Spyderco Bow River knife – review


Phil Wilson enjoys fishing and riding dirt bikes along California trails, when he’s not working at his knife shop, crafting new tools. He’s been designing high-quality custom blades since 1985.

Wilson designed Spyderco’s Bow River knife, which is perfect for the “budget conscious adventurer”, according to Andrew Isherwood of Edgar Brothers, who adds that it’s made from “good steel”. That means 8CrMoV or better.

In our research into knives, Spyderco knives scored highly with viewers for looks, portability and holding an edge. Favourite Spyderco model is the UKPK.

Custom cutter: blade made for budget adventurers – the Spyderco Bow River knife at RRP £49.99


Let’s talk about steel. If you want to learn in depth about steel, you can find a good resource on Spyderco’s website. Spyderco calls it an ‘edge-u-cation’ 🙂

Opinion about knife steel is ever-evolving and it is important to remember that your choice of steel is up to you. There is no perfect steel type for a knife. There are more than 3,000 different types of steel, each with benefits and drawbacks.

Archaeologists say that the discovery of the steel forging process came at about the same time as the discovery of iron smelting. Ironworkers learned to make steel by heating wrought iron and charcoal (a source of carbon) in clay boxes for several days. By this process, the iron absorbed enough carbon to become a true steel.

Steel is an alloy of iron and carbon. Iron by itself is a relatively soft metal. It does not hold a good edge. Add carbon and it hardens the iron, making steel, which turned out to be ideal for making edged weapons.

More recently, powder metallurgy has become the chosen method of making steel. This process allows steel chemistries not possible in traditional steel-making. The process starts out the same as wrought steels – alloying elements are added and dissolved into molten iron. Then comes the main difference: the molten steel is atomised (misted into microscopic droplets) into liquid nitrogen where the steel is instantly frozen. The powder is then cleaned and sorted by size, and the ideal powder is sintered in a hot isostatic press to solidify the steel. Sintering is heating the steel to a temperature just below its melting point, and then pressing it together at high pressures to solidify or remove the voids between powder spheres.

This makes it easy to combine the steel with elements such as vanadium, which forms carbides with the carbon, and chromium, which stops the steel from rusting. The result is a premium steel product with properties of exceptional wear-resistance and good corrosion-resistance.

There are more an varied processes after this, which give you a basic choice of: carbon steels, alloy steels, high-strength low-alloy steels, stainless steels, tool steels and exotic steels (non steel).

A mixture of chromium and vanadium gives a balance between hardness of edge and stainless properties


The Spyderco Bow River blade is 13% chromium (anything over 12% gives you stainless steel), 0.8% carbon and and 0.1% vanadium.  In addition, it is 0.4% manganese, 0.15% molybdenum, 0.2% nickel and 0.02% phosphorus, which all help increase hardness, among other properties. It is also 0.5% silicon for strength and 0.01% sulphur for machinability.

The Bow River has an ergonomic handle and comes with a leather sheath with belt loop.

“It’s fantastic for skinning game and things like that,” says Andrew.

For more about Spyderco knives, visit Edgar Brothers’ website


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