My first experience with Spyderco was almost an accident. A local gun shop was having a clearance sale and I got a good deal on a box with an assortment of knives. In that box where two Spyderco knives: a Viele and a light weight Walker. Iíd read about the brand, but hated the look of their knives, and I really didnít care for the synthetic handle materials either. Up to this point Iíd been using and collecting nothing but traditional knives. The only plastic handled knives I owned were SAKs and I even had the scales on a few of them replaced for wood.
I tried to sell those two Spydercos, but at the time I wasnít that well connected with the knife community and it was tricky to find buyers. I ended up taking them on a trip and after a week or so of daily use I just fell in love with them. I started looking for more of this mysterious brand (almost unkown in Argentina back then) and ended up going on-line to look for them. I found a few knife forums, started ordering stuff from recommended vendors and the rest is history.
I like Spyderco for many reasons, their products are excellent and fairly priced, their customer service is top notch and the owner is probably one of the nicest guys in the knife business. He even has the unusual habit of listening to his customers, time and time again if enough people ask for something thatís reasonably feasible, Sal Glesser will make it happen (like the UKPK, just to name an example).
Itís the sort of company that I genuinely enjoy giving money to! Besides these objective reasons, Spyderco holds some sentimental value for me because it was the brand that helped open my mind to new designs and materials and taught me to try something out before standing on my little soap box and ranting.
Spyderco pioneered features that are now standard in modern pocket knives (one hand opening, pocket clip, serrations) and has cultivated quite a following because their knives just work. They are prime examples of form following function. From an aesthetic point of view, few of them give me the same pleasure as a well worn carbon steel slipjoint with carefully jigged bone handles, but I just love using them. They are knives that I enjoy with my hands rather than my eyes.
Another great thing about these fellows in Golden (Colorado) is that they canít leave well enough alone. Their models are constantly improved upon or modified to offer the customer more options. And that brings me (finally!) to the knives I want to review today, the newest version of two or Spydercoís best sellers: the Delica and Endura.
A while ago Spyderco introduced some big changes to their classic Delicas and Enduras. They added steel liners to the FRN handles (which in turn allowed for a four position pocket clip), switched from pinned construction to screws (huge step forwards, IMHO), made some changes to the handle shape and completely changed the grind on the blade from a hollow grind with a sharp point (that some users found weak) to a sabre grind with a reinforced tip. Most people liked the newer versions (called Delica 4 and Endura 4), though some had complaints about the small increase of weight due to the steel liners and the thicker edge geometry. While the liners didnít bother me, I did find the blade on my older Endura 3 more satisfying to use than the Endura 4 (the Delica 4 was fine because of the thinner blade stock, it made up for the thicker grind).
There was a sprint run of G-10 handled Delicas and Enduras with full flat ground blades, but they were more expensive than regular ones (on par with other G-10 handled, full flat ground Spydies), so they werenít a real alternative. As great as they are (I ADORE my G-10 Delica), they lacked one of the best qualities of FRN Spydercos: relatively low price. They are also heavier.
People wanted those great, thin edged flat ground blades on an FRN handle, and once more Sal delivered. In fact, he went a step further and offered different colours for the FRN handles. They can be had in brown, green, purple, blue (my favourite) and grey. I placed an order with my wholesale distributor as soon as they were available and kept a blue Delica and a Blue Endura for myself. It was love at first sight, the blue coloured FRN is a nice break from the ubiquitous black handles and the grind on the blades is excellent.
Here are the links to the manufacturerís specs:
:: Spyderco Product Details ::
:: Spyderco Product Details ::
Such great edge geometry coupled with a high quality stainless steel like VG-10 yields terrific performance. They are awesome slicers, and also work very well for wood carving. The tips might seem thin compared to the regular versions, but Iíve yet to snap the tip on any of my folding knives. I donít pry with them, I use the screw driver on my SAK for that (and I know its limitations). Iíve carried them both in the city as well as outdoors and while working at my dadís ranch. Theyíve done everything I need a folding knife to do. Iím rather partial to the Delica because I like the way it looks a bit more, and also because itís just so light and unobtrusive, yet delivers such amazing cutting power that I just feel like kissing it.
I give the blades an A. Iím a big fan of Spydercoís flat ground blades, and Iím very happy to finally see them in their more affordable FRN knives instead of just on their G-10 and carbon fibre handled ones. As I said above, VG-10 is a very high quality steel. Iíve been using it for years and when it comes to EDC folders, itís my favourite blade material. The balance between edge holding and ease of sharpening is perfect.
Ergonomics on both handles are very well thought out. Even though itís small, the Delica is very comfortable in my large hands. The handle on the Endura is quite long and allows for some extra reach if you grab the end of the handle (useful in some SD scenarios as well as for things like cutting on a hot grill). The texture on the FRN is well done, grippy but not too much. The area where the clip meets the handle has a Spyderco logo instead of the texturing, a nice touch that makes drawing the knife much smoother and keeps pockets from getting damaged. The clip can be installed in four different positions.
The lock used is the tried and true lockback, which has a long and successful track record. The only modification is the Boye dent that helps avoid accidental disengagement.
The opening hole, choice of lock and the clip placement options make these knives fully ambidextrous.
Since they are screwed together rather than pinned, pivot tension can be adjusted, they can be taken apart for detailed cleaning and anything that breaks can be replaced (Spyderco sells a replacement parts kit). One can also switch around the blades between the different models. All my training knives and guns are green, so I swapped the blades between one of the new green Enduras and my Endura Trainer (comes in red from the factory).
I know most of the folks here are interested in knives as emergency SD weapons as well as utility tools. In my novice opinion, either of these knives could fulfil that role well. The locks are strong, deployment is quick, the handles offer good purchase and the blades are wicked sharp. Those who think the Delica is too small for an effective SD knife should watch some of Michael Janichís videos on YouTube. Heís been carrying two Delicas as his self defence knives for ten years or so (he mentioned it on the Spyderco forums) and has run loads of cutting tests. This guy really, really knows what heís talking about. Still, I feel a bit more comfortable with the Endura, especially now that winter is coming to South America and bad guys wear thicker clothes. Mr Janich discusses some of his credentials and shows some cuts with a Delica in this video:
A huge advantage that both the Delica and Endura have when it comes to being pressed into SD duty is that there are dedicated training versions available. And they are excellent, I use them three times a week and the edges are rounded enough to be used for full contact practice (with some care when stabbing). I see a lot of people who order folding knives from me to use as SD tools, and then buy fixed blade rubber training knives. You need to train with what you carry. If a 3Ē folding knife is going to be your main edged weapon (perhaps thatís the legal limit in your area), you need to train with a 3Ē folding trainer. Just start a fight with a training partner with your knife clipped to your pocket and try to draw and open it while punching, kicking or grappling. Itís not that easy at first! I used to think that folding trainers were a waste of money (they cost more or less the same as the ďrealĒ knife), but Iím now convinced that they are a must for serious training.