The Spyderco UKPK’s ungainly appearance disguises what is a highly effective lightweight folding knife. The design and materials are well-suited to everyday use, but also for life in the great outdoors. Quite simply, this is a brilliant little blade.
- Thumb jimping on top of blade for good dexterity and control
- Useful ‘Spydie hole’ for one-handed operation
- Half stop and finger groove for safety
- Reversible pocket clip
- Divisive looks
The Spyderco UK Penknife Drop Point (UKPK) is an odd-looking beast, and that in itself is likely to divide opinion. Some might be put off by its ungainly appearance, while others might appreciate the modern, utilitarian design. Once you handle it, however, it’s difficult not to be impressed with its overall ergonomics – it feels great. The shaped choil for the forefinger and the upper thumb ramp means it sits comfortably and securely in the hand. It’s also lightweight and compact when folded, occupying that difficult-to-define ‘sweet spot’: a small, portable everyday carry knife that nevertheless gives the sense of being more than capable enough to be used for hiking, backpacking and camping in the great outdoors.
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Despite its UK-focused design (the UKPK was specifically developed to comply with UK knife laws for everyday carry), Spyderco is a US brand, and this knife is US-made. In terms of quality of materials and construction, it’s therefore unsurprisingly solid. The drop point blade is made of CTS BD1N alloy, a stainless steel made by US steel manufacturer Carpenter that balances hardness, edge retention and resistance to corrosion. It’s often used in quality cutlery, so this should be a great knife for all sorts of camp cooking jobs. It takes a very fine edge and while edge retention isn’t class-leading, it hones up easily. The blade also has Spyderco’s characteristic ‘Spydie hole’ at the base of the spine, which enables the knife to be opened one-handed.
The handle uses liner-less scales made from fiberglass-reinforced nylon, with a reversible wire pocket clip that can be switched for left- or right-handed use. This construction doesn’t feel quite as robust as some other EDC knives, but on the other hand it keeps the weight down, making this knife a slim and obtrusive tool to carry in a pocket.
• RRP: $110 (US) / £79 (UK)
• Weight: 98g / 3.5oz
• Blade length: 7.5cm / 3in
• Overall length: 17cm / 6.7in
• Closed length: 9.5cm / 3.8in
• Materials: CTSBD1N stainless steel blade and fiberglass-reinforced nylon (FRN) scales
• Features: Flat grind; drop point blade
In the field
The Spyderco UK Penknife Drop Point (UKPK)’s excellent ergonomics again come into play when it is put to use. That finger choil, combined with the thumb ramp and the spine jimping ensure the UKPK feels controlled and precise whether you’re employing it for coarser cutting tasks or fine work. The relatively thin blade stock does make this knife a little more delicate than some, but on the plus side this only enhances its accuracy and cutting capability.
The shaped handle also gives plenty of confidence in the blade, particularly for a slipjoint, since the position of your index finger ensures it is almost impossible for it to close in use. The slip-joint mechanism helps here too, since the stiff backspring and twin pivot notches keep the knife firmly open and stop the blade halfway, so that it doesn’t snap closed on your fingers.
We also appreciated the fact that the knife is straightforward to disassemble for maintenance and cleaning – though the frame has a chunky backspacer that makes it a bit trickier to blow out any gunk that does accumulate between the scales.
Similarly, although it is nice and compact when folded, we did note that a fair proportion of the back of the blade sticks out of the handle – though it is at least contoured to ensure there are no sharp edges to catch on pocket linings.
Overall, however, this is a versatile knife that is well-adapted to a variety of uses. Ultimately, if you’re looking for a lightweight folding knife to accompany you in the great outdoors, the Spyderco UK Penknife Drop Point (UKPK) is a superlative choice. Few other brands can compete when it comes to balancing usability, build quality and price.
An outdoors writer and editor, Matt Jones has been testing kit in the field for nearly a decade. Having worked for both the Ramblers and the Scouts, he knows one or two things about walking and camping, and loves all things adventure, particularly long-distance backpacking, wild camping and climbing mountains – especially in Wales. He’s based in Snowdonia and last year thru-hiked the Cambrian Way, which runs for 298 miles from Cardiff to Conwy, with a total ascent of 73,700 feet – that’s nearly 2½ times the height of Everest. Follow Matt on Instagram and Twitter.
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