I’ve Long Been a fan of Spyderco Byrd Knives, You Just Can’t Beat The Value

Sometimes you get what you pay for, and sometimes—just sometimes—you get a little bit more. Those times are rare, but the Byrd Harrier 2 folding knife is one of those rare instances in which surprising quality comes in a budget-friendly package. 

For those of you who haven’t come across Byrd knives, they’re basically Spyderco’s budget line. They look and feel a lot like ‘real’ spyderco knives (and they are… kind of) except that they’re made in China and the steel isn’t quite up to the notoriously high standards of a true Spyderco knife. 

But the fact is, Byrd knives aren’t just cheap knockoffs. The Byrd Harrier 2 in particular is a functional, practical knife, and it’s great for anybody who needs an ‘in-between’ sized knife for everyday carry.

Background on the Harrier 2

The Byrd Harrier 2 is a descendant of the original Byrd Harrier, which was released in 2004 as Spyderco’s first attempt at a budget knife. Those knives suffered from some serious quality control issues, and the story goes that the folks at Spyderco hated them so much that they destroyed most of them. Those that actually made it to the market are prized by collectors today.

Just to be clear—and I really can’t stress this enough—the Harrier 2 is light years beyond the original Harrier. Today’s Byrd line includes several knives (Harrier, Meadowlark, Crow, Starling, you get the idea) that are more-or-less affordable versions of proper Spyderco knives.

The Harrier 2 can most closely be compared to the Spyderco Endela. It has a similar blade shape and handle style to the Endela, though it costs about half as much. Both knives are in that not-too-big, not-too-small size range, and both are designed to be lightweight and ideal for EDC. The main difference, aside from a few cosmetic details, is the steel used to make the blade.

*There are 2 versions of the Byrd Harrier 2. the standard Byrd Harrier 2 and the model I am reviewing here, the Byrd Harrier 2 Lightweight. I actually have both versions and can absolutely recommend either.

READ
Spyderco Endela Review

Measurements and Specs

I’ll get into what I like about the Harrier and why in just a bit, but let’s get the boring stuff out of the way first.

The Byrd Harrier 2 has a 3.39” drop-point blade with a full-flat grind. It measures 7.67” open (4.35” closed) and weighs a trim 3.4 oz. The knife has a black G-10 handle with textured grip. The screw-together handle allows for easy cleaning and adjustment, and a four-position clip offers multiple carry options. 

The steel used to make the blade is 8Cr13MoV stainless steel. In layman’s terms, it’s cheaper steel than the VG-10 stainless steel used for the blade of the Spyderco Endela. That’s not to say that it’s “bad” steel by any means, but it doesn’t have quite the edge retention or corrosion resistance. 

Does that mean the Harrier 2 isn’t as good a knife as the Endela? Maybe, but the right knife for you ultimately comes down to your own needs.

Byrd Harrier 2 Lightweight Specifications:

  • Overall Length:7.59″
  • Blade Length:3.32″
  • Cutting Edge:2.875″
  • Blade Thickness:0.11″
  • Blade Material:8Cr13MoV
  • Blade Style:Drop Point
  • Finish:Satin
  • Edge Type:Plain
  • Handle Length:4.35″

Why the Harrier 2 Works

Let’s take a look at the positive attributes of the Byrd Harrier 2 knife. I’ll tell you right upfront that I think this is a great value, and here’s why:

The Harrier 2 feels great in the hand. For a guy with average-sized hands, the handle is just the right size, and the textured G-10 (a type of glass-based epoxy resin laminate) offers excellent grip even in wet conditions. It’s hard to describe why a knife just ‘feels’ right in your hand, but this one definitely does. That has to do with the weight too, which is more than light enough for EDC, but still substantial.

The blade of the Harrier 2 is razor-sharp right out of the box. It cuts and slices beautifully thanks to the full flat grind, which should also make it easy to sharpen when the time comes.

The “spydie hole” is gone and a teardrop cutout is in it’s place. The deployment hole resembles a birds eye.

There’s jimping on the back of the blade which adds some excellent thumb grip. Notably, the Harrier 2 also has a finger choil on the underside of the blade. That’s something the Spyderco Endela actually does not have, and to be completely honest, it kind of makes me like the blade of the Harrier 2 a little bit more.

The Harrier 2 also has a solid, sturdy back lock, which is a must-have in an EDC knife for me. There’s no play in the blade whatsoever when it’s locked in place. It also opens and closes very smoothly. Not quite smoothly enough to do the so-called “Spidey flick,” but still plenty smooth in my book.

The four-position clip makes this knife fully ambidextrous, so that’s some good news for lefties. Overall, there’s very little not to like about this knife. It’s just right for EDC, and there are honestly a few things about the Harrier that I prefer compared to much more expensive blades.

SIZE COMPARSION: You can see how the Harrier 2 stacks up against its brothers. From top to bottom; Spyderco Para3, Byrd Harrier 2, Byrd Meadowlark 2, Spyderco Delica4. You can read our review of the Para3 here.

Room for Improvement

Where the Harrier falls a little bit short is in aesthetics. And while the look of a knife ultimately isn’t as important as its functionality, I can’t help but wonder if the folks at Spyderco made the conscious decision to make this knife look intentionally cheaper than a ‘real’ Spyderco knife.

The first thing you notice about this knife is the teardrop-shaped thumb hole, as opposed to the classic circular thumb hole you would see on a Spyderco. The Byrd hole is, honestly, just kind of ugly to look at. The phrase “byrd 8Cr13MoV” is printed on one side of the blade in very clear font (it says “China” on the other side) so that anyone who’s a big enough knife nerd to know what that means can tell at a glance that the steel isn’t top of the line.

Again, none of this makes the knife any less useful. The only real factor that might hold the Byrd Harrier 2 back is the quality of the steel. And at the end of the day, how important that is depends on your needs.

Should I Buy the Harrier 2?

The quick answer is yes, you should own at least one Spyderco Byrd Knife!

Let’s say you’re torn between the Byrd Harrier 2 and the Spyderco Endela, and you just can’t decide which you should get. The most significant difference between the two comes down to the blade steel, so the real question is, how badly do you need high-end steel?

For most people, the answer is “not that badly.” The average knife owner doesn’t use their knife more than once or twice a day, if that. At that level of use, the difference between great steel and pretty good steel is negligible.
Of course, if you use your knife a lot, it might be a different story. Let’s say you use your EDC knife to break down dozens of boxes every day for work. In that case, yea, the blade of the Harrier will definitely dull faster than the Endela, and you will have to sharpen it more often. The knife will most likely wear out faster and need to be replaced sooner.

Ultimately, whether the Harrier 2 is the right knife for you comes down to how much wear-and-tear you expect to put it through. But I stand by my assessment that it’s an amazing knife for the money, and for an average knife user, it gives you every penny’s worth and then some.