Monday, October 1, 2012

Spyderco Sage 2 C123TI - Review

A Spyderco Sage 2 and Texas Sage blooms

NOTE: Click on any of the photos for an enlarged view  

About 9 months ago I picked up a NIB Spyderco Sage 2 Chris Reeve Integral Lock Titanium knife from someone on bladeforums. I had read many good things about the Sage series and loved (and missed) my small Sebenza so I thought the Sage 2 would hold me over until I purchased another Sebenza .

At first glance any self respecting knife nut notices the similarity to it's name-sake the Chris Reeve Sebenza . I used to own a small Sebenza but sold it to make a 1911 purchase (I'll be getting another one). In fact, the Sage 2 has been given the nick name in some circles as the "poor man's Sebenza ". Does it live up to the quality, fit and finish, and ergonomics of the real Sebenza? Read on to find out. 

The Sage 2 is the second (obviously) in the Sage series from Spyderco. The Sage series of knives pays tribute to the various lock styles from different makers. The Sage 1 payed tribute to Michael Walker's liner lock and ball bearing detent to lock the blade open. The Sage 2 pays tribute to Chris Reeve and his Integral Frame Lock made famous by his highly touted Sebenza knives. The Sage 3 is a homage to Blackie Collins and his bolt action lock. The most recent iteration of the Sage series is the Sage 4 and pays tribute to Al Mar's simple yet elegant designs.


The frame (and lock) of the Sage 2 is made of 6A14V titanium and makes for an extremely light knife for it's size. The blade is made of very good CPM S30V steel and is nestled between the two titanium slabs separated by Phosphor Bronze Washers, which makes for VERY smooth opening and closing. The materials alone speak to the fact that this is by all accounts a high end production knife.Fortunately, the price doesn't reflect that.


Out of the Box, the fit and finish was very good. While the blade was centered very well and it locked up nicely, the pivot screw was turning every time I opened it and closed it. Since this would eventually loosen, I decided to fix it immediately. It took quite-a-bit of adjusting trial and error on my part to get the knife back to the correct tension, re-center the blade and a drop of loctite blue on the pivot screws to get it locked in where I wanted it. If you've ever tried to center a blade on a frame lock, let me tell you, it takes a bit of art to center the blade (because of the lock pushing against the blade), make the tension correct and do it in the few seconds the loctite is drying. Overall, it's no big deal and once you get it down, you'll get a sense of satisfaction. 

Out of the box, the blade was razor sharp like all Spyderco's. The edges of the titanium scales are nicely beveled for comfort with zero sharp burs found on some titanium framed knives. The jimping on the thumb ramp and on the choil are nicely done with no burs and no hot spots under use. All of the torx head screws were nicely recessed. The stand off's between the Ti scales are substantial enough for semi heavy use. Once I got the pivot screws tweaked, the lock up on this knife was excellent and provides an pleasing "snap" when it locks closed. There is zero blade play in any direction. Truthfully, fit and finish on this knife is top notch and it does remind me of my small Sebenza


Lock up on this knife as stated above is nice and tight at about 50% with zero blade play in any direction. Even after several months of use, the lock face against the blade hasn't moved and still nice and tight. VERY WELL done Spyderco. 


From the factory, the blade came nice and sharp; hair shaving sharp. The three inch flat ground blade is made from very nice CPM S30V. S30V is another of the powdered "super steels" from Crucible Materials Corp. in blade form, S30V has nice corrosion resistance and holds an edge very well. It has similar toughness to 154 CM, 440C and even D2 but exceeds those in wear resistance. I have heard a couple of people state that their S30V blades have micro chipped but I have not experienced this with this blade. I don't know how Spyderco does their heat treat but whatever they're doing, they did it right. The thin .125" flat ground blade makes an excellent slicer but is a tad too thin to be considered a heavy use blade. In an EDC scenario, it just plain works perfectly for 99% of tasks. This is an excellent blade!


If you check on any of the knife forums, I think you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who complains about the ergonomics of any of the Sage series of knives. The wire clip in my opinion is one of Spyderco's best. It allows for deep pock carry and never wiggles itself loose. As an EDC, knives just don't get much better.


The opened length of the Sage 2 is 7.125 inches, the blade length is a sheeple friendly 3 inches, and the closed length is 4.188 inches. The Sage 2's weight is a nice and comfortable 3.2 ounces. This knife is so light that I often carry it in my uniform shirt pock when on duty and forget that it's there. Again, perfect size for EDC knife.
The Spyderco Sage 2 compared to the much beefier, hard use Zero Tolerance 0550

Like most all of my Spyderco's, the Sage 2 snaps open with authority and locks in place nice and tight. The titanium frame lock provides a nice snap as it locks into place. It also closes easily with one hand. The smoothness of the opening again reminds me of my Small Sebenza only with the flicking ability of a Spyderco. The "flickabiltiy" of this knife scores a perfect 10. 


The best use for this knife in my book would be as an Every Day Carry (EDC) knife. It will accomplish 99% of your everyday cutting tasks but it's not quite beefy enough for very hard use and it's no pry bar knife. The pivot screw is not as substantial as the Sebenza knives. This being said, I have carved and whittled with this knife and it does an excellent job and holds it's edge nicely. The wire clip allows for deep pocket carry. It would make an excellent gentleman's folder.
The wire clip makes for easy sliding in and out of your pockets.

So the question remains, is this a "poor mans Sebenza "? In short no. Not because it's lacking but because (and I'll probably get hate mail for this) it in my humble opinion is 95% of the knife the small Sebenza is at less than half the price. Where it falls slightly short is in the heavy/hard use category and the fact that it's not made in the U.S.. The blade and pivot screw did not inspire the same sense of indestructibility of the Sebenza. Other than that however, the Sage 2 opens just as smoothly, closes just as smoothly, locks in place just as good, the materials are comparable, and it's just a VERY nice every day carry knife. In one department, it exceeds the Sebenza; it's "flickability". This knife flicks open lightning fast just like other Spyderco's. For the materials found in this knife, the build and the fit and finish, in my opinion, it's a steal for it's price. If this knife had been made in the United States, it would probably have been priced out of the range of many buyers. Spyderco's Taichung factory continues to produce top quality knives at very reasonable prices. The Sage 2 is another home run for Spyderco. 

Ergonomics: 10/10 (Spyderco got this one right)
Looks: 9/10
Materials: 9/10
Fit and Finish: 8/10 (The knife came with a loose pivot screw but once adjusted and locked, F&F is great)
Camp Use: 7/10
Hard/Military/Police Use: 6/10
EDC Use: 10/10 
Food Prep: 9/10 (a a great sllicer)
Skinning/Game Prep: 8/10 
Warranty: 8/10 
Zombie Usefulness:

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