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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 pocket knife review
Credit: Amazon
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Price:  $126 List | $88.20 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  ⋅  Aug 25, 2022
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
65
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 18
  • Blade and Edge Integrity - 30% 7.0
  • Ergonomics - 20% 7.0
  • Portability - 20% 8.0
  • Construction Quality - 20% 7.0
  • Other Features - 10% 0.0

Our Verdict

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.

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spyderco delica 4 pocket knife review
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Spyderco Delica 4
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Price $126 List
$88.20 at Amazon
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Big blade, excellent steel, four pocket clip positionsBeautifully constructed, assisted open, good valueSerrated blade portion, carabiner carry option, lightweight, good blade steelSmall, portable, well-constructedInexpensive, functional, heavily featured
Cons Bulky pocket carry, slim handle in useSlender handle makes it hard to apply even pressure, thin blade is fragileRudimentary construction, primitive lockbackNot made for heavy-duty useUnremarkable 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 mostA slender, svelte pocket knife with great materials and a reasonable valueThe best knife we have tested for rock, ice, and alpine climbingA tiny, multi-function pocket knifeA 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%)
7.0
7.0
6.0
4.0
5.0
Ergonomics (20%)
7.0
6.0
5.0
3.0
5.0
Portability (20%)
8.0
8.0
8.0
9.0
5.0
Construction Quality (20%)
7.0
8.0
6.0
5.0
5.0
Other Features (10%)
0
0
0
6.0
4.0
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.

Performance Comparison


spyderco delica 4 pocket knife review - 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.
Credit: 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 tuned for finer tasks, while its depth lends sturdiness. Much of the depth is included to accommodate the large thumb-opening hole.

spyderco delica 4 pocket knife review - the tapered edge makes it stronger than its length suggests, but the...
The tapered edge makes it stronger than its length suggests, but the power of this blade isn't backed up by its handle.
Credit: 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 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.

spyderco delica 4 pocket knife review - 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.
Credit: 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 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.

spyderco delica 4 pocket knife review - 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.
Credit: Jediah Porter

Portability


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.

spyderco delica 4 pocket knife review - 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.
Credit: 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 lightweight. Longer-term GearLab testing has revealed no issues. Decades of Delica use by others prove its integrity.

spyderco delica 4 pocket knife review - 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.
Credit: Jediah Porter

Other Features


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

spyderco delica 4 pocket knife review - picnicking, camping, traveling... the more you move around, the more...
Picnicking, 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.
Credit: Jediah Porter

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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