Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Choosing an EDC Knife

Today, I'm going to be writing about an important and relevant topic, the topic being Choosing a knife for every day carry (EDC).

An EDC knife should be light, easy to carry and functional for the broadest possible kinds of situations that you may encounter throughout the day. Let's list some of the possible situations that you may encounter; situations that would benefit from the use of a knife.

Some things you may use an EDC knife for: 
A larger EDC knife, such as this CRKT M16 SFG has a lot of capabilities.
- Cutting/Opening Packages
  and Envelopes
- Cutting Rope
- Food Preparation
- Cutting soft plant material
- Chopping through wood
- Picking out splinters/
  Emergency Medical Use
- Self-Defense

One type of knife could not possible be the best in all of these jobs. One knife may be perfect at one kind of job but be horrible at another. Again, like with all EDC gear, the proper balance has to be considered. The item must be practical, useful and of appropriate size and weight.

Recommended EDC knife Qualities: 

After years of carrying a knife daily, I will give you my recommendations for an EDC knife. Take this information as my opinion, since the best knife for me might not be the best knife for you. Hopefully, you can use my suggestions to form a system that will work the best for you.

An EDC knife should be a folding knife with a solid lockup.
A knife that is meant to be carried should be as small as possible for the length and capabilities of the blade that you are getting. The best designs that I have found to be as size/weight efficient as possible have been folding knife designs.

A solid lockup when opened is a very important safety feature on a knife. It prevents the blade from accidentally closing during use, making it similar to a fixed blade in functionality. I advise against carrying a blade that does not come equipped with a lock (slip joints). Those might have worked well for grandpa, but there are better designs out there and they should be utilized. The lockup on a good folding knife should be solid, with no side to side or foward/back movement. Popular lock designs are liner/frame locks and lock backs, although there are others. The designs vary in strength and in cost. I do not really have a favorite lock design, as they all can be good and strong enough for daily cutting tasks.


The Cold Steel Super Edge is a good EDC fixed blade choice.
Now, you can tell that I like folding knives for EDC. There are reasons to carry a fixed blade, however. Fixed blades are intrinsically stronger than folding knives due to them usually being made out of a solid piece of steel. There is no pivot point, which is normally the weakest point on a folding knife. While the sort of strength that would require a fixed blade isn't usually necessary for an EDC knife, I am sure that, for some, it is.

An EDC knife should be around 2 - 4 ounces in weight.
Lets face it, steel is heavy while other materials such as plastics, are light. The more steel you have on your knife, the stronger it will be, but it will also weigh more. A strong knife has a steel blade, a steel locking mechanism, steel liners or handles and a steel pocket clip. The balance of not too little and not too much steel, from my experience, falls somewhere between 2 to 4 ounces. This should give you adequate strength while not weighing you down too much.

An EDC knife should have a  2.5 - 4 inch blade with a sharp tip.
Granted some blade lengths are not legal to carry in certain areas of the world, a nice, useful blade length for an EDC knife falls somewhere between 2.5 - 4 inches, with a preference toward longer-bladed knives. This length enables the knife to be most easily used for the greatest variety of tasks, from cutting open packages and envelopes, to cutting food, to defending your life. A tiny knife is impractical for some of these tasks, while a larger knife is harder to carry.

The importance of a sharp tip should also not be forgotten. A sharp tip is extremely useful for certain tasks which require precise cutting. One example would be the removal of a wooden splinter from your hand. A sharp tip makes this task possible, whereas a blunt tipped knife wouldn't get the job done, and you would be stuck with a splinter still in your hand.

An EDC knife should have handles that allow for a firm, comfortable grip.
The handles on the Kershaw Blitz / Nerve are excellent.
The handle is the contact between you and the knife. It is an important feature of your knife that should not be overlooked. An uncomfortable handle, or a handle that slides around in your hand can be dangerous and inhibit your ability to use the knife to its fullest potential. A handle should be contoured to fit the hand. It should be textured but not overly so. It should match the length of the blade that you are using. For example, you wouldn't want a knife with a tiny blade and a huge handle, or a huge blade and a small handle. Most knife designs have adequate handles, but it is still a feature that should be analyzed before settling upon and EDC knife choice.

An EDC knife should have a pocket clip which enables tip up carry and rides low in the pocket.
Now this recommendation mainly has to do with personal preference and it is not a deal breaker if the knife does not have this ability. From personal experience and experimentation, I have found that carrying a knife tip up enables the fastest possible draw, from the time you decide to pull out your knife, to the time that it's deployed.

Let me explain why. Imagine a folded knife with the tip facing down. When you draw it out of your pocket, with your hand facing down, you have to rotate the knife so that the tip faces up to deploy it. When the knife has the tip facing up in the pocket, this rotation is not necessary, which makes the deployment faster.

The pocket clip should enable the knife to ride low in the pocket so that it has less of a tendency to fall out, is less likely to bump into and scratch things and draws less attention to itself.

Note that this is just what works best for me. What works best for you may be different.

An EDC knife should cost no less than $20.
I was trying to see how I could incorporate a quality component into my EDC knife requirements. While it isn't an end-all requirement, from my experience, an EDC knife should cost at least $20. Knowing that quality comes at a cost, you usually get what you pay for. Of course, you can always find things on sale, so take this suggestion with a grain or two of salt. Stay clear of those "bargain knives" from Chinese knockoff or no-name companies that cost $1-$10. The steel and edge geometry is usually inferior. In the end, if you buy a Chinese knockoff, you will most likely end up throwing it away, and then buying a higher quality knife. You actually save money by buying a slightly more expensive EDC knife.

What are my recommendations?
Now, there are many great EDC knife choices available; too many to list. I'll list only a few of my favorites.

Smaller Size:
Don't be fooled by the price. The CRKT Drifter rocks!
For a knife with a 2.5-3" blade, I recommend the excellent CRKT Drifter. It is a less expensive knife due to being produced overseas, but do not let this fool you. The reputable knife manufacturer, Columbia River Knife and Tool (CRKT), has good quality control on their products. This is shown on the Drifter. There are two versions, G-10 and Stainless. Both are good and have all of the qualities that I look for in an EDC knife, except for being tip down carry only. This can be overlooked because of the excellent price and quality.

Larger Size:
Elegant and functional describe the Buck Vantage.
For a knife with a 3-4" blade, I recommend something like the Buck Vantage Select or the Kershaw Blitz/Nerve. These knives are larger, but provide more utility than that smaller knives. They both have solid lockups on their blades, have comfortable grips, are of high quality and do not cost very much.

Summary:

An EDC knife is a knife of compromises. You want a knife that is not too large, not too small, not too heavy while still being strong. You want it to be useful in the broadest amount of jobs that you might use a knife for. Choosing an EDC knife might be a daunting tasks, but don't forget, that your choice is not eternal. As you learn, and new knife designs come out, your EDC choice will no doubt change and become more specialized to the tasks that you come across. Do not be afraid to experiment.

Well, I've written a pretty long post on the topic of Choosing a knife for every day carry (EDC). However, this is still only scratching the surface when it comes to the topic of knives and their utility. As I continue using knives and learning more about them, my views will undoubtedly change. If any of you have any criticisms or differences in opinion, feel free to share a comment below.

Remember, we are here to help and learn from each other.

8 comments:

  1. Good article I agree with the crkt drifter a real bargin. Their are other overseas company that make a good knife very very cheap for example sanrenmu this is a company that makes knives for spyderco,benchmade and a few more. You can get a sanrenmu 604 for about $6 don't be fooled by the price centered blade solid lock up g10 scales be sure not to fall the hype alot of these companies overcharge by 10x

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  2. When people see others carrying a knife, they get scared... and than they say "hey can I borrow that?"--http://www.killerkniv.es

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  3. I was thinking about getting the CRKT Drifter as my new EDC pocket knife. Researching it was how I found you here. I'm debating between the G-10 and Stainless. Hmmm ... MyBestPocketKnife

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  4. I think you did some of very good resource work for this article. Such EDC Knives is very day uses tool As Cutting/Opening Packages, and Envelopes, Cutting Rope, Food Preparation, Cutting soft plant material etc. thanks a lot for sharing this articles.

    Edc Knives

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  5. These are great options for an everyday carry knife, although I do believe that there is also subject touch to our choices especially how our knives will look like, if they look good in the hand. In addition to these great selection, I found another compilation worth checking out: http://backpackingmastery.com/top-picks/the-best-edc-knife.html

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  6. In our series so far on the pocket knife we have taken an in-depth look into the number of blades, the edge of the blade and now the blade length. Best pocket knife

    ReplyDelete