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39 of 41 people found the following review helpful
on February 13, 2013
I now have a decent collection of mid to high end production knives and after purchasing this beauty, I have a new fav! The action on the southard is incredible and the engineering and materials used are the best I've seen in a knife. I was one of those that was hesitant about it coming out of the Taichung, Taiwan assembly line... Big mistake. Their tolerances are next to none. I love this steel as well, I have yet to get a scratch or chip. The biggest chore I've had for it so far was cutting apart boxes that had large metal staples holding the bottom together. I babies it at first but quickly realized I could abuse the crap out of it with no issues. I have yet to sharpen it and it will still pass the paper test with flying colors. I love showing this knife off. Two of my friends (both pretty frugal with money) have tracked one of these bad boys down and spent the extra $ to get it. One of the biggest complaints is not having 100% access to the spyder hole. I have medium to large sized hands/fingers and have no issue with this. MY only complaint is the clip. The material and shape is awesome but in the area where its screwed to the frame, it almost appears unfinished as it doesn't have the same edge as the frame. Everything else is impeccable and it is the first of my collection that I feel I could sell for a profit one day even with EDCing it. Bottom line, its worth every penny and I would try convincing anyone to get one. Questions welcomed.
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35 of 39 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon November 11, 2014
[Just kidding. I love Colorado. That just happened to be the most inflammatory, attention-getting way of reaching my point -- that the Taichung, Taiwan factory is now officially the best of the three high-end Spyderco facilities, topping Seki City, Japan and Golden, Colorado. Both make excellent knives; but the premium materials, as well as the impeccable fit and finish of knives like the Southard, Rubicon, K2, Gayle Bradley, Techno, Schemp Tuff, and Slysz Bowie, puts the Taiwanese Spyderco's ahead of the competition.]

The decision to establish a Taiwanese factory to produce Spyderco's most expensive knives was controversial, but it seems to have paid off. The company has been a favorite among blade enthusiasts for its innovative designs and dedication to using the highest quality materials. Premium and even super-premium blade steels are made available on regular models; newer, more exotic alloys are introduced via 'mule team' and 'sprint run' editions, allowing those of us who geek out on the various particle metallurgical processes and elemental compositions to try out rare and expensive super-steels for reasonable prices. Because of Sal and Eric Glesser's determination to use the steel most appropriate for each design, each model is assigned to one of four factories.

The Chinese factory handles the budget line owned by Spyderco, Byrd. It also produces the four cheapest 'starter' folders that Spyderco uses as a consumer 'hook'. The 'Resilience', 'Tenacious', 'Persistence' and 'Ambitious' all use Chinese stainless steel -- 8Cr13MoV.

The Japanese factory in Seki City -- the capital of Japanese blade-making, and Samurai steel in particular, for over 800 years -- produces some of Syderco's flagship models like the 'Endura', 'Delica', 'Stretch' and 'Police'. Because of Japan's thriving steel industry, foreign knife companies are limited by prohibitive tariffs on American and European metals to using domestic product. This isn't a hardship, however, since the VG-10 cobalt steel used on most Japanese Spyderco's is tried and tested, a conventionally forged stainless that has been the premium alternative for years. 'H1' is an innovative nitrogen-based steel that has a very high Rockwell of between 63-67, and is a true corrosion-resistant steel; with nitrogen replacing carbon in the steel matrix, it is chemically inert, and will not rust in water or saline. It makes sense that Spyderco has used H1 as the focus of its 'Salt' line of knives, designed for people working on or around the water (It doesn't have the levels of nitrogen and chromium that Bohler's amazing Vanax 35 and 75 possess, but it's quite a bit cheaper, too; I've wanted a Vanax knife for some time, but they're hard to find). 'ZDP-189' is Hitachi's true super-steel, with 3% carbon and 20% chromium, and a hardness that can reach 68. ZDP-189 is a favorite for it's scary-sharp edge and retention, one of the two steels used by Japanese knife company 'Rockstead', whose very expensive blades have a credible reputation as being the sharpest you'll ever find (their demonstrations are convincing). It is being used as a slightly more expensive alternative to VG-10 on the green FRN models of the Endura, Delica, Stretch, et al. It is also used for the carbon fiber versions of the Caly 3 and 3.5, in an even more impressive ZDP-189 San Mai III configuration.

The Golden, Colorado factory handles the hard-use tactical favorites like the 'Military', 'Manix 2', and 'Paramilitary 2' -- widely regarded as one of the best production folders ever made. The regular models feature CPM S30V, the most popular of the premium PM steels. Spyderco has an arrangement with Crucible steels which allows them to buy large quantities for a reasonable price, in exchange for using S30V exclusively on the regular models made in Colorado (not quite exclusively; the 'Manix 2' had a regular model with a hollow-ground blade of 154CM -- another Crucible steel, for years the stainless favored by knife-makers before PM steels like S30V and S35VN appeared). The production standards of the Golden factory are very high, with relatively low tolerances and dependably sharp edges out-of-the-box. Dedicated to in-house Glesser designs, the 'Paramilitary 2', 'Military' and 'Manix 2' are examples of brilliantly considered and repeatedly improved knife-making. Just as Japanese Spyderco's use Japanese steel, American Spyderco's use American steel.

The Taichung Taiwan factory is very different. With no steel industry of its own to speak of, Spyderco is able to export American steel from both Crucible and it's biggest domestic competitor, Carpenter, as well as Bohler-Uddeholm's Austrian PM's, and American titanium, carbon fiber, and G-10. Setting the factory up according to the Golden, Colorado standards, they are able to use super-premium materials and an American/Taiwanese work-force to create the highest quality knives in the Spyderco catalog for relatively reasonable prices. Instead of the Glesser designs that make up the majority of the knives produced in Golden and Seki, Taichung manufactures designs by some of the most talented custom makers, in this case Brad Southard.

Even though some have complained that the trademark Spyderco hole is an unnecessary addition, it does provide a convenient secondary opening method, and works great after a few tries to get a feel for it. What's more, going through Southard knives on 'arizonacustomknives.com', Southard, like Peter Rassenti, frequently uses the blade-hole on his customs: i.e. the Southard 'Downing' and 'Lewis', although neither is a flipper. Another interesting thing regarding his customs is the speed at which he became one of the top makers; in 2010, his knives were listed at between 300-400$ each. Four years later, knife enthusiasts are no doubt pissed off they didn't jump on those, since they're now going for 1700-2200$ second-hand (I didn't even know what a custom was in 2010, so I don't feel too bad about it).

The Spyderco Southard has immediately become one of my favorites. The stone-washed, hollow-ground blade of CTS-204P is worth the price alone, but the incredibly thick slabs of titanium that make up the frame-lock side and the liner of the presentation side are beautifully shaped and finished -- very expensive components in their own right. CTS-204P is another true super-steel, Carpenter's PM equivalent of Bohler's M390 and Duratech 20CV, with identical elemental compositions that includes 2% carbon, 20% chromium, 1% molybdenum and 4% vanadium. Both M390 and 20CV are very desirable options in the custom and midtech markets, and CTS-204P seems just as impressive. The thickness of the blade, the gently radius-ed edges, the beautiful grind and profile (which is a unique blend of reverse tanto and sheepsfoot/Reeve-style 'insingo') -- all are indicative of tremendous quality control. Spyderco's very first flipper is one of the best functioning flippers you could ask for, running on KVT-like caged ball-bearings that make it incredibly smooth, but rock solid as well, no hint of blade-play whatsoever. The only real negative is the lack of a steel lock-bar insert, to prevent wear on the titanium lock-face. But while it would have been a good feature, it's not an absolute necessity.

I know the world is changing in very strange ways when I want my Spyderco to say 'Taichung, Taiwan' instead of 'Golden, Colorado, Earth'. Actually, I still love the American and Japanese Spyderco's, I just think it's cool when long-held assumptions and prejudices get dumped on their head. I'm speaking of my own; I avoided the Taiwanese knives for quite awhile, but eventually I had to try them out for myself. I'm glad I did, because this is a new Spyderco classic. Brad Southard makes amazing knives, but I can't afford to spend the 1500$ it costs to get one of his customs second-hand. This knife is really close to a custom model, for way less money. The Spyderco 'Rubicon', designed by Peter Carey, was just released; it won the 2014 Blade Show award for 'Best Imported Knife', which is another seal of approval for the Taiwanese operation. It's another flipper, Spyderco's fourth, I think. It looks like the Southard will be a pivotal design in Spyderco history, if the current trend continues.

P.S.: One interesting aspect of this knife is its asymmetrical design, with the G-10/titanium liner side being slightly but noticeably thicker than the titanium framelock side. I don't know why this was done, but I'm fairly certain it was part of Southard's original concept, and I'm (almost) positive it is not -- as some people have suggested -- that Spyderco used the G-10 thickness that was on hand, and it just happened to be too thick. Spyderco's production history contradicts this possibility, IMO, but its not an unreasonable theory. I've added photos of a Brad Southard custom knife called the 'Tozer', and it also features the intentional and eccentric asymmetry that the Spyderco Southard shares.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on May 28, 2013
I've tried almost 50 models of Spyderco pocket knives, and have found a lot to like. My previous favorite was the ParaMilitary 2 which you will see is a big fan favorite here. However, I find that the higher price of the Southard is worth it for the following reasons:

1) The handle is shorter than the ParaMilitary 2, making it easier to fit in a pocket
2) The width of the closed knife is smaller, also making it easier to fit in a pocket
3) The edge length is longer (that's because the ParaMilitary 2 has a choil which reduces the amount of blade that can be used)
4) The flipper allows you to choose how to deploy the blade - either flip for fast deployment or use the spydie hole for more slow, controlled deployment. And the flip is SMOOTH!

The main cons I found were that the blade is very thick at 4mm (so not as good of a slicer) and the handle is thicker than the ParaMilitary 2.

But overall, the Southard has kicked every other knife out of my pocket, including a Sebenza. It's that good.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on February 25, 2013
I've only had this for a month or so. No functional, fit, or finish issues. The G10 is grippy. The titanium makes it lighter than it looks. The lock up is reassuringly solid. Flipper action is natural and easy. I haven't had it long enough to report on the CTS-204P steel but my experience with M390 has been very good and this should be the same.

So.. a quality knife as expected. Where I think I've been most surprised and my expectations have been exceeded is in just how useful the blade design is. This has the most edge versus handle of any folder I've owned (which is many). The handle certainly is a comfortable fit, but you get the edge of a much larger knife in a compact package. Really great overall design. Highly recommended.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on February 6, 2014
I'll keep this short, as this sweet blade has already been glowingly reviewed many times before me...

I just must say that this is my absolute FAVORITE knife, regardless of cost. The quality + design are just so excellent that they easily surpass my Chris Reeve Knives which cost more than 2x as much.

I'd love it it was made in USA - don't get me wrong - but honestly, whatever Sypderco is under-seeing in Taiwan is actually superior to domestic products (even including Spyderco's Golden Colorado-made products!).

Brad Southard is an AMAZING custom knifemaker, and this awesome collaboration with the best US knife company allows many more people the chance to have a "Southard" knife without the escalated wait times + costs.

Blade steel is superb. Flipper mechanism is silky-smooth. Ergonomics are perfection. Aesthetics (which are admittedly subjective) are outstanding with beautiful + top-tier materials (Titanium + brown G-10).

All I'm really saying it that you only have to hold this beauty once in your own hands to realize how perfect it is...

If I had to choose only (1) knife out of my 100+ collection of productions folders/fixed blade, the decision would easily be this blade...
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on December 19, 2013
Can we give a round of applause to Sir Brad Southard? Yes, I recently knighted him in my kingdom for being involved with this knife. If anyone knows him please pass along the message because he hasn't picked up his plaque. Anyway, let's get serious. I was iffy on the scale color, but all the pictures and videos I have seen on this do not display how great it actually looks. The stone wash is downright sexy, the brown G10 is subtle and more of a coyote brown which I don't think is captured in the pictures. If you are still reading this, stop now. Buy this. Wait for it to arrive and give me a thumbs up because trust me, if you only buy one "expense" knife, it has to be this. If you have a collection, this has to be in it. Spyderco really makes a quality knife and Sir Brad Southard is the grail maker.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on October 11, 2013
If you're in the market for a flipper style knife in this price range, you won't find one better than this, Spyderco's very first flipper style knife.
I know. I've tried several different brands and this one tops them all.
Don't let the fact that this knife is made in Taichung, Taiwan dissuade you. The craftsmen there at the Spyderco factory know exactly what they're doing and have missed no detail in crafting this gem of a knife.
The attention to the tiniest detail is immaculate. The fit and finish is perfect. The blade popped open and locked up tight at the first try. There's no discernable play in this knife and it feels almost like it's a one-piece knife. The blade is perfectly centered in the frame. All materials used in its construction are the best available.
The blade edge is shaving sharp. I wasn't the least bit familiar with the Carpenter CTS 204P Stainless Steel that's used for this blade, but after a Google search, found it to be one of the new powder metallurgy Super Steels and highly rated as one of the best high-quality knife steels ever produced.
For a much more detailed review go to "Blade Reviews.com" and search for "Spyderco Southard Flipper Review".
I'm sorry, but the only possible downside I can find, and probably shouldn't even mention, is that you may not like the color of the G 10 scale. Personally, I've become rather tired of the usual black G 10 scales and find this shade of brown a refreshing change from the usual black color.
Spyderco could've made the scales in different colors, but this would've caused the price of these knives to be higher.
I highly recommend this knife to anybody that appreciates high quality steel in a handsome and ergonomically excellent frame.
At this price you won't find a better Every Day Carry knife. If you aren't sure that I really like this knife, let me put it this way. I'm buying another one as I always do with my favorite pocket knives. If I ever lose this knife I certainly don't want to have to wait for another.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on January 16, 2013
tHIS IS ONE GORGEOUS KNIFE. iT IS SO SMOOTH. THE LOCKUP IS TIGHT AS A BANK VAULT. OPENS AS SMOOTH AS SILK. THE KNIFE CAME SUPER SHARP. IT HAS NO ASSIST BUT DOESN'T NEED ONE. THE ONLY PROBLEM IS THE KNIFE COSTS SO MUCH THAT I AM AFRAID TO CARRY IT OR USE IT.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on April 11, 2013
I have finally found the flipper I've been looking for. This knife oozes quality! The G10 and titanium scales ate first rate and the lock-up is at about 40%. The blade came razor sharp. The thickness of the blade feels robust and the jimping is very well done. The only concern I've seen mentioned is the pocket clip. Some people feel it is too sharp and could damage a leather car seat. While it is rather pointed, I carry my Southard all day and have not had an issue with the pocket clip. I have layed down on my leather couch with the knife in my pocket with no worries. The clip is very secure which is a good idea for such an expensive knife. Buy this knife; you won't regret it.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on April 1, 2013
Great knife, spyderco makes great knives, but the detailing of this one is just out of the park. From my experience the taichung factory is one of the best in quality and finish. This is the only model i've bought twice and i don't regret it. 204P is much superior to s30v and s35vn, i think the edge retention is just insane.
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