The Spyderco Gayle Bradley (C134CF) is one of those knives that was built for use and abuse, but is so nice I wasn’t sure if I could bring myself to really scuff it up. I guess the only reasonable answer is to buy two of these, one for carry and the other to keep pristine in the bowels of the collection. The knife was named after its designer, Texas custom knifemaker Gayle Bradley. Mr. Bradley has been making custom knives out of his shop in Weatherford, Texas for over 22 years. He also has the distinguishment of winning BladeSports International Cutting competition in 2008 (he had the most points for the 2008 season).
The Spyderco C134CF is Bradley’s first production knife collaboration. The knife is made from heavy duty M4 steel – the same steel Mr. Bradley uses in his competition cutting knives. With Mr/ Bradley’s credentials and the use of such a high end steel you know that this knife has the potential to go the distance.
General Dimensions and Blade Steel
The Gayle Bradley has an overall length of 8.078″, a 3.438″ blade, weighs 5.5 ounces, and is made in Taiwan. This is a large and thick folder with graceful lines and a rock solid feel. The knife is manufactured in Spyderco’s Taichung Taiwan factory. Sure, I’d love to see this knife made in Golden Colorado, but I can’t deny that some of Spyderco’s best knives (at least from a manufacturing perspective) are currently coming out of Spyderco’s Taiwanese factory. The Gayle Bradley has extremely high build quality – it’s difficult to describe on paper but the moment you handle this knife it all comes together. The dimensions and feel of this knife make it slightly large and heavy for EDC, although it would certainly work in that role. This knife is a work horse and it’s intended use is heavy cutting tasks.
The blade is a modified drop point with a high hollow grind and a sloping swedge. The blade has been given a beautiful satin finish that gleams in the light. This blade is a thing of beauty from any angle. Blade thickness is right at 3mm. It is thick enough for tough tasks, but is still ground thin enough to be a capable slicer. This blade is almost all edge and the long curving belly provides tons of room for cutting.
The blade is made from Crucible CPM-M4 steel. M4 is a high quality tool steel and Crucible’s version uses their Crucible Particle Metallurgy (CPM) manufacturing process to enhance the toughness and ensure the M4 has a consistent grain. What this means is that the knife will really hold an edge and is capable of getting extremely sharp (sharp enough to win Mr. Bradley a couple world records in cutting competitions). This is not a stainless steel so you will need to take care to keep the blade dry and (preferably) oiled.
Handle, Ergonomics and Pocket Clip
The knife has a flow through, pillar construction handle made of textured carbon fiber and full-length steel liners. The liners have been milled out in an attempt to reduce the weight, but this is still a substantial folder. The handle is bolted together (rather than pinned) which is great if you ever have the desire to take this knife apart (perhaps you want to try and mill it out yourself). If you are thinking of milling the liners out I want to wish you good luck because these are some of the thickest liners I have seen. This is a very heavy duty handle.
The carbon fiber Spyderco selected is the textured version used on the Spyderco Sage (review coming soon). This has a “weave” like texture that provides decent grip considering it’s carbon fiber, a traditionally smooth material. There is light jimping on the lock bar and on the thumb ramp, which combined with the finger choil and flowing handle make for a very comfortable and ergonomic grip. This all helps to make the knife a great work knife. For those that intend to use this knife heavily I think the handle design and ergonomics will be great for that.
The pocket clip is also quite interesting. It has a smokey gray black finish that almost looks anodized although the clip is definitely steel. It is a unique looking finish that I really like and is another detail that makes this a special knife. I also like how the clip can be mounted on all four corners of the knife. The knife rides low in the pocket and the blackened clip won’t attract much attention (unless you are around a bunch of knife knuts).
Deployment and Lock
The Gayle Bradley uses an extra large (1/2″ diameter) Spyder hole and phosphor bronze bushings for deployment. This knife is very easy to open and it is super smooth. The deployment feels just as good as the rest of the knife which is great news indeed. The ultra thick liner lock sits snugly on the blade. This knife is constructed very solidly and with that extra thick liner lock I think this knife is capable of taking some abuse. Really the lock-up and deployment are both very impressive; it’s hard to put it into words.
Spyderco Gayle Bradley: Final Thoughts
Mr. Bradley said that he was very pleased with the way the knife came out, and he gave it his full endorsement. I have to say, the knife has my endorsement too. The beautiful design, the high quality materials and the excellent construction make this a great knife in my book. It also is a great value. The knife has a $225 MSRP but I am seeing it retail for right around $130. At that price I think it is a steal. Of course, this knife isn’t for every one. The weight may be an issue, and it may be on the large size as well, but overall I think this is a great knife and I look forward to more Gayle Bradley collaborations.
I recommend purchasing the Gayle Bradley at Amazon or BladeHQ. Buying the knife though the links on this site earns me a small commission and helps support the website. As always, thanks for reading, and please let me know if you have any comments or questions in the comments section below.