The "Infamous" BRK Native
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Eventually anyone interested in the Spyderco Native runs into some reference to the "BRK Native", the "red-headed stepchild", of the Spyderco family.  These knives, unless they have been tampered with,  display a laser etched "1st Generation BRK" marking in black on the blade.  However, since that engraving only takes a few  minutes work to remove, the more definitive methods of identifying them are

  • the nine thumb grooves (as opposed to six on other US made Natives)

  • the 440A steel marking stamped below the Spyderco name on the tang. 

  • the chamfered edge on the thumb hole

Although the blades are stamped "Spyderco Golden Colorado USA", they were actually manufactured for Spyderco by Camillus, in New York.  

At the very least, the BRK Natives are the product of an extremely interesting series of decisions. Sal first conceived the Native as an inexpensive alternative to the Delica.  In fact, it has recently come to light that the initial plan was sell this model thru Walmart.   Thus the decision to use 440A, a steel generally considered inferior to those used in all other Spyderco knives.

Spyderco contracted with Camillus to produce the handle molds and make the 440A blades and FRN handles, which were then to be sent to Golden for assembly and finish. For whatever reason, this arrangement did not work out, and the deal with Walmart fell through, but Spyderco did receive a batch of the 440A blades. 

For whatever reason, Spyderco elected to shelve these blades,  purchase the handle molds from Camillus, and build the entire knife themselves.  Rather than making it a low end model, as originally planned, they upgraded the steel to GIN-1 and refined the design of the blade tang with a larger cam and deeper lock notch.  These changes resulted, IMHO, in the smoothest, strongest, most ergonomic FRN lockback of its size.

Sometime later, Blue Ridge Knives, a large knife distributor, purchased the Camillus made 440A blades, and handles for them, from Spyderco. I suspect they purchased the clips and barrel bolts from them as well. Blue Ridge then contracted with Camillus to supply the lockbars, lock springs, and other necessary parts, and to assemble the knives for them. Compared with the "real" Natives the kindest thing one can say is that, aside from the handle and clip, they are inferior in every way. The acronym "POS" is often used when describing them.   

Honorable dealers, both on the internet and off, make customers aware that despite all the things that make these knives appear to  be Spydercos, they are actually warranted by Camillus.   Less than honorable ones simply say nothing and let the fact that  these knives are marked "SPYDERCO: and "Golden Colorado" on their blades, are marked "SPYDERCO NATIVE" and carry the Spyderco "bug" logo on the handle, and carry the "bug" logo on their clip mislead customers.  Truly unscrupulous eBay sellers go so far as to put a picture of a Spyderco "Edge-U-cation pamphlet and warranty in their listings.

On the other hand, I'm amused by the contention of some of my fellow collectors that the BRK Native does not deserve a place in a collection of Natives.   Consider this - the original catalog illustration for the Native shows a knife with a 440A blade with 9 thumb grooves.  Now granted, that picture could be nothing more than an "artists conception" but, if one ever turns up with solid provenance, they'd be fighting one another (and me) tooth and nail for it. 


The photo below shows, top to bottom 

  • the current CPM-S30V Native

  • the CPM-440V version

  • the GIN-1 version, the first "Genuine Spyderco" Native

  • the BRK Native

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