I was in a distinct minority when I proclaimed the Spyderco Tenacious to be a hohum blade. At the time, Nutnfancy ('member him?) was singing the knife's praises and the vast majority of the Internet agreed. But I felt it was a simulacrum of a Spyderco, a McDowells to the actual McDonalds. It had the hole, the hump, and the clip, but it was more paint by numbers Spyderco knife than an organic, cohesive knife. But it was cheap and unlike the Byrd line it felt like a real Spyderco. They released three other knives in the line of varying sizes and people liked them a lot. But years later, there is not so much fanfare around the Tenacious. They never appear on IG or Everyday Carry. There is no group carrying the torch for them on the forums. There are folks that still love the RAT series, Kabar Doziers, and some budget CRKTs, but the Tenacious knives seem to have faded away.
I am not saying I was right, but, time seems to agree with me and time, moreso than myself or Nutnfancy or even the internet as a whole, is the best judge of importance both in knife design and every other human endeavor. Time remembers greatness.
So when Spyderco released the Efficient, a knife fully in the design mode of the Tenacious, but with better ergos and a singular vision as a knife (as opposed to an amalgamation of knife features), I was stoked. This is what the Tenacious should have been. I bought it at 5:30 AM one morning, noticing that it had populated my favorite knife store. I have carried it and used it since and I can tell you--this is a very good knife. As part of one the strongest annual line ups ever to come out of Golden, this, as a herald of things to come, is VERY exciting. I am pumped for 2017 and the Efficient is a big reason why.
Here is the Efficient's product page. The Efficient, which is currently available in only one configuration--plain edge, thankfully--runs about $38.95 on the street with an MSRP that is higher (obviously). There are no written reviews. Here is a video review (good job Paul!). Here is my review sample:
Twitter Summary: The budget Spyderco we always wanted
I imagine a scene kind of like that scene at the beginning of Weird Science (RIP Bill Paxton, Chet was such a hilarious a-hole), except instead of nerds making a woman, Sal and Eric are standing over someone at computer with CAD loaded up making a knife. Sal says: "I like the Tenacious idea." The computer guy clicks a few buttons and the CAD drawing of the Tenacious populates the screen. Then Eric says: "Yeah, but I want a real finger choil." The drawing is altered and finger choil appears. The design looks clunky. Eric says: "What if we merged the design with the Native." Click, click, click--something more intelligible appears. Then Sal says: "Now add a dash of Bob Lum's Chinese folder." Bang--the Efficient is born. The overall size and shape is just right, a 3-inch blade, not uber wide in the pocket, and a great set of curves and cuts for your fingers to find their way. As a blueprint, I really like the Efficient.
Thanks to some solid steel liners and a steel backspacer, the knife is portly. As such, the performance ratios are thrown off a bit. The blade:weight is .73 (3/4.10 ounces). The blade:handle is .75 (3/4.01). This, if you are keeping track at home, is the closest we have gotten to a knife with identical ratios. Efficient, indeed...
Fit and Finish: 2
If you find yourself carrying the Efficient you will almost never think--"Well, that's where they cut corners to get the price down." There is simply no outward sign that this is a budget blade. And this is not something uncommon in this year's budget knives in the review queue (the CRKT Pilar and the AG Russell Light'n Bug). The G10 has a nice bit of edge finishing to it. The liners are clean and without sharp edges. The material transition on the backspacer is good. The blade finish, a bright satin, is very nice. The pivot is smooth yet snug. There is literally nothing that tells you this is a budget blade, except the steel designation on the blade.
The G10 is really perfect, hitting that grippy but not shreddy point dead on. The choil and jimping are very good. But really, as with all knives, it is the shape of the handle and not any of these traction control crutches that make the knife good in hand. Here the pronounced cutout that allows for access to the Spyderhole gives you a perfect place to register your fingers. I find the grip that uses the half and half choil to be better than the non-choil grip, but unlike on some knives, the non-choil grip is useable. Its amorphous shape and finely finished handled scales add to the whole feel. Overalll, I was very very pleased with the grip on this knife. It is lightyears better than the Tenacious and up there with some of the better knives on the market. Only the heavy butt end keeps it out of the top tier occupied by folders like the Dragonfly II, the Mini Griptillian, and the Caly3.
While a bit heavier than I would like (anything heavier than 3 ounces seems excessive), the Efficient is not offensive on this account. Its right at the upper limit. It also helps that this thing is devoid of harsh surfaces or sharp edges when closed. Still, if I were designing this knife I would skip the backspacer and go with a pillar-constructed design. There is really no reason not to and doing so would save a half an ounce or something like that.
8Cr is a decent steel, probably the epitome of a 1 steel, but this particular blade seemed awfully prone to scratching. One long session at the ole recycling bin left the blade more scarred than Tommy John's elbow. This is the first time 8Cr has ever reacted that way for me, so I will chalk it up to being a fluke. As with all 8Cr, it holds an okay edge, but is not as corrosion resistant as AUS8. Nothing noteworthy either way here.
Blade Shape: 2
The blade shape is 100% awesome in terms of function. It is a broad, wide blade (which, thanks to good design, hides almost completely in the handle) with enough belly to do real work. It is a folder version of the Mors Kochanski continuous curve blade, as there is no real straight portion. As a working knife, this blade shape is great.
But...well...it looks a little limp. I'd much prefer the point to be higher, as this design looks like the blade has wilted a bit. Over time it bothered me less, but when I first got the blade I thought it was ugly. There is a point between drop point (like a Lionsteel TRE) and modified wharncliffe (like the Spyderco Leafstorm) where the blade just looks flaccid and this is it. Its a very slight thing though because with just a little more drop to the point and you get the excellent looking Caly3 blade.
This is admittedly a preference and has zero impact on function, but I thought I would mention it as it did bother me. Maybe it is because it so close to looking really amazing, that the slightly "off" nature just sticks in my crawl more than it should, kind of like bad CGI people and the whole uncanny valley thing--the closer they are to looking real the more obvious the mistakes become.
A basic full flat grind is good here. I am not generally a fan of full flat grinds because they can get chubby behind the edge (see Strider PT), but if you give them enough space to taper effectively, the results are definitely useful. In a narrow blade, makers should opt for hollow grinds if they want slicing power, but here, where the blade is quite wide, the full flat grind, with plenty of space to get thin, is more than fine. I found the knife to be an excellent cutter, doing well in food prep tasks and tougher chores like the aforementioned recycling prep. Even at making wood shavings for a fire, it did fine.
Deployment Method: 2
Its very hard to screw up the Spyderhole, especially since the 1.1" rule was instituted. There is nothing to complain about here and even with the budget price, the pivot is smooth, the detent is crisp, and the knife fires well. All you need is a quick nudge to nestle it away, and the blade opens with an authoritative clack. Its not quite as thoughtless as the deployment on the RAT 2, but for a liner lock (and a budget one at that), this is really nice.
Retention Method: 2
The Spyderco spoon style clip, like the Spyderhole is quite refined and very close to perfection. Its implementation the Efficient continues a tradition of great utility.
The knife locks up solid. It exhibits zero blade play in any direction. It engages and disengages with fluidity and ease. Functionally there is nothing at all to complain about. But as you have learned over the years, that phrases is a segue to explain a concern that has no functional impact. The concern here is simple--when the knife is opened and you pull on the blade, you can see the lockbar walk over. Its pretty obvious and it makes me think that the lock will wear oddly over time. Most of my other liner locks snap into place and stay there. Not so here. Again, no functional impact, but something worth noting.
Overall Score: 19 out of 20
This is a damn good knife. Even with the lesser steel, I like it better than the Delica by a substantial amount. The half and half finger choil and the lack of an exposed rear tang instantly make it better than the Spyderco standard bearer. The Efficient also shows just how long-in-the-tooth that design really is. Its time to update the Delica. It does the same for the Tenacious.
But more than showing the age of other knives, this is a really great knife on its own. It does work, it carries well, and it has a level of refinement you wouldn't expect out of a knife this inexpensive. If Kizer and Reate are proof that the Chinese can run with the big dogs at the top of the price range for production knives, the Efficient is proof they can do so lower down the price spectrum, too.
With a more cohesive and put together design than the Tenacious, the Efficient is a great knife. As a starter for someone just beginning the expensive path of gear, it is a marvel. They will likely not encounter a truly superior blade for a long time and for a lot more money. As someone that has a bunch of knives and is curious, you might have an issue going back--why do I have so many more expensive knives that aren't that much better? And as someone looking for a knife to thump on, a shop knife, a work knife, or a glovebox knife, if you will, you'll be pleased and surprised just how often this thing stays in your pocket after you leave the muck behind.
The Efficient is an excellent blade and an exciting start to what looks like a banner year.
The aforementioned Spydercos are obvious competition, but for the reasons I listed above, I like the Efficient better. There is also the just released Spyderco Polestar, another budget Spyderco, this time with BD-1, a steel I like much better than 8Cr. Its lack of a choil made me gravitate towards this knife, but still both are worth a look.
There are a slew of Kershaws out there in this price range, but only the G10 Zing and the G10 Cryo are worthy competitors and both are just a slight bit more money. To me the real competition comes in the form of CRKT's budget line. Between this is the Drifter, I'd take the Drifter for its more compact carry, but the race is a very close one. I also like the Pilar and there the competition is between two things that are quite different.
In the end, if you have less than $40 to spend on a knife there is absolutely no reason not to buy the Efficient. There might be choices that are arguably better, but nothing clearly superior. This is a real Spyderco with great ergonomics. You'll like it.