Spyderco Sprint Runs – Behind the Scenes

You missed your chance at the latest Spyderco sprint run. You’re frustrated and want to vent! We don’t blame you but we wanted to give some perspective with the following info:

Sprint run knives from Spyderco are special configurations of an existing model – typically done in a new steel and color combination. The production number for these knives is limited and typically rumored to be around 1,200 total pieces. Think about that for a minute and let it sink in…a mere handful of knives spread across all of the dealers that Spyderco has. 

Let’s break it down further; Spyderco offers a Premiere program to dealers that allows dealers to receive up to 5 knives for all models that they make, including Sprint runs. So when you see a dealer offer a new model – seemingly before anyone else – they are releasing this limited quantity. You may ask “Why doesn’t DLT put knives up for sale as soon as they arrive?”, well that’s a good question with a long answer.

For new models we list them as “Coming Soon” and allow for email signups via an in stock notification system. It is not uncommon to receive more than 500 emails for popular models. When you factor in the small number we are allotted (remember this is an allotment – we don’t have the ability to order as many as we want) more people unfortunately go away unhappy than actually score one.

Also, take into consideration that we have Spyderco specific email and SMS notification lists that have over 2,000 customers on each; along with customers on Instagram and Facebook that are vocal if they don’t get word of new releases. Social media numbers are hard to quantify against specific products since we have a lot of followers. Let’s make a few assumptions for the absolute minimum number of people that want a specific knife, and say that customers who sign up for in stock notifications are also signed up for Spyderco specific emails and SMS, and everyone else is just a casual buyer. That still leaves 500+ customers that want one single model!

We’ll move on to how many knives we can get our hands on. We’ve already discussed the 5 knives that we get from the Premier program. We also have to submit orders for Sprint runs, so we submit our order as soon as we know about the model. Before you say “Why don’t you order more?”, we typically order 500 of each. We certainly don’t expect to receive 500, but it’s a quantifiable number that our sales rep can enter into their system that really means “Give me as many as you can”.

Nobody outside of Spyderco knows how they allocate their production, but we do the best that we can to get the highest number possible directly from Spyderco. But wait, Spyderco has distributors who also get these knives! Yes, we know. We do our best to get additional knives from multiple distributors. 

So to answer the original question, we release the highest number of knives that we can at one single time. We don’t want to burn our in stock notification list on 5 knives. We are going to put them for sale once we have our Premier, distributor, and Spyderco direct knives in hand, while trying to coordinate notifications via email, SMS, Instagram, Facebook, and our in stock notification system. 

In the end, we will get less knives than our customers demand. There is absolutely nothing we can do about it. Please remember that this isn’t insulin, defibrillator, ventilator, or other life saving device that we are selling; these are knives and the world won’t end if you miss out. As Spyderco grows in popularity, all of us at DLT encourage them to produce larger sprint runs to make more customers happy.


  • Jason Saint

    Great article and explanation; thank you for taking the time to write it.
    I am one of the people who is new, and I do get especially butthurt when I lose a knife in checkout and then see some jerk selling it for 2x markup the next week. Thanks for this added balm to the situation; and I do agree that this is just a product after all, and I better change my attitude because the re-sellers aren’t going anywhere soon. It does seem like if Spyderco would double their sprint run production, it could ease both problems somewhat, without impacting HYPE/FOMO sales too badly at all.

    • Zaur Aliyev

      I am another one of the angry customers and one of my problem is, i can not beat a bot in entering my information when I purchasing a knife! And if I was fast enough to put a knife in my basket SET A PROGRAM UP TO WHERE I HAVE COUPLE OF MINUTES TO ENTER MY PAYMENT INFORMATION before you snatch my knife out of my basket because someone else entered their information (using a bot or some other trick they have worked out) quicker! Program the basket to where a if a person grabbed a knife he has couple of minutes to go through payment process! And if within the 2 or 3 minutes check out is not complete then it goes to the next one or whatever. BUT DO NOT ALLOW A PERSON LOSE A KNIFE RIGHT OUT OF THE BASKET BECAUSE HE WAS UNABLE TO GET THE PAYMENT INFORMATION IN 10 seconds!!

      • DLT Trading

        We have not seen any evidence that bots are being used. Chrome and some other browser extensions allow for payment information to be saved, but that’s available to anyone who wants to us it.

  • Scott Baxter

    Thank you so much for offering this valuable insight. Clearly you are doing the best you can for your customers; it’s all we can ask. I agree with Jason’s comment that Spyderco offering more quantity/sprint would help minimize the frustration levels for those of us who actually want to own the knives vs. scalping them on eBay. That is a decision Spyderco alone must make/own, yet it is encouraging to hear that you are sending them feedback based on the data you have available. DLT’s customer service is excellent and I am a happy, returning customer. Thanks for all you do!!

    • Zaur Aliyev

      Paul Edgette, No matter what goes on or whatever the situation is, there is nothing more frustrating when you are quick enough to grab a merchandise, put it in your basket, immediately go through entering your payment information just to have it snatched from your basket because you or your internet connection wasn’t fast enough to process it! Give us couple of minutes to go through the payment process! I am not asking for the ability to grab a knife and hold it in your basket for hours! Just couple of minutes, just to go through the process. And yes this can indeed be programmed. There is nothing more frustrating, nothing.. you wait you wait , you do everything right, you made it! You got one in your basket, you immediately enter the information and get a reply sorry OUT OF STOCK?!! There is no better way to lose a customer than this one here. Thank you for looking into this huge issue and your concern . Be well

      • DLT Trading

        My main question with this is what will be the next thing that we need to do? Given the scenario that if someone clicks add to cart they have 3 minutes to checkout. With the number of people that are receiving notifications, there would be an extremely high probability that when you click the link it already says sold out, since inventory would be allocated to previous customers who clicked “Add to Cart”. If such a system would be implemented, the next complaint will be “I clicked the notification right away and it was already sold out!!!”. As it is right now, it’s a race to the finish, not a race to the starting line.

        • Jesse

          As a knife USER, I wish people that weren’t going to use these models would avoid the temptation to buy a knife they’re going to stare at for ten minutes before attempting to resell it for twice what they paid for it. People annoy me.

  • Richard

    Do you ration the number of knives you sell because most distributers (sellers) have a run sold sometimes in 2 to 3 minutes or less. Do some customers have a system designed to hoard the entire run in no time flat leaving the rest of us at an unfair disadvantage, or are you and other sellers aware of this issue and not considering problem to be a serious issue? Please reply. (no tap dancing necessary) Thank you. Rich H.

    • DLT Trading

      We have sprints limited to 1 per customer. If the same customer manages to put in multiple orders before they are sold out, the additional orders are cancelled.

  • Andy Altman

    I can’t type too well just now…I’m STILL sobbing over missing the Cruwear Shaman and how long ago was that now?. Just kidding! Excellent, very informative article, Paul. Thanks!

  • Dale Carr

    Honestly, I think you guys do a better job than a lot of other dealers. Programming the cart to hold one for a couple of minutes isn’t a bad idea though.

    I don’t buy many Spydercos and honestly I think the sprint runs are over hyped. Having said that, I’d love to see a full titanium Para 2 in C20v.

  • Norm Morris

    I appreciate you taking the time to explain this process, and what you have to go through to get your limited number of allocated knives out there. I’ve been vocal about this because on at least a couple of knives, even though I was getting text alerts in general (say for a new Bark River) I wasn’t getting them for the Sprint Runs consistently, so the only way I would know the knife was selling was to check my email constantly, which wasn’t an option, and I missed one knife by minutes. When I did get the text alerts in the past (I recall snagging a nice Para 3 in 20CV with red G10 last year) I was always able to get the knife no problem.

    I wasn’t asking to be able to snag a knife, just to get a text message that they were (briefly) available. However, on the last couple I did get the alerts so was happy to see that.

    I keep coming back to your competitor BHQ, who ramps up their server a couple days in advance, and announces on their site and other media on Monday the whatever, that on Wednesday morning at 10 am. Mountain time in Utah they are going to have a specific Spyderco sprint run or exclusive for sale. If I was ready and standing by my computer at that time, I have never missed one of those knives. Everyone has equal opportunity for a short period of time, and yes they sell out in minutes, but that’s fine. I’ve also never had a problem buying one of those knives after I’ve added it to my cart, but then I’m doing the transaction the first minute of the sale. The only time they’ve had issues is when their server crashed, and they’ve taken steps to prevent that in the last year.

    Thanks again for taking the time to explain the process. You have to hand it to Spyderco, they know how to create demand…!

    • DLT Trading

      The original plan was to only send out in stock notifications for customers who signed up for alerts on specific products for Sprints. With customer feedback, we started sending out emails, SMS, and social media updates in addition to the in stock alerts.

      With the extremely limited quantities of Sprints, we will not be announcing release times, but we have, and always will do so for our own exclusives.

  • Paul Staehlin

    I completely agree with this guys comment above. “ And if I was fast enough to put a knife in my basket SET A PROGRAM UP TO WHERE I HAVE COUPLE OF MINUTES TO ENTER MY PAYMENT INFORMATION before you snatch my knife out of my basket because someone else entered their information (using a bot or some other trick they have worked out) quicker! Program the basket to where a if a person grabbed a knife he has couple of minutes to go through payment process! And if within the 2 or 3 minutes check out is not complete then it goes to the next one or whatever.“

    This is very frustrating.

    But thank you to DLT trading for this blog and being transparent to your customers.

  • Charles Bianchi

    By the very nature of a Sprint Run, problems are generated. Spyderco picks some number out of the air, produces it, and that’s it. Now, a panic-buying scenario has been generated (FOMO). If you COULD get everyone to agree (which will never happen), we could just all agree to NEVER buy a knife on the secondary market for over, say, 15% of the original price (still, a reasonable profit). You would immediately see all this “bot” stuff and reseller hassle be reduced dramatically, because all those greedy price-gougers who dream of quick riches by doubling prices for scarce items would suddenly go away (and start looking for different kinds of goods that fools would be willing to pay exorbitant prices for). That would only alleviate part of the problems… (*Being a bit hypocritical, I HAVE bought a couple of knives off Ebay that were selling for about 20% over the original price, but that is the highest that I would ever be willing to pay). As far as I’m concerned, the others can have the knives if they want them that badly. At some point, you just have to have a commitment. That would only alleviate part of the problems, however. Spyderco is in the business of selling knives. Based on customer demand, seems they would want to increase the number of items produced in their Sprint Runs, without being overly-aggressive in production (else the Sprint Run factor loses its appeal). But in the end, Spyderco has to decide how many of a Sprint Run to produce, while still keeping the “WOW” factor, and also making a Sprint Run profitable. If they are really interested in making money, they should be able to keep the rarity factor and still sell-out the number of Sprint knives that they currently produce even if they produced 3,000 for each Sprint, but only they are going to make the final decision. And bottom line: even if they did produce 2-3X the number of Sprint knives, there would still be someone who would not get one. DLT can only do so much. I have shopped online at other stores, and after a certain amount of time, my shopping cart goes empty, but I wonder if there is a way to hold an item for a person for a set-number of minutes to allow them to enter personal info and finish the sale. I agree that if this is possible, it should definitely be implemented. I have missed some knives, and cursed under my breath, but I also have learned that sometimes I find after a few days that I didn’t really NEED that knife as much as I thought I needed it in the first place ;-). Then it’s time to move on, and look for the next cool knife! I am just glad to have a business relationship with DLT. They really love what they do, and that is apparent in everything they do, from sales, to shipping, to customer service. Great bunch of folks, and I’ll continue to do business with them as long as possible!

  • Jesse

    For the record, I greatly appreciate that you wait until you have them to sell them. I missed out on a Crucarta Shaman because another seller took preorders they evidently shouldn’t have. But I learned to laugh off the preorder button on sprints, and to not do business with them any more!

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