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Review of the Spyderco Manix 2 CTS-BD30P – EDC Perfection!

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Since about December of 2010, I’ve been on the hunt for that elusive, perfect “every day carry” (EDC) pocket knife.  A knife which combines optimum size and weight with a fast deployment and locking system, and premium blade steel in an attractive package.  During that time, I’ve tried blades from several different manufacturers including Benchmade, Chis Reeve, SOG, Kershaw, and yes, Spyderco.  Of the knives I’ve tested, my Spyderco knives have tended to be the least liked and carried of the knives in my collection.  Despite the fact that they’re well constructed, and among the most aesthetically pleasing to my eye, their slow deployment and lack of thumb studs typically makes me reach for other knives in my collection when I walk out the door.  Benchmade in particular, with their AXIS® lock  has proven to be a favorite knife maker for me.  Similarly, SOG knives has their  Arc-Lock™ mechanism which provides similar functionality.  Thanks to the strength, speed, and safety that this type of locking mechanism provides, it’s proven to be quite popular in the marketplace.  As such, it didn’t take Spyderco long to come up with a competing design which they call their Ball Bearing Lock.  Spyderco first installed their Ball Bearing Lock on their Manix 2 (actually refereed to as the Manix2 in their catalog) in early 2010.   Since it’s release, Spyderco has had the Manix 2 offered up in a couple of regular production variations which are both feature 154CM sabre ground blades (one regular model, and one all-black DLC coated blade).  But they’ve also offered the Manix 2 in several different “sprint runs” – Spyderco terminology for a limited edition production run which is aimed toward the collectors market.  When I learned about the Manix 2, the knife definitely interested me – the non-DLC version can easily be found for under $100.00, so the price was right.  My only problem with the knife was that I wasn’t crazy about the sabre grind on the regular production models, and the rather common 154CM blade steel, while being a proven and perfectly acceptable performer, was perhaps a little pedestrian for my taste.  Frustratingly, Spyderco has produced a number of very attractive sprint run editions of the Manix 2 with FFG (full flat ground) blades, and done in more exotic, higher performing blade steels, like the blue G-10 handled Manix 2 for example.  But due to the limited production and availability, these sprint run editions get snapped up by collectors and speculators, driving up their price in the secondary market.  Not being able to find a sprint run example of a Spyderco Manix 2 I liked at an acceptable price, I almost pulled the trigger on one of the regular edition models several times.  I’m sure glad I didn’t however because I finally was able to get exactly what I wanted in the Spyderco Manix 2 CTS-BD30P:

Here are the specifications of the Spyderco Manix 2 CTS-BD30P:

WEIGHT:  4.25 oz.
OVERALL LENGTH:  8″
BLADE LENGTH:  3 3/8″
BLADE STEEL:  CTS-BD30P

The Manix 2 CTS-BD30P comes with a FFG  (yes!) brushed finish blade made from Carpenter Steel’s new CTS-BD30P powdered steel formulation.  As far as I know, Spyderco is the first knife manufacturer to use this particular blade steel in a knife.  The reason it was chosen was due to the fact that it has a chemical make up and properties nearly identical (and likely better) than the knife industry gold standard premium blade steel made famous by Chris Reeve – S30V.  As you can see, the composition of CTS-BD30P is quite similar too S30V:

Carpenter CTS-BD30P
CARBON 1.50
CHROMIUM 14.00
COBALT 0.90
MANGANESE 0.50
MOLYBDENUM 2.00
NICKEL 0.25
SILICON 0.40
TUNGSTEN 0.20
VANADIUM 4.00

Crucible CPM S30V
CARBON 1.45
CHROMIUM 14.00
MANGANESE 0.50
MOLYBDENUM 2.00
SILICON 0.50
VANADIUM 4.00

The additional elements used in the CTS-BD30P steel should enhance properties like edge retention and wear resistance over and above the legendary S30V blade steel.  Interestingly enough, it has been reported by Spyderco owner Sal Glesser that the unscheduled Manix 2 CTS-BD30P was a bit of a “happy accident.”  Spyderco had originally ordered a shipment of CTS-75P to be used for the knife.  But according to Glesser:

When we received the steel shipment, it was mismarked. We didn’t know until we began heat treat that it wasn’t CTS-75P.  CTS-75P was made especially for Spyderco to test and use. There is a batch being made and we will have some. This composition hasn’t been done before in a powder.

Given how new to the market it is, there’s next to no empirical data on CTS-BD30P steel, so only time will tell on how it will truly perform relative to other exotic/premium blade steels.

Spyderco began shipping these knives out in July, and I was able to pick one up very nicely discounted below the $174.95 retail price.  My cost was only about $25.00 more than the street price of the regular production model, which considering the grind and blade steel, was a very acceptable premium to pay.  My initial impressions of this knife are quite favorable.  One area which Spyderco knives really shine is their out of the box sharpness, and this Manix 2 CTS-BD30P is know exception – razor, hair-poppin’ sharp right out of the box.  In this regard, Spyderco is better than any other brand I’ve owned (Benchmade knives in particular are disappointingly sharp out of the box and nearly always require immediate sharpening).  I’m looking forward to using this blade in the weeks and months to come.  From a blade length perspective, the size of the Manix 2 blade is ideal for my use.  Small enough that the overall package is easily carried and concealed, and large enough that the blade functions well for both utility and tactical defense purposes.  The leaf shape of the blade and its brushed finish really appeal to me from an aesthetic point of view.

The ergonomics of his knife are quite exceptional.  The handle fits perfectly in my hand, and the jimping on both the spine of the blade and in the finger choil, which really allows you to choke up on the blade for precision work when needed.  The G-10 handles are agressively textured which also contributes to above average grip on this knife.

I’m quite pleased with the Spyderco Ball Bearing Lock – it functions very similarly to other mechanisms of this kind I’ve tried in the past.  You can pull down the clear polymer Ball Bearing Lock release, and “whip” open the knife blade, or flick it out by placing your thumb in the trademark “Spydie hole” and using outward force.  Either method yields lightning fast blade deployment – far superior to other Spyderco knives I’ve tried in the past.

The  Manix 2 CTS-BD30P features a nice polished pocket clip, which functions very well, being neither too tight to function or too loose to hold the knife in place.  That said, I’m strongly considering removing the pocket clip.  Through the week, I mostly wear suits, and a knife clipped to my pants looks out of place with a suit.  However, if I remove the pocket clip, the knife will have an even slimmer profile in pocket.

Speaking of which, the Manix 2 has an extremely thin profile (more so than either my Benchmade Griptilian or SOG Mini Vulcan).  That, combined with the 4.25 oz. weight make it a joy to carry in your pants pocket.  The Manix 2 CTS-BD30P is about a full oz. lighter than the standard production run model due to the skeletonized stainless steel liners used in the G-10 handles:

In addition to my written photo review, I’ve also recorded some video footage of the Spyderco Manix 2 CTS-BD30P:

As always, the video is recorded in HD, and can be run in full-screen mode.

I anticipate this Spyderco Manix 2 CTS-BD30P (model# C101GBD30P2) will be kicking out several of my other much-loved knives from regular EDC rotation – I’m very impressed.  I’ll be doing a future long-term review, as well as a comparison between Spyderco’s Ball Bearing Lock and similar offerings from other manufacturers.  But I think I’ve found EDC perfection in the Spyderco Manix 2 CTS-BD30P.  Indications are that, like the other Manix 2 sprint runs, the Manix 2 CTS-BD30P will soon be difficult to obtain at a reasonable price – Spyderco’s website is currently reporting as being sold out.  So I’m glad I finally lucked into a sprint run edition Manix 2 which suits my needs.  Now if Spyderco will only give me a couple of other choices in either regular production or re-issued sprint runs.  I’d love to get a hold of a blue and a tan G-10 handled Manix 2 to add a little variety to the rotation.  Both colors have been offered previously, but are only obtainable in secondary markets at or above retail prices.

About John B. Holbrook, II
John B. Holbrook, II is a freelance writer, photographer, and author of ThruMyLens.org, as well as LuxuryTyme.com and TheSeamasterReferencePage.com. *All text and images contained in this web site are the original work of the author, John B. Holbrook, II and are copyright protected. Use of any of the information or images without the permission of the author is prohibited.

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  1. Just got mine today. It is everything you said. I do prefer it over my Manix 2 (original version).
    Primarily for its lighter weight and blade shape. The G-10 gripping is also a bit improved.
    Your review convinced me.

    Thanks,
    Jim

  2. Tom Swarbrick says:

    FYI, the dealer-exclusive Tan Manix2 is available at the dealer (BBS), for what I consider a reasonable price – though it is twice what I paid for my std Manix2. The price has held since I got mine some 9 months ago. Love it.

  3. I’ve thought about that one….the diminished corrosion resistance of M4 gives me pause. I assume you’ve had no problems?

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