Spyderco’s new Southard folding knife, their first ever flipper, is a collaborative design between the company and knifemaker Brad Southard. I am a fan of Spyderco, titanium frame lock knives, and flipper folding knives, so I had to give the Southard a try.
I normally prefer to use and carry pocket knives for an extended period of time before reviewing them, but I am so thoroughly impressed with the Southard that I just can’t wait that long.
The knife featured in this review was purchased from BladeHQ for close to its full retail price. I have ordered quite a few knives from BladeHQ in the past, and have had nothing but great experiences.
The Southard is absolutely amazing, from top to bottom.
There is no shortage of descriptors for the Southard knife. It’s beautiful. Elegant. Interesting. Unique. Superbly balanced. It’s practically a work of art.
While waiting for the knife to arrive, I had wondered about whether I made a bad call. Spyderco makes great folding knives, but there’s always a risk with new design explorations. Would Spyderco’s first flipper knife be a faulty flop?
The styling also had me a little worried as well. Mud-brown G-10 scales with stonewashed titanium? In the back of my mind it seemed that Spyderco was maybe trying a little too hard to be trendy.
After it had finally arrived, one minute with the Southard and all my concerns, worries, and predictions proved to be for naught.
Stonewashed Titanium Finish
It’s difficult to capture the subtleties of the stonewashed titanium finish, but hopefully I did the Southard justice.
On the back side of the knife you can see the single-position pocket clip, lanyard loop, G-10 fame lock overtravel stop, and the curvature of the handle.
Handle and Grip
The jimping (grooves) on the back of the blade is subtle and easy on the hands. Some users might prefer more aggressive jimping, but I honestly feel that deeper or sharper grooves would be out of place on a knife this size.
The textured G-10 handle scale is a bit rough, but should soften slightly with more usage. It offers a solid and comfortable grip without tearing up my hands.
The hollow-ground ~3.5″ blade is made from CTS 204P stainless steel. A quick Google search shows that this is a Carpenter alloy that’s designed to be highly wear and corrosion resistant.
Like Elmax, CTS 204P is produced using powder metallurgy. CTS 204P is sometimes described as offering slightly better edge retention than Elmax, while being a tad more difficult to sharpen.
I can’t tell right away how CTS 204P fares against other premium alloys, such as Elmax. But what I can tell for sure, both from the material data sheet and initial cutting tests, is that the Southard blade is made with one of the finest knife steels available.
This isn’t a complaint, but at 0.157″ thick, the blade is a bit stouter than I’m used to with folding knives. That’s about 5/32″.
Knife Opening and Closing
The Southard can be opened and closed with one hand.
The flipper mechanism started off a tad slow, but settled in rather quickly. I’m still just getting used to the knife, but I don’t have any difficulty deploying the blade, which glides open by means of a ball-bearing pivot system. The flipper nub is also nicely rounded and easy on the fingers.
Spyderco knives are well recognized for having large holes instead of thumb studs to aid in blade deployment. The Spydie hole on the Southard seems to be more for decoration than function, but it can be used to deploy the blade if you don’t want to use the flipper. Personally I find the flipper to be far more reliable and comfortable to use.
Blade lock-up is excellent, and I can find nothing to complain about. There’s no play or wobble in any direction.
Closing the knife is also quick and easy, with a small G-10 insert preventing you from bending the titanium frame lock bar too far.
Here you can see some more of Spyderco and Bard Southard’s attention to details. The frame lock cutout is grooved and sports the same attractive finish as the rest of the titanium handle. All outer edges are smooth and rounded for improved comfort.
The Southard sports hourglass-shaped spacers and a flush-mounted bushing that’s more than wide enough for standard paracord.
Size and Comparison
It is my opinion that the Spyderco Southard will be an excellent EDC/everyday carry knife. It’s somewhat of a big knife (~3.5″ blade), but at the same time it’s also light and compact, if that makes sense.
Here’s what the Southard looks like next to my Preon 2 LED flashlight (check out my review of the Preon 2). The Southard is definitely pocketable.
The removable pocket clip is placed for tip-up carry.
I hope you can see why I consider the Southard to be compact for a knife its size. It’s not dwarfed by the Zero Tolerance 0550, but it is appreciably smaller.
And in case you wanted to see some more flippers, here is the Southard nested between a Zero Tolerance 0350 on the left, and Hinder-design Zero Tolerance 0560 on the right.
Although the Southard’s G-10 scale looks tan in many of the photos, it is actually a medium-dark brown. I didn’t think I would like the color, but it quickly grew for me.
I have owned the Spyderco Southard folding knife for exactly one day now, but I can already tell it will give me many years of reliable service. It is exquisitely designed, but at the same time it feels strong and sturdy.
This is Spyderco’s first flipper knife, and I sure hope it’s not their last.
Recommended for: everyday carry
Not recommended for: users who need a thinner blade for making long deep cuts
MSRP is $400, street price is about $250. It has dipped below $200, on Amazon.
One final comment – the Southard is manufactured in Taichung, Taiwan. While I typically prefer USA-made and Japanese-made knives whenever possible, the phenomenal construction of this knife has deeply impressed me.
|Spyderco Southard (C156GBN)|
|Overall Length||7.96″ Open
|Blade Material||CTS 204P|
|Blade Style||Plain Edge|
|Lock Style||Frame Lock|
|Handle Material||G-10 and Ti|
|Pocket Clip?||Yes, Non-Reversible|