Spyderco has been innovating superior-quality, production-scale knives for 30 years. They have showcased their commitment to improving knife shapes, selecting better performing materials, and increasing ergonomics in three different versions of the Spyderco Sage.
Like any knife, the heart of the Sage is its blade. Like only the highest quality knives, the Sage’s blade is made from a sintered stainless alloy, CPM-S30V. CPM-S30V was developed for the knife industry by Dick Barber of Crucible Industries. Collaborating with industry leaders, including Spyderco owner Sal Glesser, Barber produced a very fine-grained stainless steel that yields a sharper, tougher blade than other alloys. The blade on each Sage holds its edge yet is easier to sharpen than other premium steels. If the Sage is your first premium knife, you may note that it takes more effort to sharpen than lesser blades, but the final result far exceeds ordinary edges.
If the Sage’s only merit was its blade material, it would be a good knife. However, Spyderco’s design incorporates their hallmark thumb hole for an easy opening, ambidextrous folder that looks a little like a knife from a science fiction movie. The spine of the blade extends well above the scales and the thumb hole sort of looks at you sidewise like a toucan daring you to take its breakfast cereal. Once you embrace the unique appearance, the thumb hole proves its utility. With just a little practice, you can easily flick a one-handed open that will have observers asking if it has a spring assist.
The handles on all three models of the Sage demonstrate Spyderco’s focus on ergonomics. Each Sage fits into the curve of the hand, fingers falling naturally into contours at the front of the handle. The blade also has a nice choil, providing secure finger-on-top and thumb-on-top grips for outstanding comfort and utility. All Sage handles include a wire pocket clip that can be mounted on either side. However, the handles of the different models do not have the same scales.
The scales on the Sage 1 and Sage 3 are made from G-10, a carbon fiber and epoxy plastic developed for military applications. G-10 is strong, lightweight and provides excellent grip when wet. The pattern on the Sage 1 scales is a twill weave. The Sage 3 sports a cubic check pattern. The Sage 2 handle is titanium and comprises the knife’s body, rather than having scales attached to a frame. Though smooth and offering slightly less friction that its cousins, the grip is still sure.
The largest difference between models is the blade locking mechanism. Spyderco’s reason for having three models was to showcase these features. The three mechanisms are the LinerLock, the Reeve Integral Lock, and the Bolt Action Lock.
The LinerLock is a trademark of knifemaker Michael Walker. Though its origins date to the late 19th century, Walker refined the design to allow true one-handed opening for folding knives. The blade opens to the correct position, stopped by a pin. The liner is a flat leaf spring inside the handle frame. The end of the leaf spring snaps into place behind the open blade, locking it firmly. Pressing the lock to the handle’s side releases the blade. A ball bearing on the liner fits into a detent on the folded blade holding it closed. The finger grip contours allow clear access to release the blade. The LinerLock is a proven design and was a sound choice for the Sage 1.
For the Sage 2, Spyderco moved to the Reeve Integral Lock (RIL) by Chris Reeve. Reeve replaced Walker’s leaf spring liner by making a section of the titanium handle perform just like the leaf spring. Reeve’s method eliminates the knife frame. Because the handle material is much thicker than Walker’s leaf spring, there is greater mass locking the blade open. Like the LinerLock, the RIL uses a ball and detent to hold the blade closed.
The Sage 3 uses the Bolt Action Lock by Blackie Collins. Collins’ design uses notches cut into the butt of the blade. There is a small bolt inside the handle with an acutating bar that extends through both sides of the handle as locking buttons. To lock the blade open or closed, you position the blade and use either button to slide the bolt into place.
Spyderco has been redefining industry standards and setting the performance bar for knifemakers since its beginning. The Sage line from Spyderco is an everyman’s knife, exemplifying their core principles and passion for knives. It deserves a spot in any knife collection, but, more importantly, it deserves to be used.