The only way to truly appreciate knives is to appreciate the deep history of their design and evolution—and the extraordinary people who drove that process. One such figure is French custom knifemaker Fred Perrin. His signature handle designs pioneered the use of index-finger holes and deep forefinger choils more than 25 years ago and have had a profound impact on the form and function of modern knives. They have also made him one of Spyderco's most popular and enduring collaborative designers.
A veteran of service with the French Army, an expert close-combat instructor, and a world-class martial artist, Perrin combines his unique perspective on self-defense with his extensive military experience to design knives that are exceptionally functional as both tools and personal-defense weapons. Equally adept at both hand-forging and stock-removal knifemaking methods, he also crafts a broad spectrum of other items ranging from jewelry to spy-worthy covert weapons.
Perrin's first Spyderco collaboration, introduced in 2001, was the Street Bowie. Still one of Spyderco's most popular fixed blades, it introduced the market to his signature index-finger choil—a deep, single finger groove that serves as a very functional handguard while maintaining a sleek, streamlined handle shape. As Spyderco customers learned to appreciate the brilliant simplicity of this feature, they also became interested in smaller, more concealable version of the design. That demand led to the original Micarta-handled Street Beat in 2007 and in 2015 to the more economical Street Beat Lightweight. The single finger groove of both designs ensured a swift, positive draw and extreme grip security in an amazingly compact package.
A keen student of French history, Perrin has always been fascinated with the "Apache" street gangs of early 20th century Paris and the small, ultra-concealable weapons of that culture. Similarly, he has a deep knowledge of the covert edged weapons carried by the British Special Operations Executive (SOE), the American Office of Strategic Services (OSS), and various other allied forces during World War II. Drawing inspiration from those sources, several years ago Perrin created an even smaller version of the Street Bowie/Street Beat pattern, which he dubbed the Subway Bowie. Spyderco co-founder Sal Glesser—also a long-time proponent of the "little-big-knife" philosophy—was immediately impressed by Perrin's design and offered to adapt it to a factory-made knife. The result is the Spyderco Subway Bowie.
The Subway Bowie is a faithful expression of Perrin's handcrafted custom design executed with the benefit of an injection-molded handle and a state-of-the-art blade steel. The heart of the knife is its blade, which is crafted from LC200N, one of the premier steels of Spyderco's popular Salt Series. This advanced, high-nitrogen alloyed tool steel is specifically formulated to offer extreme corrosion resistance and superior toughness, even at high levels of hardness. The sophisticated processes used to produce this steel give it a fine, homogenous microstructure and allow it to be readily machined and polished. Its remarkable qualities make it the material of choice for applications that involve high static and dynamic loads in corrosive environments, and it is actually used by NASA for the ball bearings used in aerospace equipment. In knife blades, LC200N provides an exceptional blend of toughness, edge holding, and corrosion resistance.
A scaled-down version of a classic straight-clip Bowie pattern, the Subway Bowie's PlainEdge blade features a sturdy saber grind that provides an outstanding balance of strength and low-friction edge geometry. For general utilitarian use, the blade is available with a handsome satin finish. For those who prefer a more tactically oriented non-reflective finish, it is also available with a low-profile black ceramic coating (this model).
The knife's fiberglass-reinforced-nylon (FRN) handle is injection molded directly onto the blade tang for maximum strength and durability. Like its bigger brothers, the juncture of the handle and blade features Perrin's iconic deep index-finger choil and a section of jimping (textured grooves) on the spine. Together these design elements allow an extremely positive grip using the focused pressure of your thumb and index finger. The remainder of the contoured handle provides room for the middle and ring fingers to create a secure three-finger grip.
Like many of Perrin's custom knives, the butt end of the Subway Bowie's handle also features a lanyard hole to accommodate a parachute cord fob. Threading the paracord through the hole and knotting the free ends together allows the fob to serve as a flexible extension of the handle, making the knife easier to draw and control during use. For best results, the location of the knot in the cord should fall between the user’s ring and little fingers when the knife is gripped naturally. To support this option, a pre-cut length of paracord with heat-sealed ends is included with every knife.
The Subway Bowie comes complete with a custom-molded Boltaron sheath. Designed primarily for neck carry, the sheath includes a breakaway ball chain and is purposely made to have a rectangular profile. This allows lateral space between the eyelets at the sheath tip that helps the sheathed knife lay flat against the chest and keeps it in a consistent orientation when worn around the neck. The snap-fit design offers excellent retention and includes a thumb “push-off” to ensure a swift, positive draw.
Spyderco is extremely proud of their longstanding relationship and collaborations with Fred Perrin. For those who appreciate the elegant simplicity of his knives and the profound influence he's had on modern knife design, we're confident you'll find the Subway Bowie to be a worthy addition to his legacy.
- Blade Length: 2.80" (71 mm)
- Cutting Edge: 2.52" (64 mm)
- Handle Length: 2.31" (59 mm)
- Overall Length: 5.11" (130 mm)
- Blade Thickness: 0.118" (3.0 mm)
- Blade Material: LC200N Ultra-Corrosion-Resistant Steel
- Blade Style: Bowie
- Blade Grind: Saber
- Blade Finish: Satin
- Blade Edge: Plain
- Handle Material: FRN
- Handle Color: Black
- Sheath: Boltaron
- Model Number: FB48PBBK
- Model Name: Subway Bowie Black
- Designer: Fred Perrin
- Weight: 1.45 oz. (41 g)
- Weight with Sheath: 2.22 oz. (63 g)
- Made in Japan