If you have a job that requires you to carry a gun, don t you think it would be a good idea to have something you can cut with? the grizzled firefighter asked me, as he freed the victim from the mangled car. I learned this lesson many years ago and have written about it in the pages of Law Officer, so I won t belabor it. Basically, I was young and arrived on the scene of a traffic accident without a knife. From that moment on, I ve never been without a knife and neither should you.
The truth is, when performing law enforcement duties, you ll need some type of cutting tool. If you haven t yet, you will--trust me on this. At the time of my epiphany, I was a young cop with small children, a mortgage and car payment so money was tight. Buying a high-end knife was out of the question on my budget, so I was in the market for the best knife I could get with what I had. After several unsuccessful attempts at deploying inexpensive knives (the kind of thing one finds at a flea market; I would have actually saved money had I not been so determined to save money!), I finally stumbled across the knife that I would carry most of my career.
Spyderco is located in Colorado, founded by Sal Glesser who had the idea of a folding knife you could open with one hand via a hole in the blade. The hole would allow the user to use the thumb of the hand holding the knife to push the blade open quickly and efficiently. The idea caught on and has been one of the most imitated ideas in knife history.
Spyderco is now an industry giant with many knife designs coming and going over the years, but my favored Delica has remained in the line since its introduction. The reason for this is quite simple, really. It s a quality knife that s not too big or too small, too light or too heavy, comes in varied configurations and is reasonably priced. Of course, the knife is not near as inexpensive as it was almost twenty years ago, but in today s knife market, the Spyderco Delica is still a real deal. Someone once asked me, Would you trust your life to a $100 knife? Well, in the case of the Spyderco Delica I would, and I did for many years.
The Delica was added to the Spyderco line in 1991 as a lightweight version of a popular model known as the Standard, a Japanese design made from stainless steel. The Standard had been popular for the same reason as the Delica not so large as to raise eyebrows if pulled from the pocket, but big enough to cut most anything.
By the late 1980s, a substance called Zytel, made by DuPont, had arrived on the scene and many knife makers realized that they could make a knife as strong as steel but much lighter in weight by using it. Mr. Glesser designed a handle pattern he called Volcano Grip, which looked much like the waffle pattern seen on the bottom of early Nike running shoes. Both the Delica (and its big brother the Endura) were names that came out of Sal s head with no real reference to anyone or anything in particular.
Over the years, both knives have undergone constant upgrades as new ideas and materials have become available. What Spyderco calls CQI constant quality improvement has kept the 20-plus-year-old designs on the cutting edge (pun intended!). In truth, Sal Glesser admits that the two knife designs are corporate guinea pigs for testing new steels, plastics, compounds, blade grinds and a host of other technologies. In the end, the Delica and Endura are always the recipients of these advanced manufacturing techniques.
The original Delicas were equipped with molded in (integral) plastic pocket clips, which bent and twisted. I ground the clip off my original Delica and carried it in my pocket something that made it less accessible, and less handy! Spyderco started to screw the clips in place. Over the years, the clips have become wider to better grab the pocket and hold the knife in place. Think about it: The pocket clip on a folding knife is much like a gun holster it needs to hold it firmly in place so the hand can find it by feel without having to look, and then open it quickly. Otherwise, fast deployment will not be possible. Unnecessary motion creates speed, and having to dig for your knife is certainly not efficient. I place self-stick sandpaper stair tread on the outside of my knife clips to help be draw the knife from my pocket. Doing so makes deployment easier and seldom does the sandpaper stick to my outer clothing.
In 2003, the Delica underwent a complete upgrade, including screw together construction vs. the original pins and a handle texture that became more aggressive to enhance the grip surface especially when wearing gloves (Spyderco calls it Bi-Directional Texturing). The grip is also contoured to help hold it in place during use, with jimping (small serrations) being placed on the back of the hole-in-the-blade hump to help anchor a saber or thumb on top grip. Additionally, more skeletonized liners were added to reduce over all weight, phosphor-bronze washers for a smoother action and a four-way clip attachment system so the Delica can be carried tip up or down, left side or right side.
The Delica is truly an ambidextrous blade. To compliment these upgrades, the Delica can be purchased in a number of variations depending on the needs of the end user. These include lightweight Zytel handles in multiple colors, G-10 handles, carbon fibers handles, Emerson Wave opening feature (my personal favorite) that deploys the knife blade as it is drawn from the pocket practice, practice! blunt, red-handle training versions and, of course, blades that are non-serrated, partially serrated and fully serrated. Serrations are great for heavy cutting chores where a sawing action is used (seat belts, etc.) but will snag on cloth in the event a slicing action is needed (using the knife as a weapon), so think hard about what you want to accomplish with your Delica and choose accordingly.
Today s Delica is better than ever before, having benefitted from the C.Q.I. Program. The 13mm wide hole in the blade offers an enlarged opening in order to quickly snap the knife opening. Although some find it easier to open the knife by placing the pad of their thumb in the hole and pushing up, I find it easier to use the tip of my thumb and flick it open as if I were shooting a marble. Whatever method you use really doesn t matter as long as the knife works for you. I m convinced that the Spyderco Delica will stand up to the rigors of police work as well today as it did two decades ago.
Although the list price on the Spyderco web site is $89.95, an internet search found brand new models for as low as $57.00, which is a very reasonable price for a quality folding blade. When buying a duty knife, it s wise to keep in mind that the knife can potentially be broken, lost or left behind on every call for service that you go on. This isnot a reason to buy the cheapest knife available. However, it is a sound reason not to buy a knife similar in price to your monthly car payment. Once you leave the area and realize that you have lost or left your blade, if you feel as if you have lost your wallet, you might have spent too much!
Remember: Almost every piece of gear you carry is potentially disposable. It s the nature of the beast when working the streets.
820 Spyderco Way
Golden, CO. 80403