Friday, March 27, 2015

Spyderco FB-01 Bill Moran Featherweight: A camp knife ahead of its time..

The one knife a camper must have...

Back in the late 90s, I made an enquiry with a local distributor about a little camp knife. It was and still is produced by Spyderco, one of the leading knife manufacturers from the US.
The blade in question was the FB-01 Bill Moran Featherweight.
The 1998 rendition of this knife was way ahead of its time. It was the era before most knife companies went ape over using kydex as a knife sheath.
It was a sheer genius that a piece of plastic can be shaped into a knife sheath, impervious to the elements.
The Moran fixed blade is a small knife with an upswept point.
Even the edge that was put on it was something you won't find on knives of the era.
As a matter of fact, a batch of the FB-01, Spyderco's first fixed blade were given serial numbers (on the riscasso) and I believe that these were for the first 100 pieces. It came with a handsome leather sheath.


A heavily-used Moran featherweight and the collector's piece
William F Moran (1925-2006), a legendary bladesmith..




Bill was a highly-respected knifemaker and an expert on the forge. He founded the American Bladesmith Society and also taught the art of knifemaking to students of the ABS.
He passed away in 2006 after suffering from cancer.
Moran's knives are highly collectible and well-sought after. One of Bill's legacy, is the custom-collaborated design which he imparted to Spyderco: the FB01 Bill Moran Featherweight.

Keeping it affordable

Spyderco made the FB-01 affordable by replacing the leather sheath with kydex. Through knife outlets in the US, one can get it below USD$100. 
Well, that was back in the days. 
I got mine through Spyderco's head of marketing Joyce Laithuri who sent one over to Malaysia for review.
My article on the knife was published in The Malay Mail.
The present retail price for the FB-01 (latest generation) is roughly about USD$150 a piece.


The collector's edition has a gold signature, the knife was made in Japan


The serial number on the knife's riscasso

A later version of the Moran in Kydex and the original knife
Hair-popping sharpness..

There's no doubt that the Spyderco Moran is one of the sharpest fixed blade knife around.
Straight out of the box, it's shaving sharp.
This is also high-quality knife with exceptional edge retention.
But, it's corrosion resistant qualities are not as good. The VG-10 steel (uses Vanadium as part of it's element) can pit and rust if you do not take care of it.
As a "lightweight" knife, the blade is excellent for food preparation and light cutting chores.
You can't pry with the knife or baton it with a stick.
The fine edge can chip with hard usage, so, if you intend to chop hard materials with it, you may damage the knife.

Performance

The Moran Featherweight has a plastic handle with a pair of rubberized inlays. It's very comfortable to hold and in the hands of seasoned knife users, this knife can be used for many camp chores.
The VG-10 steel is easy to maintain and sharpen (I recommend the Spyderco 204 sharpmaker) in the field.
What's interesting with the present version of the knife, is the Kydex sheath with its "Teklock".
You can wear this in any imaginable way on your belt. Since Kydex is hard plastic, used in fabrication of airplane seats and panels, you can expect the sheath to be tough. But if you are afraid of scuffing the satin finish on the blade, then you may want to clean the knife thoroughly before sheathing it.
The last time I loaned someone my Moran for cutting fish, the results were catastrophic. The idiot did not clean my knife and sheathed it with some fish guts. This caused the fine edge of the knife to literally fall apart. After reprofiling it, the knife was back in use.
So, moral of the story, if you get this knife, NEVER lend it to people no matter how hard they beg.

Tech specs

Blade material: VG-10
Overall length: 20.5cm
Blade length: 10cm
Handle material: Plastic with Kraton inserts

Conclusion

The Moran Featherweight is still being produced by Spyderco and is one of their flagship knives. It carries a retail price of USD$159.95 (RM590 excluding tax and freight) and be purchased directly from Spyderco's on-line shop. Yes, they ship to Malaysia. But you pay the duty and tax and if need be, apply for an owner's permit as per requirement by the Home Ministry.
It's one of the best small knives I have ever owned (I am still keeping collector's #014) and the sharpest Spydie I have come across. Those who are interested can find out more about the Moran Featherweight from Sypderco's official website

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