The Spyderco knife company of Golden, Colorado is a relatively small business that has had a profound impact on the knife industry. Founded in 1976 by Sal and Gail Glesser, it initially focused on manufacturing knife sharpeners and other products. Drawing from his own extensive experience as a knife user, in 1981, Sal released his vision of a folding knife and defined a standard that still dominates the market today.
Sal understood the many advantages of being able to open and close a folding knife with only one hand. He also knew that it had to be carried in a way that was secure, yet instantly accessible. From his years of selling and sharpening kitchen knives, he was confident that a well-designed serrated edge would supercharge the cutting power of a folding knife. With these performance characteristics in mind, his first knife design—the Worker™—literally defined the form of the modern folding knife. It offered swift, positive one-handed opening via Spyderco’s Trademark Round Hole™ in the blade, one-handed closing with its forward-positioned back lock mechanism, and convenient top-of-the-pocket carry via a pocket clip. It was also available with the option of a voracious fully serrated SpyderEdge™ cutting edge that enabled it to cut with power far beyond its compact size—especially on rope, webbing, and other fibrous materials.
The Worker model set the standard for Spyderco’s revolutionary CLIPIT® line of folding knives, but the innovation didn’t stop there. In 1990, they introduced their Endura® and Delica® models, which were purpose designed to be lightweight, easy to manufacture, and affordable. The key to achieving these qualities was the use of fiberglass-reinforced nylon (FRN) as a handle material. Incredibly tough, lightweight, resistant to most chemicals and solvents, and capable of being injection-molded into complex shapes, FRN was a true game changer in the manufacture of folding knives.
Initially, the one-piece, injection-molded handles of the Endura and Delica had a molded integral pocket clip on one side and “Volcano Grip™” texturing on the other. The clip only provided right-side, tip-up carry and was not as strong as the stainless steel clips used on Spyderco’s other CLIPIT models. To remedy this, in 1998 Spyderco reengineered the designs, replacing the integral clip with a more durable steel clip secured by a two-piece threaded barrel bolt. This clip style provided reversible tip-up carry that made the knives truly ambidextrous and allowed both sides of the handle to have a molded texture pattern for an enhanced grip.
The Endura and Delica models both featured blades crafted from conventional stainless steels. Although resistant to corrosion, like all stainless steels, they were not impervious to it. To truly fight rust—the nemesis of all knives—a more advanced blade material was necessary. Spyderco discovered that material in the early 2000’s in the form of H-1® steel.
Developed by Myodo Corporation in Japan, H-1 is an ultra-corrosion-resistant material ideally suited to use in knife blades. Unlike traditional steels, which are produced by adding carbon to iron, H-1 uses nitrogen instead of carbon to create its steel-like properties. H-1 is also an austenitic steel that does not require the hardening and tempering processes of conventional martensitic steels. Instead, the mechanical processes used to shape the steel and ultimately the blades themselves “work harden” it. Those areas—like the cutting edge—that are “worked” the most become the hardest. This actually leaves the center and spine of the blade softer, more ductile, and more resilient, replicating the “differential hardness” typically only found on hand-forged blades or traditional clay-tempered Samurai swords. The result is a blade that holds an excellent edge, is incredibly strong and flexible, and offers extreme resistance to corrosion.
Inspired by this extraordinary material, Spyderco worked closely with Myodo Corporation and their Japanese manufacturing facilities to incorporate it into their product line. The result was the Spyderco Salt® Series—a complete line of folding and fixed-blade knives designed to withstand the rigors of use in and around salt water.
One of the centerpieces of the Salt Series was the Pacific Salt, which combined the time-tested qualities of the Endura Lightweight with the remarkable corrosion resistance of H-1. Introduced in 2004, the Pacific Salt featured a partial hollow grind that provides excellent edge geometry supported by a strong, full-thickness spine. The blade’s Trademark Round Hole was a generous 14mm in diameter to allow swift one-handed opening, even while wearing gloves. The one-piece injection-molded FRN handle had a non-slip Volcano Grip texture pattern for a secure grip, even with wet hands, and a sturdy back lock mechanism that locked the blade securely open during use. To match the corrosion resistance of the H-1 blade, its reversible pocket clip was crafted from titanium and all its other handle components were machined from ultra-corrosion-resistant marine-grade alloys.
The original Pacific Salt was available with a black or high-visibility yellow FRN handle and a choice of a PlainEdge™ or fully serrated SpyderEdge blade. In 2009, Spyderco added a version of the black-handled PlainEdge Pacific with a low-profile titanium carbonitride-coated blade and lock bar. This version of the knife was also the gateway to the Pacific Salt’s widespread use among members of the U.S. military. When NAVAIR/NAWCAD (Naval Air Systems Command/Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division) was looking for a folding knife to include in the survival kits of Navy and Marine Corps aviation personnel, Spyderco submitted the black-bladed Pacific Salt for consideration. It underwent rigorous testing at the Navy’s Survival, Escape, Resistance, and Evasion (SERE) School East in Kittery, Maine. Despite the fact that it was significantly lighter than its competition, it outperformed them all and was ultimately approved for official issue to U.S. Naval and Marine Corps aviation units. It continues to serve proudly worldwide in that role.
Although Spyderco was incredibly proud of that achievement, the evolution of the Pacific Salt didn’t stop there. In 2006, the Endura and Delica were once again completely redesigned. Among the refinements made to create these fourth-generation models were screw-together construction, low-friction phosphor-bronze pivot washers, improved handle ergonomics, an enhanced Bi-Directional Texture™ pattern, and a four-position hourglass clip that supports tip-up and tip-down carry on both the left and right sides. These improvements greatly improved the functionality and versatility of the Endura Lightweight; however, they also prompted a demand from fans of the Salt Series for a similar upgrade to the Pacific Salt. Spyderco responded to that calling in 2019 with the introduction of the Pacific Salt 2.
In simple terms, the Pacific Salt 2 takes the time-tested qualities of the Endura 4 Lightweight and combines them with the ultra-corrosion-resistant properties of H-1 steel. Externally, the Pacific Salt 2’s handle appears identical to the Endura 4, but internally they’re different. While the Endura includes nested skeletonized stainless steel liners, the Pacific Salt 2 eliminates those liners and instead has a series of threaded inserts to mount the four-position pocket clip. The elimination of the liners further reduces the knife’s vulnerability to corrosion and trims its weight by 24 percent to a mere 2.9 ounces (82 grams).
Like its first-generation predecessor, the Pacific Salt 2 is available with a choice of black or high-visibility yellow handle and its hollow-ground H-1 blade comes in both PlainEdge and SpyderEdge configurations. For tactical applications where light discipline is a concern, it’s also available in all-black versions with titanium carbonitride (TiCN) coated blades and a black-coated clip and handle hardware. The all-black versions also come in both plain and fully serrated edge styles.
Because the first-generation black-bladed Pacific Salt remains an issue item for the U.S. military, it is still in production. However, its successor, the all-black Pacific Salt 2, is also undergoing formal government testing as a possible replacement. All versions of the Pacific Salt (and Spyderco’s many other products) are available for unit-level purchase through GSA channels. For individual purchases, Spyderco’s OpFocus® (short for “operational focus”) professional purchase program allows U.S. active duty military personnel and veterans (as well as active law enforcement and first responders) to purchase Spyderco products at an extremely generous discount. Just go to Spyderco.com and create an individual account to learn more.
Spyderco’s Pacific Salt 2 is a direct reflection of the company’s proud history and its groundbreaking contributions to modern knife design. It is also a shining example of Spyderco’s commitment to Constant Quality Improvement (C.Q.I.)—their relentless obsession with making even their best products consistently better.