Spyderco Manix

The review of the Manix consists of : manix
paramilitary catcherman and persian


The Manix is a heavy duty lockback folder from Spyderco with a similar handle and lock as the Chinook II also made from S30V stainless steel. The main difference is that the Manix has a flat ground blade without the swedge and upturned sweep of the Chinook II. It weighs 180 grams with a 0.155" thick blade sporting a full distal taper. The edge is very thin, the primary grind tapers to 0.020"-0.025" and ground at a very acute 11.2 +/- 1.0 degrees per side.

Stock testing

The new in box sharpness was extremely high, well above average for production and even custom knives. The Manix readily push shaved and cut straight down into newsprint with no draw. On light thread the Manix took only 90 +/- 14 grams to make a cut.

Push cutting 3/8" hemp required 15.0 +/- 0.8 lbs, with 8.0 +/- 0.5 lbs on a two inch draw, showing high aggression inspite of the very high polish, and thus having a complete sharpness profile.

The point on the Manix is well formed, slim and acute and with a 50 lbs push sank 140 +/- 7 pages into a phone book and with a hard vertical stab penetrated 588 +/- 7 pages. It is interesting to note that the Temperance which has a very similar blade shape with just a slightly more pointed tip shape got significantly higher penetration in both cases.


For precision paring chores the Manis is a bit too bulky. There isn't a problem with the cutting ability as the high flat grind and acute edge allow it to peel potatos well in regards to how much force is needed to push the blade through the potato, but the very wide blade and just sheer size of it make it less than efficient in regards to turning the blade in cuts and just general weight in hand. The Military works better being lighter with a more narrow blade but still more efficient are smaller knives like the Opinel and the main blade on the Rucksack works very well also.

As a general utility knife, comparing the Manix to a fully optomized japanese utility knife they both can slice potatos with a minimal amount of force, both just barely register on a scale. The Japanese knife is however more efficient due to the longer blade and the the dropped blade also allows more rapid fine dicing. Which can greatly speed up a lot of cutting such as preparing garlic or green onions.

On stiffer vegetables, the Manix continues to work well, however does start to take more force than the japanese utility knife. A slight difference can be noted on celery, not as much on chopping up single stalks, but going through a large amount quickly does show a significant disadvantage. The Manix is however much more efficient than other large folders like the Voyager which suffers from the lower sabre grind which causes more wedging on thicker cuts.

As a bread knife, the Manix does ok. catcherman is a much better choice as it is longer and lighter and the serrations will cut through even the crustier breads. Such cutting with the Manix tends to work best with a more coarse, finish. 600 DMT is enough for most breads with a short section of the edge near the choil left with an x-coarse DMT finish to slice through very thick and hard crusts. In general though the Manix is designed for other heavier work and even though it can handle most kitchen work well with the high flat grind, generally the size and weight do make other choices more productive. It also tends to attract attention to draw a Manix to slice up a bagel while eating lunch at work.

As a side note, the Manix has a secton of very prominent ridges along the thumb ramp, these are intended for grip traction. However they can be used for other things such as removing the plastic covers from spice and hot saucs bottles. This can be done with the blade but even light contacts with the edge will flatten it readily as glass is very hard. Removing the spice bottle covers makes them easy to refill, and rinsing out that bottle of hot sauce with some vinegar makes sure none of the heat is wasted.

Brush work

Carving: With a high flat grind and a thin and efficient edge the Manix readily slices into woods deeply and will produce a pile of shavings from a piece of birch hardwood in minutes. These will take a flame readily from a match and scrapings can be made to allow lighting from a ferrocium rod. However in general for light work of that nature a smaller folder like the Paramiliary or better yet Opinel is more efficient. Those knives are lighter in hand and the more narrow blades will also turn easier to allow more efficient carving of curves which is necessary when doing a lot of tool shaping. The Manix does work much better than most tactical folders like the Fulcrum which are ground much thicker and thus will not cut nearly as well. The main benefit of carrying a Manix for wood working is that the larger and heavier blade actually has sigificant chopping ability and also allows heavier batoning than a lighter blade like the Jess Horn.

Splitting wood : the Manix has a high blade strength due to the stock thickness and can press split wood readily by rocking the blade into the wood and twisting/prying with the blade to break the wood apart. This work well on lumber, especially board sized, and on woods like pine and ceder which split readily. The small pile of birch on the right was made using this method. This makes the Manix far more efficient than folders like the Opinel which are simply not rigid enough for such work. However on larger wood this isn't effective as it is beyond wrist strength usually and this also starts to put a lot of lateral strain on the Manix's pivot which can induce blade play.

For heavier woods the spine of the Manix can be struck with a piece of wood, using the blade as a wedge. The right way to do this is to position the blade so the tip just reaches the far side and the impacts with the stick on the blade are infront of the lock, very close to the wood. If it is done the other way, which is common, hit the point which extends past the wood, this puts a lot of torque on the lock as the off hand tries to keep the blade from rotating. On larger wood still, the Manix can split off sides to make slabs and gradually take the wood apart, however on such large woods it is often best to just carve wedges and use these to split the wood.

The fire on the right was made using the ability of the Manix to cut grasses and carve shavings for tinder and split woods of various sizes to get the fire going. With a good base for the fire it can be kept going usually with larger deadfall in this case an overgrown and rotted fence as used.

Chopping : the Manix is a powerful chopping tool for a folder and can readily handle small woods like alders and everygreen boughs. However for most construction it is better to use existing dead woods than try to chop everything with the Manix because it isn't efficient enough on thicker woods, especially the denser hardwoods.For a basic a-frame the site was chosen so that the basic frame could be assembled with little choppin and there was a decent selection of soft fir for coverage along with ferns and other litter to fillin the walls. A piece of dead fall provides the main frame support and the surrounding area has a lot of dead woods for the framing. After a half an hour of gathering little the shelter has taken rough shape. The frame is fairly extensive because since a folding knife was going to be used to gather the cover material much of it would be small boughs plus ferns and other similar vegetation so really large gaps would be difficult to fill in. With a large chopping tool the basic frame could be a lot more sparce and just a lot of heavy boughs gathered to quickly provide insulation.

Gathering the material to cover in the frame the Manix is much more effective than smaller folders and even fixed blades like the Mora 2000 because the Manix is much more powerful on the swing and cuts boughs much easier. It also easily cuts through swaths of ferns and other such material, though a bolo or similar knife would be optimal for such work. After one hour of cover layering the shelter protects decently from the sun and cuts the wind well. It would however need at least another two hours of layering to get decent rain resistance and ideally needs large sheets of birch bark or similar material to keep out the rain. With a larger knife which had more chopping power the shelter could be made much faster but the Manix made it many times easier than doing it without a knife or a much lighter one.


The efficient cutting profile of the Manix easily allows turning a few boxes into a pile of scrap. The high flat grind and thin and acute edge give high cuttnig ability and the extensive sweep to the blade make it perform very well for draw cuts. The cutting ability in terms of force is actually on par with the thinner blades, even something like an Opinel doesn't offer a significant advantage. However knives with very fine points like the Jess Horn do go into the boxes a little easier, and of course even small knives like the U2 handle this work very well.

While ground as an efficient cutting tool the use of Manix isn't restricted to cutting just soft materials. It easily turns two Pepsi cans into a time capsule. Just cut the tips off, make a few slits into and you have a very water resistant container for notes, money or other paper goods. This isn't suitable for cooking or for making charred cloth as the can will just melt. This kind of use takes a heavier tin. A large can of apple juice was opened and the top competely cut off with the Manix Here the top was cut off and then flattened with the butt of the Manix and then pounded over to enclose some fabric to make charred cloth. For this type of heavy metal cutting the edge will benefit from a microbevel at 15-20 degrees to minimize chipping. It can be done with more acute angles however it requires a lot of care to not load the edge laterally. For really aggressive cutting the additional bevel would be very wide, enough to see it visually and no longer an actual microbevel. Knives like the Fulcrum are ground to be optomized for this kind of harsh use.

Even really abusive work like digging a hole isn't a problem for the Manix.

Edge retention

The Manix was compared to a Paramilitary and a custom bowie in D2 on used carpet : ref. As expected it was not significantly different from the Paramilitary as both are made from S30V at the same hardness. Both outlasted the D2 bowie, though it should be noted that since the material was wet and it was raining corrosion ws likely a significant factor in the blunting.

some cardboard cutting

The Manix was used alongside the Byrd Meadowlark and Point Guard from CRKT to cut some 1/8" ridged cardboard. All knives were sharpened with edges formed with a 20 degree microbevel from the fine Sharpmaker rods. The following is an average of three rounds of cutting :

edge retention on 1/8" cardboard with sharpness checked by slicing light cotton under 200 grams of tension
amount of cardboard Manix Meadowlark Point Guard
(meters) length of edge required to cut light cotton
 0.0 0.35 ( 5) 0.36 ( 5) 0.52 ( 7)
 7.6 0.86 (15) 0.82 (13) 1.01 (13)
12.7 0.99 (16) 1.19 (16) 1.29 (17)
20.6 1.16 (18) 1.64 (20) 1.72 (21)

With its high wear resistance and hardness the S30V Manix was able to cut twice as much cardboard as the other two knives and retain the same level of sharpness.

The Manix was also used alongside a Randall #1 and #5 cutting 1/4" ridged cardboard. All knives were sharpened with edges formed with a 20 degree microbevel from the medium Sharpmaker rods. The Manix significantly outcut the two Randalls, with no significant difference noted between the stainless and carbon Randalls.

The Manix was also used alongside a small Sebenza in S30V to cut 1/8" ridged cardboard, and fares well, matching the small Sebenza.

some food prep

The Manix was used alongside a a Randall #1 in O1 (55/56 HRC) and another Randall #1 in 440B (56/57 HRC) to cutting some Rhubarb. All knives were sharpened with edges formed with a 20 degree microbevel from the medium Sharpmaker rods. Four hundred cuts were made in total through sorted grades of rhubarb. The cuts were made on a draw through a three centimeter section of blade. The extent of blunting was small in all knives, they could still all shave, the O1 Randall #1 was however significantly behind the stainless blades which was likely just do to corrosion as it had a patina induced . Interesting to note that the softer Randall #5 held its own against the S30V Manix most likely due to the high corrosion resistance of 440B.

edge retention of Manix and a carbon and stainless Randall on rhubarb with sharpness checked by slicing light cotton under 200 grams of tension
knife steel hardness Initial Final Blunting
length of edge required to cut light cotton percentage
Manix S30V 59/60 0.34 (6) 0.49 (9) 30 (7)
Randall #1 O1 55/56 0.35 (3) 0.81 (9) 57 (9)
Randall #5 440B 55/57 0.42 (4) 0.57 (4) 26 (3)

The Manix was also compared to a Kershaw Vapor and Extrema Ratio Fulcrum on more rhubarb, 600 cuts were made with each knife on a plastic cutting board. The edge used for sharpness testing didn't come into contact with the cutting board, and was a one inch section of blade which was used to draw through the rhubard on an approximately 45 degree angle.

edge retention of a Manix, Kershaw Vapor and Extreme Ratio Fulcrum on rhubarb with sharpness checked by slicing light cotton under 200 grams of tension
knife steel hardness Initial Final
length of edge required to cut light cotton
Manix S30V 59/60 0.25 (2) 0.41 (5)
Fulcrum N90 0.29 (4) 0.45 (2)
Vapor AUS-6A 0.25 (2) 0.49 (9)

The Rhubard was again not abrasive or hard enough to induce significant blunting and neither blade showed evidence of corrosion. However the cutting board contacts flattened the edges of the Fulcrum and Vapor significantly, with the Manix having similar blunting but constrained to a much smaller region of blade, approximately one centimeter in length.

The Manix was used alongside the Randall #1, and #5 to make scrapings of a piece of birch. All knives were sharpened with edges formed with a 20 degree microbevel from the fine Sharpmaker rods. One hundred scrapes were made through a three centimeter section of blade. The Manix had less blunting than either of the two fixed blades, and the harder stainless Randall had less blunting than the softer carbon steel blade which would be expected given the greater resistance to deformation that comes with a higher hardness.

edge retention on wood with sharpness checked by push cutting fine thread
knife steel hardness Initial Final
force required to cut thread cotton
Manix S30V 59/60  96 (6) 208 (19)
Randall #1 O1 55/56 123 (5) 361 (21)
Randall #5 440B 55/57 120 (6) 246 (13)

Ease of Sharpening

The Manix is made from S30V, a high carbon, high alloy stainless steel. It isn't easy to machine and thus often gets a reuptation for poor ease of sharpening. However how difficult it is to sharpen a knife is dependent on other factors including suitability of the steel to the intended use of the knife and optimization of the edge bevel. For the Manix, used as a light to heavy duty cutting knife, S30V is a solid choice and Spyderco has crafted an efficient edge bevel which is easily honed to razor sharpness in a few minutes.

Even after using the Manix for heavier cutting tasks and rough utility work such as light contacts into metals, scraping, cutting used and dirty rope, and even light sod cutting, which would leave the edge not only blunted, but visibly damaged, it was easily reset completely with an x-coarse waterstone in about five minutes. The edge was then brought back to razor sharpness in another five minutes running through a series of finer waterstones and finishing on a buffing compound.

Outside of that extreme work, the Manix is readily kept to a razor edge with a few passes on a Sharpmaker.


The grip on the Manix fills the hand well and is optomized for allowing heavy cuts. The G10 checkering is sharp enough for high security but isn't abrasive. Combined with the shape contouring of the handle and the guard and ridging along the thumb ramp, heavy thrusts into woods were possible even with a lubricated grip. The handle has a nice sweep to the guard and end hook which provide security without the extreme curves which can be uncomfortable in high speed impacts. The grip is also well suited to a standard hammer grip and the index finger cutout allows a more forward hold for ease of precision work. In addition, the cutout while pronounced isn't so much that reverse and icepick grips are uncomfortable. Side grips for precision carving are also decent. The only real ergonomic issues with the Manix are that the clip is squarish and would benefit from contouring and the handle slabs could use a little more extensive rounding.


The lock on the Manix is the same as on the Chinook and can be expected to have the same level of extreme security and strength. The Manix was subjected to the same level of extreme torques as the Chinook by wedging it into a 2x4 and twisting with maximal force, just like the Chinook it was perfectly stable. In regards to the handle and the lock, if the handle was extended up further around the blade it would allow greater stability under prying and side torques.

Comments and references

Comments can be emailed using cliffstamp[REMOVE]@cutleryscience.com or by posting in the following threads :

More information can be obtained at the Spyderco website.

Last updated : 08 : 07 : 2005
Originally written: 08 : 07 : 2005