I really can’t think of anything Spyderco hasn’t made. Frame locks, back locks, liner locks, compression locks, tiny knives, huge knives, fixed blades, you name it, they’ve done it. One of their newer offerings in the fixed blade department is the Waterway. It’s a knife designed by Lance Clinton, a kayak fisherman, to be a salt water companion with extreme corrosion resistance at the forefront of it’s design. But, what if you don’t want to carry a fixed blade on your next fishing adventure?
Then you may want to consider looking at the Spyderco Siren. It’s a folding version of the Waterway fixed blade knife. Using the same LC200N blade steel, and having a virtually rust proof build, it’s ready to be carried and neglected on a boat, gut your catch, be left dirty and wet, rinsed off in the ocean water, and left wherever you please. What a great idea, right? Well, let’s discuss.
Key Specs: Spyderco Siren
The shining star of the blade on the Siren is the LC200N blade. As a successor to H1 blade steel, it has much better edge retention than it’s predecessor. It’s virtually rust proof, holds an edge for a respectable amount of time, and takes a great edge in sharpening. At the base of the blade, is a defined grind line, not unlike that of the Spydiechef.
The Siren uses a full flat ground blade, and has a drop point profile. It’s length is 3.6”, which can be a frustrating number, for those who are in legal jurisdictions that require under 3.5” to comply with legalities. The finish on the Siren is left showing the grind lines from manufacturing, which I think is a great look. The blade thickness is 0.125”, lending the knife to be a decent slicer in EDC roles. It’s simple, does what it’s meant to do, and doesn’t complain if it’s left wet in a tackle box or rinsed in salt water.
Deployment / Lockup
Using the tried and true back lock on the Siren makes for a good choice, as the exposure to the lock is easy to manipulate with wet hands. And utilizing the Spyderco classic opening hole for deployment ensures an easy and effective way to get the knife open, continuing with the wet hand test. The deployment is complimented by an extremely smooth example of a back lock. Many back lock knives I’ve used and tested were either gritty, or very stiff. Not the Siren; it’s very smooth and doesn’t have too much resistance.
The lockup is about as solid as it gets, and for probably the first time in my knife testing, has a free dropping blade with the lock disengaged. Of course, this isn’t something that’s needed on a folder. But, it’s typically reserved for knives of much higher price points, and with bearing pivot systems. Somehow, this knife still resists being flicked open with almost any amount of effort I gave it, but that’s not expected of a knife with such a specific design purpose. It’s easy to open, easy to close, and keeps things very simple. So far, so good.
Features, Fit and Finish
Even though the knife is simple in design and deployment, it does have a list of features that keep things interesting behind the scenes. Starting at the base of the handle, is a wire style pocket clip. This is one of my personal favorite clips, as it tends to blend in well with clothing. I usually don’t mind my pocket knife showing a little out of the pocket, but it is nice to have a level of discrete carry, that looks more like a pen than a knife to other bystanders. Just below the pocket clip is a small lanyard hole. Most Spyderco knives have a lanyard hole, and/or tube, but on this knife, it feels more important to mention.
If you’re someone who may really use this knife in it’s intended purpose of boating or fishing, you may want a level of grab-ability outside of the small amount of handle that sticks out when using the aforementioned wire pocket clip. The G10 handle scales on the Siren are grippy, akin to skateboard grip tape. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of handling an Emerson folding knife, you’ll have something to compare this G10 to, as it’s very similar. Again, back to the intended purpose of this knife, having wet and slippery hands is absolutely not a problem with this knife.
Moving up the handle further, we’re presented with simple construction on the Siren. T6 and T8 screws allow the knife to come apart quite easily, and there are very few moving parts inside. That’s not to mislead an intended DIY’er to take this knife apart without a little back lock knowledge; as simple as they are, putting them back together can take a little time to line things up properly. The blue liners showing inside the knife are a nice touch, to give the aesthetics a little pop, rather than just having a completely black and silver knife. Near the top of the handle, is a large flare, to again prevent wet hands from sliding up the knife, and unintentionally cutting the user. It works well, and doesn’t take away from the ergonomics in my use. And, with a pocket clip cutout on each side of the handle, an opening hole for deployment, and a back lock, this knife is truly ambidextrous, in every conceivable way.
The fit and finish of the Siren is good overall. The G10 is chamfered well, and doesn’t have any glaring hot spots. As mentioned before, the action is super smooth, and the blade drops shut with the lock disengaged. But the blade is sharp in all the wrong places. The opening hole and spine of the blade are not smoothed out at all. There may be a reason for this in manufacturing, when tooling LC200N steel. But, the sharp edges felt on the blade are quite bothersome to me, just as a point of fit and finish. It doesn’t seem to make sense, to make the whole knife smooth and comfortable, but leave the blade feeling almost raw off the grinding belts at the factory.
To complete the rust proof package, Spyderco went ahead and put phosphor bronze washers in the pivot of the Siren. This is, of course, their standard affair with most of their folders. But, many of their lightweight FRN models, with H1 steel or LC200N steel, lose the washers altogether, and have the blade run only on the high-end plastic alone. I applaud Spyderco here, in choosing to use real washers, that keep the package very corrosion resistant, while still having a pleasurable action to the deployment. It’s details like this, that make Spyderco a company that doesn’t just make tons of knives in tons of styles, but they give a damn, and think of all the details. Well, except for one…
Ah, the field test. I love testing knives. I typically don’t test them to their breaking point, or even close to it. I have a small gamut of daily tasks to test the ergonomics in different ways, test the steel, and check the blade geometry. Overall, the Siren performs as you’d imagine, with one glaring problem. Let’s begin with what’s good.
Keeping in mind that the Siren is a purpose built folder, I’ll admit that I have no business fishing on a kayak, let alone using my folder during said trip. So, I’ll report my use in my time with this knife as an EDC knife, which I think the Siren can double – duty just fine. Zipping through some cardboard is no problem, save for the edge being dull out of the box. I’ve read multiple accounts of this issue, on this particular knife. And no, it’s not just how LC200N feels. My personal Spydiechef, in the same steel, is razor sharp at all times (keeping it touched up, and stropped on a regular basis).
The Siren wasn’t shaving sharp out of the box, which is surprising for a Spyderco knife. Not only was it not shaving sharp, but it could barely muscle through slicing a piece of printer paper without tearing it. Maybe the Golden, Colorado plant needs a little time in learning not to burn the edge on LC200N, as the Taichung plant seems to have this steel down to a tee. Or maybe the heat treat wasn’t done well, and the edge never got sharp to begin with. Either way, it’s a frustrating position to be in, to buy a $175 pocket knife that truly isn’t sharp. I could easily run the edge on my fingertips without any worry of cutting myself. Yes, I tried it.
So, opening boxes and tearing down a little cardboard is good to go, once you get the edge sorted out. Food prep is another great part of the Siren’s portfolio to expand on. What with the intense corrosion resistance, and well proportioned blade, slicing up apples, cucumbers, meat, and other fruit was no problem. During this time in use, I did notice the blade to have a touch of play to it, but not side to side. When pressing down on the blade at the end of the cut, the blade seemed to have some movement toward the back of the handle. And this is where I think there’s a problem with the design of this knife.
I held the knife in a normal grip, and checked for blade play. Some back locks will have a little movement, back to front, in this simulated, forced test. The Siren did have a little movement, but that’s maybe to be expected in this regard. Then, I gripped the knife a little tighter, and found what I deem to be the fatal flaw of this knife. The position of the lock bar allows the hand gripping the knife to partially unlock the blade unintentionally. This is bad news. I stopped what I was doing, wiped down the blade, and went to the garage.
I have a spool of sisal rope that I use for various things, and cut segments of it with my test knives, to see how the blade cuts. This is not an easy material to get through, unless you are using a sharp knife with good cutting geometry. Again, I do think the grind and edge thickness of the Siren is done well, but with the dull factory edge, and this lock problem, I could not cut the rope. I held a piece of it on my work bench, and attempted to cut the rope. The blade felt like it was going to leave the handle, toward the back side. I held the knife in different grips, but any way I held it, I inadvertently was pushing down slightly on the lock bar. The blade truly feels like it’s going to come out of it’s handle, and slip out of the lock mechanism.
To further complicate this issue, the lock bar is also quite easy to depress, potentially with a weak spring under the hood. I don’t see how this issue was overlooked in designing and testing the knife, with a company as big as Spyderco. Having a blade that could possible close on the users hand, or even come out of position toward the back of the handle, leaves me puzzled. Maybe we’re being too hard on the knife here, but I don’t think so. This is why I value the field test portion of our reviews so much. Sitting at a table and handling this knife would probably never show this issue. Without using this knife, I’d likely recommend it. But after some use and testing, I’m a little leery to tell someone to throw this kind of money at a folder with this kind of problem.
All these knives available at BladeHQ.Assuming corrosion resistance is important to potential buyers, Spyderco has a few other knives that fall into this category with similar qualities. Coming out very soon, the Pacific Salt 2 and Atlantic Salt knives are similar to the Siren, using the same LC200N blade steel, come in plain edge or serrated edge blades, have roughly 3.5” blades, and cost only about $100. They weigh less than 3 ounces, and are going to be manufactured in the Spyderco Japan plant, which generally has very good fit and finish. Not having handled or used these yet, I can’t absolutely recommend them, but they seem to be very good alternatives to the Siren.
Another knife I’ve yet to have my hands on, but could compare quite closely to the Siren, is the Spyderco Caribbean. It isn’t as friendly to lefties as the the back lock knives are, so keep that aspect in mind when shopping. It’s available in either a drop point or sheepsfoot blade, with either a plain edge or serrated edge in each blade shape. And, for my favorite part, comes with Spyderco’s compression lock. This knife has been reported to be slightly less smooth in action than more popular compression lock models, like the Paramilitary 2 and Para 3, but it’s a great lock nonetheless. It’s looks may be polarizing, with a honeybee appearance to it, but it’s comparable to the Siren in price, retailing for around $180. It is a little heavier, though, at 4.2 ounces, when compared to the Siren’s 3.6 ounces, but that’s not a whole lot of weight difference in a folder, to be honest.
The Autonomy 2 and Spydiechef also utilize the great LC200N blade steel, but are both well over the $200 price point that would be comparable to the Siren. But, the hidden gem in the LC200N category, is the Spyderco Native 5 Salt. It’s a little smaller, with a blade length of 3.0”, but that may actually be a positive, if you live in an area that requires a shorter blade. And this knife is only 2.5 ounces. It’s got a back lock like the Siren, but I’d argue the Native series has much better ergonomics. You’ll have to settle for a bright yellow handle scale scheme, or go ahead and try your hand at dying the scales, but again, a polarizing color choice like many of the other Salt series knives. Coming in at only $130, it’s a little cheaper than the Siren, but keeps the corrosion resistance at bay with it’s rust proof build.
A purpose built tool of any kind is going to have limitations in one regard or another. But it shouldn’t have a flaw like the lock has proven in my testing. Spyderco often does a “CQI” (constant quality improvement) redesign on a knife they make, if they deem it to have a problem worth fixing. The Spydiechef originally had a steel detent ball, for example, but later was treated with the CQI update to have a ceramic detent ball, to eliminate the rust potential from the steel ball.
So, is there hope that they’ll fix the lock issue on the Siren? Sure, but I’m not confident we’ll see it happen. It would probably take a complete overhaul to fix the issue, and I’m sure many users will not notice this problem depending on their use. The Siren seems to be made well for it’s intended use, but I’d have a hard time recommending it to someone looking for a corrosion resistant EDC tool, with so many other offerings available from Spyderco.
- Virtually rust proof, great for intended use, carries well, smooth action, great ergos.
- Dull out of the box, lock has flaws for EDC use, overly grippy G10 scales, blade needs attention in chamfering