Story and Photos by Joshua Swanagon
I should probably preface this article by saying that I am a fan of Spartan Blades and have been using their knives for years.
Does that mean this article is biased because of that fact? Actually, I think that admission should be seen as quite the opposite. I haven’t been using Spartan Blades for years because I am a fan. I am a fan of because they make knives that have been worth using for years.
Part of the secret to their amazing line of knives is not just the great materials and solid construction but also the incredible designers, like the legendary William “Bill” Harsey Jr., that they work with. Bill’s fixed blade designs stand out in any crowd, but his folder designs are arguably next level. Those that have had the opportunity to use the SHF (Spartan Harsey Folder) know what I am talking about.
Recently, Spartan Blades and Bill Harsey teamed up once again to provide a smaller version of the Spartan Harsey Folder, for those of us who live in jurisdictions that don’t allow the carry of larger knives, and the SHF 3.25 was introduced.
If you were to only look at the photos of the SHF 3.25 you might have a hard time determining whether it is the 3.25 or the full size SHF. It is almost as if they took the full size SHF and put it into a machine and shrunk it.
For those who have experienced the full size SHF you know that it is a heavy knife—something the SHF 3.25 has accounted for. Although the SHF 3.25 isn’t immensely smaller than its big brother, it is only about half the weight, at only 2.9 ounces. Like the full size SHF, the SHF 3.25 is constructed of 6AL4V Titanium, utilizing this material for everything but the pivot, blade and stop pin.
The 3.25-inch drop point blade is constructed of CPM S45VN stainless steel—known for its excellent edge retention and corrosion resistance—with a stonewash finish. The flat grind runs two thirds up the blade, finishing with the steel designation on the blade flat (on the presentation side) and Bill Harsey’s signature on the blade flat (on the obverse).
The blade is brought to bear via dual thumb studs (for right or left hand open) bringing it to its full 7.125-inch overall length, held firmly in lockup utilizing a frame lock. One thing that I did find a little disconcerting about the frame lock is that there is no steel insert to prevent wear and tear on the titanium. It might not end up being an issue, but time will tell.
Something I thought was kind of different is that the presentation side has very subtle accents and markings—with only the steel designation on the blade and the Spartan Blades logo engraved into the clip well filler tab—while the obverse side displays the Spartan Logo (with the Elite triangle moniker stamped next to it), USA stamped in next to the logo and Bill Harsey’s signature on the blade flat.
The SHF 3.25 comes set up for right hand, tip up carry—via the very recognizable Spartan Arrow pocket clip—but is reversible for left hand, tip up carry. The SHF 3.25 rides fairly high in the pocket, making it easy to retrieve quickly, although not very discreet. The clip is very tight and will not come out of the pocket accidentally but can be a little harder to place back into the pocket quickly—although once you get used to it, it becomes much faster and easier.
The frame features some jimping on the bottom side, at the butt, and at the thumb on the spine. The blade also has some very light jimping on the thumb ramp, just forward of the handle. The frame also includes a lanyard hole at the butt, for those that like a lanyard for quicker access to their knife.
At 4 inches, the frame just fits my average size hands, and the butt protrudes out the end, very slightly. It is a very comfortable grip for me but someone with larger hands might want to see one in person to see if it will be comfortable for you.
The scallops in the frame at the index finger are very comfortable in a standard/hammer grip but, due to the steel being a little thinner there, bight into the finger a bit in saber or Filipino grips (more noticeable in saber grip). But it really only occurs when you are locking the knife into your hand with a tight grip and pressing down with the thumb.
Being a smaller framed knife the SHF 3.25 is not meant for hard use and torture tests, although the CPM S45VN steel can handle most anything thrown at it. So, I did some basic testing as well as a few harder tests, to test the edge retention.
I have been carrying the SHF 3.25 for a while now and have used it for most typical daily tasks that we all perform without really thinking about. It performed great for a regular EDC and is sized well for most any chore.
But to give it a real run for the money I put it through some of my more typical tests—each testing either the comfort of the knife, edge retention or sharpness.
I started by cutting up some corrugated cardboard, because the construction of cardboard can be very hard on a knife’s edge. After cutting up a large section of cardboard, into a pile of smaller pieces, I checked the edge, and it was completely unscathed.
Then, to test the sharpness, I cut some strips off a piece of thick leather I have laying around and every cut was very clean—the entire length of the edge. Also, keeping with the sharpness test, I cut up some half inch climbing rope and was able to cleanly cut off numerous small chunks.
Next, to test the comfort, I took an old mountain bike tire and cut it in half, using the chest lever grip. It was very comfortable in this grip but took very little work getting through the tire. So, I doubled it up to make it harder and the grip was still very comfortable.
Back to the edge, I then moved on to a piece of really thick commercial grade electrical cable tie and used a rubber mallet to baton small chunks off of it. The blade went right through the tie and had no effect on the edge.
I then went back to the chest lever grip and cut up an old power cord that I had left over from an old stereo. I was able to cleanly cut the cord multiple times and again, no edge deformation whatsoever.
I finished my testing by stripping some very heavy duty, industrial cable. This was less about the rubber coating and more about the edge being run over the cable material underneath. Once again, there was no rolling, chipping or deformation of any kind.
As with any knife, I like to finish up by slicing up a page from a phone book, to see if the edge had any damage that I could not see. The SHF 3.25 cleanly sliced the paper, the entire length of the edge, with no tearing or catching. A quick touch up on my strop bat from JRE Industries and it is good as new.
As I mentioned in the beginning of this article, I am a big fan of Spartan Blades and am good friends with the crew over there, but that in no way means I am going to be easy on their knives when testing them. I think that would be an insult to them and their craftsmanship.
As with other Spartan knives I have used, the SHF 3.25 stood up to everything I threw at it and did so comfortably and without showing any signs of wear. As I stated earlier, I do not think Spartan Blades are great knives because I am a fan, I am a fan because they are great knives. That is a sentiment that has held true over the years that I have worked with them, to include many various models.
If you are looking for a solid EDC, that is small enough to carry most anywhere but has the attitude of a much larger knife, the Spartan Blades SHF 3.25 just might be the solution you have been looking for. K&G
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Blade Material: CPM S45VNBlade Length: 3.25 inchesOverall Length: 7.125 inchesClosed Length: 4 inchesBlade Thickness: .125 InchWeight: 2.9 ouncesHandle/Frame Material: 6AL4V TitaniumLock Type: Frame lockMSRP: $395.00
Spartan Blades(910) 757-0035www.SpartanBladesUSA.com
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.
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