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All right, I admit it - I've never had a pocket knife...  RSS feed

 
Vera Stewart
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But I'm thinking of getting one for myself for my birthday, so what should I look for? Is there a particular brand that just devastates all the competition? (And once I get one, what am I going to do with it?)
 
Aaron Festa
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YouTube wranglestar pocket knife videos.  I keep one because of him.  Saves you so many trips when you have knife handy
 
Glenn Herbert
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What kind of things might you use a pocketknife for? Do you do a lot of heavy work, or just occasionally want to cut something neatly?

For casual use, a small jackknife with two blades is handy. I keep the smaller blade extremely sharp, and the larger one respectably sharp for use on rough things.
 
Peter Kalokerinos
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Watching with interest. I only said to my wife the other day we should have a knife each for around the place. Picking (and probably eating), general other work.

It seems to be the done thing

All purpose knife that'll last a lifetime?

 
Drew Moffatt
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An Opinel folding pocket knife. We carry 3inch ones around here, easy to sharpen and they get razor sharp. I use mine for all sorts on the farm and prefer it over my skinning knife for doing sheep and pigs.
 
Bill Erickson
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For a pocket knife, I'm an "Old Timer" or "Schrade" guy. For pocket clip folders, I like whatever stays sharp and in my pocket. If I didn't lose them so much, an Opinel would be very nice to have.
 
Drew Moffatt
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At $35 NZD I've broken and lost two and it's ok, I spent more than double that on each Leatherman and both broke in the same way so I don't recommend them. My opinel broke when I dropped a hammer on it so it was my fault.
 
Devin Lavign
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Vera Stewart wrote:But I'm thinking of getting one for myself for my birthday, so what should I look for? Is there a particular brand that just devastates all the competition? (And once I get one, what am I going to do with it?)


What you are going to do with a pocket knife has a lot to do with which ones you want to look at.

The Opinel knives are great single blade knives. I personally carry the #8 Garden Knife and love it.

You would be hard pressed to beat Case Knives, I would recommend the Stockman, Whittler, or Canoe as good general basic pocket knives. Here is a picture showing some of the different Case knives, but there are lots of others and you can get lots of different knife handle scales to get one you like.

 
Devin Lavign
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If you want to really educate yourself, I would highly suggest taking a look at this pocket knife buyers guide. It is really well done, though possibly a little too much info for some to deal with if they are new to pocket knives. It really does cover a lot of info.
https://www.knife-depot.com/learn/pocket-knife-buying-guide/
 
Anne Miller
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IMHO, some people are "pocket knife" people and others are not.  DH has always had to have his Shrade Old Timer and gets very upset if something happens to it.  My Dad never carried a pocket knife.  I found one when I was a teenager and carried it in my purse for several years.  Thought it made me cool.  Threw it away at some point.  One Christmas I gave everyone a Swiss Army knife as I thought they were cool.

I guess knives come in handy if you are used to carrying them and can pop them out for all kinds of chores.  DH is always handing his to me, I hold in while he fixes what ever then hand it back to him to close it.

I have all kinds of kitchen knives, but only one that I regularly use.  Also utility knives or box cutters are really handy.
 
chip sanft
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I think the first step might be to decide what you want to do with it -- or at least what you expect to want to do with it as a starting point -- because there are so many choices. That will at least give you a direction. You may end up with more than one, because it's so handy to have a knife.

I have four folding knives that serve different purposes:
* The knife most commonly in my pocket is a Spyderco, a small (about 2 3/4") locking blade. This knife is a balance: it's small, tough, stainless, and I can open it with one hand. For all sorts of daily cutting, it's my first choice.
* I have a Leatherman OHT (one hand tool) for when I'm working on stuff. It's handy because it's tough and has a variety of useful tools, plus, as the name tells you, you can open the pliers, blades, etc. with one hand.
* I have a Boker camping knife, which is my traveling knife. It has a couple of blades along with a can opener, bottle opener, awl, etc. Its blades aren't made for heavy work, but it can't be beat for usefulness in a variety of light duty situations.
* I have an old Buck knife. One blade, locking, very big, very thick. Too heavy and chunky to stroll around with but very handy in the right situation.
 
Roy Hinkley
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I stopped carrying a pocket knife years ago - too hard to access when I need it and the inevitable worn outlline in the pants.
I found the assisted opening knives and I'm a carrier again. I really like the one handed operation from start to finish.
This one is my current favourite.
https://www.amazon.com/Buck-Vantage-Select-Large-Knife/dp/B003H8WF0K/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1474039601&sr=8-2&keywords=Buck+Knives+0345BKS+Vantage+Select+Folding+Knife%2C+Black
2 versions but you'll want the large one.
Clips on to the beltline of the pant but hidden inside- all you see is the clip , very discrete yet is out and open in just a second.
Nice blade, belt clip, lightweight thin profile, one finger flick open, affordable. 

 
r ranson
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If you're new (or experienced) to a pocket knife, I recommend getting one that locks open and locks closed.  Having a knife open in your pocket and stab you in the leg is not fun!  Having a knife close on your hand while you're working with it is even less fun!

For a starter knife, I like one that is a bit difficult to open and close.  It teaches respect for the knife and helps reinforce that knives close!  I like one that has the blade release at the back of the handle, as it automatically locks open.  The one with the blade release in the inside of the handle, can be a bit tricky when you're getting used to folding knives.  But an Opinel knife is good too so long as you LOCK IT (open and closed)!

Most important is that the knife is comfortable in your hand.  Too heavy or too light, too big or small a handle, these all effect how easy it is to use.  A pocket knife is a very personal thing and getting it right is important.


Also, some parts of the world consider pocket knives a concealed weapon - If you're going somewhere with a security check, best not take the knife.

 
Todd Parr
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I have literally dozens of knives.  The one in my pocket right now that I carry every day is a small Buck folder.  It's small, light, thin, and you can't tell it's in your pocket.  I carry it more than any other knife I have.  Once you start carrying a knife, you won't know what you did without it.  The best advice I can give you is get a small knife to start.  If you get a larger one, it won't do much that a smaller one does, and most times won't work at all, because you won't carry it.  After you get used to carrying one, Spyderco makes really nice knives that aren't too expensive.  I would urge you strongly to get a knife that doesn't use a liner lock.  They are weak and will fail and when they do, you will get a vicious cut.  There are several kinds of locking mechanisms, but in the lower price range, you want a lock back.

R Ranson, not sure what knives you are referring to that lock closed?  The only knives I have (or have seen) that lock closed are switchblades, and I strongly recommend against that for EDC.  I have never heard of a knife opening in someone's pocket.  Any decent knife I have seen is fairly stiff to open without a lot of work to make it open more easily.  Can you elaborate?
 
r ranson
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Todd Parr wrote:

R Ranson, not sure what knives you are referring to that lock closed?  The only knives I have (or have seen) that lock closed are switchblades, and I strongly recommend against that for EDC.  I have never heard of a knife opening in someone's pocket.  Any decent knife I have seen is fairly stiff to open without a lot of work to make it open more easily.  Can you elaborate?


locked closed might be the wrong words.  The Opinel can turn the collar to lock it closed but I don't know what to call it on my regular folding knife.  My regular knife has sort of a positive snap sensation when it reaches closed so that it won't open in the pocket.  Not an actual lock, but more like it's spring powered.  Some I've had don't stay closed in the pocket.  These are painful!
 
Vera Stewart
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I currently have a cheap and as far as I can tell practically useless multi-tool with knives, that I really struggle to open, struggle to get to cut, and then struggle to get closed again. The scissors work fairly well, but I already have a bunch of functional scissors, and have yet to be wandering around outside when a sudden need for tiny nearly impossible to use scissors strikes. I have absolutely no use for the corkscrew and bottle opener, and the nail file baffles me. People have nail filing emergencies?

But I bought this horrible "multi-tool" because I want to have an easily portable knife primarily for emergency/hiking/camping use, with some basic capability for light cutting/trimming while in the garden (or while "borrowing" plant clippings from public parks. It would be nice to have a discreet blade to help with that.) I also have occasional fantasies of learning a bit about functional whittling, but honestly that's not going to happen any time soon. 
I don't think I need a multi-tool, having carried the horrible one I have around for awhile, I've not really wanted to use any of it's tools, except the knives, but growing up someone in the family always seemed to have a victorinox around when we were on road trip/camping adventures, and i presume this is because adults found it useful in some way, so perhaps I'm missing something about multi-tool usefulness. Or maybe the adults just had a swiss army knife because they felt it made them cool. Who knows.

Thanks for all the advice so far!




 
chip sanft
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Vera Stewart wrote:
... I want to have an easily portable knife primarily for emergency/hiking/camping use, with some basic capability for light cutting/trimming while in the garden (or while "borrowing" plant clippings from public parks. It would be nice to have a discreet blade to help with that.) I also have occasional fantasies of learning a bit about functional whittling, but honestly that's not going to happen any time soon. 


The Schrade Old Timer has been mentioned. It was the knife I got as a kid and it lasted until I lost it. I think it might fit the bill for you. Except for trimming, maybe. I can't think of a knife that would be good for what I think of as trimming AND would be discreet. I have a much larger fixed blade knife for use in the garden and yard.
 
Drew Moffatt
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Locking open matters. I have had a knife close on my knuckles while sticking a small pig, almost got my own tendons.
 
Devin Lavign
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Since there are plenty of Oldtimer Schrade recommendations it might be worth posting his Oldtimer guide https://www.knife-depot.com/learn/old-timer-knives/

There is a great chart showing all the Oldtimer models and what features they do or don't have for easy comparison.
 
João Carneiro
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my father gave me a small folding knife when i was a young boy...

i had many through the years, even made a couple of them.

these days i settled on a victorinox skipper. it has the right combination.

it also features a blade lock. but all those things kinda grow on you. you have to learn to use it, and take advantage of the tools. there is a tool for every job...
 
Peter Ellis
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I am another vote for Opinel. Inexpensive, very easy to open, lock, unlock and close.  Easier than any other folding knife with a lock that I have used. They take an excellent edge, come in a number of sizes. Just one blade, no other tools. But for me, it is exactly what I want in a pocket knife. My current one has developed an unfortunate looseness about staying closed nd tha's the only thing I can say against them.
 
Drew Moffatt
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Try soaking it in water, they seem to stiffen up after I leave them in the sink when I wash them, if you want to free it up some then a drop of olive oil does it
 
Anne Miller
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I did an internet search for "foraging pocket knife" but didn't find anything that looked like something to carry in your pocket, most were for mushrooms.

Most Ladies wear tight fitting jeans so a knife would be uncomfortable and I wouldn't want anything longer than 3".

I use either a utility knife (I like the retracting blade) or scissors in the garden.  I don't forage, but if I did I would keep something in the pocket of the car.  Maybe a knife in a sheath.
 
Ray Moses
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Gerber Gator lock blade. Leatherman also. Leathermen are guaranteed, they replace them if they break.
 
Ray Moses
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Vera Stewart wrote:
I currently have a cheap and as far as I can tell practically useless multi-tool with knives, that I really struggle to open, struggle to get to cut, and then struggle to get closed again. The scissors work fairly well, but I already have a bunch of functional scissors, and have yet to be wandering around outside when a sudden need for tiny nearly impossible to use scissors strikes. I have absolutely no use for the corkscrew and bottle opener, and the nail file baffles me. People have nail filing emergencies?

But I bought this horrible "multi-tool" because I want to have an easily portable knife primarily for emergency/hiking/camping use, with some basic capability for light cutting/trimming while in the garden (or while "borrowing" plant clippings from public parks. It would be nice to have a discreet blade to help with that.) I also have occasional fantasies of learning a bit about functional whittling, but honestly that's not going to happen any time soon. 
I don't think I need a multi-tool, having carried the horrible one I have around for awhile, I've not really wanted to use any of it's tools, except the knives, but growing up someone in the family always seemed to have a victorinox around when we were on road trip/camping adventures, and i presume this is because adults found it useful in some way, so perhaps I'm missing something about multi-tool usefulness. Or maybe the adults just had a swiss army knife because they felt it made them cool. Who knows.

Thanks for all the advice so far!
My Leatherman is one of my most important tools on the farm. The cheap multi tools are a disaster to use for sure.




 
Annie Lochte
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I got a Barlow pocket knife in my Christmas stocking when I was 6 or 7 an have carried ever since. Over 40 years. Feel incomplete without it. Use it probably 8-10 times a week at least. I have always worked in farming, horses, livestock... Right now I work as a horse hospital nurse and end up using there for something fairly regularly. Even though i carry suture sizors there also. I currently have a Swiss army knife in my pocket. It has 2 blades, an awl, phillips and straight blade screwdriver... And ive used all those tools and they have saved me many steps im sure... I've had a few real favorites over the years but invariably lost them... I have no loyalty to any brand in particular. I have lots of kitchen knives but mainly use one. I have several skinning and butcher knives but use 1 of those more than any other... But have all those sharp an at the ready when something gets butchered...
 
Roy Hinkley
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Anne Miller wrote:

Most Ladies wear tight fitting jeans so a knife would be uncomfortable and I wouldn't want anything longer than 3".

I use either a utility knife (I like the retracting blade) or scissors in the garden.  I don't forage, but if I did I would keep something in the pocket of the car.  Maybe a knife in a sheath.


That's why I like the Buck assisted opening, goes on your beltline inside your pants, not in pocket. It's very slim and they have a slightly smaller version than the one in my post above.   Anything with a pocket clip will carry on your belt, if you want invisible(mostly) look for a deep carry pocket clip
For the car you really want a knife with glass breaker/seat belt cutter.
 
Devin Lavign
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Annie Lochte wrote:I got a Barlow pocket knife in my Christmas stocking when I was 6 or 7 an have carried ever since. Over 40 years. Feel incomplete without it. Use it probably 8-10 times a week at least. I have always worked in farming, horses, livestock... Right now I work as a horse hospital nurse and end up using there for something fairly regularly. Even though i carry suture sizors there also. I currently have a Swiss army knife in my pocket. It has 2 blades, an awl, phillips and straight blade screwdriver... And ive used all those tools and they have saved me many steps im sure... I've had a few real favorites over the years but invariably lost them... I have no loyalty to any brand in particular. I have lots of kitchen knives but mainly use one. I have several skinning and butcher knives but use 1 of those more than any other... But have all those sharp an at the ready when something gets butchered...


It is funny how we do end up picking favorites. Even out of a group of exact same kitchen knives often one will go to the same knife over and over again.
 
Rufus Laggren
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One that  you will carry. Clip almost certainly helps there. Size probably is the most important variable, then carry style.

To learn your habits, maybe stick to cheap (but safe! no sloppy yoppies) ones at first. Maybe 2nd hand (somebody's cast off w/one broken blade?).

Beauty, elegance, exquisite functionality all help - but not if the basic size and carry doesn't fit you.

I was happy w/a small Gerber multi on the belt for a long time. Cheaper, smaller, lighter and opened better than the "good" brands. Did all the jobs it needed to; hard to get the knife open, though. No accounting for taste. <g>


Rufus
 
Aaron Althouse
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My main features are a pocket clip, thumb assist, blade lock, and blade hardness (not to mention how it fits in yer hand). I have a number of blades with different blade lengths and edges, but the one I keep in my pocket for daily use is the  Browning Mountain TI 3". The handle is just right for my hand and it's not too intrusive a size so as to be bulky or obvious. At around $20 you can't go wrong. When needed, I've pulled it completely apart with an allen wrench set, cleaned it, and put it back together in just a few minutes. It always holds its edge.
 
Christopher James
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My EDC blade is a simple folding blade knife that I picked up for about $10.  I used to carry a few nice SOGs or Cold Steal but I have a tendency to loose stuff by setting it down in the middle of something the forget where I put stuff.  I too used to carry a multi-tool but after "donating" a few of them to TSA I decided to stop. 
I fall into the idea that if it feels good in the hand and you are going to use  it then it is a good blade.  Dont get to caught up in brands because a well loved pocket knife is going to get abused in ways that will make a knife maker cry. I know I have used mine as everything from a screwdriver to a prybar to a jumper for an electrical circuit. (Oh and I have cut a thing from time to time too.)
 
Marco Banks
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Like any other tool, you get what you pay for.

Buck knives are by far the best steel, and the best quality.  They hold an edge better than any other knife I've owned, and the hinge mechanism never gets loose.  I'm hard on my knives, but I've never snapped a Buck blade, and that's saying something.

I've owned 100 pocket knives in my life, but at this point, I will not buy anything other than a Buck.  Life is too short to own shitty tools.
 
Chris Gilliam
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The Buck 110: http://amzn.to/2cT82Kk
Maybe too big for girly men, but I use it for just about eveything.
I usually keep an Opinel in front pocket just for peeling fruit,
the Buck is mostly for work and peeling animals.
Ain't no reason to carry just one knife.
 
Nathaniel McNary
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I think a smaller buck folder with a drop point blade would be more appropriate first choice.  I've always found the tip of a clip point to scratch or cut things unintentionally due to the upswept blade.  A knife like the buck 501 "squire" or even the "prince" would probably be more likely to be carried.  Spend the extra $13 and spring for the S30V steel as it's far superior to 420.  The best thing about buck knives is probably their heat treatment by Bos. 

I carried a buck for a long time and then heard about zero tolerance (the 566 specifically).  Their knives have a much stronger frame lock, and the flipper makes for quick one-handed opening.  I won't carry a knife without a pocket clip either, as I don't like things that large floating around in the bottom of my pockets. 
 
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