Since the dawn of Man, our ancestors have used knives for a myriad of vital tasks, from hunting to self-defense. And today is no different. After all, manual cutting tasks still need to get done, and even self-defense remains a live possibility which every modern man must be prepared for. Consequently, just as our ancestors carried knives, we too should arm ourselves in a similar manner.
In modern times, what this means is that we should own a quality folding knife. Indeed, in our present time, a folding knife is the most versatile bladed tool that a man can carry, and so every man should have one. However, given the numerous options that are available, it is hard to know which features to look for when choosing such a knife. That is why this article will give you some tips concerning the type of folder that you should purchase.
As mentioned, this article will only deal with folding knives. The reason for this is simple. This article is meant for everyone, and it is rather hard to attend most modern workplaces with a seven-inch fixed blade hanging from your belt. By contrast, every man—even the most den-dwelling computer techie—can carry a solid folder in his pocket.
Additionally, folders are still fast enough to open that they can be effectively used for personal defense, and they are also versatile enough to use for other purposes as well. Consequently, folders are the best all-around knife to discuss for the widest audience of men, which is why this article will focus solely on them.
The General Points
Now, the first piece of advice to remember when buying a folding knife is obvious: do not be cheap! This is especially important if this is going to be your sole knife. After all, you do not want your only knife to fail you when you need it most. So quality counts. Now, this does not mean that price equals quality, but a $10 folder is not going to cut it. However, also remember that it is always better to have a knife than no knife at all, so just get the highest quality folder that you can afford.
Additionally, focus on functionality over fanciness. If a particular knife looks like it was designed based on the fevered dreams of a sci-fi geek hoping to impress the ladies with his mad knife-designing “skills”, then it probably is not the knife for you.
Finally, fit the knife to your life. This means that if you are an office-worker, then the folder that you choose might have to be slightly thinner and more concealable than the folding knife used by a trucker. So keep your lifestyle in mind when picking your folder.
When it comes to the blade, the critical point is to pick a blade that has an optimal balance for your specific needs of toughness, hardness, corrosion-resistance and edge-retention. Now, since this is a very detailed topic, and since there are several different blade steels to choose from depending on your needs, I would thus recommend that you read such webpages as Knife Informer’s ‘Guide to the Best Knife Steel’ article for further information on choosing the best blade metal for you.
Concerning length, the blade should be anywhere from two-to-five inches long; anything shorter will seriously reduce the knife’s functionality while anything longer will make the knife way too bulky for your pocket. The blade should also be of sufficient depth and width so that it is sturdy and can clearly handle a great deal of use. Essentially, you should be able to stab and/or cut things repeatedly without the knife breaking or becoming compromised.
Next, a half-serrated blade is recommended. Not only does a serrated edge often cut certain things better than a straight blade, but the possession of such a “utility” function on your knife will give you plausible deniability if you are ever stopped and questioned as to why you are carrying a knife.
Now, as far as the blade tip is concerned, so long as the tip is solid and sharp, feel free to choose whatever tip you like, be it a tanto-style tip or not.
Additionally, make sure that whatever mechanism or stud that is used to open the blade is both solid and allows for rapid opening. It should also be ambidextrous. There are many options, so play around with them until you find the right one for you. However, remember that the key is that the opening mechanism needs to easily and quickly work whenever its needed, but it should not be so big and bulky that it jams up your handling of the knife.
Finally, I would recommend a black matte finish to the blade to reduce any reflections off the blade; after all, no reason to give away the fact that you have a knife if you can avoid it.
The handle should obviously fit your hand comfortably and firmly, it should have an anti-slip grip, and it should also be a black matte finish to prevent any unnecessary shine.
At the same time, it is critical to have a very strong locking mechanism for your blade within the handler, so that there is no chance of the blade collapsing when you are using the knife. Additionally, the locking mechanism needs to be quickly and easily accessible with one hand so that you can rapidly fold the blade back in if you need to conceal it.
The handle should have a clip which, once put in your pocket, will be tight enough to ensure that the knife does not slip out or move. But the clip should also be loose enough that it will not restrict the knife from being pulled out of your pocket in one smooth motion. Furthermore, the clip’s ending should be as close to the end of the handle as possible, which will allow the knife to sit deeper in your pocket and thereby be better concealed. The clip should also be mountable on either side of the handle, as well as reversible, which means that it can cause the knife to be situated blade up or blade down in your pocket.
Finally, make sure that the knife contains a window-breaking spike as well as a seat-belt cutter within the handle. Not only are these useful tools in their own right, but again, they give you plausible deniability about why you are carrying your knife.
Although this is by no means an endorsement, in light of all of the above, I want to show everyone the folder that I carry:
This knife has nearly all the features described above and it has served me well for years. I recommend something similar for you.
Remember, while any folding knife is better than no knife at all, if you can carry a high-quality folder with the features described above, then you will be well set to meet whatever challenges come your way, so long as you know how to use it, that is! But that is a topic for another article.