The Spyderco Caly 3.5 sprint run is essentially the same knife as the standard Caly 3.5 with the exception of two differences. The first being the scale material, the sprint run features grey G10 instead of black. The second, and more importantly is the blade steel which is Aogami Super Blue rather than VG10 (another Japanese steel).
Aogami Super Blue (AS) is a specialty steel produced by the Yasugi company (a subsidiary of Hitachi Metals). AS falls under the umbrella of “Yasugi Specialty Steel.” or as most people know it, by its acronym YSS.
AS is produced using the same high grade iron sands found in traditionally made Tama-hagane or “jewel steel” that has been used in samurai swords and other traditional edged weapons and tools. The production process of modern tama-hagane is different however. The ancient method used a large hand built clay tub called a tatara that is air-fed with bellows from both sides. The tatara is filled with alternating layers of pine charcoal and iron sand (satetsu) over a period of 72 hours. The result is a large block of steel called a kera which literally translates into bloom. In contrast, newer Tama-hagane steels are produced using a process called DRI or “Direct Reduced Iron” This involves altering the iron sands (or ore) oxygen content, while still in a solid state, through a low reducing heat created by natural gas or coal. Both the traditional method, using a tatara, and the DRI technology used by Yasugi produce a very pure iron, due to the absence of a flux such as limestone. Also differing from blast furnace smelting the DRI process produces “sponge iron” rather than “pig iron”. Although both have their ideal purposes, the sponge iron produced by Yasugi for their White and Blue steels is optimal for hard edged tools, due to its high carbon content and low impurities.. The term White and Blue steel actually refers to the color paper that the steels are shipped in and encompasses several different available alloys.
Generally speaking, Aogami Super Blue’s main application is as a blade steel that is to be hand forged in traditional Japanese cutlery and tools. Its true potential is arguably achieved through the influence of the blade-smith’s repeated hammering of the steel which alters the grain size or compactness of the steels structure. As a somewhat brittle steel, Aogami Super Blue needs to be treated as such, limiting the Caly 3.5’s long and narrow tip to lighter duties. This point is furthered by the fact that the blade is ground to shape rather than hammer forged. Alternately, It could also be argued that the hand forging process yields a less predictable result whereas modern manufacturing will. Either way, this hard, high carbon steel will hold a very keen edge. It should also be noted that as a carbon steel, AS is not a stainless steel and will corrode if not maintained accordingly.
For you steel nerds here is the chemical composition of Aogami Super Blue. For those of you who aren’t here is a little bit about what each element will add to the steel’s properties.
C 1.4-1.5 (The necessary range of carbon for a steel to be considered a Tama-hagane. Carbon also increases tensile strength and edge retention)
Cr .30 – .50 (Increases hardness and toughness adding to wear resistance and corrosion resistance)
Mn 0.20-0.30 (Manganese helps the ease of hardening among other chemical processes)
Mo 0.3- 0.50 (Molybdenum adds to strength, harness, harden-ability, and corrosion resistance. It also makes the steel easier to machine)
P 0.025 ( Phosphorus is added to increase strength. It will help the machine-ability as well)
S 0.004 (Sulpher, in small amounts, is added to make the steel easier to machine)
Si 0.10 – 0.20 (Silicon is primarily added for strength but also aids in chemical process)
W 2.0 – 2.50 (Tungsten, added for strength harden-ability and over all toughness)
V 0.30 – 0.50 (Vanadium, added for wear resistance and over all toughness)
The Caly 3.5 is part of the Calypso family of Spyderco’s which have been around for over a decade. The longevity of the design is primarily based around very sound ergonomics and a useful blade shape.
The handle of the Caly 3.5 is constructed in the classic Spyderco style. Having a steep, sharply jimped thumb ramp and choil large enough for your first finger, the Caly 3.5 will allow you to choke up on the blade to gain finer control. In combination with the thinly ground, point, the knife will lend itself quite well to finer cutting tasks that require some precision. Holding the knife further back will leverage the curved and scalloped handle profile. Although a little small for most hands in this position, it is still comfortable to use.
The liners are drilled-out stainless and covered in G10 scales. A full stainless back-spacer and lock back are all held in place with a rivet construction. There is a small lanyard hole and Spyderco’s wire clip (tip up, ambidextrous) for carry options. The entire package is very light weight at 3.2 Oz (91g).
The over all fit and finish of the knife is quite excellent. Liners, scales and back-spacer are beautifully aligned and nicely finished. The inner surfaces of the knife have also had attention paid to them which is appreciated. The lockup and blade centering are also spot on, all of which should be expected in a sprint run that demands a higher premium than the regular production models.
All in, the Caly 3.5 sprint run is a very solid choice for users looking for a knife that has exceptional ergonomics and will hold a keen edge. It will obviously appeal to Spyderco collectors and, if the quality is matched to the knife I have, will impress. Due to the properties of AS steel this knife would not be the best choice for buyers looking for a harder use knife. The Caly 3 ZDP-189 may have a slightly more robust shape and abuse-ready steel than the 3.5 sprint run. To conclude, the 3.5 AS grey G10 sprint run is an excellent knife that embodies many of Spyderco’s values : the willingness to experiment with different materials be them locally or internationally sourced, great value and excellent ergonomics. The grey G10 looks pretty sharp too.
As a promotion, National Knives is offering Edge Observer readers $5.00 of any order with the code EO5
Aogomi Super Blue steel
Deep Riding Clip
Grey G10 gets dirty looking easily
Total Dimensions and weight :
Length Open 7.625 in. (194 mm)
Length Closed 4.313 in. (110 mm)
weight 3.2 oz. (91 g)
Blade Length 3.5 in. (89 mm)
blade thickness .125″ (3 mm)
cutting edge 3.125″ (79 mm)
hole diameter .5 (13 mm)
blade steel Aogami Super Blue (Yasugi Specialty Steel)
Drilled Stainless Liners with a stainless back-spacer
Made in Japan