45-50 bucks, which is likely to be far more palatable to many individuals when speaking about a relatively small, "plastic"-handled pocketknife. That being said, I still feel this knife is a good value at 70 bucks. As I noted earlier--you are not going to find very many knives with ZDP-189 steel on the market for less than 100 dollars, which makes this knife rather special, even if it costs significantly more than the same knife in VG-10. Whether or not you feel this knife is "worth it" will largely come down to how often you have to use your pocketknife and how often you are able to sharpen it. The other thing to note is that ZDP can be difficult to sharpen if you don''t have a high-quality sharpening system like a Wicked Edge or Sharpmaker, so this may influence your decision as well.
The Verdict (96/100): As I said at the outset of this review, I absolutely love this little blade. It and the Paramilitary II are likely my two favorite Spyderco knives and I frequently carry both of them at once. This makes a formidable team; one knife is super strong and has a nice long blade while the other is better suited for delicate cutting tasks or use in situations where the PM2 might draw the evil eye of bystanders. All-in-all, this knife offers a super-exotic and high-end steel in a stunningly ergonomic package that is forgotten about as soon as it is clipped to your pocket. There are certain applications where it might not be ideal, but these are few and far between in my daily life. I can therefore give a strong recommendation for the Spyderco Dragonfly II.