Story and Photos by Tim Stetzer
It’s hard to believe that the Spyderco Tenacious has been around since 2008. It was initially designed as a value series, similar to Spyderco’s Byrd line, but one which still carried the Spyderco name.
The Tenacious was designed by Eric Glesser, son of Spyderco founder Sal Glesser, and I have to say it’s been one of my all-time favorites—both from Spyderco and as an EDC knife in general. It’s got great lines, a perfect size that balances portability with function, and a very ergonomic design.
There have been at least twenty-nine variations of the Tenacious to come out since 2008—available in satin finish or black finished plain edge, fully serrated, and partially serrated blades. It has also been available with handle colors in basic black, orange, Carbon Fiber, camo, olive drab, blue and brown; in both G-10 and FRN plastic handle materials.
The previous versions have all been in 8Cr13Mov stainless which, honestly, I’ve been fine with for utility work. However, the latest version, the Tenacious Lightweight S35VN kicks things up a couple of notches.
The latest Tenacious shares the same size and general specs as the previous models but differs in the materials offered. The biggest change is the blade, constructed of American made CPM S35VN stainless steel. This is a huge jump in steel quality and a welcome change for folks who are fans of the super steels. You’ll spend more time enjoying your knife and less time sharpening it. The factory edge is excellent, as we’ve come to expect from Spyderco.
The other big change is moving from G-10 scales to the blue FRN scales. Aside from providing a different look, this also helps knock off some weight and provides a great grip, with its molded in texture as well.
If you aren’t familiar with the Tenacious at all, it’s a liner lock design with a 3.39-inch leaf shaped blade, featuring a full flat grind and the classic Spyderhole for opening. It has a 4.38-inch handle that’s well contoured and quite comfortable.
A set of stainless-steel liners sit beneath the scales and provide strength and rigidity to the design. The liner lock engages very positively with no discernable blade play. A lanyard hole is present near the pommel of the knife and a four way deep carry pocket clip is provided, so you can set the Tenacious to carry in the most comfortable configuration for you. Overall length on the Tenacious is 7.77 inches and the weight is only 3.7 ounces, which shaves about 0.4 ounces off the G-10 version.
Let’s talk about the elephant in the room for a minute. The Spyderco Value Line—including the S35VN Tenacious—is made in China. I know that’s a turn off to some people but it’s a reality in a worldwide market requiring models that can compete at various price points. If that isn’t for you, Spyderco still has a vast line of knives made in Taiwan, Japan, and right here in the good old USA, in Golden Colorado.
If you can get past that though, you’ll find that the Tenacious is built with just as much diligence as Spyderco’s other products. Spyderco has an onsite rep at the factory overseas, to ensure that things are made to their quality standards. The bottom line is that the Tenacious is a solid, quality-built knife, regardless of where it originates from.
The Tenacious is perfectly sized to fill a variety of roles. It’s a great EDC knife with plenty of blade for anything you’re likely to encounter in day-to-day life. I’ve used this one—as well as my old one—a lot over the years to open boxes/packages, cut rope, slice leather and cardboard, rubber hose, and other odds and ends, including old electrical cord.
A lot of people think you need a serrated blade for rope but the S35VN Tenacious slid through grubby old sisal rope like it was nothing. I was also pleased how easily it cut through some electric cord with no signs of edge deformation.
The flat ground blade also makes for a nice impromptu kitchen knife, for slicing sandwiches or cutting up apples and other items for lunch. The biggest difference between the S35VN compared to the 8Cr13MoV stainless steel—of the original Tenacious—is edge retention. Whereas I’d strop my old Tenacious fairly frequently, to maintain its edge, I’ve been using the new one for a couple of months now and haven’t seen any need to touch it up.
The Lightweight Tenacious is also a nice folder for the woods, especially if you just want to toss something in your pocket for a day hike. I actually gave all of the adult leaders in my son’s Scout troop a Tenacious—with the troop number engraved on them—a while back, as a thank you for being there with my son when I couldn’t, because of work. They were very impressed with them and that became a primary blade for camping trips and Scout activities. The new Lightweight model will do even better in that role.
Aside from the better steel I love the blue handle scales. They really stand out if you set your knife down in the field and walk away for a minute, as well as making it easy to find if you drop it. Fluorescent orange is nice too, but I find that blue stands out even better in the wild.
I’ve said it many times, I’m no knife fighter but I always assess a blade’s defensive potential, to evaluate if it’s suitable for that role. The Tenacious is the size of many tactical folders and I think it would fit the bill nicely. I have carried it at work, as a police officer, with the understanding that anything I use there could be pressed into service as a backup or to assist in weapons retention, if things go south.
With the Spyder hole, the Tenacious is easy to open with either hand, and I find that it locks into my hand very solidly and naturally in a saber grip. My thumb instinctively falls on the serrated thumb ramp and my fingers lock around the well contoured handle and firmly textured FRN scales.
It works equally well in a reverse grip where the handle is perfectly sized, so that my thumb wraps around the top of the pommel. I may not be a martial artist, but I have some confidence that I can draw and open the Tenacious quickly, with either hand, and at least start stabbing or slashing—enough to make someone think twice about keeping ahold of me or trying to get my gun. I’m sure it will work even better if you really know what you’re doing!
I’ve recommended the Tenacious to a number of guys at work, who wanted a good folder that wouldn’t break the bank, and have even given some away as gifts to coworkers, confident that they could rely on the knife, even if their life depended on it.
If you liked the original Tenacious, then the Lightweight CPM S35VN model is well worth looking at, for an upgrade in materials.
If you stayed away from the originals because you wanted higher end steel or are just looking for a reasonably priced S35VN folder, then you’d be well served checking out the new one. It’s a great folder by any standards and the latest variation makes it even better. K&G
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Blade Material: CPM-S35VN Stainless SteelBlade Length: 3.39 inchesOverall Length: 7.77 inchesClosed Length: 4.38 inchesBlade Thickness: 0.122 inchesWeight: 3.7 ouncesHandle Material: Blue FRNLiner Material: Stainless SteelLocking Mechanism: Liner LockPocket Clip: Stainless Steel (Tip-Up/Down, Right/Left Carry)Made in: ChinaMSRP: $140.00
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Tim Stetzer lives in Western Pennsylvania with his wife, 2 kids, and too many cats. He has over two decades of law enforcement and criminal justice experience, and is a police academy instructor. He is also a veteran of both the Army and Air Force Reserves and has been an avid outdoorsman since his youth in Boy Scouts where he first became interested in knives. Tim has written for various gun, knife and outdoors publications since 2006 and has designed or helped design a number of custom and production knives during that time.
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