As with the Spyderco Endura series, the Spyderco Delica series has been in the Spyderco catalogue for decades. These two knives have been continuously popular throughout the years, and for good reason: they are comfortable, practical, and extremely well-priced. The Spyderco Delica is essentially a smaller sized Spyderco Endura, and so handling either will give you a good idea of the other. For me, between the two knives, the Spyderco Delica performs as a better EDC, as it is lighter, nicer to hold, and easier to carry in your pocket, all while having the same practical use and high performance as the Spyderco Endura. That being said, being so similar, they are both outstanding knives that I thoroughly enjoy using on an extremely regular basis.
Before getting on with this review I would like to apologize if much of what I write echoes what I wrote for my Spyderco Endura 4 review. In terms of both style and features, these two knives are essentially one and the same. The only offhand differences that can be casually noted are the thickness of the blade stock and the proportions of the knives.
As with the Spyderco Endura 4 review, the exact knife I have is not available on Amazon, even though it is still currently in production. The knife I have and that you see in the pictures of this review is the Spyderco Delica 4 ZDP-189 Steel FFG (Full Flat Ground) knife. The Amazon links in this review will take you to the standard Spyderco Delica 4, which has different blade steel and a different color for its FRN scales, but is otherwise exactly the same (in terms of shape, size, design, ergonomics, etc.). This knife review should therefore read pretty much identically for the knife I link to and the knife I’m reviewing, as the steel type and handle colour are the only differences between the two knives.
In terms of ergonomics I feel it does the Delica a huge disservice to be compared to the Endura. Yes, they are practically identical in terms of style and shape, but holding an Endura you have a beast in your hands, its presence cannot be ignored, while the Delica is by contrast a more subtle breed of animal. The Endura drops to the bottom of my front pocket, always noticeable, reminding me I have not forgotten my knife, but my Delica clips onto my back pocket, so comfortable I near always forget I’m carrying it – a quality I enjoy. The Delica truly feels like an everyday carry knife, and while the Endura is a perfectly good EDC as well, it’s not possible for the Endura to beat the Delica in terms of subtlety and ease of carry.
Just like the Endura’s pocket clip, the Delica pocket clip is a standard Spyderco hourglass in design. It functions just fine, and while it doesn’t ride super low it’s still discreet enough to everyday carry in sheeple environments.
The 181 mm (7.125 inch) knife is so light at 71 grams (2.5 oz) that the balance point is slightly behind the hilt. In hand the knife is weightless, and this lack of heft make its presence greatly appreciated while working with it all day slicing abrasive material like cardboard. You’ll barely feel it in your hands if you keep it sharp, as it just zips through cardboard as easily as a box cutter (okay, this may be a slight exaggeration, but you get the point, it’s nice).
In case you haven’t noticed by the sheer volume of mid-lock and back-lock knife reviews on this blog already, over the years, I’ve owned many mid-lock and back-lock knives. Although I’ve personally always preferred liner locks over these types, as I always thought mid-locks would be heavier and far more difficult to clean than an open frame liner lock knife, realistically I have never once had a problem cleaning the Delica, and believe me I’ve cleaned it enough (I use it far too often in the kitchen). The lock has never given me any pause for thought regarding its strength and durability either, so colour me impressed.
Over the years I’ve learned that a lock is truly only as good as its manufacturer. Even a liner lock, if it comes from a bad company, can still be bad. The same can be said for all lock types, no matter how good or bad they may seem at first glance.
Like with the Endura, there is no true choil on the Delica 4. However, the size of the tang in effect ends up acting as one. You can’t choke up on the tang, but when closing the knife, or should the lock fail, you won’t lose any digits!
The default blade of the Spyderco Delica is very lean at 2.5 mm (.093 inches) thick. Since I was not satisfied with performance, I decided to regrind the knife, and now the blade is just extreme, at around 1.5-1.8 mm thickness with a needle point.
The downside of going super-lean on my modification of the Spyderco Delica 4 is that the Delica is in no way best heavy duty workhorse. That being said, this is a price I am willing to accept, especially since it is now my absolute best cutter.
Centering is perfect, but this is the standard, and so is not quite a noteworthy point.
I really love the pattern on the FRN. It makes for great performance, as the pattern makes the FRN slip resistant even in the most wet and slippery circumstances. I’m also actually quite fond of the way the pattern looks myself.
After a few months of use, the FRN will get a little bit grimy. This can be easily remedied by scrubbing with a sponge and soapy water, so keep that in mind if you do invest in the Delica (or even the Endura for that matter). Cleaning this knife is trivial, and much easier than it would even appear considering it’s a mid-lock.
The knife opens like a rocket. Nothing else needs to be said in that respect. I will always be a diehard for that Spyderhole.
Saber grip is excellent in terms of ergoenomics. My Endura has the pocket clip removed, as I treat it like a folding slicer and glorified high performance kitchen knife. My Endura I only really use when I know I will need to perform some extended cutting, especially around the house, and it’s perfect for that role. But the Delica for me is an ever-present EDC, always a pleasure to use, and a pleasant surprise when I first purchased it, as it’s extremely pocketable all the while offering extremely above average cutting performance. I have cooked whole meals with my Delica, and have savoured every moment of its use.
The Spyderco Delica 4’s reverse grip is above average. There’s no real hot spot to speak of.
You can pinch grip the knife, but taking into account how pointy/stabby the knife is, I would not advise using the Delica as a first choice for a skinning/hunting blade.
The Spyderco Delica 4 quintessentially captures Spyderco’s style and performance mindset when crafting a performance cutting tool. It is a vicious slicer and doesn’t even remotely try pretending to be a folding pry bar. I never thought an FRN mid-lock knife would become my most carried folder, but as of today, I consistently carry either of my Delicas (I also have the super blue edition along with this ZDP-189 edition) more often than any of my other knives. I do not say this lightly.
Cutting ability is the crux of the argument for purchasing this knife – it is by far the cheapest super slicer you can purchase. You may not be in love with “plastic” scales and a G-10 version does exist, but in my opinion, the FRN handles are large part of what makes this knife so great and they are by far superior to the G-10 handle option. FRN’s lightweight properties paired with their slip-resistant pattern make the FRN handles the second most desirable feature of the Spyderco Delica 4, behind the insane cutting ability of the blade.
Of course, I am biased since this version or another of the Spyderco Delica 4 is always on me these days, but in my opinion, you would be doing yourself a great disservice by not picking up this knife. $66 gets you more cutting ability per weight than any other blade in its class, and the Delica 4 comes in a much more EDC-friendly package than its larger sibling, the Spyderco Endura 4. Needless to say, the Delica 4 is a classic for good reason.