Why you need a pocket knife
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By: Knife Informer visit www.knifeinformer.com
One of my favorite questions when people find out I’m a “knife person” is – “what do you do with a knife anyway?” Glad you asked! The most obvious answer is “I use this knife to open packages containing new knives” but truth be told there are a million and one uses for a pocket knife, from mundane to creative to serious. Opening packaging is by far the most common, but you can also use a knife to do daily tasks like cutting up food, trimming loose strings, cleaning under your nails, punching a new hole in your belt when you lose some weight (good job!), sharpening a pencil or popping off an errant staple.
Then there are outdoors-oriented tasks, like cutting fishing line, dressing game, whittling wood, batoning firewood, cleaning fish, and loosening knots in rope. What about emergency situations? Always good to have a knife. Come across a car wreck? Someone might need to be cut out of their seat-belt. Crushed windpipe? Emergency tracheotomy. Bleeding profusely? Make a tourniquet from their shirt sleeve with a knife. Busting out a window, cutting clothing away from a wound, trimming bandages, a knife is a useful thing to have. Do you work with your hands? You can use a knife to strip wire, tighten a loose screw, trim insulation to fit, use it to mark a spot to drill into drywall, cut rope, you name it. And at the end of the day you can use it to open a beer. I don’t, however recommend you use one to defend yourself – but when it comes down to it, something is better than nothing.
Our Favorite Knives
The Kershaw Skyline has been around for quite a while and it’s gone up in price, to around the $50 range now, but it’s still an excellent example of minimalistic design. Its unique construction (the show side scale is just G10, as is the backspacer) makes it exceptionally thin and light, and a simple manual flipper is paired with thumb studs which serve as the stop pins giving you opening options. Sandvik 14C28N steel is a great mid range steel for EDC use.
Benchmade’s Osborne-designed 940 series is a modern classic, an unconventional yet nearly perfect folder for everyday tasks. The reverse-tanto blade shape is unique, giving it a good tip for piercing that’s still strong enough to survive light prying. The narrow, thin profile carries exceptionally well, as does the sub 3-ounce weight. The standard 940 uses aluminum handles and comes in at around $180, but there’s also a 940-2 with G10 scales for about $170 or the fancy 940-1 with carbon fiber and upgraded S90V steel for around $270.
Things to Consider
When picking a knife, you should consider how much blade you’re looking for as well as how much blade you’re allowed to carry in your locality. If you need more information on local knife laws, check out the AKTI’s guide. After many years of carrying a variety of knives, my taste in blade length has gradually shifted downward and settled around 3” flat, with 3.5” being the absolute upper end of usable length, and 2.5” being just too short for a lot of things. There’s nothing wrong with the Factor Bit (1.875”) or the Spyderco Military (4”) but the Bit feels like you’re trying to cut things with a golf tee, and whipping out a 4” blade anywhere in public is a risky exercise – and accurately cutting things is harder, unless you’re Andre the giant. A good thing to think of is: buy on what you’re going to do with it, not what you want to do with it. You’ll probably break down boxes, you probably won’t baton through a Jeep.
Blade steel, and the way it’s heat treated and finished, matters. I rate blade steel on a few different metrics: How well it holds an edge under “regular” use, how well it resists corrosion (rusting/staining), how well it resharpens (both difficulty of sharpening and how sharp it gets), and how the edge “wears” (whether it rolls versus chips.) All of these attributes depend on what contents are in the steel and how its heat treated. In general, Carbon content is related to edge retention (the higher the better), chromium is related to corrosion resistance (above 10.5% being considered a “stainless” steel) and elements like Molybdenum and Vanadium increasing performance in various ways. Hardness is measured on the Rockwell hardness scale, expressed as HRc. Anything over 60 is generally very hard. There are also other metrics of edge retention such as the CATRA test which attempt to serve as a unit of measure for edge retention. Below is a summary of some of the popular knife steels and you can read more in this definitive knife steel guide.
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