It thrusts like a push dagger. It cuts like a hawkbill. And it’s way more useful than either.
It’s the Spyderco C60 Massad Ayoob.
A relatively unknown model in the Spyderco Lineup, the C60 Massad Ayoob is, in my opinion, the most practical SD/EDC knife ever created. I have been carrying one off and on for the last 3 years, and it has become my EDC standard for the past year. This review encompasses my experiences and observations about the c60 gleamed over the course of the last 3 years, as well as a comparison of knives I have on hand while I’m overseas.
Knives used in this review:
The C60 Massad Ayoob was a designed by world-renowned self-defense expert Massad Ayoob. Here is Mr. Ayoob’s explanation of the design.
“The rationale was to get the blade directly in line with the radius bone of the forearm when the average human wrist was in the “locked” position, which puts the middle knuckle of the hand directly in line with the axis of the forearm.
This is what gives the C60 its superior stabbing accuracy that posters in this thread have mentioned, and it also gives tremendously more penetration, because it aligns the skeleto-muscular support structure of the arm with the point (number one), and therefore with anyone who knows how to put his weight behind a punch, gets the entire body’s force going directly behind the point (number two).
As other posters have also noted, the handle-to-blade angle puts much more force behind a slash as well as a stab. Instead of the blade “skimming” over the target as it hits hard resistance such as bone, the 90 degree angle of the blade when held in reverse grip (and KEPT there by a handle shape that allows the thumb to lock it at that angle) the C60 is more likely to shear directly through whatever resistance it encounters. Because of the design features, something very similar happens with a slash from the conventional saber or pekal grasp.
As to the tip-down carry: I’m one of those early Spyderco fans whom Sal calls “Clipiteers,” [:-)] who started their Spyderco experience with the original Police model, learned to open it with a pinch-snap, and discovered we could win bets beating guys with bali-songs and even “automatic knives” in opening speed. The pinch snap uses the gross motor movement of the closed hand instead of the more fine-motor skill of using the thumb to open the blade via the original design intent of the “Spyder-hole.” “
The knife first appeared in the 2001 lineup. It weighs 4.3 oz, has a 3 5/8” blade, with 3 3/8” cutting edge, is 5 1/16” closed, 8 7/16” open. It is a “Japan” knife, meaning the stamp on the VG10 tang does not say “seki city Japan.” The knife is extremely solid and precise, with no blade play whatsoever. The handle thickness is very thin, thinner than a D3, and the knife rides very low in the pocket.
Negative blade angle- The heart and soul of what makes the Ayoob such a great knife is the negative blade angle, or NBA. The NBA what gives the Ayoob its pistol shape. The advantage of the NBA is that it aligns the point of the blade with the bones in the wrist when in locked position, just like push dagger. It also makes transitioning from a handgun to a knife in an emergency much more intuitive.
The NBA also puts the cutting edge far forward of the knuckles in the hand, giving the folder similar pull cutting power to that of a Hawkbill, but in a much more usable blade shape. NBA compared to an endura:
EDC use- The knife is a VG10 Spyderco clipit, with all the basic performance that entails, so I will focus on the specific, unique performance characteristics of the C60.
Pull Cutting vs. Hawkbill- by far the greatest EDC strength of the Ayoob is its pull cutting power. The NBA makes the knife very ergonomic in the hand. But, what makes it truly superb is the way the NBA synergizes with the full belly of the blade.
Here, without bending my wrist, I’m pressing about 1” of cutting edge onto the material.
With cutting things on a flat surface with a Hawkbill, only the tip is in contact. This is a problem, because for many cutting tasks, the majority of the hawkbills blade cannot be used.
In my experience, the Ayoob offers the same intuitive, pull cutting motion of the venerable hawkbill-I have used my SE Ayoob to disassemble an old couch, and cutting was effortless and ferocious. But, when cutting materials on a flat surface, the Ayoob is far superior to the hawkbill, because much more of the cutting edge can make contact with the material, since many times with a hawkbill only the tip can be used.
The NBA of the Ayoob provides all the surefire pull cutting performance of a hawkbill, but, because it has a full-bellied blade, the knife is far more versatile and effective for general use.
Use at high angles: The NBA of the Ayoob makes it very well suited for thrusting at shoulder height and above. But, on a more practical note, the NBA is also very comfortable for when your cutting things overhead, like wallpaper or plastic sheeting. I discovered this last winter, when I had to trim the plastic ventilation over my windows to size.
Here I am attempting to show you what I’m talking about. If this was plastic sheeting that I’m trying to cut overhead, I can press a good amount of cutting edge into the material without having to bend my wrist at an uncomfortable angle. If this were a hawkbill, only the tip would be in contact.
With a conventional blade shape such as the Endura, the straight blade shape makes it a bit more uncomfortable to use at this angle. And because there is less blade in front of my knuckles, it’s hard to apply as much cutting edge as I would like.
EDC conclusion- the Ayoob is easy to carry and Spyderco quality, with a large blade. So, it obviously can handle most every day carry scenarios. What’s cool though is that the negative blade angle allows the knife to have the specialized pull cutting characteristics of the hawkbill, without sacrificing any of its utility for general tasks.
SD: Although the C60 Massad Ayoob is a damn fine utility knife, it was designed and built for serious SD use. It’s a large, sharp knife, so I will skip to the specifics of what makes the C60 superior to other large, sharp knives.
Push Dagger Performance- Most knives require the user to bend their wrist to orient the point of the blade towards a target. This is especially apparent on the high line. Bending the wrist weakens your skeletal support structure, and generally reduces the potential power of the thrust.
Note how much I must bend the wrist for this highline on the dartboard with the Endura.
The pistol grip shape of the Ayoob puts the point of the blade in line with the target when the wrist is in the locked position, much like the classic push dagger. Note how my wrist is locked and straight.
Because the knife can be used with the wrist in the locked position, a powerful punch thrusting technique can be employed. The push dagger has proven so powerful and easy to use that it is specifically banned in numerous states, and even entire countries. Personally, the ability to have the same easy high performance offered by the push dagger, but in a perfectly legal, practical folding knife is the #1 design strength of the C60.
Various Grips: The Ayoob works extremely well in ¾ of the standard grips, but it sucks at RGEI.
In the classic Saber, the tip aligns with the bones of the wrist and forearm, like a push dagger.
Reverse grip is very powerful and secure, and the NBA offers a bit of extra reach compared to a straight blade.
With the endura, the wrist must be tweaked at an uncomfortable angle, and I lose a few inches of reach.
The Ayoob feels pretty natural, although some wrist angling is needed.
The NBA in the IET grip allows for tremendous hooking power.
Also, its ability to be used quickly and effectively as a impact weapon when in the closed position makes the knife ideal for Mercop’s “folder into the fight” philosophy.
The Ayoob’s NBA totally sucks for Southnarc’s Pkal style- even less range than normal, and feels really weird- stick with the P’kal for this style!
Comparison to other MBC folder’s: It is my firm opinion that the C60 Ayoob is the most effective and practical of Spyderco’s MBC designs. Here I will contrast it with its peer competitors.
-Civilian/Matriarch: According to Dr. Snubnose’s meat tests, the SE Ayoob vastly outperformed either the Matriarch or Civilian in cutting depth (3” for the Ayoob, 1.75” for civilian). Combined with the fact that the Ayoob dominates at thrusting, while S curve blade cannot thrust at all, or be used for any utilitarian function, the Ayoob the clearly a more effective and practical knife. The Ayoob slashes better, thrusts way better, and can actually be used as tool for EDC cutting chores, so you can actually explain why you’re carrying one.
-Chinook: The Chinook is the .44 magnum of Spyderco’s lineup. That’s also its chief weakness, as the bulk of the Chinook makes it an unlikely candidate for EDC for most users. After all, who wants to lug around a big and heavy .44 all day? The Chinook is wide, thick, and heavy pocket hog, weighing in at 5.8 oz’s. The Ayoob weighs 4.3oz, is much slimmer and narrower in the pocket, and outperforms the Chinook 3 in Doc Snubnosses Meat Tests(2”-2.75”.) Unless hardcore field use/ bushcraft likely, the Chinook rely isn’t a practical EDC for most applications, and is outperformed by the C60 in SD applications.
Yojimbo- The Yojimbo is a badass, highly practical knife. It has better ergo’s and is much, much more sheeple friendly than the Ayoob. It’s also much better at precision cutting due to the shape of the blade. However, I think the Ayoob’s longer, full belly blade is more versatile for general EDC cutting chores, because more of the blade can be used, whereas almost every cut with the Yojimbo must be initiated with the point of the blade. Also, I believe the C60 is a more versatile defensive knife, especially for the untrained user, due to the superior thrusting capability offered by the nearly 1” longer blade and push dagger wrist orientation. I am a firm believer in the MBC, targeted cutting philosophy for which the Yojimbo was built for, but training can and will break down under stress. The extremely effective and intuitive thrusting capability of the Ayoob could prove invaluable should training break down and cruder techniques come into play, especially at the high line. Although the Yojimbo outperforms the Ayoob in slicing power, getting 3.75” to the Ayoob’s 3.” the Ayoob manages this with a SE, saber ground blade, which testifies to the power of the negative blade angle. That being said, the Yo is still in my top 5 favorite carry knives.
P’kal- the P’kal is the fastest, nastiest folder I own. Used as designed, it’s going to work as designed. The problem is that it is only comfortable to hold in the edge-in orientation, making it highly impractical for EDC use, and also means that it can’t be used in the more legally defensive MBC style. Much like the civilian and Matriarch, it’s really only good for SD, which, of the 1001 uses of a knife, is the least likely. Additionally, the ball lock and wave combo are very, very easy to open, so my P’kal has a nasty habit of opening in the pocket, once resulting in a cut that missed the vein in my wrist by a few mm. The lack of utility, and danger to the user makes the P’kal an impractical SD knife, because I’m unlikely to be carrying it when I actually need it.
Weaknesses of the design- for all the coolness of the C60 Ayoob, the knife does have some glaring weaknesses.
-Slippery: the thin, aluminum handle of the Ayoob can be slippery as hell, especially when drawing the knife from the pocket. I have accidently dropped/thrown the knife on several occasions due the lack of traction. For this reason, my EDC Ayoob is coated in 3MStairwell grip tape. With the added texture, the knife is totally secure in the hand.
-Handle width- the super slim handle of the Ayoob makes it a great IWB carry piece, but the thinness of the handle makes the knife a poor choice for hammer grip fans. When held in a firm hammer grip, the handle twists a bit too sideways in the palm, causing the point to turn to the 11 o’clock. It’s a dream in the saber grip, but if you don’t like saber grip, this could be a serious issue. A wider g10 handle would fix this instantly.
-Not Snag free- The tip down orientation of the blade, combined with the low rider pocket clip and jimping on the spine, can combine to form a dangerous snag risk. The spine jimping has occasionally caught the top of my pocket and snagged, preventing me from drawing the knife. I now carry the folder IWB. IWB carry, or a tip up clip, would prevent this problem.
Saber Grind- The saber grind works very well in SE, but the PE model was a lousy performer until I had it sent to Tom Krein for a regrind. Obviously, FFG is the way to go.
In conclusion, after 3 years of carrying the C60 Massad Ayoob, I can say that it is my favorite knife. It works well for any conceivable situation that I am likely to be in, and it looks great doing it. While the design has flaws, these are easily overcome with a few Mods.
In short, the Ayoob rocks!