Editor’s Note: We’re excited to welcome Jay to our crew of blade-minded wordsmiths here at The Truth About Knives. The only reason this isn’t appearing under Jay’s own byline is that I’ve been too busy shooting this weekend (it’s a shame, I know) to get his WordPress account set up.
The Spyderco Manix 2 has become a bit of a modern legend. Chances are you already own one, but if not, I’ll save you the time: GO BUY ONE NOW.
I’m an avid Amazon purchaser, to the dismay of my bank account. I also very heavily utilize wish lists, where I keep my knife pipe-dreams. And this is where the Manix 2 resided for at least 6 months, alongside the Paramilitary 2. Finally one day I said “enough is enough” and I attempted to purchase the Para. Attempted being the keyword, as the shortage of stock bit me in the hindquarters (note, 8 months later, my Para2 order was filled!). I decided on the spot, I better pickup the Manix sooner rather than later. The first time I took it into the yard for some lawn care, I understood the hype behind this folder. But really, should I have been surprised at this? Spyderco themselves sum the Manix 2 quite well:
A recipe for folding knife success: Start with hard-use rated lock. Add a blade made of exotic high carbon steel. Manufacture it in Golden, Colorado using precise tolerances then add a healthy dash of American innovation. These ingredients are the Manix2, a concoction of solo features when combined make one of the strongest knives from Spyderco to date.
This is the second iteration of the Manix, though the first in this smaller size. Designed by Eric Glesser, Sal’s son, the original Manix featured a back lock on top of a larger frame (see the current Manix 2 XL for a comparative size).
Introduced in 2004, the original Manix had only a tip down carry pocket clip option, on top of black G10. In 2005, a smaller version was released in the current size of the ‘standard’ Manix. Both of these original models used Crucible’s CPM S30v, a stainless powder metallurgy steel.
The generational leap to the Manix 2 occurred in 2009, and the new knife saw notable upgrades: a caged ball bearing lock, 4 way pocket clip, and the addition of some serious jimping. There was also a slight downgrade in the steel department, fromS30V to 154CM. (Don’t worry, the switch was temporary.) The big brother Manix 2 XL cut into the scene (har har) in 2011, featuring a full flat grind, and a 3.85″ premium CPM S30v blade.
With such a notable change to the Manix 2’s blade steel, rumors began circling about how this would effect its already killer price, and the answer came in the form of the 2012 Spyderco Product guide. On page 24 was a picture of the slightly updated Manix 2, with a blade stamped ‘CPM S30v.’ This was the extent of the announcement, and in mid 2012, after the 154cm stock ran out, s30v Manix’s made their way into the market without a price increase. The Manix 2 S30V was off to the races.
As with any massively successful Spyderco product, the line has seen multiple sprint runs, and even a lightweight fiber reinforced nylon version. This review, however, will focus on the standard, 3.375″ blade Manix 2.
Crucible’s CPM S30v is a hardened, powered metallurgy steel, whose chemistry produces the formation and even distribution of vanadium carbides. This is notable because vanadium carbines are harder and more effective at cutting than chromium carbides.
S30v was developed by Dick Barber of Crucible in collaboration with Chris Reeve. Feedback on this steel was also received from Sal Glesser, Ernest Emerson, Tony Marfione, Phil Wilson, William Harsey Jr., Tom Mayo, Jerry Hossom, and heat-treat legend Paul Bos.
With 14% chromium content, s30v has very good corrosion resistance. This, combined with it toughness and cutting ability, leads to an expensive raw material. CPM S30v strongly effects the price of the final knife: not only from the steel cost, but the wear on tooling and belts due to the vanadium carbides. Despite this, it is considered by many knife companies to be one of the best knife steels available on the market.
Even though summer is winding down, sometimes there is just nothing like a cold lemonade, or beer, on a hot day. And sometimes, that classic Spyderco leaf shape is just what the doctor ordered. The blade is 86mm (3.375”) of security blanket goodness. A fantastic size and shape combination, with some generous, grippy jimping on the thumb ramp. Additionally, there is a front choil, with the same type of jimping.
Choils can be intensely useful, but in certain circumstances they can reduce the cutting edge, as this blade demonstrates with a 2.875” edged length. (ED: this blade reminds me of the Native FRN.) The slight belly helps counteract this, however.
The S30v stock is 3mm (.125”), and the grind is classified as a sabre: a half hollow grind. The secondary bevel is about 1.26mm (0.05”) high according to my calipers, and the blade thickness behind the bevel is right about 1mm (0.039”). The finish is high polished, a bit too much for my own tastes, but should help improve the already great corrosion resistance. Overall, this is an extremely useable blade which should to prove to be extremely durable.
TANK. Seriously. This knife could be used as an impact weapon against that old Nokia 5100 from 12 years ago. G10 and solid stainless liners makes for a seriously tactile tool. In an interview with designer Eric Glesser, he explained the reasoning behind solid liners: the lack of ‘pockets’ in the liners makes for easier cleaning in the field. Additionally, there are less places for dirt and grime to hide. The cost though? This knife weighs a hefty 5oz.
When I first handled it, I was surprised how heavy, but solid it felt. It’s not ‘heavy’ per se, but I’m used to the Para2 and my EDC is a techno. Make no mistake though, this knife is SOLID. In three places, the liners are ‘proud’ with generous jimping: in the front choil, along the top of the spine, and the bottom inside of the grip. This knife is absolutely stable in hand, and even more so with gloves on your hand.
The G10 is the premium American type Spyderco is known for: a perfect balance of grip. Over time, this will probably wear on your pockets a bit, but that’s a trade off for tactility. The lock is a caged ball lock: functioning much like Benchmade’s axis, but using a ball bearing instead of the axis bar. Additionally, it uses a more standard linear spring, rather than the omega springs in the Benchmade. This is a huge upgrade all by itself, with the omegas having a reputation for wearing out rather quickly. The Manix 2 is a serious knife, with some seriously impressive construction. The fit and finish is top notch, as we would expect from the Golden, Colorado facility.
This is such a comfortable knife to hold. In the standard grip, the generous front choil just hugs your index finger, and instill confidence. With such an abundance of gimping all over, this knife is incredibly stable. I barely feel the pocket clip in my palm, and the grip is ample enough even for my XXXL hand. Choking up for finer tasks is blissful, with your index finger falling right into the gimped front choil, and your middle finger taking the back choil. Really, kudos to Eric for nailing a fantastic, useable handle shape.
In the pocket, this knife is pretty wide. My calipers indicate that it’s 1.75” from the widest ‘blade-to spine’ area. This may or may not suit you, but it is something to note. I’m a tall guy, with sturdy legs, so a knife like this is no issue at all for me. As you can see in the picture, the knife rides pretty low in the pocket. The clip is positioned about as high up as possible on the scales that Spyderco could manage.
The lock is a blessing and a curse. Early copies of the Manix 2 had a significantly softer lock spring. As users abused their knives on video for the amusement of YouTube viewers and noted lock failures, complaints rolled into Golden. It seems that hard spine whacks, and blade overstrikes caused the lock to fail. In response, Spyderco stiffened up the spring. This supposedly fixed the lock failures, but made the lock quite stiff to disengage.
When my knife was new, it was so stiff that I had to prop the bottom of the knife into my palm, and pull back on the cage with my my thumb and index finger. This actually caused me to catch the meat of my palm with the tip of the blade a few times. I was about ready to write the blade off, until it eventually broke in.
I still have to grip the handle quite tight, and use my thumb and index finger to pull back the ball, but its not quite the hand gymnastic undertaking it once was. It’s harder to disengage than an axis lock bar, but quite manageable. A user used to the Benchmade mechanism will find the transition awkward, but after a while, its not big deal. One handed, ‘wave’ closing is easily accomplished.
Favorite Feature: Strength
This knife instill confidence, and has become a staple in my yard/house work kit. Also worth noting: the price. This is a steal for the feature set of S30V, G10, and a smooth ball-bearing action.
Least-Favorite Feature: Break-In
It was a pain for a while, and almost turned me off the knife. But a little bit of work and dedication to the Manix will reward you with a lifetime companion.
Type: Locking Folding Knife
Blade style: Sabre ground leaf
Blade dimensions: 3.375″ by 1.375″ by 0.125″.
Steel: CPM S30v
Grip: Ergonomic G10
Overall length: 8”
Weight: 5 ounces
Price: $85 street price, $146.95 MSRP
Made in USA
Manufacturer’s Links: www.spyderco.com
RATINGS (out of five stars)
This being an objective category, the satin blade dings it for me
Extremely sharp with excellent edge retention, and handy for nearly any use. The forward choil reduces the cutting edge quite a bit, but the belly helps compensate.
The handle is one of the most comfortable I’ve ever felt.
I have complete confidence I will pick up one of these knives in Fallout 3. Still sharp.
Overall Rating: *****
At a street price of $85, this knife is a ‘must purchase.’