EDC

EDC Pocket Knives :: Introduction (1 of 2)

by , October 3, 2013

EDC Pocket Knives Intro 1

Introduction to EDC pocket knives

An everyday carry pocket knife is a tool, not a weapon. Repeat that last sentence to yourself ten times. In fact, a knife (or cutting blade) is the first ever tool made by humans, evidenced by stone versions that are over 2.5 million years old. We had a need back then. Still do today. However, things have changed a bit since that time. Today’s society immediately connects the idea of a knife with a threatening weapon rather than a tool.

For us at Carryology, this isn’t how we define an EDC pocket knife. They should be used like a key, a pen, or a cellphone. Well, not literally. You’re not going to make a long-distance call on your Swiss Army Knife. The purpose is to effectively perform everyday tasks in which a sharp blade is necessary; opening packages or envelopes, cutting strings or tags, and other small chores. There are endless possibilities and they will become apparent once you have convenient access to one. If your job or lifestyle requires you to need a sharp blade more than 10 times a day, you should upgrade to a work knife or multitool, not an EDC pocket knife.  Here is a fun blog dedicated to the uses of a pocket knife.  Just try not to go overboard…like the old saying goes “if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail”.

Choosing the right one for you can be difficult.  So to help narrow down your selection process, let’s take a look at the major different features out there (yes, there are probably hundreds more, but we’re a carry blog…not a knife blog).

EDC Pocket Knives Intro 2

Blade length

For an EDC pocket knife, you generally only need a 3″-ish blade. Sometimes a bit shorter, sometimes a bit longer. Any longer and you’re in a different category of knife, any shorter and the knife is more or less useless. Again, let’s focus on small chores and tasks – not sawing down a tree. Take into consideration that there are also some legal issues with longer blades. Some US states allow up to a 5.5″ open blade, others only allow a 3″ maximum length, some less. Look up your state laws on knife carry before making a purchase or carrying yours in public. Otherwise, you may need to apply for a concealed carry permit, which isn’t what we’re after here.

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Size

The exterior dimensions of the knife when it is in the closed position.  We think slimmer is better, especially for pocket carry. But too small and it will get lost in your palm, making it unusable as a tool. The goal is to find a balance that fits your pockets and your hand. Have a ruler handy if you’re looking to pick up a knife online, as the product photos can sometimes be a bit misleading for accurate scale.

EDC Pocket Knives Intro 3

Weight

Ideally an everyday carry pocket knife should be lightweight. The difference between a few ounces doesn’t seem like much on paper, but just wait until you’re carrying it in your pocket for 12+ hours daily. It adds up.

Keep in mind, lighter doesn’t always mean better. Aluminium saves weight, but steel is stronger. Titanium is very strong and lightweight, but costs a bit extra. Compare weights of different models and then research the construction or reviews to make sure it can stand up to some daily abuse.

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Carry method

Yes, carrying your EDC knife in a pouch on your belt is possible, but we’re not really into that look. Your knife should be kept away, but still readily available.  You don’t need to wear it around your neck, advertising it to everyone. If you need a belt pouch for your work knife and job, more power to you. But we’re focusing on an “office type scenario” and business casual, belt-holstered pouches don’t mix. We like pocket clips as well as in-pocket carry options. Depending on the size/colour/finish of the pocket clip, your knife carry still may be pretty visible, but not necessarily sticking out like a sore thumb. Some are more discreet than others, while others leave a considerable amount of the knife visible. With a pocket clip, you can quickly and easily access the knife to perform a small task. In-pocket carry is great for stealthily carrying in a public setting, except you may have to dig around in your pockets for it. The best way to resolve that issue is to carry less in your pockets. Switching between the two carry methods is a great balance, depending on the setting. Find what works best for you. 

EDC Pocket Knives Intro 4

Blade material

99 times out of 100, you’re going to find steel is best for an everyday carry blade. Titanium sure would be nice for its strength to weight ratio, but it doesn’t keep an edge like steel does. There are a wide array of steels to choose from out there, all slightly varying from one another depending on the element content. Each type of steel has its own benefits and downfalls including corrosion resistance, strength, edge retention, cost, and more. For example, while 30+ layer Damascus steel is great-looking and highly desirable for pocket blades, it is very expensive due to its complex manufacturing. There is no right or wrong steel, but there are some which are certainly better than others. Here is a comprehensive guide on knife steel types for you to get lost in (we warned you). Here is a more basic guide for those who just want to skim the surface.

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Handle material

Strength, durability, grip and aesthetics are all part of the decision process for this one.  Handles (or “scales” as they’re referred to) range from G10 synthetic grips, rare and exotic rainforest hardwoods, brass, titanium, even animal bone, among countless others.  Shown above; wood/brass, G10, animal bone, titanium, respectively. The choice is up to you. We’ve found the knives with organic materials generally look a little less “weapony”, more casual and better suited for non-threatening office carry, which is our aim.

EDC Pocket Knives Intro 6

Edge type

The majority of the knife world is pretty much in general consensus that a non-serrated blade is best for everyday carry.  Some may disagree, as their everyday tasks may include cutting rope and such. As we noted above, if you’re using a knife in these situations you should likely upgrade to a work knife with a serrated edge, not an EDC pocket knife. A simple sharp blade should be all you need for an EDC pocket knife, allowing you to make clean precise cuts.

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Folding blade vs. Fixed blade

You’re not Crocodile Dundee, so you don’t need to EDC a fixed blade. Folding knives are much more compact and easier to carry on your person.

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Locking method

Talking about the variety of different locking methods out there is a lot like trying to argue about which American muscle car is the best. They’re all great. Test them out in the store and feel which one you prefer. The basic styles are

  • Slip Joint (which don’t lock, like a Swiss Army knife),
  • Lock Back (very strong, usually with the visible locker at the rear of the handle),
  • Liner Lock (most common, where the tensioned liner pops into place to keep the blade open) and
  • Frame Lock (similar to the Liner Lock, except instead of the liner, the frame is the tensioned locking method).

Have a play with them all in your local shop to get a feel of what works best for you. You can get more info here, and here too.

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Opening method

Some open fast (like the Thumb Stud), some open really fast (like the Emerson Wave), while others require two hands and time (Nail Nick). It isn’t just about fast deployment here. A few of these methods make the form factor considerably larger, which isn’t ideal in our opinion (like the Spyderco Round Hole), here is a site where you can start your research. We’ve found that the Thumb Stud and the Nail Nick seem to be reliable methods of blade opening, while keeping the profile slim for in-pocket carry. There are plenty others for you to experiment with though.

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Company history

If this matters to you, there are some really interesting stories out there. Made in USA, made in France, made in Germany, handmade by artisans, invented or carried by a famous historical figure, etc, etc.  We don’t have enough space on all of the internet’s hard drives to cover all these histories. So we’ll let you dig on that. Maybe you’ll identify with one brand and appreciate their specific values.

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Warranty

You want to find a knife maker with a solid warranty, as there are some truly amazing ones out there. Unconditional lifetime warranties are pretty easy to find in this product market, so it would almost be stupid not to make a purchase if the product didn’t have one. Though some knives under $20 may not have these awesome warranties, it wouldn’t be an inexpensive replacement fee if anything were to happen.

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Price

You guessed it, this one starts from a few bucks up to thousands of dollars. It all depends on what you’re looking for and how upset you’ll be if your investment goes missing/gets lost. Depending on your bank account, you might not be too upset if you lose a $25 knife, but maybe you’re in the $15 club. Though they’ll be pretty heartbroken, others may find the risk of carrying a $300+ pocket knife is a risk which is balanced out by its benefits. Generally speaking, the more you spend, the higher quality you’ll get, as the knife market is extremely cut-throat (bad pun) and competitive in the pricing. But once you get really high up there, you’re paying for exotics and craft. This doesn’t mean you can’t find an incredibly high quality and useful EDC pocket knife for under $50, or even less than $20. In our opinion, sub-$100 blades are our preference (though it is fun to drool over the pricey ones) and we’ve found plenty of nice selections that range from $10 up to $95, our spending comfort zone.

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Aesthetics

Function over aesthetics as always. But EDC pocket knives can be like pocket jewelry, while still being entirely functional, let your taste and preference guide you.  A non-threatening look will allow your tool to be carried in an office or in a public space without upsetting your sensitive coworkers. But, if you don’t interact with society or simply don’t care about people’s opinion on this, there are plenty of tactical and aggressive-looking designs out there. Though these tactical knives are definitely a visual treat for the eyes with awe-inspiring manufacturing, we prefer the classic/timeless/tasteful look, which is commonly defined as a “gentleman’s EDC pocket knife”.

Stay tuned for our upcoming EDC Pocket Knives :: Road Test (2 of 2).

We’d like to say “Thank you!” (ahead of time) to the brands who partnered up with us on this Road Test, offering up some sharp toys tools for us to review:

Baladeo
Buck Knives
CRKT (Columbia River Knife & Tool)
Laguiole Actiforge
W.R. Case & Sons Cutlery Company
(There will two more brands represented as well!)

  • BAGMAN

    For $8000 it had better have a blade forged from the nails used to crucify Jesus on the holy cross, and with a handle hand carved from a Unicorn’s hard-on by Zeus himself!!!

    • Max

      LMFAO :)))

  • ethan

    Last photo, last knife, gorgeous: what is it? (Thank you!)

    • http://www.coroflot.com/TaylorWelden Taylor Welden

      Heya Ethan,

      I know someone would ask about this knife. Shows you have great taste. I personally lust over this thing, and a lot of others do too. Basically, it’s considered to be the “best gentleman’s EDC knife”. Handmade by Chris Reeves Knives (CRK), the model is the Mnandi (Zulu word for “very nice”).
      http://www.chrisreeve.com/Mnandi
      Costs between $300-$500 if I recall correctly.
      Someday…

      PS-
      another CRK worth looking at is the Sebenza
      http://www.chrisreeve.com/Sebenza-21

      • http://mybestpocketknife.com Daveknife

        Thanks for the info on what knife that is. I also thought that one was super rad! At the price tag though … it will be some time until I carry one of those in my pockets … haha.

        Excellent article, thanks for sharing!

  • Slaador

    Hi, thanks for the write-up. It’s great to see people try and promote the use of knives as everyday tools and objects of art, not as deadly weapons they’ve never been (not more so than scythes or hammers, anyway).

    A couple of fairly knife-nerdy complaints and suggestions:

    1) In the photo accompanying the “Handle materials” section, are you quite sure the second knife from the left is G10? Because it sure looks like BM Griptilian’s Zytel to me.

    2) I think you should have mentioned the AXIS lock (and its siblings – Arc lock etc) in your “Locking method” section. They’re not as ubiquitous, of course, as a humble liner lock, but still quite popular, convenient to use and very long-lasting. Not to mention that you do have a picture of one in the article (“Handle materials”).

    3) (This is probably due to appear in the next part, but thought I’d mention it). Please show some love to the more controversial kinds of folders, such as OTF and balisongs. At the very least, their existence should be acknowledged. I’d even go so far as to caution people against buying those as their first folder, as OTFs are rather short-lived, balisongs might bite, and both are flimsy and dangerous if bought on the cheap.

    4) This might be a bit much for an introduction to pocket knives, but I feel it would be prudent to at least mention that the blade’s geometry is at least as important as its material for determining its cutting ability. It can save people a few bucks and make them not disregard excellent knives like Opinel, Victorinox and Laguiole simply because they’re not made of some trendy diamondillium.

    Regards,
    Dmitry

  • Dan

    Not all fixed blades are 9″ clip points. Neck knives are cheaper, stronger, and more reliable than comparable folders. They also don’t require pockets to carry.

    • Slaador

      The problem with neck knives (which was touched upon in the article) is that you either: wear them over your clothes, which allows quick access but really makes you stand out as a man with a knife; or you wear them under your clothes, quite discreetly but also having to tediously fish out a knife from under your shirt every time you need to use it.

      I’ve actually been thinking of getting a neck knife – there are some wicked cool designs out there, and you’re absolutely right about their advantages – but ultimately decided against it precisely because I couldn’t figure out a way to carry one both inconspicuously and close at hand.

      • biggy_ww

        I know I’m late to the game, but I carry a 5.5″ fixed blade in a “City Sheath” from Knives Ship Free (which I now see they aren’t offering anymore). That’s unfortunate, as the width of the sheath keeps the knife handle oriented quite nicely in my pocket. It’s not terribly different to draw the knife than it is drawing a folder clipped to your pocket. Difference being, of course, that the fixed blade doesn’t have to be flicked open. It’s slightly more difficult to put back in the sheath, but with a little bit of practice and caution, it can be done with one hand.

  • Dan

    Also, lockbacks aren’t overly strong. (Or at least most aren’t.) They’re usually around as strong as a liner or frame lock. Also, like Slaador said, including the Axis lock in that section would probably be a good idea. And the Tri-Ad, too.
    Also, in the steel section, I’d put in a short sentence or two debunking the widely-held belief that Damascus has the advantage over regular steel in any way other than looks.

  • Johnny

    What’s the knife right above the “size”? I LOVE that super slim profile

    • Slaador

      That’s Baladeo “ultra light knife”. They have a whole selection of those at baladeo.com. They’re not terribly practical and the steel is only 420, but they’re affordable and, of course, quite unique.

  • Pingback: Week In Review ~ 5 October | Carryology

  • Simon Brunning

    If you’re in the UK, knives with locking blades, or blades over 3″, aren’t generally legal to carry. Check out https://www.gov.uk/find-out-if-i-can-buy-or-carry-a-knife

    I’d love to know what the super slim knife above the “Size” is. In fact, what are *all* the knives?

  • Eric

    The link for Buck actually brings you to the Baladeo website.

  • Michael

    Great article, I’m missing the trusty Opinel here though (-:

    • Taylor

      Don’t worry, it will be included :)

  • mark

    The Baladeo although unique & affordable has some problems, I have one and the lock fails constantly, and it dulls really quickly if you like a smaller/slimmer EDC knife the Spyderco Cricket is worth a look, its really small but cuts well and is very tiny

  • Nathan F

    I feel like you should look at a bunch of different knives, and then cross every knife off of your list that doesn’t sit in your pocket with the point of the blade oriented upwards. You’ll be left with any Benchmade, and you’ll have made a fine decision.

    Maybe that’s an exaggeration, but I don’t really care about any aspect of a knife, no matter how nice it is, if I have to do some weird wrist acrobatics to open it after I pull it out of my pocket.

    • Mike

      I completely agree, but a lot of manufacturers are starting to put holes on either end of the knife so that you’re able to switch the location easily. My Kershaw Shallot (an amazing knife) is a great example. Point-up carry is SO much better.

  • http://www.knivesandsurvival.com/ knivesandsurvival

    thanks for share great information about of EDC Knives. An everyday carry pocket knife is a tool, not a weapon.

  • http://federalknife.com Federal Knife

    Hello,

    Great post. Everyday carry (EDC) or every day carry refers to a small collection of tools, equipment and supplies that are carried on a daily basis to assist in tackling situations ranging from the mundane to the disastrous. Thanks to sharing it…

  • http://bag-collector.com thebagcollector

    You guys should identify all of the knives for us!

    I’m especially enamored with the ultraminimal knife in the third picture, although I’m not convinced that’s a safe thing to carry without a sheath.

    Also, I’m a huge fan of the Gerber artefact, specifically for its multiple uses and removable/disposable blade. Although if I could get my hands on an Atwood knife…

  • http://www.knivesandsurvival.com EDC Knives

    great post!! I am totally agree with you. thank you share nice blog……

  • biggy_ww

    While it’s not for everyone, a fixed blade in a pocket sheath can be a viable option. I work in an office and I carry a 5.5″ overall length fixed blade blade in a pocket sheath/wallet, and I couldn’t be happier. An EDC blade is a tool, not a weapon, and a fixed blade is a better tool than a folder when it comes to hard use. Again, I recognize it’s not for everyone, but it can be a classy and elegant solution if you do it right. I was hesitant at first, and it did take some getting used to, but I don’t see myself ever going back to a folder.

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