Sunday, January 24, 2016

Knife News: Spartan Blades SHF (Spartan Harsey Folder)

Updated 08-21-2016:  I actually wrote a review of the SHF, so if you would actually like to read what I think about the knife now that I own one, you can read it here.

Updated 07-07-2016:  I didn't really think many people were going to read this preview, but since hundreds of people have read it I thought maybe I should update so things.

If you read my knife reviews you may recall a section at the tail end of my review of the Lone Wolf Harsey T2:
When I posted my original First Impressions Review, Bill Harsey left a comment on my Facebook page informing me that he had finished up prototyping work on a new similar knife.  He said that the new one would have a titanium frame and handle (I'm not personally a big fan of metal handles, but I am willing to reserve judgement).  So this is very exciting news to me.

Unfortunately, I have no idea when this new version might come out, or who would be producing it, or what price it might be sold at.  And there is not even really a guarantee that the knife ever will enter production.  And hopefully Bill won't be mad at me for writing about his Facebook comment here.

But, if a new version of the T2 comes to fruition, I will do everything I can to review it in a timely fashion.  I'm not a particularly well known reviewer, and I don't have much of a following, so it's not like the makers would have a strong motivation to send me a tester.  And the knife will not be cheap, and heading into grad school, money is not something I am swimming in.  So even if the knife came out tomorrow, it might be a while before I could review it.  But if a new one comes out, I will let you all know.

So to sum up, the Lone Wolf T2 is my favorite knife.  I think it is just about perfect, but it is hard to buy, and the prices that they sell for these days can make it hard to justify actually using.  But stay tuned, there may be a resurrection of this knife, and that could truly be an amazing knife. 
 Well the resurrection of the T2 is here in the form of the Spartan Blades SHF (Spartan Harsey Folder).
The new SHF, coming out in a stonewashed finish and black DLC (DiamondLike Coating) finish.
The exciting news is that the knife is finally being released.  The bad news is that it will be some time before I can actually get my grubby mitts on one.

Update:  I have just ordered my SHF, so I will be reviewing it soon.

The SHF is being sold for the prices of $460 for the stonewashed version and $495 for the DLC version.  Those prices, while well within the normal range for US made knives of comparable materials, mean that it is going to take me quite a while to save up the funds to spend on a knife that is essentially a new version of a knife I already have.  But I am going to buy it, it's just going to take a while.  I'm guessing probably at least six months (I don't make big bucks as a grad student, I have some non-discretionary spending coming up, and there are several conferences I need to attend in the next couple months, so six months may be overly optimistic), but I look forward to reviewing the knife when I get it.

Of course having to wait a while is not entirely bad news, but let's talk a bit about the knife first...


Like most of the Spartan Blades catalog, the blade of the SHF is made of CPM S35VN.  I have written about this steel a few times, my summary is that it is a science-magic steel.  It's neat stuff, and Spartan Blades knows how to work with it.

The biggest change between the SHF and the T2 is that the SHF is a frame lock.  That means that part of the handle frame actually springs inward to lock the blade in place.  And then the frame is further held in place by your hand as long as you are holding the handle.

The the handle and all the non-blade hardware of the SHF is titanium, which is probably the most exciting part of this new design for me.  The screws, standoffs, blade pivot, and clip are all made out of titanium.  This should be one extraordinarily strong and solidly constructed folding knife.  I am particularly excited about the titanium pivot.  All of the points where failure might occur are going to be made of extremely strong and lightweight material (not that using a folding knife as a knife would lead to failure in a less strongly built knife, but some people like to to silly things with their knives).


Spartan Blades is a US company based out of North Carolina.  The company was founded (and is owned) by two retired special forces soldiers, Curtis Iovito and Mark Carey.  In addition to being veteran owned, and employing other veterans, Spartan Blades uses US origin materials for their products.  Not only are the knives made in the US, the materials that make the knives are made in the US.  The sheaths for the knives are made by vendors that are also veteran owned companies that us US origin materials.  And Spartan Blades works with other US veteran owned companies.

The message here is that Spartan Blades is a company that takes "Made in America" seriously at all levels, and has a commitment to service and others who have served.  Being so resolutely US sourced does tend to mean that costs for materials and labor will be higher than if the knives were made and sourced overseas, but I would argue that the additional cost can be well worth paying.

In a country (and world) dominated by the forces of market economics, the dollars we spend are our most concrete forms of real power.  When you spend money on goods you vote with your wallet.  I am not speaking metaphorically, you really are shaping the world you live in with your spending habits.  This is not to say that it is always wrong to buy foreign made goods by any means, but it is to say that price should not always be the only consideration.  Spartan Blades is a company I like to support.

It helps, of course, that Spartan Blades makes excellent quality goods.  I have been quite thrilled with my Spartan Harsey Difensa since I purchased it.  It has actually seen a lot more use than I had initially expected.  It is just a well designed and built piece of equipment.  (And the soldier that I bought Model II for has also been quite happy with it.)

But Back To The SHF:

While I wish I could just buy a SHF right now, it might actually work out better for me to have to wait.  I am excited for the SHF, but there are things that I am not crazy about with these initial models.

The stonewashed finish

I am not crazy about metal handles.  One of my favorite things about my T2 is the wooden handles.  I like the way they feel, and to my mind they feel warmer in the hand than metal handles.  However, I know that Bill Harsey has carried a titanium handled knife for many years, and he seems to like it.  While it is a logical fallacy to simply rely on an appeal to authority, some people really are experts.  I'd count Bill as an expert.  I am willing to give a metal handled knife a chance, particularly since one of the reasons I want the SHF is for when I am working in the field.  I tend to end up working in the high desert fairly frequently, and the gritty sand can do a number on even artificial handles like derlin. The titanium should be able to stand up to that well, plus if I do need the knife repaired I can send it in to Spartan  (unlike the T2, Lone Wolf Knives doesn't exist anymore so if I mess up my knife there is no where to send it).

I like the DLC on the handle, but I really don't like black Blades on my knives. I know a lot of people really like that look, but I am hoping for the option for a stone washed blade in a black handle later this year.  Another option that I hope becomes an option this year is the Flat Dark Earth color ZRN finish. It has a nice golden tone I prefer to black.

Update:  Spartan was finally able to make space for some custom orders for the SHF, and that is why I finally bought mine today.  I will be getting a SHF with the black handle and stonewashed blade.  I have no idea when the FDE blade might be an option.

The other thing that I hope will happen sooner, rather than later, is a full flat grind option like the one on my T2.  I had some questions about the SHF, and I emailed Curtis Iovito, who was kind enough to get back to me promptly. One of the questions I asked was whether or not there would be different blade styles. He told me that there was a possibility of different styles, but there was no current plans to start working on new designs.  It will probably be longer than I want to wait before any new blade geometries come out, but I can hope.

Tip up clip.  You can go left or right, but it is tip up all the way.

One thing that I was sad to see on the SHF was the obligatory tip up clip. I really like the design of the tip down clip on the T2 (though it was one of the aspects of the T2 that I have read the most complaints about online, there are a lot of people that prefer tip up). Despite the large size of the clip on the T2, I have found it to be very unobtrusive in the hand, I worry that the SHF clip will be less comfortable. We will just have to see.

Update:  I got to handle the SHF folders at the Oregon Knife Collectors Association Show this spring, and I found the clip to be totally unobtrusive in the hand.  I seriously did not notice it when I held the knife.  I have also realized that most of the pants that I wear in the field have flaps on the back pockets, so the front pocket carry is going to be actually a plus for me.

Colored hardware

The last thing that I am looking forward to is the different colored hardware that has been shown in the prototype photos that Spartan Blades has put out. The gold and blue colored screws, standoffs, and thumbstuds look like a neat way to add some visual spark to the SHF.

But enough of my rambling on about a knife I haven't actually had a chance to hold.  I've given Spartan Blades enough free advertising for today. I just wanted to share my excitement at the news that the new SHF is finally coming out.

1 comment:

  1. There is definately a great deal to find out about this topic. I love all the points you made.