Spyderco byte January 2023 - NATIVE® 5 LIGHTWEIGHT SALT® YELLOW CPM® MAGNACUT®
C41PYL5 / SYL5 NATIVE® 5
Spyderco is very proud and excited to release our first full-production knife featuring CPM MagnaCut blade steel. As a platform for this release, we chose our Native 5 Lightweight Salt, both in honor of its iconic status in our product line and to highlight MagnaCut’s ultra-corrosion-resistant properties.
The Spyderco Native has a long and fascinating history that spans more than 25 years of evolution. Originally designed in 1996 for sale to Walmart, its blades and handles were supposed to be manufactured by the Camillus Knife Company of Syracuse, New York and assembled at the Spyderco factory in Golden, Colorado. Unfortunately, this arrangement did not work out as planned and the deal with Walmart ultimately fell through; however, we did receive a small batch of original blades from Camillus, all of which were made from 440A stainless steel.
Determined to make the Native a reality, Spyderco purchased the handle molds from Camillus and set about upgrading the design with Japanese GIN-1 stainless steel blades and improved lock geometry. Although Blue Ridge Knives, a major knife distributor, purchased the 440A blades, handles, and hardware and assembled them into a limited number of “First Generation BRK” Natives, the quality of those knives was quickly overshadowed by the improved version manufactured in Golden.
Released in 1997, the original Native was specifically designed as an affordable, extremely ergonomic, lightweight folder. It was also instrumental in introducing Spyderco’s patented reversible pocket clip, which replaced the integral clip of our early lightweight models with a steel clip and barrel-bolt hardware to provide a choice of left or right-side, tip-up carry. Although a stainless-steel-handled version was briefly produced in Japan, the lightweight Native quickly distinguished itself as a flagship of Spyderco’s American-made product line, offering excellent quality and made-in-USA craftsmanship at a budget-friendly price.
As the Native continued to gain popularity, Spyderco revamped its design to yield the C78 Native III in 2003 and the Native IV in 2005. The Native IV lightweight was particularly well received and ultimately inspired several variations, including a low-profile, black-bladed version for tactical applications and a pink-handled version that helped support Spyderco’s charitable contributions to breast cancer research. A tan-handled version was also produced exclusively for the Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) and to support a monthly drawing in which Spyderco gave away free knives to forward-deployed U.S. military personnel.
The Native 5:
In 2011, Spyderco did a major overhaul of the Native’s design to create the current fifth-generation pattern. Introduced first with full, skeletonized stainless steel liners, peel-ply-textured G-10 scales, and a stainless steel backspacer, it showcased a highly refined back lock mechanism. The product of extensive research, development, and testing, the Native 5’s back lock set a new standard in the engineering and execution of this elegantly simple lock design, offering increased strength, an exceptionally smooth action, an improved self-close function, and even greater resistance to wear and tear than previous versions.
Although the Native 5 retained the profile of its predecessors’ signature spearpoint blades, it traded their deep hollow grind and dramatic swedge for a full-flat grind and an understated bevel on the spine. It also faithfully maintained the design’s forefinger choil, which allows forward grip for increased leverage and control during use.
Another significant design enhancement of the Native 5 was its pocket clip. While early generations of the design were limited to tip-up carry only, the Native 5 added the versatility of a four-position hourglass pocket clip that offers a choice of tip-up or tip-down carry on both sides of the body.
The G-10-handled Native 5 redefined the state of the art in back lock folding knives and inspired several different variations, including a version with a CPM S110V® blade, one with fluted titanium handle scales, and one with fluted carbon fiber scales that served as the foundation of Spyderco’s 40th Anniversary commemorative knife. Serious end users, however, longed for a lightweight version that combined all the design refinements of the Native 5 platform with the weight-saving advantages of an injection-molded handle. The answer to that calling was the Native 5 Lightweight.
The Native 5 Lightweight:
Introduced in 2014, the Native 5 Lightweight faithfully incorporates all the defining features of the G-10-handled Native 5 design into a linerless fiberglass-reinforced-nylon (FRN) handle. This reduces the overall weight of the knife to a scant 2.4-2.5 ounces (68-71 grams), depending upon the specific blade steel and edge configuration. It also adds the benefits of a molded Bi-Directional Texture™ pattern for an ultra-secure grip and a robust new hourglass clip design with a larger mounting base for increased strength and durability. Four sets of threaded inserts molded directly into the back side of the FRN scales provide sturdy mounting platforms and allow the clip to be positioned for left or right-side tip-up or tip-down carry. A generously sized lanyard hole also provides a handy attachment point for lanyards, fobs, and safety lines.
Like the Native IV, the Native 5 Lightweight soon became a platform for multiple variations showcasing different handle colors, edge configurations, and, for tactical applications, black-bladed versions with a non-reflective Diamond-Like Carbon (DLC) blade coating.
Initially, the blades of both the Native 5 and Native 5 Lightweight were crafted from CPM S35VN—a steel designed to offer greater toughness than CPM S30V®. Later, full-production versions of both models were introduced featuring CPM S110V blades. Based on our extensive in-house testing and primary emphasis on cutting performance, in 2018, all standard models of both knives began a phased process of switching from CPM S35VN to CPM S30V. That same year, the Native 5 Lightweight joined Spyderco’s elite Salt Series of knives, showcasing a high-visibility yellow handle and a blade crafted from ultra-corrosion-resistant LC200N.
While bright yellow handles are a signature element of our Salt Series, as our Salt Series evolved to include more blade steels, we decided to standardize the themes of their handle colors. For our lightweight LC200N knives, we chose a vibrant green color. To make the LC200N-bladed Native 5 Lightweight consistent with its brethren, we recently changed its handle color to bright green. That freed the signature yellow color of our US-made Salt knives to pair with our newest Salt-worthy blade steel, the highly anticipated CPM MagnaCut.
Heralded as one of the most significant developments in blade steel in recent history, MagnaCut offers an extraordinary combination of cutting performance, edge retention, and toughness. Based on Spyderco’s extensive testing of this steel, it also delivers exceptional corrosion resistance—so exceptional we decided it was worthy of inclusion in our industry-leading Salt Series.
The yellow-handled Native 5 Lightweight Salt is the first full-production Spyderco knife to showcase MagnaCut blade steel. It proudly combines all the best-in-class features of the highly evolved Native 5 Lightweight platform with the performance advantages of MagnaCut. Its full-flat-ground blade offers thin, low-friction edge geometry and is available in a choice of PlainEdge™ or fully serrated SpyderEdge™ configurations. Its bright yellow FRN handle ensures excellent visibility and all its hardware—including its broad-based four-position pocket clip—is made from highly corrosion-resistant alloys.
Arguably the perfect cutting tool for use in and around the water, the Native 5 Lightweight Salt MagnaCut is sure to set new standards in Reliable High Performance™.