FOLDING KNIFE BASICS
Folding knives (also known as folders) come in a variety of shapes and sizes. On the one extreme end you have assisted opening tactical knives, while on the other, you have such benign folders as Swiss Army knives. The simple fact that the knife folds doesn’t necessarily make it suitable for our purposes.
We want folders that will do the job for us; we want multitasking knives that can do lots of things, so we will therefore need to eliminate some of the knives that have undesirable features. Therefore, do not look at knives that have:
- Corkscrews, nail files, scissors, etc. We don’t want gadgets, we want a reliable blade that opens with the minimum of fuss. Swiss Army style knives have their place, but your every day carry knife is not one of them. In a future guide, we will review multitools, which is the category where gadgets really belong.
- Lack of a locking mechanism. If it doesn’t have a way to lock the blade open, a robust, positive and easy to use locking mechanism, don’t buy it. Most tactical knives are lock blades, but many are not. A locking blade is essential for doing serious work or using the knife as a weapon.
- Assisted or automatic opening. If you push a button and it pops open, or you lightly tap a lever and it opens, move on. Let’s clear the air on assisted openers first and foremost – they are perfectly legal in many states – but they are also illegal in about just as many states. Also, in some locales where they are perfectly legal, uninformed police officers may still think they are illegal. Remember, the way the American justice system works, for better or for worse, is that if an officer merely thinks your knife is illegal, you will be arrested, the knife will be seized, and you will need to go to court to prove your innocence. It doesn’t matter if the charges will ultimately be dropped or if there is no case against you – the simple fact is that assisted openers are a headache you don’t want any part of. A conventional tactical lock blade knife opens fast enough once it’s broken in, so fast that it’s practically an assisted opener, so leave it at that. Remember, as preppers and survivalists, you want little to no attention or scrutiny.
Features we want in an every day carry quality knife?
So what features do we want in an every day carry quality knife? What you want is:
- A knife from a quality manufacturer, knowing full well that spending money up front will net you a knife that will net you years of service.
- Quality tool steel, not cheap pot metal (discussed later)
- A blade of at least 3” in length, preferably, as big as you can buy. Big knives can do everything small knives can – and more.
- A blade that has at least some serrations. Serrations make short work of cordage, tough fibers, seatbelts, and much more. Sure, a blade will do the same, but it takes longer and wears down the blade.
- A knife that has a stout and foolproof locking mechanism.
- A knife that is just as much weapon as it is tool. There has to be a 50/50 balance here; on the one hand, you don’t want an ice pick or stiletto, on the other hand, you don’t want a blunt headed cordage knife or other tool. Make sure your knife is good at multitasking.
- And, a knife that has a solid pocket or belt clip so you can keep it handy.