Spyderco Calypso Jr.


Specifications

This Calypso Jr. [ img ref] is made from AUS-8 stainless steel with a Micarta handle. The blade is three inches long, the total length closed is four inches and the knife is seven inches in total length with opened. The stock thickness is 1/8", and the length of the cutting edge is 2-1/2". Diameter of the opening blade hole is 7/16".

UPDATE : when this review was origionally written it also contained comments on a Spyderco 440V Military, such comments can now be found here.

Lock strength and stability

The lockup on the Calypso Jr. was stable under heavy and fast spine whacks as well as white knuckling. Lock backs in general are not prone to these types of security isses.

Cutting ability

Due to the high flat grind and thin and acute edge the Calypso Jr. set a high standard for cutting efficiency in modern one handed folders. It easily out cut the M2 mini-AFCK and a Spyderco Endura, slicing deeply even into hardwoods. While the polish was high, it could still slice well on most materials including most cordage as the profile was so thin and acute.

When sharpened to a DMT 600 grit finish to improve the edge aggression, the slicing performance increased significantly. The finish was moved back to an x-coarse DMT hone which was found to slices even better however the x-coarse finish tended to catch on thin loose material like fabrics when not under tension and the push cutting ability was significantly impaired.

The knife was also used as a reference for a custom knife by Phil Wilson,, more details on its functionality can be seen in its review [ref].

Edge Holding

The biggest downside to the Calypso Jr. was the relatively poor edge retention compared to several higher grade cutlery steels such as the M2 in the mini-AFCK. Through 1/8" ridged cardboard, it only took sixty 13" long slices along the ridged grain to reduce the edge from shaving sharp to below scraping sharp where enough pressure to shave will scrape skin as well as hair from the arm. As this point the blade will not easily bite into the cardboard unless it is very stiff, the edge tends to slip a little and sometimes tear the material during a cut.

The edge was restored with 15 strokes per side on 800 grit ceramic rod (from Ben Dale). Another thirty 13" long cuts were made, this time against the grain, and again the shaving sharp edge was lost. Again the ceramic rod was used, however 25 strokes per side only got it up slightly past scraping sharp. 15 strokes per side on the ex-fine DMT bench stone was enough to get it back to shaving sharp.

As another test of edge holding it was sliced into the top of a broken off fibreglass fishing rod. It only took ten light slices to get the blade that dull that it was impossible to cut free hanging paper. For comparison, a Marine Raider bowie from Ontario (1095) was much better, after 30 similar strokes its edge was still slicing well into paper.

The edge retention was also compared against a few other cutlery steels in some more controlled cutting and found to be in general low [ref]. The blade steel was also used in other knives and similar performance was seen [ref : 1, 2].

Harsh cutting

On a pop can, the the tip of the Calypso Jr. easily penetrated the sides and bottom with no damage. Fives slices were made down through the can which significantly degraded the sharpness, the edge was visibly rolled but no chipping. Such quick blunting was also seen with another AUS-8A blade, the Vaquero Grande from Cold steel [ ref], other harder knife steels fare much better.

The edge was restored with a simple smooth steel, 50 strokes per side, and then stropped it about 5 times lightly on the back of a coarse bastard file. The blade was now very aggressive and would easily once again shave, and slice cardboard and free hanging paper. It was restored to a high finish with a few strokes on a extra fine DMT pad.

Modifications

The thumb-ramp on the Calypso Jr. was fairly sharp on the top and because it is not grooved and the angle a bit too shallow the thumb can slides up easily and the top dig into the thumb-pad. Handle security is also low in general as the index finger cutout in the grip is not very deep and the Micarta is smooth. A Dremel was used to cut some grooves into the blade hump for grip traction, and round the inside edges of the Micarta slabs. The top of the hump was also rounded as were the edges around the choil to increase grip ergonomics.

Overall

The Spyderco Calypso Jr. proved to be an excellent light use knife with a very high cutting efficiency. The only real downside is the blade steel which reduces edge retention especially on harder materials. The choil notch also is a but cumbersome on deep cuts as it can snag. The clip was secure and strong and well shaped, not significantly reducing handle ergonomics.

UPDATE : this knife is available from Spyderco with various handle and blade materials, including harder steels for better edge retention.

References

Review of other Spyderco knives :

Feedback

Comments can be sent by email : cliffstamp[REMOVE]@cutleryscience.com and also seen in the following ARCHIVED thread on Bladeforums :




Last updated : Thu Oct 9 15:03:08 NDT 2003
Originally written : 05 - 04 - 1999

Up