Choosing a Folding Knife

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Choosing a Folding KnifeFolding knives are often the blades of choice when it comes to every day carry (EDC). Let’s face it, they are far easier to toss into a purse or slip into a pocket than their fixed blade counterparts. But, there are a few things to consider when choosing a folding knife. Remember, as with any other piece of gear, you may end up staking your life on this item, so it pays to be a bit finicky and not just buy something based on price (or appearance) alone.

Blade Considerations

First and foremost, the blade should be made of high quality steel, preferably something with a high carbon content. This allows for a harder blade that holds an edge longer, without being nearly impossible to sharpen.

As for length, this is sort of a judgment call. Personally, I like a folding blade of around four inches or so. This is large enough for most common tasks, including self-defense, without being cumbersome.

Folding blades generally come either plain or partially serrated. I prefer a plain edge as these are far easier to sharpen in the field. Serrated blades require more specialized tools to keep sharp. Keep in mind, you are far more likely to cut yourself with a dull blade than a sharp one. With a dull knife, you end up having to exert more pressure to make a cut, leading to slips.

Handle Considerations

Next, you need to consider the handle. It should have some texture to it, providing a solid grip if it gets wet. It should be comfortable in your hand, without any sharp edges that will dig into your palm or fingers as you use the knife.

100_6413 I highly recommend a “lockback” folding knife. This is a knife where the blade locks into place when opened. This locking feature makes for a safer knife, one that isn’t going to close up accidentally while you’re using it.

There are two basic types of locking mechanism. The older style has the lock release along the back of the handle. The other, illustrated here, is called a “liner lock.” You push the metal strip to the side to release the blade for closing. Both locks work well, with the liner lock being much more prevalent today.

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Another nice feature is a thumb stud, which gives you the ability to swing the blade open with one hand. While it is possible to open a folding knife lacking this feature with one hand, you end up doing something of a juggling act to accomplish it.

The stud, shown here, is simply pushed upward with your thumb, opening the knife. This is a great option as you may be in a situation where one hand is either injured or occupied and you’ll want to be able to open the knife with just the other hand.

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Many folding knives today are sold with clips attached to the handle. This allows for a very secure carry in your pocket. Clips can be large or small. The one shown here is very small, yet holds the knife extremely well.

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It pays to shop around and compare prices but a knife is not something you should just buy on the cheap. It is a tool and like any tool, you get what you pay for. Among the brand names I recommend for folding knives are Swiss Army, Southern Grind, and Buck. (Southern Grind and Buck are both made in the USA.) I’ve used their products for years without complaint or failure.

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Jim Cobb is a disaster preparedness consultant and author. His books include Prepper's Home Defense, The Prepper's Complete Book of Disaster Readiness, and Prepper's Long-Term Survival Guide.

8 thoughts on “Choosing a Folding Knife”

  1. I’ve owned some kind of folding knife since… forever. Mostly, I thought of folding knives as “Swiss Army Knives”, but I also own an Opinel from way back when, and now I favor Case (TM) knives. I like, purely for looks, the larger Hunter pattern. But the smaller twin blade Trapper fits me better.

    Are there better knives? Probably.

    Smaller and larger and more specialized and with more or less blades, and some specialty blades…

    But for me, it comes down to the one I like and would hate to lose… so I’ll keep a close eye on it. I use it a lot, too.

  2. I’ve tried many folding knives and ended up going with and keeping the Kershaw Oh So Sweet. Cool name and a great blade. I got mine on Amazon.com.

  3. I have a plain edged Recon 1 Tanto folder from Cold Steel and i don’t think it can be beat. 4″ blade and their Tri Ad lock system make for a durable and dependable pocket folder that will serve for almost any need.

    Can be pricey, but check Amazon and Atlanta Cutlery for good prices. They also have some excellent machetes and other handy items that might be of interest.

    God bless. Keep Praying and doing teh right thing.
    Ghost

  4. I primarily stick to Spyderco’s because I have grown so accustomed to the spyder hole method of deployment, habits and muscle memory have a lot to do with the style of knife you end up carrying.

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