Byrd Meadowlark

The review consists of :


From the Byrd Meadowlark webpage :

Byrd Knives are a new species of knives produced and imported by Spyderco. The BY04 Meadowlark is the smallest byrd in the nest to date. The hollow-ground 8Cr13MoV blade is available plain edged (toothless) or a combination plain edge/serrated edge configuration and fitted with a "comet" shaped opening hole that is unique to byrd designs and represents a symbol of quality. Texturing crosshatches the blade's spine gripping the thumbprint for slip free cutting. Its stainless steel handle fits in the hand ergonomically for right-hand use with a tip-up/tip-down carry clothing clip letting you clip the knife to the top of your pocket, pants or belt. With a reaffirming click the blade locks open with a backlock featuring a David Boye dent. This crescent removed from the lock release acts as a safety feature allowing the handle be tightly gripped without the possibility of unintentionally releasing the lock. The BY04 Meadowlark presents a cost effective alternative to Spyderco's main CLIPIT-line of high-performance knives standing independently on their design and performance merits.

The Meadowlark weighs 4 oz and is made from stock removal out of 3/32" thick 8C13CrMoV stainless steel . The overall length is 6 7/8" with a blade length of 3" and a cutting edge of 2 7/16". The length closed is 3 15/16" with a hole diameter of 15/32". The hollow primary grind tapers to a a thickness of 0.010"-0.012" behind the edge which is ground at 11.8 +/- 0.4 degrees per side. The hollow primary grind tapers to a a thickness of 0.010"-0.012" behind the edge which is ground at 11.8 (4) degrees per side.

Stock testing

The Meadowlark readily shaves smoothly and push cuts newsprint with no draw but could not catch hair above the skin. This high sharpness was reflected when cutting light thread as the blade only required 112 (11) grams to push cut the thread.

The Meadowlark made push cuts through 3/8" hemp with 23 (1) lbs and showed high aggression on a slice, requiring 10 (1) lbs, illustrating a complete sharpness profile.

The point on the Meadowlark is 0.475" wide with a 0.800" taper at 3.6 degrees. The point has high penetration ability which is readily illustrated by some phone book work. The Meadowlark achieves 267 (2)0 pages with a 50 lbs push, and 715 (41) pages with a hard vertical stab, very high performance.


The Meadowlark makes a simply excellent paring knife, it isn't quite in the same class as the U2 but does very well being light in hand and easily turnable with a fine point suitable for cutting through the peel on an orange, popping the eye out of a potato, or cutting the root stem out of a tomato. It slices very well due to the thin blade stock and narrow and acute edge easily slicing up various fruits and vegetables :

Bananas of course are fairly soft, even the heaviest ground knife can go through them with light force. However the Meadowlark also cuts very stiff and thick vegetables effeciently as well. The only reservation is that it doesn't have the blade curvature to allow full slices to the cutting board so the cuts have to be made with the blade held up at an angle and drawing the knife along the board. This works well but does tend to score the surface of the cutting board rather deeply :

As a bread knife, in general it is fairly lacking not because of of a deficiency in cutting ability but simply due to the shortness of the blade. It is problematic to make slices of bread, the cuts have to be made by working around the bread and it is difficult to get all the cuts to line up well, something like the Catcherman makes a much better bread knife. The meadowlark works very well on small bread products like bagels though.

The steel showed high corrosion resistance, with no signs of staining or surface rust even when left wet for extended periods of time while preparing foods. The edge retention was also significantly higher than most common kitchen knives.

wood and brush work

On grasses and other light vegetation the Meadowlark is too short to allow cutting of such materials efficiently. With a little effort the Meadowlark can be turned into a more effective tool for such work by lashing it to a small stick. The holes in the handle make convinent lashing points though the rounded sweep of the grip which makes it fairly ergonomic also make it difficult to attach securely, a really boxy grip like on the Buck/Strider folder is easier to attach in such a fashion. Grasses can now be cut much faster using the Meadowlark as a small machete. If the local vegetation is abundanent then huge amounts can be gathered very quickly. In just a few minutes two large armfuls were gathered with the Meadowlark-Billbook, five to ten minutes would make enough material to padd out a platform bed and go a long way towards roofing out a shelter :

For thicker wood cutting, the Meadowlark has little heft and weight so it can't chop even light brush readily. On small alders, 1/4" and under it is more effective to slice through them than chop. It just doesn't have enough weight like folders like the Paramilitary. Again to improve its chopping ability it can be lashed to a stick. Here some wire was used along with the help of a Leatherman Supertool to attach the Meadowlark to a stick. It was then used to cut through some Alders, up to an inch in thickness. This was light to medium chopping, mainly wrist swings with some elbow work. It was chopped into some dried lumber making a notch to see if it could handle harder impacts, mainly curious about the lock. The work was cut short when the stick it was lashed to started to crack at the second attachment point. There was a little side play in the blade at this point which was solved by a few light taps on the handle in the piviot area with a 16 oz hammer.

For much thicker woods, indirect methods can be used such as using the point to weaken the wood to allow it to be cracked, but these take far more time than a knife which allows more direct methods to be used. It should really be accompanied by a decent saw and large blade or hatchet if any significant chopping or splitting of thick woods need to be performed.


The Meadowlark works well for cutting most materials, but given its slim point and thin and acute edge would have problems prying with the point or trying to cut hardened materials even with care.

Edge retention

Slicing 1/8" cardboard, with 20 degree microbevels from the fine Sharpmaker rods the Meadowlark was significantly outperformed by the Manix in S30V. Similar lower relative slicing aggression perforamnce was seen when it was compared to a small Sebenza in S30V. The Meadowlark did however ref match the performance of a Pacific Salt in terms of slicing aggression on cardboard.

On used carpet, the Meadowlark almost matched the performance of the Paramilitary in S30V.

On plywood, the Meadowlark had a slight advantage in edge retention on both push and slicing aggression over a a reground Pacific Salt and was many times ahead of small Sebenza which as the Sebenza fractured readily during the cutting.

Ease of Sharpening

Right out of the box the Meadowlark can be sharpened on a Sharpmaker and other rod as well as clamp and jig systems as the intial angle doesn't need profiling as it comes with a thin and acute edge. It has no problems with excessive burr formation and easily takes a very fine polish or coarse edge. After extensive use the edge profile was adjusted to increase the cutting performance by adding a high relief, essentially the knife was honed almost flat to the primary grind creating an edge which was 7-8 degrees per side. This is one of the benefits of hollow grinds, allowing the application of very acute edge bevels.


The Meadowlark's steel grip has problems with temperature extremes and as gets slick easily. The most ergonomic and overall comfortable grip is a side thumb grip which is commonly used for precision point work and light cutting. In a hammer grip high around the index finger notch the first apex peak of the grip tends to bite into the side of the index finger. In a low hammer grip comfort is higher however the top of the clip tends to press against the index finger and thus generates a hot spot in extended cutting. The clip can be rounded out with a dremel or sandpaper or a file to improve comfort.


The lock back of the Meadowlark was stable under spine impacts, torques and white knuckling. Stability in the latter was enhanced by the milled out section of the lock bar which aids in preventing accidental releases. After months of extended use, including heavy impact work as described in the above, the blade did develop slight side play, not enough to be signifiant in use, but enough to feel.

Comments and references

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Last updated : 08 : 21 : 2005
Originally written: 08 : 21 : 2005