The Spyderco Lil’ Sub-Hilt is a smaller version of the original Sub-Hilt by Butch Vallotton, designed to be easier to carry: it’s a perfect Edc (Every Day Carry). The CPM S30V blade delivers stunning performances, whereas the refined construction and the mechanical finesses make it interesting also for a knife collector.

The history

What do all Spyderco – fixed blades included – have in common? Easy: the round hole that folders need for opening. However, there are also some models with an ambidextrous thumb-stud placed on the blade, whose purpose is not only practical but also celebratory.

Butch Vallotton started making knives in 1984. He was the first one to use an ambidextrous thumb-stud both for opening and as a stop pin. This solution was then adopted by many other knifemakers, but Ballotton never had the recognition he deserved. In 2011 Spyderco decided to clarify the situation by making the Vallotton Sub-Hilt (C149G), the first knife to have the thumb-stud and the typical round hole, so to honour Vallotton’s innovation. Thanks to its particular design, inspired by Italian tradition, as well as to the meticulous and complex craft, this model was such a great success that after seven years it is still in production.

Many customers fell in love with the Sub-Hilt but did not appreciate its large dimension. That is why they started asking for a smaller version, more compact and easier to carry. So the present Lil’ Sub-Hilt (C224GP) was born: a smaller version of the original knife that retains its design, except for the rear end that has been wisely rounded, since it no longer sticks out of the hand.


If the Vallotton Sub-Hilt’s blade was 95mm long, on the Lil’ is 81mm. The steel remains the excellent CPM S30V and the bevels are still hollow, except for the tip where they become flat to strengthen it. Near the pivot, the cutting-edge is pretty wide to host the opening hole, but soon after it halves. The satin finish on the bevels is vertical, whereas on the flats is horizontal.


The structure of the knife has not changed: it is supported by two thick steel liners, lightened by some round holes that are fundamental for the locking system, namely a liner-lock. As earlier mentioned, the peculiarity of this blade is the ambidextrous thumb-stud, that when you open the knife blocks its rotation by touching the steel liners. To avoid that the two parts touch each other in one single point, the producer has realised two hollows on the front part of the metallic liners that mirror the thumb-stud’s roundness, discharging stresses on a wider area. However there is a inner stop pin to limit the rotation of the blade when closing it.


The handle in as interesting as the blade: the scales are in polished black G10, with steel bolsters broken by a thin G10 insert. The couplings are so perfect that you have to watch the back to understand how it was made. The satin metallic strip that breaks the black handle recalls the sub-hilt, hence the name, meaning those knives with a second lower quillon that separates the index from the middle finger, though the protrusion is obviously just light here.

The bolsters of the Spyderco Lil’ Sub-Hilt are covered with holes, three per side, for fastening the clip in four positions. We would have been happy just to assemble it in the rear, so to keep only those in the black G10, near the lanyard hole, where they are less evident.

Both the steel and G10 are quite heavy materials, and on this Spyderco the former is the most used. Nevertheless, the overall weight is within the limits of a frequent carry. Thanks to the very light blade, the balance is perfect, with a barycenter that almost corresponds to the hollow upon which the index lays.


  • Producer: Spyderco /
  • Model: Lil’ Sub-Hilt
  • Designer: Butch Vallotton
  • Blade material: CPM S30V
  • Handle material: steel and G10
  • Length when open: 188 mm
  • Blade length: 81 mm
  • Blade thickness: 3,4 mm
  • Weight: 148 g
  • Lock type: liner lock
  • Price: 340 euro (Italian market)

Pro: original and handy
Cons: holes in the bolsters

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