David's Performance and Training Corner
With David Salthouse from APC, Inc.
Associate Director of Training & Program Development

The Sharpest Knife in the Drawer
A Quick Look at a New Model of an Old Classic
The Spyderco Endura4

Over the years, I have managed to accumulate a pretty large collection of pocket knives.  Looking back, I guess it was pretty easy to do. There are a lot of really nice designs out there, and the price of good quality knives are still in the, impulse buy, range in most cases. It was on a recent trip to a sporting goods store when I found a new and improved model of an old favorite, the Spyderco Endura. I couldn’t resist.

Before I get into the specifics of the generation 4 Endura, let’s take a look at the “Tactical Knife” concept. Many people will argue that the word “tactical” is overused. In some cases I agree, but in this instance I think it is a pretty good fit. The root of the word tactical refers to using strategy to achieve a goal. The “Tactical Knife” strategically employs a clip for the pocket that positions the knife for easy access, and some means to open the knife with one hand. Both of these features allow the user to get the knife into action quickly, which was the goal. When I think of a tactical knife, the Spyderco brand immediately comes to my mind. Not only are they credited for inventing the “Tactical Knife” concept, but growing up, my father always had a Spyderco Police Model clipped in his pocket. Spyderco still makes the same model today.

The Spyderco Knife Company started out making sharpeners in 1978. They produced their first knife design in 1981 “C01Worker”. The combination of the clip and the “O” in the blade immediately put Spyderco on the map.  Since then, Spyderco has not only been making new models of their own, but collaborating with many of the top knife designers in the industry producing some top notch unique designs.  New knives are great, but what really sells me on Spyderco is that they update their core line up with new blade materials and minor upgrades. It is these upgrades that bring me to the focus of this month’s article, the Generation 4 Endura.


The Endura was first introduced by Spyderco in 1990. That year, at the age of 10, I remember my father buying me an Endura with a red handle at a gun show.  I really wish I had that knife now so I could compare it side by side with the new model. In the almost 20 year history of the Endura, many subtle changes have been made in a process Spyderco calls CQI, or Continuous Quality Improvement. Many of the changes involve ergonomics of the handle, changing the grip friction resistant bi-directional texture design, a removable clip that can secure the knife tip up, or down, with the clip on the right side or left side of the handle. The trademarked thumbhole was enlarged slightly to make one hand opening easier. All in all, they took and great design and improved it many times over.  Here are the fine points: The knife is 3.6 oz. and feels very light in the pocket or hand.  The handle is Fiberglass Reinforced Nylon (FRN) with steel liners for stiffness. The knife has an overall length of 8 inches with a blade just shy of 4 inches and a closed length of 5 inches. The VG10 steel drop point blade is flat saber ground and as sharp as they get, another well-known trait of Spyderco. My model has a plain blade, but they are available in your choice of plain, serrated(Spyder-Edge), or a combination of the two. The MSRP of the Endura4 is $94.95, but I have never seen one that expensive. Somewhere between $45 and $70 is more realistic.

Handling the Endura4 makes it clear there is a lot of knife to work with. Some people may feel like too much. I usually like a blade length somewhere between 3 and 3 1/2 inches, but I don’t find the Endura to be overly large and besides, a good friend of mine once said that there is no job too small for a large knife, but some jobs are too large for a small knife. The knife rides well clipped in the pocket or waistband and can be deployed very quickly in a variety of ways, into a blade up or down position.  In the hand, the bi-directional grip feels very secure without that abrasive feel of many aggressive textures. There are ridges along the top of the handle and blade for added grip. The balance of the knife is perfect, right at the folding pin.

I prefer to think of a knife as a utility tool rather than a weapon, but in reality, for many people, a folding knife serves as a last resort self defense weapon. This concept is very scary as there are never any winners a knife fight. If you are going to utilize a knife for self defense, training is a must. Many martial art style training knives are available, but don’t allow you to practice deploying your blade from a closed position. Spyderco produces a trainer model, identical to the Endura4, minus the razor sharp blade. Spyderco is not the only knife company that makes these trainers available, but it is a nice feature and something to consider when shopping for an EDC (Every Day Carry) blade.

Also keep an eye out on our calendar of events and classes. Michael de Bethencourt is coming back to teach his “Defensive Folding Knife” course, who uses the Spyderco Trainers in his class. He is a believer in Spyderco knives. The class is on Saturday July 18th. We should be confirming that with him in the next month.

In closing, as I look at my inventory of folding knives, and what is available in the market. The Spyderco Endura4 is tops in its price range, and hard to beat well above it. Affordability, quality of materials, simple design and 20 years of improvements equal a great product I am happy to carry and endorse. If the 3 7/8 inch blade is too long for your liking, the Endura’s little brother, the Delica, is a perfect fit with its 3 inch blade. Both the Endura and the Delica are available in an overwhelming array of colors and blade coatings. If the Ninja black on black isn’t to your liking, a white handle, or even pink is available. In any color, you will not be disappointed.

Be safe and remember, Failing to Train is Training to Fail!
Email David at with comments, questions, or topics you would like him to cover in a future article.