Know Your Pocket Knives
By Adelia Ladson
What’s A Pocket Knife?
A pocket knife is simply a knife with a blade that folds out or “opens” from the handle, where it is housed when not in use. The idea being that it will easily fit in the pocket for everyday carry. Generally, pocket knives can be divided into three categories based on how they open: assisted opening, manual opening or automatic opening.
An assisted opening knife has a mechanism that will take over after the initial manual nudge, giving you the advantage of a quick opening will a small amount of effort. The blade’s natural position is closed, and it’s deployed with either a flipper or thumbstud.
Many rescue knives are assisted opening, which is what you need in an emergency situation. You need to move fast, and your rescue tools need to keep up. They also have features like a glassbreaker pommel and a seatbelt cutter.
Timber Wolf Assist Rescue Knife
Timber Wolf’s Assist Rescue Knife is a solid choice of this style of knife. It deploys quickly with its rapid-release assisted opening mechanism. It features a glass-break spike and a seatbelt cutter on its no-slip handle, making it great for first responders to keep in their gear. The 3” blade is strong AUS-6 stainless steel with an anodized black coating and a thumbstud. The rescue pocket knife is also equipped with a sturdy metal pocket clip.
A tactical pocket knife is going to be a tool built specifically for missions whether military or law enforcement. It’s usually going to be non-reflective so that it won’t give you away if you’re using it at night. It might have serrations on the blade for cutting nylon webbing or canvas and it may have a glassbreaker pommel.
SOA Scout Tactical Knife
The unique handle design of the SOA Scout Tactical Knife incorporates several feet of paracord wrapping that ends in a wrist lanyard. So you’re actually getting two survival tools for the price of one! The handle is a tough polymer that’s heavily textured and has thumb-jimping for a secure grip when using in any weather. It also has a steel pocket clip to keep it secured to your pocket, belt or gear pack for easy transport. The tactical, liner lock pocket knife has a stainless steel drop-point blade that has a two-toned finish, and a smooth assisted opening mechanism allows for lightning fast, one-handed deployment in the heat of battle.
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Manual opening pocket knives completely open on your own strength and speed. Now, to honest with you, my favorites are the traditional-style ones because they remind me of my grandfather, father and uncles. Believe me, I think my older relations could probably flip out a blade just about as fast as the assisted openings of today. They come in a variety of styles and below are two on the complete opposite ends of the style spectrum.
A trapper is a manual-opening pocket knife that has two blades – a spey and a clip point. The handle has a scale on each side and a bolster on each end. The blades are deployed by using the nail nick to pull them free from the handle.
Kissing Crane Lineman Trapper
Kissing Crane has a very long history of excellence in crafting trapper pocket knives that are heirloom worthy and collectible. The Lineman Trapper is an exceptional example of why these pocket knives have become collector’s pieces. The trapper honors those brave men and women who risk their lives to keep us all powered up. The intricately detailed handle scales are comprised of yellow resin, natural exotics and black bone with etched artwork of a lineman on a pole and lightning bolts. The knife has sharp, stainless steel clip and spey blades that are also covered with lineman-themed artwork and text. Nickle silver bolsters and a brass liner set-off the colorful handles and the iconic Kissing Crane shield completes the design.
A butterfly knife, also called a balisong, is a fun manual knife to have because not only is it an effective cutting tool but you can also do tricks with it. Two handles counter-rotate freely around the blade’s tang so that it can be deployed quickly. When the knife is closed, the blade is concealed between the two handles. This knife was brought to the United States by soldiers returning from the Philippines after W.W.II.
Classic Black Butterfly Knife
The Classic Black Butterfly Knife is a great example of a traditional model of this style of knife. It’s an elegant knife with smooth, black ABS handles that are bookended by polished stainless steel bolsters that have a latch lock to keep them closed. The stainless steel blade also has a polished finish, and the butterfly knife can be smoothly flipped open to deploy it. It’s well-suited to perfect your flipping skills and, at just under 5” when closed, it easily rides in your pocket.
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Many times, spring assisted opening knives are confused with automatic knives. A spring assisted knife’s natural position is closed and an automatic knife’s natural position is open. Basically, the blade is being held in a closed position by tension, which is why it shoots out so rapidly. The blade is being held closed by a locking mechanism that’s released when a button is pressed, or a trigger slid forward. When you open a knife and there is no effort involved, it’s an automatic. The most common styles of automatic knives you see are stilettos and out-the-fronts (OTFs).
The iconic stiletto automatic was made popular by soldiers who brought Italian stilettos home after W.W.II. During the 1950s, the switchblade became a poster child for delinquent youth and New York was the first state to ban them. A stiletto knife’s characteristics are a very slim profile from blade tip to handle end. The dagger-style blade can come from the side or straight from the front of the handle, which has a bolster on each end.
Italian Pearl Stiletto Knife
In the 1950s, models like the Italian Pearl Stiletto Knife were made notorious by youth gangs, leading to New York being the first to ban them. This notoriety is why the stiletto is the most recognizable automatic in the world. This stiletto is pretty impressive at an overall length of 11” from tip to end bolster. The mirror-polished, stainless steel blade is razor-sharp and has a penetrating point. The faux pearl handle scales feature a slide trigger that snaps the blade out when it’s pushed forward and retracts the blade when it’s pulled back. The stiletto knife comes with a nylon belt sheath for carry.
For those of you who might not know, when you see a knife listed as an OTF, it stands for “out-the-front” and means that it is a knife with a blade that extends straight from the handle. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the knife is an automatic, but this style of knife is the most recognizable as an automatic knife.
Bushmaster Mamba OTF Knife
Built with tactical intent in mind, the Bushmaster Mamba OTF Knife is ready for action. It can be quickly and easily deployed with the ambidextrous sliding trigger at a moment’s notice. The stainless steel, double-edged blade is exceptional at both piercing and cutting and the TPU handle is heavily textured for a secure grip in any environment. The OTF also has a glassbreaker pommel and a low-profile pocket clip.
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Benefits Of A Pocket Knife
- It’s more practical to carry because it’s compact and goes right in your pocket.
- It doesn’t draw attention at the workplace or in public places.
- It’s a long-time manly tradition.
- It’s better at smaller tasks that require precision.