Keen Insights: Spyderco’s Ugly Dodo

Beauty is as beauty does, or so they say. The Spyderco Dodo is living proof of that, being one of their ugly ducklings that functions like a champ.

Released a number of years ago, the Dodo seemed to be either loved or hated by Spyderco fans. The appearance is, most definitely, described as “different”, or unorthodox. It just plain looks weird! Intriguing could be another term to describe its appearance, and it was intriguing enough that I wanted one.

A comparison shot: on top is a Native 5, Dodo in the middle, and a Lil Native on the bottom. The Dodo is compact but offers tremendous cutting power
A comparison shot: on top is a Native 5, Dodo in the middle, and a Lil Native on the bottom. The Dodo is compact but offers tremendous cutting power

It was in production for a short time, and then Spyderco sadly discontinued it, as they do many of their knives. The beautiful thing is that modern-day technology, (i.e. the internet) allows us to shop around and find examples of discontinued knives (and other gear).

Apparently, there was enough of an outcry with Spydie fans that Spyderco recently brought back the Dodo in what they refer to as a “Sprint Run”, which is a limited edition, smaller run than usual. This most recent run of the Dodo has the scales in “Natural” colored G-10, which, to my eye, seems slightly translucent and is a dull, green color. The blade material is CPM M4, a high-speed tool steel that is very high-end. The MSRP of this knife upon release was $209.95.

Back to the original Dodo. The dimensions of both the latest Dodo run and the original are the same. The S-Shaped blade is made from S30V steel and runs slightly less than two inches in length. The curved nature of the blade actually gives it more cutting surface than if it were a two-inch straight blade. The recurve nature of the blade makes it a super-efficient, very powerful cutter, especially considering the short blade length.

There is a swedge on the hollow-ground blade, and the very tip of the blade dips downward. The model that I own is serrated, which adds quite a bit to that cutting power.

The handle on the Dodo is a real marvel, given the finger choils, which allow the user to obtain a very secure, comfortable grip. There is a choil at the end of the handle closest to the blade, and also on the base of the blade, allowing the user to really choke up, which adds power to cuts and offers supreme control.

Spyderco Dodo grip
A good grip for defensive use.

The back of the blade has no jimping, but the finish is bead blasted, which helps to give the thumb traction. The bottom line is that when you grip this knife, it is seriously locked into your hand. There will be absolutely no slipping, given the rough texture of the G-10 and the construction of the grip.

In front of the opening hole that Spyderco is known for, there is a sort of choil on the top of the blade that allows the thumb to slide forward and obtain a thumb-forward grip, which gives even more control over cuts. A very nice design touch by Spyderco!

Author’s thumb resting in the cutout on the spine of the blade.
Author’s thumb resting in the cutout on the spine of the blade.

At the very base of the handle is a protrusion that functions as a striking device for less lethal nerve strikes.

Spyderco Dodo
The Dodo has many interesting features. The protrusion in the butt of the handle is good for strikes. Note the S-shaped blade.

As if the overall knife were not unique enough, the locking mechanism adds even more. It is the ball bearing lock, where a ball bearing rotates into place as the blade is opened. The bearing comes to rest on the knife’s tang, which locks it into place securely, with no play. It’s an ingenious system that works very well. To close the knife, the user pulls back on the ball bearing against the pressure of a spring, removing the ball bearing and allowing the blade to close. Very slick!

Spyderco Dodo ball-bearing lock
A closeup of the ball-bearing lock, which works so well! The choils under the blade and on top of the blade (in front of the opening hole) really lock it into the user’s grip.

There is a steel backspacer as well, and it is bead blasted, giving the skin of the hand a bit more traction as opposed to if it were highly polished.

A wire clip is utilized on the Dodo, and like all other knives that Spyderco uses this clip on, it works very well. I’ve never had an issue with this style of clip. It doesn’t look, in my opinion, as neat as a solid pocket clip, but it is perfectly functional. A positive aspect of the wire clip is that it is less visible when clipped to the pocket, so there’s less of a chance that others will know you’re carrying a knife. Plus, most people are accustomed to the solid clips on knives, so fewer people will even recognize the wire clip as a knife clip.

The knife can be a part of a defensive package, in addition to being a useful utility knife. The revolver is a S&W 642-2 in .38 Special.
The Dodo can be a part of a defensive package, in addition to being a useful utility knife. The revolver is a S&W 642-2 in .38 Special.

Which brings me to my next point: in its blue G-10 configuration, the Dodo simply does not look threatening. The blue is actually pretty, and the chances of this knife being seen as a threat are far lower than many other “tactical” looking knives. These days, being able to have a knife that is not seen as threatening can be a real advantage in certain environments.

The Dodo is right at home in tactical operations. Artwork, original by the author.
The Spyderco Dodo is right at home in tactical operations. Artwork, original by the author.
Jim Davis served in the PA Dept. of Corrections for 16 ½ years as a corrections officer in the State Correctional Institute at Graterford and later at SCI Phoenix. He served on the Corrections Emergency Response Team (CERT), several of those years as a sniper, and also the Fire Emergency Response Team (FERT). For 25 years, he was a professional instructor, teaching topics including Defensive Tactics, Riot Control and Tactical Operations, Immediate Responder, and cognitive programs as an adjunct instructor at the DOC Training Academy. He was then promoted to the title of corrections counselor, where he ran a caseload and facilitated cognitive therapy classes to inmates. His total service time was close to 29 years. He was involved in many violent encounters on duty, including incidents of fatalities.

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