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Review: Spyderco Delica4 and Endura4 Emerson Opener

I am constantly changing gear around in order to find the next great gadget. However, in the last several years, I haven’t changed the knife that I carry. It isn’t for lack of trying. I own or have owned several knives that, while generally very well regarded and expensive, just can’t unseat the Spyderco Delica4 or Endura4 with Emerson Wave from my pocket.

EDC Classics: The Delica4 (top) and Endura4 with Emerson Opener

History

The Delica and Endura have been part of Spyderco’s catalog since 1990. They have gone through a handful of changes over the years to the handle, clip, and blade steel but for the most part they are still recognizable as the Delica and Endura. The most recent changes are perhaps the most sweeping and they resulted in the generation 4 models which I believe are the best yet.

Not long before the release of the Delica4 and Endura4 knives, Spyderco licensed the Wave Opener feature from knife making royalty, Ernest Emerson, for use on a special edition of the Endura3. The model featured both the famous Spyderhole and Emerson Wave. This model sold briskly and has since become somewhat of a collectors item.

Shortly after the release of the Delica4 and Endura4 models, Spyderco announced that an Emerson Wave enhanced Endura4 would become a production model along with the introduction of a “waved” version of the Delica4. My love affair with these knives started as soon as these knives hit dealer shelves.

The Delica4 (top) and Endura4 have a unique appearance when closed thanks to the Emerson Opener.

Emerson Opener (Wave)

The Emerson Opener or Wave is what really sets these knives apart. Without it, they would just be regular Delicas or Enduras (not that there is anything wrong with that). The Wave takes these models to a whole new level.

The Wave is a hooked protrusion from the top of the blade that allows the blade to catch on the pants pocket while it is being drawn. When the hook catches, it forces the blade open. It is extremely reliable and actually faster than an automatic because it is opening as the knife clears the pocket, not once the knife is produced.

The Emerson Opener catches the pocket...

And deploys the blade as the knife is drawn from the pocket.

Spyderco added the Wave in addition to their famous Spyderhole. The result is a knife that can be opened in a ton of different ways. The ease and speed at which these knives can be produced and opened is unbelievable.

The Wave is billed mainly as a self defense feature and it certainly makes sense as one. Being able to produce your folding knife and open it without extra thought or manipulation is certainly a great thing in a self defense scenario. Savvy users will also see the utility of this feature in an EDC or general use outdoors knife. Being able to open a knife quickly when your hands are cold and wet or when one hand is disabled is never a bad thing.

The only problem with the Wave is that you will eventually have a hard time accepting a folding knife that doesn’t have the feature. It will change what you expect from a folding knife to the point where it is hard to without. I really can’t over state how important the Emerson Opener has become to me.

Details and Observations

The Delica4 and Endura4 seem to be sized to comply with the most common knife laws. The Delica sports a sub 3” VG-10 steel blade that is legal in all but the most restrictive areas. The Endura and its sub 4” VG-10 steel blade can be carried where there are more permissive laws.

VG-10 is one of the only modern stainless steels that I like. S30V and others can hold a great edge but in actual use, I rarely see a difference other than the S30V being much more difficult to sharpen. VG-10 sharpens easily and holds a working edge for a long time. It also takes to the strop well. I don’t have to spend much time at all when the blade needs resharpening.

One of the biggest improvements that came with the gen 4 models was the inclusion of nested steel liners. The liners are heavily skeletonized so that their impact on the weight of the knives is minimal. These steel liners really step of the durability of the knife. These metal liners also give the pocket clip screws something solid to screw into which is an improvement over past models. The pocket clip is moveable for left and right hand, tip up or tip down carry.

The handles scales are made from plastic (FRN) and have multi-directional texturing. I love modern handle materials like carbon fiber, G-10, and micarta but the plastic handles on the Delica and Endura keep bringing me back. The plastic provides great grip without being harsh on your pockets. It doesn’t tear them up like other materials would and it doesn’t beat the tar out of items that you carry in the same pocket with your knife. It may not be the coolest, but it just works.

The multi-directional texture on the FRN handle generates a very secure grip.

Spyderco, more than any other maker, knows how to design a handle that is both very thin and yet very ergonomic at the same time. Both the Delica4 and the thicker Endura4 are very thin and carry unobtrusively in your pocket.

The blade shapes are very versatile. They have a spear point profile with a fairly fine point. It doesn’t have a ton of belly but it has more than enough for most tasks. I have yet to find a cutting task that I felt hindered because of blade shape.

The Wave feature as Spyderco envisions it is larger and more rounded than you will typically find on an Emerson folder. I find it to be just as reliable without being so hard on your pockets.

Spyderco seems to have purposefully designed these knives to be deceiving in size when they are in your pocket. When you view the small portion of the knife that sticks up out of the pocket when stowed, the knives appear like they would be much smaller than they actually are. In fact, when clipped in your pocket, it is difficult to tell the difference between the Delica4 and the much larger Endura4. You can carry these without drawing a lot of attention to yourself.

Even without low-ride pocket clips, these knives appear very small in the pocket thanks to their tapered handles (Endura4 on right, Delica4 on left).

The Delica4 and Endura4 might also be one of the best supported factory knives around in terms of parts and accessories. You can buy spare parts kits directly from the factory that will let you replace commonly lost or worn out parts. You can also buy realistic and fully functional training versions of these knives.

Not Quite Perfect

While none of these gripes have been even close to enough to displace these knives from my pocket for the last several years, they are not perfect.

They have a plastic backspacer in which the spring for the lockback is housed. This seems to prevent the knives from having a very crisp feel when closing. They just don’t always seem to snap closed like an all metal knife might. Closing feels a bit mushy.

The blades are saber ground which means that they have flat primary bevel that comes about halfway up the blade. I would prefer a full flat grind but this is just a personal preference and these knives cut very well just the way that they are.

The black paint on the pocket clip scratches fairly readily. The pocket clip will be looking worn and ragged in no time. I don’t mind this but a different coating or treatment might hold up better.

Conclusion

You can spend a lot more on a knife that will have more exotic design, blade steel, and handle materials but you won’t find a knife that is more functional or easy to carry than the Spyderco Delica4 and Endura4 with the Emerson Wave Opener. The Emerson Wave Opener takes these already classic knives to a whole new level.

You can check out more detail specs of the Delica4 and Endura4 on the Spyderco website.

Triton from X-Concealment

X-Concealment is a relatively new Kydex bender. I am thoroughly impressed with their “C” Series Holster which I reviewed recently. They recently introduced a new modular magazine/flashlight pouch called the Triton.

The Triton pouch is modular so that the user can configure it to carry as many as 3 Glock magazines or 2 magazines and a flashlight. The backing plate is what actually attaches to your belt and the the pouches are attached to the backing plate with 4 screws per pouch. Since the pouches are modular, you can decide how to position them. That means that you can run your magazines and flashlight in any position on the backing plate.

The magazine pouches are only available for 9mm/40SW/357SIG/45GAP Glocks at this time. They have adjustable tension. Their design allows them to be completely ambidextrous.

The flashlight pouch is designed to hold any 1″ diameter light (Surefire G2, G2L, G2X, etc) in the bezel up position. It has a self-tensioning design with a relief cut that should allow it to be a bit forgiving of lights that are slightly larger than 1″.

The spacing between the pouches is fairly generous. In fact, it may be too generous for some but it should make the magazines very easy to grasp.

You can check out the new Triton Triple Magazine Pouch on the X-Concealment website.

TAREINCO CSK (Compact Surival Kit)

It seems like everyone and their brother offer a pre-assembled survival kit. It takes a really good idea to set your kit apart from the crowd. The TAREINCO CSK has that really good idea.

The CSK uses many of the same off the shelf components that other high end survival kits use. You will recognize many of the items like Wetfire Tinder and Aquamira water purification tabs. This isn’t a bad thing. It can often be cheaper to purchase these kits as a starter for your own custom kit than it is to purchase all of the items separately. Many of these items are used in kit, after kit, after kit, for good reason – they work.

What really sets the CSK apart is the way three simple elements are brought together to make a really well thought out case.  Para-cord, an ITW Whisteloc, and an Otter Box case used together to make a case that can be attached to just about anything, can be used to signal help, and can provide cordage for survival tasks like shelter building. Three elements that are common in just about every kit (signalling, waterproof storage, and cordage) are melded together into something that is more functional than just the three items separately. That is pretty clever.

You can read more about the CSK on the TAREINCO website.

ZT0551 Frag Pattern Scales from Monkey Edge

I recently mentioned the accessory scales that are available for the Zero Tolerance 0550 and 0551 from Hinderer Knives. Well, now ZT 0551 owners have another option –  ZT0551 Frag Pattern Scales from Monkey Edge.

These scales are made by Hinderer Knives exclusively for Monkey Edge. They feature the “Frag Pattern” which is used with permission from the noted 1911 and AR-15 smith, Ned Christiansen. Ned uses this pattern as a checkering alternative on his custom 1911s.

You can check out these and other Frag Pattern scales at Monkey Edge.

ZT 0550/0551 Scales from Hinderer Knives

The Zero Tolerance 0550 and 0551 knives are a smash hit due to their combination of near custom quality, extremely modern materials, and the excellent designs skills of Rick Hinderer. Now you can buy accessory scales to customize your ZT 0550 or 0551 directly from the man that designed the knife.

The Hinderer Knives ZT 0550/0551 Scales are available in several colors, including my favorites: orange and translucent green. There are even camouflage options. The scales are machined from G10 which is resistant to just about everything (chemicals, heat, breakage, etc). The XM texture that Hinder Knives uses on these scales is touted as being easy on the hands while still providing plenty of grip and, based on the XM-18s that I have handled, I believe it.

The ZT 0550/0551 Scales are available on the Hinderer Knives website.

New Low Profile Bezel from Elzetta

As if the mix-and-match options of the Elzetta ZFL-M60 lights were not already extensive enough… Elzetta has announced a great looking low profile bezel option. If you think this is just a cosmetic feature, you don’t know the folks at Elzetta.

The new low profile bezel option adds functionality to an already impressive series of lights by reducing weight, reducing bulk, and allowing the use of many common filters. The new bezel is .15″ less in outside diameter than the standard bezels. This makes the diameter of the bezel at 1.25″, a very common size for flashlights, which makes it compatible with many color or IR filters.

Oh, don’t worry, I am pretty sure it will still hurt when you smash someone’s the face with it even if it does lack crenelations.

The new low profile bezel will be available as an option for the ZFL-M60 lights on the Elzetta website.

New and Improved GBi from NukoTools

You may remember that several months ago I did a review of the NukoTools GBi. That version of the GBi is made from durable G-10 material. Now there is a new version of the GBi that is made from titanium and as you well know, everything is instantly cooler when made from Ti.

I found the G-10 version to be very durable but I suspect that this new Ti versions will be even more durable. Ti is also extremely light weight and non-ferrous and non-magnetic, so all of the properties that made the original GBi such an attractive last ditch defensive tool are still intact.

Each GBi has a hand applied brushed finish and heat colored. This makes each one unique. You can think of them as art that will chew the skin off of your face.

The new GBi is available at the NukoTools website.

Cane & Derby Paracord Survival Bracelets

Cane & Derby is known for their kydex holsters but they also make Paracord Survival Bracelets. Everyone loves paracord for its versatility and having some with you in an easy to carry way is a great idea.

Image property of Cane & Derby

Paracord Survival Bracelets aren’t really unique. You can get them from any number of places. There are two things that set Cane & Derby’s bracelets apart from most others. First, they are made in the USA. Second, Cane & Derby will donate a portion of the proceeds from each bracelet sold to a specific charity based on which bracelet you purchase (National Breast Cancer Foundation or Wounded Warrior Project).

Cane & Derby’s Paracord Bracelets can be found on their website. Check out the Cane & Derby blog for more details.

Boker Plus Epicenter

I always like to keep my eyes on what Boker is up to, especially in their Boker Plus line. They introduced several new knives in their catalog this year, but none were more intriguing than the Boker Plus Epicenter. This is one great looking and well appointed production knife.

The Epicenter is designed by an up and coming maker named Todd Rexford. This knife is packed with features that I really like in a knife. It has 5mm thick titanium handle slabs which are contoured to fit the hand. These thick slabs also mean that the frame lock on the Epicenter is massive. The 3.5″ blade is a drop point profile that is ground from VG-10 steel. VG-10 is one of the only stainless steels that I actually like because of its combination of edge holding and ease of sharpening. The ambidextrous thumb studs are removable and the pocket clip can be placed for tip up or tip down carry.

The Boker Plus line is well known as a great value and the Epicenter should be no exception. It will be priced very competitively with other Ti framelock designs.

The Epicenter should be on dealer shelves shortly. Todd Rexford already has his first production example of the Epicenter and he seems very pleased. You can read more about the Epicenter on the Boker website.

X-Concealment Kydex Gear

I recently came across X-Concealment’s “C” Series Compact OWB holster and was immediately struck with its interesting features. It can be hard to differentiate yourself in today’s Kydex market but X-Concealment seems to have the features to stand out.

Their “C” Series holster adapts a classic leather pancake design with some improvements that the Kydex construction allows. The holster is more trim and lighter than a typical pancake design. The belt loops have been relieved to allow them to flex. X-Concealment uses thinner Kydex for the backing of the holster than the front in order to allow the holster to ride ever so slightly closer to the body. The holster features screw adjustable tension and comes with a properly sized hex wrench. X-Concealment tops it all off with a really cool stitch pattern that is engraved into the surface of the holster.

I am very impressed with their new website. The “C” Series holster isn’t their only product. They have a full line of holsters and accessories. They also have a guaranteed 3 business day turn around time. You read that right – guaranteed 3 business day turn around time. If that isn’t enough to get you to check them out, they are running a 25% off special now when you use the coupon code “SUMMER25” at checkout.

I have one of the “C” Series holsters inbound for review. While you are waiting for the review, check out the X-Concealment website.

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