The Cutting Edge

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10 Best Spyderco Knives

Best Spyderco Knives

This post was originally published in August 2018 and was updated in September 2023.

When Sal and Gail Glesser started a company in the 1970s based around a device called The Portable Hand — which could assist jewelers and other professionals who work with small parts — they likely never imagined it would become one of the premier knife brands in the world.

But, more than 40 years later, the company known as Spyderco is a top-tier brand with some of the best and most revolutionary knife designs ever made.

So, as we’ve been doing, we decided to go through the 10 best Spyderco knives currently in production. You’ll notice this list is heavily populated with classics, but that’s partially thanks to Spyderco’s CQI (constant quality improvement) program that improves upon existing designs. That’s how you get perfection.

Here are the 10 best Spyderco knives you can get right now.

1. Spyderco Paramilitary 2

Spyderco Para Military 2

BUY Now – $185.50

Let’s get the Spyderco Para Military 2 out of the way. The PM2 is almost universally known as not just the best Spyderco model but the best pocket knife available.

So how does a knife like the PM2 capture the hearts and minds of people everywhere? It has a nearly 3.5-inch blade with a functional design and quality S30V steel. On top of that, it stays engaged with the easy-to-use and reliable Compression Lock. The G-10 handle had been improved from the first generation for better ergonomics.

This knife has pretty much everything you can ask for in a larger folder.

Upgrade: Spyderco PM2, Cru-Wear/Micarta

The PM2 comes in almost a dozen variations, but the best for those who want to upgrade is the PM2 with Cru-Wear steel and brown Micarta scales.

BUY Now – $203.00

2. Spyderco Dragonfly 2

Spyderco Dragonfly 2

BUY Now – $73.50

What the Para Military 2 is to larger folders, the Dragonfly 2 is to smaller folders. Pound for pound, the DF2 is one of the best small folders you can buy.

Although the Dragonfly isn’t widely accepted as the best small folder, some of the most trustworthy names in the knife community swear by this knife and for good reason. The leaf-shaped blade is only 2.25 inches, but the whole design and ability to choke up on the blade make it feel larger than it is. It locks into place with a backlock mechanism while the bi-directional textured FRN handle scales are grippy and reliable.

Upgrade: Spyderco Dragonfly 2 Salt

Like the PM2, the DF2 is available in a ton of different styles. If you’re looking to upgrade and you work around salt water, we recommend the salt variation with H1 steel, high-visibility scales, and a fully serrated blade.

BUY Now – $80.14

3. Spyderco Tenacious

Spyderco Tenacious

BUY Now – $60.20

The Tenacious is a somewhat polarizing knife. There are obviously better Spyderco models, but for the price, it’s hard to beat the budget Tenacious and its brethren. The Tenacious also often acts as a “gateway knife” for the brand because it is cheap enough to get into Spyderco and leaves you itching for more Spydies.

It has a 3.4-inch leaf-shaped blade made from budget 8Cr13MoV steel and simple G-10 scales. This knife holds its own against other budget knives and remains a top-selling Spyderco.

The Tenacious always gets the most attention, but the smaller Persistence is more EDC friendly.

Upgrade: Spyderco Tenacious, Black

The Tenacious is now available in many different iterations, including an exclusive brown color way. However, the all-black version is hard to beat.

BUY Now – $64.40

4. Spyderco Endura/Delica 4

BUY Now – $88.20

I’m cheating here because I’m lumping the Endura and Delica into one entry. The Endura and Delica are combined at the hip when it comes to the best. Both knives were introduced in 1990 and feature very similar designs. I believe the Endura was the original design with its bigger profile and 3.75-inch blade. However, the smaller Delica — with its 2.875-inch blade — seems like more of a crowd favorite.

Both knives are on their fourth generation, so you know they’ve nearly reached perfection. Both have VG-10 blades, bi-directional FRN scales, and backlocks.

At this point, both knives are available in tons of variations, whether blade steel or handle material/color, so you can get the one that appeals to you the most.

Upgrade: Spyderco Endura 4

I decided to slot the Endura 4 in this spot because it is technically more expensive than the smaller Delica. This version with purple scales is amazing.

BUY Now – $95.55

5. Spyderco Manix 2

BUY Now – $127.40

The Manix 2 is an awesome knife. I say its main rival is the Para Military 2. Both serve similar functions and have larger sizes. The main difference is the design, and it’s hard to argue that the PM2 is significantly better.

The Manix 2 has a 3.37-inch leaf-shaped blade, which some enjoy better. It also uses a ball-bearing lock, which is easy to use with one hand and very secure. Unlike the PM2 to a certain extent, this knife is completely ambidextrous.

This lightweight version also won the Most Innovative American Design at Blade Show 2010. For a relatively cheap price, you can get a solid slicer made in America with some innovative locks and materials. Yep, one of the best.

Upgrade: Spyderco Manix 2 LW in SPY27

Spyderco Manix 2

The steel varies depending on the model you opt for, but the latest with Cobalt Blue FRCP scales has the new SPY27 steel and is worth the upgrade.

BUY Now – $169.40

6. Spyderco Bow River

BUY Now – $49.00

The knives on this list are mostly classics that have been around for a long time and have earned their reputation. However, this is the one major exception.

Spyderco is not well known for its fixed blades. You could probably only name a handful of longstanding fixed blades in its catalog. But this relatively newer fixed blade has propelled itself to be among the greats.

What makes it so compelling? It has a versatile design that works well outdoors or even as an EDC. The black and gray G-10 scales are highly durable while the blade steel is very capable. The best part is that it’s surprisingly affordable for a good quality Spyderco.

7. Spyderco Native 5

BUY Now – $224.00

The Native has been a Spyderco staple for a while now. The company is currently on the Native 5. The Native 5 G-10 was the first Spyderco folder to feature S35VN steel and has a 3-inch blade. As a general design, the Native features two choils to allow the hand to be either closer to the blade for more control or farther from the blade for dexterous cutting.

We’re partial to the S110V steel version with the Blurple handle scales.

Alternate: Spyderco Lil Native

The Lil Native isn’t technically an upgrade and boasts a smaller design. This version has a 2.45-inch blade with G-10 scales. It also uses the Compression Lock.

Despite being smaller, its handle design gives you a solid grip for even heavy-duty tasks.

BUY Now – $154.00

8. Spyderco Police 4 Lightweight

BUY Now – $128.80

I admit some of the designs look pretty similar. The Police 4 Lightweight is essentially a longer version of the Endura series. It has a similar leaf-shaped blade with FRN handle scales.

The main difference is the the Police 4 is quite long with a 4.39-inch blade. Its handle is a bit on the longer side as well. There’s not too much more to say about it other than it’s a solid knife.

Upgrade: Spyderco Police 4 LW in K390

This upgraded version uses K390 steel and opts for the bluer FRN scales.

BUY Now – $175.70

9. Spyderco Matriarch 2

BUY Now – $121.45

Knives these days are always trying to be the best multipurpose knife — trying to do everything from survival to everyday applications. But if you’re going to get one knife for self-defense purposes, nothing beats the Spyderco Matriarch 2.

This is what I like to call a purpose-built knife. These are knives designed for one thing and one thing only… and they excel at that one task. People will try to use the Matriarch, with its fully serrated hawkbill blade, for other things, but it’s really only designed for last-ditch applications.

When Sal Glesser added the Emerson Wave to the Matriarch, it became even more formidable. It is without a doubt, the best self-defense knife ever made.

Upgrade: Spyderco Civilian

The Matriarch first originated as the Civilian. The Civilian is a larger knife with G-10 scales and lacks the Wave feature. It’s pricer but offers a much better reach on the 4.09-inch blade (versus the 3.59-inch blade of the Matriarch).

BUY Now – $243.95

10. Spyderco Military 2

BUY Now – $196.00

Finally, there’s the brand new Military 2.

As Spyderco puts it, the original Military was a cornerstone of Spyderco’s Save and Serve lineup. Here’s more about its origins:

The Military Model came about after someone asked Spyderco’s owner Sal Glesser, “If your son were going into the military what folding knife would you send him with?” For certain, it had to meet the requirements of a high-performance, light-weight folder designed for hard use.

The Millie was one of the first knives to be subjected to the CQI and it remains an excellent option almost 30 years later.

In 2022, the Military 2 made its debut at the Blade Show and won the American-Made Knife of the Year award. It doesn’t completely transform the knife, but it makes some much-needed improvements. For example, it now uses a Compression Lock and sports a four-position pocket clip. On top of that, its liners are a little stronger thanks to the removal of the liner lock.

This is now essentially a supersized PM2 and is now one of the best large folders currently available.

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  1. Good article, but it would have been nice to provide prices for those of us who are not as familiar or own any of these Spyderco knives.

    And I say this because it sucks to click a link, return to the article, click, return, and so on. Also, much as I like to shop at Amazon and other online vendors, sometimes you find an inflated price or they are out of it. For example, prices for the Kershaw Antelope Hunter, Bear Hunter and even the Buck Commander versions are often exorbitant. I have found a few places with fair prices, but sometimes I find them for $50 or more as if they were in great demand or highly collectible. I buy them because I like them, but there are other knives that can take their place.

  2. Excellent information, good contribution to the blog.

  3. The Matriarch II with the Emerson Wave opener is one of the top defensive knives in the world…I’m surprised it didn’t make the list.

  4. The ‘best’ Spyderco is the one that fits the specific needs of the end user. But what do I know – my first Spyderco was bought in ’89 – and I ‘only’ have 4 of the 10 that made this list. OTOH I don’t have enough fingers and toes to count all I have and NOPE haven’t lost digits to any of them 😉

    • Tim

      October 5, 2022 at 8:03 am

      The general rule is always the “best” knife is the one you have on you! But of course, it really depends on the user’s needs, preferences, budget, etc. “Only” 4 is pretty impressive!

  5. I love the PM3 models including the lightweights but I’ve never cared for the PM2. The blade to handle ratio is just off to me. My favorite all-time EDC knife is the Sage 5 LW. It’s just perfect for me. I wouldn’t have one of those Civilians if you wrapped it in $100 bills but that’s just me. I have no use for a knife like that.

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