Where I grew up it was pretty normal for a boy or man to carry a knife of some type. Most of us carried a pocket knife. Usually a pocket knife will be of smaller to modest sized, and have two or three blades on it. Usually even with a pocket knife often we will still carry a sheath knife, (often, but not always a fixed blade) as well.
Tool or weapon
The pocket knife is typically used for cutting string (fishing line etc.), whittling anything from a toothpick to a walking stick, and for cleaning under our finger nails. The sheath knife is used for “other things”.
If we happen to be hunting then the sheath knife can be used to field dress our game. But if we are just out and about in the world going about our everyday business and we are wearing a sheath knife, well then that knife can be intended for use as a self defense tool.
Most of the time if we wear a sheath knife it is a fixed blade, but I like my Buck 110 folding hunter too. Man, that thing is sharp. I wear knives like outfit accessories, sometimes a bone handled knife, sometimes antler, sometimes just wood, but they really are intended to be used as a weapon if they need to be.
Know your state laws
In my state there really aren’t any laws prohibiting the carry of any type of knife, except for a push button switch blade. But even those are legal to carry as long as you have your CCDW, because those cover ALL concealed deadly weapons.
But a lot of people want to carry a knife sort of private like. They want a knife, but they don’t necessarily want anyone to know they have it. Well, that’s what pocket knives are for. But what are the best pocket knives for your every day carry?
I would say that depends on the day. It depends on whether you are just going to work and won’t have much exposure to the public, whether you are taking a stroll down a city sidewalk, or if you are taking a day or weekend hike. It also depends on the laws. In some states a serrated blade is frowned upon, in others any assisted open knives are illegal, which means the thumb tab openers too.
Victorinox Swiss army knife
I would have to say that by far, the best all-around pocket knife for every day carry, regardless of where you are going, is the Victorinox Swiss army knife.
The Victorinox Swiss army knife comes in many variants. The most common color, the one we all recognize, is the red ones. I have two, one of the larger sizes that has a good dozen functions, then I have a smaller one on my keychain that only has six functions.
They both have two blades, can opener, bottle opener, then two sizes of flathead screw driver on them. But then the bigger one also has scissors, a saw blade, a toothpick and tweezers, corkscrew, another thing I think is an awl of some sorts.
Of course having the bigger one for 32 years, the toothpick and tweezers are long gone and I broke the saw blade cutting 1×6 boards to make something when I was about 20 years old. Otherwise it’s still in good shape considering its age and the hell I’ve put it through over the years. They are definitely high quality knives.
All in all they are both pretty useful, and they carry in your pocket quite well. The blades on them are amazingly sharp. When I say they are razor sharp, I mean they are literally shave your face razor sharp.
With all the versions that are offered by Victorinox, I would say that there is one to suit everyone. They even have different color/styles of handles now if you don’t like red, they also have larger, more “modern” style knives now too. Regardless of the style or color you will always know it’s a Victorinox by their logo that is the cross in the shield on the handle.
Ordinary pocket knives
If you aren’t into the fancy styling of the Swiss army knife maybe you would just rather carry a traditional pocket knife. I keep a small, single blade, lock blade knife in my pocket literally every day.
I use it for all of my general, small cutting needs. Opening a box or cutting a piece of string, etc. I often wear a knife on my belt but it usually never sees daylight unless it’s just easier to get to than my pocket knife, or if I’m sharpening it.
That’s another thing, I always sharpen my knives regularly. I try to keep them all so that they will shave the hair off my arm. My left forearm always has a big bare spot on it from testing the edges on a knife after sharpening it. At the most it will have some stubble.
That’s the first test for a sharp knife for me, will it shave the hair off my arm, the next test is the paper test. If you read my “Make a knife” article there was a quick video with it that showed me slicing a sheet of printer paper. For me to consider a knife sharp it has to easily slice right through a sheet of paper. If it just rips or tears then it isn’t sharp.
Multi-blade pocket knives
I used to carry a small pocket knife that had three blades. I have some that are 40 years old. In this picture of pocket knives the yellow Frontier was in my Easter basket when I was 10 years old. So it is 40 years old. I have a few that are older, but I was young and tore them up. I was ten before I learned to respect and properly care for a knife and that’s when I got the little yellow one.
The three Schrade Old Timers in the picture are all 25-30 years old. Every one of them has had their turn being carried in my front pocket for so long I couldn’t even count the days. They have all been fishing, hiking, and camping with me as well as simply being my EDC pocket knife.
I always liked multiple bladed pocket knives. I like it because by having multiple blades in your pocket knife you can keep the biggest blade unused. That way it is always super sharp in case you need it for a last ditch self defense weapon. It doesn’t take a very big blade to do major damage to someone as long as the blade is super sharp.
Tactical style pocket knives
If you are more into the tactical style pocket knife you might have one that has the quick flip thumb thing that lets you flick it open almost as fast as a switchblade. Some of them have the little clip on them so they clip to the rim (?) of your pocket that way it is right there at the ready.
Heres a guy showing the flick open thing.
A lot of those tactical style knives have serrated blades. The theory behind that is the serrated blade is supposed to be for sawing through a seat belt or something similar. But I know that if your blade is sharp you don’t have to saw through anything. You just slice right through it.
Other styles of tactical blades have a hooked blade. This type of blade is referred to as a karambit blade. These are supposed to be useful for close combat situations. The curve is supposed to make deeper slashing cuts, and be able to make slashing cuts through clothing. Although I don’t carry a fancy curved bladed knife, I am confident that the knives I carry would eviscerate someone if that’s what I chose to do with them.
Here is a video explaining karambit blades.
But really, let’s be real for a minute. All of these fancy super human tactics with knives are unrealistic for the average person. If you plan to use a knife for self defense you have to train, train , train, with a knife. Likewise, you have to train with a firearm or with your hands if you plan to use either of those for self defense. As I always say, a weapon is an extension of the person wielding it. If the person doesn’t know what to do, then the weapon doesn’t know what to do either.
Well, I’m not paid by any knife company to recommend their products, but there are a few brands I like over others. Buck, of course, makes awesome knives. The blade steel is excellent steel that takes and holds a great edge. I only own two or three Buck knives, the 110 folding hunter is a favorite.
It can technically be carried in your pocket, but it is rather large so is better to carry it in its pouch. I’ve had two of those; a friend broke the tip off the first one way back when I was a teenager, the second one, which I still have is about 30 years old. Then I have a Buck 119B, that’s a fixed blade hunter. Very good knife, but it’s not a pocket knife, and it wasn’t cheap either.
You can buy the same knife with a black plastic handle for $50, but this particular one has a wooden handle so they charged $140 for it. Go figure. If I paid for it I would have gotten the black handled one because it’s the same blade for less money and it’s black. I like black. But it was a generous gift that I accepted.
Schrade has always been another favorite of mine. They used to make great knives, but now they are made in China so I would think the newer ones aren’t as good as the old made in the USA like the ones I have in the picture. But they are probably still pretty good. I gave my son a Schrade fixed blade about 5 or 6 years ago and it seemed like a well made knife still. But that’s when I discovered they say “made in China” on them now.
Smith and Wesson makes a good knife too. The make small pocket knives, tactical folders, and fixed blade knives. They all seem to be of good quality. I think they are probably made in China too though. Really, there are just so many knife brands, and let’s face it, most of them are made in China now. The ones that aren’t made in China, Swiss army knives, and Germany makes great brands like Boker.
Winchester even have their own brand of knives. Of course they are made in China too. I have a couple of gift sets that I got for Christmas gifts, they seem well made and are plenty sharp, but I’ve never really carried them.
Expensive tactical knives
Once you start getting into the “tactical” style knives you can start spending hundreds of dollars like on a Benchmade knife. But those are way out of my price range and really, are they worth it? I know that if I had a $400 Benchmade knife and lost it I would be very sad compared to if I had a $40 Gerber and lost it. I’d wager the Gerber cut just as good as the Benchmade too.
But I don’t know, some guys just have to buy the most expensive thing there is. That’s why there are Kimber pistols and Benchmade knives. Sure, they are quality, but you can get quality without spending a fortune. And like I said, if you lose or break a high dollar item it will just break your heart.
I have about 50 knives, both folding and fixed. I have a small collection of several switchblades too. None of them are really high dollar blades, but they are all decent knives. But for the average guy, and for the average use, with the most versatility, for a pocket knife for EDC, I still say the Swiss army knife is the best option.
But any knife that you can afford that will take an edge and is sharp is a good knife to carry. “A” knife is better than “no” knife.