Thursday, November 18, 2010

Have a Knife Day

   From time to time, I plan to share my insights on the use of tools and equipment, as well as things that I think which may be useful to keep in mind as the global economy stumbles into the dustbin of history.  While I think that dealing with the change from a functioning world system to a completely broken one is going to mostly be a matter of thinking on your feet and having a plan in place, there's no denying that certain pieces of gear, which are readily available in the industrial world, could be very valuable as time goes on.

   In what is arguably the best fantasy novel I've read the last year, The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie, one of the main characters says that you can never have enough knives.  By and large, unless you have several dozen in a sack over your shoulder (and you're not selling them), I tend to agree.  Right now, knives are cheap to purchase, especially if you keep an eye out for deals.  Recently, I found someone selling closeout Smith and Wesson folding knives for a fraction of their original list price and bought several, some to give as gifts, some to keep for myself.  As time goes on, companies go out of business and the economy fails, production of knives is going to slow and prices are going to go up (both from scarcity of product and the inevitable inflation which is coming thanks to Quantitative Easing 2, 2+1, 2+n...).  People may still manufacture knives, especially in home workshops, but the quality may be questionable unless you're very familiar with the person and their work.

   The variety of knife is important, too.  Even when common sense thinks people should know better, I've seen plenty of mistakes with trying to use the wrong knife for the wrong purpose.  I think my favorite example was someone who was using a Gerber Mark II (!) for cleaning fish.  Likewise, people have used butcher knifes for offense and defense, folding knives for survival knives and knives are too-often used as screwdrivers. 

   Knives, of course, are a good self-defense tool, as well as working tool, too.  Most areas of the world tightly regulate firearms, but knives are somewhat less regulated.  While, obviously, a factory-made knife is probably going to be superior in quality to what is made by hand, it's still possible to produce a decent and functional knife from a file, spring or some other appropriately sized and shaped piece of metal.  In a pinch, they can be improvised from bone, glass, plastic or stone.  Learning to use a knife for self-defense is not a difficult task, as there is ample intruction available in the form of videos, books, class, etc.  It should be noted that most knife violence doesn't seem to occur the way it is often pitched in knife circles, however -- the idea of two people drawing their knives and squaring off for a duel seldom, if ever, happens.  The Logic of Steel by James LaFond does a good job of dispelling some of the myths about knives and knife violence (hint:  it's often done by people who don't have training and who seldom use fancy "tactical" knives) and I highly recommend it.

   Of the choice of knives on the market, they are limitless, as is advice on what knife to choose.  From my own personal experience, I think there are three types which every person should own -- a fixed blade "survival" knife, a utility-style folder and a multitool.  I've used the Cold Steel SRK in the past and found it to be a heavy, tough, effective no-frills knife.  With care, it should last a long time and a lot of use.  As far as utility-style folders go, there are a million choices on the market.  Cold Steel also makes excellent knives in this category, although one of my favorites was a little $25 folder from Rigid (in Ireland) which has seen a lot of use.  I do think it's a good idea to have a folder you can easily open with one hand.  Finally, there are also a ton of multitools on the market as well.  If anything, I think these are there to save your knife from things it was not meant to be used for -- plus, the pliers will come in handy for times that you would ever expect if you've never owned or used a multitool before.

   The long and short is that a knife is a tool you will not think about until you need it, and if you do need it, you'll be glad it was there.  Now is the time to be thinking about purchasing your knives, not when the lights are going out.


  1. Excellent post. My own favorite knives are a Finnish "puukko" sheath knife and an old Schrade folder. Regarding knives as weapons, we should remember that this is always Plan B - as even the famous Jim Bowie found out, when he was shot three times at the Vidalia Sandbar!! His survival that day was due more to a rugged constitution than anything else, and I'm sure he'd be the first to tell us, "Don't try this at home!" :)

  2. Jeff,

    Thanks for the good words. I remember that puukko knives featured prominently in "Dies the Fire" (one of the main characters had Finnish ancestry). Agreed that knives are always a backup to something better, though I expect that they would likely come back into prominence as modern firearms get scarcer and ammo runs low.