Last Updated: August 8, 2019
Most of us who have been following Spartan Blades know the company started with high end fixed blade knives. A few years ago they launched the Akribis, a carbon fiber clad titanium framelock folder. I always appreciated the lines of the Akribis, but never got around to acquiring one. Although some of their old stock is still for sale on select retailers, Spartan Blades has since moved on from the Akribis and ventured into a number of different folder offerings.
Perhaps their most notable new folder is the Pallas. This strikes me as their every man’s model: a sub 4″ blade, anodized aluminum handles, sturdy button lock, and your choice of flipper or thumb studs to get the blade open.
This is a less exotic folder designed for daily carry and use, and could be considered their version of a Griptilian or Para 2. I have always had a soft spot for utility knives in this size range, and have many in my permanent collection. How does the Pallas stack up against everything that has come before it? Lets find out.
General Dimensions and Blade Details
The Pallas has an overall length of 8.75″, a 3.75″ blade, weighs 4.9 ounces, and is made in the U.S.A. With an almost 4″ blade, my guess is that Spartan Blades wanted the Pallas to flex both into utility and folding combat knife roles. It is about as big a folder as I can realistically carry. Any bigger, and it would be more of a novelty for me, but a 8.75″ inches I can comfortably carry it and use it as a weekend warrior EDC here in Southwest Florida. I’ve used it extensively in that role. It has accompanied me on trips to fix up my rental house, and plenty of forays into the yard trimming back our “jungle”.
The blade of the Pallas is a modified drop point. This is a simple and functional design, but Spartan Blades has added their signature harpoon tip to give it a twist. At just under 4mm thick, the blade stock is substantial, but the knife is ground thinly behind the edge with a high hollow grind. When you add a fine tip and plenty of belly, you are left with a versatile and functional blade. Spartan Blades also took the extra steps of adding a long swedge across the harpoon tip, chamfering the spine of the blade, applying a nice stonewashed finish, and installing custom thumb studs.
Spartan selected S35VN blade steel for the Pallas. As I have mentioned in countless other reviews featuring S35VN, this is a great choice for a high end folder due to it’s ease of sharpening, corrosion resistance, toughness, and edge retention. It’s a great all round steel. It won’t hold an edge indefinitely, but it’s easier to sharpen then its older brother S30V. It’s no wonder companies like Chris Reeve Knives choose S35VN almost exclusively as their blade material.
The only downside I see to S35VN is that it forces knife reviewers to the very fringes of their creative writing capabilities as they tackle their XXth review featuring this now common blade material. As always you can find a deeper dive into blade steel in our blade steel section
In practice I found that the Pallas is a solid cutter. Thanks to a generous handle, you are able to make full use of the substantial blade. It came razor sharp out of the box, and I have spent a good amount of time breaking down boxes, carving, and even performing some mild food prep with this knife. This knife cuts for days, and the performance is impressive. While it’s not the most unique or beautiful blade I have worked with, you can’t argue with the results. The Pallas performs.
Handle, Ergonomics, and Pocket Clip
The Pallas comes with a hard anodized aluminum handle, held together by 3 custom standoffs and the pivot. The handle is mostly flat. It has been chamfered around the edges, features 2 grooves for your index finger, and a series of diagonal cuts towards the butt for traction, but there is no 3-D milling. Overall, handle construction is neat and solid. Even the lanyard hole has been given extra attention.
That said, this handle loses style points in a few areas for me. First, I don’t care for how the logo and “U.S.A.” have been applied to the handle. I realize that this branding and source of manufacture information needed to be placed somewhere, and there is only a limited amount of real estate on the knife. I also know some have criticized companies like Zero Tolerance for putting too much text on their blades, distracting the eye and complicating the design. Still, I think the placement of the logo and “USA” on the handle looks a little random.
Also, I think a more generous decorative pivot would have looked nicer here then just a body screw. This choice was likely made so the end user doesn’t confuse the button lock with the pivot in the heat of the moment. Plus a decorative pivot does nothing for the performance. But many knives these days feature a decorative pivot. Finally, when you peer into the internals of the knife the pocket screws are a millimeter or proud of the handles. Screws poking out from inside the handle/liners are a pet peeve of mine, and I would love to see the screw length adjusted slightly so they don’t poke out like that.
Aesthetic quibbles aside, the simple handle designs provides ample room for your hand and fingers while the hard anodized aluminum provides you with that familiar fine texture. There is light jimping on the spine of the blade, and more aggressive jimping towards the butt of the handle. The end result is a knife that functions naturally in the hand. While hard anodized aluminum isn’t as grippy as peel ply G-10, I find there is plenty of traction here for all the tasks I put the Pallas up to.
The Pallas benefits from a simple pocket clip that has been thoughtfully executed. This is a humble spring clip, but it has been elevated with Spartan’s arrow motif cut into the clip. I vastly prefer this kind of branding over a “billboard” style pocket clip. The clip has been sunk into the handle and secured with 2 screws. It’s not likely to go anywhere. However, the handle is configured for right side tip up carry only. This happens to be my preferred placement for carry, but it may pose an issue for some.
In practice the Pallas carries nicely. It’s a bigger knife, but is relatively thin and light. I don’t notice it much in the pocket. It stays out of the way, but doesn’t carry super deep. When I’m ready for the knife the combination of handle and clip make for an easy retrieval. What else can you ask for?
Deployment and Lockup
The Pallas comes with a combination of flipper and thumb studs to get the blade open.
Lets start with the flipper. Because this is a button lock, there is no detent. Instead, the button lock is engineered to offer some resistance, and that friction in the lock allows you to pop the knife open. In practice the flipper works most of the time, especially if you are careful to pre-load it. Still, this knife will not flip open like a well tuned framelock or liner lock flipper. I would assign it a “4” on my arbitrary 1-10 scale of flipper performance, placing it slightly below my Spyderco Domino. It usually gets the job done, but nothing to write home about.
The thumb studs are ample, custom made, easy to access, and placed for ambidextrous access. These thumb studs are what you would want to rely on in a stressful situation. I’m glad Spartan Blades included them. They compliment the workman like nature of this knife.
Either way you choose to open the Pallas, the blade rides on caged bearings. The action is smooth and fluid.
Button locks have the potential to be sticky, but the lock on the Palls is extremely smooth. I have yet to have the lock stick or bind up. I have owned this knife for several months now and it’s just as easy to operate as the day I got it. A nice benefit to a button lock is that it is a strong lock. Although every folding knife has its breaking point, I do not hesitate to use my Pallas for tough jobs. There is no blade play or wiggle in my knife. Also, I should note there is no secondary lock like you find on the Hogue series.
Blade centering is perfect on my knife.
Spartan Blades Pallas Review – Final Thoughts
The Pallas is a no-nonsense tool in the same vein of many of my favorite utility knives. This includes fan favorites like the Para 2 and Griptilian, but also some of the unsung heros in my collection like the American Lawman, Buck Marksman, and Hogue EX-04. I don’t hesitate to carry and use the Pallas just like those other knives. The practical design, excellent tolerances, and quality materials, mean that the knife works, and it works well. If I’m in a rush I can grab the Pallas knife knowing it will do everything I need it to do – no questions asked.
Where the Pallas falls a short for me is with some of the aesthetic details like the placement of the logo on the handle. The flipping action also leaves something to be desired. For a knife you are going to use hard I can look past these issues, but would not be so forgiving if I was buying a collectible.
Also, at nearly $300 the Pallas isn’t cheap. It’s a serviceable design, nicely made, and performs beautifully, but it doesn’t have any mind blowing properties to it, and the materials are not particularly exotic. I realize that Spartan Blades is a boutique company that is offering a USA made product, and they likely lack the economies of scale that the bigger manufacturers can tap. Still, the Pallas is an expensive knife, and the price will prevent it from obtaining the mass appeal of a Paramilitary 2 or Griptilian.
In closing, I like this knife, but think the Pallas is for a narrower market. I recommend it if you are a fan of Spartan Blades, a fan of the design, or are looking for a high end and high performance tactical knife that is made in the USA.
- Overall Length: 8 3/4" Blade Length: 3 3/4" Blade Material: CPM S35VN Stainless Steel, 58-60 HRC
- Blade Thickness: 5/32"; Blade Finish: Black PVD Tungsten Black DLC; Blade Type: Plain Edge Drop Point
- Closed Length: 5 1/8" Handle Material: Black Mil Spec Anodized Frame
- Safety System: Button Lock; Carry System: Pocket Clip
- Weight: 4.736 Oz.; Made in the US