The Bedouin tribes were historically a desert dwelling group of Nomads of Arab ethnicity, primarily traveling around the Jordan River area. Their main livelihood was rearing camels but shifts in social/political attitudes and climate change in the Middle East has since forced the tribes to settle. During their Nomadic period, the Bedouin had need for a flexible blade conducive to their rugged and somewhat unpredictable lifestyle. The Shabaria or Shibriya as it is more commonly known was created to fill this role. These wavy dagger like blades were originally used for utility and defense but ornate versions were also produced and symbolized power, resilience and grace. The knives are still being made in the Middle East today and are produced in a variety of qualities. Shabriyas come in the form of high end blades, traditionally fashioned from precious materials using knowledge passed through generations and cheap tourist knock-off knives.
The late Eduard Bradichansky, an Israeli gunsmith and jewellery designer, collaborated with Spyderco toward the end of the 90’s to create the first Shabaria. A folding knife that was closely patterned off the original blades used by the Bedouin Tribes. The result was a pocket sized version that combined the classic profile with modern materials and features found in today’s folders.
The Shabaria has a long, distinct, wavy blade. Although unusual in its profile to Western eyes, it is a typical Middle Eastern dagger shape. The knife’s blade is made from the Japanese produced stainless VG10 which has a fine grain that holds a keen, easy to maintain edge. The blade’s narrow profile is complimented with a fairly short yet deep, hollow grind that produces an extremely sharp edge and narrow penetrating point without sacrificing too much steel. The re-curve will feed material into a cut nicely, however due to the down-scaling of the original (The Bedouin fixed blade Shabarias are much larger) the point is quite narrow and therefor needs to be protected from lateral stresses. The thumb hole on this knife is somewhat covered by the scales when closed, more so on the lock side. This makes it a little trickier to get a grip on for right handed users and very difficult for left handed users. The standard VG10/Japan stamp and Spyderco trademark appear on the blade along with Eduard Bradichansky’s symmetrical logo, a stylized E.B.
The handle is also fashioned after the ethnic knife however, like the rest, it has been down scaled. On the originals, the scooped portion of the handle would typically fit the entire hand and the ends would serve as a front and rear guard. The design prevents slipping in either direction. In the Spyderco version, the function is maintained as the deep, symmetrical scallops keep the handle firm in grip but at the expense of some comfort.
The scales on the Shabaria sprint run are carbon fibre. A light texture from the machining gives a matte translucent finish that subtly presents the underlying weave. The material is slick to the touch and adds a purely aesthetic function because it does not produce any additional grip. Both scales are backed up with solid stainless liners, one functioning as the liner lock. The handle is an open back, pillared, screw together construction. It has a lanyard hole and a right handed tip down only pocket clip.
In the past, I’ve had issues with the quality control of Japanese made Spydercos. This knife is breaking the pattern. The fit and finish on this Shabaria is immaculate. The liners and scales match perfectly and have no gaps. There are no tears or chipping around the holes drilled in the carbon fibre, something I’ve see too often in the Japanese runs. The stainless liners are evenly ground around the edges and smooth on the inner surfaces. The lock is solid and without play in any direction. The clip is functional and the gold Spyderco logo printed on it is a detail that sets off the design nicely. Blade centering is also spot on. My only criticism would be the washers. I prefer sintered bronze over nylon as they are longer lasting and more resilient to grit.
To be honest I was never sure what to think about the Shabaria. It’s unusual profile seems to be a love or hate kind of design. After looking into the knife’s roots, and understanding its lineage everything has come into focus. This new found knowledge of the knife’s history in combination with the excellent fit and finish has made it a very interesting offering from Spyderco and in many ways as classic : a testament to Spyderco’s willingness to collaborate with an eclectic, international group of designers who bring forward an equally diverse collection of blades.
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Excellent Fit and Finish
Ergonomics may not be for everyone
Right hand only
Total Dimensions and weight :
Length Open 8 11/16 in. (221 mm)
Length Closed 4 3/4 in. (121 mm)
weight 4.2 oz. (119 g)
Blade Length 3 7/8 in. (98 mm)
blade thickness 1/8″ (3 mm)
cutting edge 3 11/16″ (94 mm)
hole diameter 7/16 (11 mm)
blade steel VG10
Matte Carbon Fibre
Full Stainless Liners
Made in Japan
This knife was purchased through National Knives