All photos were taken by author
A good pocket knife is unobtrusive, sharp, and ready when the time comes, but designs these days tend to favor bulky, tactical monstrosities meant more for self-defense than everyday use. I carry all the time—even to the mailbox—and apart from the want or need to be prepared, a well-made knife just deserves to be carried.
I own a variety of knives, some of which I have mentioned or written about before—I am the resident gear nerd, after all—but these days I carry the Spyderco Delica 4. The first thing about the Delica 4 is how light it is, especially when compared to my previous knife, a CRKT M21 with a 4-inch blade. The M-21 was bulky—it weighs 6 ounces—and often pressed against my thigh when I sat, and because it was so heavy, it swung around in my pocket when I walked.
The Delica 4 has none of these issues with a total weight of 2.3 ounces, and a closed length of 4.25 inches. The blade—mine has a full-flat grind—is 2.8 inches long, and the overall length is 7.1 inches. The VG10 Japanese-made steel sharpens extremely easy when used with a ceramic sharpener like the set from Lansky that I use twice a month. Takefu, the maker of the VG-10 steel, makes an excellent product that, although not premium, is still great. Sharpening is easy, and edge retention is decent enough if you sharpen semi-regularly, and the uncoated steel holds up well to corrosion. I’ve gotten it shave-sharp with about 15 passes on the Lansky, and I can’t do that with my other knives.
Spyderco is known for quality knives, but some of their more sought-after knives can easily surpass the $100 mark, which is why the Delica 4’s $60 price tag on Amazon hit the sweet spot for me—the price has risen since then. Some of the other features like the jimping along the spine are well-designed, but it is the famous thumb hole that shines. At first, it was difficult to open the knife by flicking the thumb hole outwards and at the same time flicking the wrist, but after a few tries, it worked. And it’s so damn satisfying. I did have to loosen the blade screw just a quarter-turn, but it will be different for everyone.
This knife was made for everyday carry, and I use it for everyday boring stuff like opening boxes, cutting off tags, or opening mail among other things, but whatever the task is, it can probably handle it. Also, I got it in the blue handle, and the FRN (Fiberglass Reinforced Nylon) material comes in many colors to suit your style. The knife is also easy to grip from different angles because of its bi-directional texture. Although I bought the full-flat grind model, there are also models with serrated teeth and other grind styles—like this concave grind. This is the fourth generation of the knife, first invented in the 90’s. To add a little bit of flair to it, I wove a sawtooth-pattern paracord rope, which also makes the knife easier to deploy.
One thing I didn’t like was the thinness of the blade. I used my previous knife for prying, but the Delica 4 feels flimsy when I want to pry off bottle caps. Buyers on Amazon complained that the thumb hole was not properly sanded and that they had to sand the hole themselves. Honestly, I’m nitpicking here because the knife excels in many other ways, and for the price, it is better than it has any reason to be.
This sub-three-ounce utilitarian knife excels for everyday carry, and won’t break the bank unlike other knives in this category. It’s so lightweight I forget it’s there most of the time, but I know I can count on it when I need it. Flicking the blade open is almost worth the price tag, and once you get the hang of it, you won’t want to stop. It wouldn’t be the first choice for camping, but for ultra-light hikers or backpackers who like to count ounces, the Delica 4 is a great choice. After carrying it around in my pocket for six months, it’s still in good condition, and I’m not planning on replacing it anytime soon.