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Knife Review: The Spartan Harsey Difensa

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February 21, 2014

Knife Review: The Spartan Harsey Difensa

By David E. Petzal

Spartan Blades, of whom I have written before, is a maker of very high quality tactical and survival knives. It was founded, and is run, by a pair of career Special Forces NCOs. Spartan had a booth at the SHOT Show, but it was so crowded with throat slitters and kidney stabbers who were admiring the goods that I didn’t have much of a chance at conversation and so I’m reviewing Spartan’s new knife a bit after the fact.

It’s called the “Spartan,” because that’s who makes it, “Harsey,” because it’s designed by Bill Harsey, whose knives have won several Best of the Best awards, “Difensa,” which takes some explaining. The Difensa was designed for a Canadian special ops group which does fun things in the forests, and since they are Canadian, the knife takes its name from the First Special Service Force, which was a joint Canadian/US Army unit that served in World War II, and was comprised of some of the finest throat slitters and kidney stabbers to ever pull knives from sheaths.

The Force’s first battle was at Monte Difensa in Italy, which had Germans on its flat top and only one climbable side, which they had covered. So the Forcemen, at night, scaled the unclimbable side and gave the Germans the opportunity to give their lives for the Fatherland, which most of them took.

The Difensa is a heavy, overbuilt utility knife/weapon with a 6 ¼-inch blade made of CPM S35VN steel (which is superior to the older S30V). It has a very sharp point because as everyone from the Roman legions on forward knows, the point beats the edge. The handle, which is canvas micarta, is textured and comes in a choice of two colors. Overall length is 11 5/8” and weight is .710 pounds. The tactical sheath is about as fine as any I have seen and is MOLLE compatible. The price is $425.

Now this is a lot of money, and if you’re looking for something to take into the woods and cut stuff, the Mora knife that I talked about at SHOT would do just fine. Difensa is for people who put their lives on the line on a more or less regular basis. It is an exceedingly tough piece of equipment, right down to the two massive bolts that hold the handle scales in place. (Bill Harsey told me that soldiers routinely cut the steel straps on parachute pallets with his knives, and the knives don’t seem to mind.) It’s not for everyone, but for what it costs the Difensa is first-class life insurance. As the Vikings said, “A knifeless man is a lifeless man.” Spartanbladesusa.com

Comments (25)

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from laker wrote 8 weeks 5 hours ago

"throat slitters and kidney stabbers" :)

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from PbHead wrote 8 weeks 1 hour ago

Dave, if you have not read "The Black Devil Brigade" by Joseph A Springer, you need to check it out.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Trap12 wrote 8 weeks 46 min ago

Nice knife, but I can't help but wonder how it would fare when put up against a production blade (say, a SOG Seal 2000) in a torture test. Would its performance justify the added expense?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from RockySquirrel wrote 7 weeks 6 days ago

Correction: This knife is targeted for throat slitters and kidney stabber wannabes.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 7 weeks 6 days ago

Beautiful image. Nice composition and lighting. It is a beautiful knife.

I guess I'm very much lifeless. Don't carry a pocket knife of multi-tool. I carried a 4.5" drop point sheath knife in my day pack when big game hunting but nothing since retiring to bird hunting only. Believe it or not, I don't even take a knife with me fishing. God forbid if I ever roll the canoe and have to spend the night on shore somewhere. I'm sure I could open a pike up fine with my teeth if I had to. And no, I don't gut my fish in the field and certainly not my birds. It's always done at home in my kitchen. I don't leave a mess to attract nuisances to boat launches or parking areas. Anyway, I've never been one for dragging along fancy tools that I'll never - or hardly ever - need. Travelling light in the woods has kept me alive in countless situations where extra preppie baggage would have been fatal. A 6" knife would definitely be extra baggage ... that I'd probably just lose somewhere anyway. Losing $450? Ouch!

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from WA Mtnhunter wrote 7 weeks 6 days ago

That is a beautiful knife and even more handsome is the photograph with the old insignia and .38 S&W revolver, which looks to be a pre-Model 10. I just wish I could locate my old USMC Ka-Bar which resides someplace in my clutter (I hope).

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Drew McClure wrote 7 weeks 6 days ago

I suspect there will be more hype about this CPMS35VN super stainless steel and it will sell if it has edge retention advantages over the expensive to produce powderized S30V, but in all likelihood I will continue to rediscover the easy to sharpen 1095 steel that lost some of its popularity, I believe due to to laziness and ignorance. Everyone should learn how to sharpen a forged piece of 1095 steel, before they slide their stainless steel knives through Grandpa's Work Sharp. Personally, I carry an Opinel pocket knife for general use because it keeps a better edge than the buck redpoint I once carried. The sad thing about loving knives is that 15 dollar ones get more use than the higher end ones. Cheers it's scary sharp fillet knife time.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Clay Cooper wrote 7 weeks 6 days ago

Check this knife out!

G.R.A.D. .22 RS Knife gun. Holds 5 .22 cal bullets in a revolver type loader. Fires with every pull of the trigger on the handle. Kills people with class…more ...--->>>

everything4everyb0dy.blogspot.com/2014/01/grad-arsenel-rs1-limited-knifepistol.html

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from davidpetzal wrote 7 weeks 6 days ago

To Rocky Squirrel: And this opinion is based on....

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from RockySquirrel wrote 7 weeks 6 days ago

Dave: I have done my duty, but freely admit I Just not of that caliber. But and here is the but.., In a past life, I have met and worked with (and quaffed a few beers with) quite a few. Some have been very highly decorated. And to the man, they strike me a unusually low key and prefer being UNDER the radar. Not exactly the target audience for a knife maker who wants to do a volume business. Wanna be’s are just the opposite, Owning to them is the same as earning. To a man, they are SEALS in the making just waiting for the next zombie attack. The wife tells me I am kind of a snob. And probably she is right. Probably a fantastic knife, a work of art; but other then selling to wanna be’s, whats the point?

So that begs at the implied question: who are we marketing that knife to with the "threat slitters and kidney stabber" comment, as clever as it was. The real deal or the zombie killers? Follow the money. The wanna be's of course is where the bucks are.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from RockySquirrel wrote 7 weeks 6 days ago

Dave/Webmaster; Scratch the above comment. I fired too soon. Forget I said anything. Apologies all round.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ralph the Rifleman wrote 7 weeks 6 days ago

Well, I like to keep a $200-$250 limit on knives..these are just too much mula for me..

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from laker wrote 7 weeks 6 days ago

@RockySquirrel - "Scratch the above comment. I fired too soon. Forget I said anything. Apologies all round."

I've been that guy before, wishing he hadn't just hit send. Don't sweat it. I think most of us have needed to pull a boot out of our mouth once or twice. "It goes on."

~Laker

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 7 weeks 5 days ago

I wasn't at SHOT but I have to agree with Rocky. Excluding collectables, most of the merchandise of this sort I see at gun shows attracts wannabe paramilitary doomsday prepper types. Not many real outdoorsmen (guides, trappers, etc.) go in for throat slitting stuff. Especially not at that price. The former theme seems to have overrun the latter in recent years so I rarely go to gun shows any more.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from WA Mtnhunter wrote 7 weeks 5 days ago

Most spec ops folks have historically carried a Ka-bar or similar design knife. Of course, my opinion is somewhat dated. This one looks to be a functional improvement on that design.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from O Garcia wrote 7 weeks 4 days ago

it's also possible they're (Spartan) trying to snag a government contract. Or a contract with private "contractors". There are few budget limits with those two parties.

I saw that movie about the Devil's Brigade, the one with William Holden. Among the characters, the Canadian guy with eyeglasses and karate skills was the scariest one.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from O Garcia wrote 7 weeks 4 days ago

WAM,

I was thinking Model 1917 until I saw your post. Thanks for that.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mark-1 wrote 7 weeks 4 days ago

@Gracia: M1917 was a 45 ACP revolver. Very nice!!! Think I'd prefer having the S & W model over the Colt made though.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 7 weeks 4 days ago

I was thinking the same as Garcia. Every year there are 20,000 new US Marines.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 7 weeks 4 days ago

Was also thinking of something else. If, while training, I had the occasion to split wood or chop a small tree down, I would hate to have to hit the back of a $425 blade with a rock. However, a Ka-bar can be cheaply replaced or sharpened.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from 1uglymutha wrote 7 weeks 4 days ago

I have to agree with others here. This photo is first cabin. Credits please?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Blue Ox wrote 7 weeks 4 days ago

It's a nice looking knife but I'll stick with my KaBar.
No need to try & re-invent the wheel..

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from O Garcia wrote 7 weeks 3 days ago

Mark-1, I wasn't looking at the cartridges, I suppose.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mark-1 wrote 7 weeks 3 days ago

@Gracia: I have a thing for Colt M1917. Wish I could afford a good one for the collection.

BTW, I also have a thing for Colt black powder revolvers.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Miss bee wrote 6 weeks 1 day ago

I still like my old Browning and my Ka-Bar Skinner.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from RockySquirrel wrote 7 weeks 6 days ago

Correction: This knife is targeted for throat slitters and kidney stabber wannabes.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 7 weeks 6 days ago

Beautiful image. Nice composition and lighting. It is a beautiful knife.

I guess I'm very much lifeless. Don't carry a pocket knife of multi-tool. I carried a 4.5" drop point sheath knife in my day pack when big game hunting but nothing since retiring to bird hunting only. Believe it or not, I don't even take a knife with me fishing. God forbid if I ever roll the canoe and have to spend the night on shore somewhere. I'm sure I could open a pike up fine with my teeth if I had to. And no, I don't gut my fish in the field and certainly not my birds. It's always done at home in my kitchen. I don't leave a mess to attract nuisances to boat launches or parking areas. Anyway, I've never been one for dragging along fancy tools that I'll never - or hardly ever - need. Travelling light in the woods has kept me alive in countless situations where extra preppie baggage would have been fatal. A 6" knife would definitely be extra baggage ... that I'd probably just lose somewhere anyway. Losing $450? Ouch!

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 7 weeks 5 days ago

I wasn't at SHOT but I have to agree with Rocky. Excluding collectables, most of the merchandise of this sort I see at gun shows attracts wannabe paramilitary doomsday prepper types. Not many real outdoorsmen (guides, trappers, etc.) go in for throat slitting stuff. Especially not at that price. The former theme seems to have overrun the latter in recent years so I rarely go to gun shows any more.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from WA Mtnhunter wrote 7 weeks 5 days ago

Most spec ops folks have historically carried a Ka-bar or similar design knife. Of course, my opinion is somewhat dated. This one looks to be a functional improvement on that design.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from WA Mtnhunter wrote 7 weeks 6 days ago

That is a beautiful knife and even more handsome is the photograph with the old insignia and .38 S&W revolver, which looks to be a pre-Model 10. I just wish I could locate my old USMC Ka-Bar which resides someplace in my clutter (I hope).

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from RockySquirrel wrote 7 weeks 6 days ago

Dave: I have done my duty, but freely admit I Just not of that caliber. But and here is the but.., In a past life, I have met and worked with (and quaffed a few beers with) quite a few. Some have been very highly decorated. And to the man, they strike me a unusually low key and prefer being UNDER the radar. Not exactly the target audience for a knife maker who wants to do a volume business. Wanna be’s are just the opposite, Owning to them is the same as earning. To a man, they are SEALS in the making just waiting for the next zombie attack. The wife tells me I am kind of a snob. And probably she is right. Probably a fantastic knife, a work of art; but other then selling to wanna be’s, whats the point?

So that begs at the implied question: who are we marketing that knife to with the "threat slitters and kidney stabber" comment, as clever as it was. The real deal or the zombie killers? Follow the money. The wanna be's of course is where the bucks are.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from O Garcia wrote 7 weeks 3 days ago

Mark-1, I wasn't looking at the cartridges, I suppose.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mark-1 wrote 7 weeks 3 days ago

@Gracia: I have a thing for Colt M1917. Wish I could afford a good one for the collection.

BTW, I also have a thing for Colt black powder revolvers.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from laker wrote 8 weeks 5 hours ago

"throat slitters and kidney stabbers" :)

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from PbHead wrote 8 weeks 1 hour ago

Dave, if you have not read "The Black Devil Brigade" by Joseph A Springer, you need to check it out.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Trap12 wrote 8 weeks 46 min ago

Nice knife, but I can't help but wonder how it would fare when put up against a production blade (say, a SOG Seal 2000) in a torture test. Would its performance justify the added expense?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Drew McClure wrote 7 weeks 6 days ago

I suspect there will be more hype about this CPMS35VN super stainless steel and it will sell if it has edge retention advantages over the expensive to produce powderized S30V, but in all likelihood I will continue to rediscover the easy to sharpen 1095 steel that lost some of its popularity, I believe due to to laziness and ignorance. Everyone should learn how to sharpen a forged piece of 1095 steel, before they slide their stainless steel knives through Grandpa's Work Sharp. Personally, I carry an Opinel pocket knife for general use because it keeps a better edge than the buck redpoint I once carried. The sad thing about loving knives is that 15 dollar ones get more use than the higher end ones. Cheers it's scary sharp fillet knife time.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Clay Cooper wrote 7 weeks 6 days ago

Check this knife out!

G.R.A.D. .22 RS Knife gun. Holds 5 .22 cal bullets in a revolver type loader. Fires with every pull of the trigger on the handle. Kills people with class…more ...--->>>

everything4everyb0dy.blogspot.com/2014/01/grad-arsenel-rs1-limited-knifepistol.html

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from davidpetzal wrote 7 weeks 6 days ago

To Rocky Squirrel: And this opinion is based on....

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from RockySquirrel wrote 7 weeks 6 days ago

Dave/Webmaster; Scratch the above comment. I fired too soon. Forget I said anything. Apologies all round.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ralph the Rifleman wrote 7 weeks 6 days ago

Well, I like to keep a $200-$250 limit on knives..these are just too much mula for me..

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from laker wrote 7 weeks 6 days ago

@RockySquirrel - "Scratch the above comment. I fired too soon. Forget I said anything. Apologies all round."

I've been that guy before, wishing he hadn't just hit send. Don't sweat it. I think most of us have needed to pull a boot out of our mouth once or twice. "It goes on."

~Laker

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from O Garcia wrote 7 weeks 4 days ago

it's also possible they're (Spartan) trying to snag a government contract. Or a contract with private "contractors". There are few budget limits with those two parties.

I saw that movie about the Devil's Brigade, the one with William Holden. Among the characters, the Canadian guy with eyeglasses and karate skills was the scariest one.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from O Garcia wrote 7 weeks 4 days ago

WAM,

I was thinking Model 1917 until I saw your post. Thanks for that.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mark-1 wrote 7 weeks 4 days ago

@Gracia: M1917 was a 45 ACP revolver. Very nice!!! Think I'd prefer having the S & W model over the Colt made though.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 7 weeks 4 days ago

I was thinking the same as Garcia. Every year there are 20,000 new US Marines.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 7 weeks 4 days ago

Was also thinking of something else. If, while training, I had the occasion to split wood or chop a small tree down, I would hate to have to hit the back of a $425 blade with a rock. However, a Ka-bar can be cheaply replaced or sharpened.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from 1uglymutha wrote 7 weeks 4 days ago

I have to agree with others here. This photo is first cabin. Credits please?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Blue Ox wrote 7 weeks 4 days ago

It's a nice looking knife but I'll stick with my KaBar.
No need to try & re-invent the wheel..

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Miss bee wrote 6 weeks 1 day ago

I still like my old Browning and my Ka-Bar Skinner.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

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