Knives and Tools: Which Do You Prefer?

I’ve always been interested in knives, and I’ve carried a pretty large selection over the years. As a teenager I got caught up in the Rambo craze and saved my pocket money for a “survival” knife, complete with hollow handle (which was held on with an unlocked nut, and didn’t take long to fall off). I’ve had a wide assortment of pocket knives, ranging from simple Opinel lock blades to Swiss Army knives. I’ve lost quite a few, broken quite a few more and discarded most of the rest as useless. But I still carry a knife with me a lot of the time, and while people’s first reaction on finding out is usually “Why do you carry a weapon?” their second is inevitably “Hey, can I borrow your knife for a minute?”

KnifeObviously that makes perfect sense – knives are useful. Along with some way of starting a fire, a knife is one of the two most important survival tools you can ever carry. With a knife you can defend yourself, cut materials to make shelter, fire and other tools, prepare food and generally keep yourself alive.

When you’re on duty, however, my personal opinion is that you need two knives – one on your belt or gear, one in your pocket. There are a couple of reasons for that. The size of what you can carry in your pocket is limited, but you’re pretty much guaranteed to always have it with you. A belt knife is more likely to be lost or separated from you but can be larger and sturdier.

Let’s look at the pocket knife first. After lots of experimenting, I finally decided that a good multi-tool is the best option. Sharpen the main knife blade to a surgical edge and you have a cutting tool plus a bunch of other useful attachments. I currently have a Leatherman Super Tool, but I’m tempted by the Wave. The Super has loads of handy gadgets though. Straight and serrated knives, a saw, pliers, file and multiple screwdrivers mean you can make or repair just about anything with it. It’s a bit heavy, but I think it’s worth it for all the capability it packs in. I honestly don’t see the sense in carrying a conventional pocket knife when a good tool has so many more uses.

As for belt knives, my advice is keep it simple. I currently have two – a classic Kabar USMC combat knife and a khukuri. The Kabar doesn’t need any introduction; it’s a strong but simple knife with a good-sized blade that holds a good edge. On the other hand, if you’re already issued with a decent bayonet, the Kabar doesn’t bring much else to the party, which is why I find myself more and more attracted to the khukuri. The traditional tool and weapon of the feared Ghurkas, this is a much heavier-duty item. Mine is the “Operation Iraqi Freedom” model from KHHI in Kathmandu; it has an eleven-inch blade based on the WWII issue version but with some modern features added, like a blood groove and hollow-ground edge, and comes with a light wood handle and sand-coloured sheath. KHHI is the official supplier to the British Army, so their knives are solidly made even if they sometimes look a bit agricultural, but there are some modern western interpretations of the design as well. If you’re looking for a heavy knife that can double as a machete these take some beating – the curved blade, with most of the weight well forward, gives them amazing cutting power.

Knives are a very personal thing and we all have our own preferences, but you should never go on duty without some sort of cutting tool, and I really recommend having two. What pair of blades suits you best?

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.

Fergus Mason

Fergus Mason grew up in the west of Scotland. After attending university he spent 14 years in the British Army and served in Bosnia, Northern Ireland, Kosovo and Iraq. Afterwards, he went to Afghanistan as a contractor, where he worked in Kabul, Mazar-e-Sharif and Camp Leatherneck. He now writes on a variety of topics including current affairs and military matters.
Fergus Mason

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6 thoughts on “Knives and Tools: Which Do You Prefer?

  1. gerber defacto…love this knife!!! V30 steel, best rubberized grip I’ve ever used on any tool, smooth and serrated on both sides, and molle mountable on a single shoulder strap. I have an HSGI pack I put it on upside down for easier grabbing on the left shoulder strap while my right carries the leatherman

  2. In uniform pocket – a Benchmade Assisted Opening – The small one/serrated blade
    On the duty belt – a WAVE
    On tactical body armor – a Cold Steel Tanto – Very strong blade

    Everyday casual – Kershaw all stainless steel – lost one and immediately replaced

    I agree a knife choice is personal but utility influences the choice.

  3. The only pocket knife I will ever buy and carry again is the Cold Steel Recon 1, Tanto blade. I prefer the one that’s serrated on the back half. It is big for a pocket knife and I love that. It’s almost like a combat/tactical knife that fits in your pocket. The tanto blade is incredibly useful for slicing tape or plastic off of a package. The handle has incredible grip. The locking mechanism is so sturdy and takes so much pressure to close, that my thumb got sore closing it until it got broke in. Plus, the clip is on the correct side so that when you pull off you pocket and flip it open, the blade is facing down. That’s my preference. Just an awesome pocket knife. And you can get it on amazon for half the price of the Cold Steel website. Bonus 🙂
    As for tactical, I have several. But my favorite is, again, Cold Steel. The Recon Scout. It’s a bigger and a little heavier than most tactical knives and I like that. The grip is awesome and it comes with a plastic sheath which I think is a little better than leather because it allows for a smoother draw and insertion. Would welcome any other opinions.

  4. I prefer pocket folders for EDC, but I don’t stray too far from fixed.

    I alternate the CRKT m21-14 and a SOG trident. The CRKT locks solid and feels comfortable gloved or ungloved and holds an edge well. If I’m carrying nothing else I have my CRKT in my back pocket. I use the trident in uniform usually in my ankle pocket, it’s much lighter when I’m surrounded by more gear, I’m not terribly impressed by the belt cutter though.

    Bailout bag or vest will have NAR shears, the swiss multi tool (I haven’t been able to destroy it yet) and a small stout fixed blade, currently a CRKT ER knife blunt tip with a cord handle.

    >36hr bag has a Gerber LSIK II and a Gerber Gator I’ve used the combination several times in the winter up in Alaska making improvised shelters and splitting firewood in multiday training scenarios

  5. Good info and agree 100%!! I spent 8 yrs in the Infantry. =]

    But my question is wth are these pocket knives with the belt clip on them upside down? I dont need a spring assist knife as i can open just about any knife with a thumb stud easily as fast or faster but the belt clip is upside down on most knives requiring you to flip the knife over first before you can open it!! WTH? and why? I even got in a argument with a young lady at a surplus store about it being upside down!! =]

    de WW5RM

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