The Spyderco Delica 4 is a proven top pocket knife made with excellent blade steel. The deep but narrow blade is its most salient characteristic. A thin, gently tapered edge is tuned for delicate tasks and frictionless edge hone, but the overall depth of the blade lends strength and confidence. Some of that deep blade is cut out with Spyderco's standard-setting, one-thumb-opening hole. That deep blade sticks out of the handle in stowed mode, making the whole folded package bulkier than is perhaps necessary but not so large that you wouldn't take it with you on a backpacking trip. On the flip side, the handle is narrower and smaller in your hand than you might like.Editor's Note: We updated this review for Spyderco Delica 4 on August 25, 2022, with an unbiased take on value and suggestions for other directly comparable products.
Spyderco Delica 4 Review
Cons: Bulky pocket carry, slim handle in use
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Spyderco Delica 4
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|Pros||Big blade, excellent steel, four pocket clip positions||Beautifully constructed, assisted open, good value||Serrated blade portion, carabiner carry option, lightweight, good blade steel||Small, portable, well-constructed||Inexpensive, functional, heavily featured|
|Cons||Bulky pocket carry, slim handle in use||Slender handle makes it hard to apply even pressure, thin blade is fragile||Rudimentary construction, primitive lockback||Not made for heavy-duty use||Unremarkable construction, low quality steel, bulky|
|Bottom Line||A modern classic folding pocket knife with proven materials and proven performance attributes; maybe not the perfect model, but it will do well for most||A slender, svelte pocket knife with great materials and a reasonable value||The best knife we have tested for rock, ice, and alpine climbing||A tiny, multi-function pocket knife||A fully-featured tactical pocket knife at an unbeatable price, but it lacks high quality construction|
|Rating Categories||Spyderco Delica 4||Kershaw Leek||Petzl Spatha||Victorinox Classic...||Albatross EDC Tactical|
|Blade and Edge Integrity (30%)|
|Construction Quality (20%)|
|Other Features (10%)|
|Specs||Spyderco Delica 4||Kershaw Leek||Petzl Spatha||Victorinox Classic...||Albatross EDC Tactical|
|Weight||2.3 oz||3.1 oz||1.5 oz||0.8 oz||3.8 oz|
|Blade Length||2.5 in||2.9 in||2.7 in||1.4 in||2.5 in|
|Blade Material||VG-10 stainless steel||Sandvik 14C28N stainless steel||Sandvik 12C27 stainless steel||Proprietary Stainless (between 440A and 420)||440 stainless steel|
|Handle Material||Plastic||410 stainless steel||Nylon||Plastic||Stainless steel|
|Blade Style||Clip point, straight||Drop point, straight||Drop Point, hybrid straight/serrated||Drop point, straight||Drop point, straight|
|Blade locks closed?||No||Yes||No||No||No|
|Opening Style||Ambidextrous thumb hole||Assisted, ambidextrous thumb stud; back-of-knife finger tab||Ambidextrous thumb hole; ridged traction ring||Fingernail||Assisted, flipper|
|Lock Mechanism||Lock back||Frame lock||Lock back||None||Liner lock|
|Carry Style||Pocket clip and lanyard hole||Pocket clip and lanyard hole||Carabiner hole||Keyring||Pocket clip|
|Closed Length||4.1 in||4.0 in||4.2 in||2.3 in||3.9 in|
|Overall Length||7.0 in||7.0 in||7.0 in||3.8 in||6.5 in|
|Thickness (w/o pocket clip)||0.4 in||0.3 in||0.5 in||0.4 in||0.4 in|
|Other Features or Functions||None||None||None||Scissors, nail file, small screwdriver, tweezers, toothpick, key ring||Seatbelt cutter, glass breaker|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Delica 4 is the latest in a long line of Delica models (at the time of publishing). It started out innovative and has lasted with minor tweaks along the way. The latest version feels a little "behind the times" but is surely worthy of your consideration. It is a "modern classic" with some practical benefits and proven attributes and materials.
Blade and Edge Integrity
The Delica 4 blade is thin, steeply tapered tip-to-bolster, and made of VG-10 steel. VG-10 is Japanese high carbon steel commonly used in high-end kitchen knives. Spyderco's resulting blade is readily sharpened and tuned for finer tasks, while its depth lends sturdiness. Much of the depth is included to accommodate the large thumb-opening hole.
The handle of the Delica 4 is full length. 4.1 inches is pretty long for a typical pocket knife. On paper, we like that size. To consider a pocket knife as "full size," we generally look for a handle length of at least 3.5 inches. The one-handed thumbhole opening is simple and at one time led the field in terms of opening innovation.
Our primary wish is the handle of the deployed knife was larger in width. In a tightly clenched fist, the handle still seems a little small for sturdier use. In use, the shape of the back of the blade is optimized for thumb pressure. This is good because that same deep section of the blade sticks out considerably when the knife is closed. The handle could be made a little bulkier, in a good way, without really changing the pocket dimensions of the knife.
The Spyderco is pretty light and compact for a full-length pocket knife. 2.3 ounces is featherweight for the size. The folded knife is thin (0.4 inches) but wide. It is almost 2 inches wide in its folded configuration. For the relatively narrow in-use handle, the Spyderco Delica takes up a disproportionate amount of space in your pocket. The pocket clip is tight and fully customizable. The Delica is one of only a few knives on the market that offers four different carrying orientations with the pocket clip. If you don't yet know how you like to carry your knife, full customization as on the Delica is great.
Initial impressions of knife quality are often tied to their weight. A heavy knife feels sturdy. All metal components make for a denser package and lend a sense of confidence. In practice, a knife doesn't have to feel sturdy to be sturdy. The Delica feels light. All components are tight and optimized, but the overall package is lightweight. Longer-term GearLab testing has revealed no issues. Decades of Delica use by others prove its integrity.
There are no other features on the Delica 4. It is a simple, single-blade pocket knife.
Should You Buy the Spyderco Delica 4?
The Delica model and basic design are decades old and marked an important step in pocket knife evolution. The entire market of one-handed opening, pocket-clipped locking blades owes much of its existence to the initial development of the Delica. While the Spyderco Delica 4 lags behind some of its modern competitors, the blade material alone makes it worth the investment.
What Other Pocket Knives Should You Consider?
The Delica 4 is an expensive knife, and the long legacy of the Delica design proves its value as much as anything. But at this price point, other knives like the Kershaw Leek bring a more refined design to the table. It is also worth considering a knife like the Ontario Knife Company RAT II, which scores similarly to the Delica 4, yet costs half as much.
— Jediah Porter
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