<< Back to Shop Learn Knives

The Spyderco Manix – A Knife For All Time


Every once in a while, a knife will come along that will defy patterns. Instead of using the same design language and mechanisms that are in vogue, they will push the envelope and create something truly great and innovative. The Spyderco Manix is one such knife, combining premium materials and innovative design to create a knife unlike any other. Here, you’ll learn how the Spyderco Manix came to be and why it’s so special! 

History of the Manix


If someone designs a production knife, it usually comes after years of studying knives and industrial design. This puts most knife designers at least into their mid-30’s, but there are some great knifemakers who started much, much earlier. Perhaps the greatest of them is Eric Glesser, the son of Sal and Gail Glesser, the founders of Spyderco

From when he was a baby, Eric spent a lot of time in the Spyderco offices watching his parents run the company. While he learned the ropes of accounting, sales, margins, and all the other less glamorous aspects of running a business, his passion centered around knives. This led him to start drawing knives by the time he was eight, grinding knives out of wood as a teenager, and continuing to learn from his father into early adulthood. He earned a degree in industrial design, and in his early 20’s, Eric Glesser started designing Spyderco knives for production. One of his first designs was the Manix, and it has been a staple for decades. 

What Makes the Manix Special 


To my eye, the Manix looks like Eric Glesser’s answer to his father’s Native design. It gives the user a bit of a straighter edge for easier push cuts, a more pronounced finger guard for more security, and a larger size to offer more grip options. But the largest difference is the lock. The Manix uses the Ball Bearing Lock, but a special version of it. 

Back in 2003, Sal Glesser was awarded a patent for a “folding knife with a substantially spherical locking mechanism,” or as we know it, the Ball Bearing Lock. In essence, this lock functions by jamming a ball bearing between the tang of the blade and a spacer behind it. We see this lock on Spyderco P’Kal, Dodo, and Poliwog models, but the Manix is a little bit different. 

In 2008, Eric Glesser applied for a patent for a “folding knife locking mechanism with carrier device.” Like his father’s lock, this one wedges a ball bearing between the tang and spacer, but it has a cage around it. This allows the knife to use a smaller ball bearing without sacrificing usability. In my opinion, the Caged Ball Bearing Lock used on the Manix is the highest manifestation of a ball bearing lock. 


When we look at the lock on the Manix, it draws comparison from crossbar locks like Benchmade’s AXIS Lock. While these two locks look similar, they have some key differences that you should consider. The crossbar lock is open, and thus can get dusty and gross easily, but it isn’t too hard to clean out. The Manix’s caged ball bearing lock is fully enclosed, so it repels dust and debris much easier, although it is a bit more challenging to clean.  

The crossbar lock’s initial patent expired, and now you can get them from many companies at various price points. But if you like the Ball Bearing Lock, you can only get it from Spyderco. But it’s not because it’s patented, Sal’s original patent expired in 2022. It’s because, like Maxamet steel, there are some challenges that only Spyderco has the guts to take on. Man, I love Spyderco… 

The Manix is a stellar knife that has been popular for coming up on two decades. That’s impressive for any designer, let alone one as young as Eric Glesser was when he designed the Manix. Seriously, Eric Glesser is one of the greatest minds in knife history, and his influence has spread far beyond Spyderco. We’re lucky to have him! 

Should you buy a Manix? 


Normally in this paragraph, I tell you why you might want a knife and why you might want to look elsewhere, but I can’t do that here. The Manix is just an incredible knife, and I can’t give you a good reason not to get one. If you need a hard-user, the Manix offers full steel liners and that incredibly rugged lock. If all you need is something for simple everyday cuts and you don’t need something so rugged, the Manix Lightweight will do it all and weighs only 3 ounces. I’ve had a huge crush on a Manix for a long time, but I can’t bring myself to get one because I’m afraid it will bench the rest of my collection. 

But either way, the Manix is a truly incredible knife, and you should definitely get one!