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All posts for the month July, 2012

There are many great reasons to have an EDC (Every Day Carry) Utility blade – or a collection of them.  Besides being useful for all kinds of daily tasks, a utility blade can also serve as a defensive weapon, emergency response tool, or a last resort survival tool.

While a Chris Reeve Sabenza or something from Lion Steel would be nice, they’re in the $200 – $400+ range.  I’m all for it if you have the coin, but tend to favor high-quality, high-value options in the $35 – $150 range.  That’s a price range with a ton of great choices, and easily with something for everyone.  At that price point, you’ll get something you won’t be afraid to use, and you won’t beat yourself up too badly should it ever get lost.

So, for specifically EDC Utility Blade purposes, and assuming you live in a civilized portion of the World, important factors to consider when buying your knife are outlined below.  (Skip to the end for specific recommendations and links to purchase.)

Overall Design- Get a Locking Folder

Why a folder?  A folder gives you more blade length in an overall smaller and lighter package than a fixed blade.  A folder will be easier to carry, easier to conceal and gives you more options for carry.

Why a lock blade?  Safety!  You don’t ever want that blade closing on your fingers, especially during hard use.  As a general rule, lock backs are stronger and can handle heavier use than liner / frame locks, but either work well for most EDC tasks.  That said, the Cold Steel Tri-Ad and the Benchmade AXIS are two of the toughest locks you’ll find anywhere.

 

Blade Length?

During the week I roll small and light, often choosing knives with ~3” blades.  That’s plenty long and usable, doesn’t attract too much unwanted attention, and still has some reach for emergency defensive purposes.  Days off and weekends, I carry something bigger, in the 3 ½ – 4” range.  (Regardless of what blade length you choose, make sure it’s legal for where you carry.)

 

Overall Weight?  Small and Light.

My typical EDC blade is in the 1.3 – 2.6oz range.  Days off and weekends I carry something in the 3.6 – 5.3oz range; the added weight coming from the longer blade and heavier overall construction.  The challenge is always maximizing capability, while still having something you can carry comfortably on daily basis, and almost forget it’s there.  I don’t care how bad-ass it is, if you get something too heavy or bulky, you’ll leave it home more often than not, and that’s exactly where it’ll be right when you need it the most.

A lot also depends on how and where you carry.  Sure you can fit a bigger, heavier blade in a work or EDC bag, but it won’t be as easily accessible or quick into action as something on your person.  Likewise, that 5.3oz, 4” blade that disappears when clipped to a pants pocket or waistband is going to feel heavy and bulky when carried loosely in a pants pocket.

 

EDC Blade Shape, Grind, Edge and Steel?

Blade Shape: Drop point, modified drop point, leaf, and traditional clip point blades are all excellent choices.  You can’t go wrong with any of them.  Unless you’re looking for a dedicated tactical blade, don’t get one with a sharpened swedge, or a double sided blade.  (Note those double edged blades aren’t legal in many areas so again, know your local laws.)

Blade Edge?  Skip the serrations, and get a plain edge.  Serrations look cool, and their selling point is sawing through rope, seat belts, etc.  The fact of the matter is that a well maintained plain edge will cut just as well, if not better – yes even through rope, seatbelts, etc. The plain edge will also be easier to re-sharpen at home or in the field and is more versatile simply because you aren’t giving up any portion of the blade to serrations.  You can use more of the blade to do more things with a plain edge.

Blade Grind:  Hard to go wrong, but I like Full Flat and Hollow Grinds.  Full Flat Grind (FFG) blades are all the rage these days, and for good reason.  FFG knives are strong, light weight and make phenomenal slicers – perfect for EDC Utility tasks.  That said, there’s a ton of great, high-quality, razor sharp knives with hollow and sabre grinds. For most utility tasks like opening boxes, cutting twine, cutting plastic ties, opening envelopes, slicing food, etc. blade grind won’t make too much of a difference.  (For survival knives, where the abilities to baton through wood and build shelters are more important, or for tactical knives, where tip strength is more important, it’d be a different story.)

Blade Steel?  Again, hard to go wrong; VG-10, VG-1, AUS-8, AUS-8A, 154CM, 1095 and D2 are all great choices.  No matter what you end up with, know that no knife is truly stainless.  All have to be maintained.  Speaking of which, I tend to coat my blades with cooking oil.  It affords additional protection from rust and tastes better than some of the alternatives. 🙂 Non-stainless blades are generally easier to re-sharpen, but will require more frequent maintenance.  Lastly, keep it sharp!  Not only is a dull knife frustrating to use, but it’s actually more dangerous than a sharp one.

 

Handle Design & Materials: Tons of great options, but I like FRN, G-10 and Aluminum.

Some design factors to consider are that open frame construction doesn’t trap as much debris and is easier to clean; metal liners add strength at the cost of additional weight; and the ability to take the knife apart for maintenance is nice.  That said, none of those are absolute requirements.  Don’t worry about it too much for a light to medium use EDC Utility blade.  When it comes to handles, the modern family of impact, chemical, weather and UV resistant plastics like FRN, G-10, GRN, Valox, Kraton and Zytel are all high-quality materials – as are aluminum and titanium.

 

Highly Recommended EDC Utility Knives for the Everyman

Spyderco Delica4 Flat Ground (FFG) Could be the perfect EDC Utility Blade.

  • 2-7/8” VG-10 (stainless) full flat ground blade.
  • 2.5oz. total weight.
  • FRN handles with stainless steel liners.
  • ~$60.
  • High-quality, high value that’s difficult to beat for the role.

SOG Flash IUltra light weight, lightening quick blade deployment, very inexpensive.

  • 2.5” AUS-8 (stainless) full flat ground blade.
  • 1.3oz. total weight.
  • GRN or Aluminum handles.
  • S.A.T. (SOG Assisted Technology) ultra fast blade deployment mechanism.
  • ~$30.
  • If the Spyderco Delica4 above is too much, you’ll be hard pressed to beat this SOG.

Cold Steel New for 2012 “Mini” Series EDC versions of their Legendary Workhorses.

  • Mini Recon 1
  • 3” AUS-8A (stainless) hollow ground blade
  • Tri Ad Lock
  • 3.6oz total weight
  • G-10 non-lined handles
  • ~$60.
  • The Mini AK and Mini Lawman have similar specs but with slightly smaller blades, lighter overall weights and lower prices. (i.e. the Mini AK has 2 ¾ blade and the Lawman 2 ½).

Benchmade Mini Griptilian

  • 2.91” 154CM (Stainless) hollow ground blade
  • AXIS lock
  • 2.6oz total weight
  • Valox stainless steel lined handles.
  • ~$80.

 

                      

 

Want something a little bigger, for more heavy duty use, or with more Tactical focus?

Look at the larger version of everything referenced above.  Blade lengths will be ~3 ½ to 4 inches.  Weights will range from 3.25oz (Benchmade Griptilian) to just over 5oz for the Cold Steel Recon 1, or the 581 Benchmade Barrage.

  • Spyderco Endura 4 FFG
  • Cold Steel Recon 1
  • SOG Flash II
  • Benchmade Griptilian
  • Benchmade 580-583 Barrage

                   

 

What about Emerson, CRKT, Kershaw, Gerber and Buck?!  Honestly, right now is a great time to buy a new knife.  There are so many great options available from many first class, high-quality and high-value manufacturers.  The options I’ve provided certainly aren’t the only ones, but they are definitely some of the best.  Give one a try, you won’t be disappointed.

 

Thank you for reading!