A look at some of the inventions of man from centuries ago will show you that the needle and thread, bow and arrow, wheels, and not forgetting, the pocket knife are still in use today, albeit modified for present-day usage. In recent times, several companies have dabbled into the production of pocket knives. They all claim to be the best – ironically, many of them don’t live up to expectation. Hence, choosing the best pocket knives from the various brands is imperative.
By the time you’re done reading this article, you’ll learn the following
- The types of pocket knives.
- Factors to consider when shopping for the best pocket knives.
- Notable brands that make the best pocket knives.
Imagine a scenario where you’re out in the woods. You stumble across a species of plant you’ve not seen before. When you take out your phone to snap a picture, you realize your battery is down. Looking around, you are unable to find any sharp object you could use to cut the plant; finding none, you’re left with two options. You’ve got two options: walk half a mile back to the car to get a knife or forget about the plant.
What if I told you that a pocket knife could have been your savior at that moment? Yes, it would have come in handy at that moment.
There are several types of pocket knives and we’ll briefly look at them.
Types of Pocket Knives
- Fixed Blade Pocket Knife: The fixed blade pocket knife is a type of pocket knife that doesn’t fold. However, it comes with a sheath and holster where it can be kept for safety purposes. When needed, you simply draw out the knife from its sheath and after use, clean it and put it back into its sheath. The knife may be big or small depending on the preference of the holder.
- Jack Knives: Before you say, Jack, a jackknife pocket knife will open, thanks to its single blade technology that allows the knife to fold out of the handle. However, the jackknife pocket knives only have the tension of the hinge to hold it open.
- Locking Knives: Locking knives are another type of pocket knives that often have blades which lock into place upon opening. These opening and closing of the blades on a locking knife are controlled by a spring mechanism which is in turn controlled by a button. The blades of a locking knife can either be serrated, sharp or blunt-nosed.
- Multi Tools Pocket Knives: Many often regard this type of pocket knife as a pocket multi-tools device. This type of pocket knife comes with a number of other functions folded into the handle. At the press of a button, they all snap out into positions. You can simply press the button to snap them back into position or manually snap them back, especially the ones that you do not need for the particular task at hand.
Knowing the types of pocket knives available brings you an inch closer to knowing this…
Factors to consider when shopping for the best pocket knives.
There are a handful of factors you need to consider when you’re shopping for the best pocket knives. One of the very important questions you need to answer is this – how do I intend to use this knife? With that in mind, let’s find out other factors.
1. The size: The size of the knife should be your number one priority after you answer the question above. The smaller, the better. It will fit your pocket and snuggle in much more nicely. If the knife is not small, then you may have to get an external pouch. The weight is of little relevance as most pocket knives weigh only a few grams.
2. The blade: Which do you prefer – a single or a multi-blade knife? Knowing the purpose of buying the knife, you’ll be able to choose either the single blade or the multi-blade knife. The multi-blade knife will come in handy if you do a plethora of other tasks that require using different handy blades and multi-tools. Hunters and fishermen will understand what I mean. A typical example is the Swiss Army knife.
The following are several types of blades a knife has: clip point, tanto point, drop point, spear point, Hawkbill, trailing point, straight back, sheepsfoot, Wharncliffe, needlepoint, pen point, and the spey point.
Additionally, you need to look out for other factors such as
- What is the blade made of? Knife blades are often made from either stainless steel or carbon steel. The stainless steel blades are less durable but are good for use sparingly or in wet conditions. Carbon steel blades are suitable for heavy usage, however, they rust easily and are sometimes prone to strain.
- how it reacts when it’s stressed
- how it should be sharpened
- It’s corrosion resistant capabilities.
3. The length of the blade: Typically, short and medium length blades have a length fewer than 4 inches. You should consider the blade length as it will help you determine the tasks the knife is suited for.
4. The type of edge: Pocket knives come equipped with different edges. The type of edge can influence what it is used for. The three types of knife edges include
- Plain edge – suitable for push cuts
- Fully serrated edge – suitable for cutting rough and hard materials and are mostly thinner than the plain knife edges
- Partially serrated edge – a combo of plain edge and the serrated edge in one knife. Some tasks may be difficult to accomplish with this kind of knife edge. The partially serrated edge is sometimes referred to as the combo edge.
It is important to note that knives with partially serrated and fully serrated edges are hard to sharpen. On the other hand, knives with plain edges are easy to sharpen.
5. The handle: Pocket knife handles are made from several materials including aluminum, celluloid, bone, wood, G10 (a type of fiberglass which is durable), micarta, titanium, zytel, stainless steel, delrin, stag, kraton, and rubber. The handle encases the knife edge/blade when they are not in use.
6. The opening mechanism: If you have to read an operating manual in order to be able to open a pocket knife, discard that knife. The faster you can open your pocket knife, the better for you. The speed with which your knife opens can be the difference between life and death – in situations where the knife is used for self-defense.
The types of opening mechanisms available include;
- Manual Opening: Pocket knives with the manual opening mechanism are opened via a nail pick. The nail pick is the name given to the indentation on the end of the blade which sticks out when the blade is closed into the knife’s handle. Just a flick of your thumb releases the blade and sets it in position.
- Assisted Opening: An internal device is attached directly to the knife. When pressure is applied to the lever which extends outside the handle of the knife, the knife is released. The first knife to sport the assisted opening mechanism was built in 1995 by Blackie Collins.
- Switch Blades or Automatic Opening: As the name implies, they are automatic. At the press of a button, the knife blade is released and ready for use. Pressing the button again to send the blade back into its handle. It is important to research about the knife laws in your area. Certain localities have strict laws concerning the use of knives especially switchblades.
7. The locking mechanism: This refers to the mechanism that keeps the knife open without it snapping back into the handle (and chopping your fingers off in the process… ouch). It is not a very important factor, but a knowledge of it wouldn’t hurt you. The type of locking mechanisms found in many pocket knives include
- Liner lock
- Slip joint
- Lock back/back lock
- Frame lock
- Ring lock
- Lever lock
Notable brands that make the best pocket knives.
Aha! Here’s the concluding part of this article… In this section, you’ll learn about the popular pocket knife brands. If you’ve ever asked the question “which company makes the best pocket knives”, this section is apt for you.
Some of the known names in the pocket knife industry include
- Kershaw – (Since 1974) – Read our Best Kershaw Pocket Knives Review.
- Gerber – (Since 1939) – Read our Best Gerber Pocket Knives Review.
- Case – (Since 1907) – Read our Best Case Pocket Knives Review.
- SOG – (Since 1986) – Read our Best SOG Pocket Knives Review.
- Columbia – (Since 1994). Also called CRKT. – Read our Best Columbia Pocket Knives Review.
- TAC-Force – Read our Best TAC-Force Pocket Knives 2020.
Other notable brands include:
Victorinox, Buck, Schrade, Boker, Spyderco, Cold Steel, Benchmade, Fallkniven, Al Mar Knives, Emerson Knives, Chris Reeve Knives, etc.
With the concise knowledge of pocket knives which you’ve obtained from this best pocket knives buying guide, choosing one out of the many best pocket knives won’t be a problem for you. Choose wisely, and remember to find out information about the knife laws in your locality so you don’t get into any problems.