Friday, March 9, 2012

Spyderco Caly 3 - C113CF Review

Click on the photos to view a larger version.
The Spyderco Caly 3 (Caly is  short for Calypso) is a reiteration of Spyderco's Calypso 1 and 2 with some new high end materials. I had seen this knife at a gun show but the vendor wanted way too much money for it. Then I got home and started reading articles about it and how much people liked it. I began an internet search of my favorite vendors and found a good price through GPKinves and hit the buy button. When it first arrived at my house and took it out of the box, my first reaction was that this was a really cool SOLID knife. When I opened it, I could not beleive how sharp this thing was. I think it was the sharpest knife I have ever purchased out of the box; easily shaving sharp.


The first thing you notice about the Caly 3 is it nicely refined Carbon fiber scales. While beautify done, the carbon fiber's polish didn't leave much in the gripping department. When wet, I found it to be very slick. The carbon fiber scales were laid over solid steel liners that actually gave the knife a very solid feel.


The blade is another thing that really stands out on this knife. It is a flat ground, layered blade with laminated ZDP189 sandwiched between two layers of 420j2 leaving the cutting edge ZDP189. As I stated in the intro, out of the box the cutting edge of ZDP189 was easily the sharpest knife I have ever purchased. It was truly scary sharp. ZDP189 is usually reserved for very high end knives. It begins life as another of the high end Japanese powdered steels. In blade form, it is extremely hard tipping the Rockwell hardness scales at 64! While this bodes well for excellent sharpness retention, like all very hard blades, it can be tough for the average Joe to sharpen. Extremely hard blades also have a reputation for being a bit brittle. Reports I've read thus far on ZDP189 however, don't complain much on it's brittleness. The 420j2 portion of the blade is a very corrosion and stain resistant common steel usually used in other knife parts other than the blade. Most often found in liners and locks, it is a little prone to scratches but being a knife user (not a collector) this didn't bother me.This knife is an EXCELLENT slicer and would work great for food prep.

Jimping on the thumb ramp and finger choil of the blade is done very nicely and lends itself to EDC tasks very nicely.

The blade length is a short but very usable 3" with the thickest part of the spine at 1/8" inch. The overall length of the knife opened is around 7 inches, making a very EDC'able knife in my opinion.


The lock is a standard yet capable lockback style. Nothing fancy but it works and locks up very solid.


The fit and finish on my knife was very well done. All screws were tight, the clip was tight and the blade was centered well. When open, there is zero side to side blade play and zero up and down. A complaint I do have was that a knife of this price, I feel that rivets instead of screws were an odd choice. I would have preferred screws. Being a closed back knife and prone to get dirty, screws make them much easier to clean.


One of the things I kept reading about the Caly line of knives is that they handle very well and some claimed them feel like a natural extension of your arm. While I can't make the same claim personally, I will say that the knife handled very well and felt good in the hand. My personal technique for one handed closing knives however didn't jive well with the Caly 3. While I can't explain it without video (I really need to add some), I found that the choil was a bit small and I ended up with a couple of bites to my index finger; again this knife is SHARP!. Being a knife user, this presented a problem for me.


I have become a big fan of Spyderco's wire clips and the one on the Caly 3 is no exception. I like that it is recessed into the scales, thus less prone to loosening and moving around. As far as being clipped into the pocket, the combination of CF scales and the wire clip made this one of the smoothest knives going in and out of my pocket that I own. I really liked the combination for this reason.


As stated before, the Caly 3 is an overall seven (7) inches opened and 4 1/16 inches closed. It weighs in at a respectable 3 ounces but feels extremely solid. It is a perfect size for EDC as a gentleman's folder.


I was pleasantly surprised when I received the Caly 3. It opens very smoothly but the tang rubbed against the scratch prone 420j2 portion of the blade leaving half circle marks. I discovered that this is due to a lack of bushings, thus leaving the blade to rub against the tang. A design flaw? maybe. As a knife user, this would not bother me. I suspect however that due to the high end components of this knife, that some will purchase this knife from a collectors standpoint. In this case, the rubbing may be a concern. You can see the rubs in the photo below and a few other scratches from minimal use.


As I've stated above, I beleive this knife is intended as a gentleman's EDC folder or a collector's knife. In that respect, I think this knife fits those rolls well. As a heavy user or even a rough every day user (like me), this knife feels a little out of its element.


The Spyderco Caly 3 is a gentleman's folder and/or an EDC knife; it fits those rolls well. As a collectors knife, it may fall little short because of the tang rubs and scratching issues. I guess this could be avoided if made a drawer or safe queen. The collection of high end components on paper scream collectors knife. The steel(s) in the blade, the uniqueness of sandwiching of them with the visible delineation line make this a definite conversation piece. As an EDC gentleman folder, I think this knife works very well. It's as sharp out of the box as any knife I've ever owned. Being a knife user however (sometimes a bit rough on them), this knife in my pocket was out of it's element. This is not to say I didn't like the knife. Everyone I showed this knife to loved it and a couple even bought one. It fits in the pocket very well, clips in smoothly and comes out smoothly without any wear on the user's pockets. It can handle any cutting tasks you throw at it within the scope of an EDC and I think it will be one of those Spyderco's that becomes a collectors item one day. At a street price of around $120-$130, this knife is priced very reasonably. For me however, I sold it to fund another purchase.

Ergonomics: 8/10 (Feels great in the hand)
Looks: 10/10
Materials: 9/10 (knock off a point for being easily scratched in the 420 areas)
Fit and Finish: 8/10 (would almost be a ten if not for the lack of washers to avoid tang rub)
Camp Use: 6/10 (more suited as a gentleman's folder )
Hard/Military/Police Use: 7/10
EDC Use: 9/10 (a sheeple friendly, gentleman's folder)
Food Prep: 9/10 (nice sized blade and good slicer for food prep)
Skinning/Game Prep: 7/10 (decent shape for this purpose but a little delicate for tough use)
Warranty: 8/10
Zombie Usefulness: 3/10 (Zombie's might be impressed with your nice knife,...but they'll still eat you)

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