Story and Photos by Joshua Swanagon
As I often do, on a recent trip back to Colorado, I stopped in to the Spyderco factory for a visit. While there, we discussed a model that goes back into the annals of Spyderco history – a cornerstone of their Save and Serve line up – the Military.
If you ever get the chance to visit the Spyderco factory you will undoubtedly go into the factory store, where you will find little doubt about their support of our military. Throughout the store, and offices, are tributes to 9/11 and our military in general – not to mention their frequent military sales at the store and military discount program on their website. So, it is no surprise that they would have a model that was designed specifically with our service men and women in mind.
The Spyderco Military features many subtle, yet specific, features that are intended to make it easier to use – regardless of your battle dress – while still remaining friendly to civilian EDC.
While there I was treated to a walk through the past, including a complete lineup of Military’s, going all the way back to the first model.
Dating back to 1996, when it was featured on the cover of Tactical Knives Magazine, the Military has gone through a few slight changes here and there – mostly handle materials, blade stamps, colors and pocket clip design – but has always remained true to what made the Military what it was then and still is today.
During my time there, I was fortunate enough to get a little time with Sal Glesser, founder of Spyderco Knives, and hear about the design of the Military in his own words.
When speaking about the reason behind the design, Sal had this to say, “I got a request from someone who asked, ‘if you were going to design a knife for your son to take into the military, what would it be like?’ So, I thought about that for a while and I thought, ok that’s not a bad assignment. So, I worked on that design for six months. I carved wooden handles, because this was before we were doing SLAs and laser cut plastic models.”
The 9.5-inch overall length of the Military provides a large enough platform to handle large jobs, while still remaining something that can be carried on a day to day basis. Even with its larger size, the Military weighs in at only 4.5-ounces, preventing it from being too cumbersome to carry.
Regarding its robust size, Sal continued, “most of your military people get an issue knife. Usually it is a fairly poor quality, fixed blade knife that you use for prying and hammering. With that in mind, I didn’t think anybody would need a knife for prying and hammering.
“So, the goal was to create a folder, as large as could be comfortably carried. Because when you get much bigger than a 4-inch blade and a 4.5-inch handle they start to become difficult to carry and they won’t carry them. And the most important part about a knife is that you have it with you when you need it.”
The Military comes to a very solid lockup, via the liner lock, with a deep recess at the finger choil for easy access to the lock release – even with gloves on. While in lockup, the liner lock seats deep and holds the blade firmly in place, without catching or snagging while releasing the lock.
Sal explained his reason for the liner lock as, “because I could put a very large blade into the handle without the space being taken up by a lockback. Because a liner lock is not in the plane of the blade, it’s alongside, and I could put a fairly large blade in there. Back then there weren’t a lot of locks available, but this was one of them.”
The 5.5-inch G-10 handle features texturing for additional grip. The handle is shaped to fit the ergonomics of the hand, whether you are wearing gloves or not, and fits perfectly, even in my average sized hands.
The ergonomic design of the handle was very specific, as Sal explains, “for straight utility I made it with a finger choil, because during the normal function of a soldier, I didn’t want gloves to get in the way. That’s the same reason I added a very large lock release. So, you could unlock it with a glove on.”
At the butt is a small lanyard hole, just big enough for a single strand of paracord, for easier draw or retention during heavy use. You can choose between multiple different color handles when ordering, including black, dark blue and digital camo – as well as dealer exclusive and Spyderco exclusive versions (including a fully titanium handle).
The pocket clip is set up for right hand, tip down, carry only but can also be purchased in left hand, tip down, carry. Over the years, the pocket clip has undergone a slight change, from two screws to three, providing additional strength.
The 4-inch blade is constructed of CPM S30V steel and is available in either DLC black matte coating or satin finish. The modified clip point features a full flat grind and oversized Spyderco Round Hole, for easier deployment with gloves on. Just behind the Round Hole is some light jimping, for additional thumb retention during use.
Although it had a rocky start, according to Sal, the Military gained traction and is still going strong today, “at the time we just started our factory here and were working with pretty old technology as far as equipment goes, but we were able to put out a pretty decent product.
“It was mixed reviews in the beginning, we had a lot of improvements necessary and we made them. In fact, we put out an ad listing all the improvements we made to the Military and that’s when it started to get attention.”
Although everything I learned about the Military was impressive – to say the least – I am still not one to let a knife rest on its laurels. So, I went about the task of giving it a solid testing.
To start, I figured I would pay homage to the sprit behind the Military and cut up a military nylon gun belt. Although these belts can be really hard to slice through, the Military had no issues getting numerous clean cuts, reducing this belt to a pile of pieces.
Next, I moved on to my rope press cut test, where I test the edge geometry by pressing the edge straight down onto a half inch piece of climbing rope. The Military had no issues passing right through the rope with each attempt.
I then wanted to test the edge retention by cutting up a large sheet of 2-ply cardboard I had in my shed. Cardboard is notoriously hard on an edge – due to the glues and lamination process in its construction – but there were no signs of edge deformation of any kind, after reducing the cardboard to a pile of scraps.
Another test I like to perform, to check the overall sharpness of a knife, is to press through the corner of a phonebook. For this test I opted for the corner at the spine, to make it a little more difficult – due to the glues and stacking at the spine, used to assemble a phonebook. The edge on the Military glided right through the entire phonebook cleanly, with no drag or interruption.
To test the tip and penetration power of the modified clip point, I placed a piece of thick leather on the phonebook and stabbed into it. The tip easily penetrated .75-inch through the leather and phone book. I believe that I could have stuck it up to the handle in soft matter.
Continuing my check of the edge, I took the heavy-duty leather and sliced it into many smaller pieces, using each part of the edge. The Military sliced easily and cleanly through the leather, with no catching or tearing.
I then moved on to some heavy-duty commercial grade nylon cable tie – tensile 800n/175lbf/79.3kgf – and cut through one layer using the chest lever grip. Next, I doubled it up and, again using the chest lever grip, cut through both layers. I finished by setting it down on a cutting board and pressing the edge straight through the cable tie multiple times, with no issues.
Finally, for one final test of the edge retention, I pulled out an old truck tire and cut out a hole in the sidewall. Once I removed the piece I had just cut out, I then bisected that piece into two smaller pieces. The thick rubber, belts, body ply and inner liner had no effect on the edge.
After all testing was done, I was able to cleanly slice a page from my phonebook, with no drag, catching or tearing of any kind. The edge showed no deformation, rolling or glinting and was still very sharp. This is a testament to premium steel and a solid heat treat.
Part of their Save and Serve line up, and made in the USA, the Military continues to prove why it is still one of their cornerstone knives to this day.
With a passion for supporting our military men and women, Spyderco has gone to great lengths to assist our troops and veterans any way they can – the history of the Military proves that this is not a newfound tradition. Sal’s desire to ensure that our military men and women have the best equipment possible, is demonstrated admirably in his dedication to get this knife right and accept nothing less.
The tight tolerances, premium materials and attention to details is why the Military is still carried by many today and will continue on indefinitely. K&G
Join the Conversation, comment on this story below. >>
Blade Material: CPM S30VBlade Length: 4 inches Overall Length: 9.5 inchesClosed Length: 5.5 inchesBlade Thickness: .145 Inch Weight: 4.5 ounces Handle Material: G-10Lock Type: Liner lockMSRP: $275.00 – $295.00
Spyderco KnivesBlade HQKnife CenterSmoky Mountain Knife Works
Want to win a brand new Spyderco Military, along with a Knife & Gear Society patch and sticker? This is your chance. And it’s easy too.
All you have to do is go to our Instagram page (@knifeandgearsociety) and follow us, go to Spyderco’s Instagram page (@spyderco_inc) and follow them and then comment on the story below, letting us know what you like about this knife. Please make sure to include your Instagram User Name, so we can contact you on Instagram if you win.
That is it. It really is that simple. Once we have verified that you have done all three, we will add your name to the drawing, which will take place on Thursday, February 27th. The winner will be notified via PM on Instagram and will have 24 hours to respond.
Shipping and handling will be covered by Knife & Gear Society and will be taken care of as soon as a winner is established. There will be no substitution prizes. Knife & Gear Society is not responsible for lost or stolen prizes.
We would like to congratulate @ActionAdventure on winning the Spyderco Military.
Thank you all for your participation and don’t worry If you didn’t win, we will be doing more of these throughout the year – the plan is to do a GAW every month. So, keep an eye out next month for our next GAW, it promised to be a great one.
Joshua Swanagon has studied survival in both urban and wilderness environments in Colorado and Michigan for most of his life, while also adding experience in harsher terrains abroad. He utilizes his experience and years of diverse martial arts and combatives training and real world application as a self-defense/combatives instructor, published freelance writer and Field Editor for various magazines in the fields of knives, survival, self-defense and tactical subject matters. Joshua also brings with him his years of experience as Editor of, and Subject Matter Expert for Knives Illustrated Magazine.
I have been carrying the Military Model in one form or another for over 20 years
One of the main reasons I like the Military by Spyderco is the materials it’s made out of. Just knowing the probability of it failing on you when doing a task is low is a great bonus!
Instagram – jdpete02
I really love the look of this knife. I’m a big fan of folders anyhow and being in the military myself I can recognize and appreciate a quality knife to carry everyday not only when overseas but also while home. I currently have a favorite I carry now, the Hardcore Hardware MILF, but the Military is definitely one I’d like to add to my collection. I like how thin it is as well as the size. It would definitely be a pleasure to carry. I also appreciate the time they put into making sure it’ll be easy to operate with gloves on. I also like with this particular knife that it has a straight edge and not serrated. That makes it easy for me to sharpen in minimal situations. I also would pick black as my color from the variety they offer. I’m sure whoever receives this knife will definitely treasure it!
My Instagram is g86martin
It’s a spyderco aka high quality
It’s a knife
Knives are fucking awesome
My user name on Instagram is, ronaldbundick
I’ve been looking for a hard use folder, and I think the Millie would fit the bill nicely. Excellent write-up.
I love this knife so much! Owning one is like being a part of history. Instagram: dadwithapen.paper.n.dice
Iit’s the perfect all around edc .It handles pretty much anything you throw at it,plus it has an excellent wow factor as far as it’s true tough as nail looks.
I really like this knife but for some reason I never got one. I really need to pick one up. It’s so big and light weight which is a odd combination but a great one. I can’t believe I don’t have one. I’m sure I will in the future.
I’ve always loved Spyderco & pretty much love everything they make. I think the Military is Beautifully made & the perfect size! Love the blade shape & it looks like a total workhorse! Thanks for the chance! My IG name is @whyflysohigh
Thank you t our armed forces for the freedom we enjoy
The ergos feel so natural and familiar. Plus who doesn’t like that sexy blade shape! @Kingnc02
I like the blade and how the handle contours to your hand. Known a few people that had one, would love one myself. Instagram; benwainwright87
Love this classic, and hard to beat a nice black blade! Looking forward to winning the giveaway! My insta is @kjreames
I love the feel and ergonomics of this iconic knife. It’s also a great overall edc knife that can be used for just about everything.
I love the action on the Spyderco military, very good for such a large knife! @the_monarch_recluse
It’s a good looking knife! Would love to try it out @backupjustincase_
A top grade knife with a great history. Cant beat the materials and quality craftsmanship! @shieldoffreedom1776
I like the Military since 1997 when I got the original one with straight edge, I use it a lot working like police anti-drugs special officer , all black looks great. My instagram is @williamchaverri
I like the size of this knife. It’s a great edc when I’m not at the office and the ergos make it a joy to carry every day
The best EDC knife that i know.
IG name : @nangsinai
I’m drawn to the Military for the same reasons why I’m drawn to a lot of Spydercos, and that’s the fact that they are no-nonsense, highly thought out, practical designs made with the utmost attention to detail and high quality materials with the end users in mind.
Size , blacked out blade and black scales.awesome @whisky.edc.cyprus
The reason I like the military is because it’s the only thing now days is the diversified for real my Instagram is @Clifford.baron
I like the fact that this spyderco is so simple in design but functional as all get out. It would be a pleasure to carry one as an edc folder. Instagram: rob_knox89
The Military is one of those modern classics. I love the sheer size of the knife, yet it is still designed to cut well rather than pry poorly.
I love spyderco knifes,i own a pm2 and two pm3, now I need a military. And this one is SWEET. fosteragueroii
I love how the weight of the PM sits. In my pocket. Especially Workin on my draw stroke of deployment. It’s an excellent utility and self defense tool. Also, the PM customization is up to the imagination. For an EDC knife, in my opinion, one of the best
PS: love what you guys do. Continue to educate and inspire
I have always liked the unique look of Spyderco knives. I appreciate the clean lines and the non-reflective coating on the Military’s blade.
I love everything in this knife, the ergonomics, the blade, cool design. I hope I could win this knife!!! My Instagram: @felicampos
I like the spyderco military because it was purpose designed and has stood the test of time while other knife designs fail this design stays! And of course the premium materials and USA made. Instagram bpatrouille
Love the shaman never had the military but love the look! Jrwhite0523
I e.d.c. carry a para for work…….but always wanted to carry the original military. love the blade shape a bit more on the military vs my para; but also love the little different nuances of my various spyderco.
Besides the looks, I really dig the profile for ease of carry, the placement of the lanyard hole and especially the Lefty Love!
Great looking knife
I do not currently own the spyderco military, but I am definitely sold on it’s design.
The blade looks robust enough to be a solid survival/camp primary blade, but the case design and liner lock keeps it small enough to EDC, with minimal concern to it hanging up in a pocket.
I’d consider using it to dual purpose carry (on and off grid) rather than running two separate blades like i do now.
I love how this design has stood the test of time and honors just a cornerstone of the Spyderco lineup. It’s a hell of a knife.
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