Strider SnG (Tanto and Spearpoint) Review
By Matt, 12/11/2016
No discussion about tactical folding knives would be complete without mention of Strider's SMF and its more pocket friendly little brother the SnG. The Strider Military Folder (aka the SMF) is famous for being the first folding knife issued to a unit of the USMC. Among knife nuts, the SMF and SnG are regarded as part of the tactical knife trinity alongside the Sebenza and the Hinderer XM-18.
The first time I saw a Strider folder I wanted one. There was just something about the design which spoke to me on a different, more primal level than other knives. Unfortunately for me, the steep price tag ($400 USD +) was to keep one out of my reach for many years. I tried to fill the void with the Buck version of the SnG, unfortunately, despite being a great folder, it just made me pine for the genuine article all the more.
Eventually, after many years and much saving, I finally picked up not one but two SnGs. A S30V tanto with the older style lock geometry (I'm unsure of the exact year of manufacture) and a 2014 CPM154 spearpoint. Both were purchased used from members at the Australian Blade Forums.
Now having used both versions extensively, I hope that I might be able to add something worthwhile to the plethora of opinions already out there.
- Overall Length: Tanto - 20.8cm, Spearpoint - 21cm
- Blade Length: Tanto - 8.8cm, Spearpoint - 9cm
- Closed Length: Tanto & Spearpoint - 12cm
- Blade Thickness: Tanto & Spearpoint - 4mm
- Blade Steel: Tanto - S30V black coated, Spearpoint - CPM154 stonewashed
- Handle: Tanto & Spearpoint - Green 'Lego' G10 & titanium
- Lock: Tanto & Spearpoint - Titanium frame lock
- Pivot hardware: Tanto & Spearpoint - Phosphor bronze washers
- Weight: Tanto & Spearpoint - 126g (4 3/8oz)
- Country of origin: Tanto & Spearpoint - USA
On receiving my first Strider (the spearpoint SnG) the first thing I noticed was the utter lack of packaging. It arrived in a little plastic slip, no box at all. To be honest, given the price of these knives the lack of packaging was a little surprising. I know they probably say it keeps the costs down, but, surely a white cardboard box with a sticker would only cost a few dollars.
On pulling my SnG out of its 'packaging', I just couldn't believe how light the knife was. It is a hard feeling to describe, it was like my brain was telling my hand this thing was going to be heavy so when I picked it up it felt like nothing at all.
The first opening put a massive smile on my face. The aural sensation of the authoritative 'clack clack' when deploying the SnG is like no other knife I have ever experienced. This was accentuated when on closing the knife and it was sucked closed with an almost equally loud 'clack'. I was in love!
Strider blades sure look good with that elongated hole, chunky jimping and generous sharpening and finger choils. However, the design of the blade does mean that SnG's cutting edge isn't as long as other knives this size (mainly due to those choils).
Both my SnGs are full flat ground (FFG) variants, and while I wouldn't describe them as being 'slicers', the FFG results in good cutting performance despite the thick 4mm stock. However, I did find that the large sharpening choil seemed to have a knack of catching when cutting sheets of material.
The tanto blade is slightly shorter than the spearpoint. I assume that this is because if it was longer the blade would hit on the backspacer when closed. The grind follows the straight edge which allows significant thickness to be retained all the way to the tip. There is no secondary grind at the tip like on a typical tanto blade, instead the edge grind tapers steeply to match the primary grind. In use the tanto tip has proved to be incredibly tough, however, I do wish the blade's straight edge section (which I used for the majority of my cutting) was longer.
I'm not exactly sure what technique they used to apply the matte black coating to the blade, but it does seem to soak up water which I found interesting. It also showed scratches and wear pretty quickly after a bit of use. Personally I think the combination of the black coating and tanto grind looks great.
The spearpoint is the classic Strider blade shape. The grind follows the curvature of the blade resulting in a much finer tip than the tanto version. That being said the tip is no splinter picker, it has a good amount of material behind it making it very robust. Strider have done a fine job on the stonewashing and in use it has proved very effective at hiding wear.
In terms of steel performance I really like both steels. The CPM154 took a finer edge and was easier to sharpen but lost its edge quicker. While the S30V was slightly tougher to sharpen and seemed to perform better with a slightly courser edge. I will say that the tanto was much more annoying to sharpen as you basically are sharpening two edges at different angles.
At the end of the day, if you twisted my arm and I had to choose just one blade style for my SnG, it would be the spearpoint 10 times out of 10. I love the look of the tanto, but, in use I found the tanto's short section of cutting edge limiting and I never really needed the additional tip strength it provided. The continuous edge and belly of the spearpoint just did all my EDC tasks better.
With all those angles and straight edges the SnG looks like it should be an uncomfortable dog in hand. Yet, somehow, it works great in almost every grip.
Both my SnGs have the blocky 'lego' handles, which, personally is my favourite out of the styles offered (there is also the contoured 'CC' and heavily milled DGG versions available). The mark side and back spacer is formed from a single piece of milled G10 which is fixed into a slab of titanium. Steel lugs milled into the titanium minimise the risk of a stripped screw, which would be far more likely if the screws were tapped directly into the titanium. This unique construction gives the SnG handle both rigidity and strength without the need for weight adding steel liners.
There is however, a couple of construction flaws which are exhibited on both my SnGs. Firstly, there isn't much meat around the pivot on the lock bar side, just a thin sliver of titanium appears to be keeping the pivot assembly rigid (we are talking less than a mm here). On my spearpoint SnG, there is actually a noticeable bulge in the titanium at this point which is a bit concerning.
Likewise, there is minimal material around the handle screws. Both my SnGs have chipped G10 around the screws from dropping the knife. On the spearpoint this actually resulted in one of the inset lugs coming loose and the screw spinning freely making the knife impossible to disassemble (fortunately this was fixed with copious amounts of Loctite around the lug).
Finally, when the spearpoint knife is closed the tip of the blade sits across half of the lanyard hole opening (the tanto doesn't have this issue due to the shorter blade). This means that any lanyard most likely wouldn't last long before being cut in half. The official line from Strider is that a lanyard should only go through the hole on one side of the handle... it kinda feels like a design flaw to me.
In terms of fit and finish, both are near perfect. The tanto's lockside has Strider's signature flamed finish titanium while the spearpoint has a smooth stonewash. The flamed finish looks amazing and provides slightly more traction than the stonewashing. It also shows wear more readily than the stonewashed finish with polished edges appearing after a couple of weeks carry. Likewise the hardware's black finish wears quickly with carry and use. The G10 on both knives provides a good level of traction without being too aggressive.
When holding the knife in a sabre grip the butt of the handle nestles nicely into the palm and tapers towards the finger cut in a way that just feels natural. The balance point sits just to the front side of the finger cut out, giving the SnG a light and nimble feel. Chunky jimping across the top of the handle and blade provides good grip for the thumb without being overly sharp.
With your forefinger located in the forward finger choil the middle finger locates naturally behind it in the finger cut-out making for a secure grip and allowing control for detailed work. In a reverse grip the thumb rests perfectly on the jimping provided on the butt of the knife.
The SnG's clip is not some weird flashy alien looking thing like you see on many higher end knives these days. It has been designed with function in mind first and foremost. Mounted for right hand tip up carry only, the clip is fixed with a single screw. A nice feature is the little 'tail' which comes off the top of the clip and inserts into a hole in the titanium handle slab eliminating any chance of sliding about.
When holding the SnG in a sabre grip the rounded contours of the clip fit perfectly into the contours of my hand. With the blade closed the clip sits just a fraction of a mm off the handle, this means that tension is perfect. The SnG slides effortlessly into the pocket, and stays put once it is there.
Due to its light weight and slim profile the SnG rides better in the pocket than almost any other 'hard use' knife of its size.
When drawing the knife from the pocket my spearpoint is effortless every time. The tanto on the other hand, is sometimes a bit of a challenge depending on my attire. It draws well from jeans, but on pockets made from thinner material like slacks or work pants it will get stuck. To be honest, I can't work out what the big difference is between the two knives. Both lock bar cut outs appear to be identical. The bends on the tanto's clip are slightly sharper but I don't think that would make so much difference. The only thing I can put it down to is perhaps the increased grip of the flamed finish catching on the material and gathering it in the lockbar cutout.
The SnG utilises a good old titanium frame lock with a Hinderer over-travel stop. Strider's lock issues over the years have been well documented with many older generation knives developing lock rock over time. The lock geometry has evolved over the SnG generations to try and minimise these issues, however, there are no frills here like a steel lockbar insert or lock face hardening.
The tanto features the older 'scallop cut' (i.e. curved) geometry. So far I have not experienced any lock rock with the tanto, however, the lock bar will slide around during harder cutting. Interestingly the tanto has larger thumb studs/blade stops than the spearpoint knife, a common factory fix for the lock rock issue. It makes me wonder if at some point in its past the tanto has been back to the factory to get lock up issues resolved.
On the other hand, the spearpoint features the new style 'straight cut' geometry. When I first received the knife there was some excessive lock stick, but, this dissipated after a brief break-in period. After which the lockup was nice and tight with an engagement of around 35-40%. Fast forward a couple of months of daily use and the spearpoint had developed pretty significant lock rock. It would sound like a kids rattle if you shook it when it was open. Interestingly the lock-up remained at around 40% meaning that there was not enough tension on the lock bar to take up the slack generated by wear. The issue was solved by disassembling the knife and tweaking the tension of the lock bar a fraction tighter. Since then the lock up has been tight at around 50%.
Opening the SnG is addictive. The distinctive double 'clack' noise is an absolute aural delight that I am yet to tire of. The initial 'clack' comes from the large detent ball dropping off the tang, the second is the thick lockbar chunking into place andI'm sure the unique one piece G10 construction does something to amplify the noise.
The deployment speed and style of the SnG varies greatly by how tightly the pivot is set (note a specialised tool is required to adjust the pivot). Generally I set the pivot so I can easily flick out the blade with my thumb or middle finger, this setting does however, result in a slight amount of side to side play.
Alternatively, with the pivot a bit tighter and some CRK grease in lieu of my typical Tuff Glide, the SnG opens slow and smooth, reminiscent of the hydraulic action of a CRK.
Regardless of the pivot setting the stonewashed blade is the smoother of the two. The phosphor bronze washers do their bit for keeping things running smoothly. Personally I prefer washers to bearings in a hard use knife as they are more robust and easier to keep clean.
The hole works really well even when wet and/or with gloves. The thumb studs/bladestops can be used to flick the knife open if you want to, but to be honest I just ignore them as they are a bit awkward.
While not perfect, the SnG remains one of my favourite modern knives. I can't really explain it but the SnG taps into part of my psyche than not many other knives do.
The design is striking to say the least. In FFG spearpoint guise the SnG cuts well and beguiling its light weight feels it will handle anything I can throw at it.
I do wish that Strider would consider toughening the lock face with some carburising or the like. I would imagine it would save them money in the long run if it can cut down the warranty work due to lock-up issues. In the eventuality my locks do wear out I take comfort in the Strider warranty which covers everything short of deliberate abuse.
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