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Unsheathing the Perfect Pick: Your Guide to Choosing the Best Pocket Knife

Choosing a pocket knife, sounds easy? Yeah, right.

Written by Bentley Sparks

(Photo/Marine X)

We have all heard the saying, “the best knife is the one you have with you” but what knife should you have with you? It all stems from what you are going to use it for. But again, how do you know what knife is right for you? Do you want a convex grind or a flat grind? A tanto or clip point? G10 scales or micarta? For a new knife user these questions can be overwhelming but I am here to give you what I feel are the 5 most important questions to ask when purchasing your EDC knife.

(Photo/Marine X)

When buying your EDC knife, probably the most important question is what will you use it for? You don’t want a knife designed for skinning game if your knife will never see a deer carcass. If you work in an office environment or somewhere not permissive you don’t want a tacticool knife that screams “Don’t mess with me, I have a knife”. Remember a knife is a tool that can be used as a weapon, not a weapon that can be used as a tool. Find the knife that suits your purpose. Think of certain use cases such as:

  • Fishing

  • Hunting

  • Opening Packages and Mail

  • Quick fixes (loose thread, cut a piece of fruit, sharpen a pencil)

  • Minor repairs (removing splinter to fixing a broken zipper)

  • Clearing Brush

  • Cutting Cordage

  • Fire Starting

2. What is your budget

(Photo/Marine X)

One of the most common questions when deciding to buy anything is how much will it cost? Knives are, in my own opinion, vary the most in prices. You can find a good knife for $10 or you can find a good knife for $5,000. Now obviously not many people want to carry a knife that cost $5,000 but it just shows that it doesn’t matter your budget. You can find a good knife anywhere for any price. A good starting point is two hours of your pay. So if you make $30 an hour, a good starter knife should cost you no more than $60. Here are some other tips:

  • Budget (Under $50) - This range offers basic, no-fluff knives. Typically with stainless steel scales and basic blade steel, from lesser-known brands. You may also encounter plastic handles and a lack of features like high-end locking mechanisms. Budget knives may be great for light-duty tasks around the house.

  • Mid-range ($50 - $100) - This is probably the most often purchased category of knives for most users. Here you will discover knives from reputable brands with better quality materials like higher-grade stainless steel and gripper scales or handles such as G-10. This is also were more features such as ambidextrous opening mechanisms.

  • High-end ($100 - $300+) - Boasting top-of-the-line materials like exotic blade steels, great edge retention and resilience, premium pocket knives have certain fit and finish. These knives are often built with materials like titanium, carbon fiber or stabilized wood scales. For some they are collector's items.

3. Does the Knife Bring You Joy?

(Photo/Marine X)

The most important question of all when picking your EDC knife... is it something that you like or brings you joy? We get so caught up in judging by brand, price, shape, look, or any other factor that we forget the true point. We buy knives because we use them and like having them. If your knife of choice is a pink donut knife or a gigantic sharpened pry bar then that is your knife. Don't worry about what other people will think of it because in the end the only opinion that matters is yours. If you choose to research different factors to help decide then you can but if you just want to flip a coin and buy a cheap gas station knife to cut boxes then go for it.

4. Quality has no Geographical Boundary

What does quality mean to you? Should you follow a standard? You wouldn’t want to buy a car, even a cheap one, if it won’t last 3 months. Why treat your knife any differently? A knife like any other purchase is an investment, it’s not like a bag of chips that you buy that you’ll eat in 20 minutes whether they are stale or not. Like I previously said, quality can come from multiple love ranges, the biggest thing is to do your research on the knives you are considering getting, is the steel good? Are the reviews good? Does it come sharp? All of these questions are important to ask but if you want a cheap one and done knife, just visit a gas station.

5. Should you Trust the Manufacturer?

Now this one is not necessarily a super important question but is one I feel that people should consider. With the recent rumblings between Benchmade and MKC, you start thinking, is the company I’m loyal to worth it? The best example I can give is a question. Would you support a brand if they had a history of being jerks to everyone? Would you support a company known for pointless lawsuits, picking fights or bending their knee to the world. Now all of these questions can be ignored, no you don’t have to pay attention to price, or brand, or quality, or any of it. You can go find a knife on the side of the road for all I care. I’m just giving guidelines to help you find the right knife for you.

That's my take....

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