By Dexter Ewing, Knife Collector and Enthusiast
SPYDERCO / SP36 MILITARY
PLEASE NOTE: We have added a comparison of the original run of Military knives with the latest run -Summer of 1997- below the review
The SP36 Military is Spyderco's latest entry into the increasingly
competitive folding fighter genre. Prior to that SP36, there has never
been so many variations offered for just one knife. The C36 Military is
available in both ATS-34 and CPM-T440V blade steels, plain edge or
Spyderedge with satin blade finishes. For a complete rundown of
the possible combinations, take a look at the previous page. Any way you can get a C36 Military, one thing's for sure: it's a definite handful and a half of a folding knife.
For this review model C36GS (satin finish ATS-34, serrated) was used.
There has been a lot of hype surrounding this exciting new addition to
the Spyderco line. All the hype is justified when you own and use the
C36 Military. Let's zoom in for a closer look.
The C36 Military's 3 5/8" flat ground blade features a slight
belly to it, making for an extremely effective slicing tool. For the
exception of the blade's belly, the overall shape is reminiscent of the
Police model. A really nice feature that Spyderco incorporated into the
blade is a grooved finger choil. The base of the trademark blade hump is
also grooved, making for a nice thumb rest. These two features permit
the user to choke up on the blade to execute precise cutting maneuvers.
I did discover that during certain cutting tasks where the entire length
of the blade is utilized, the choil sometimes catches on the material
being cut, if you're not too careful. It's in no way a big problem, just
be aware that it's there and adjust your cutting strokes accordingly.
The G10 handle makes this knife very comfortable to carry and
use. As with most of the folding fighters being produced today, the SP36
Military's handle boasts an anatomic curve. This curve helps to lock
your grip on the knife to eliminate any unwanted slippage, even with wet
hands. Spyderco has intentionally minimized the spacer size to
facilitate easy cleaning by rinsing. Another thoughtful feature on the
SP36 Military is its minimized liner size. Most liner locks have a liner
(or liners) that cover the entire inside surface of the handle scale(s).
The SP36 Military's single liner extends no further than the end of the
spacer, leaving the entire butt end of the handle liner-less. This is a
major factor in keeping the weight of the knife down. To compensate for
the lack of liner at the butt end, Spyderco has inserted an oversize
diameter lanyard tube to beef up the rear section of the handle.
The SP36 Military was definitely designed as a field grade working
knife. Currently, it is the blade of choice that I carry when I head
outdoors to tackle various landscaping chores. So far, it has proven its
mettle by slicing open countless bales of pine needles, bags of
fertilizer, and even pruning small, unwanted tender shoots from trees.
During the course of this evaluation, I did take notice that some grit
became lodged in the pivot area, causing the knife's action to feel,
well, "gritty". After a thorough rinsing, the silky smooth action was
fully restored. The SP36 Military is also a breeze to use with gloves on,
thanks to an oversized blade hole, lock recess, and a serrated liner
In short, the SP36 Military will definitely satisfy those who
fancy rugged folders for serious usage. As a matter of fact, this knife
marks the first time since the Police model that a Spyderco was
personally designed by CEO and founder, Sal Glesser. In my opinion, the
folks at Spyderco have a definite winner in their hands with the SP36
Military, which is why you should get one in yours!
Dexter Ewing KnifeCenter Product Reviewer
Comparison of Old and New Military Knives
When Spyderco introduced the Military C36, the knife really caught on with tactical folder fanatics. It has the size, handle shape, and performance that anyone could ask for in a heavy duty work knife. Unfortunately, Spyderco ran into problems with the production of this knife. As a result, they temporarily pulled the knife off the market until the problems were corrected, leaving many Spyderco fans wondering "What happened? Has it been discontinued? Will they produce it again?"
After a long absence from the scene, the C36 Military is back, and better than the ones of the original production runs. During a recent "field trip" to the visit my friends at the KnifeCenter, I had an opportunity to closely examine two Militaries side by side: an older production C36GS (Satin finish serrated ATS-34 blade,) and a newer production C36GSE (Satin finish plain edge CPM-T440V blade).
In terms of surface finishes, both blades were the same, no differences noted here.
This is the area that sets the old and the new apart. The differences are subtle, so you really have to look carefully. The G-10 handle on the newer Military has a better machining job. The bevels are crisper, and the surface texture is more even. Perhaps just a bit smoother than the older Military. The hex assembly screws holding the knife together also got a facelift. Instead of using black hex screws (as they have done with the older models), they are using satin finished screws, pivot included. The bright finished screws adds a nice touch against the black handle slabs. The stainless steel liner on the newer Military is a real eye catcher. Spyderco is now mirror polishing the entire liner. The larger than normal lock release recess on the handle accentuates the beautiful, slick finish. It's rare that I get excited over the finish of a metal liner, but the one on the newer C36 leaves me floored! Aside from looks, the action is improved. It does not take much effort to disengage the lock on the newer one, but accidental unlocking is impossible during normal use. The lock still engages with a sharp "clack!" as per the older C36's.
Overall, Spyderco's newer batches of Militaries share the same performance as the older runs, for the exception of those minor cosmetic improvements to the handle. If you have been holding off at buying a Military model, now is the time to purchase one, as you will no doubt be impressed with it's performance and aesthetics. Buyers beware - the Spyderco Military is back and better than ever, "Destined to Serve" again.
If you have some thoughts or comments to share with Mr. Ewing, please email him using his linked name below
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