Looking for your first pocket knife is an exciting time. Although it can be stressful, confusing and a bit overwhelming, with a little research, patience and common sense, you will find a knife that you will treasure and use forever.
In this article, we’ll examine exactly what you should consider when buying a pocket knife, including everything from size and usability to intended purpose and even safety tips.
Now, depending on how much experience you have had with knives, you may go into this task with a vague idea in your head of what you like. If not, that is perfectly all right and hopefully this article will clarify a few things for you.
Below, take a look at the table below to compare a variety of pocket knives against one another:
$ = $1 – $30 | $$ = $31 – $60 | $$$ = $61 and above
|Benchmade 940 Osborne||Stainless Steel||7.87”||$$$||4.8/5|
|Buck Knives Marksman||154CM steel||8”||$$$||4.6/5|
|CRKT Eros||AUS-8 stainless steel||7”||$$||4.4/5|
|Victorinox Swiss Army Swiss Card||Stainless steel||N/A||$||4.7/5|
|Spyderco Resilience||8Cr13MoV stainless steel||9”||$$||4.6/5|
|Spyderco Tenacious||8Cr13MoV stainless steel||3 3/8” blade||$$||4.7/5|
Why Would You Want A Pocket Knife?
So what is a folding knife exactly, and why would you even desire one? Well, for starters, a folding blade is a tool where the blade can be extended and retracted from the handle. Being capable of easily being placed in one’s pocket, it’s no wonder where the name derived from.
Ultimately, you want a pocket knife for a variety of different reasons. You might just want one that can function reasonably as an EDC or everyday carry knife. In that sense, the knife may be most ideal for simple tasks such as opening your mail. In the absolute worst-case situation, it could theoretically be used to save your life.
It’s worth noting, too, that pocket knives can be as simple as a single blade protected by a set of scales or as complicated as a Swiss Army Knife with plenty of features and options available.
Below, please take a moment to view some of the best-selling pocket knives currently for sale on Amazon:
Types of Pocket Knives
There are three common pocket knife designs: jack knife, multi-purpose knife and a pen knife. So let’s dive into all three designs.
The jack knife is the simplest of the knives and most versatile. Favored as an EDC knife, these usually have a single, locking blade which folds into a set of scales. It is a convenient and strong design, which makes it so popular among new and seasoned knife collectors alike.
These can be as small and simple as you want or can be a much larger survival-style knife good for skinning, camping and other survival needs.
These are the knives which offer a little bit of everything. While they are the Jack of all Trades, they are often the master of none. These knives can be as simple as a few blades and a screwdriver or as complicated as having over 20 options and include everything from a pair of scissors to a bottle opener.
These are very common knives and will usually be part of every knife enthusiast’s collection at one point or another.
While the extra features are nice to have, each additional feature adds to the width of the knife and adds a point of possible failure. This means that while the knife is neat, and will do in a pinch, if what you need is the knife portion, you may find it inconvenient and lacking in the strength dedicated knives usually have.
Pen knives are from the days when quills were commonly used and you needed different tools to carefully split, shape and trim your quill to allow for clear, legible writing. While the days of quills are long behind us, the pen knife lives on.
Featuring multiple knives at each end all folding towards the center, the pen knife is a versatile tool allowing for the choice of various shapes and sizes of blade making every task a little easier.
While not as strong as the dedicated blade of the jack knife, this tool certainly has its uses in day-to-day life.
Things to Consider
When you go into any knife store, you will be bombarded with all of the options available to you from a tiny little 1 inch blade to a beefy 3 ½ inch multi-tool. There are simple blades, ones with teeth, ones for decoration and even a few knives with sporks. This is where you need to figure out what exactly you want a knife for and find one that suits that need.
When looking at a pocket knife, one of the first things to consider is size. Find what size of knife will fit comfortably in your pocket for hours on end, as the knife is designed to be carried daily and go everywhere with you.
The other thing to consider with size is the length of the blade. For pocket knives, this is not as much of an issue as with some of the larger survival knives. However, some states and counties do have bylaws that will prohibit blades beyond a certain length or certain designs. It is important to check this out prior to purchasing a knife.
The next thing which must be considered is the usability. Are you able to comfortably fit this into your hand? Is the blade easily opened? Will you injure yourself when trying to close the knife? All of these are important questions to ask and to find out.
The easiest question when it comes to purchasing a knife is the purpose. What is this knife going to be used for and why?
If you are looking for a general EDC to use for lightweight use, such as opening envelopes or cutting a few strings, then you will not need a knife that is as sharp or as durable as some of the other knives. If you are looking for something to take camping, you are going to want to find a knife that is much more stable. You’ll also want a knife that’s made of more durable steel and is designed to put up with the excessive abuse that usually happens when one goes camping.
But What Knife Do I Choose?
Since there are so many options here are a few which just may fit what you are looking for:
- Spyderco Tenacious
- Benchmade 940 Osborne
- Buck Marksman
- Emerson Roadhouse
- CRKT Eros
Here is some information on 3 of them.
Benchmade 940 Osborne
Instantly recognizable, the Benchmade 940 Osborne is one of Benchmade’s signature knives. This design has been around for over 10 years and has remained virtually untouched. Sitting at 3.5 inches, the blade has a reverse tanto shape made from S30V stainless steel to ensure this knife is razor sharp for whenever it is needed.
This knife is good for an everyday knife as well as for self-defense if needed due to the ease of access as well as the length of the blade. Like most Benchmade knives, this is not a cheap knife. With quality comes a price, and with the quality displayed in this blade, you will not be disappointed regardless of the price.
The Buck Marksman is a light and nimble knife despite its 3.5 inch blade. This knife features a drop point blade made from 154 CM stainless steel. This allows this knife to retain an edge yet without proper care, it is more prone to rust than other steels, however, if one remembers to clean, dry and oil their blade, this will be a non-issue.
The handle design is light and rather narrow. It features straight lines with a strap lock which may take some getting used to. Despite being an assisted opener, this locking system makes it more cumbersome than liner locks and therefore may less suited to a self-defense knife until it has become familiar to the owner. In all, a functional and quality knife and as this knife can be found under the $100 mark, it makes a viable option for those on a budget.
The CRKT Eros is marketed as the “Gentleman’s Tactical” knife. Designed by legendary Ken Onion, this knife is sleek and fast to open with the ball bearing assisted opening mechanism. Featuring a 3 inch Acuto + steel spear point blade, this knife will not lose an edge easily making sure it is ready for whatever you put in front of it.
While the handle is light, the 6AL4V Titanium scales are designed with the user in mind and can be used in either hand, up or down. There are other versions of the Eros, however, they all pale in comparison to the K455TXP. This knife does come with a price tag that reflects the materials and technologies used.
Children and Pocket Knives
Buying your son or daughter a pocket knife is something they will remember forever and is something you can use to bond with your child. For many people, their first knife will become a family heirloom, passing from generation to generation as a coming-of-age present while other blades are more suited as a beginner or stepping stone towards something more serious once one learns the basics.
Heirloom Pocket Knives
There are hundreds of knives which are passed from father to son for generations. These knives represent a parent telling their child that they are giving them the first tool to defend themselves and their family. It is also giving the child a living heirloom that will carry many old memories and stories and will gain more as time goes on.
For those who do not have an heirloom knife, there is no time like the present to start such a tradition. These knives are generally not the same type of knife you would get as a starter knife for yourself.
These are generally high quality pocket knives, which are extremely durable and often cost more than your standard first knife. They are ones that can be trusted to protect and serve the child as they grow, while also remaining useful long into adulthood and eventually onto the next generation.
These knives can be given at pivotal moments in your child’s life: middle/high school graduation, starting a university, weddings, first major camping trip or any other coming of age occasion.
Knives to Learn On
When determining what age to give your child their first pocket knife, it arguably has less to do with physical age than it does with emotional and mental maturity. There are plenty of 7-10 year olds who have the maturity to understand that a knife is not a toy but a tool. They can be taught to care for a knife, use a knife appropriately and to appreciate the responsibility.
There are also children who have not reached the required maturity by the time they are 13. No two children grow up identical, even twins, and giving a child a knife before they are ready is irresponsible at best.
When looking for a first blade for a child, there are two common options: jack knife or multi-purpose. Both of these options, which we discussed above, have their advantages and disadvantages.
The jack knife is a straight forward knife, which means it’s lightweight and simple in its design and allows for easy deployment and closing. The multi-purpose knife, on the other hand, generally has a duller blade and has plenty of neat gadgets to get a child’s attention.
Many parents will generally avoid the multi-purpose knife, as it is easier to teach a child to respect a knife and learn how to use one properly without the distraction all the other options may provide.
Safety is one of, if not the most important aspects of a knife for children. Children must learn to follow rules when it comes to knives. Rules such as:
- Always keep the knife folded when not in use.
- Never play with the knife.
- Never take the knife to school/park/playground.
- Never allow other children to play with your knife.
In all, each child is different and only you, as a parent, will know when the time is right. Whether you choose the multi-purpose knife or a jack knife, the child will feel prepared for their next camping trip and will look forward to any way they can help out around the house or campsite with their new tool.
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