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i've been asked to give my opinions on knives and edged weapons, being that i'm a lifelong collector and user of them. i've been carrying a knife since my dad gave me my first one at age 9, a small stockman. that started my love affair with all things sharp. this doesn't make me an expert, by any means. but, it does give me a unique perspective on them, and i thought i would share my opinions and thoughts on them.

what to look for in a knife? that's not an easy question. in fact, the answer is wholly dependent on the person asking. what do you need one for? what do you want to spend? what is your skill level?

i used to be a tattooist, living in NYC. there's an old saying, attributed to Sailor Jerry, that many tattoo shops relay to prospective customers, who are looking to pay the lowest price: GOOD WORK IS NOT CHEAP, AND CHEAP WORK IS NOT GOOD. this is true of just abut anything. if you want the best, you have to be ready to pay for it, whether it's a tattoo, a gun, or furniture. this isn't 100% true all of the time, and i'll get into that later, but it's pretty ture most of the time.

i used to cheap out on knives. i'd buy whatever i could find at the local flea market, or buy some cheap Chinese knock off of a similar American made brand. and i'd do it repeatedly. i buy knives to use them, and i went through them pretty fast; locks would fail, blades would snap, steel would rust, scales would fall off. i thought that this was to be expected, so when i'd break a knife, i'd just go and spend $15 or a new one. over the years, i think i probably spent close to $300 on cheap knives. looking back, i feel like an idiot, when i could have spent that money on just one or two knives that would have outlasted all of the other cheap ones by decades. i eventually decided to stop cheaping out on them, and began investing in better quality knives.

who makes good quality knives? that depends: are you looking for a user, or an heirloom? if you're like me, you work hard for your money; you don't have $500 to drop on one single folder. heirlooms knives are great, but there are tons of medium range users out there. i'm talking about Spydercos, Zero Tolerance, Benchmade, Cold Steel, Emerson, CRKT, Kabar, Kershaw, Buck...the list goes on and on. all of these companies make great knives, for all sorts of applications, for a price that most anyone can live with.

if you have the spare coin, and you want a knife that you can not only use, but pass on to your kids when they're ready to use one, there are plenty of companies and custom knifemakers out there too: Busse, Randall, Fallkniven, Bark River, Martin Olexy, Rich Derespina....all of these companies and knifemakers make top quality knives, that are equally at home in the field and on display in your study. one day, i hope to be able to afford work from them. for the purposesw of this thread, though, i'm gonna concentrate on mass produced, medium price ranged knives.
thanks for writing this jah.

what would you recommend for a daily knife that could be used to do anything you *might* need it to do while not being $200?

(11-24-2011, 10:30 PM)andrewjs18 Wrote: [ -> ]thanks for writing this jah.

what would you recommend for a daily knife that could be used to do anything you *might* need it to do while not being $200?

that's a personal preference. there are hundreds of production knives, both fixed and folding, to choose from. i have about 20 that see regular rotation. i have 5 or 6 that are my favorites.

WHAT KIND OF KNIFE DO I NEED?

so, you want to buy a knife for EDC, but you're having trouble deciding which one to get. do i want that Emerson, or would a Byrd be good enough? some of your options might depend on your budget, others will depend on your aesthetic taste.

let's get this out of the way: fixed blades will always be better than folders. why? simple: reliability. a fixed blade of good quality will always be stronger than a folder, period. there is no locking mechanism made by man that will not fail given the right amount of stress. there are no moving parts to worry about getting gunked up with foreign materials, no weak points to break, no parts that need regular cleaning and greasing, other than the blade itself.

that said, not everyone needs a fixed blade. do you go camping everyday? do you expect to engage in a knife duel, or baton some firewood? if not, you might not really need a fixed blade for EDC. that's not to say you shouldn't get one, but if you're looking for something to carry with you everday, you might be better off looking at folders.

so, what folder should i get? well, again, that depends on you. what's legal in your area? what will you likely use for most often? how hard are you going to abuse it? how much do you have to spend?

the first you need to do is check your local laws, and find out if you can even carry one in public. i live in PA, and live in Lackawanna County; from the reseach i've done, i'm free to carry any sort of knife i choose, except for autos. if you live in Philadelphia, there is NO knife you can carry legally, unless you carry it for work, and you're either on your way to work, or on your way home. anytime other than that, you're committing a crime. check your local laws before buying anything, and carry at your own risk.

locking mechanisms. there are all types, some better than others. so far, the strongest locking mechanism i've found is the balisong system. balisongs are unique and brilliant knives. they require no sheath or lock, because the sheath is provided by the handles, and the lock is your own hand. meaning: when the knife is open, and being held, the blade simply CANNOT close on the fingers, it will stay locked open as long as you're holding it. the balisong has two pins or screws that are driven in, pressure fit and I have NEVER seen one fail on a high quality balisong. even on the lower quality ones made in Pakistan or China, when one of the pins broke, it did not cause a closing of the knife. it is impossible for a balisong to fail in the way any other folder can fail. there is NO possibility of catastrophic lock failure with a high quality balisong. the same holds true when it's closed. this is about the only real advantage balisongs have over other folding knives, though. most production balisongs are either of great quality but too expensive, or very affordable, but crap quality. there are few choices that are a happy medium. the Kimura series, by Bradley/Kershaw, and the newer Bear and Sons offerings are just about the only ones that are below the $200 mark. the other problem is that they're illegal in many places. they're legal in PA, however; the court's decision in Commonwealth vs. Miles settled that.

so what other types of knives can i choose from? most of us, like me, use their knies for mundane chores, like opening mail, boxes, cutting and prepping food items (i enjoy cooking), and other things of that nature. there's no need, for most of us, to go out and buy an Emerson Karambit, or a Spyderco Civilian for those chores (as cool as they may look). some of us look at knives for sale on certain websites, and admire their aesthetic qualities. if you want to buy a quality folder for EDC, you don't have to go much farther than your local Dick's Sporting Goods, Walmart, or Cabela's. all these stores offer knives from CRKT, Kershaw, Buck, Spyderco, Benchmade, and other brands. most of them do not mind pulling one or two from behind the counter to let you handle them; don't be afraid to ask. i've bought quite a few knives from Walmart; ne of my favorites is the Kershaw Leek. here's a pic of one closed, along with some other junk i carry:

[Image: 008-4.jpg]


right hip: Taurus PT1911.
right front pocket: Kershaw Leek, keys with Sabre Red pocket can.
left front pocket: Cold Steel Twistmaster, River Rock LED pocket torch.
right rear pocket: nothing
left rear pocket: extra mag, wallet.
shirt pocket: cellphone.

and here with a Glock 19:

[Image: 026-3.jpg]

it's not a large knife, by any means. it's large enough to be useful, yet small enough to be "politically correct." that means, i won't scare the shit out of someone when i whip it open to cut open an envelope. it's an assisted opener, which means it needs to be opened somewhat before the torsion bar engages. once the torsion bar is engaged, it opens the knife the rest of the way. one word of caution: the torsion bar does eventually wear out, and will need replacing. Kershaw, though, has great customer service, and if yours needs replacing, simply mail it to them, and they will do it, free of charge.

some knives i've owned, and liked:

1. Spyderco. i've owned the Endura, the Delica, and the Chinook II. i still own the Chinook II, but only because i gave the other two to good friends as gifts. one was a man i'd worked with for many years, but his visa had finally expired, so he was returning to his country of origin. i gave him the Endura, and he sent me a karambit from the island of Madura, Indonesia. it sits on shelf, on display. the other i gave to mechanic, who did some work for me for free.

2. Cold Steel. i've owned more of their knives than any other. i've had a few Voyagers, a few Twistmasters, three push daggers, a couple of swords, and others. they are probably the best in terms of quality/price ratio, or at least they used to be. their prices have gone up, but the quality has remained the same. if you choose one of their knives, never buy it directly from them, always seek out a secondary retailer.

3. CRKT. i'll be honest, i don't like their folders. not because of their quality, it's purely an aesthetic thing. i know guys who have them and swear by them. i do own two fixed blades from them, that i love.

4. Kershaw. i've owned two models from them, the Whirlwind and the Leek. i bought the Whirlwind when they were first released, and carried it regularly, but lost it after two years. a few years ago, Walmart began selling the Leek, and last year, they were on sale for under $40, so i bought two, one for my lady, and one for me. it's probably the most convenient knife i own. the blade profile is great for general use; it has a tip like a needle, it's edge is thin and razor sharp, it's 440 series steel, so it's easy to resharpen, and it's small, thin, and flat.

5. Benchmade. other than their balisongs, i've owned two folders, the Pika and the Model 940. the Pika was from their bargain line, and cost me less than $30. it saw a lot of use, until it broke while trying to pry a box open, whic i probably shouldn't have tried with it. i wasn't too enamored of the 940, which was unfortunate, because i paid over $100 for it. i eventually gave it away. i do want to eventually buy a Griptilian. i know a lot of guys who have them, and they swear it's the most comfortable, hard use knife they own.
What are your thoughts on SOG and BlackHawk! (Folders)knives? Overpriced or good quality for the money?
thanks for the follow-up. I'd prefer a folder so that I could carry it in my pocket, nothing large, just something that'll work if I ever need to use it. preferable price range is $50 and below.

what do you recommend in that range?
Generally I carry two knives. There is my balisong and then there is a cheap knife that I bought at walmart or something. The balisong is one that I have carried for about twenty years and I do not like to sharpen it to often. It is my favorite knife. The other knife is one that I can open with one hand, left or right. It is used to cut anything from string to food. But it is cheap enough that I can pick up several at a time. This also makes it disposable to me.

I am somewhat of a knife accumulator. If it catches my eye and the price is right I will pick it up. This does not mean I will carry it.

One thing to remember about knives are that the cheaper the blade the easier it will be to sharpen. But it also means that it will not hold the edge as well.
(11-26-2011, 06:32 AM)Normanvin Wrote: [ -> ]One thing to remember about knives are that the cheaper the blade the easier it will be to sharpen. But it also means that it will not hold the edge as well.

this is a good point. most cheaper knives aren't tempered well, or just have a softer temper. that leaves them easy to sharpe, but is terrible for holding an edge. most utility knives, like boxcutters, have soft blades, which is why they go dull so quickly.
(11-26-2011, 12:19 AM)FedUpCop Wrote: [ -> ]What are your thoughts on SOG and BlackHawk! (Folders)knives? Overpriced or good quality for the money?

i've never used a Blackhawk, so i couldn't say. my brother-in-law has a SOG, and from what i can tell, it's a pretty good quality knife. he's very picky about what he carries, as far as guns go, which is why he usually only carries a Colt. he used a Gerber for years, then bought a SOG multitool. the multitool impressed him os much, he bought one their assisted openers, the Flash, i believe. he needed it sharpened, so gave it to me to work on, and while i wasn't a huge fan of the handle, i thought it was a pretty decent knife. i've wanted a Pentagon folder for myself for years now, but could never justify spending the money on one.
(11-26-2011, 03:22 AM)andrewjs18 Wrote: [ -> ]thanks for the follow-up. I'd prefer a folder so that I could carry it in my pocket, nothing large, just something that'll work if I ever need to use it. preferable price range is $50 and below.

what do you recommend in that range?

the lower the price goes, the harder it's gonna be to buy something of good quality. like i said, the Leek is under $50 in most places. seriously, Walmart actually has a good selection of knives, at least mine does. they also sell Winchester knives, which should be avoided like prostitutes in Haiti.
Another thought. You need to watch some of the name brand knives. Not all Gerbers are made the same. Some are now being made in China.
(11-26-2011, 07:49 AM)jahwarrior72 Wrote: [ -> ]
(11-26-2011, 03:22 AM)andrewjs18 Wrote: [ -> ]thanks for the follow-up. I'd prefer a folder so that I could carry it in my pocket, nothing large, just something that'll work if I ever need to use it. preferable price range is $50 and below.

what do you recommend in that range?

the lower the price goes, the harder it's gonna be to buy something of good quality. like i said, the Leek is under $50 in most places. seriously, Walmart actually has a good selection of knives, at least mine does. they also sell Winchester knives, which should be avoided like prostitutes in Haiti.

I can attest to that. My first good folder, and first good knife in general, came from Walmart. Its a 4" folder called an Old Timer, made by Schrade. My mother bought it for me when I was in the scouts about 12 years ago. Since I couldnt carry it durring school, it didnt undergo constant carry untill 7 years ago. Its still in pretty good condition for a 12 year old blade.
(11-26-2011, 08:36 AM)Normanvin Wrote: [ -> ]Another thought. You need to watch some of the name brand knives. Not all Gerbers are made the same. Some are now being made in China.

another good point. i've had a couple of Gerbers, and not all were good. one of them was one i found in Janet Weis Children's Hospital; it was on a chair in the waiting room. it was an EZ Out folder. that one was pretty good. the other ( ican't remember the model name) was crap. the rubber inserts fell out of the handle, and the blade wouldn't keep an edge for shit.
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