The C156GPBN or “Southard Flipper” is a long-anticipated collaboration between Brad Southard and Spyderco. Brad Southard is a popular custom designer/maker and industrial designer by trade.
The 3.46″ long x 0.157″ thick blade on the Southard is CTS 204P. This steel comes from Carpenter’s, Micro-Melt® line. It boasts high amounts of carbon, chromium and vanadium with the addition of tungsten. The alloyed components and powder metallurgy process creates a fine, even grained carbide-rich steel that is tough and corrosion resistant.
The profile is a modified drop point. A high primary hollow grind finished with a narrow secondary bevel produces a keen edge well leveraged by the bellied shape. The point of the knife is effective with its quick sweep downward for easy penetrating cuts. Scalloping on the spine, along with a run of smooth jimping allows for multiple thumb placements and tactile feedback.
The combination of the convex edge profile and choil will help with maintenance. While many Spyderco’s do not have a proper choil for sharpening, it is great to see it on this knife. With the specifications of CTS 204P this will help considerably when touching up this hard-wearing steel.
On one flat, the blade is etched with the Spyderco logo and steel type. The other side is marked with Southard’s logo and the place of manufacture : Taichung, Taiwan. Surfaced with a tumbled (stone-washed) finish, the knife has a modern, low glare appearance. The tumbling process also helps to smooth out edges providing additional comfort.
As with all Spyderco’s, the blade has their trademark thumb-hole. Unique to this model, it is a secondary means of deployment however, taking a back seat to the flipper. The thumb hole is a small so people with larger hands may find it hard to get at. Unlike the flipper, it isn’t ambidextrous either.
The flipper on this knife is nicely executed. It works equally well pressed down or pulled. Once the detent is overcome, the blade quickly assumes the open position. The smooth action is due to the combination of tight tolerances and a thrust-bearing assembly. The thrust-bearings in this knife are steel balls caged in a plastic washer. On one side, the bearings directly contact the blade. The scale facing side is buffered by a steel washer that prevents the uneven wear and friction that would occur between the hard bearings and softer titanium.
On opening the blade stops against an in-tang pin and the titanium, integral frame-lock. Lock-up is without play in any direction and the arm is without rock. At about 50% there is a good amount of security along with room to wear. Disengagement is smooth and without the stickiness that many titanium frame-locks suffer from. To preserve lock integrity there is a drop shaped G-10 inlay in the scale that works as an over-travel stop. Matching the earth-brown scale, it adds a unique detail.
In the open position the flipper also acts as a guard. A shallow finger groove follows, accentuated by the cut-out that allows the thumb hole to be accessed. Outside of the groove and radius-edged cutout, the handle has minimal lines. These flow with the blade shape when open and give the closed position a slick, nested appearance.
Beside looking good, the 4.50″ handle is also quite comfortable, filling the hand with a solid amount of material. The dark earth-brown scale has a fine but aggressive texture for grip while the opposite lock side has a smooth, dark stone-wash finish. The smooth side includes a tip up right handed clip allowing it to slide in and out of the pocket easily. With a light tumbled finish it balances the blade in composition. A large lanyard ‘tube’ provides an additional carry option. Assembled using a flow-through pillar construction, cleaning will be easy while the lack of a back-spacer helps to save weight. Milling on the liner side also reduces stock holding the knife at just over 4 oz.
In conclusion, the Spyderco Brad Southard flipper is a very current and attractive offering. It embodies all of the popular features found in advanced folder design. A durable build quality, pocket-able every day carry size and quick deployment will make this a go-to for many owners. Outside of the price, there is little to dislike about the knife, especially if you are attracted to the latest and greatest, talent and materials. This slick, well engineered package will surely find its way into many collections but will also make a very capable, long lasting utility blade.
Overall Length : 7.96″ (202 mm)
Closed Length : 4.50″ (114 mm)
Weight : 4.1 oz (116 g)
Blade Length : 3.46″ (88 mm)
Blade Thickness : 0.157″ (4 mm)
Cutting Edge : 3.46″ (88 mm)
Steel : Carpenter CTS 204P (HRc unlisted likely 62 +/- 1)
Grind : Hollow
Finish : Stone Wash
Material : G-10 / Titanium
Lock : Reeve Integral Frame Lock
G10 Over-Travel Stop
Made in Taichung, Taiwan