So, You’re Considering Getting Into The (Not So) Scary World Of Pocket Knives

There’s no denying that even considering carrying a knife may be a bit scary. Will people stare at you? Are you now carrying a weapon? Is this even legal? The answer to all of those questions is “maybe”. There are dozens of variables that come into play when considering your first knife purchase, so I’m here to make that whole world seem a little less daunting by sharing some of my personal experience as well as some widely accepted tips from the world of EDC (everyday carry). 

Ultimately, I believe the way to look at a knife is that it’s a tool. One for opening up that new watch box, slicing up an apple at lunchtime, or helping out with some random tasks around the house. Sure, you could use a key to open up a box or your teeth to tear open a package, but it’s important to have the right tool for the job to prevent yourself from breaking an item while using it for something it’s not meant for, or even worse — requiring an embarrassing trip to the dentist. 

I don’t mean to frame this as some sort of pro-knife propaganda, since you ultimately can get by without one, but after slipping one into your pocket and seeing just how often it comes in handy, you might be surprised at how useful it is in your day to day life. There’s also the other option — you don’t even have to carry it with you at all. A knife tossed into your junk drawer at home or desk drawer at work will more than likely cover most of your use cases anyway. Let’s break it down a bit further and look at some reasons why you might want to pick up a pocket knife and some things to look for in your first one. 

Why Carry A Knife Anyway?

For me, it’s about having the right tool for the job. Hacking away at a package with my house key isn’t ideal, and neither is using those kitchen shears that are totally 100% supposed to be for food use only. Having a nice, sharp knife around can make tasks like this much easier, especially when using a tool for its intended purpose. A solid pocket knife with a good grip makes precision cutting tasks that much easier. As I mentioned previously, you don’t even really have to carry it with you if you’re uncomfortable. Keeping a knife nearby around the house, in your glove box, or desk drawer covers most of the times you’re going to need one. 

Choosing The Right Knife

Assessing how and when you’ll use a pocket knife is important before diving in. When I was first getting into EDC, I picked up a Benchmade Mini Griptilian back in 2010 and it’s been going strong ever since. I wanted a reliable and durable pocket knife I wouldn’t have to replace, and after 15 years, it’s still in my collection. One thing I would have changed about my initial order is the blade style. I opted for a combination smooth/serrated blade and while it seemed like a good idea at the time, maintaining the serrated edge is much trickier than a smooth edge and doesn’t offer many benefits over a properly sharpened smooth-edged knife. Here are some things to consider:

Blade Shape & Size

Most people will be happy with a blade length of 3 inches or so. It’s big enough to do some serious cutting, but never comes off as unwieldy. A classic drop point blade is one of the strongest shapes out there, but there are TONS of other options if you prefer something that looks a little different. It’s also important to check the laws in your area, as they may dictate that blades must be under a certain length to stay legal.


Locking Mechanism 

Depending on the laws in your area, you may want to consider which locking mechanism your knife has. There are many options here as well, ranging from the most-common slip joint (a spring mechanism that holds the blade in place, but doesn’t truly lock) to something like a framelock, where the handle of the knife itself blocks the blade from closing (a very robust mechanism). There are a lot of different ways that you could go, so digging in and learning about the different styles of knife locks is a fun avenue to stroll down.

Design & Materials 

Just like your favorite watch, there’s a lot to get into when it comes to knives. While all largely similar in function (you know, to cut stuff) knives can take on many different shapes and forms. You can get as basic as plastic handles and go all the way up to something fancy like milled titanium with inlays of exotic materials. One of the coolest parts of the knife world to me is looking at the small details that knife designers put into their creations. 

Some Great Places To Start

Spyderco Ambitious (~$60)

Featuring simple, yet durable G10 plastic scales, this Spyderco is a great place to start. The leaf-shaped blade with a generously sized thumb hole to open it with is a classic Spyderco design cue. Measuring in at 2.77”, the blade is made from 8Cr13Mov steel, which is a tough corrosion resistance steel that will be easy to sharpen when it dulls out. The blade stays put thanks to a liner lock mechanism, which is both easy to use and sturdy. You can carry the knife via the 4-way pocket clip that can be swapped around for tip up or tip down carry on either your left or right side. There’s a lot to like about this solid little knife from Spyderco. 

Benchmade Bugout (~$190)

If you’re looking for something a step up, the Benchmade Bugout is an excellent option. Benchmade Knives are all crafted in their home state of Oregon and feature a Lifesharp guarantee that gets you free sharpening, cleaning, oiling, and adjustments for life. The Bugout features a 3.24” drop-point blade crafted from CPM-S30V stainless steel and then treated with a Cerakote finish. The glass-filled nylon handles are super grippy and very lightweight. Combine that with the deep-carry pocket clip and you’ll hardly notice it’s there until you need it. 

Chris Reeve Sebenza 31 ($425)

Go big, or go home with the Chris Reeve Sebenza. The Sebenza is the gold standard in EDC knives, and for good reason. Precision machined from titanium and steel components in their Idaho-based shop, this rock-solid frame lock is widely regarded as one of the best and most iconic frame lock flippers in the industry. Choose from either the Small or Large size in a dedicated right or left-handed version. Simplicity and streamlined, the design and attention to detail on how it feels is second-to-none in the price range. 

Closing Thoughts

Hopefully this helped demystify the world of pocket knives a little bit and pique your interest. Carrying a knife (or even keeping one close by) will come in handy way more often than you think. Keep an eye out in the future for some more blade-related articles and let us know in the comments what your favorite EDC knife is. 

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Ed is a Long Island-based writer and photographer with an affinity for watches, fountain pens, EDC gear, and a great cup of coffee. He’s always looking for the best gear for the job—whether it be new watch, pen, flashlight, knife, or wallet. Ed enjoys writing because it’s an awesome (and fulfilling) way to interact with those who share the same interests.