If you know knives, then the Spyderco Endura needs no introduction. In fact, I put off this review for so long because the Endura is so well known, I always thought that I wouldn't be telling anyone something most already knew anyway.
The Endura in it's many forms has been around since 1990 and is one of the two knives (the Delica being the other) that put Spyderco on the map. I've owned at least four iterations of this particular knife. As with many Spyderco knives, the Endura4 is a result of Sal Glesser (owner of Spyderco) and Co. constantly listening to and considering feedback from their end users. They call their evolutionary process of refining knives their C.Q.I. (Constant Quality Improvement) process. Sal, his son and their staff are well known in the knife industry and among enthusiasts for their constant interaction via email exchanges and on the various forums around the net (including their very own at www.spyderco.com). I've had this knife now for almost two years. As far as the Endura series goes, this one is by far, my favorite.
The Endura4 uses Bi-Directional Texturing FRN (Fiberglass Reinforced Nylon) as it's scales or handle. If' you've ever owned a Spyderco, you know what these scales feel like. They are nice and grippy. Under the FRN scales are dual skeletonized stainless steel liners that give the Endura4 handle added strength without any appreciable added weight.
The Blade is made from one of my favorite steels, VG-10. VG-10 was originally designed for the Japanese cutlery market but was picked up by Spyderco for use in several of their knives. VG-10 lies in the mid range for RC hardness at around 59 or 60. I have found in use that I can personally sharpen VG-10 to a sharper edge than any blade material that I own. I can routinely get my VG-10 blades to razor or shaving sharp. Even better, they hold that edge for a long time. Not too hard, not too soft and it's stainless. I really like VG-10 steel.
Spyderco chose to utilize screws to hold everything together rather than the pins they used to use. I think this just exudes more quality than the pins and it allows for repairs or cleaning.
The VG-10 blade is a significant 3.75 inches and the cutting edge is a slightly shorter 3.4 inches. The blade on this limited production version is only available in plain edge (spyderedge is available on the regular production version of the Endura4). The full flat ground blade makes an excellent slicer but due to it's thin 3mm (width) profile, is not as robust for hard work as some other thicker spined knives. The thin full flat ground (tapering from sharp edge to the spine) blade makes for an excellent food prep and /or self defense blade.
NOTE: If you're wondering what the brown dot on the blade was in the first photo, this blade, like all others does not like being used to hot-wire ATV's. Last year during the heat of the summer, we chased some smugglers on a stolen ATV across several miles across the South Texas ranch land. When the smugglers finally figured that they were cornered, they abandoned the ATV and ran on foot. We found the very hot ATV sitting in some very thick brush with the wires hanging out of the ignition. Fearing that the ATV could start a fire in the extremely dry brush (it was during our worst drought on record), I decided to hot-wire the already exposed ignition wires. In a rush, I cross grounded the two wires using my Endura4 starting the ATV. The ensuing sparks and "popping" sounds alerted me to the spot welding occuring to my Endura4 which nicely re-tempered two small spots on the blade. While we got the ATV started and moved, it left two nice little permanent burn marks on my blade that went all the way through it to the other side...pictured below:
The lock is a standard yet capable lock back style. Nothing fancy but it works and works well. It suspect that it would not fare as well in spine whacking experiments as some more robust locks.
FIT AND FINISH
The fit and finish on my Endura4 was very well done. All screws were tight, the clip was tight and the blade was reasonably centered. When open, there was zero up and down blade play but there was a very miniscule amount of side to side play. Due to the thin blade profile, you do notice some blade flex under pressure.
The ergonomics on the Endura series to me has always been very good and this one is no exception. I'm a big guy (6'1") and have big hands and this knife fits my big hands very nicely. Despite it's large size, in my opinion this knife is easily one of the best handling one handed knives on the market if not the best in it's length and price range. Despite it's size, it weighs in at a feathery 3.4 ounces. You can honestly forget that is in your pocket when clipped in and there are very little pocket hog issues. The jimping on the FRN leading up to the thumb ramp and the thumb ramp of the blade is well done and provides good traction in use. VERY well done Spyderco.
The pocket clip on the Endura four is excellent. It's long enough and has enough flex to get it in and out of the pocket with ease. My only ding, if you can call it that is that I wish it was a bit recessed to keep forward and aft movement to a minimum. It had a tendency when I first bought it to wiggle a bit after long periods of use. I finally decided to remove the clip, place a dab of locktite blue on the screws and replace them. Since then, I have had zero issues with the screws loosening. The clip can also be moved to any of four positions, left, right, tip up or tip down. Again, well done Spyderco!
SMOOTHNESS OF OPENING
The Endura4 despite it's large size can be easily flicked open and closed with one hand very easily due to the included Phosphor bronze washers. As my most carried knife, opening and closing it one handed has become second nature. This is one of the Spyderco's that all other brands of one handed opening knives are measured. While this may seem trivial to some, for a law enforcement officer, someone in the military or anyone in a life or death situation, muscle memory is paramount. To be able to deploy and use any weapon under stressful situations, well trained, instinctual muscle memory gives one a distinct advantage. With the adrenaline flowing, the fine motor skills required to open a knife are diminished greatly and so muscle memory skills from training and repeated deployments are very important. Spyderco has greatly simplified training the muscle memory aspect with their Spyderco Hole deployment and is why their knives are amongst the most carried brand of knives amongst law enforcement and military around the world.
The Spyderco Endura has many conceivable uses in which it would work well. The Endura4's full flat ground blade works better in my opinion than my previous versions in many situations. I am often asked by people at work and people via email, "What knife would you recommend as a gift for a Law Enforcement officer?" Well folks, this one is at the top of my list. It has the length, the toughness and the weight that is just about ideal for Every Day Carry (EDC) for law enforcement officers. The length and size is crucial for self defense/last ditch defense in a life or death situation. It's tough enough to last many years under normal use. It's light weight characteristics cannot be over stated. Most modern law enforcement officers carry LOTS of equipment on their duty belt, so much so that it can cause lower back issues. This being the case, every single ounce that one can shave off is crucial and the Spyderco Endura fits this bill nicely. Another important factor is it's cost. The Spyderco Endura4 can be found in the $60-$70 price range so if you lose one in the field, it's not going to hurt as much as if you lost a $500 Rick Hinderer XM-18 (my all time favorite knife period). These reasons are why this knife is my EDC at work as well as MANY fellow law enforcement officers.
Of course the Endura4 can fill may other rolls well and in fact works excellent as a food prep knife. In the case below, I was out working in the South Texas brush and was hungry so I popped off a few prickly pear fruit, put the Endura to use and had lunch. Good stuff.. (You peel them like a Kiwi by the way):
|Spyderco Endura4 Flat Ground FRN and Prickly Pear Fruit (Tuna)|
Ergonomics: 9/10 (This knife just feels right)
Materials: 9/10 (I love the materials. Good blade steel and FRN is perfect for LEO knife)
Fit and Finish: 9/10 (Very good for a knife of this price range)
Camp Use: 7/10 (might be a little lacking for hard use)
Military/Police Use: 9/10 (probably one of the most popular police knives in existence)
EDC Use: 9/10 (despite its size, a sheeple friendly, light weight GREAT EDC knife)
Food Prep: 9/10 (excellent slicer)
Skinning/Game Prep: 7/10 (would be great but cutting through big game bone wouldn't be a strong point)
Zombie Usefulness: 8/10 (This is one of the knives I'd want in the zombie Apocalypse)