Spyderco has a long history of taking chances and pus+hing the envelope. From first popularizing the pocket clip on knives, their signature one-hand opening hole, and their maxim of Constant Quality Improvement that lets them keep their models fresh have all paid off with a string of successful models. These are the best Spyderco folding knives you can get your hands on.
While the Delica remains one of our favorite knife recommendations and the Endura is one of the finest large & lightweight pocket knives, the newest Endura neatly splits the difference in size. With a blade length of 3.4 inches, it is sized for the times, fitting right in with most marquee knife releases these days.
Made in Seki City, Japan, it features a number of Spyderco’s staples of design. This starts with their unmistakable blade style with signature round hole cutout for ambidextrous one-handed opening, allowing left or right-handed use without the need for protruding thumbstuds. The full flat grind is a common feature on their knives and it emphasizes a clean and efficient cutting experience.
The handles also feature their famous bi-directional Fiberglass Reinforced Nylon – lightweight, it features a radial pattern that provides retention both forward and rearward so you can maintain a solid grip when things get greasy or wet, a fantastic solution for the working individual. Combined with a four-position pocket clip
To secure the blade this knife features a mid-mounted lockback with a small cutout – the David Boye Dent. This feature makes it both easier to find the lock if you aren’t looking right at it while closing, and also is designed to safeguard against accidental closing. The lock is also fully ambidextrous, as is the pocket clip thanks to four possible mounting positions.
All of the things on the Endela, and Delica and Endura for that matter, are elements you’ll see repeated throughout their lineup – like jazz musicians reinterpreting a classic riff over and over.
Spyderco Native 5
With our next knife, the USA-manufactured Native 5, Spyderco adds another key theme to that riff, and that is the finger choil that spans the handle and the heel of the blade. This feature eliminates some of the dead space around the pivot that folders usually have to contend with, allowing for a fuller grip without the added bulk of a bigger handle when you fold it up and stash it in your pocket
Everything else you’ll recognize from the Endela – the lockback (although without the Boye Dent), the FRN, the signature leaf-shaped blade – and it all comes together to create a knife that is one of their best EDC designs of all time that is made in America to boot.
Also, like many of Spyderco’s classics, there are a ton of variants – including upgraded steels and handle materials, including the version in the image above which falls into their Salt series, a collection of model variants that feature highly corrosion-resistant materials.
In addition to the standard size, the success of this model has led to spinoffs. The smaller Lil’ Native is extremely pocket-friendly and adds several different lock options while the Native Chief sizes the blade up to truly impressive proportions.
Spyderco Dragonfly 2
Perhaps the knife that most successfully takes advantage of Spyderco’s signature finger choil treatment is another Seki City knife, the Dragonfly 2. By using that signature element they prove that they are masters of making a small pocket knife that feels bigger than the “on paper” specs would suggest.
When folded, this knife could easily fit in the small “watch pocket” often found on a pair of blue jeans. Yet, when opened, most users can still get at least three and a half fingers on the handle thanks to the choil, allowing enough control and power to be confidently applied to the blade. Speaking of the blade, several shapes are available, including a Wharncliffe, an Emerson Wave-equipped spear point, a serrated hawkbill, and the classic Spyderco leaf-shaped blade.
This knife, at least most versions of it, also shows us yet another common Spyderco element seen throughout their lineup, the folded wire pocket clip. On some models this allows for complete deep carry of the knife. Even on the ones where a bit of handle still sticks above the pocket line, the clip itself is unobtrusive and classy looking. Perfect for those who don’t want to draw unwanted attention.
As much mileage as Spyderco gets from their lockbacks, they do offer so much more too. That brings us to one of our favorite affordable knife recommendations, the liner-locking Tenacious.This knife is made in China, and when it was introduced really raised the bar for what you could get in an inexpensive knife, winning the Best Buy award at the 2008 Blade Show.
The liner lock is housed in textured G10 scales that simply ooze quality as soon as you pick one up. The blade is very capable too with well executed 8Cr13MoV steel, and it maintains the full flat grind on dimensions that neatly bridge the gap between pure slicing efficiency and hard-use durability. Newer versions have incorporated their signature bi-directional FRN handle options and even high performance S35VN steel into the list of options available.
There is no finger choil, but they manage to eliminate the usual “dead space” around the pivot that most folders are saddled with. The edge comes all the way back to the start of the handle where, thanks to the gentle finger groove, you can actually get your hand right up behind the start of the edge. This allows the user to choke up right behind the edge for precise control and it is just one of the details that lets the Tenacious perform higher than its lowly price would suggest
Spyderco Manix 2
Spyderco has tried their hands at their own locks over the years too, and they have come up with some good ones. Their Ball-Bearing Lock is their answer to crossbar-style locks made popular by Benchmade and their AXIS Lock. It is housed most famously in the American-made Manix 2, a true workhorse of the Spyderco lineup that can cover everything from EDC to combat and tactical roles
The large ball-bearing that gives the lock its name is pressed into the tang of the knife by a sturdy spring with (on the Manix at least) polymer tabs sticking out both sides of the knife to enable easy, ambidextrous use. The blade itself is broad, typically full-flat ground, and comes in a variety of steel options, including some of the best performing steels on the market, including S110V for extremely high degrees of edge retention.
Spyderco Paramilitary 2 & Para 3
Next up is the one-two punch of the Paramilitary 2 and smaller Para 3, also made in America, and featuring their flagship locking mechanism, the Compression Lock This lock has a tab of metal that interlocks with the tang of the knife, but in use, you can kind of think of it like a spine-mounted liner lock. It offers easy one-handed operation for right-handers, although left-handed versions of the 2 are available, and it even allows blade flicking action for fast opening and closing
Both of these models are actually offshoots of Spyderco’s Military folder, but these designs have eclipsed that groundbreaking model in popularity. Like the Manix 2, the Paramilitary 2 has plenty of grip on its own, and the choil allows for choking up even closer. G10 is standard on both the 2 and Para 3, although if you want lightweight FRN, you will be restricted to the 3 at this point in time.
The reasons these models are considered to be at or near the top of the Spyderco lineup are these: when it comes to a versatile model that can do it all – combat, self-defense, heavy work, or just plain everyday utility – these knives do it better than most options on the market at any price.
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