Wednesday, August 28, 2013

In Case You Missed It: Spyderco Zulu

When the discontinued list from Spyderco gets released each year it causes something of a stir among knife knuts.  It is like a starter's pistol going on in terms of collector and speculator interest.  Which of these knives, which of the two dozen or so blades, is going to vault into that rarified air occupied by things like the Caly Jr. in ZDP-189 or the Jess Horn ZDP-189 where they sell for more than MSRP?  Are any of these knives going to jump even higher on the list of collector's pieces and become peers of the Jess Horn or Klotzli Michael Walker (which sell for many times MSRP)?  Spydero fans are nothing if not loyal and the quality of manufacture, diversity of design, and high end materials make Spyderco's out of production knives among the best chase knives of the production world.

The 2013 Discontinued List, found here, has a few interesting candidates.  Is the Leafstorm a fad or a collectible?  Is the PPT really as good as folks think?  And what about the Zulu?  If I were laying odds, either the PPT or the Zulu would be the hottest collectible from the 2013 list.  But in terms of knives worth tracking down, I'd hunt for the Zulu well before the PPT.

Both are designs from well known custom makers (the Zulu is an Anso design and the PPT is a Fred Perrin design), but it appears that Anso has moved on to other production companies as collaborators, namely Boker and Fox.  While I like Fox knives quite a bit, the Anso designs they are making are very big.  Boker's stuff is well Boker quality and that means it is a non-starter for me.  In comparison Perrin seems to be comfortably within the Spyderco loop and more Perrin knives seem to be coming.  This means that the Zulu could be the only 3 inch blade from Anso that Spyderco makes.  That could make it the one for collectors to watch.

But I am not a collector.  My interest comes from its possible utility.  The Zulu has most of the Anso hallmarks in a small, well-made, Spyderco package.  You have the very unusual blade shape that lets you identify the knife as an Anso without looking for the maker's mark.  You have the roughly corrugated G10 that has become synonymous with Anso the world over (though YouTube is full of people calling it the "An SO" pattern; the name is actually pronounced An SUE).  Only his asymmetric grind is missing.

Aside from the interesting Anso touches, the blade itself is quite nice.  The size, just around 3 inches with a small handle is right in my knife design wheelhouse.  Then there is the Taichung, Taiwan manufacturer.  Time has shown that this Spydercco factory can produce very high quality, complex blades.  They were the folks that made the Southard, with all of its machining gee whiz, and they have produced the highly regarded Sage line of knives.  These are folks that just know how to make good Spyderco knives.   The Zulu doesn't appear to be any different.  The Anso pattern is expertly made, the blade seems well ground (though I need a model in hand to confirm that), they used S30V, and they even went to the trouble of milling out the liners are what is certainly a medium if not small EDC knife.  

You can still get the Zulu in quite a few places.  Obviously, I'd recommend Blade HQ, as sales benefit the site and its giveaways.  Additionally, as is always the case, you can get it at a discount right now. But if history holds here, that won't stay true for long.  Discontinued Spydercos usually have the same price, then a drop until first run stock is gone, and then a slow climb back to or past MSRP on the secondary market.  Given all of the unique and positive attributes that the Zulu has, I think it is likely that the knife will pass MRSP in the near future.  Get one now, in case you missed it earlier. 


  1. When I first saw that blade I thought it was really ugly, but looking at it and watching some videos, it's really growing on me; it almost seems like a more unique version of the Emerson CQC-15 blade.

  2. You have a wonderful blog. Very informative. I picked up a couple Spyderco Zulus based on your article's recommendation. I had to inspect and pick out two respectable ones from a retailer's complete inventory. They do come in a sealed bag in the box so I ended up getting one from opening a bag and one sealed. Taiwan can still do better on QA and QC for such a premium price on a knife. I found this out years ago when Benchmade came out with their Red Box line of knives.

    I agree with you about Anso's knives from Fox and Boker. Not only is the quality of them in question, from the reviews I have read and watched, but the prices are extremely cost prohibitive. One might as well save up the money and get an Anso custom outright. The Spyderco is a good alternative while it is obtainable and readily accessible.

    If one is intending to safekeeper the Spyderco Zulu look out for these details. Check that the liners mate properly with the G10. I noticed the liners on most were unevenly finished and the G10 was not completely flush with the liner. Polish is very good on all metal parts so the lack of attention on the liners and G10 perplexed me.

    Also, I found the grind on the Spyderco Zulu was slightly uneven between one side and the other especially near the tip. Everything else was pretty good from the smoothness of the phosphor bronze washers to the lockup on the liner. Grip in hand is nice although lack of jimping on the top of the blade felt weird. Some may not like that the liner can dig into the fingers and palm when in saber grip. Each knife seems to be unique because of the variance in the scallop patterns on the G10. But maybe it was my imagination when I fondled each of the knives.

    My most recent purchases of the Spyderco Zulu resurrected memories of when a friend and I bought some customs from Anso when he was just starting out. We went nuts over his designs back then. I still have my Anso Ti Card and he still has his kiradashi and push knife. Who knew Anso would become so wildly popular? Maybe his discontinued Spyderco will do the same to bolster and reinforce an already considerable rep.

    Thanks for the memories, the article, and for letting me post. All the best and cheers.