What is a Good EDC Knife?
By Firefield •
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Choosing the Best EDC Gear
The items you pick need to be useful, dependable and extremely durable. Besides your personal items, one of the most important tools you pick for everyday carry is a knife. Out of everything you carry, a knife will see the most use and is the most versatile.
What is EDC?
EDC stands for ‘everyday carry.’ These are the items you carry every day. In the gun community, it usually includes a wallet, keys, phone, firearm, flashlight and pocketknife. Other common everyday carry items include paracord, fire starter or lighter, multi-tool and tactical pen. Depending on local laws and your work situation, EDC items vary but it’s always useful gear used frequently, as well as items you trust can aid in getting you out of a pickle and use in self-defense.
Cutting tools are one of human’s first use of tools, dating back 2.6 million years ago. Origins of the first knife, in its crudest form, was found in Hallstatt, Austria—an area where the world’s oldest salt mine was located. This ancient knife is believed to have been a tool for workers in the mine.
The oldest folding knife archaeologists have uncovered dates to 43 AD. Primarily used as cutting tools, early knives had no locking mechanisms. In the mid-1600s, the slipjoint knife was invented. This knife became the basis of knife designs as we know them. The slipjoint knife utilized a spring tension to lock the blade in place when opened. Clearly, since then, there have been incredible innovations in knife design, blade steel and handle materials to produce long-lasting, lightweight and extremely durable knives.
What to Look for in an EDC Knife
Your everyday carry knife will see a lot of rough use. You want to make sure it can withstand everything you put it through—from opening envelopes to cutting yourself out of a seatbelt. This means you want a blade with high-quality steel that keeps an edge (stays sharp) and is corrosion resistant. There are many types of steels, from cheap to premium, each with their own level of hardness, edge retention and corrosion resistance. A good rule to follow, like many things we buy—the higher quality the steel, the higher the price tag.
The 400-series steels are the most common types used to make budget knives. A step up from that is AUS-8. BladeHQ.com lists these other common budget steels: 1095, 14C28N, 12C27MoV, 7CR17MoV, 8CR13MoV and CTS-BDI. High-end steels include the CPM series, M390, Elmax H1 and 154CM.
When researching steels, check for these four important features:
- Ability to hold an edge
- How easy or difficult it is to sharpen
Each steel has its pros and cons. Many steel and steel blends end up sacrificing one of the four above features for the other. For example, M390 keeps its edge, is very tough and highly corrosion resistant, but isn’t easy to sharpen.
There are almost as many blade shapes as there are steels! From highly custom to traditional—blades shapes are purposely designed to excel at certain tasks.
The most common blade shapes for folding knives are clip point, drop point, spear point and Tanto. You will also commonly find Wharncliffe, sheepsfoot and Hawkbill, among others.
Drop point blades are one of the most popular blade designs and have a blade that curves down from the handle with a convex spine to a point. It is extremely versatile and is good for stabbing and slicing but not necessarily for piercing.
Clip point blades are traditional and popular because they are the shape of the legendary Bowie knife. they are characterized by the “cut-out” appearance at the top of the blade. The clip point is good for general work use, stabbing and better than the drop point for piercing.
The Tanto blade, which is the strongest shape, has a strong tip and the front of the blade meets the back in a straight angle. The Tanto is good at piercing, penetrating and tactical use.
The spear point blade has a pointed tip which falls in line with the center of the blade’s axis. Usually, both edges are sharp. The spear point was designed for thrusting and is great for stabbing and general tasks but because of its small belly, the spear point isn’t great at slicing.
Besides shape, blades are either straight, serrated or partially serrated. Fully serrated blades are better at cutting rope, plastic and leather than straight edges; however, are not as good for stabbing or self-defense. A partially serrated blade provides the best of both and is very popular for EDC.
Types of Folding Knife Locks
Primitive knives didn’t lock into place. This is unsafe and frustrating for the knife’s user. Most folding knives now have a type of locking mechanism so that when opened, the blade stays open. The most popular types of locks are—liner lock, lock back, frame lock and lever lock.
The liner lock is the oldest and most popular of the locking designs. A leaf spring inside the knife angles toward the blade’s tang when open to prevent it from closing. The liner lock must be manually moved before closing the blade.
A lock back knife has a metal piece on the spine of the handle which pushes out. A notch on the lock hooks the blade in place. Pressing on the bottom of the spine released the locked blade.
The frame lock is like the liner lock, but the leaf spring is built into the frame of the knife.
The lever lock incorporates a pin in the handle which clips into a hole in the blade’s tang to lock the blade into place.
What is the Best Knife Handle Material?
Handle materials, like blade steels, vary in price and quality. The most important aspects of a knife handle are a secure, non-slip grip, how much control you have over the blade when gripping it and how comfortable it is to hold and use.
All tactical-style knives will have a synthetic or metal handle. More traditional pocketknives usually have more aesthetically pleasing natural handles.
Different Types of Knife Handles
- Metal—titanium, steel and aluminum
- Synthetic—G-10, FRN/Zytel, carbon fiber, micarta
- Natural—wood, stag, bone, mother of pearl
The metal and synthetic handles are corrosion-resistant and strong, while natural handles are more aesthetically pleasing (in general.)
Listed are some of the pros and cons of the most
common knife handle materials:
Pros: Corrosion resistant, strong
Cons: Slippery, makes knife heavier
Pros: Strong, lightweight
Cons: Scratches easily
Pros: Strong, durable
Pros: Strength, easy care
Cons: Doesn’t grip as well, cheap
Pros: Traditional, pretty
Cons: Cracks easily, not very durable
Pros: Comfortable to grip, looks good
Cons: Can be slippery, porous
Other features you want to consider when shopping for an everyday carry knife are:
- One-handed operation
- Assisted or automatic opening
- Overall weight
- Position of the gear clip. The pocket/gear clip will determine how you carry the knife. Many quality knives have a removable clip so you can switch it to be left- or right-handed and either tip-up or tip-down carry.
What Size Knife Should I Buy?
Folding EDC knives fall somewhere between a 1- to 5-inch blade. The best blade length is somewhere in the middle, so the blade has enough reach without sacrificing control. But your lifestyle and the knife’s primary uses will dictate what size blade you need. The smaller the blade, the lighter the weight and easier to conceal.
Like firearms, knives run the gamut in style, price and quality and just like when choosing a new firearm, it is recommended you go to a knife dealer and try out the ones that meet your budget and feature requirements so that you’re satisfied with your purchase.
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