I’d say lots of the Woods Monkey readership has taken part in a discussion about the ‘best’ survival knife. It’s a hard question to answer, since it requires taking into account environment, experience, personal taste, and even legalities. But one caveat to this argument comes up often and is difficult to argue: the best survival knife is the one you’ll have with you when you need it!
I’m sure if we were forced into a ‘survival’ situation, we’d all love to have our favorite fixed blade or axe. Sometimes that’s just a luxury we don’t have however! Therefore, the pocket knife is the inevitable compromise between preparedness and practicality. It must be strong, but it also must be compact. A good price would be a nice touch! Spyderco is apparently keenly aware of this need/niche, and has produced the Persistence, a superb folding knife, fully fit for woods duty!
The Persistence is a feather of a knife, weighing in at a bit over 3 ounces. (But you’d be quite mistaken to think you were getting a proportionately smaller amount of performance than a heftier knife!) Overall length when open is just shy of 7”, and 4 1/8” closed. The 2 ¾” 8Cr13MoV blade offers a full flat grind (with a small secondary bevel), giving a very fine but also very strong cutting edge. Indeed, the Persistence arrived in box with the ability to shave hair quite easily. A small bit of stropping brought it to a perfect smoothness. The blade is roughly 1 ¼” wide at the widest point, and 1/8” thick. The handle is of the same appreciated dimensions that I’ve come to associate with Spyderco, as it offers a ‘full’ grip with ample security. Much of this is owed to the screw-on G-10 handle slabs providing a no-slip surface, even with wet/grimy hands. The construction of the Persistence is certainly as hearty as the aesthetics imply, as the handle houses skeletonized steel liners yielding rigidity and overall balance in-hand. When opened, the blade is locked into place by a jimped stainless-steel liner, which is pushed to the left to close the blade in typical American fashion. The very firm belt clip can be easily moved to any location desired, for left- or right-side, tip-up or tip-down carry.
Most certainly, the fit & finish on the Persistence was as high as I have come to expect from Spyderco. The slabs met the liners perfectly and there were no gaps surrounding any of the pins. When closed, the blade was well centered between the liners, and there was no play whatsoever when locked open. The blade was also perfectly in-line with the spine of the handle once opened. The grinds on the blade were even, as were the grinds on the secondary bevel. The jimping on the liner and at the thumb ramp were toothy but not at all uncomfortable to hold or work with. The belt clip had no play was extremely firm. (I’d certainly not be concerned about losing this one while on a hike!) So, as they say, where’s the beef? How’s it fare in use? Quite well!
Like most any new blade, I immediately took to cutting as many things as I could get my hands on. To put it simply, the Persistence is most certainly a mean slicer. The flat grind means there’s no cumbersome shoulder to get in the way of a deep cut. I used it a bit in the kitchen, to help prepare a bit of chili. Even tomatoes could be sliced so thinly that you could nearly see through them. Meat was similarly smooth to cut through. The relatively short blade was a slight hindrance on certain items, but this is to be expected with a blade this size. Certainly this knife would do well around a ‘camp kitchen’. A few recently-downed branches provided more cutting fodder, so I set to work making fuzz sticks and trap notches. The tall grind and thin stock made this blade as effective as even my favorite scandi-ground knives.
This size knife, in my opinion, entails hybrid functionality. It would fare perfectly well as a general purpose woods blade (for all cutting tasks, such as carving and food/game prep) but it’s also a superb every-day-carry blade. To test this, I put my trusty Vic Farmer back in my knife drawer and decided to rely on the Persistence for my daily cutting needs for roughly a month’s time. This Spyderco was certainly a breeze to carry, always comfortable to carry clipped inside my pants pocket. Incidentally, the clip was quite strong and never once did I have to worry about it slipping out of my jeans. There was also never any loosening or ‘play’ in the clip over time. The ‘Spyder-hole’ offered great traction for speedy, one-hand opening. As you’d expect, this blade was used to cut everything from hotdog packages to mail to carving sticks on the porch, and it never missed a beat! Indeed, a quick strop on my pants brought the edge back where I wanted it and I was slicing away again. The overall size was ideal for EDC, as it was large enough to be practical and strong, but small enough that it didn’t raise eyebrows when I was in public (that’s a frequent nuisance sadly). Only once did I find that I had to use the Persistence in a wet environment, and the G-10 scales were as grippy as I’d have expected.
Overall, this is a tough blade not to like! A full, comfortable handle with high-quality scales, a smooth flat grind with choice steel, and a compact package all make for a pleasant EDC blade or a competent wilderness tool. There isn’t much on this that I’d change! Luckily, this blade is also one of the more economical products offered by Spyderco, with an MSRP of $49.95 (and a lowly street price of around $30.99!). As a final thought, brought about by much use of this idyllic knife, I would submit that the moniker “Persistence” fits perfectly; this is one cutting tool that just won’t quit!