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Spyderco knives’ history is almost synonymous with the evolution of the standard pocket knife, as multiple Spyderco innovations have become staples of pocket design since first appearing. That’s why Spyderco knives typically come up in conversation with names like Microtech and Benchmade.
Beginning in 1976 in Northern California, owners Sal and Gail Glesser began to sell their wares at conventions and expos out of a bread truck that they converted into a motorhome. From these humble beginnings arose one of the most prominent names in the knife industry.
However, it wasn’t until the early 80s that the company produced its first blade, the popular C01 Worker knife. Even from its origins, Spyderco made waves throughout the knife world with their knives’ high efficiency. Many knife enthusiasts attribute much of Spyderco’s success to its application of a “small shop mentality” to its customer base, even as it grew exponentially.
The early days of Spyderco involved Sal and Gail experimenting with products that would help the average person in their everyday lives. With this original modus operandi combined with Sal’s hobby as a knife enthusiast, it’s no wonder the company moved its operations toward blade manufacturing.
Back before introducing the C01 Worker, one of Spyderco’s most recognized inventions was the Portable Hand. This invention was a small metal rod with a large clamp on one end and three branching smaller alligator clips on the other. This design allowed hobbyists to clamp the device to their workbench and use the alligator clips to hold small objects while working on them.
Electronics hobbyists and jewelers may be familiar with Helping Hands, a similar design, though the Portable Hand did not have a magnifying glass attachment. Some say the branches’ resemblance with alligator clips to a spider is where the company first got its name. Others attribute it to Sal’s interest in the marketing for Spyder, the sports car company.
While some people dislike Spyderco knives’ appearance, the practical design is the very thing that draws others to the blades. Many Spyderco customers enjoy the understated and straightforward designs of Spyderco knives and value Spyderco’s dedication to its customers’ wants and needs.
After Spyderco created the C01 Worker, their series dubbed “CLIPIT,” and their Police series (which remains one of the most popular knives with law enforcement officers), Spyderco had its first collaboration. The collaboration came about due to Bob Suzhola’s opinion that the first few lines of knives were ugly, and the partnership paved the way for others to continue the tradition.
The knives the company created over the years earned it multiple awards in addition to Sal Glesser’s induction into the Blade Magazine Cutlery Hall of Fame and 40 years of operating a successful business. The company’s strict no-frills mentality led it to make some of the most innovative knives ever and paved the way for modern knife design.
Among Spyderco’s innovations are their two proprietary locking mechanisms for their folding knives. The company has some of the most options for locking mechanisms, variations on tactical knife handle materials, and blade steels that give customers an incredible selection from which to choose.
Outside of their options, Spyderco’s effect on knife manufacturing was like a shockwave. Its first knife set the bar for the efficiency of the company’s products and included a “Spydie hole” in the blade’s steel, allowing for one-handed opening. This design has become famous for many EDC knives in production since Spyerco’s invention.
The next line of Spyderco knives, “CLIPIT,” saw another Spyderco introduction that many other brands’ models now include. The pocket clip on the handle of the knife, which allowed for carrying at the top of the pocket, may seem like an obvious inclusion now but wasn’t available on models before the CLIPIT series.
Lastly, the introduction of Spyderco’s Mariner model brought the serrated blade to the pocket knife. The Mariner also featured a blunted tip and a design that influenced modern cutting instruments for the emergency medical field.
After 40 years of operation, Spyderco is still producing knives and having success in the industry. The company has been busy throughout its existence, creating over 200 knife models. In recent years, the company has released models like the Domino, Szabo, Equilibrium, and Friction Folder, all of which have gained widespread popularity.
Fans of the company expect Spyderco knives to continue creating inventive knives and raising the bar for other knife brands. Spyderco fans can enjoy owning Spyderco kitchen knives and other Spyderco culinary knives along with tactical knives, fixed blade knives, and Spyderco liner lock knives.
So, where are Spyderco knives made today? While Spyderco was once an American-made knife, as its operations grew, the company expanded to include manufacturers in Japan, Taiwan, Italy, and China.
The Roc Folding Cleaver is a prime example of Spyderco’s ability to produce unique blades. The Roc is a collaboration with Ukrainian-born Serge Panchenko and features a curved handle with a cleaver-style VG-10 stainless steel blade. The knife’s construction includes a deep-pocket wire clip for keeping it at the ready.
The Tenacious is one of Spyderco’s best selling knives. This simplistic knife gets the job done with the efficiency you expect from a Spyder blade while also remaining cost-efficient. The Tenacious features a 4-way pocket clip with screw-on construction for the user’s carry preference. Skeletonized steel liners also keep this mid-sized blade’s handle sturdy for a confident grip
Another staple in the Spyderco family, the Para 3 is the third iteration of the popular Paramilitary line of knives. With a three-inch blade and patented compression lock, this compact cutting tool is perfect for a lightweight everyday carry that can easily tackle precision cutting tasks.