A pocket knife can be an incredibly handy tool to have at your disposal, not only for the hunter or fisherman, but to assist with everyday tasks. Even if you don’t consider yourself a handy person, a quality pocket knife can aid in a range of duties from cutting zip ties to opening bags.
Before purchasing your pocket knife, there’s a range of elements to consider. What style of blade do you need? Which material will you choose for your handle? How will the blade lock and open?
An essential thing to consider, however, is how the knife will add to your everyday productivity. As one of the most useful tools you can have, you’ll need to keep this in mind when purchasing your pocket knife.
We’ve compiled some of the more common variations to consider when buying a pocket knife and filed them into handy categories to assist in your purchase.
The type of steel that your pocket knife is made from is essential in determining how best it can be used. Different types of steel also require different levels of maintenance and sharpening, so you’ll need to keep this in mind also. If opting for carbon steel, these are stronger and quite easy to sharpen. Stainless steel pocket knives are a little easier to maintain, though, and require less sharpening.
The most important thing to remember when considering the steel used in your pocket knife is to select a knife that lists a named alloy, and its description and attributes. There are many inferior materials out there being used for pocket knives, so stick to something that is credible and durable.
For those who are more serious about their knives, you may want to look further at the different alloys present in the steel. Each type of alloy has its advantages and disadvantages, so be sure to do your research.
Try to avoid blades that advertise surgical grade steel, as this often means that the steel is of lesser quality. Almost any type of stainless steel can earn the title of surgical grade, making the term almost pointless. This is a ploy used by advertisers to pass off a lesser quality material blade with a fancy sounding name.
One of the many features you’ll need to consider when purchasing a pocket knife is whether you require a lockable knife or not. The lock features of a knife aren’t concerned with when it’s closed, but rather its locking ability once opened. A knife with a lock ensures that the blade doesn’t close on your fingers while in use: a feature that will be very appealing to those with larger knives, especially.
If you’re planning on using your knife for larger jobs, then a locking feature should be a top priority for you and your safety. However, for an everyday knife that will generally be used for small jobs, it’s probably fine to opt for a non-locking design.
The hinge and locking mechanism is another aspect to consider when selecting your knife. Each knife manufacturer will try to advertise their method as superior to others, in terms of its locking strength and ease of use. With a range of different locking styles, including compression lock, axis lock, frame lock, arc lock, or any other, you can assume that any of the methods used by these larger manufacturers are among the best and safest around.
The Chaves Knives Custom Megalodon 325 knife features a titanium handled frame lock folder that guarantees absolutely safety and strength when it comes to locking. The stonewash steel blade rests on caged bearings that ensure smooth operation.
One of the most hotly debated topics among knife aficionados is the plain edge versus serrated edge discussion. Ultimately you should make your decision on your knife’s edge, depending on what its main use will be, as each style has both advantages and disadvantages to consider.
Plain edge knives are ideal for performing push cuts, and a great choice for hunting and skinning. The single sharp edge makes it a better choice for accurate and clean cuts. In terms of maintenance, a plain edge knife is easier to sharpen, meaning you won’t have to send it back for sharpening whenever maintainence is required.
Serrated edge knives are an ideal choice for someone who performs a lot of cutting and sawing with their knife. If you’re using your knife to cut tougher materials, you’ll want the extra strength that comes with serrated edges. A serrated edge knife is able to offer more pressure, thanks to their specially designed and thinner serrations. However, a serrated edge knife will be harder to sharpen, so is not ideal for those looking for a low maintenance blade.
This may not be an area you considered when buying your knife, but there are many things to consider with how and where you will carry your knife. Most knife owners opt for something discreet, but the main concern should be the safety and security of the blade.
While the key chain carry is generally reserved for smaller knives, most people prefer to carry their knives with a clip. A pocket clip is the safest and most secure way to carry your blade, and most knives come equipped with this function. A clip allows the knife to live in your pocket and
attach on a metal clip that lives outside of your pants. This allows your knife to stay easily in reach, but in a secure position at all other times.
Other things to consider with a clip include how deep you’ll carry the knife, whether you’ll open it with your left or right hand, and how deep the clip will allow your knife to ride in your pocket. Each of these features varies with different clips, to it’s essential to do your research. While most blades come with a clip for easy storage, there are still those that don’t. If this is the case, you’ll need to consider your choice of clothing when carrying your knife. A large, deep and secure pocket is ideal for securing your knife, or a reserved organizer pouch.
The size of a knife can depend on many factors. However, when buying your knife, you’ll need to educate yourself on possible size restrictions applicable to your state. A visible knife can cause many problems for you, with local authorities, so it is your responsibility to keep your blade stored safely and discreetly, and within height restrictions.
A longer blade is ideal for those jobs where there’s a lot to do and not much time to do it in; however, this might not be a practical size for everyday use. Smaller blades are generally ideal for household jobs, and these remain within the size limits for most areas.
The Spyderco Kahr Delica has a 2.5” blade, making it perfectly legal to carry in larger urban areas, while not losing any of its functionality.
A blade’s construction is one of the most important features of a pocket knife. Each blade has been created in a specific way to determine its use and functionality. Strength, performance, and usability can all be established just by identifying the style of blade each knife has.
Here are some of the more common types of blades and their intended uses:
Clip point: Great for everyday use, the clip point features an upswept edge and narrow point that is ideal for slicing.
Straight-back blade: Generally found on kitchen knives, the straight-back blade has a dull back and curved edge that allows for additional pressure.
Drop point: Another popular choice, drop point knives are extremely versatile. They are a great all-rounder knife and a standard choice for hunting.
Pen blade: Found on Swiss Army Knives, the pen blade is a great blade for everyday small tasks.
Many of the larger knife manufacturers have their own patented style of blades for specific uses, so it’s best to first determine your knife’s main purpose before deciding on a blade.
How a knife opens is crucial to its functionality, so it’s important that an opening mechanism allows you to open yours one-handed. For efficiency, you don’t want to be holding the knife handle with one hand while you open the blade with the other, similar to the procedure with a Swiss Army Knife.
For manual opening, many of the popular knives have thumb studs which you use to open the blade with your thumb as you hold on to the handle, so ensure you purchase a knife that matches your preferred hand. Some knives have ambidextrous studs or holes, so opt for this feature if available.
A spring opening or assisted opening mechanism allows you to begin opening the knife yourself, and then the mechanism takes over to open the knife the rest of the way. These are useful, since traditional switchblade style knives are now banned in many places. Be cautious, though, that a spring open knife may lead to potential problems and injuries.
Important not only for aesthetic value, but also grip, your blade’s handle is another important element to consider when purchasing a pocket knife. The handle will determine how firm your grasp will be, which is important for safety and precision.
Aluminium is a lightweight material which provides a firm grip for knives. It’s ideal for knives that are being used in harsh conditions and is quite common in newer model knives.
Celluloid is a synthetic plastic that has the unique ability to morph into any color. This plastic can be fabricated to resemble any number of natural materials, including wood, pearl, or ivory, so its aesthetic value is high.
Bone handle knives can be quite diverse in appearance. A quality bone handle can give durability to a knife and add years of life to a blade. Many people choose bone handles for their distinguished look and smooth surface texture.
With a range of woods available, this is a versatile material for your knife handle. Wood must go through a stabilization process before being fit to use as a knife handle, to ensure they can be hard enough to function well.
Made from fiberglass, G10 is an extremely durable material. This lightweight substance is water-resistant and ideal for inclement weather, making it the ideal knife for tactical use.
Zytel knives are made from a thermoplastic that’s resistant to impact and abrasion, meaning they are virtually unbreakable. A low-cost and durable material, Zytel has become increasingly popular in newer model knives.
Knife manufacturers are eager to stand out from the pack, and, as a result, there are lots of extra features being packed into your standard pocket knife these days. For many, a simple and effective blade is all that’s needed, but others do prefer some handy add-ons to their pocket knife.
Bottle openers, glass breakers, and box wrenches are just a few extras that have been seen on pocket knives of late. If not entirely crucial, though, try to avoid any extras that will affect the sharpness of the blade or add any further complication to an already hazardous tool.
Before deciding on the ideal knife for you, first decide on its purpose. Many people choose to have a few knives for different uses, so this may determine what you’re looking for. A pocket knife can also make an ideal gift for Father’s Day, wedding gifts, hunting and fishing trips, or birthdays, so aim for something general and practical, if this is the case
Whether your knife is for everyday use or to take on occasional hunting and fishing trips, it can be helpful to have a backup available, as they are prone to be misplaced or lost.
Overall, a pocket knife’s sole function should be to make your life easier. Choose a knife that’s convenient and strong, first and foremost, and then worry about the additional extras that you might find useful.