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Spyderco revival: classic Endura and Delica models get face-lifts.

As folding knives go, Spyderco has to be the most instantly recognizable brand in the world. There's no mistaking that "round hole" in the blade, a trait dating back to the early 1980s when a budding entrepreneur named Sal Glesser first came up with the idea and let it rip on his early production knives. Unbeknownst to some, the unique hole-in-the-blade is not the only innovation Spyderco brought into the production knife arena. The company also pioneered such common features as the pocket clip and edge serrations for folding knives.

The 1980s were formative years for folding knives. The Buck 110, with its stout lock-back mechanism had ruled the roost since the late 1960s and there were very few new renovations in the 1970s. By the time the 1980s rolled around knife buyers were ready for something fresh, and Spyderco didn't disappoint.

That hole in the blade--first introduced on the mariner model in 1982--may have looked funky on a folding knife, but it sure made opening the blade easier. The idea promptly caught on with increased enthusiasm throughout the decade. On top of being easy to open, customers found that Spyderco knives were extremely well built and had an ergonomic shape fitting the hand quite well. Before long, Spyderco folders were finding faithful users among cops and a wide range of other serious users. The best, however, was yet to come.

Enter The Clipits

Spyderco's Clipit series of folders introduced in 1990 helped put the company over the top, elevating the company to the true "heavyweight" status it enjoys in the industry today. Up to this point all Spyderco knives had steel frames, but the company changed the equation by introducing a new "Lightweight" line of folders featuring fiberglass reinforced nylon (FRN) handles. The handles had a textured pattern of dimpled squares molded into it to further enhance the grip. The Endura model, the first in the series to feature such a handle, was voted the Knife of the Year at the Blade Show in 1990. A smaller companion, the Delica model, soon followed and these two folders quickly became Spyderco's top sellers. Smaller models, like the Dragonfly, soon joined the line.

The synthetic-handled folders had a pocket clip molded into one side of the handles and were part of the Clipit Series. The convenience of the clip combined with their light weight appealed to a much broader customer base than the heavier steel-frame models. Attracting casual and serious users alike, women particularly found the smaller Delica model ideal for daily carry either in their purse or clipped to their clothing.

At 5" closed, the Endura is an amply-sized folder by today's standards and capable of heavy duty chores. At 4.5" closed the Delica is no slouch, but more practical for everyday carry. Both knives featured a broad drop point blade to accommodate the Spyderco "hole" and full serrations have always been an option. Spyderco continued to add improvements to the Endura and Delica throughout the decade, and in 1997 the Endura II and Delica II were upgraded to AUS-6 blade steel. In late 1998 further modifications were made. including steel pocket clips to replace the previous ones molded into the handle.

Enlightened Lightweights

Spyderco has chosen to celebrate the 15-year anniversary with a nice overhaul of these two Clipits with a host of modifications adding even more function and convenience. The new Endura4 and Delica4 models have not changed radically in shape, but a closer look reveals some very nifty upgrades.

Most of the modifications to the two folders are in the handle. The profile has been tweaked to be slightly more curvaceous. The top end of the handle near the coil is more rounded and the upper finger groove is slightly deeper, making the knife a bit trimmer than its predecessor. The dimpled block pattern molded into the handle is no longer a simple checkerboard pattern but one that radiates from the center of the handle in what Spyderco calls "Bi-Directional Texturing" for better traction. Strictly cosmetic, but a change worth noting, is a brand new oval-shaped logo in the center of the handle replacing the circular one that graced the handles since their first release.

The new Endura4 and Delica4 will be extremely popular among Southpaws and those who like a choice between tip-up or tip-down carry. Attachment holes for the pocket clip are present in all four ends of the handle, allowing the user to adjust the knife for left-handed carry and blade orientation for pocket carry. I applaud Spyderco for this and hope other manufactures will follow their example, as it's a simple feature that allows the user to "adjust" the knife to their own preferences.

Another great feature of the handles on these new models is the addition of screw construction to replace the fixed-rivets used on their predecessors. These allow the knife to be taken apart for cleaning, and because there are more screws than there were rivets, the overall construction is stronger. The pivot pin is beefier on the new models as well, further enhancing the overall strength of construction. Skeletonized stainless steel liners inside the handle are used to reduce weight and are also drilled to accept the screws for the pocket clip.

The blade on both models looks almost identical to its predecessors but there are a several of improvements of note. Spyderco has upgraded the blade to VG-10 stainless, a production steel the company is very fond of and has been seen popping up in their line lately. Secondly, the blade tip has been refined to be stronger than on previous models. Thirdly, the thumb ramp on the backside of the blade has some fine notching or "jimping" added for an improved, slip-resistant grip. In addition, the famous "Spy-dee hole" has been enlarged to 13mm in diameter.

There's More

Spyderco didn't stop there. Even newer variants of the Endura and Delica models incorporate the Emerson Wave opening feature. This hook-like design (first introduced and patented by tactical knife guru Ernest Emerson) on the backside of the blade can be used for rapid opening of the blade by hooking it into the upper lip of the pants pocket. It takes a little practice, but once you master the Wave it can rival a spring-assisted knife in sheer speed of employment.

Those who like the original steel-frame versions will not be disappointed. Spyderco updated these as well with the same blade modifications and has incorporated many of the same features, such as the four-point clip attachment, to a newly designed frame. These "SS" (stainless steel) models are a couple of ounces heavier than their lightweight siblings, but if weight is no object and you prefer a bit classier folder, this is the way to go.

All of the new models can be had with a plain edge, partially-serrated edge, or fully-serrated edge. In addition, Spyderco also offers red handled training models of both folders, as they have in the past.

Cutters They Are

Spyderco is truly superior to most when it comes to putting an ultra-sharp factory edge on a blade, and these new arrivals are no exception. I tested the fully-serrated Endura4 and partially-serrated Delica4 on half-inch rope and both whipped through their target with ease. The new enlarged thumb-hole benefits those with bigger digits and does make a bit of difference for those with normal size paws like myself.

The new handle design surprised me. I noticed the grip to be noticeably better when comparing the handles on new models with the radiating pattern to the old ones with the standard square pattern. The lighter weight of both knives is impressive as well. The Delica4 checks in at just 2.5 ounces and the larger Endura4 at 3.6 ounces. The new screw construction makes for a much more solid knife, plus the 4-way clip attachment feature is extremely handy.

The price is right as well. The Delica4 models are priced at a suggested retail of $67.95 for the Lightweight model, $77.95 for the stainless one. Endura4 models are priced at $74.95 for the Lightweight and $91.95 in all-steel. Waved Enduras and Delicas cost approximately ten bucks more. There's a lot to like about these new revivals from Spyderco. Not only do the upgrades make them superior to previous models, they are a lot of knife for the money.

For more info: Spyderco Inc.,

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Author:Covert, Pat
Publication:American Handgunner
Date:Mar 1, 2007
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