Spend any amount of time reading about knives on the Internet and you’ll see the phrase “tactical knife” come up over and over again. The debate over what exactly it means for a knife to be “tactical” will probably never cease, and depending on where you go you’ll get different explanations, but by and large a tactical knife is a blade that is designed with self-defense in mind. Whether this means a dedicated fighting knife, or just a utility knife that could be used as a weapon, tactical knives possess a martial element; this, to me, is what distinguishes them from your standard EDC utility knife.
If you’re looking for a good starting tactical knife, the Spyderco Resilience is a blade you might be interested in. This is a (really) big, affordable knife from Spyderco, in the same Value line as the ever-popular Tenacious. There is some stiff competition in that segment of the market, some of it from Spyderco itself with knives like the Military and the Endura, but as an introduction to the tactical knife world, I think you’d be hard-pressed to do much better than the Resilience.
Before we get started, please use our table below to compare the Spyderco Resilience to a small handful of other worthy competitor blades.
$ = $1 – $30 | $$ = $31 – $60 | $$$ = $61 and above
|Spyderco Resilience||8Cr13MoV stainless steel||9”||$$||4.6/5|
|Spyderco Endura 4||VG-10||3.75” blade||$$||4.8/5|
|Spyderco Tenacious||8Cr13MoV stainless steel||3 3/8” blade||$$||4.7/5|
History of Spyderco Resilience
Spyderco made waves when it first introduced the Value line of knives a few years ago. While the Tenacious was the runaway success of that line, all of the knives were and are well-received. Up until that point the only budget-priced Spyderco pocket knives came from the Byrd line, which were sort of Spyderco knives, but produced under a different brand, with (to my mind) inferior designs. The Value line introduced four brand new, value-priced genuine Spyderco knives to the world, and people couldn’t get enough.
The Resilience is the biggest of the Value line, and indeed one of the biggest knives that Spyderco makes, but besides its size it retains all the features of the Value line: simple G-10 scales, a broad leaf-shape blade, Spyder Hole opening method, and standard Spyderco spoon clip. It’s a simple knife, but that simplicity is part of its appeal.
Below, please take a moment to view some of the best-selling pocket knives currently for sale on Amazon:
Something that is almost universally true about larger knives is that they tend to have fairly comfortable handles. Whereas on a small knife like the Dragonfly 2, achieving good ergonomics is much more of an art, on larger knives with bigger handles there doesn’t have to be as much compromise. The Resilience has a big, 5.25” inch handle. It is very plain, and very effective: just a minor rise in the middle where your fingers will fall, and that’s it.
As popular as the Endura is, I actually prefer the Resilience, and the handle is the main reason why. The Endura’s handle has a pair of strange, unnecessary scallops in the middle, which kind of make you hold it a certain way. The Resilience’s neutral, comfortable handle is strictly better. In fact, it’s very reminiscent of the handle on the Military, albeit not quite as ergonomic as it lacks the forward finger choil that is so helpful on that other big Spyderco blade.
Spyderco has a pretty consistent, and very good, record when it comes to blade shapes. They rarely use shapes that aren’t universally useful, and when they do it’s often for knives with a very specific, very niche purpose (see for instance the P’Kal or the Harpy).
The Resilience’s big, broad, 4.25” blade is flat ground and slices like a fiend. I don’t like to carry blades this big for EDC, but if you use your knife for heavy, intensive tasks, or just like big knives, you won’t be disappointed by the Resilience’s leaf blade shape. And it goes without saying that in a tactical situation, where you may be using it for self-defense, all that reach, as well as the adequate penetration afforded you by the acute tip, will serve you well.
The Endura’s 3.75” blade, while an excellent shape, doesn’t offer the same reach, nor does it have quite as aggressive a tip. It wouldn’t be the worst choice in the world for a tactical knife, but I prefer the blade shape on the Resilience in this role (and in general). But it is again bested by the Military – perhaps not surprisingly, as the Military was designed for use by soldiers, but it has a very pronounced point and belly, meaning slicing and piercing ability will be very high. It is a tad shorter than the Resilience at 4” even, but that’s not enough of a difference to matter in most realistic situations.
Steel, however, is a different story. The Resilience comes in one flavor, and that’s 8Cr13MoV. This is a common, modern stainless steel seen on many budget-priced folders. It is just about adequate in every category, but excels in none. The Endura’s standard steel is VG-10, which is not my favorite steel in the world but a definite upgrade over 8Cr13MoV, with better edge retention and significantly better rust resistance. The Military comes with S30V standard. This is a first-generation super steel. It isn’t cutting edge anymore, but it is much better than 8Cr13MoV and VG-10, holding an edge considerably longer with better toughness and rust resistance to boot.
As is Spyderco’s tendency with popular mainline models, the Endura and the Military are both available with more exotic, higher-end steels as well, including:
- Super Blue
Of course the price on these models is higher than the standard models (which are already more expensive than the Resilience), but they are undoubtedly improvements. I don’t mind 8Cr13MoV but a sprint run or a higher-end version of the Resilience with something better would be welcome.
Just as big knives almost always have better ergonomics than smaller knives, conversely small folding pocket knives carry much better than big knives. With a knife the size of the Resilience, you’re going to notice you’re carrying it; it’s just a very, very big knife. That being said, Spyderco has done their due diligence in keeping this beast as slim and trim as humanly possible. At 5.4 oz., the Resilience is chunky, but when you consider that there are a lot of 3.5” inch knives that weigh as much or more, that’s not too bad at all. The clip, your standard Spyderco spoon clip, is excellent: adequately tough and low-key. Carry is therefore decent.
It is bested, however, by both the Military and the Endura. The Military is an ounce lighter, and the Endura is two ounces lighter. Of course the Endura is significantly smaller than either the Military or the Resilience, so that’s to be expected.
And I’ll say that, despite the ounce difference in weight between them, the Military and the Resilience feel just about the same in pocket. The Endura has the same spoon clip as the Resilience, albeit with a different screw configuration; the Military uses a slightly different clip, but for all intents and purposes these three clips are identical, and identically great.
The Resilience uses a liner lock. This may be slightly troubling for some folk; it’s not absolutely required, but on larger, ostensibly hard-use tactical knives a framelock is pretty much what people expect.
For what it’s worth, I think that a liner lock is just as strong as a framelock for all reasonable use. Maybe if you whacked the Resilience against a tree or did some Cold Steel style Absolute Proof torture tests on it, you’d see that it’s weaker than a framelock, but in day-to-day use, and even in a self-defense scenario, the liner lock will see you through just fine. And, to be honest, liner locks are generally way less finicky than framelocks, which are very sensitive to pivot tension and tend to need more maintenance.
I like the liner lock on the Resilience better than the Endura’s traditional lockback. Lockbacks are sturdy, reliable, and simple, but they do tend to exhibit a bit of up and down bladeplay. Nothing that affects performance or that’s dangerous, but if I have a choice I’d rather not have it, so again I’m giving the Resilience the edge against the Endura. The Military, in its standard incarnation, uses a liner lock as well. There are variants with framelocks as well, but either way I’d call it a draw in this category.
The Spyderco Resilience isn’t just an excellent value at circa $40, it’s just a really good knife. If you’re interested in an introductory tactical knife that won’t break the bank, but that you may end up keeping even after you graduate into something higher end, the Resilience should be one of the first places you look. I’ve compared it to the Endura several times throughout this review and, even if they were the same price, I’d recommend the Resilience first for a larger blade.
There isn’t really anything bad to be said about it.
The steel may bother you as you get accustomed to better steels, but if you don’t mind sharpening every once in a while it’s not an issue. The size isn’t a problem either because you’re only looking at the Resilience if you want a big knife.
In short, the Resilience is an excellent tactical knife for the money, and comes highly recommended.
- Rating: 4/5 stars
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