Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Miscellany: Spyderco Tasman Salt review

Oceans cover more than 70% of the surface of the Earth, and, for obvious reasons, they are a harsh environment for knives. Unfortunately, you're actually more likely to need a good knife on the high seas than on land (just ask the survivors of the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion). This has led to a whole category of dive and mariner's knives for use in the aquatic realm. Today, we'll look at the Spyderco Tasman Salt, one of my favorite water knives:

Why is the Tasman Salt such a great dive knife? It's completely rustproof, for starters. The Tasman, like the rest of Spyderco's "Salt" line, has an H1 steel blade. H1 is an austenitic stainless steel with high amounts of chromium and low amounts of carbon relative to other cutlery steels. The lack of carbon essentially means the blade can't rust, even with constant saltwater immersion.

The next thing I love about the Tasman is the blade's hawkbill shape. The hawkbill or karambit blade has been in use for centuries in one form or another. The concave edge draws material into the tip as the blade is pulled, which allows for excellent cutting power, especially in awkward positions (like cutting a rope or branch at arm’s length). For divers, the ability to slice entangling netting, rope, and vegetation could be the difference between life or death. But don't take my word for it - here's Spyderco rep and knife expert Michael Janich to explain:

Like the discontinued Spyderco Merlin (another hawkbill folder), the Tasman Salt has linerless FRN handles and pinned construction, leading to a feathery 2 ounce weight (especially considering the 2-7/8" blade length). Despite the light weight, the titanium pocket clip and integral lanyard hole make the knife easy to retain. And, if you do lose it, the bright yellow FRN handle is easier to spot than a run-of-the-mill black folding knife.

The knife does have some drawbacks when it is pressed into everyday use, mostly owing to its hawkbill blade. The hooked point causes incessant wear to the tip of the blade (part of the reason I opted for the plain edge - easier sharpening). The blade is also genuinely bad at some tasks, like slicing food on a cutting board or skinning game. Finally, the closed knife has a fat profile, making it less easy to carry than a conventional spear or drop point folder.

Overall, though, the Spyderco Tasman Salt is a great knife and a perfect Father's Day gift for fisherman and sailors.


At 8:21 AM, Blogger Brigid said...

Father's Day Gift problem, SOLVED!

Thanks. I may have to pick up an extra one for me.


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