Spyderco Persistence scales
In my continuing quest to find my favorite budget folding knife – which for my purposes I am defining as anything costing less than $50 – I decided to pick up a Spyderco Tenacious on a Black Friday special. It is one of those knives that I have always heard good things about, but never had the opportunity to use for myself. Throughout my testing, what I found was a knife that challenges preconceptions, and may force some people to face hard truths.
Blade: Leaf Point, 8Cr13MoV Steel, Full Flat Grind, Satin Finish
Rockwell Hardness: 57-59 HRC
Locking mechanism: Liner Lock
Opening method: ambidextrous thumbhole
Clip: 4-Position – Right or Left Hand, Tip-Up or Tip-Down
Country of Origin: China
MSRP/Street Price: $69.95 / $42
Dimensions (measured on this test sample)
Overall Length: 7.79”
Handle Length: 4.4”
Handle Thickness: 0.455″ (not including clip)
Blade Length (tip to scale): 3.39″
Sharpened Length: 3.4”
Blade Thickness: 0.12”
Weight: 4.15 oz
If you look at the specs for this knife, the steel is the only clue that you are not holding something that costs twice the $40 that the Tenacious typically sells for. The 8Cr13MoV won’t light any fires for the steel junkie, but it is perfectly serviceable and offers very similar performance to my favorite entry level metal, AUS8.
Moving on from the steel, you get a nicely textured set of G10 handle scales that add just enough grip to inspire confidence, and an open-backed construction that makes cleaning a breeze and leaves little space for pocket lint to collect. The liner lock engages nicely and is also easy to disengage, thanks to the generous cutout on the presentation side.
The polished pocket clip sports a laser engraved Spyder logo. It looks great and you won’t have to worry about any paint chipping off over time which will keep it looking fresh. The flip side is the clip is less discrete than typical black variations. Retention is good though, and four sets of screw holes ensure that any carry preference is accommodated.
That’s all of the “spec-sheet” info out of the way, so lets take a minute to admire how nice some of the design elements are.
Aesthetically the knife is pleasing to my eye. Like many knives in the Spyderco lineup, the thumb ramp lines up nicely with the scales in a closed position as well as when open. The lanyard hole is framed perfectly by the pocket clip and has a hollow tube running through both sides to protect your lanyard from the sharp edge. Nice, attentive design all around.
I’m glad to see there is no bead-blasted metal anywhere to be found, and all the steel has a bright satin finish. This contrasts nicely with the black G10, and I daresay the knife has an almost classy streak.
But by far, my favorite thing about the design is the short distance between the handle and the start of the blade edge. Because of the mechanical limitations that go along with most folding knives, the edge often starts a little distance away from the pivot… sometimes far away (see Ontario RAT-1). But thanks to the angled plunge line on the Tenacious, the edge is able to make it all the way back to the grips, and the handle design allows you to choke right up on the blade as well. The curve of the edge even picks up the curve of the liner lock. Have I mentioned that this knife is very smartly designed?
Fit & Finish
“Quality” is a hard thing to quantify, but the amount of quality that you get for the price is astonishing. The construction of the Tenacious is as good as just about anything I have seen from Spyderco. If the blade were marked S30V and you told me it was made in the US, I would believe you. Seriously, I can’t find anything to fault on the build of this knife.
The G10 scales are solidly attached and perfectly aligned. The blade is centered when closed and the liner lock keeps it rock solid when open.
I am used to feeling a little bit of blade play on any folder, but there was none on the Tenacious.
The initial edge on the Tenacious was also good. I was able to whittle fine curls of magazine paper with no trouble at all.
The microscope reveals and edge that is slightly rough, but better than many I have seen in higher price ranges.
That little bit of toothiness helped when I tested the edge on ¾” manilla rope. The blade pushed through a taut section fairly easily and the scales did not dig into my hand too much with a single cut. However, gloves would be appreciated if doing a lot of rope cutting.
In hand comfort is good, but not overly hand filling regarding its width. The edges of the G10 are chamfered so nothing digs into your skin, but the general thinness of the handles would make long whittling sessions uncomfortable if not wearing gloves.
The dual skeletonized liners impart just enough weight to the handle without feeling like a boat anchor. Balance is decent as well, thanks to the skeletonization.
Because of the integral thumb ramp the Tenacious, like most Spydercos, feels very natural in a saber grip. The jimping on the ramp skillfully bridges the gap between large and small – the grooves are deep enough to work while wearing gloves without being too sharp or large for barehand work.
The knife doesn’t have a finger guard per se, but there is an offset between the end of the handle and the start of the edge. The jimping on the liner-lock release also provides some traction to keep your fingers secure.
A pinch grip at the pivot also feels natural and allows for excellent control over the blade tip.
The Tenacious has a blade profile that works well in the kitchen. It is a great slicer and makes short work of potatoes, onions, and other vegetation. The curved edge even allows for good rocking motions provided the handle has enough clearance past the edge of your work surface.
The blade is a little bit too pointy for tasks that require much belly, so hunters look elsewhere. As a tiny approximation of a chef knife however, it does a fine job, and the open backed construction is appreciated come cleanup time.
If there is one thing I’ve learned in my time as a TTAK reviewer, it is that a knife with average steel and a thin grind will outperform “better” steel with a thicker grind in our cardboard test. The Tenacious lived up to that trend.