For you Chuck Norris fans out there, you might remember this quote from his boss in Lone Wolf McQuade, “Style. The best always have style…” That’s exactly what hit me the first time I picked up the new Spyderco Sage 2 for review.
One of the high points of the SHOT Show each year is the chance to get a preview of the new knives getting ready to hit the streets. And, one of the vendors we’re always sure to check out at the different shows is Spyderco. One of the prime reasons is that Spyderco is never sitting still when it comes to new designs and models. You can bank on new and exciting products each year from this reputable company. This year was no different, and we kept our appointment to learn about the new products and we certainly weren’t disappointed. The first new model of the year that we had a chance to review is their new Sage 2. The first Sage sported carbon fiber handles and incorporated a Michael Walker liner lock. Their newest model boasts a titanium frame and an integral frame lock which they attribute to Chris Reeve of Chris Reeve Knives. One thing that I do like about Spyderco and its employees is that they credit work and design initiatives to the people that created them, not because they have to, but just out of respect. Style point 1.
Somewhat similar in appearance to the Spyderco Native, I was immediately drawn to the Sage 2 because of its appearance and size, though performance was there as well later on. I live in a state where any pocket folder over 3.5 inches long is considered a concealed weapon. I can’t tell you the number of folding knives that I have that are just a bit over that limit. It didn’t matter in the state where I previously lived, but it does here. My understanding is that local officials aren’t really that picky if you’re close, but you never know. So, one of the immediate selling points for me was the 3 inch S30V blade. This is a knife I don’t have to worry about carrying around on a daily basis, and the blade length is perfect for a utility or EDC knife. If you think about it, out in the woods or on the trail, there’s a good chance you’ll have a larger fixed blade for the brutish work. So, your folder is going to be relegated to basic cutting tasks. There’s very little reason for a folding knife used in the outdoors to have a blade length any longer than that.
As mentioned earlier, the frame is constructed of titanium. When coupled with the S30V blade, it makes for a nicely balanced and elegant countenance. While stylish enough to wear with your best suit, it’s not so frilled up to make your trail buddies think you’re a dandy. It strikes the perfect balance that allows it to shine in both worlds. Besides looking good, the integral frame lock is a robust mechanism for keeping the blade locked into place while at the same time making the knife lighter and cleaner in appearance overall. All in all, the Sage 2 is nicely crafted and brings one word to mind, “Sleek”. Style Point 2.
Adding to the attractiveness to the package is the wire pocket clip. Now, I know some folks don’t like the wire clip, but I think it has its place. I’ve found it be very secure in keeping my knives in place, and personally, I think the clip helps dress up the Sage 2’s gray frame a bit with a little more contrast in the appearance. It’s a nice accent that’s still functional, though there’s more lateral movement in the wire clip than you’re find in the typical metal clip. It is a bit disconcerting at first if you’ve only had the spring metal clips in the past. For the lefties out there, it should be noted that the clip is reversible so you won’t be left at home on this model. The position of the clip makes for tip-up carry when the Sage 2 is in your pocket. Again, I know some folks prefer the tip-down carry mode, but it doesn’t make much difference to me either way usually. But, with this size folder, I find that the tip-up carry puts my hand in a better position to deploy the blade more quickly than the other way, so it works out rather nicely for myself.
The entire knife is actually quite light by my own reckoning. That’s due to the use of titanium for the frame and the absence of other parts since the integral frame lock is used. The Sage 2 weighs in at an airy 3.5 ounces that you won’t even notice as you go about your business each day. The blade is fashioned out of 1/8 inch stock with a spear point and flat grind, and in typical Spyerco fashion, has a very nice, sharp edge that will help you get that business done.
The Sage 2 is a very comfortable knife to use despite its smaller size, and this is due in large part to the fairly substantial choil and the elliptical finger groove ground out of the middle of the frame (see the first picture). These two attributes allow you to choke up on the knife with a very secure, but comfortable grip when you dig into some tougher work. Another not insignificant factor in the Sage 2’s comfort are the beveled edges on the frame. I noted on a previous review of a Spyderco model that there was a sharp edge or two that could dig into the hand. That’s not the case at all with the Sage. All of the edges have been nicely radiused so there aren’t any hot spots on your hand once you work with the Sage for a while. I won’t go so far as to say it’s as smooth as a bar of soap, but it’s close enough for government work. Style Point 3.
With the way they’ve contoured the frame lock and beveled the edges of the entire package, the Sage 2 feels very natural to hold and use. It’s ergonomic design lends itself to being used quite often. It feels like a natural extension of the hand, so the user will probably go for it more often than not. Because of its fit and feel, one role I see for the Sage 2 is as a main knife for a backpacker or ultra-light person who wants something a bit more stout than your typical slip-joint style knife, like a Swiss Army Knife. While we all love our SAK’s, there are times when we want something a little bit stronger for our main blade, and most ultralight folks aren’t going to go with a fixed blade as a solution–enter the Sage 2. Though the blade is a bit short to be considered a “camp” knife, I had no problems using it to fix typical camp meals and it was easily pressed into service as my “steak knife” on those occasions where I was lucky enough to get some real sustenance into my system.
Besides your normal camp chores, the flat ground blade with its spear point tip makes this a great knife for bushcraft style work. The short blade coupled with the nicely designed choil and spine allows for a good purchase on the knife while doing finer, more precise work. And, for those times that you need to really dig in and go for the gusto, the spear point allows for good penetration into tough material so you can get a good seat before starting into the slicing and cutting work. That’s where the S30V blade kicks into gear. It’s a very attractive knife steel since it will hold its edge longer than your high carbon blades–though it’s a bit tougher to bring the edge back on S30V. But, that’s not too much of a concern. After giving the Sage 2 a decent workout, just a few passes on the Spyderco Sharpmaker brought it back to factory sharpness, and maybe a bit better. I’m still working on my sharpening skills, so I won’t swear to it!
Even with products as good as Spyderco and others, I usually find some little thing that isn’t quite right, at least for me, but there just wasn’t anything about the Sage 2 that I didn’t like or appreciate. It’s a great design that falls right into the right size category for a general utility folder, but still exudes sex appeal with its S30V blade, titanium frame, and radiused edge treatment. So, even though J.J. McQuade typically eschewed “style” and instead opted for function, I think even a lone wolf Texas Ranger would snap this one up in a second!