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Spyderco Delica 4 Review

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
Spyderco Delica 4
Photo: Amazon
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Price:  $147 List | $84.00 at Amazon
Pros:  Big blade, excellent steel, four pocket clip positions
Cons:  Bulky pocket carry, slim handle in use
Manufacturer:   Spyderco
By Jediah Porter ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 6, 2020
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65
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#5 of 17
  • Blade and Edge Integrity - 30% 7
  • Ergonomics - 20% 7
  • Portability - 20% 8
  • Construction Quality - 20% 7
  • Other Features - 10% 0

Our Verdict

The Spyderco Delica 4 is solid, proven, and made with excellent blade steel. The deep but narrow blade is its most salient characteristic. A thin, gently tapered edge is tuned for fine 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. On the flip side, the handle is narrower and smaller in your hand than you might like.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Spyderco Delica 4
This Product
Spyderco Delica 4
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award  Best Buy Award 
Price $84.00 at Amazon$185 List$114.50 at Amazon$178.75 at Backcountry$73.21 at Amazon
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Pros Big blade, excellent steel, four pocket clip positionsGreat blade, classy wooden handleIncredible blade quality, assisted open, perfect combination of compactness/functionalitySmall, excellent materials and constructionBeautifully constructed, assisted open, good value
Cons Bulky pocket carry, slim handle in useExpensive, no assisted opening functionPricey, blade lock mechanism not intuitiveShort blade, issues with opening the blade, expensiveSlender handle makes it hard to apply even pressure, thin blade is fragile
Bottom Line A long-time classic, enduring for its solid design, significant customization options, and continuous improvementsA compact yet "full size” pocket knife for day to day use and all but the heaviest of tasksA high end construction of a knife carefully tuned to optimize portability and functionThis high-priced knife makes a statement when you purchase and carry itThis thin knife disappears in your pocket, tackles most tasks, and is easy on your wallet
Rating Categories Spyderco Delica 4 Benchmade 15031-2 North Fork Benchmade Mini-Barrage 585 The James Brand the Chapter Kershaw Leek
Blade And Edge Integrity (30%)
7
9
9
9
7
Ergonomics (20%)
7
8
8
4
6
Portability (20%)
8
7
7
8
8
Construction Quality (20%)
7
9
9
9
8
Other Features (10%)
0
0
0
0
0
Specs Spyderco Delica 4 Benchmade 15031-2... Benchmade... The James Brand... Kershaw Leek
Weight (ounces) 2.3 oz 3.2 oz 3.4 oz 2.8 oz 3.1 oz
Blade Style Clip point, straight Drop point, straight Drop point, straight Drop point, straight Drop point, straight
Blade locks closed? No Yes Yes No Yes
Opening Style Ambidextrous Thumb hole Ambidextrous thumb-stud Assisted, ambidextrous thumb stud Thumb stud Assisted, ambidextrous thumb stud. And back-of-knife finger tab.
Lock Mechanism Lock back Proprietary (Axis) Proprietary (Axis) Frame lock Frame lock
Carry Style, in addition to loose in pocket Pocket Clip and lanyard hole Pocket Clip Pocket Clip and lanyard hole Pocket Clip Pocket Clip
Blade Material VG-10 Stainless Steel CPM-S30V stainless steel 154CM Steel Crucible S35vn stainless steel Sandvik 14C28N
Handle Material Plastic Stabilized wood Plastic 6al4v titanium 410 stainless steel
Blade Length (inches) 2.5 in 2.9 in 2.9 in 2.7 in 2.9 in
Closed Length (inches) 4.1 in 3.9 in 4.0 in 3.8 in 4.0 in
Overall Length 7.0 in 6.9 in 6.9 in 6.5 in 7.0 in
Thickness (w/o pocket clip) (inches) .4 in .5 in .6 in .3 in .3 in
Other Features or Functions None None None None None

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Delica 4 is the latest (at time of publishing) in a long line of Delica models. 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.

Performance Comparison


The Spyderco Delica is a classic design with a loyal following. We...
The Spyderco Delica is a classic design with a loyal following. We like it, but aren't completely enamored.
Photo: Jediah Porter

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 comes tuned for finer tasks while its depth lends sturdiness. Much of the depth is included to accommodate the large thumb-opening hole.

Spyderco's Delica has a wide (in this case, the distance up and...
Spyderco's Delica has a wide (in this case, the distance up and down), thin blade. It is sturdy and sharp but takes up significant space.
Photo: Jediah Porter

Ergonomics


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 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.

This tester's thumb is opening the blade using the hidden hole in...
This tester's thumb is opening the blade using the hidden hole in the blade.
Photo: Jediah Porter

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. 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.

Our only complaint in performing heavier tasks with the Delica is...
Our only complaint in performing heavier tasks with the Delica is that its handle is a little thin for the typical adult fist.
Photo: Jediah Porter

Portability


For a full-length pocket knife, the Spyderco is pretty light and compact. 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.

Stowage of the Delica is pretty visible, thanks to the pocket clip's...
Stowage of the Delica is pretty visible, thanks to the pocket clip's attachment location relative to the end of the knife. This might not work with your wardrobe requirements in some situations.
Photo: Jediah Porter

Construction Quality


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 pretty lightweight. Longer-term GearLab testing has revealed no issues. Decades of Delica use, by others, prove its integrity.

Other Features


There are no other features on the Delica 4. It is a simple, single-blade pocket knife.

Picnicing, camping, traveling... The more you move around, the more...
Picnicing, camping, traveling... The more you move around, the more you might need a knife like the Delica. This Spyderco is great for all kinds of cutting tasks.
Photo: Jediah Porter

Value


The Delica 4 is not inexpensive. However, you get what you pay for. The blade material alone makes it worth the investment. The long Delica legacy proves its value as much as anything. Some other knives bring refinements that enhance their appeal, relative to the Delica and at this price point. But none of these others are as proven and widely revered as the Spyderco Delica.

Conclusion


The Delica model and basic design is 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. The Spyderco Delica 4 lags behind some other even more modern competition, but it also still has its place on the market.

Jediah Porter