Saturday, January 23, 2016

Spyderco Matriarch 2 with Emerson opener C12BK2W Review

The distinctive lines of the Spyderco Matriarch 
If you're a Spyderco fan, you probably don't need any introduction to the "reverse S" blade shape of the Spyderco Matriarch 2 . It all started with the well known (and more expensive) Spyderco Civilian . The "reverse s" blade was developed as mainly a defensive blade and due to the extremely fine tip it didn't lend itself to much more than that. This being the case, there were calls from users for a similar knife with the same blade shape and a bit more robust tip that didn't break the bank. As usual, Spyderco listened and came out with the Spyderco Matriarch which turned out to be a big hit with knife nuts and law enforcement officers. Fast forward a bit and true to form, Spyderco always listens, reads the forums and considers feedback and improvement/other options usually come. This time, they added the patented Emerson opener that really sold this knife to me. I purchased off of Amazon and with good old prime, got it in two days.

OUT OF THE BOX

When I took it out and examined it, it immediately reminded me of my Spyderco Endura 4 except for the blade shape and Emerson opener of course :) Happily, it flipped with the spyder hole just as good as any of my other Spyderco's. The handles are the very familiar FRN (Fiberglass Reinforced Nylon) supported by stainless liners underneath. The handle felt very solid and well done. The handle according my calipers measured almost exactly 5 inches with a blade length of 3.57 inches. It's a large knife but not too large by any stretch. Just like my Endura 4, I felt it was  a very good length and weight (3.5 oz) for every day carry.



BLADE

As you can see, the most distinctive thing about the Spyderco Matriarch 2 is the blade shape. As previously stated, Spyderco developed the "reverse s" blade shape many years ago for the original Spyderco Civilian . I saw one at a gun show and had to have it. I carried it as a law enforcement officer for a awhile but the very fine tip of the Spyderco Civilian and the blade shape really limited its uses and to be honest, I decided after carrying it for a while that it wasn't for me and sold it. Fast forward a few years and Spyderco came out with a much more wallet friendly Spyderco Matriarch . They had also beefed up the tip a bit. I had planned on purchasing one but put it off for other purchases. Then one day, a friend at work showed me his Spyderco Matriarch and I had to have one. I went home and went into research mode. I quickly discovered that Spyderco was making one with an Emerson opener. If you know anything about Emerson openers, you know how useful they are in a self defense capacity. I also had two Emerson brand knives myself and was a huge fan of their immediate deployment device known as the "wave". So the Spyderco Matriarch 2 with the Emerson wave was a no brainer.

Spyderco chose to use VG-10 in this blade. VG-10 is one of my favorite steels; it holds an edge well, is stainless and sharpens fairly easily. The fully serrated blade lends itself well to the self defense function of this knife. The tip as previously stated is more robust than the tip on the Civilian and thus can be used for more EDC functions. a while back I was building some bird houses and as it turns out, the Matriarch's blade shape works great as a scribe when you can't find yours :)
The Spyderco Matriarch 2 worked great as a scribe in wood working projects.
LOCK

The lock is a standard lock-back style. It's nothing fancy or ground breaking but for this knifes intended purpose, it works well,

FIT AND FINISH

Fit and Finish is standard Spyderco F&F, everything was smooth, tightly put together with no blade play in any directions. Very happy here..

ERGONOMICS

The ergonomics on the Spyderco Matriarch 2 are very good. I'm a big guy (6'1") and have big hands and  this knife fits my big hands very nicely. Despite it's large size, in my opinion this knife is easily one of the best handling one handed knives on the market if not the best in it's length and price range. Despite it's size, it weighs in at a feathery 3.5 ounces. You can honestly forget that is in your pocket when clipped in and there are very little pocket hog issues. The jimping on the FRN leading up to the thumb ramp and the thumb ramp of the blade is well done and provides good traction in use. Best of all, the Emerson "hook" doesn't get in the way when retrieving anything else from your pocket. That being said, for the Emerson hook to work reliably, I keep it in a pocket by itself so keys and such do not catch on it.

EMERSON OPENER

So does the Emerson Opener work like it's supposed to? On this knife, it works great! I've tried the Emerson Opener from multiple positions on this knife and it works very well. Due to the length of the blade however, it takes a little getting used to, to achieve full deployment into the locked position. Once you get used to it however, it's very reliable and opens immediately when drawn from your pocket and does so with authority. This aspect alone leads me to the conclusion/opinion that as a self defense knife, its better option than the more expensive Civilian.

The Emerson Opener that distinguishes this knife from the regular Matriarch
POCKET CLIP

The pocket clip on the Spyderco Matriarch 2 is excellent. It's long enough and has enough flex to get it in and out of the pocket with ease. It had a tendency when I first bought it to wiggle a bit after long periods of use. I finally decided to remove the clip, place a dab of locktite blue on the screws and replace them. Since then, I have had zero issues with the screws loosening. The clip can also be moved to any of four positions, left, right, tip up or tip down. Again, well done Spyderco!


SMOOTHNESS OF OPENING

The Spyderco Matriarch 2 two has the best of both worlds; a Spyder-hole and the Emerson Opener. It can be opened like the traditional Spyderco with the hole or if you want instant deployment from the pocket, you can utilize the Emerson opener. Whichever way you choose, rest assured, it will open smoothly and lock in place as it should. A small ding of sorts here however, if you have it clipped into your pocket, it pretty difficult to extract it from your pocket without at least partially opening the blade due to the Emerson opener. It can be done but care must be taken when removing it to not let the hook catch on anything. This could be considered a ding OR it could be considered a plus or as a compliment due to how well the Emerson opener works. Spyderco REALLY does their Emerson openers well; better than Emerson in my opinion. They're a little uglier than the Emerson's but Spyderco has always been more about functionality than looks and the Spyderco Matriarch 2 functions very well in this respect.

Spyderco Matriarch 2 compared to the Spyderco Dragonfly 2
USES

This is were the real debate starts when discussing the Spyderco Matriarch and the Spyderco Civilian knives. Obviously they were meant as mainly self defense knives but their use even in that arena is somewhat limited. To understand the theory behind the blade shape and how it works,  you must understand the way the human body works; the musculature system and to a lesser extent, the veins and arteries. While historically knives used as weapons (they are also tools) were meant to stab, cut and just basically kill, the "reverse S" blade is different. It was created to sever muscles rendering certain body parts unusable. As a police officer, your intent when you use ANY weapon is not to kill, it is to STOP an aggressor from what he/she is doing. When using a firearm, yes, an officer is taught to shoot center mass not because it is more likely a kill shot but it is more likely to hit something that will cause an attacker to immediately stop their deadly actions. Yes, death is a high probability in these cases but the goal should ALWAYS be to stop them. If a bad guy is shooting at you, the fastest way and most sure way to stop them is a CNS (Central Nervous System) hit. This means the spine or head; either of which is usually an immediate fight ender. A shot to the liver, pancreas or lungs  may end up killing a bad guy but it also may leave him in the fight long enough to kill you or an innocent third party. The same theory goes with a knife when used in self defense which usually leaves them as a much less desirable option for self defense. You may cut someone a hundred times and they may bleed to death eventaully, but their duration in the fight may remain long enough for them to do the same to you or someone else. I've seen a man literally cut to shreds from his face to his thighs all the way to the bone and many of his cuts with chunks of flesh hanging off of him casually walk into an emergency room. So while stabbing and slicing may be an option for self defense, it is certainly not optimal self defense. Enter the "reverse S" blade. This blade is obviously not meant for stabbing so what is it for? Slicing obviously. Random slicing however is even less preferred in self defense than stabbing so why a slicing blade? Well, as previously stated, you need to know how the human muscular system works. Muscles are attached to bones and the contraction of muscles cause the bones in the attached appendage to move. Much like a system of pulleys with ropes lifting objects, if you cut the rope, the target object cannot be moved.

Law Enforcement officers often find themselves in life or death situations involving CQC (Close Quarter Combat). FBI statistics show that many officers have historically been killed with their own weapons by an otherwise unarmed assailant (Google Constable Lunsford). In many of these scenarios, officers end up wrestling a suspect over their own weapon. If you're an officer, you know that if the bad guy gets your weapon, you're probably going to end up shot so allowing him to gain control over your loaded weapon should never be an option. There are many options open to an officer in situations like this such as dropping the magazine and firing off the single chambered round (in a semi auto) to firing all the rounds when pointed away from you (revolver). Another option if you have a back up weapon such as a small gun or a knife is to go to that. With the "reverse S" blade, the intention was to create a blade that for lack of a better term was a good meat slicer that could slice through muscle tissue with ease; mainly wrists, biceps, finger muscles, etc. Finger muscles or those muscles that actuate the fingers can pull triggers, grip knives, etc. If those muscles are severed, fingers don't work, trigger don't get pulled, knives can't be held. It's all mechanics; break parts of the machine and the machine doesn't work. One of the first things you learn in law enforcement is the phrase, "Hands Kill" and in the case of the "reverse S" blade and a sufficient cut to the muscles of the hand in the right location(s), they can no longer do so. The same theory could work on a bicep, etc. Here again, the aim is to STOP the assault not kill the attacker. This being said, during an affray, just like a bullet wound, a significant slice to an artery may end up being fatal.

With these thoughts and theories in mind, I think (and would trust) the Matriarch 2 for this purpose. I carried the Matriarch 2 for several months, went through some defensive scenarios during training and I am convinced that it would work very well for it's intended purpose. Further, due to the Emerson opener, it works great for non-gun side carry; the preferred carry for law enforcement officers.

SO what about an EDC knife? I sold my original Spyderco Civilian due to it's size and ultra fine tip. I knew that I would eventually break the tip under normal EDC usage. Fortunately, Spyderco remedied both issues in the Matriarch and Matriarch 2.  I have used the tip for many EDC uses like opening boxes and even as a scribe (mentioned above). That being said, its uses are limited in this capacity and if you're looking for an all around EDC knife, this probably isn't it.

CONCLUSION

If you like the Spyderco Civilian but want a more robust EDC user version of it, then you can't go wrong with the Spyderco Matriarch or in this case the Matriarch 2 with the Emerson opener. Don't get me wrong, the Civilian is a vicious slicing machine - "Man Opener" but to me, it's use is limited to just that. With the Spyderco Matriarch and Spyderco Matriarch 2 , their usage ability broadens just a bit due to a less refined tip. The price is better as well. If I were a collector wanting to collect or a suit wearing body guard type, the civilian might be my choice. As a lowly paid law enforcement officer or military grunt however, I'd go with one of the Matriarchs. I would personally prefer the Matriarch 2 with the Emerson opener. You simply cannot get faster deployment out of a knife short of a fixed blade. As mentioned above, in a non-gun side carry, pulling your knife from your pocket already ready for use it much easier than pulling one from your pocket and either fumbling to push a button and relying on a spring (in the case of an auto) or having to rely on fine motor skills to deploy a knife in a fight or flight scenario. We all know how fine motor skills can fail us when the adrenaline gets pumping. In short, the Spyderco Matriarch 2 with the Emerson opener is a very good knife for it's intended purpose but it's EDC uses are somewhat limited.

Ergonomics: 9/10 (This knife feels good in the hand)
Looks: 8/10
Materials: 9/10 (I love the materials. Good blade steel and FRN is perfect for LEO knife)
Fit and Finish: 9/10 (Very good for a knife of this price range)
Camp Use: 3/10 (may have some use for cutting rope but not much else)
Military/Police Use: 9/10 (get one, learn the philosophy of use and train)
EDC Use: 4/10 (mainly a self defense knife)
Food Prep: 1/10
Skinning/Game Prep: 3/10 (Good for slicing open game but horrible for skinning)
Warranty: 8/10
Zombie Usefulness: 5/10 (slices don't work on Zombies)

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