Rule 9: “Never go anywhere without a knife.” ~Leroy Jethro Gibbs
I’ve never really gone anywhere without a knife since I got my first one as a Cub Scout. I grew up in a rural area on Maryland’s eastern shore in the 1980’s, so bringing a pocketknife to school wasn’t a big deal. Hell, it wasn’t a big deal for students to have shotguns or deer rifles in their vehicles following an early morning hunt. There used to be a time in America where you could stop any man on the street, and chances are they would have a knife of some kind on them.
Times have changed though. Most schools have “Zero Tolerance” policies regarding knives in schools, and your average man on the street is not likely to be carrying a one. Today’s post is not about the the right to carry a knife, or to bemoan some of the overzealous zero tolerance policies that have some good kids facing expulsion and/or arrest. Today’s post is about why I choose to carry a knife, and to give some examples of which knives I carry and why.
A knife is a tool, and as such, I don’t think of one any differently than I do a hammer or a screwdriver. Some tools are used on a regular basis, some have specialty uses, and some can save your life. Of most importance before selecting a knife or knives to carry, is to make sure you are aware of your state and local laws regarding folding and fixed blade knives. Remember, there may be locales that are stricter than state law regarding knives. For example, in California, the cities of Oakland, San Francisco and Los Angeles have a 3″ blade limit, which isn’t state law.
Deciding what kind of knife to carry is a personal decision that depends on: philosophy of use, weight, attire and lifestyle. We will cover each of those below.
Philosophy of use: What do you foresee yourself needing a knife for? If it is for self defense, you may want to carry a fixed blade (Make sure you know your local laws concerning fixed blades.), or folder that is easily opened with one hand. Some of us aren’t lucky enough to live in an area where self defense is “good cause” to be issue a concealed carry permit for handguns. If you intend on using it a lot to cut ropes or open packages, you may want to look at something that is known for holding an edge for long periods of time. If it is purely for a “what if” scenario, a multitool might serve your needs the best. Remember, there is no reason why you can’t carry multiple knives. On days that I carry a multitool, I usually carry a lightweight folder as well for self defense.
Weight: Weight is a big issue for carrying a knife. To borrow a common phrase from the concealed handgun world, “The one you will carry is better than the one you won’t.”. The 17oz folding bowie with a 4 1/2″ blade isn’t better for self defense than the 1.2oz folder with a 2″ blade, if you don’t carry it because of weight.
Attire and Lifestyle: Certain styles of knives lend themselves better to certain types of attire, and attire is usually dictated by one’s lifestyle. If you work in an office and business slacks are proper work attire, you may not want to have a 9″ KA-BAR attached to your belt. Something smaller and lighter is going to be a better choice. However, for someone that works in the outdoors or in a more manual labor oriented field, a fixed blade might be a better choice
So, all that being said, which knives do I carry? On a normal work day, I usually carry a Gerber Evo Tool. It is a combination of pliers, wire cutters, serrated blade, saw blade, fine blade, drivers, bottle and can opener, and scissors. Like I said earlier though, I also carry a lightweight folder for self defense when I carry the multitool. Usually the Evo is paired with the .94oz Gerber Bear Grylls Compact Scout with its 2 1/2″ blade.
When I am not carrying a multitool, I carry my Kershaw Leek, which was a gift given to me by a coworker for being a sideboy at his retirement from the Navy. The Leek is extremely sharp, and is a modified drop point which makes it excellent for slicing and piercing.
A knife that I keep in my vehicle comes from a company that is known for firearms. The Smith and Wesson Border Guard 2, is a large heavy knife with a glass punch and seat belt cutter, which make it ideal for escaping a vehicle or extracting someone from one. The only downside is that the 4″ tanto blade is constructed from a cheaper steel than some of the more expensive knives out there, so it doesn’t hold an edge as long. This isn’t a concern for me, as it is an emergency tool not intended for everyday use. The cheaper steel lowers the price though. I got mine on Amazon for $22.
Finally, the last blade I am going to cover isn’t something that I carry, I keep it in my survival bag. The Cold Steel Gurkha Kukri is a versatile knife that is suitable for self defense and survival. The design of the Kukri gives it almost unmatched chopping capability compared to other knives, and is perfectly suited for collecting branches for firewood, or dismembering an assailant. Yes, you can remove an arm with a swing from this knife. Here is a link to Nutnfancy’s review of this blade.
Some people may tell you that you need to carry an expensive knife if you plan on using it for self defense. I disagree. You want a quality knife, and there are plenty of inexpensive knives out there that are high enough quality to defend yourself with. It’s likely that you’ll only use a particular knife once in a self defense role anyway, since it will be taken as evidence after a self defense encounter. The most important thing is knowing how to use your knife. Spend some money taking a class or getting some other form of training. I’ll take a guy with a $20 knife who has training, over a keyboard commando with his $500 custom folder any day.