If there is one accessory that campers, hikers, artisans, cooks, handypersons, soldiers, and hunters often have in common, it is certainly the pocket knife, also called penknife or folding knife.
Why buy a pocket knife?
You will not always be able to cut everything by hand when such a need arises. This is undoubtedly the first explanation for buying a folding knife, easy to store, beautiful to look at, pleasant to hold and handle.
You will find models whose sizes can range from 5 to less than 20 cm. And its often multifunctional character is not really in doubt.
Therefore, you can afford a portable knife with dimensions, shapes, variable opening mechanism, and you will finally be ready to react in any circumstance. The importance of such an accessory is also not in doubt when one is a great collector, culturalist.
Whatever your desires and preferences, they will certainly be fulfilled either by a stainless steel knife or by another in carbon or Damascus steel, as far as the nature of the blade is concerned.
For a thin, smooth blade or a serrated blade, you will also and probably have a preference so that the possibilities become as numerous as any requests you or a loved one might have.
Therefore, the pocket knife is also truly exceptional: the diversity of options, allowing it to meet the expectations of any type of user or collector. So all you have to do is know on what bases to finally decide on your choice of a modern pocket knife.
Number of pocket knife blades
There are single-bladed pocket knives, which is the more traditional option; knives with several blades, and finally knives comprising several tools (multi-tools) of which the best-known prototype to date is none other than the Swiss army knife.
When there is only one blade, you are entitled to a thin and very simple folding accessory. This single blade is usually reinforced with a robust opening, closing, and locking device.
If you have simple needs, which are cutting without any other form of complexity, the single blade knife will do the trick; otherwise, you would need many more varieties.
For larger needs, the multi-blade pocket knife is ideal. You can find blades (usually 2 to 4) of various aspects, cut food, and carve wood, or butcher game.
Such a tool is generally not as sturdy as the single-bladed penknife, but its many functions can bring great satisfaction to the users.
Finally, the multifunctional knives, similar to the Swiss Army knives, are real little gadgets to do everything. They will help you open a tin can, uncap, pull a cork, cut your nails and file them.
You can even find multiple categories of blades as well as saws. Knives of this type do not all have the same tools or the same number of tools (ranging from 3 to 80), but they are generally useful to give ever-greater satisfaction.
Types of pocket knife blade: sharp and point
If the blade is what interests you the most in the pocket knife, you want to buy, and you will also have to make a trade-off between the styles of cutting edges that we could offer you.
The blade can thus be smooth, serrated, or semi-serrated, which gives you information on the type of materials it will be able to overcome. The shape of the tip is also a decisive choice criterion for overall satisfaction.
Choice of cutting edge
Knives whose blades have smooth edges are certainly the most widely used. A smooth blade can perform the classic cut expected of a classic knife.
The nice thing about such blades is that they can be sharpened in case they start to get damaged, being less sharp. However, you will not be able to use it for certain tasks, such as seeing a very solid material such as leather or wood.
Some knives have serrated blades along their entire length. The more rigid the materials, the more you will congratulate yourself on owning such a tool. The serrated blade will be able to produce pressure when slicing, thanks in particular to its serrations.
You will succeed in this case in your cutting (or sawing) by needing less effort than if it were a smooth blade. However, sharpening serrated blades will have to be done with professional equipment, sometimes at the factory, which is rather complicated.
Finally, some pocket knife blades are semi serrated: they have a smooth part and another which is serrated.
This can allow you to have a 2 in 1 accessory if you know how to handle it well, despite the location of the serrations, which is sometimes unsuitable depending on the use. You will also have some difficulties when it comes time to sharpen this type of penknife at the level of its serrations.
Choice of tip and shape for the blade
Each blade shape and tip type has its uses when it comes to choosing the blade for your next portable knife. We can go over some possibilities that you might come across.
- The raised point blade: this is the one most commonly found on the market. Its tip is very clear, thanks to a well concave blade back. This blade is made for cutting, with a sharp part that can be slightly curved or straight, depending on the model. It is the blade of everyday use, which cuts well and pierces just as well.
- Bourbonnaise blade: this is a large blade useful for various uses. Such knives with Bourbonnais blade have fairly rounded bellies and a well-marked tip. It can be used for hunting, as well as for hiking as a survival knife.
- The center point blade: this blade can be sharpened at both edges, as it can be sharpened at only one. Its shape is reminiscent of a pyramid. It is made for drilling but also for slicing properly.
- The needlepoint blade is a blade with a fine point with its two edges being completely symmetrical. It is recommended when it comes to drilling, but it will, of course, be more fragile because of its shape. However, you will not find many pocket knives with such needlepoint blades.
There are also several other forms of the blade, including the tanto-type blade, the sheep’s foot blade for those who do not want to risk injury, or the very sharp pen blade.
Pocket knives can have many surprises in store for you, so with shapes that you did not know before and which may perhaps delight you. In any case, it will be very useful to make your choice concerning the shape and the overall appearance of the blade so that it is effective in the function for which you decide to use it.
A folding knife with a small blade has the particularity of being extremely discreet and light, even if it can be limited in the face of certain tasks. For example, when it comes to butchering games, the activity will undoubtedly take much longer to complete than with a larger blade.
We consider being small blades, those that do not exceed 7 cm. While beyond this limit, it will be medium blades, less than or equal to 10 cm, and large blades for those greater than 10 cm.
The only downside with the larger pocket knife models is that their use is restricted in some localities. In certain cases, declaring possession of a long folding knife is required, while declaring possession of smaller knives is not required.
Blade steel quality
For the pocket knife to be judged effective, its blade must be of very good quality, beyond the shape and type of edge. The most requested blades are made of stainless steel for a guarantee of durability and efficiency.
The steel chosen by the knife manufacturers can also be carbon steel, or a combination of the two (stainless carbon steel), for longer use over time and increased hardness of the blade. Carbon steel blades are widely used for hunting.
Some blades also contain more than 12% chrome to make them harder. They are also corrosion-resistant to help you carry out outdoor activities.
The knives whose blades are made using Damascus steel are most often found among the collector’s knives, equipped with very artistic designs.
Pocket knife handle
Despite all the pressure you might have to put on your knife; the handle should be able to hold on. From this part of the pocket knife, we, therefore, expect solidity thanks to robust materials, comfort at the time of handling, and good aesthetic quality.
The materials frequently used for making folding knife handles are:
- Aluminum, durable and offering a very appreciable grip;
- The wood, well treated and solid, or the wood inserts in handles made mainly of aluminum;
- Celluloid, which is plastic synthesized from cellulose nitrate;
- The G-10, both strong and light, made using fiberglass;
- Stainless steel, titanium, gum, fallen deer antler, etc.
Each model of penknife that you will have to explore on the internet will detail its specificities, and however, remember that many of those available online have handles made of aluminum.
Pocket knife opening systems
Your pocket knife can be opened in 3 main ways: the opening can be manual, automatic, or assisted. The most common system is manual one; it is also how all the first models of folding knives were used, both opening and closing.
The advantage of the manual opening system is that you will rarely notice a failure. Swiss Army Knives employ such an opening mechanism, and most multi-blade or multi-tool models have knives with grooves that help lift them with fingernails very easily.
The models of automatic pocket knives are no longer in vogue because they are considered too dangerous (a simple push of a button was enough to release the blade).
As for the assisted opening system is more a question of exerting a very strong voluntary pressure before the blade does not appear.
Finally, I recommend the simplest, most classic, and, for my part, the safest knife models: those with manual opening.
While a good opening system helps you to open your pocket knife safely, intentionally, and not by accident, the locking mechanism has the role of preventing the blade from closing accidentally and hurting you.
The locking mechanisms used may vary from one manufacturer to another. However, several quality models have a stopper (to be activated before using the tool) which allows the blade to be blocked from closing, and the knife can be freely disposed of in any activity.
Such an option is essential if you need a quality knife to help you out in various and varied situations.
Therefore, the locking modes may be different, but you should always make sure that there are indeed some before buying a survival knife, a hunting knife, or one that you plan to make intensive use of.