It seems some knife buyers out there are suffering from Yojimbo 2-envy, as the supplies for that particular knife have been short to non-existent from last year into this one. Let’s look at another Michael Janich-designed defensive folder with a Wharncliffe blade, the BLACKHAWK! Be-Wharned knife.
Between stints at Spyderco Knives, Mr. Janich was the brands manager for the Masters of Defense Knife Company and BLACKHAWK! Blades. Around 2009, Mr. Janich and BLACKHAWK! released what I considered Yojimbo 2.0, the Be-Wharned. Company designations not withstanding, that would really make the latest Spyderco model the Yojimbo 3.0. But I digress…
When looking at the evolution of the Yojimbo, the Be-Wharned is a refinement of that knife which bridges the gap between the two Spyderco productions. It is a sort of stepbrother to the other two knives.
Dimensionally, the Be-Wharned is 7.85” in closed length, with a 3.4” blade. Though a weight is not given, it is in the 3.5 to 4 ounce range. It has nested 420J stainless steel liners beneath textured G-10 scales. A right/left/tip up/tip down pocket clip is done in black, as is the handle hardware.
Like the original 2005 production Yojimbo, the Be-Wharned has a flat ground blade. It is made of AUS8A stainless steel and has an attractive satin finish. The Yojimbo 2 is the lone knife of the trio to have a hollow ground blade. Regardless of grind, all three of my Wharncliffe’s have fairly slim points, so please-to-no-use-as-screwdriver (add your own accent).
The original Yojimbo had a lengthened handle at the butt or punyo, for strikes or pressure point manipulation. Though the Be-Wharned’s handle length is about a half inch shorter than Yo 1.0, it retains the rounded end. Moreover, the Be-Wharned has the best outline of the three knives for this sort of closed-knife combative. The front of the handle has a shelf for your thumb in this grip and the closed knife has a good ergonomic feel. Though not as long as the original Yojimbo, the Be-Wharned seems to work better unopened than its predecessor.
Mr. Janich told me at SHOT Show 2011 that he had de-emphasized the fist-load/less lethal function in the Yojimbo 2, hence it became shorter. The Yojimbo 2’s blade protrudes more from the handle and therefore makes it less inviting to wield closed anyway.
All three knives share an open post back for easy cleaning. While the Yojimbo’s utilize Spyderco’s compression lock, the Be-Wharned incorporates a Walker liner lock. Both locks work as specified, and the compression lock is said to have better strength. That said, compression locks tend to pinch my index finger when they slam shut.
Mechanically, my Be-Wharned’s liner lock detent held the blade closed firmly, but not so much that opening it was difficult. The lock fully engaged the tang’s face and gave the blade no room for play. The dual thumb studs are placed properly, but I admit I wished it had an opening hole…
Be-Wharned was the first to have its jimping removed from the blade’s spine; the Yojimbo 2 followed suit. Mr. Janich had told me the smooth scallop on the back of the blade allows the thumb comfortably to ride up for increased power in a slashing motion. The Be-Wharned’s topline slopes gently down from the tang to meet the upper angle of the Wharncliffe. I find it more aesthetically pleasing than the distinctive humpback of the Yojimbo 2.
I am not the only Be-Wharned owner to notice the aggressive texturing on the G-10. Some have called the gnarly fiber-reinforced composite “pocket unfriendly.” With time and wear, my handles have become a little less angry, though if you are someone who incessantly unlimbers his knife during the day, then you may be in search of new pants at a more frequent rate.
The Be-Wharned has a lot to offer. In a thumb-forward Filipino grip, the Wharncliffe blade provides powerful cuts. The triangular outline of the blade is equally proficient at thrusting. Since it is a sharpened hunk of steel up front, it can be used for utility.
BLACKHAWK! sets the MSRP of the Be-Wharned at $99.00, but you can find one in stock online at this very moment for about 75% of that. Be warned, I think you will like this solid knife.
Steel snob that I am, dont overlook Meyerco folding wharning at 1/3 the price. A real sleeper!
diamdave, I had to look that one up. It’s a Dirk Pinkerton design, but it has all the attributes of the wharnies talked I talked about. Extremely low price point!
My only gripe about the knife is that it is a pure liner lock. If you mated the handle and L.A.W.K.S locking system of the CRKT Crawford-Kasper with the Be-Wharned’s blade, you’d have an awesome consumer grade fighting knife.
Interesting idea! Advantage of the blade with the different ergonomics of the CRKT’s handle.
I’m pinging Crawford for a commissioned knife like that. Waiting to hear back
Excellent review and thanks for picturing all three of Janichs’ designs side by side to see the differences. I firmly believe the Be-Wharned is the best of the bunch design wise- blade steel notwithstanding.
You’re welcome, Red. I like all the designs for different reasons. Each has its positives. I think the Be-Wharned did not get its due from consumers, but it soldiers on.
I couldn’t agree more with the Be-Wharned not receiving its just due in the community- mainly being Not a Spyderco or another big name manufacturer. That’s not to say that the original Yojimbo or its successor the Yojimbo2 are poor designs by any means. They are, simply put, more utilitarian than the Be-Wharned- which is clearly a fighting knife only. My preference to its design comes down to the aggressive G-10 scales and upswept blade with its longer needlepoint tip. Perfect for its purpose. I also happen to believe too many get “caught up” in blade steels, when it really boils down to heat treatment and ease of sharpening to a razor edge in the field. AUS 8(A) certainly fits that bill. But I digress
Thanks, Red. Mr. Janich told me at SHOT Show a few years back that he felt each version of the basic design improves certain areas of the knife.