Native 5 by Spiderco

Editor: Johnny LeMaster

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Just the Facts:

Since its original release in 1997, the Native® has been a mainstay of the Spyderco product line and a shining example of our American-made quality and innovation. Now in its fifth generation of design, the current Native 5 proudly reflects our tireless commitment to Constant Quality Improvement (C.Q.I.) by boasting a number of significant design and engineering advances.

  • Overall Length: 6.875″ (175mm)
  • Blade Length: 3.00″ (76mm)
  • Steel: CPM S35VN
  • Closed Length: 4 ” (102mm)
  • Edge Length: 2.438 ” (62mm)
  • Weight: 3.7.oz (105g)
  • Blade Thickness: .125 ” (3mm)
  • Handle: FRN
  • Clip Position: Ambi
  • Tip Carry Position: Tip-Up/Down
  • Lock Type: Back Lock
  • Grind: Full-Flat
  • Sheath: N/A
  • Origin: United States

My Story: 

I have been a huge fan of Spiderco knives for quite some time.  I bought my first Spiderco, the Delica, at the PX on base while I was in the military.  I brought this knife with me during my tour in Iraq and carried/used it as my everyday knife for common tasks.  About a year later, having misplaced my Delica I replaced it with an Endura, and carried this knife for the next 12 years.  No matter the amount of abuse I have thrown at it, no matter how many times I lost it, it always came back, and held up phenomenally to the daily abuse I have put it through.  When I had the opportunity to work with Spiderco to test out a few of their products I jumped all over the chance.

The Spiderco Native 5 is a good knife for everyday carry.  I will be honest.  My very first impression of the knife was that it was ok, not something I really cared for as I prefer my Endura.  The Native has many of the same signature style and features that the Endura has.  The handle is the same fiberglass reinforced nylon (FRN), has a similar back lock blade lock, the trade marked Round Hole for ambidextrous opening, and pocket clip that is able to be carried in either the tip up or tip down position.  What made me a little standoffish of this knife at first was the differences between it and my Endura.  The first and most glaring to me was the size.  The Native 5 felt small in my hand.  I didn’t feel like I had near as much control while handling the knife.  It is not a small knife the blade length is a respectable 3.00 inches and has an overall length of 6.875 inches.  The other big stand out to me was the grind of the blade.  Instead of the saber grind that I was used to the Native boasts a flat grind blade. 

After carrying the Native 5 with me as my everyday carry (EDC) for a few months, my angst about the things that that were different started to change into an appreciation for them, and the knife as a whole.  I found myself choosing the Native more and more to be my EDC.  This knife went everywhere from the office, to the field, to the duck blind, to the back yard. The more I used it the more I liked to use it.  This is a great knife for the person that wants a good reliable knife for general purpose usage.

Lets talk a bit about the different aspects of this knife that make it what it is.  As I mentioned above the handle is made out of  scaled FRN material.  This provides the knife with a lightweight, slender handle that has good toughness and, as a good friend of mine put it, “gription”.  The scaling on the handle are very unobtrusive and help to provide the necessary grip on the knife for control.  The material is easily cleaned with a brush, and stands up surprisingly well to abuse.  The FRN feels and looks basically like plastic in your hand, but performs well above expectations.  I carried the Endura with the FRN for many years as my EDC both in the military and as a civilian.  Apart from some minor dings and scratches the handle is still in great shape. 

The lock back blade lock has been improved on the Native 5 for increased security and performance.  When the blade is fully opened the lock back snaps into place at the bottom of the blade, locking the blade in the open position.  On the earlier models featuring the lock back, the blade felt like it had a tiny bit of slop in the open position.  One thing to note, if you are trying to pry or put a lot of pressure on the back of the blade, be mindful that the palm of your hand is oriented where the lock button is located on the back of the handle.  I have had the blade suddenly close under this pressure cutting myself.  This is not something that under normal circumstances is any issue, but something to note.

The blade is a thing of beauty.  The full flat grind on the spear point blade looks and works great.  I have admitted I did have a little apprehension of the blade at first as it was different than most of the knives I have carried with the full flat grind instead of a half grind or multiple tapers.  The more I used the Native the more I came to fully appreciate the blade.  The full flat grind provides with a very aesthetically pleasing design as well as functionality.  The blade goes from a maximum width at the back of the blade of 0.125” to the sharp edge at a constant angle.  The constant angle allows the blade to easily and smoothly slice through denser materials with ease.  The blade features an extra finger groove on the choil with jimping for traction.  This is nice for someone who prefers a choked up hammer grip or saber grip when utilizing their blade.  The blade has a cutting surface of just under 2.5 inches which is adequate but a bit smaller than I prefer.  As all of the Spiderco folding, the Native 5 also boasts the Trademarked Round Hole opener for quick ambidextrous opening.  When the knife is new the blade is a little tougher to open with the Round Hole.  It still opens smoothly, but takes some additional work to be able to flick the blade to the full opened and locked position.  After a short time of using the blade it opens more easily.  I have actually come to highly prefer the Round Hole for an opener over the typical thumb stud.  The Round Hole provides for good positive traction on the blade for easy opening, doesn’t dig into your thumb as some studs do, can be used with either had without having a protrusion on both sides of the blade or having to relocate the stud, and most importantly it does not catch on anything in the pocket causing the blade to open slightly.  I have been stabbed by my own knife from this happening with other blades before.  The CPM S35NV steel is a steel developed by Crucible Industries.  This steel is an excellent steel that is both very tough and doesn’t sacrifice the edge sharpness and chipping resistance.  The steel is a stainless steel that replaces some of the carbon with vanadium and niobium.  The higher the carbon content, to a certain extent, the tougher the steel, however, this hardness also translates to more brittleness.  The addition of the vanadium, and especially the niobium helps to balance this out.  These elements help to keep the steel strong, but also make it less brittle which helps keep the blade edge from chipping and allows for ease in sharpening.  This is a great blade steel that balances the ability to keep the blade shape longer, and ease in re-sharpening.  The steel on this blade alone makes this knife more than worth having. 

The Native 5 is one of Spiderco’s flagship knives for good reason.  It is an excellent EDC knife that both the experience knife collector and the novice can appreciate.  The lightweight slender profile, the blade steel and design along with the signature Spiderco features all combine to make a great product.  I have really come to appreciate the Native 5. 

Find it Here:

What can be done better:

I have no complaints.  I think this is a well made knife with great features.  The Native 5 is a great EDC for all user levels.

  • Functionality
  • Value
  • Ergonomics
  • Durability