Getting a great knife for your EDC is absolutely essential. You’ll certainly want a backup for each of your gear caches. Deciding on size, weight and style are just a few of the considerations when you look for a new knife. You can never have too many knives. Just don’t carry them all at once.
How many knives should you carry? You may believe one good knife is plenty, but it’s not. Exactly how many you should bring depends on how you use the knives you carry. However, the minimum you need in a rough situation is at least two. You should always have a backup plan.
Do I Really Need This
There is no other way to say this… Yes, carry a knife! Carry two or even three of them. Some people are not comfortable with the idea of doing so, and that’s a problem that could damage your survival chances severely.
You should take a class on self defense with a blade if you haven’t already done so. After all you never know what you might learn. For this you may want a fixed (single) blade and sheath.
You may think that all EDC knives are strictly for self defense, but you couldn’t be more wrong. While you will always need a good self defense knife, you’ll also find that having a decent knife is far more useful than you anticipated. You might not always have your scissors (or maybe you do) but regardless, having a sharp cutting edge on hand is something you can use daily.
Keep it on Your Tool Belt
A knife is just a tool, and like most good tools, it has many uses. Multi tool knives have even more applications than most. If you buy quality tools, and take good care of them, they are less likely to fail you and they’ll last longer.
A knife can be used to defend yourself, but consider all the applications when packing your EDC. As previously mentioned, you want more than one (just in case). Having an excellent multi tool knife for mostly commonplace daily activities is a good place to start.
Hopefully you won’t ever need to cut your way out of a collapsed tent or a zip tie, but you can certainly do that more easily with a decent knife. Regardless of whether you need to open the mail or slice off a segment of paracord, a knife is just basic common sense. You can use it to open up a tin can in an emergency once you know the trick ( note: this may dull your blade or even chip it, and there are other ways). It will perforate a surface, or slice through a net. The list could go on for days. In short, knives are necessary.
That’s Not a Knife… This is a Knife
To choose a blade, you need to know your blades. The sheer number of options available these days is overwhelming. Identify your needs and what price range you are willing to look at before you start your research, doing so will narrow down the list and help you find the right knives for each situation.
All pocket knives are not created equal. In fact, more goes into the creation of a decent folding knife than you might expect. You want to ask a lot of questions about your knives, but this is never more true than with pocket knives.
Some of the unique features of folding knives that you need to research are; Locking mechanisms, opening mechanisms, number of blades and other features. The folding knife has come a long way from a mere hinge with a pocket-style handle.
Fixed Blade Knives
Unlike their bendy cousins the folding knives, a fixed blade knife is true to it’s name and doesn’t hinge in the middle. In fact, no part of a fixed blade should ever move if it’s well made.
Knives that don’t bend are simpler and likely less prone to having parts-related failures. On the other hand, they lack the built-in sheathe that pocket knives come with., so you’ll need to have one to carry it. This can add weight and bulk, so keep it in mind when outfitting yourself.
Unless you’re a chef or a butcher you probably don’t need to carry a bundle of kitchen knives. However, while we’re on the subject of knives you need, food prep is also a serious consideration.
Kitchen knives almost universally fall under the, “Fixed blade,” umbrella, but unlike (most) EDC knives they have specific uses for cooking. Your kitchen knives can do double duty, but you’ll want to carry them with other gear rather than on your person.
In general have one of each type (fixed and folding) in your EDC, along with at least four basic kitchen knives carried in your other gear. You can have all the advantages of variety and know that you’ll always have a backup in case of accident, theft or loss. Another good plan is to add at least one fixed and one folding knife to each of your gear caches (BOV, BOB etc).
Different knives have different optional features. Know your gear and take the time you need to check out the functions of your knives. You need to look carefully at all the essential factors that go into your knives.
- Size- Consider total length and weight when choosing your blade.
- Handle- You have many options to choose from for handle materials. Plastics, polymers, metal and bone, even stone or abalone shell is sometimes used. Do your homework on which is best for your needs.
- Blade- Straight edge, serrated, combination and dual edged are the most common options.
- Sheath- If you carry a blade, making sure not to leave it loose is important. Blades that aren’t pocket knives will need sheathes. A good sheath can have several features that allow you to carry it in different ways. Comfort is key, so pick a sheath that you can wear without rubbing yourself raw.
- Moving Parts- Pocket knives have different mechanisms inside. Naturally, you want to be certain the moving parts are good quality.
Tang (It’s Not a Drink)
Your tang is part of the blade. It is the piece at the bottom that goes inside the handle. Alternately you may call this the tongue, shank, prong or fang. It is all the same part. While tang is arguably a feature, it is so complex that it warrants it’s own separate discussion. When choosing your tang, you’ll have a few options to consider seriously.
- A full tang knife has a blade that goes from the tip all the way through the handle. This style of handle is affixed to the outside of the prong. Full tang is the most popular option.
- Push tang knives also go inside the handle and can go either the full length or only half way into the handle. Typically they are thinner than full tang, only about half as wide. Instead of having a two piece handle attached to the prong, this handle is one piece and the prong is secured inside with an epoxy (or glue).
- Encapsulated tangs are much smaller than the handle. These handles are often molded around the prong. Alternately, they may be fitted with epoxy/glue. It is worth checking into which if you choose this style.
- A rat-tail tang is often welded in place, though they can be threaded as well. These prongs narrow as they progress downward and they have a pommel that is threaded or bolted on top.
The Source (Materials)
Knife making is a fascinating topic. When you’re looking at the knives you want it is paramount to consider the material they are made from. A good knife is more than a sharp edge and a cool design. Choose your materials carefully, some last longer than others. It is worth a little extra expense to get a blade that will last.
- Metals- Tool, Carbon and Stainless steels are the most common metal used in knife making. There are some deluxe options as well naturally. Knowing the type and source of your blade is critical. A bad blade will chip and break when you need it most. A great blade will last years.
- Ceramic- Typically made of a substance called zirconium dioxide, a ceramic blade is a decent option for avoiding any rust issues. Don’t buy in to the hype that they never lose their edge, there’s plenty of evidence to the contrary.
- Plastics and Polymers- You may have heard of non-metallic cutting tools , covert and stealth knives, or other longer names. Some knives are simply not made of the materials you’d expect. Do they work? You bet they do! You can get a plastic knife for use in the kitchen since lettuces and certain other veggies oxidize and turn rust colored on the edges when you use a metal blade on them.
- Alternate Options- You’ll find blades made of almost any hard substance. Get yourself a glass knife, or a bone knapped knife for novelty, but get metal for your EDC.
Obtaining the right knife or knives for you can be slightly time consuming, but it is well worth the effort. Be an expert on your knives, maybe not all knives… just the ones you carry. Take the time to check out all the choices before you gear up. Knives are deadly serious, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy owning them. It can be a lot of fun to find the best solution for your EDC needs.
Is it legal to defend myself with my knife? Like a gun, the law considers a knife to be lethal force. Local laws determine how this is handled. Some places have, “Stand Your Ground,” legislation and others have nasty penalties for, “Unequal force,” so caution is the word of the day. If you have to defend yourself, your life matters most. Still, get educated on what’s allowed where you live.
How do I keep my knives sharp? You can pick up a rod, whetstone/stone or a handheld pull-through knife sharpener easily. Using the pull-through sharpeners can be the easiest for a novice sharpener, but all knife sharpening should be done with caution. If you choose a stone or rod there are plenty of informative videos online to help teach you the right way to use them. Make sure you practice and keep those edges sharp.
Where is it illegal to carry my knife? As long as you are a legal adult over 21, it’s generally ok to carry a knife in most places for work purposes. . Public buildings like schools and government buildings don’t allow weapons at all. Switchblades and ballistic knives have restrictions, and some states have concealed carry laws that extend to knives. Check to be sure before you carry.