Reviewed 06/20/2011 by Jon G.
-Price Paid: $97.00
-Used for Every Day Carry
-Owned for Less than 1 Month
The Spyderco Sage1 is a manual-action folding knife with a 3" S30V plain edge blade, a closed length of 4-3/16", and an overall length of 7-1/8". It weighs 3.2oz. All measurements are according to the Spyderco manufacturer's website.
Like all of the Sage series, the blade is a fully flat-ground spear-point design made out of CPM-S30V stainless steel. Out of box, the Sage came absolutely hair-splitting sharp with nice even bevels on both sides. The blade stock is 3mm thick and tapers to a fine, but not needle-thin tip. So far, I have used my Sage to cut office paper, a thin cardboard hang pack containing a Leatherman Micra for my girlfriend, thicker cardboard IKEA boxes, and heavy plastic furniture shrinkwrap, all of which were an absolute breeze to cut through. As far as I can tell, the blade is every bit as sharp as it came from the box. Granted, this is not very hard use and isn't a good gauge of edge retention, but reputation puts Spyderco's S30V as among the best among production knife-makers, in terms of their heat treat and overall performance.
Like many Spyderco knives, the Sage has a 50/50 choil (half steel, half handle) between the handle and blade, in which the index finger is meant to rest during use. This facilitates "choking up", allowing finer control over the blade during more precise cutting tasks. Behind the first choil is a narrow hump and fairly large handle cutout to access the liner lock release. When gripped, my middle finger and part of my ring finger fit into this cutout. Certainly usable, but not ideal for me and my hands. Behind that, the handle flares out slightly into the fairly blocky butt. The top of the handle is a basic arc shape.
The Sage's overall ergonomics seem to be designed for users with larger hands, but is still fairly comfortable in my smaller hands. Compared to the UKPK/Caly3 (a comparably-sized Spyderco folder), the Sage's choil is incrementally deeper and narrower, which makes it slightly more comfortable in larger hands. Nevertheless, I wear small/medium gloves, and the Sage's choil and overall ergonomics are quite comfortable for me. I actually find the Sage's blockier handle butt easier to grasp compared to the more tapered handle butt on the Caly3/UKPK.
The handles are made of twill-woven carbon fiber finished with some kind of epoxy-like resin, and have a slightly bumpy texture. I would consider the Sage1's "grippiness" in-hand between smooth FRN and textured G-10. The carbon fiber handle slabs sit atop skeletonized full-length stainless steel liners, lending both strength and aesthetics to the design.
The Sage is absolutely the smoothest and most solid liner lock knife I've encountered. As the Sage1 is meant to be a tribute to Michael Walker and his invention of the liner lock mechanism, this makes a certain amount of sense. The ball-bearing detent holding the knife closed is perfectly tuned: the in-handle retention is outstanding, shaking the knife when closed failed to bring the blade out of the handle. However, when the user deliberately moves the blade out of the handle, the knife glides easily out of the detent position. Whether you prefer opening your Spydies with the pad of your thumb in the hole, "flicking" the blade open with your thumbnail, or the infamous Spyder-drop, all will open the Sage in short order. The knife just glides open and closed with the slightest pressure, but has just enough tension/friction so that the blade doesn't swing freely on its pivot. It probably goes without saying, but the Sage locks up like a bank vault, with zero movement or play in any direction. Though liner lock mechanisms might be theoretically weaker and more susceptible to failure under stress, the liner lock on the Sage is absolutely solid, with the liner thickness taking up just under half of the blade's locking surface.
The Sage comes with an inconspicuous wire pocket clip, fitted into two handle indentations and attached with a single mini-torx screw. It can be repositioned for right- or left-handed tip-up carry, or removed entirely. It might look delicate, but from what I've read, Spyderco heat-treats their wire pocket clips, and they are much more durable than they appear. When clipped to the pocket, the knife buries quite deeply, with less than 1/2 inch of the handle butt showing. The clip tension against the carbon fiber handles is perfect: tight enough to ensure the knife will not fall out inadvertently, but loose enough to easily withdraw the knife and not wear out the clothing material.
Like most Spydercos, the Sage's closed width is somewhat wider than comparable knives from other makers, but the low-riding wire pocket clip helps compensate somewhat for this. I can fetch my keys from the same pocket my Sage is clipped to with minimal difficulty. When seated, the Sage is about the largest knife I'd like carrying in-pocket before getting uncomfortable. Your mileage (and attire and body shape) may vary though.
It's also worth mentioning that the fit and finish of this knife is flawless. I have never seen a production knife with this level of build quality and construction, made anywhere. I'm starting to believe that the country of origin isn't as relevant or accurate of a measure of quality. The manufacturer's quality control is what really matters, and Spyderco's is outstanding.
The Sage 1 is the first knife in a very long time that I've been legitimately excited about. I spent months researching this knife, and in my eyes, the hype around the Sage is well deserved. It has supplanted my Benchmade 943 as my daily carry favorite, and is absolutely perfect for my regular day-to-day urban cutting tasks. I would carry something a bit more robust for hiking or camping (my saber-ground Delica comes out then), but if you're looking for a solid, handsome urban carry knife, the Sage is an outstanding choice.