Clay’s Budget Blades Ep. 1: The Yojimbo 2 from Spyderco

The Yojimobo 2 from Spyderco.

Most of us that are gun guys are also knife guys. Not all of us, to be certain, but we definitely have a strong showing in the Edged Weapons Fan Club. I most certainly fall into that category, which is why I am bringing you a new series: Clay’s Budget Blades.

Couple of reasons why we are stepping up here. First, unlike guns, most knife reviews tend to be less than informative, in my opinion. A quick rundown on YouTube will yield 15 videos that tell you the specs of a knife, which you could also learn in five seconds on the manufacturer’s website. But few will actually tell you how the knife feels or cuts or generally holds up after sustained use.

Second, unlike gun stores, there are not a lot of knife shops that allow you to try (or handle) before you buy. Quality knife stores are rare in most cities and, certainly, the same is true for smaller towns. I have made a knife order based solely on pictures, as I am sure many of you have, and been unhappy with the end result. Hopefully, this series gives you a little more insight before you pull the trigger on your next knife purchase.

Third, I just really like knives. Where I grew up it was a rite of passage to get your first knife, usually around age 6 or 7. Grown men would judge you on the sharpness of your blade, kid or not. And as I have gotten older, I have never lost my appreciation for knives as both weapons and tools. I taught edged weapons in the Army, as well as to limited clients as a civilian.

The idea behind Clay’s Budget Blades is to review products that are a good value, but not necessarily cheap. No gas station knives will be presented here, nor anything from QVC. I have had a knockoff brand lockback knife fail on me, and it was not an experience I would like to repeat. I trust very few things that cost less than $50, though I would make an exception for several Gerber models. The ceiling is around $500, with most of my reviews falling in the $50-$150 sweet spot.

So, with that out of the way, we are starting the series off with a bang.  From Spyderco: the Yojimbo 2.

As a utility cutter, the Yojimbo 2 is hard to beat.

Spyderco’s Yojimbo2

The Yojimbo 2 is a model I wasn’t sure I would like, from the pictures. Which shows the value of being able to hold something before purchasing it. From initial pick up, though, I have remained impressed, which is something. No way I was leaving the store without it once I had given it a test drive.

The first thing you notice about the Yojimbo 2 is the unique blade profile. It basically looks like an overgrown box cutter.  It’s called a Wharncliffe blade. Yojimbo 2 knife designer and personal defense expert Michael Janich pioneered the use of the Wharncliffe blade on tactical knives. It is alleged to have magic sauce for cutting, as it transfers power all the way to the tip, evenly along the cutting edge. I haven’t seen it in a lab test, but I will absolutely concur that the Yojimbo 2 is a cutter.

The Yojimbo 2 is 4mm thick at the spine.

The two things to take away from the blade design are obvious the moment you pick it up. One, the hollow grind and razor-like profile really make this thing sail through most material. And two, the profile yields a lot of meat left for the tip, which should make it very durable. Considering the spine of the blade is 4mm thick, this thing feels like a tank. The blade steel is CPM S30V, well known for toughness and corrosion resistance.

Note the strong tip, a must for a heavy use knife.

The handles are G-10 with a steel liner for added strength. The handle tapers toward your pinky finger in a saber grip, which looks weird at first. But it does feel great in the hand while also reducing the overall footprint of the knife.

A strong compression lock.

The lock is a compression lock, which is kind of like a liner lock in reverse. In practice, I like this a lot. I can use the knife with no fear of accidentally releasing the blade. And still, it is a simple matter to close the knife one-handed without risking injury.

A tapering-handle profile feels great in the hand.


Overall, I find this to be one of the coolest knives I currently own. As a utility knife, it is going to be very hard to beat. As a self-defense tool, however, it has one drawback.  It’s not as easy to deploy as it could be if it had the Emerson Wave Opener.

I’m a big fan of the Emerson Wave Opener (EWO), which Spyderco has licensed for some of its Endura 4 models.  The opener is a hook on the spine of the blade that snags on the lip of the pocket thus deploying the knife when it is drawn from concealment (inside the pocket).  With a little practice on the EWO, the blade opens up almost automatically.

Don’t get me wrong, Spyderco’s trademark thumb hole works just fine on the Yojimbo 2 but it does feel slow compared to my knives equipped with the EWO.  And in a fight for your life, the less you have to focus on manipulating your tools to get them to function, the better.

All that said, I give this knife 5/5 on utility design, and 4/5 on self-defense design, based solely on the opening. If I lived in a place where the EWO was illegal, I would bump that up to 5/5. If you have been itching for some new steel, I think you will be very happy with the Yojimbo 2.

For more information on the Yojimbo 2 visit

A multi-position pocket clip gives the user many options.


  • MSRP: $209.95
  • Street Price: $136-$160
  • Overall length: 7.55”
  • Closed length: 4.51”
  • Blade Thickness: .156”
  • Pocket Clip: left/right/tip up/tip down
  • Blade Length: 3.11”
  • Edge Length: 2.95”

The Yojimbo 2 is a hard to beat slasher at a reasonable price.

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About the author: Clay Martin is a former Marine and Green Beret, retiring out of 3rd Special Forces Group. He is a multi-decade and -service sniper, as well as 3-Gun competitor and Master ranked shooter in USPSA Production. In addition to writing about guns, he is the author of “Last Son of The War God,” a novel about shooting people that deserve it. You can also follow him on twitter, @offthe_res or his website,

{ 17 comments… add one }
  • WW. KNOX II December 14, 2018, 1:15 pm

    just looks like another glorified “box cutter” to me……

  • Jim December 14, 2018, 12:15 pm

    You mentioned some Gerber models you would recommend. Please explain which ones.

    • CLAYTON MARTIN December 14, 2018, 1:40 pm

      off the top of my head, I like all the EZ out models, and trust the locks. For around $29. Gerber has been very hard to beat at that price point, and one of the few brands I trust below $50

  • Jimmie Morgan December 14, 2018, 9:40 am

    Since you’re doing some knife reviews now, you should review the Colonel Blades NCO Loviz. It’s a knife marketed heavily towards gun guys, so I would think a gun guys view would be appreciated. I have one, and dig it, so you wouldn’t be selling me, but other gun guys who are also into knives might like to see your take on it.

    • clay martin December 14, 2018, 1:39 pm

      my friends over at Northern Red are heavily into that blade, which speaks volumes. We will work on getting one in for review.

  • Bob December 14, 2018, 9:10 am

    I carry a pocket knife every day but I tend to refer to it more as a tool than an edged weapon. I’m not into $130 dollar knives because of the tendency for mine to occasionally get lost or given to the TSA as a gift because I’ve forgotten to take it out of my pocket before going to the airport. I’ve grown fond of the Kershaw 3650 assisted opener’s that Big 5 sells, I have 4 or 5 of them and they hold an edge well, are one handed opening and sell for $20, if one gets broken or lost, who cares!

    • clay martin December 14, 2018, 1:42 pm

      I feel ya. I tend to use cheaper models for my utility knives as well, no question. We will look into getting that Kershaw in for review, thanks for the tip.

  • Michael Janich December 14, 2018, 9:09 am

    Dear Clay:

    Thank you very much for your review of the Yojimbo 2. I really appreciate it and I’m glad you found it served your needs well. For the record, when I designed the knife back in 2010, Ernie Emerson’s patent on the Wave feature was still in effect. All Spyderco knives produced with the Wave licensed that feature from Ernie so he received proper compensation for use of that feature (as he should). The additional cost of paying him a royalty was an additional business expense that we chose not to incur at that time.

    If you like the Yojimbo 2 and want the Wave feature, fortunately, there is an easy solution. 5X5 Combat Solutions ( just released a bolt-on “Pickpocket” attachment for the Yo 2 that works great.

    Thanks again for your review and your interest in my design.

    Stay safe,


    • clay martin December 14, 2018, 1:54 pm

      Not everyday the knife designer, and an absolute legend of blade work, shows up in the comments!

      Looked at the 5×5 Pickpocket, will test in a follow up review soon.

      Thanks Mike!

  • Larry G. Pennington December 14, 2018, 7:07 am

    Did you actually test the knife? There isn’t enough info here to make me want it.


  • Marcelino December 14, 2018, 6:39 am

    I still have and carry a Spyderco I saw at a military PX store for $49. 3″ blade nice thumb hole. Those were the days. Good video Clay pointing out the various uses.

    • clay martin December 14, 2018, 1:57 pm

      those PX deals are hard to beat sometimes! I have a few of those floating around too

  • C.Olson December 13, 2018, 5:37 pm

    @ Wade Carlson,

    Then you might want to try the less expensive version that Michael produced called the “Be Wharned”, by Blackhawk at $65.

  • wade carlson December 13, 2018, 1:51 pm

    I wouldn’t consider a $130 knife to be affordable to most people. Many D2 knives with similar specs for under $50…

    • clay martin December 14, 2018, 1:57 pm

      all about perspective. we will be covering cheaper models too, same way we do with guns.

  • Randall Beaton December 13, 2018, 9:50 am

    Excellent reviewing style. I enjoyed your perspective on this knife.
    Thank you for your service!

    • Clay Martin December 14, 2018, 1:56 pm

      thanks brother.

      this is a cool knife, no question.

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