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Back in Black: The Spyderco Aqua Salt

By The Small Arms Review Editorial Staff

When Spyderco produced their first knife back in 1981, they literally defined the modern tactical folder. Although clip-carried, one-hand opening folding knives with optional serrated edges are commonplace now, Spyderco did it first. And in the process, they also earned a loyal following among savvy military personnel who won’t trust anything else.

That loyalty is not limited to Spyderco’s folding knives. It also applies to their broad selection of fixed-blades, and most notably their Aqua Salt™ model. Originally introduced in 2008, the Aqua Salt was a versatile, do-everything knife with a uniquely shaped drop-point blade. It featured a deep hollow grind that created outstanding edge geometry while maintaining the strength of a full-thickness spine. The grind was accented by a swedge (unsharpened bevel) on the back of the blade that guaranteed an acute, very capable point without sacrificing structural strength. Available in both conventional (“PlainEdge”) and fully-serrated (“SpyderEdge”) edge configurations, the Aqua Salt’s blade was paired with a durable fiberglass-reinforced-nylon (FRN) handle that was injection molded directly onto the tang. Offered in both black and high-visibility yellow, the handle featured Spyderco’s high-traction Bi-Directional Texture™ pattern, which complemented the handle’s ergonomic shape to guarantee a rock-solid grip, even with wet or cold hands.

As a member of Spyderco’s “Salt Series,” the most distinctive thing about the Aqua Salt was that its blade was made from H-1®, an extraordinary nitrogen-enriched steel that is completely impervious to rust.

Traditional steels are produced by adding carbon to iron. This changes the molecular matrix of the metal and gives it the ability to be altered through heat treatment to produce hard, durable tools like knife blades. Unfortunately, carbon-based steels have a fatal flaw: they are vulnerable to rust. While modern high-chromium stainless steels are less susceptible to corrosion than carbon steels, they are not immune to it—especially when used in saltwater environments. Since H-1 uses nitrogen instead of carbon to create the material’s steel-like properties, it eliminates the primary “ingredient” of salt-water corrosion.

H-1 is also an “austenitic” steel that does not require a conventional heat treating...


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