Knives started out as nothing more than a blade and a handle. But nowadays, knives have evolved into a necessary everyday tool. They have also become really complex, with endless features that can make it difficult to decide which one to purchase. Let’s make your choice a little easier.
While fixed blades have their place, this article is going to focus solely on folding knives. I love fixed blades as much as the next person, but unless you’re Jason Statham in “The Expendables,” I highly doubt you really need a fixed blade as your EDC.
There are many features to consider when getting a knife for EDC: blade length, blade shape, finish, edge, handle, steel type, lock type, and opening mechanism. That is a lot to think about, but remember that the knife could be your first line of defense or go-to tool. All of these features can make or break your EDC blade. We will focus on length, shape, finish, handle, and opening mechanism.
This is by far the feature you’ll spend the least amount of time on. Most knives feature a two- to five-inch-long blade. A longer blade will give you more reach, while a shorter one will give you more control. While you consider which one you prefer, remember to check your local laws. Many cities are now limiting the length of a blade you can carry on your person. Plus, it’s just unnecessary to carry a Bowie around. You’re not Rambo.
There are six common blade shapes: spear point, drop point, clip point, Wharncliffe, trailing point, and tanto.
- 1. The spear point is nothing more than a blade whose spine and edge are symmetrical. A good example is a Swiss Army knife. Spear points are good if you’re doing a lot of thrusting, as the point is in the middle of the blade, making for an extremely strong tip.
- 2. The drop point is probably what you’re used to seeing and what you think of when you hear “pocket knife.” In this design, the spine slowly descends towards the tip, either in a flat or slightly curved path. This allows the spine—the thickest part of the blade—to run almost all the way to the tip. These are very versatile blades.
- 3. Clip point blades are pretty self-explanatory, because they look like a portion of the blade was cut off, usually a crescent at the tip. Clip points tend to be great piercing blades as they are usually thinner near the tip.
- 4. Wharncliffe blades are distinct in that they are the only one on this list with a perfectly straight edge. The spine on a Wharncliffe gradually rounds until it meets the edge.
- 5. A trailing point blade is common among hunters, fishermen, cooks, and butchers. Their upward curved edge makes them perfect for sweeping cuts. They are basically an upside down Wharncliffe.
- 6. The tanto blade has a spine that is maintained all the way to the tip. It is a Japanese design commonly employed as the tips of Katanas. The tanto is similar to the clip point in that it appears as if someone cut the end of the blade off. But the tanto’s cut comes out of the edge, not the spine, at a nearly 45-degree angle. This creates two edges that have to be individually sharpened. The tanto blade is the strongest on this list.
The finish of your blade is mostly a personal preference, but it does add some level of protection to the blade after it is heat treated. The most common finishes are stonewash, diamond-like carbon, blackwash, protective paint, and etching.
- Stonewash comes from tumbling the unsharpened blades in some sort of abrasive material to make it look used.
- Diamond-like carbon is a nanocomposite coating that has natural diamond low friction, high hardness, and high corrosion resistance.
- Blackwash may sound like it is similar to stonewash, but while they appear relatively similar, the process is totally different. Blackwash is created by rinsing blades in a water/colorant mixture that allows black to collect in the natural recesses on the blade.
- Protective paint protects the blade from corrosion and scratches, just like the name suggests. Keep in mind that it wears away with use.
- Last, but not least, is by far the coolest of the bunch, and that is etching. Etching is created when the bladesmith dips a blade in a weak acid mix for extended periods of time, allowing it to corrode, which creates those cool waves.
Knife handles have been made of everything from concrete and wood, to metal and even plastic. For everyday carry, you should consider FRN (fiberglass reinforced nylon), Zytel, metal, carbon fiber, G10, and Micarta.
FRN, which is known as fiberglass reinforced nylon, will give a rugged and sturdy handle with little appeal. Zytel is a very common, inexpensive, and durable material used in knife handles. A thermoplastic, Zytel is heated until it becomes liquid and is poured into a mold. Metal handles usually come in the way of stainless steel or titanium. These handles are usually more expensive and look nice, but don’t offer much advantage.
Likewise, carbon fiber is visually appealing but doesn’t offer much advantage. G10 is layered fiberglass with epoxy bond, and Micarta is layered and lined with a resin bond. G10 is the stronger of the two and is the go-to choice for handle material in the EDC knife community.
The opening mechanism is probably the second-most important consideration when choosing a knife. If you use yours for defense, how you open your knife could determine if you live or die. Okay, maybe that is extreme, but it could prevent you from being seriously injured when you need to defend yourself.
Flippers open by pushing on an unsharpened part of the blade that sticks out of the back. The flipper tab also becomes a finger guard. This type comes assisted or completely manual. Pocket-openers do just what it sounds like: they open on your pocket. One of the most common mechanisms is the thumb stud. Thumb studs allow you to flick your knife open with your thumb. Similarly to the thumb stud, the thumb disc also allows you to flick the knife open with your thumb. The disc is usually bolted to the spine of the blade and sometimes comes with “waves” to give you a secondary opening option. The classic nail nick is nothing more than a “cut” in the blade that allows your nail to catch and flick the knife open.
These are the most important features to consider when deciding on an EDC knife. You can find a plethora of “top EDC knife” lists online, so you can see what others are carrying, too.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.