Spyderco Delica 4 Review
This Spyderco Delica Review is going to look at what makes the Delica 4 one of Spyderco’s most popular models.
Why do so many people like it?
What makes it so much better than other knives on the market?
Does the Delica have any downfalls?
What are the variations and what is the perfect model for you?
We are going to dig into all those details and more, so read on to find out.
Spyderco Delica Quick Overview
The Delica 4 is your go-to knife if you’re looking for one of the most comfortable and sleek EDC designs out there. It fits comfortably in your hand and offers a strong grip with bi-directional handle texturing.
The ergonomics are incredible and it fits both left-handed and right-handed people perfectly. It is very lightweight and an ideal size for an everyday carry knife.
The deployment is also pretty quick with the signature Spyderco spider hole. The thumb ramp on the blade keeps your thumb from slipping and sliding.
It also comes with an adjustable pocket clip for convenience. It is a pretty sleek and reliable knife.
It is only fair to point out that it has some really minor flaws. Like any knife, it will have to be sharpened from time to time. With that said, It can also be slightly difficult to sharpen, like any blade with premium steel. when you take it to the stones it may take more time to get razor-sharp than inferior blade steel.
It is a slim design but some people may think that it bulges out a bit from their pocket and may like a smaller model. That is a compromise that has to be taken into consideration if you want to carry a full-sized folding knife.
If you like larger knives and want something even bigger than the Delica then I recommend you check out our detailed review of the Spyderco Tenacious.
All that being said, the knife offers great quality for its price and will provide years of solid service for anyone who owns one.
At Blade HQ
The Spyderco company was founded by Sal Glesser in 1976. They started knife production in 1981 and their first knife was called the C01 Worker.
This was the first knife that had their now-signature “spider hole”. This allows for fast opening with either the left or right hand and does not have any protrusions such as a thumb stud to get snagged or caught on anything.
Spyderco has gained a dedicated following and continues to put out high-quality knives with high-quality steel and designs.
They also produce the “Byrd” line of knives which have the same Spyderco signature styles but with more economical steels and production considerations.
Spyderco often produce what are called “sprint runs” which are limited editions with blades made with new premium steels. This continues to endear them to many hardcore knife aficionados.
Delica Model Variations
In the 1990's, Spyderco released its first Delica C11 knife which became a huge success with people. Because of this breakthrough, the Spyderco company kept going with this product line and continued improving on the designs with time.
Spyderco has continuously refined and upgraded this model through what they refer to as the CQI (Continuous Quality Improvement)
The Delica 4 is the latest model of Delica knives. However, it has many predecessors dating back to 1990. All variations of the Delica have been made in Seki City Japan. Let’s have a quick look at the different versions.
This was the first Delica model that came out in 1990. It was a huge success among EDC knives and went through several revisions afterwards.
It used GIN-1/G2 steel and later switched to an AUS-8 steel blade. The Delica generation 1 model was produced between 1990 and 1999 with fiber-reinforced nylon (FRN) or stainless steel handle.
Soon after in 1996, the C43 Delica II came out and had major improvements such as a stainless steel handle, stainless steel clip and used an AUS-6 blade.
This model was introduced in 1998 and was produced until 2006. It had a slightly larger 3” blade compared with the Delica 1 and 2 which had the 2 ⅞” blade. It featured refinements in the overall shape. It was reversible and offered a clip that could be used on either side of the blade.
In 2001 the Boye dent was also added which is a slight depression in the Lockback mechanism and helps to prevent accidental lock release when the handle is gripped tightly. This blade was then replaced with a fourth Generation Spyderco Delica 4 in 2006.
The Delica 3 blades were made of ATS-55 and VG-10 Steel with an FRN handle.
In 2006 Spyderco released its Delica 4 blade which is the latest knife in the Delica product series. This knife features a blade which is approximately 2 ⅞” long. The closed length is 4 ¼” while the overall length of an open knife is 7 ⅛” long.
The traditional blade style is a very minimal drop point with a fairly long and straight spine with a hollow grind.
It has been produced with a plain edge, combo edge, and Spyderco’s signature Spyderedge serrations.
One major improvement with the Delica 4 variation was a changeover over to being held together with screws which allows for easier disassembly for cleaning and maintenance.
The other major change from previous versions was that the clip was changed to a 4 way adjustable held in place with three small screws.
This allows for 4 way carry, tip up, tip down, and right or left handed.
Delica Handle Scales
The Spyderco Delica 4 comes with a standard handle made with Fiberglass Reinforced Nylon scales (FRN). These Scales are perfectly fitted on the knife with skeletonized stainless-steel liners without slightest of gaps. This skeletonized liner helps save on extra weight while adding considerable strength to the knife.
The FRN scales for this model are bi-textured, so there are no compromises on gripping the knife with either left or right hands. The texturing on the scales is also done perfectly making sure even with wet hands you get slip-free tactile traction.
You can choose these handles in different vibrant colors such as gray, purple, brown, blue, green, etc. and of course black.
G10 Delica Scales
You can also get custom designs and different colors on your blade with G10 scales.They are made of fiberglass. As compared to FRN, these scales are more rounded and smoother.
These can get cracked upon strong collisions sometimes. You can get these for a unique customized look but their grip may not be as grippy as FRN in wet conditions.
Stainless Steel Scales
All versions of the Delica 2 had Stainless Steel handle scales and while they removed this option for the Delica 3, it is now back on some versions of the Delica 4.
Stainless steel as we all know is a very hard and durable material. On versions of this knife with the Stainless scales it feels like a very solid and substantial cutting tool in your hand.
The Stainless version also has a very industrial look to it and makes for a very stylish knife.
One premium version of the Delica 4 offers your knife a classic design with smooth handles made out of titanium. The titanium handles come with a Damascus blade which adds more to its beauty. They can be somewhat more expensive than usual models but they offer premium looks.
Carbon Fiber scales
Made out of 100% carbon fiber, these scales have a smooth hex mesh surface. They are available in many colors such as blue, black, red etc.They may not be as grippy as other scales but they do give your blade a unique look.
Carbon fiber is known for having outstanding strength with a very light weight. It also has a very characteristic look which adds a touch of extra style to your blade.
Delica 4 Blade Shapes
The original Spyderco Delica knife has a simple hollow grind shape. It’s plain and sleek. The tip of the blade is a small drop point with a fairly long straight spine.
This means the blades have a short convex portion towards the tip that drops down to meet at the point. This blade has a nice and consistent belly which makes it a very good slicer.
Another factor that contributes to the Delica’s reputation as a very good slicing knife is the relatively thin blade.
While the blade length has changed very slightly between model versions, the thickness has remained a constant 3/32” (3.5mm) thick throughout its lifespan.
There are now many different variations of the Delica’s blade shape and grind.
In typical Spyderco style, they have released many different “sprint runs” as well as specialized versions to suit all manners of collectors and knife lovers.
Some of the different blade styles are as follows;
These blades have a distinct shape where they have straight cutting edges. The cutting edges may be serrated or smooth edge depending on your choice. The spine slowly curves down to meet the cutting edge at the point. These blades can cut with full power right up to the point.
In this configuration, the blade very closely resembles the Wharncliffe blade listed above, however, the front portion of the spine dips down more gently than a standard Wharncliffe. This version was produced specifically in a collaboration with Kahr arms and was designed to be legal to carry in many metropolitan areas with strict knife laws.
Some people have referred to this blade as a modified clip point, however, the “clipped” portion at the end on this model has a straight spine and not the characteristic radius curve of a traditional clip point.
Emerson Wave Opener
Designed by Ernest Emerson in 1990, the Emerson opener is available on some models of the Delica.
The concept behind this blade style is that the pointed portion above the spyder hole catches on your pocket edge when you pull the knife out and automatically opens the knife blade.
While this may be a great feature in those circumstances where you need easy access and quick deployment of your knife, it can lead to difficulty in certain situations where you would rather just take your knife out and open it normally.
Either way, it is a very cool feature not found on very many knives. If getting your knife out and ready as fast as possible is important to you then you may want to have a look at the Emerson Wave Opener models.
At Blade HQ
Delica 4 Blade Edge Types.
As with many of Spyderco knives you can get the blade with a variety of edge finishes. Different edge types perform better for certain tasks. As such, choosing the edge finish can be an important part of choosing the perfect blade for you.
The 3 main Delica 4 knife blade edge styles are;
The standard plain edge knife is what most people are familiar with. It is a long smooth cutting edge that can be sharpened fine enough to shave with.
This type of edge performs best for standard cutting and slicing duties.
The plain edge blade is also the easiest edge type to sharpen. Almost anyone who is familiar with sharpening a standard knife can get a good, sharp, cutting edge on a plain edged blade.
Spyderedge Serrated blades
Serrated blades have jagged teeth like patterns. You can also get a serrated Delica that can cut difficult materials even faster.
The familiar Spyderedge comes on many of their knives and on many versions and varieties of the Delica 4.
Many people like these serrated edges because they tend to stay sharp longer when performing very rough cutting tasks. However, like all serrated edges, they take much longer and a little more skill to sharpen.
Serrated cuts won’t be as smooth as smooth edge cuts, but these will help you get through the tough stuff stuff easily.
You can also have the best of both worlds (or the worst in some people's opinions) by getting a combo edge blade.
This blade has a serrated portion closer to the handle and a plain smooth edge portion towards the tip.
This allows the tip and main belly portion of the blade to perform very well for slicing tasks while still maintaining the durability and aggressive cutting of the serrated portion closer to the handle.
Like many things to do with knives, everyone has their own opinion and your choice will be determined by your own tastes, style, and uses for your knife.
Delica 4 Blade Steel
A standard Spyderco Delica 4 comes with a VG-10 Stainless steel blade. VG-10 is a stainless steel designed for knife blades about 60 years ago by Tafeku Special Steel Company in Japan.
VG-10 is composed of roughly 1% carbon, and 15% chromium. There are also molybdenum, vanadium, cobalt, iron, carbon and manganese that make up the remainder of the composition.
VG-10 steel is an excellent blade steel. It offers the hardness of carbon steel and is a very good corrosion resistant stainless steel, mainly due to the decent chromium composition. Spyderco recently announced their own proprietary steel called CPM SPY27 which is purported to be an upgrade from VG-10 and is only available in Spyderco's premium USA made knives.
Standard hardness of VG-10 is around 60 Rc. This high hardness makes it capable of holding a good edge for a stainless steel. VG-10 has a decent toughness for a knife steel, however, it is not as tough as steel such as M390 or CPM-154 so it should not be used for prying or bashing against hard materials.
ZDP 198 Steel
You can also get this knife in ZDP 198 steel. This steel is extremely hard and often measures as high as 65 Rc. This puts it near the top of the hardness rankings of many modern knife steel. With that said, ZDP-189 is not nearly as tough as VG-10 and many other knife steel types.
This extreme hardness helps make ZDP-198 steel hold an extremely sharp edge for a very long time under normal usage. However, this same hardness makes it notoriously difficult to sharpen and you can expect to spend a long time at the stones to get a razor edge on it. I recommend getting some good diamond sharpening plates or stones if you want to sharpen super hard steel such as ZDP-198
V-toku 2 steel is high carbon steel that is really tough. However, in the stainless domain, it doesn’t perform as well as other steel blades. It will have better hardness but may be susceptible to corrosion in the long run.
Damascus steel blades have wave like patterns on them. It has similar properties to VG-10. The differentiating factor is the aesthetic value of the blade and the steel also have a better edge retention over time than most other blades.
At Blade HQ
It’s a composition of powdered metallurgy steel. It’s a fine product and is even harder than traditional carbon steel. This steel holds an edge better than any other steel in this list and performs well with age.
HAP-40 has garnered a reputation as a very hard steel that sharpens relatively well and takes an incredibly sharp edge. Many owners of HAP-40 blades say that it is the one steel that they can get sharper than just about any other blade they own.
Delica Locking Mechanism
The Lock back mechanism is the default locking mechanism for Delica 4 knives. You can think of it as a spring on a spine mechanism. In this, the spine of the blade is attached to a spring. When you open the knife the spine is locked onto a notch on the back of the blade.
You can push the exposed locking mechanism in the back of the handle, between the scales, to disengage the safety and release the blade to bring the blade down safely for closing.
This locking mechanism may not be easy to close with one hand, but the lockback keeps the blade secured when open and makes sure you don’t accidentally close the knife on your hand while using it. Even in dark conditions, you can easily locate the lock and close your knife
Sometime around 2001 the lockback release portion was changed to include a “boye dent” This small depression in the release is meant to prevent accidental release of the locking mechanism from being depressed when the handle is being squeezed under hard use.
Delica Pocket Clip
While most of the knives in the market are for right-handed users only, or tip up only, you have no such restrictions with the Delica 4. It is ambidextrous and perfectly fits in both the left and right hands.
Keeping this in mind, the pocket clip can be put on either side according to the user’s preference. There are 4 positions to place your clip. If you prefer tip-up or tip-down, right side or left side, or inside or outside carry, the clip can be relocated to accommodate any of these carry positions.
The stainless steel clip is connected with three small screws which hold it firmly in place. This allows you to experiment with different carry positions as well as change out the clip if needed.
One upgrade many users make is to change out the standard clip with a “deep carry” clip. The deep carry clip has an increased throat which allows the knife to sit lower in your pocket and thus makes it less visible when carrying.
Some people prefer this more discreet carry position for certain reasons, however, some people may find it harder to draw the knife without the top edge poking out of your pocket.
An overview of User Reviews
Out of around 1200 customers on Amazon, 91% of the buyers left a 4 or 5-star review with an average of around 4.5 out of 5 stars.
The majority of the customers are satisfied with this product as their everyday portable knife. Lightweight, easy to carry, steady grip, the factory sharpness of the blade, Stainless blade, and slim profile were among the most praised characteristics.
On the other hand, the few bad reviews were mostly from users who received fake products or had a difference in style opinions.
Overall, buyers were very satisfied with the product. A good amount of people termed Delica 4 as “The best EDC knife” while others were satisfied with getting the right product for their price.
The overall user satisfaction situation was pretty similar on knife forums. This knife has a lot of praise in the knife world and it is considered one of the most useful and easy to carry blades. All of these factors combine to make the majority of users very happy with it.
The Spyderco Delica 4 is a knife that has been perfected over 4 generations. If you’re looking for an easy to handle, sturdy, sharp and solid knife, then this might be the ideal fit for you.
It is a perfect tool to carry around for everyday chores. Some may consider it a classic, and it has stood the test of time. A huge amount of satisfied users testify this fact.
It gets the job done and is perfect for the price. Getting one for yourself might turn out to be a good choice, so you have a reliable tool at your disposal whenever you need one.