In the second part of our two-part guide on Outdoor Knives, we will take a closer look at smaller, everyday care (EDC) knives. Again, this guide does not aim to be a comprehensive guide, but rather a general overview of the styles of blades available to you. Throughout the article, we will provide you with links to resources that will provide additional details in selecting the right blade for you.
(From Part 1 of the Guide)
- Before you buy any blade, understand what your primary uses of that blade will be. This will help you determine which features are must-haves and what features are nice to have.
- Fixed blades are stronger and more durable, but often heavier than a folding knife.
- Folding knives are convenient and lightweight but may break with heavy use. They are more likely to fail in heavy use situations. Ideal for lighter, everyday use.
- A full, rat-tail, or stick tang is ideal for a stronger, more durable knife. However, the more tang present in a blade the more weight will be added.
- Serrated blades are better for cutting through fiber and thin metal, but a straight-edge blade will be much easier to sharpen without specialized tools.
- Straight edge blades are a much more versatile blade and can be used for a wider range of tasks.
- When possible, use the appropriate knife for the task at hand. Don’t destroy your survival blade batoning firewood if you have a hatchet or saw available. And don’t use a huge bowie knife for detail-oriented carving.
- Stainless steel will hold up better under damp or wet conditions.
- Carbon steel blades will remain sharper but if not properly cared for can rust and become compromised.
- The length of the blade will be determined by use, but a medium-sized blade, between 6” and 12”, will work for a variety of uses.
One of the first comments you will encounter on any article or blog concerning EDC knives is a suggestion to choose a knife best suited for your everyday needs. While this is 100% accurate it is also a painfully unhelpful comment. The following are some of the most common and most popular blade styles and what tasks they are ideal for and what tasks they are not ideal for.
One of the most common and utilitarian blade styles. The broad back of the spine makes it easy to lay a finger along the spine and provides a better grip for detail work. The long belly edge of the blade is exceptional for slicing and is very durable and stable for this use. The tip of the blade is strong, but not as sharp as many other styles of blades, it is not an ideal blade for piercing however the tip is more durable than the clip point blade.
The clip point is another extremely popular blade style and is quite similar to the drop point except for the blade tip. The point of a clip point is much sharper and better equipped for piercing and precision cuts. While the point is sharper, it is also much finer and can be more fragile.
Dagger or Spear Blade
While these dramatic blades are incredibly attractive, they aren’t exceptionally functional for EDC. They are primarily made for stabbing and slashing and the blade tip, especially for a dagger blade, is quite fragile and prone to breaking. These blades are primarily considered self-defense blades. A spear point has a slightly stronger blade tip and some edge for slicing, but it is still much harder to handle and maneuver than other blade styles.
A tanto style blade is incredibly durable and perfect for heavy-duty use. This blade has an incredibly durable tip and can pierce into hardwood without breaking. Often tanto knives do not have a belly edge and are not ideal for slicing cuts, while this eliminates them as an everyday carry for most people, it can be very useful if you need an incredibly durable blade able to penetrate through tough materials.
The sheepsfoot is a great “safe” blade. The spine rounds down into the cutting edge of the belly of the knife and therefore has no point. While this means that a sheepsfoot blade cannot stab or pierce a material, it makes for a slightly safer blade and eliminates the risk of accidental stabbing. This makes it ideal for use in close quarters. The blade is typically very thick and can handle heavy-duty work.
The wharncliffe blade also has a dramatically rounded spine, but not quite as dramatic as a sheepsfoot blade. The wharncliffe blade does offer a small point for piercing. The belly of the blade is typically perfectly straight. Another sturdy blade that reduces the risk of accidental stabbing.
While we covered serrated blades in Part 1 section about survival knives it is worth reiterating for EDC blades. Serration services a specific purpose. Serration is great for cutting robe, chord, or wood and can act as a small saw. That being said serrated blades need special tools to sharpen and if you are caught without your sharpening tool you may be stuck with a dull blade. A partially serrated blade will also reduce the amount of sharp belly edge you have available for other tasks like chopping or slicing.
Three General EDC Knife Tools
Pocket knives encompass a diverse range of knife tools. Pocket knives are lightweight, no-fuss everyday carry items. We already covered two important features of folding knives in Part 1 of our guide, opening and locking mechanisms.
Before you buy a knife you intend to carry daily, be sure to check all state and local laws regarding knives. In general, foldable pocket knives with blade lengths shorter than 3” to 4” are legal in most states. However, some local municipalities, especially major metropolitan areas, have stricter regulations. If you travel for work, familiarize yourself with the laws in each of the areas you frequent. Be aware that nearly all government agencies and federal buildings will not allow knives of any sort. Don’t risk your knife being confiscated.
Another major consideration will be the price. While the price is a general reflection of the quality of the knife, keep in mind that your EDC blade is meant to be used...every day. Don’t spend so much money on a pocket knife that you are hesitant to use it for fear of damaging it or breaking it. Additionally, if you are new to carrying a blade and unsure of some of your personal preferences, for example, handle material, locking mechanism, or blade style, buy several inexpensive knives with different features to begin to get an idea of your personal preference. Once you have some experience with carrying and using a pocket knife you can begin investing in higher quality knives. Always remember that your blade will eventually get dinged up with use. If you are worried about damaging the blade you are buying, you’ll be less likely to use it and it will not make for a good everyday carry.
In general, the handle should feel comfortable for you. While this is largely about personal preference Knife Planet has taken an in-depth look at several knife features including handle materials, blade grinds, and blade materials. While this is interesting information and a much more detailed look at knife features, it may be overwhelming for a novice knife owner.
Boot knives are the fixed blade cousin of a pocket knife. Often carried at the waist or tucked into a boot they are meant to be easily accessible for the same uses that a typical pocket knife would be. This style of knife is also sometimes referred to as a neck knife and can be worn on a cord around your neck. They are also sometimes referred to as quickdraw knives.
Choosing a boot knife will be in large part the same considerations you would want to make when choosing a pocket knife. Since boot knives are fixed blades you can also choose a blade with a full or partial tang for added strength. Keep in mind that some areas may require a concealed carry permit for fixed blade knives.
While some multi-tools contain knives not all multi-tools will. Multi-tools are specialized devices that offer a wide range of useful gadgets. The most widely known version of a multi-tool is the Swiss Army knife. These devices may contain a variety of blades with different functionalities as well as tools such as bottle openers, tweezers, pliers, scissors, screwdriver, wire cutter, and anything else that can be packed into one device.
Multifunctional tools have become popular additions to packs due to their versatility and overall light carrying weight compared to the amount of functionality they pack, but be mindful that the tool you choose will be useful to you. This can be a great way to keep all your tools organized in one compact place, however, if you choose a cheap or ineffectual device you lose all the benefits that the tool promises.
Choose a Blade for Your Needs
Remember, what works for one person may not work for another. Be mindful of the environment you expect to be in and the tasks you expect to perform and choose the blade that will be the most efficient for that task. What may be the perfect everyday carry for one person may not be functional at all for another person.
If you have any specific questions not addressed in this article or any of the references provided, please reach out to us at info@Prepared4X.com and we will either address your question directly or develop a more specific blog post as needed. We are always looking for feedback on the type of information you find useful and we hope you’ll consider connecting with us on our Facebook and Instagram pages @Prepared4X.