I recently received a set of reground Spyderco knives from Tom Krein. The Delica is a ZDP-189 blade and started out as a full-flat ground blade. I then had Tom regrind it to an even thinner full-flat grind. My first question before all of this was what is the difference between a factory FFG and Tom Krein’s aftermarket FFG? Tom grinds the blades so that the thickness directly behind the sharpened area is about a quarter of the thickness of the factory blade.
According to Tom:
Most of the FFG’s from spyderco are still between .020″-.030″ just behind the sharpened area. I take them down to around .008″ plus or minus .003″. It does make a difference.
I purchased a used Spyderco Endura 4(Combination Edge, Saber Grind) several months ago and have been carrying it nearly every day since. I believe a review is in order! The specific model I am reviewing today is the Spyderco Endura 4 Saber Grind Combo Edge. (http://www.spyderco.com/catalog/details.php?product=208) When I first received the knife, I was surprised at how large it was. The photos and dimensions don’t do it justice, but it is a good sized knife:
Length overall – 8.75″ (222 mm)
Blade length – 3.75″ (96 mm)
Blade steel – VG-10
Length closed – 5″ (127 mm)
Cutting edge – 3.438″ (88 mm)
Weight – 3.6 oz. (103 g)
Hole diameter – .5″ (13 mm)
Blade thickness – .125″ (3 mm)
Handle material – FRN
Size – You can read the dimensions, but until you hold it in your hand, you may not realize what a beefy knife the Endura is. Thankfully, the size doesn’t bring a huge weight penalty. The FRN handle keeps the weight down despite a fairly thick and heavy duty blade. By way of comparison, the Kershaw Blackout I was coming from is a little more than a half-inch shorter than the Endura, but the weight is nearly identical.
Blade – The Kershaw Blackout had a spine swedge along the majority of the blade that cuts down weight and looks a little prettier(in my opinion), whereas the Spyderco Endura 4 has a squared off, full-thickness spine that runs almost all the way to the tip. On the Endura 4, the grind begins to narrow the width of the spine about a half-inch from the tip.
According to my calipers, the saber grind extends ~.4″ away from the cutting edge. At the blade’s tallest point, that leaves 3/4″ of the blade at it’s maximum thickness. Not ideal for slicing tasks. When cutting stiff, strong cardboard, this sharp grind angle becomes a bit tiresome compared to a full flat ground blade or even my previous Kershaw Blackout with a grind more than 50% deeper(.67″ from cutting edge) than the Endura 4 saber grind(.4″).
I was a bit dissapointed in the proportion of the plain edge vs. the serrations. The Spyderco Endura 4 plain edge portion of the combo edge blade is ~1.55″ vs. ~1.9″ of serration at the base of the blade. That means the plain edge is 45% of the overall blade while the serrations are 55%. On my Blackout, the plain edge was ~2.1″ vs ~1.2″ of serrations(64% vs. 36%). I realize it’s personal preference, but I like having more plain edge. When I buy my next Endura, I will go with a plain edge, full flat ground blade.
Part of the reason I want more straight/plain edge is to make sharpening easier. Clamping the Endura 4 into a sharpening rig can be a real pain. Because of where the spine starts to narrow near the tip, there is a limited amount of grip for the clamp. The other 6 inches of blade and handle all try to twist out of the clamp. I realize that not everybody sharpens the same way that I do, but it was an issue for me. More plain edge area would have allowed me to move the clamp further back down the blade spine for more grip.
Jimping – The base of the blade spine has about a half-inch of jimping where it curves up to the tallest part of the blade. The FRN handles also have ~1.5″ of jimping on the back portion nearest the blade.
Handle – I was a bit worried about the Spyderco Endura 4 handle. Not because it’s plastic, but because of how thin it is. I like handguns with big grips and tools with monstrous handles because my fingers are relatively long. I figured that I would have trouble with the thin handle(~.43″ at it’s thickest). My Blackout was ~.63″ thick at it’s fattest point and had a similar profile(to the Endura). In reality, the Endura’s handle thinness was never a problem and I actually came to see it as an advantage. When I carry the knife in the lowest/furthest corner of my pocket, you can definitely see the extra impression from a fatter blade(especially in dress pants). The thin handle aids with concealment.
Texturing – Although the points where I grip the handle strongest are along the top and bottom(not the sides), the texturing on the sides of the handle are a nice touch. I can tell a lot of thought went into them. Depending on how long your fingers are, and how you grip the knife, they may help you hang onto the knife where it would have otherwise slipped from your hand. Your mileage may vary.
Carry Options – The Spyderco Endura 4 has four mounting options for the pocket clip. Tip-up or tip-down mounting options on both sides of the handle. When I received the knife, it was set up for left-side tip-up carry. I am a repressed lefty. That is, I am left-handed, but have leaned to cope with a a world built for right-handed people. I decided to leave it set up how it was and carry on the left side for a while. While it didn’t stay that way for long, it was nice to have the option. The change was very simple with torx screws.
My previous EDC knife only had only one pocket clip mounting option: Right-side, tip-down. I had grown accustomed to flipping the knife in my hand upon removing it from my pocket in order to press the thumb-stud. It took some time and practice, but I now enjoy the tip-up carry that allows me to reach into my pocket and place my thumb directly on the opening hole as I am pulling out the knife.
Opening Hole – In short, I love it! The hole is large and smooth enough that it rotates around my thumbtip during opening and closing with minimal friction.
Locking Mechanism – The locking mechanism is a “back lock” with the David Boye detent. I have no problem with this design. It has never released the blade despite some strong spine taps(for testing). In short, I trust it. The David Boye detent does nothing special for me. The back lock does make it difficult to close the blade with one hand, but in my opinion, you should already be in the habit of using both hands to close a knife. Pressing down the back lock pretty much requires you to place a finger(or more) on the other side of the handle as an opposing force to squeeze the lock. Those fingers are directly in the path of the unlocked blade, so I prefer to be holding the blade with my other hand.
No assisted opening, but it’s not a problem. I had grown accustomed to the assisted opening of my previous knife where a short hard shove on the thumbstud resulted in a snappy opening. The unassisted opening may be a millisecond slower, but definitely not a noticeable diference.
Uses – I’m not an outdoorsman, but I’ll give you and idea of some of the tasks in my urban lifestyle that I have used the Spyderco Endura for:
Prying off metal caps(from our propane tanks)
Cutting carpet and padding
Opening plastic packaging and sealed containers
Thankfully, I have not had to use it in a defensive capacity, but I believe this is where the Spyderco Endura would really shine. Most of the above tasks don’t require the Endura’s blade length. Many of these tasks would be better served with a shorter blade. However, in a defensive use case, every extra bit of blade can make a big difference. All other things equal, the ability to quickly deploy a longer blade means that every swipe or strike will do more damage. Every bit of extra damage makes it easier for you to find an opportunity to escape(the ultimate goal).
Complaints – My biggest complaints are all solved by other Spyderco Endura 4 models that are already avaialable. My next Endura will be the plain edge with a full flat grind.
Disclaimer – All measurements are rounded and inexact. My observations are based on my background and previous experience. Your mileage may vary.