The Spyderco Endura series has been in the Spyderco catalogue for decades – long before I had even heard of Spydercos myself. If I had to nominate one knife as a flagship Spyderco, the Spyderco Endura would definitely be high up on my list. Not many would argue that the Endura and the Delica series of knives are certainly some of the most representative of Spyderco, and for good reason. They’ve been released by Spyderco dozens upon dozens of times, with different blade steels, handle materials and colours, and even different grinds. As such, the Endura and the Delica series of knives seem to be flagship representatives of Spyderco because of just how much they have been present and evolved alongside the company.
Just a heads up, the particular knife I am reviewing, the one that is shown in the pictures, is the Spyderco Endura 4 ZDP-189 Steel FRN Handle FFG (Full Flat Ground) knife. What’s odd is that for some reason, even though this knife is still in production, which you can see for yourself here, the knife isn’t currently being sold on Amazon. Because of this, I’ve linked to the Endura FFG version with different blade steel and handle colour. For all intents and purposes, this knife review should read identically for both knives, as they are both the very same in terms of shape, size, design, ergonomics, etc., and truly are only different in terms of blade steel and handle colour.
I’d also like to note that the Spyderco Endura 4 does come with a pocket clip, as all folding Spydercos do (with the sole exception to this rule being the Spyderco Air if memory serves me right). I simply do not use the pocket clip on the Endura myself, since I personally find it more comfortable without one.
Of course, material does make a difference to some of the knife’s properties, so you may want to pay attention to this when finding the right knife to add to your collection. For example, the VG-10 blade steel version of the Spyderco Endura, which is not one that I own, has better corrosion resistance and is easier to sharpen than the ZDP-189 version. This ease to sharpen, however, comes at the cost of edge retention. By contrast, the ZDP-189 blade steel version that I own is made with a true super steel, having absolutely excellent edge retention, but being an absolute giant pain to sharpen should you not own a high performance sharpening system or at the very least some high quality diamond stones.
The first time I saw the Spyderco Endura I did not envision ever owning it. Like many Spydercos it looks rather odd, as Sal Glesser, Spyderco’s founder and CEO, designs his knives for function and not for form. This odd duck styling is a huge part of what makes this model and its smaller brethren of the Delica series so uniquely Spyderco.
My particular Endura is a full flat ground super slicer blade, in the super steel ZDP-189, wrapped with FRN (Fiberglass Reinforced Nylon) scales. Without holding and using this tool, it definitely seems like a strange combination, as it looks a bit like high end steel and a low end handle (in appearance only!) melded together to form this knife, but after using it many times, I have to applaud Spyderco for making me appreciate such a strange looking knife with plastic handles.
The spine of the Endura handle and part of its blade has jimping, but it’s a conservative amount, definitely not too excessive like I’ve seen on some knives. The jimping certainly won’t tear up your hands, but it’s useful in that it will lock them onto the knife should it get wet. The mid-lock features the boye dent to stop accidental release should you ever have the knife open and pressed in on the palm of your hand with extreme amounts of pressure.
Personally, my biggest issue with the Endura (and Delica, Stretch, Dragonfly, etc.) series is the use of the mid-lock locking system. While I have never had one fail on me and I don’t doubt its reliability, I never really liked having a closed spine for cleaning purposes, and the idea of a thick steel bar for a lightweight knife just seems strange to me. That being said, at 68 grams (2.8 ounces) for a 96 mm (3.75 inch) blade, its true that this knife is pretty damn impressive for its weight and size, and while I have my reservations, I can’t argue with facts. Its an extremely light mid-lock knife.
On the Endura, there’s no choil to speak of, but by design there is just about enough of the tang to stop the blade from guillotining your fingers should the lock fail for whatever reason.
The stock full flat ground blade is very lean, and out of the box mine was definitely a formidable slicer.
The balance point of the Spyderco Endura 4 is behind the pivot. I really like this and actually wouldn’t change this at all. The nested skeletonized liners help to keep the balance point just there.
The bidirectional patterns on the scales are very grippy, and actually grip well no matter which way you hold the knife. I would say the FRN scales on the Spyderco Endura 4 even surpasses Emerson’s G-10 scales in terms of gripping.
The knife does not have open flow through construction as I previously noted. I’m really not a huge fan of this due to maintenance issues when cleaning – after all, you cant simply run the knife under the tap and expect all the dirt to wash away. However, I have never actually encountered problems in use, so my prejudices aside, I can’t actually knock any points off here.
The 3 mm (.125 inch) blade stock is pretty thick by my standards. Admittedly, I would have preferred 2 mm or even 2.5 mm stock, but I know that most wouldn’t care for such an extreme slicer. It’s true that the 3 mm blade stock allows for the knife to be relatively flexible when it comes to what tasks it can handle. There’s certainly no need to worry about the blade breaking at that thickness, within reason of course.
Using a saber grip on the Endura 4 is ridiculously comfortable. Spyderco’s really got its ergonomics down.
Unfortunately, though, there’s no real way to safely choke up on the blade. I would definitely not advise this grip for safety reasons.
By contrast, the pinch grip, however, is perfectly viable.
The size of the handle makes grip position relatively neutral, and very comfortable, even in reverse grip.
When talking about value and the worth of a knife, cost should be a paramount variable in my opinion. It’s nice to lust after high-ticket customs and shiny carbon fiber scales, but we shouldn’t forget knives like Spyderco’s Endura 4 when it comes to performance.
After all, for $60 you can have a lightweight EDC, with fantastic ergonomics, coupled with industry leading grinds. Honestly, in terms of functional performance, I don’t think many knives can really stand up to the Endura, even in the $100-$200 price range. Throw in an extra $40 for the ZDP-189 steel version, and you automatically have a high performance monster.
Though the look definitely may not be for everybody, if you’re even considering giving this knife a go, you probably should. Like I said myself, I wasn’t particularly into just how odd this knife appears aesthetically, but it’s definitely bang-for-buck worth the money, and is undoubtably one of my most comfortable and high performance knives for its price.