The Tenacious is what you might call an entry-level Spyderco knife. You can get one just about anywhere—heck, even Wal-Mart has them—and for some knife aficionados, getting a Tenacious is the first step in a lifelong obsession with Spyderco knives.
The real question is, if you strip the Spyderco Tenacious of its brand name and ignore its price tag, does it really hold up as a quality knife? That’s a question I’ve struggled to answer. Ultimately, there are things I like about the Tenacious, and there are things I don’t.
Spyderco Tenacious: First Impressions
The Spyderco Tenacious isn’t a knife that knocks your socks off with its style and detailing right out of the package. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s worth noting that this knife is utilitarian. From an aesthetics standpoint, it’s a little basic. It does have the Spyderco logo etched onto the blade, along with the usual round “Spydie hole”.
The handle of the Tenacious is rather squared-off, which I don’t love, but it does fit in my hand comfortably. This is a handle that looks like it was made for guys with larger hands. When I bought mine, the blade was very sharp right out of the box, cutting through a sheet of paper with ease. It opens with a heavy, satisfying ‘clunk’ typical of a Spyderco knife.
Measurements and Specs
The Spyderco Tenacious has a 7.77” overall length, with a 3.39” blade and 4.38” G-10 handle. It’s equipped with a liner lock, and the blade is made of 8Cr13MoV Steel, which I’ll talk a little bit more about in the next section. This knife weighs 4.2 oz, but Spyderco also makes a Tenacious Lightweight, which has a fiberglass-reinforced nylon handle instead of G-10, and weighs just 3.7 oz.
The Spyderco Tenacious is available in three different blade serrations. Mine—and the model this review is based around—is the PlainEdge version. You can also get it in SpyderEdge (serrated) or or CombinationEdge (partially serrated).
Blade & Steel Quality
The blade of the Spyderco Tenacious has a full flat grind, and it’s a drop point blade with significant belly to the cutting edge. The curve of that edge makes it a good slicer. And like I said, mine came shaving-sharp right out of the box.
That being said, this is a blade that you’ll need to re-sharpen and care for. It’s made of 8Cr13MoV Steel, which is a type of inexpensive Chinese stainless steel that’s somewhat comparable to Japanese Aus-8 steel. It contains 0.8% Carbon, 14.5% Chromium, and small amounts of Molybdenum, Nickel and various other elements.
It’s decent steel for an EDC knife, but it’s nothing special. It’s softer than carbon steel, which means it won’t hold an edge as well, and will need to be sharpened more often. On the other hand, it’s easy to sharpen with any run-of-the-mill sharpening stone, and the Chromium makes it fairly corrosion resistant, although it may rust slightly with prolonged exposure to moisture.
Locking & Deployment
I’m not always a huge fan of liner locks. Even so, I must give Spyderco credit for their quality locking mechanisms, and the LinerLock in the Tenacious is no exception. It’s sturdy, easy to unlock with your thumb, and keeps the blade snugly in place. The lock itself is fairly thick and snaps to the rear of the blade firmly, and there’s no play whatsoever, at least as far as I can tell.
The Tenacious also has Spyderco’s Trademark Round Hole, which allows for easy one-handed opening with either bare or gloved hands. One develops the knack for one-handed deployment fairly quickly, and the phosphor bronze bushings allow the blade to open and close smoothly, with just enough resistance to prevent accidental deployment.
Handle & Pocket Clip
The G-10 scales on the Tenacious have some good texture to them, very similar to what you see on a lot of Spyderco knives. The texture helps resist slipping in wet conditions quite effectively. As I mentioned before, the overall shape of the handle is a little boxy. It’s perfectly adequate; no more and no less.
The Tenacious comes equipped with a standard Spyderco pocket clip, which I really do like quite a lot. It has just the right amount of hold to stay put without tearing my pocket to shreds. The clip can also be mounted in four different positions, so you can wear it on your pocket either point up or point down, and either right-handed or left-handed.
This seems like as good a time as any to mention what I consider to be the one major design flaw in the Tenacious, and that’s its lack of a finger choil. While there’s a thumb ramp on the rear of the blade spine, and some additional jimping on the liner lock at the bottom of the handle, there isn’t any on the bottom of the blade.
The cutting edge of the Tenacious extends all the way back to where the blade meets the handle. As a result, you can’t really choke up on this knife the way one might like to if you’re using it for fine detail work. It’s also very easy to cut yourself while using the Tenacious, especially if you’re more accustomed to a knife that has a finger choil.
Maybe it’s harsh to call this a flaw. Ultimately, it’s a matter of personal preference. I prefer a knife with a finger choil; some folks might prefer a knife without one. For me, I find that the grip on the Spyderco Tenacious just isn’t as firm as I’d like it to be.
Should You Buy a Spyderco Tenacious?
At the end of the day, the big question with any knife is, “should I buy it?” With the Spyderco Tenacious, the answer to that question comes with a caveat. If you want your first Spyderco knife—and it’s really important that you get one with the Spyderco name attached to it—then the answer is yes.
But if you just want a good, sturdy pocket folder for everyday carry and you don’t care what brand name is on it, then you should at least consider some other options. One of those options is the Byrd Raven 2.
Spyderco Tenacious vs. Byrd Raven 2
Byrd knives are essentially the budget versions of Spyderco knives. They’re made in China by Spyderco, and broadly speaking, they’re good options for anybody who wants to own a Spyderco knife but doesn’t want to spend Spyderco money.
It just so happens that the Byrd Raven 2 is a knife that stacks up really well against the Spyderco Tenacious. In this case, it costs slightly more—at the time of publication you can get Tenacious on Amazon for $54 (as of this date), or a Raven 2 for $61 (as of this date)—but for just a few extra dollars, you get what I consider to be a significantly better value for your money.
For starters, the Raven simply has a more well thought-out design. The scales are made of the same G-10, and the handle is equipped with the same reversible pocket clip. But the handle has smoother contours and fits my hand better. It also has a finger choil as well as a thumb ramp, which makes it much easier to grip firmly. For me, this feature alone makes the Raven 2 a superior knife.
The dimensions of the two knives are almost identical, though the Raven is ever-so-slightly longer and thicker. The blade is CTS BD1 steel. I wouldn’t say it’s light years beyond the Tenacious’ 8Cr13MoV steel—both are fairly cheap steels—but the Raven’s has slightly higher carbon and chromium content, which means improved hardness, edge retention and corrosion resistance.
Also, if you’re leaning toward a Spyderco because you want a Made in America knife, you should know that the Tenacious and the Raven 2 are both made in China.
Personally, I think the quality of the knife is more important than where it was made. I also think these are both good knives. But with the Tenacious, a lot of what you’re paying for isn’t the knife itself; it’s the Spyderco name. For just a few bucks more, the Byrd Raven 2 has better ergonomics and better steel, and it’s made by the same company even if a different brand name appears on it.
Blair Witkowski is an avid watch nut, loves pocket knives and flashlights, and when he is not trying to be a good dad to his nine kids, you will find him running or posting pics on Instagram. Besides writing articles for Tech Writer EDC he is also the founder of Lowcountry Style & Living. In addition to writing, he is focused on improving his client’s websites for his other passion, Search Engine Optimization. His wife Jennifer and he live in coastal South Carolina.