Spyderco byte June 2024 - Featured Product: FB01 / 02 Moran

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Spyderco byte June 2024 - Featured Product: FB01 / 02 MORAN™ UPSWEPT / DROP POINT​

  • FB01 / 02
  • MSRP: $173.50
  • ORIGIN: Japan

William Francis Moran Jr., better known as Bill Moran, was an extremely influential figure in the world of custom knifemaking. One of America’s premier custom bladesmiths, he was instrumental in the rediscovery of the art of forging pattern-welded, or Damascus, steel. His iconic “Featherlight” design was also the basis for Spyderco’s very first, and most enduring, fixed-blade production models.


Bill Moran was born on May 1, 1925, on a dairy farm near Lime Kiln, Maryland. He learned the art of blacksmithing by trial and error using an old coal forge he found on his family’s property. He forged his first knife at the tender age of 12 and within two years was making knives to sell. By the 1950’s, Moran was publishing a catalog of his knives and developing a devoted following as one of America’s few true bladesmiths. In 1960, his reputation as a knifemaker had grown to the point that he finally sold the family farm and devoted himself full time to his craft.
Moran was fascinated by pattern-welded steel and throughout the 1960’s focused intently on rediscovering the secrets of this lost art. In 1972, he was elected chairman of the Knifemaker’s Guild and one year later unveiled eight of his Damascus-bladed knives at the Guild Show. The breathtaking craftsmanship of those knives took the knifemaking community by storm and ignited modern interest in Damascus steel.

In 1976, Moran, along with renowned author B.R. Hughes and fellow bladesmith pioneers Bill Bagwell and Don Hastings, founded the American Bladesmith Society (ABS). Dedicated to preserving and promoting the craft of the hand-forged blade through education, testing and certification, the ABS continues to be the leading force in the bladesmith’s art today and has members on six continents.
Moran was inducted into Blade Magazine’s prestigious Cutlery Hall of Fame® in 1986 and two years later helped the ABS found a Bladesmithing School on the grounds of Historic Washington State Park in Hempstead County, Arkansas. Auspiciously, the school’s location is near where many historians believe James Black crafted Jim Bowie’s legendary Bowie Knife sometime in the 1820s. A collaborative effort of the ABS, the Pioneer Washington Restoration Foundation, Arkansas State Parks, and Texarkana College, the school was officially renamed the “William F. Moran School of Bladesmithing” following Moran’s retirement from teaching in 2001.

Bill Moran died of cancer on February 12, 2006. Today, he is fondly remembered as the driving force in rediscovering the art of pattern-welded steel and one of the world’s most influential figures in popularizing hand-forged knives.


Spyderco’s Moran Models:​

In 1985, Spyderco co-founder Sal Glesser participated in the first ABS “hammer-in” at the University of Wyoming in Dubois Lakes. At that landmark event, Sal not only learned to forge blades under the expert tutelage of the ABS’ creators, he also developed a close friendship with Moran. That friendship led to discussions of a design collaboration and, ultimately, to Spyderco’s first fixed-blade model, the FB01.

Released in 1995, the FB01 was originally named the Bill Moran Featherweight after Moran’s custom “Featherlight” pattern, which inspired it. Custom Featherlights featured ergonomic, pear-shaped handles typically crafted from curly maple and often embellished with decorative carving and wire inlays. The FB01 faithfully replicated the Featherlight’s distinctive handle shape and paired it with a gracefully curved, trailing-point blade. The blade was crafted from highly polished VG-10 stainless steel and, very uniquely, was sharpened with Moran’s signature convex, or “appleseed” edge. Later, the Moran edge was discontinued in favor of a conventional edge bevel that was easier for end users to sharpen.


The FB01’s handle was injection molded from tough fiberglass-reinforced nylon (FRN). Molded directly onto the blade’s concealed tang, it was inlaid with panels of Kraton® rubber to ensure an exceptionally secure, non-slip grip. In its original form, the FB01 came complete with a handcrafted leather belt sheath, but that sheath was later replaced by one custom molded from Concealex® and ultimately Boltaron®. Both of the latter sheaths featured a Blade-Tech® Tek-Lok® belt attachment.


In 2000, the FB01 was joined by the FB02—another expression of the Moran design featuring the same handle construction, but showcasing a drop-point blade profile and a conventionally sharpened edge. The names of both knives were also adjusted to include the terms “upswept” and “drop point” to reflect their respective blade shapes. Sometime later, a Trademark Round Hole™ was added to the blades as a proud symbol of the Spyderco brand.

Both Moran models quickly earned a devoted following among hunters and outdoor enthusiasts who appreciated their exceptional balance of light weight and full-service cutting performance. Around 2010, these qualities also attracted the attention of select U.S. military units, who approached Spyderco in search of a fixed-blade knife for use on their aircrew survival vests. After field testing several models, they ultimately chose the Moran Drop Point for official issue to their service members. To make it suitable for use in a SERE (Survival, Escape, Resistance, and Evasion) role, we produced the knife with a non-reflective titanium carbonitride (TiCN) blade coating and added a lined lanyard hole on the handle for attachment of a “dummy cord.” This feature was also incorporated into the handles of both satin-finished Moran models.


Prized for their outstanding cutting performance and edge retention, Bill Moran’s Spyderco models also offer excellent corrosion resistance, deft balance, and superior control during use. For all those reasons, after nearly 30 years of service, they remain popular choices among discriminating hunters and outdoorsmen, as well as an enduring tribute to a true knifemaking legend.
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