SPYDERCO HOWARD VIELE DESIGN C42P
By Dexter Ewing, Knife Collector and Enthusiast
1996 has been a very productive year for the hard working folks at Spyderco. They released a barrage of new and exciting models this year: from the Military C36, to the Jess Horn C34, the Michael Walker Lightweight C37, and the Bill Moran Featherweight fixed blade. Just about the time your pulse reverts back to its resting rate, another shock to the system comes down the wire. This time, it's a Howard Viele (VEE-lee) designed Clip-It.
Basically a self taught maker, Viele has been turning out quality knives for approximately twenty years. If anyone has seen his handmade pieces, it's quite apparent that they are in a class by themselves. Not to mention, Viele's tactical folders have (without a doubt) the smoothest opening and closing action that anyone has achieved, production or custom. You just have to handle one to appreciate the banana-peel-on-linoleum action. As a result of the buzz created by his tactical folders in the handmade market, Spyderco was eager to have Viele add his interpretation of a Clip-It.
The AUS-8 blade is a hollow ground clip point. As always, the Spyderco hole is present, along with a series of three small holes next to the main hole. Those familiar with the Viele handmades know that these little holes are the mark of the maker, as all of his blades sport these. Below the three holes is Viele's logo (one person on the rec.knives newsgroup said that it "reminds me of Mortal Combat"). To enhance user control, Viele added some serrations on the spine near the pivot to aid in applying pressure on the blade.
Straight out of the box, the blade is hair popping sharp. Just like all Viele folders, this one's action is scary-smooth. There's GOT to be something more than plastic washers in the pivot area, maybe a bushing or even a precision bearing. I've fiddled with his custom RT6 chisel grind tanto folder before, there's no exaggeration by saying that the C42P's action is very close to that of the handmades.
The C42P does not look like any other of Spyderco's designer series (or anybody else's for that matter). This knife is aesthetically pleasing. Upon viewing the handle, the micarta scale on the lock release side tapers off before the pivot area, exposing the riveted pivot (more on this later) and the liner. This provides a nice contrast to the black micarta. The other side of the handle has a micarta scale that completely covers the entire liner.
Despite being a great design by one of today's hottest makers, there are a few shortcomings. First, the opening hole is smaller than the other Spydercos. Depending on the individual, some may find this to be a bit too small. It also make ambidextrous operation virtually impossible. Second, most high dollar folders are fastened together by hex screws and have an adjustable pivot. The only thing on this knife that is secured by hex screws is the tapered micarta scale. All the rest is rivets, pivot included. In my opinion, at least have a pivot that allows the user to adjust the action. Third, AUS-8 is a good steel to use with low to moderate priced knives. But on a high dollar custom designed production piece the steel should be nothing but ATS-34. I speculate that Spyderco may have had AUS-8 in mind originally, but when they priced the knife, it was discovered that it was too expensive for the average knife consumer. By employing AUS-8, they were able to set the retail price at a bearable $150. AUS-8 does not hold its edge as long as the superior steel, but is easier to resharpen.
Overall, the Spyderco Viele C42P is a great cutting tool. The double stainless steel liners balance the opened knife in your hand very well, and the slight curve of the opened knife accentuates cutting power. When it comes to carrying this knife, it rides well clipped to either inside your waistband or pocket. One thing I have noticed is the slickness of the micarta scales facilitate effortless withdraw, no matter where you choose to clip it to. Because the C42P does not have that tactical folder appearance, this is a knife that you can tote with your Sunday best.
In summary, the Spyderco Howard Viele C42P adds an interesting dimension to the Spyderco line. Although this is a true Viele design, it is not a mere production version of one of his handmades. I've been informed that the it is an exclusive design for Spyderco. For those who fancy fully serrated blades, the C42S fits the bill. For more information on Howard Viele, refer to the Winter 1996 issue of Tactical Knives Magazine pages 82-86.
DEXTER "Blade Man" EWING
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