Spyderco byte February 2019
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MSRP: $250.00
ORIGIN: Taiwan

The Smock folder is one of the most anticipated Spyderco knives to be released in recent history. Incorporating both a sleek front flipper and a unique button-release Compression Lock™, it is also our first collaboration with custom knifemaker Kevin Smock.

Smock’s fascination with knives goes all the way back to his childhood and fond memories of hunting and fishing with his father, but it wasn’t until about 2012 that his interest really turned serious. After watching a TuffKnives video in which Geoff Blauvelt (aka “tuffthumbz”) modified a Spyderco Para Military™ 2, Smock decided to try his hand at customizing a factory-made knife. He began cautiously with a budget-friendly Tenacious™ and was extremely pleased with the results he achieved. After sharing his work on the Internet with his own video, he soon began receiving requests from other people who wanted him to customize their knives. Smock’s hobby quickly blossomed into a part-time business, so he started a company called Bower Bladeworks and began specializing in modifying and embellishing various production knives.

A professional product designer by trade, it was only a matter of time before Smock combined his experience in that field with his passion for knives to create his own “outside-the-box” knife designs. Building on the skills he developed as a knife customizer—and with the generous help of fellow Spyderco collaborator Brad Southard and other knifemakers—Smock learned to craft knives from raw materials. He soon became a true custom knifemaker, changed his business from Bower Bladeworks to Smock Knives, and ultimately decided to pursue knifemaking full time. Smock specializes in stylish everyday-carry pocketknives, but is willing and able to tackle everything from camping to kitchen knives.

A longtime fan of Spyderco designs, in 2015, Smock requested permission to license Spyderco’s patented Compression Lock™ mechanism and our Trademark Round Hole™ for use in a custom folding knife design called the “SK23.” To make the release of the Compression Lock even easier, he added a button to the mechanism. Pleased with the result, he showed it off to the Spyderco Crew at the Atlanta Blade Show. We were impressed with his craftsmanship and the uniqueness of the design and asked to display it with our other concept models and prototypes at the show. The design attracted a lot of interest and feedback on it was overwhelmingly positive. A collaboration was born.

Faithfully accurate to Smock’s SK23 design, the Spyderco Smock is a slim, high-performance folding knife ideal for everyday carry. Its hollow-ground blade is precision machined from CPM® S30V® stainless steel and features a unique profile that balances low-friction edge geometry, tip strength, and point utility. The blade includes both a Trademark Round Hole and an elegantly simple index-finger flipper for swift, ambidextrous, one-hand opening. Unlike most flippers, which protrude from the spine of the handle when the knife is closed, the Smock’s forward-positioned flipper is simply a corner of the blade’s tang that flows seamlessly into the lines of the closed knife. Despite its understated appearance, it offers excellent leverage and, when stroked with the index finger, instantly propels the blade into the open position. A pair of special ball-bearing pivot washers enhance the flipper’s operation, ensuring an ultra-smooth action and reliable, positive lock-up. Spyderco’s expression of the design also includes a dedicated detent mechanism separate from the knife’s lock that keeps the blade safely closed during carry and provides optimal resistance for the flipper.

The Smock’s handle is built on a framework of full, skeletonized stainless steel liners that also form the basis of the knife’s stout Compression Lock mechanism. They are capped by textured carbon fiber/G-10 laminate scales with matching skeletonizing holes that further reduce weight and contribute to the knife’s unique style. Instead of the traditional lock release on the spine of the handle, the Smock’s Compression Lock is complemented by a button nested in the obverse (near-side) scale. Pressing the button releases the lock and allows the blade to be easily closed with only one hand without ever placing your fingers in the path of the edge. The handle’s open-backed design further minimizes the knife’s weight and simplifies cleaning, while its lined lanyard hole and reversible tip-up hourglass clip provide convenient, ambidextrous carry.

Spyderco’s Smock folder truly captures Kevin Smock’s unique approach to knife design and pushes the envelope of our time-tested Compression Lock. We are proud to add this remarkable knife to our line and hope that you are as excited about it as we are.

OVERALL: 7.92 in / 201 mm
BLADE: 3.39 in / 86 mm
EDGE: 2.89 in / 73 mm
WEIGHT: 3.7 oz / 105 g
GRIND: Hollow
ORIGIN: Taiwan

Understanding Spyderco’s
Compression Lock™

First introduced back in 2000 on the Bram Frank Gunting™ and Gunting™ Trainer, Spyderco’s Compression Lock was a revolutionary development in folding knife lock design. The original form of this groundbreaking mechanism was also featured in the compact Salsa™ and the first-generation versions of the Yojimbo™ and Para Military™.

Awarded a U.S. utility patent in April 2003, this brilliantly simple mechanism has since become a mainstay of Spyderco’s designs; however, despite its popularity, it remains largely misunderstood. Many who see it for the first time mistakenly dismiss it as “A LinerLock on the back of the handle,” but it is much more than that.

In a LinerLock mechanism, the tang of the blade has a ramped surface on it that faces toward the butt end of the handle when the knife is open. The forward end of the lock bar—a flat spring cut from the handle’s liner itself—moves across the tang ramp and wedges against it to lock the blade when the knife is opened. If extreme pressure is applied to the spine of the blade, that pressure is transferred 90 degrees through the pivot pin to the face of the lock bar. If the pressure is too great, the tang ramp may force the end of the lock bar to slide off the ramp and the lock may fail. Alternately, because the LinerLock’s design typically requires the lock bar to be relatively long to achieve the proper spring tension, the bar itself flexes in the middle and the lock fails.

Although a Compression Lock also uses a “split” liner that creates an integral lock bar, the mechanical operation of the lock is very different. Instead of facing rearward (toward the butt of the handle), the ramp on the blade’s tang faces upward (toward the spine of the handle) when the blade is open. It is also located immediately beneath the stop pin—the steel pin that limits the opening arc of the blade and forms one of the three “points of the triangle” that are inherent in every lock mechanism.

When the blade of a Compression Lock knife is opened, the spring tension of the lock bar moves it laterally across the ramp on the tang of the blade. However, instead of the end of the lock bar contacting the ramp, the bottom edge of the lock bar does. At the same time, the top edge of the lock bar contacts the bottom of the stop pin. In the locked position, the lock bar is effectively wedged between the stop pin and the tang ramp.

If pressure is applied to the spine of the blade, that force is redirected around the pivot pin to the tang ramp, which exerts upward pressure on the bottom of the lock bar. That pressure is resisted by the width of the lock bar and the solid structure of the stop pin. Rather than tempting the lock bar to slide off the blade ramp, the force literally tries to compress it between the ramp and the stop pin—thus the name “Compression Lock.” And although the spring action of the lock bar is similar to that of a LinerLock, the pressure applied to it when trying to overcome the lock is concentrated across a narrow section of its width, not along its length. This pressure cannot cause the lock bar to flex in the middle, so it is not susceptible to that type of failure.

In simple terms, the mechanical design of the Compression Lock is superior to that of the LinerLock. In our extensive testing of numerous Compression Lock models using a hydraulic “Bender-Breaker” device, the lock strengths of Compression Locks far exceed those of LinerLocks.

In addition to its structural strength, the Compression Lock also offers several other significant advantages. Since the lock release—a small integral tab extending from the top of the lock bar—is located on the spine of the handle, it is typically covered by the web of the user’s thumb when gripped naturally. This area of the hand is soft and flexible, making it practically impossible to inadvertently release the lock during use.

When you are ready to close the knife, gripping the handle around the spine with your fingertips allows you to release the lock with a pinching action of your thumb and index finger. You can then swing the blade smoothly closed without ever placing your fingers in the path of the edge. LinerLocks, on the contrary, require you to place your thumb in line with the blade’s edge as you release the lock, therefore requiring greater care when closing them.

The final advantage of a Compression Lock is that it allows greater flexibility in knife design than many other locks. Because it is housed in the spine of the handle but not in the path of the blade, it requires very little “real estate.” That leaves a lot more room for the blade and allows the handle to be narrower near the pivot pin than is possible with other lock designs. Paul Alexander’s Spyderco designs—like the Ouroboros™ and Sliverax™—are perfect examples of this concept. Compression Locks also work well with open-backed handle designs, which reduce the overall weight of the knife and simplify cleaning.


The dictionary defines quality control as “a system of maintaining standards in manufactured products by testing a sample of the output against the specification.” While technically correct, at Spyderco, we sum it up more simply. Quality control means keeping our promises.

For more than 40 years, we have consistently promised to deliver innovative, reliable, high-performance knives and accessories with world-class fit and finish. While everything we do is ultimately geared toward fulfilling that promise, one of our most important and valuable assets is our Quality Control (QC) Team. Quite literally the “conscience” of the company, our QC Team is the final hurdle before any Spyderco product is released to the market.

No matter where we produce our knives and other products, they all must meet the stringent quality standards that define the Spyderco brand. To make absolutely sure of that, we follow our version of “The Golden Rule”—all our products (with the minor exception of the JaniSong™, which cannot be imported into the U.S.) must be shipped to our headquarters in Golden, Colorado. There they are carefully inspected by our own in-house QC Team before they are considered fit for sale.

The members of Spyderco’s QC team are carefully chosen based on their attention to detail, in-depth knife knowledge, and uncompromising commitment to maintaining our high standards. Those standards come straight from the top—Spyderco’s founders and senior managers—who also ensure that the QC Crew has the very best workspace, lighting, magnifiers, and all the other tools necessary to do their jobs. In addition to painstaking visual inspections to ensure the correct fit and finish of every component, QC team members also conduct comprehensive function checks of our knives, guaranteeing smooth actions and the proper function of all lock mechanisms before they are declared fit for sale.

Spyderco’s QC experts know our products better than anyone, so they have the uncanny ability to see them very differently. Minor, almost imperceptible flaws that most people would never notice stand out to them like proverbial “sore thumbs.” By design, their work flow is also not based on quotas. If a particular knife model is more complex and requires a longer, more meticulous inspection process, they take as much time as necessary to do it right. And when they do notice an issue, they don’t just say something, they do something.

All long-time Spyderco fans have seen a knife announced in our catalog that they absolutely had to have. They have also had to endure the sometimes agonizing wait for that knife to actually become available. Along the way, they ask us—often repeatedly—when their dream knife will finally be released. The honest answer to that question is “When it’s right.” And the key to confirming that it’s right is our QC Team.

Truth be told, we have literally shipped entire production runs of knives back to the factory to have them reworked because they failed to meet our strict QC criteria. With some knives, like the Reinhold Rhino™, we have literally started over with a new production facility. While we realize the frustration these delays may cause, we refuse to release any knife before it passes our own stringent standards.

Like we said, quality control is all about keeping promises. That’s what integrity is all about. And thanks to the hardworking members of Spyderco’s QC Crew, we will continue to keep our promises every day, and with every product we make.

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Spyderco, Inc.
820 Spyderco Way
Golden, CO 80403

800-525-7770 (T - Toll-Free)
303-279-8383 (T)
303-278-2229 (F)

Copyright © 2019. All rights reserved. All product names, art and text herein are the property of Spyderco, Inc. and may not be reproduced in part or whole without the sole written permission of Spyderco, Inc.

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Spyderco, Inc. · 820 Spyderco Way · Golden, Colorado 80403 · USA