When I see someone with a folder clipped to their pocket, I can’t help but ask what they are carrying and, if the environment permits, if I might see it. I like hearing why they picked a particular knife and what features they do and do not like. Oftentimes, price is one of the determining factors in the knife’s selection, but not as often as you might think. High-end custom folders have always been popular, with customers waiting as long as a year-plus to get one. While any knife will cut, provided the blade is harder than the item being cut, knife features and quality manufacture can lead to greater utility in the field, as well as enhanced pride of ownership. And sometimes you just want something made in America instead of overseas. Spartan Blades is certainly a “Made-in-the-U.S.A.” type of company, which is part of the reason their popularity continues to grow.
Spartan owners Curtis Iovito and Mark Carey possess over 40 years of combined military experience. Both retired from U.S. Army Special Forces, they have been involved in the development, marketing and management of tactical gear and ballistic armor products ever since returning to civilian life. Curtis has made custom knives for years, mostly for colleagues in the Special Forces, but also for other companies. With Spartan, Mark and Curtis have combined their love of knife-making, their military experience and their knowledge of tactical equipment to form a company with a singular mission: “Manufacture finely crafted tactical and field knives—knives with intent!” It is their goal to provide the modern warrior or outdoorsman with knives that will perform in a variety of missions and environments. They are interested not in providing a “cool” knife or the next SWAT pry bar, but in building a highly functional knife, made from only premium materials, which just happens to look great.
All Spartan knives are manufactured in North Carolina with U.S.-origin materials only. Their sheaths are made by U.S. veteran-owned businesses using only the best U.S.-origin and Berry Amendment-compliant materials. Both Mark and Curtis have spent a lifetime serving their country, and their commitment to U.S. materials shows. Not surprisingly, Spartan Blades is located in Aberdeen, North Carolina, just west of Fort Bragg, home of the 82nd Airborne Division, the 18th Airborne Corp and Army Special Forces headquarters.
Spartan has focused on fixed blade knives in the past, but has recently introduced the Akribis folder. Greek for sharp and precise, Akribis is an appropriate name for this exceptionally well-designed folding knife. The combination titanium and S35VN folder is the end result of concentrated development in an attempt to create a knife that encompasses all the right features for a modern folding knife. Form, function, ergonomics and craftsmanship were all words that came to my mind as I handled the two knives sent to me for test and evaluation. During the development of the Akribis folder, Spartan reached out to knowledgeable end users throughout the industry for guidance and insight, and their feedback is readily apparent when handling the blade. The design craftsmanship of this folder is easy to see, from the chamfers on the frame to the intricate machining of the blade’s spine jimping. With a blade length of 3.5 inches, an overall length of 8.5 inches and a weight of 5.2 ounces, the Akribis is one of those “just-right”-sized knives for everyday carry.
As stated, the Akribis is built with only the best of modern materials, including titanium, double deep-cryogenically treated S35VN blades and ceramic bearings in the locking bar to ensure positive closing for tip-up carry. The handle was machined from extra-thick titanium that is gray with black fittings, while a Special Forces-style arrow was machined into the reversible pocket clip, representing Spartan’s military heritage. Every surface is coated with PVD (black or meteorite grey) to protect the working surfaces of the blade and frame. The drop-point blade is American S35VN steel, and ambidextrous thumb studs were added for quick opening with either hand. The handle utilizes a licensed Hinderer lock bar stabilizer below the handle scale to increase lock strength. The knife has a full-length spacer in black G-10 and an extremely comfortable grip composed of lightly textured G-10 or black carbon fiber.
Incorporated into the grip is a filed thumb ramp leading up to the blade. The Akribis is meant to serve not only as a tactical or duty knife, but also as a blade that can be carried easily in a business suit. The end user should be equally comfortable carrying the Akribis on the battlefield, on the street, in the boardroom or during any daily activity.
Without a doubt, the Spartan Akribis has all the right features for a hard use, everyday-carry knife, but the only way to know for sure is to run it through its paces. Since the Akribis is intended for street or battlefield use, I put together a series of items that users regularly encounter in both types of environment. For those of us who are cops, items like seat belts, cardboard, clothing and leather (such as a car seat) are just a few commonly found items. Battlefield environments could include darn near anything, so I just grabbed some items on hand, including conveyor belt rubber, paracord, leather strapping and bandage material. The grind on the Akribis blade is quite fine and felt very sharp as I ran my thumb lightly over it. I started the sharpness testing by suspending some common kite string. After five swipes of the knife, I had five pieces of string lying on the ground.
The rest of my testing proved anti-climactic, as the Akribis sliced through everything put to it with ease. Sure, some things were tougher to cut than others, but the Akribis blade stayed sharp, and the locking mechanism stayed solidly in place. Of the two models, I felt the texturing on the G-10 blade offered a better gripping surface than did the carbon fiber, especially when wearing gloves. At the same time, the smooth carbon fiber was easier to slide in and out of my pocket. So it’s like everything else: Choosing features is a truly personal matter.
The pocket clip is very cool looking, thanks to its arrow design and dark coloring, which produces a lower profile than does a bright silver clip. Why call attention to the knife if you don’t have to? I prefer tip-up carry, and I found it relatively easy to draw the Akribis from my right front pocket with only a few practice draws. The Akribis would flip open with the flick of the wrist, which is not good for the knife’s locking mechanism. That said, it’s good to know that, if the hand fumbles when drawing the knife and the thumb is not properly placed to push the blade open, an alternative is available.
It is obvious the Akribis is a knife built for folks in harm’s way—by guys who know what harsh environments really are. If you want the best and don’t mind paying a little more for it, Spartan Blades just might be the last place you will ever look for a personal carry blade.