Spyderco is good at a lot of things, but knives they put out are rarely traditional. This is good because the Golden, Colorado knifemaker innovates and upsets widely-held perceptions of beauty and utility.
You have to be thinking about knives in a different way to not only put a big hole in your blades, but to in fact make it your trademark stylistic flourish. Yet today, the Spyder Hole is one of, if not the best, way to deploy a knife reliably, and has influenced even the most traditional of makers. The Buck knife company, of example, has several knives with opening holes now.
Innovation spreads, and once it does, it can eventually become the norm.
But sometimes that avant-gardism can stop Spyderco from seeing the best qualities of traditional design. I think in recent years they’ve begun to understand that, and tried to address it. There are knives in their current lineup with very traditional materials, traditional designs, and traditional virtues. Of these, one of the most appealing is the Spyderco Temperance 2.
The Temperance 2 looks tame, particularly compared to more “Spyderco-ish” fixed blade designs like the Rock (which we’ve reviewed on this website) or the Ronin 2. It has a plain, flat-ground blade, with handsome, if traditional, canvas micarta scales.
The Spyder Hole is shrunk down. Spyderco makes a point of discussing the restraint in the design of Temperance 2. But restraint doesn’t necessarily equate to constraint, and the Temperance 2 manages to be distinctly Spyderco in its function while being less flamboyant in its form. The fixed blade market is very crowded right now, but the Temperance 2 is a blade worth considering for any outdoorsman.
Before we get started, please use our interactive guide below to compare the Spyderco Temperance 2 against other great knives based on everything from blade length to steel material.
|Cold Steel Survival Rescue Knife (SRK)
|Gerber LMF II Survival Knife
|Ka-Bar Fighting Knife
|ESEE Knives 3P
|SOG Seal Team S37-K
|Cold Steel Recon 1
Temperance 2: A rustic take on a proven design
Spyderco itself is slightly vague on the purpose of the Temperance 2, but its size and shape, as well as the ways in which it is subtly overbuilt, would indicate that it is meant to be an outdoor bushcraft/camping knife. Spyderco has taken an interest in this segment of the market in the last few years, and catered to it with knives like the Bushcraft, the Sprig, and the Temperance 2.
The original Temperance was released in 2001. Despite the complete absence of a Spyder Hole, it looked more like a Spyderco knife than its sequel: it had an FRN handle, a kydex sheath, and a blade length of 4 7/16.” There was also a training knife variant and two iterations of a folding version.
The Temperance 2 went with rustic-looking mocha-colored canvas Micarta scales, a leather sheath, and a slightly bigger 4.875” blade. The total model list looks like this:
- Trainer Temperance with red scales
- Lil’ Temperance
- Lil’ Temperance 2
- Temperance 2
Within the Spyderco wheelhouse, I think the two knives that compete most directly with the Temperance 2 are the Bushcraft and, surprisingly enough, the Street Beat. This is technically a martial fixed blade, but it work well in many of the same roles as the Temperance 2. The Bark River Knives Bravo 1 and the Fallkniven F1 are going to round out the list of competitors for this review.
Below, please take a moment to view some of the best-selling fixed blade knives currently for sale on Amazon:
|1) Mossy Oak
|2) Ka-Bar USMC
|3) Cold Steel Survivalist
|5) Camp Lore PR-4
|4) Cold Steel San Mai SRK
Simple and handsome handle
G-10 is a durable, lightweight handle material, but so is Micarta, and personally I find Micarta to have a little more character. It will patina over time, taking on a deeper hue as it absorbs the oils from your hand, lending you knife a broken-in, worn look that I find appealing.
The Temperance 2’s handle is made from canvas Micarta, which is a little more textured than linen Micarta. The texturing works with the simple ‘parenthesis’ style handle on the Temperance 2 to lock your hand into place in any grip.
One thing that the canvas Micarta isn’t great for is absorbing shock. If you plan on using your Temperance 2 in a lot of high-impact cutting like chopping wood, prepare to experience some discomfort. But the Temperance 2, with its fairly short blade, isn’t really meant for chopping, so I can’t fault it too much for that. If you want a chopper, you really should be looking for a 6” long blade at least.
The Spyderco Bushcraft’s sculpted G-10 handles are beautiful, but slightly less grippy than the Temperance 2’s canvas Micarta. That knife also lacks a distinct quillion, making it very easy for your fingers to slide up the handle if you aren’t being careful.
The Spyderco Streetbeat, on the other hand, has a deep forward choil, which makes the knife feel very secure in the hand. Its Micarta is much smoother, but that choil makes up for the slickness, and makes the knife easier to control in delicate cuts.
The Bravo 1 comes in a variety of handle scales: G-10, Micarta, C-Tek. It’s handle also has less distinct brackets at either end, and feels more spacious and comfortable because of it.
Finally, the Fallkniven F1 has a plain Kraton handle: grippy, shock-resistant, but far less attractive, if that matters (and let’s face it: it does).
A very Spyderco blade shape, a very Spyderco steel
The Temperance 2’s blade is the Spyderco Tenacious-style drop point writ large. It is a great slicer: I wouldn’t want to use the Temperance 2 exclusively in the kitchen, but for food prep out in the woods it does a really great job (Cliff Stamp notes that its general lines are almost exactly that of a kitchen knife).
It is full flat ground, and Spyderco claims to have performed a “double distal taper” to the blade to make it perform to its utmost. I don’t know how big a role the double distal taper plays in the Temperance 2’s performance, but it is beyond reproach when it comes to slicing.
In harder use tasks, the Temperance 2 is still adequate, if not superlative. I think choppers are a real fad in the fixed blade market right now. It’s easy to understand why Spyderco would want to play up the durability of the Temperance 2, but despite the ad copy this isn’t a knife I would want to beat on too hard.
That’s not what it’s meant for.
Part of ensuring a tool performs well is making sure you’re using it for the things it was meant to do, though, so I can’t fault the Temperance 2 too much for being only a decent chopper.
The Bushcraft’s blade is more purpose-built, as the name would imply. It is meant for the tasks associated with bushcraft, and in those roles it exceeds the Temperance 2; in general use, however, I prefer the Temperance 2.
The Street Beat has a slightly smaller blade, but one that can do pretty much all the same things just as well—with the exception of chopping. The Temperance 2 is just big enough to chop, but the slightly smaller Street Beat just can’t.
The Bark River Bravo 1 is a tougher blade, able to chop quite well for its size, although it is a less elegant slicer. The F1 is probably the best all-arounder of the group, able to slice and chop as well as the Temperance 2, and it takes the abuse the better.
The steel is a sticking point for me. VG-10 is a good steel, and I actually really like it in camp knives. Its best trait, corrosion resistance, is something that’s important when you’re trekking in the wild and can’t baby your knives, and its biggest weakness, the fact that it doesn’t keep a razor’s edge for very long, is less problematic on a fixed blade, where a functional edge is more important than a razor sharp one.
However, for the price of the Temperance 2 (around $200), you really should expect a little bit more.
The Bushcraft has another weird steel choice: O-1, a basic carbon steel. I definitely like VG-10 better than O-1. The Street Beat has VG-10 steel as well, but is $40 cheaper. The Bravo 1’s standard steel is A-2, but you can get it in some very nice super steels like 3V or S35VN for only a little bit more money than the Temperance 2 costs. The F1 also uses VG-10, but is $60 cheaper, and features a convex grind to get the most out of this mid-range steel.
The Temperance will last forever
VG-10 is always going to get high marks from me with regards to maintenance—at least as far as corrosion resistance goes. You are going to have to sharpen it fairly often. If you maintain your camping survival gear like you should, you’re probably used to this, but just be aware that VG-10 is no super steel.
Also, while I normally don’t worry too much about sheathes, it’s worth noting that the Temperance 2’s leather sheath, while beautiful, will require some TLC from time to time. But these are small problems, and in all the important ways the Temperance 2 will last.
The Bushcraft gets low marks in maintenance because O-1 discolors and rusts fairly easily. I still don’t know why Spyderco chose that steel for the blade. The Street Beat is made from the same stuff as the Temperance 2, but has a nigh-indestructible kydex sheath; not classy-looking, but it will last forever.
The Bravo 1 has a leather sheath, and its blade will require different types of maintenance depending on what steel you go with; I would choose 3V, which can discolor or rust, but is super tough, which is a trade-off I’m willing to make. The F1’s convex grind means that you’re going to be doing more stropping than sharpening, which is quicker and easier if you have the equipment, which some people don’t.
A handsome and useful knife
The Temperance 2 is a very, very good knife. There’s not a lot that I can object to, other than the price, and the fact that there are knives in this competitive section of the market, like the Bravo 1 or the F1, that I think are strictly better.
But it’s a close race, and the real appeal of this knife is in the way it looks. That semi-traditional look is very rare amongst Spyderco knives, so if that’s something that speaks to you, go for it.
- Rating: 4/5 stars
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