Yesterday I wrote an article on the best pocket knives for EDC. The difference between calling a knife either a pocket knife or a folding knife (since they both fold), is that just because a knife folds doesn’t mean it has to be confined to your pocket. But that doesn’t mean it can’t go in your pocket either. There’s kind of a crossover here.
Pocket or belt
One could say that all pocket knives fold, but not all folding knives are meant for the pocket. Take this folding knife for example; there isn’t much chance of it fitting in your pocket. I know, it’s entirely impractical, but I just loved it. I call it my pocket sword. It’s cheap, and serves no real purpose. But it’s fun and it’s actually a giant razor.
A small folding knife is pretty much always carried in your pocket, thus the term pocket knife. A large folding knife can be carried in the pocket, if it will fit of course, but it is better carried on the belt in a knife pouch. I say pouch because I consider a sheath is for a fixed blade knife, a folder goes in a pouch.
Speaking of pouches, one thing I will do sometimes is carry a large folding knife in a dual magazine pouch along with my spare magazine for my .45. That way it keeps everything nice and neat on my belt and they are both easily accessible. The folding knife that goes in the pouch is either my Buck 110, or the Solingen Germany Blackpaws knife. That is the same size as the Buck, but is an antique and has a bone handle. There is a picture of it later in this article.
I like to carry like this and I do so about 25% of the time. I have several fixed blade knives that I wear on my belt in a sheath, but then I have to wear a single magazine pouch to carry my spare magazine. Regardless of which way I carry any of those items I still have my little horizontal behind the back Stag horn (whitetail deer antler) handle Gerber bladed knife I made on my belt 99% of the time.
This knife started life as a Gerber folder with a pocket clip on it, but I broke the lock on it. It sat in the drawer broken for a couple of years until one day I was bored. So I took the blade off, welded a tang on it, then made this neat little hidden tang antler handled knife out of it.
The brass dot on the blade is where it had a thumb button on it for flicking it open. I took it off and figured a brass dot would fill the hole and dress it up, so I hammered a brass pin in the hole. The blade (and handle), were both gun metal grey, so I polished that off and polished the blade to make it slick and shiny. But you can still see where it says Gerber on the blade since they did that with a laser.
Back on track
But we’re supposed to be talking about folding knives so I better get back on track. Although technically I was talking about a folding knife, I was just describing what you can do with a folding knife if you should happen to break it.
What folding knife you carry depends on what its intended use will be. Take these Barlow knives for example; the black, kind of rusty one has been in my fishing tackle box for a good 35 years. It was shiny when I put it in there, and was probably already 25 or 30 years old when I got it from my grandfather.
The cleaner looking one next to it is probably close to the same age, but it was never really used, so it’s still practically brand new. These Barlow knives were pretty commonly found in a country boys pocket for decades. It’s a folding knife, but it’s a medium sized folder so it will still carry well in a pocket.
But the blades on it are nice and thick, heavy duty blades. These are excellent for whittling as well as utility use. I have seen many an electrician with a Barlow knife in his work bag. I have also seen many a fisherman with a Barlow in his tackle box.
Then there are folding knives like this Buck. It looks a lot like the Schrade Old Timers in the pocket knife article, but it is a bit larger. A folding knife like this is considered a “gentleman’s knife”, It isn’t huge, but it isn’t tiny either. The blades are very sharp, and it can be used for anything from cutting string or paper, to cutting a package open.
It can also be used for cutting up a bad guy trying to do you harm with the larger blade. It’s about 2 1/2” long. That’s big enough to do some damage if you put it to cutting on someone with intent and determination.
Another multi-blade folder I have is this hunting knife here that has a blade the size and shape of the blades on the Buck 110 and the Blackpaws. But it also has a gut hook and a saw blade on it. It’s a fairly heavy knife, a little much for the pocket. But it carries quite well in a belt pouch or to just have it in your hunting pack.
It does its job quite well too. The knife is intended for field dressing wild game, and that’s what it does. But you could also use it as a survival knife since it has a decent sized, good, solid blade and it has a saw. The saw blade on it is intended for bone but it also makes short work of a tree branch as well.
Emergency kit knives
I keep a small emergency kit in every car we have. It has the basics of what would be in a kit like that. Of course one of the items in each kit is a small, folding knife. They aren’t very big, maybe a two inch blade. But they are very sharp, some are serrated, some are not.
But they are intended to serve any function needed in an emergency that would require the emergency kit to come into use. So far they have just been sitting there in the emergency kit in the pouch on the back of the seat. But should you be in the car and have need for a knife, there is one in there.
Switch blades and straight razors
Switchblades are illegal in many states/countries. Not mine. I have several switchblades. I am including them in this article because technically they are folding knives too. They don’t really serve a practical use, I just like them.
Whenever you think of a switchblade knife your thoughts likely turn to the 1050’s greaser, hoodlums, gangsters, and bikers. But that doesn’t have to be the case. I appreciate them for their mechanics. There is just a certain feeling of satisfaction when that blade pops out and CLICK, locks into place.
I suppose there are a couple of them in there that could be carried for self defense, and I have carried a few of them in my pocket before. But really they are impractical. If you have it in your pocket it has to be locked or it might pop open and stab your goody bag. Then, if it’s locked, it’s too much trouble to get it out, unlock it, and then push the button.
Switchblades remind me of another folding bladed weapon that is generally frowned upon by authorities but some people like to carry them for self defense. Straight razors. A straight razor is a folding knife in the sense that it has a blade, and it folds.
Besides that it really only serves two purposes, shaving, or cutting the s##t out of someone. They are generally considered a deadly weapon if you are carrying one, so you better make sure to have your permit if you decide to go this route. Straight razors, of course, do not stab, but they are vicious slashing weapons and make terrible wounds when used properly.
If you aren’t careful you can cut yourself with one because the blades don’t lock open, they just have the little tail that you have to have your finger on to keep it open. Like the switchblade, most people think about greasers and gangsters when they think about someone carrying a straight razor.
So, all in all, no, I’d say switchblades and straight razors don’t really serve much of a purpose other than an oddity, a curiosity for collecting and looking at, and playing with.
Then there are the knives that are called folding hunters. That includes knives like the Buck 110 and Solingen Blackpaws knives I have. These knives are typically single blade, fairly large sized. They are really too big for the pocket, but you could carry them like that. I prefer them on my belt in a pouch.
Tactical folders I saved for last. I don’t really own any tactical style folding knives, even though they are perfectly legal in my state. However, in some states they are terribly frowned upon so you really should read up on the knife laws in your state before buying and carrying a tactical styled knife.
A tactical knife often has a serrated blade, an option often mention in the laws as being intended solely to cause extreme or maximum damage. So of course that feature is frowned upon.
Ordinary pocket or hunting knife
For example, in my state you can carry a large knife like a Buck 110 in your pocket and that’s legal. This is because it is considered an “ordinary pocket or hunting knife”. [KRS500.080 line 4 subset (c)]
However, a knife like a karambit, or a tactical styled knife with a serrated edge carried in your pocket can be considered a concealed deadly weapon simply because it is not considered an “ordinary pocket or hunting knife”. So if you don’t have your CCDW and get caught with such a knife you can go to jail for it.
Of course that problem is easily alleviated by obtaining your CCDW, OR by carrying that type of knife on your belt in plain sight. Allow me to explain. In Kentucky, we have an open carry law that allows us to carry a firearm or other deadly weapon, with NO SPECIAL PERMITS, as long as it is in plain sight.
However, if you wish to carry that same weapon concealed, out of plain sight, then you must have your CCDW (Concealed Carry Deadly Weapon) permit. Now, I know as well as you do that this is just silly. The difference between legal and committing a crime is whether or not your gun or tactical knife SHOWS or not with or without a CCDW.
I can carry a massive 12” bowie knife all day long anywhere, in plain sight, or covered, unless signage on a private building (AKA a store) specifies no weapons/guns/knives. Also, weapons aren’t allowed INSIDE schools, but a person can carry a legal knife on school property freely, and a CCDW licensed person may even possess a firearm on school property, but not inside the school. See how confusing all this can be?
Another thing about the law that I don’t like is that phrase “ordinary pocket or hunting knife”. That leaves a wide margin of error on what exactly IS an “ordinary pocket or hunting knife”. Obviously the giant folding knife at the beginning of the article is not an “ordinary pocket knife”. But could it not be considered a hunting knife? But if so, is it an “ordinary” hunting knife?
Looks at this knife, it is a Kabar dagger, often referred to as a boot knife because it will be stuck down in your boot. What makes it so different or more deadly than that Buck 110 that I can carry freely, concealed or not? A judge could absolutely say that it isn’t an “ordinary hunting knife”, but why isn’t it?
I can carry that dagger just as easily as any other knife and do the same things with it as an “ordinary hunting knife”, but it has two edges and so will do more work before it needs sharpened. However if I carry it under my shirt, and I don’t have a CCDW, then it is a concealed deadly weapon and a crime.
What it comes down to is the best folding knife is the best knife that you can afford, that is LEGAL for you to carry and will perform all of the tasks that you need it to perform.
Whether you pay $20 for it or $500 for it, as long as YOU like it, and it suits your needs, then that is the best knife. Personally, for a folding knife that is NOT a pocket knife, I like the Buck 110 and the Blackpaws style of knife.
They are sturdy, pretty much legal everywhere, they can take a very sharp edge and hold it and they don’t cost a fortune. I think the Buck 110 only costs about $40. The Blackpaws is a “vintage” knife and costs more. I saw a couple on online auction sites for $65-90, plus shipping.
However, if you are more into the tactical style knives, and they are legal in your area (or you don’t care), then there are numerous options for you. But what it really comes down to in your time of need, the best folding knife is the one you have when you need it.
Here is a guy with a nice collection of switchblades:
Here is a guy with a nice collection of SOG tactical knives: